R.E.M. - Reality, Existence, Mentality



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OmniChaos

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"In other news today, Dr. Joshua Mathews was found in Central Park with an arm and leg missing. Dr. Mathews, a leader in the field of neurology, was set to operate on a young man who has been in a deep—"

"It's your move, Chris."

Chris sat in front of a wooden chessboard with glass pieces, his red and Michael's white. His brother was quite the talented player, and had chased Chris into a tight corner. He sat there, his finger spinning lazily around the round tip of the queen's crown. It was smooth, and felt pleasant to the touch. He looked over the board trying to find a move.

"You have no choice, Chris," Michael said, pulling the orange juice out of the fridge. He took a quick drink from it and replaced the bottle, letting out a satisfied sigh. "I have you in check and your king can't move. You have to move the queen to take my piece."

He was right, as much as Chris hated to admit it. He reluctantly moved the queen forward two spaces to take the white knight. His finger lingered on the chess piece for a moment, then lifted it. "Your move, Michael."

Michael casually walked to the table, not even bothering to study the board. And why should he? He had been in control of the game from the very start, three solid moves ahead of Chris, and already had his move set long before it had come. He casually picked up his second white knight, picked up the red queen with his other hand, and sat the knight in her place. With a warm smile, he responded, "Checkmate."

Chris groaned and picked up the red king, looking deep into its body and watching the colorful designs the light made when reflecting off the piece. "Looks like I lose again," he grumbled. "Big surprise."

"But you did better this time, Chris," Michael replied, slipping his black jacket on. He sat his fedora on his head, fiddling with it for a moment until he was satisfied with it. "You have definitly improved since last time. Who knows? Maybe you will beat me some day."

"Yeah," Chris chuckled, setting the chess pieces carefully into the velvet placeholders on the bottom side of the board. Chris ran his fingers against the black fabric, enjoying its softness as it brushed across his fingertips. "And maybe it'll rain beer or Mountain Dew."

"You never know," Michael smiled, picking up the last of his stuff. "Now come on, we're going to be late for school."

Chris picked up his bag with an annoyed 'yeah, yeah' and headed for the door. Michael, however, paused and spared a glance outside the apartment's window. Across the street stood a man, dressed entirely in black. He didn't move—and hadn't moved since Michael had first spotted him earlier that morning. It must have been one of those 'agents' people had been spotting around town, and Michael would bet anything that he would be gone by the time he got downstairs. He growled.

"I won't let you take him. He's all I have left."
 
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Argenteus

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A knight, clad in white, rode high atop his horse. It was a brilliant day, the sky cloudless and painted in delicious blues. A day fit for celebration, not combat, he reflected. He knew his final hours were at hand, and it seemed foolish to waste these last few seconds of life in contemplation, but damn, he had done this so many times. The final outcome would be in his favor, he thought bitterly. His brothers in arms were repeatedly slaughtered for his gain, but none of them were ever truly dead as long as he fancied the game. Right on queue, a woman clad in beautiful reds strode behind him bearing an almost bored calm and slashed at his gut with a long slender blade adorned with gold. And with his dying breath, he saw a fellow knight swoop with his sword swinging a broad arc and behead the bloody queen. As he blinked out of existence he heard his comrade's consoling, calming voice say...

"Checkmate."

Charles jolted awake in sweat. He found his blankets lying discarded on the floor next to his bed, he had apparently pushed them away in his sleep. He nervously eyed the clock, but he wasn't late; he had awakened a minute or two before his alarm was set to go off. With mock-effort he didn't know who he was displaying for, he pushed off of his bed, put on his clothes and walked down stairs. He popped down 4 pieces of toast in the toaster, plonked a bowl of instant oatmeal mix and water down in the microwave, poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down. He had went to bed early, wanted to get a good night's sleep for once, but he didn't feel very rested at all. He gladly downed his cup of coffee, got up and removed his bowl from the microwave, and started eating.

"Good morning." said a female voice. His mother, the accompanying body, strode out from the hallway. She seemed as groggy as he did, maybe even a bit more. She poured herself a cup as well, and he finished his oatmeal. Crate then realized he had forgotten about his toast, and it was getting cold. He strode over to the toaster, buttered them and was not surprised when the butter didn't melt. He tossed them in the microwave for a few seconds in his oatmeal bowl, took them out, and ate them.

"Bye, love you!" he heard from his mom as he put on his jacket and shoes, and headed out the door. With the door still open, he shouted back "Bye, love you too!", and then slammed it shut. He lived only five minute's run from the high school, so he jogged down on his way to school.
 

Endless Warrior Sora

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The view was always better in the morning. Hiding his unkempt hair underneath that black beanie of his, Devon pushed his glassed up on his face as he stood, still in his pajamas, which consisted of roughly a large white T-Shirt, undersized gym shorts and sandals that he slipped on to avoid the cold. He stood there on the roof of the dilapidated apartment he lived in, pointing his precious Canon EOS camera at the scenery. He always liked to sneak up here late at night sometimes, when everyone was asleep, underarm filled with comic books, and sleep until morning so he could get some cliche sunrise shots.

"At this angle, you can even see the famous scenery everyone talks about at the edge of town..." He whispered in delight, putting a left eye into the veiwfinder and snapping a few pictures of the scene. His face broke into a large grin, this was truly what he lived for. He never felt more at peace than he did when he was taking pictures. A chromatic buzz broke him away from his trance as he reached into the sock on his right foot, the bulge revealing itself to be a cracked iPhone.

"Hello?" He inquired although the caller ID already revealed who it was.

"Devon! Devon! If you don't GET.CHO.AYASS OFF THAT GODDAMNED ROOF AND GET DOWN HERE SO YOU CAN GO TO SCHOOL! How many times do I have to tell you to not go up on the roof? It's dangerous up there..."

The mother on the other end of the phone screamed, presumably from his bedroom, discovering he was missing. Devon's response was nothing short but chronic 'Yes mom's 'Yeah mom's 'Okay mom's as he finally was able to escape the phone call. It was time for school anyway. If only he could stay here longer. It almost pained him to have to actually tear himself away from his work like this, but that was the life of a teenager he figured. He started to leave, but something caught his eye. That photographer's instinct kicked in. Dropping everything, he looked over at a nearby building.... and there stood a figure, a black figure on a rooftop. Was that another photographer? Priming his camera, he pointed the lens at the man and the veiwfinder was pitchblack.

"Forgot I put the frickin' lens cap back on..." He muttered, taking it off and aiming the camera once more. However, the figure was no longer there. "...Weird..." Devon let out a great exhale before grabbing his things and shuffling back into the apartment and preparing for the day that lie ahead of him.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....

Was the girl's first thought as her alarm went off inside the small room where she lied. She was sprawled on the floor, preferring to sleep there as opposed to her bed, which was coverless as a result of all the blankets being shifted to the floor.

"Huá! Huá! Xǐng lái de shíhou! Nǐ mǎshàng jiù yào kāixuéle! Nǐ de wǔcān shì zài zhuōzi shàng, dàn quèbǎo nǐ de zǎocān chī de dōngxi!" Called a voice from the kitchen. It was her mother, as usual, and punctual as ever. Doesn't this woman take a break? She knew she couldn't try to sneak in more sleep now that her mother was up because if she did, that would probably invoke some reprimanding.

"Wǒ zhīdàole! Wǒ zhīdàole! Gěi wǒ yīdiǎn shíjiān!" Hua called back, pushing bangs and hanging hair from her face, groggy as ever. Her mom was strict, but she cherished this time they had in the morning. Mostly because she knew she may not see her mother again until the next morning. Or later that night. Her father either, who was already out o additional errands. Going through her mundane routine of preparing for school, she strode back into her room, grabbing her skate board after getting dressed. She gave her mom a kiss on the cheek as the teenager made her way to the refrigerator and seized an apple. She looked up to find her mother giving her an uneasy look.

"Huá...... Nǐ zhīdào wǒ de gǎnshòu de huábǎn de shìqíng..."

Hua looked down at the skateboard tucked underneath her arm and gave her mom a less than convincing grin.

“Māmā, bùyào dānxīn, wǒ gàosu nǐ, zhè shì yīgè gèng kuài de fāngfǎ bǐ děng yī liàng gōngjiāo chē, bùxíng qù xuéxiào! Hǎole, wǒ de zǒuliǎo, yào chídàole!” She smiled and ran out the door, before her mom could intervene with another argument. She knew she was going to regret that decision later. However, she wanted something, anything to feel like she had some control over it.
 

Cassette-Disk

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There's that stupid song again...
Chase groggily got herself out of bed before crashing back down onto it. An annoyingly catchy song from the eighties had somehow managed to sneak its way into her mind last night, and it had refused to leave. The first thing she heard as she woke up? That same song.
"It's like torture." She told herself as she rose back out of her warm bed that seemed to be calling her name. Come back... she imagined it was telling her. Because she worked for the school, she had to be there earlier than most students, and as a result she had to wake up before them as well. Her clock told her it was five in the morning. The sky outside agreed that it was morning time. Her body, on the other hand, said it was bed time.

She let out a stiff yawn before throwing on a pair of sweat pants and heading off to her small kitchen were she prepared her breakfast of an English muffin with ham and cheese accompanied by a glass of orange juice. After having her fill, she made her way around the house while getting ready for the day ahead of her. Showering, teeth-brushing, lotion-applying, hair-making-sure-it-doesn't-look-like-crapping. Same routine as every day. Luckily the high school wasn't too far from her apartment so she could walk there without fear of running late. She stepped outside and locked her door just in time to face the most vile monster this Earth has to offer.

"G'moring, love. Have you got the rent this month?"
Okay, maybe it was just Harry, the English landlord.
"Have I got the...? What a silly question, of course I don't." Chase answered, crossing her arms and turning away from the tall Englishman, who was now laughing.
"Tha's a good giggle there, love." He said, wiping away a fake tear. "But really, have you got the rent? I's almost due." She looked out the window instead of answering and had to do a double take. For a second she thought she saw a guy in a full suit standing on the other side of her street. Must have been her imagination.
"Yeah, here." She said finally, taking out her wallet and handing the Brit a decent size of her carrying money. It hurt to do.
"Brilliant," said the man counting his newly made cash. "Any plans tonight? Friends coming over? Maybe a guy, eh? You haven't brought many a' them around these parts, 'ave ya?" Chase laughed it off and waved before leaving. He wasn't a bad guy, by any means, but she didn't have time to chat. By the time she got to her post at the school library a small group of kids had already formed outside the door. Apparently, she was the first of the library staff there. She used her key to open up the book haven and let them in before taking her spot behind the counter.
 

Argenteus

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Crate kept jogging at a steady pace until he reached the school, wherein he walked down towards the library. Passing by his friend Courtney, he gave her a wave, but neither had time to talk. He kept walking forward before finally reaching the library. He grabbed a book off of a shelf, it was titled Manifold: Origin, by Stephen Baxter. He walked down to the front desk and slipped his now finished book and the previous book in a series, Manifold: Space and slid it down into the return slot. "Hey Ms. Chase, Good morning." he said to her, as he placed down Manifold: Origin on the counter, barcode side up for her to scan. For some reason they didn't have self-checkout scanners here, he guessed the library couldn't afford them. "Ready to check out another book. I think you'd like this one, Manifold: Space, interesting look at the Fermi paradox."

Because he had gotten there earlier than some since he could jog, he had a good 8 minutes until the start of first hour and thus had time to pick up a book. First hour was Wellness, and the teacher was perhaps the dullest man he knew. Then came math, followed by English. Fourth hour was earth science. After that he had Japanese followed by Phy-ed.

He thought back to his dream that morning. It was strange, he never dreamed about things like that. Best he could tell it was a metaphor for chess, but that wasn't like him either. Why am I giving this so much thought? It's just a damn dream! he thought to himself.
 
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Kazem

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David stared. Lying in bed, warm underneath the covers, he looked into the bright numbers and the two blinking dots, counting the seconds. He woke up only two minutes before the alarm was to go off, and he enjoyed his favorite way to rise up for the school day. He counted, waiting for the moment he dedicated a portion of his life to prepare himself for the classes everyday. Less than a second after the clock read 5:45am, which was really 5:35am for the rest of the world, a single beep escaped the alarm clock before David's hand shot out aiming for the snooze button.

Huh, I missed. I guess today isn't my day.

After picking up the alarm he knocked off his nightstand and turning the alarm off, David sighed and dressed for school, choosing a lovely orange short to wear under his blue hoodie. He stuffed the usual pencil, pen and eraser into the hoodie's pockets and made his way to the kitchen. A short browsing of the pantry led to a bowl of sweet, chocolaty cereal to be poured into a bowl. Opening the fridge and grabbing the milk, David observed the minuscule amount of milk left and decided that he'd leave it for someone else to have, seeing as he had the time to make oatmeal anyway. Putting back the milk and starting the hot water, David walked over to his little brother's room after retrieving a pillow from the couch and leaned against the closed door.

Eyes closed, he took a deep breath and counted down from three. Two, One. In a swift and practiced motion, David opened the door, threw the pillow into the lump of blankets that was his sleeping brother, and closed the door quickly but quietly behind him. A nice thud against the door and grumbling from inside the room let him know that he hit his target. He could hear his mother moving about, which was right on time at what was now 5:55am. It was a bit much to have to wake up his bro at this time of day, but it had to be done since there was only one way out of the house, and that was when Mom left for work.

With the house in motion, a bowl's worth of oatmeal settling in his stomach and hygiene maintenance being accomplished,David sat there and closed his eyes. This lasted five minutes before it was time to go, and ten minutes later, David was walking to the school from the usual drop-off point. David looked at his surroundings as he walked, buses and cars passing by and a flock of birds flying above in a small swarm. A black line was visible at an intersection on the way to school, supposedly one of those mysterious men, but it was gone by the time David finished the yawn he started when he saw the figure. A turn at where the figure was led to the school, the first bell ringing just as David set foot on the grounds. He was consumed by the flood of students on their way to their first class, and escaped from the main body with a group headed to Adv. Orchestra. As the last bell sounded, the group had bows ready and played the unified A before contributing to the following sound of both in and out of tune strings playing at once. The vibration sent a shiver down David's spine and a smile across his face, his favorite part of the morning being this exact moment. The smile quickly turned into a frown when he played his other three strings for tuning.

Damn, they're all off. Today doesn't seem to be my day at all.
 

FairSovereign

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The flower withered. Within moments the rose's petals turned black and fell to the ground; the stem became as dry and brittle as saltine cracker. Dorethea let the plant fall apart in her hands and then she dropped the dead remnant of something once beautiful. In a way similar to that with which she sensed the mortality of living beings she felt the small amount of life force within the rose fade, and then vanish completely. As it did, she felt the slightest surge of increased...something. Something beyond description. It would be easy enough to say vitality, but that wasn't quite accurate enough. For a small moment she simply felt more there, than she had been before, like she had not been quite part of reality and existence until she'd killed the flower. After few moments, the sensation faded, though the echoes of it seemed to ring through her like the feverish recollection of an addict for his after his fix. It was, intoxicating. Yet, the implication of these new sensations was disturbing. She was taking the life out of a living thing, and feasting upon it, relishing in it. In many ways, it was an abominable action. It went against her very nature, and yet, she didn't think she could stop. Luckily she'd limited her actions to occasionally siphoning the vitae of the plants in her parent's garden, but her she was feeling a growing...hunger within her.

When looking at the small plants around her she could feel it, indeed, she could almost see it. Each flower was a small spark of vitality, of energy, and when she walked near those little sources of vitae, she had to restrain herself in order to not consume the whole garden. She turned away from the flowers and began to walk back to her house. As she passed the threshold of the garden she let out a relieved sigh. She had once again resisted temptation. Dorethea wanted to think that it got easier to do each time she visited the garden, but in truth she wasn’t certain. The urges came in waves, where at times she could dismiss them with a passing through, and others she needed to close her eyes and preform mental gymnastics just to put the thoughts out of her mind. It wasn’t that draining the plants was dangerous in and of itself. Dorethea honestly had no qualms about siphoning the life from plants, but draining even a little bit of that sweet power caused her to crave more, so she refrained for her own sake and for the sake of those around her, though she’d been unable to resist today.

Dorethea opened the door to her house and stepped inside. Her parents weren’t home, which meant she had the entire manor to herself, which in her opinion was rather pointless as the place was big enough that she already had a good portion of the place to herself most of the time. The interior of Bolton was like a cross between a Gothic cathedral and a Picasso painting. It was a mixture of dark halls, and elegant furnishings, with a large stained glass window at the front of the house looking out at the whole of Pleasington. The house was a maze of hallways and odd passageways which made the place hard to navigate through at times, though she’d been doing it most of her life so she had no trouble doing it anymore. Some of the hallways didn’t seem to make any sense, but the manor had apparently been in the family for generations so the architects must have had some kind of plan for the place.

Dorethea was currently wearing a flowing black dress, with a violet sash around her waist. She sought out the coat rack next to the front door and once she found it removed the long black coat from it and headed out to the general city. Her shift at the hospital began few hours and until then she plan to get out of the house. It was rate that she had an opportunity to traverse the city, but she was feeling too cooped up in that house which was two steps away from being a mausoleum. After buttoning up the coat, she took her house key, put it in her pocket and headed out of the house.
 

Cassette-Disk

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"Miss Chase."
That was something she still hadn't gotten used to while working at a school. At the very least she had managed to stop the students from calling her by her last name. Still, the prefix "Miss" made her feel older than she really was, even though she was only a few years ahead of the highschoolers.
"What's going on, Crate?" She said, giving the freshman a smile. He was a good kid. Always turned his books in on time and visited the library often enough to be recognizable by most of the staff. He reminded her of a friend she used to have during her freshman year who had moved away.

She took the book from the counter and beeped it in.
"That's what I like about you, Crate." She said handing the book back. "You're always giving me ideas for books I've already read." She playfully closed one eye stuck her tongue out at him as she handed him back the book. "Something like how intelligent life can be anywhere, right? But before they can spread they're shot down by asteroids or giant space cows, and then have to start over." She sat back in her seat, resisting the urge to spin lazily. "Made me think that maybe our asteroid or giant space cow is going to check us in place soon."
 

Argenteus

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Crate gave a little chuckle. "Excluding the bit about giant space cows, it's probably a legitimate issue. Sometimes I wonder if we'll make it, at least to the point where we can't be wiped out by a single asteroid. I'd love for us to survive, but in all honesty there's not much we can do about it except just survive today, huh?" he said as he took the newly checked out book and slid it into his bookbag. "Anyway, I've gotta get to first hour, nice talking to you. Have a nice day." he said as he walked away. He had about 4 minutes to get to his next class, which (Assuming nothing kept him) would give him about a minute to spare.

The conversation had gotten him thinking of the fragility of life. All life on the planet Earth could be wiped out by a single, inconveniently aligned asteroid. Jupiter intercepted most of those, but it was still a possibility. A possibility, that is, if humankind didn't wipe it out first. Nuclear warfare, global warming, the human race seemed the most likely of all causes to eradicate life. And then, some malevolent alien race could come wipe them out through any means, from physically destroying the planet to forcing the sun to go supernova.

OoC: Don't read this next paragraph if you have any intention of reading Manifold: Space and haven't already. It's a real book, and if you like hard sci-fi I'd really reccomend it.
BiC:
Baxter's theory in Manifold: Space had to do with gamma burster stars, neutron binary star systems that repeatedly expelled bright, quick flashes. The idea was that when clusters of these went supernova, rarely they would remain gravitationally bound to each other. This could release a gamma ray pulse spanning distances of a thousand light-years. This would be pretty bad if you were in that range, but not big enough to wipe out all life in a galaxy. But some, incredibly uncommon, massive collisions of larger clusters could set off massive bursts. So massive, in fact, that all life through to the rim of the galaxy would be wiped out due to the massive bombardment. Life had to evolve again, just to get to the point where it would eventually be wiped out again.

It was cold, and depressing. Mankind had almost a zero chance of surviving our own issues, and even if it did we'd be wiped out by a massive gamma ray burst in our galaxy. The book had a way for at least some future life form to survive, but it proscribed no way for humanity to make it. But Crate had a bit more hope. Maybe, just maybe, the earth had a chance. Maybe we would learn to harness wormhole technology to make it across the universe, safely away from a single galactic extinction event. NASA already had a theory for a plausible hyperdrive technology.

He had made it to first hour, and took his seat at the front left corner of the desk section of the room. He hated the lighting of the room, it was too dim, too yellowed. He hated the coloring of the walls, the semi-random patterned carpet, even the posters on the wall. But most of all he hated the teacher, a Mr. Smith. The man never had an original idea in his life, it was hard to see why he had become a teacher. He practically spoke in a monotone.
 
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OmniChaos

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While Chris and Michael headed off to school, Chris spotted Liora and her boyfriend, Luke, and took off in a mad dash toward the pair. Michael smiled at the sight. It was nice to see that his brother had a friend—a true friend, not just one in name only—with whom he could be free around; a friend with whom he could just be Chris with. Michael watched his brother embrace the girl, lift her off her feet, and spin around once before setting her back down, all the while Luke watching. It was a bit eccentric, but it was routine nearly every morning, and Michael felt the two probably looked forward to it—though he couldn't help but wonder what Luke thought of it all.

A sudden gust of wind blew in from behind Michael, and it caught the back of his hat, pulling it from his head. Caught in the surprise gust, the hat tumbled forward along it's rim, and Michael chased with his arm extended helplessly. With his eyes trained on his hat, Michael was quite surprised when the hat came to a stop against a pair of black pants. He straightened up, and as his eyes came to a rest on the man's face, a frown came to his.

"Good morning, Mr. Russell," a cold voice sounded. The man before Michael wore all black—including a matching pair of black-framed sunglasses—and held about him a stern, imposing presence. He bent down slowly, almost like doing so was an unnatural action for him, and picked up the hat at his feet. The man brushed the dust off (meanwhile—slowly—returning upright) and held the hat out to Michael. "I believe this would be yours."

Michael snatched the hat quickly and roughly from the man's hand, which prompted a smile to form on the latter's face. "Just what are you doing here, if I may ask?" Michael asked in tone that belied his earlier body language. He placed his hat back on head, taking a careful few seconds to adjust it to his liking. "What is your reason for being in Pleasington, sir, not to say we aren't a friendly sort."

But the man did not respond. Instead, he simply turned and began walking in the dirrection from which they had came. Michael began to chase after, but a call from his brother, who was reminding him of their lateness, drew his attention away. When he looked back, the man—one of those so-called 'agents'—was gone (just like the one standing across the street but ten minutes earlier). Michael hesitated for a moment, his eyes lingering on the now empty space the man once occupied. Finally, he turned to catch up with his brother.

But unbeknownst to Michael, the agent had not—was not—alone. For, as the man caught up with his younger brother and friends, the tinted lenses of dozens of glasses trained their sights on the pair, watching their actions intently. They watched, from roofs, from alleyways, from windows, and from out in plain sight. They watched, and they waited. And soon, they would act.
 

FairSovereign

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Dorethea walked down the long road that led to the town proper. The wind was warm and gentle that day and it made her long coat sway along with the breeze. The sky was a bright baby blue and there was hardly a cloud in sight, an ideal day, though it only served to make staying inside a hospital for several hours all the more restraining. If it were up to her she would prefer to serve as a visiting nurse or doctor, as house calls would be far more preferable to being inside a sterile building all day. Besides, her mother worked at the hospital, and in working there, she assured that the woman would be able to monitor her every move. It was a godsend that in several months she would be turning eighteen for at that time she would at last gain some measure of freedom. Her family would not be able to restrain her legally, and thus their primary for of leverage over her would be gone. If they tired to kick her out of the house, she could likely get a job at different clinic as a nurse and pay her way into a small house or perhaps an apartment in a bigger city. Either way she would be out of that lavish prison.

People in the city gave her a wide berth, an attitude that she had long since come to accept. They disliked her family. The Bolton family line had a reputation for birthing scions who were at best rude and unlikable, and at worst, corrupt and cruel. It was a rare thing that someone such as herself, which cared at all for the well being of others, was born into the family. Her mother may have been a doctor, but she did it more for the high income. Her father was the true master of the family name and as such had inherited a great deal of wealth from his sire, who'd died several decades ago. Try as she might, it was more or less impossible for Dorethea to single-handedly erase generations of ill-will. Despite this, she still did it, for it was just one more way in which she freed herself from the shackles imposed upon her by the last name of Bolton.

Well into her walk, she stopped by the tailor, and spoke to the woman about a dress her parents had allowed her to commission some time ago. It was a beautiful green and back dress, which was made to fit her thin frame. It fell short of a gown, but was some what less casual than a typical sundress. The dress, also went with a coat that was tailored to go along with it, it was similar to her current long coat, except that it was accented with greens similar to that of the gown itself. The dress had been expensive, though to her parents it may as well have been free. Part of her felt rather guilty for accepting or requesting anything that was well beyond the costs of the average person, but at time she simply couldn't he herself. She had to admit one good thing about being part of a wealth family was that she was free to indulge herself every now and again.

The dressmaker made polite conversation with Dorethea, with whom the owner of the shop had spoken with rather regularly. It was one of the few people in the town who did not see Bolton as the defining part of her name, though admittedly it had taken some convincing at first. Now the dressmaker spoke amiably with her and regularly suggested to her garbs that would look good on her. Today the man proposed a fine sleeveless dress with a matching set of shoes and a blue ribbon for her hair. The man had impeccable taste. It was no wonder he came so highly recommended. After finding out that the dress would be ready to pick u the next morning, she said her goodbyes and made her way out of the shop. That was when she felt them.

Her natural sense of life was constantly proving her mind with information as to the locations of practically every living thing around her. Indeed, there were times, like in her fathers garden, where she could get around with her eyes closed just by perceiving where the sources of life and the absences of the same were in relation to her. In addition, she'd grown adept at discerning the types of life given off by different sources. The aura and signal given off by a human being was actually distinct from that of say, a plant or a different kind of animal. Each species seemed to have it own unique pattern and wavelength. So when she detected humans standing on the rooftops, she at first had dismissed it to maintenance workers or some such repairing the some broken tile or something. Then upon further inspection, she could see the black suited men on the rooftops. It was odd. if she hadn't sensed them, she probably wouldn't have even known they were there.

"What on earth?"
 

Ashes Remnant

It's All Crazy! It's All False!
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Walking. It was something Luke did often. He loved it. It was the one time he could really be alone with his thoughts. His dark thoughts. His mind was a constant storm of thoughts and emotions. Good and bad. Luke wasn’t all black clothes and metal music. Inside things were much more complicated. Colors of all sorts twisted and turned. Taking a walk calmed the storm. It turned the hurricane of pain into a quiet pond. He calls it his inner sanctum. Only when he’s alone can he return to it. It’s the one place he is truly himself and honest to himself.

He was on his way to school, one place he hated more then any other. It was a cesspit of teenage drama, lust, hormones, and judgment. The only bright side of it all is Liora. She was the only good thing. She felt like his inner sanctum. She felt good. He wasn’t even sure why she entertained him sometimes. Luke has blown up on her, deserted her, and let her see his pain. Yet she stays all the same. Luke doesn’t want to hurt her but his pain causes it.

The sun was out today, Luke squinted his eyes in the light. Why can’t it rain today. That’d be so much better. As he passed Liora’s house, he saw his girlfriend making her way towards him, he started to raise a hand towards her, when he saw another person approaching from the other end. Before Luke even got a word to his girlfriend, she was caught up in the arms of her friend. Luke just stepped back a bit and held his fingers to his temples, feeling his inner storm whipping up once more. If I could wish away someone..

A sudden gust of wind picked up, and whipped his hair around his face. Luke sighed heavily. Why couldn’t things just be good in this world. He lifted a hand up dismissively and muttered “I’ll go ahead inside you two.” He quickly moved past them and started heading into the school.








“Sure thing kid, it’s a deal.”

Belhor was looking down at a teenager, probably senior year who met him in this dark alley. The kid was like a junkie but not for any drugs. This kid knew Belhor better then that. This young child had no idea what he was getting into. He asked for an A on his test for the day. Simple enough.

The teacher of the class was an old acquaintance. A foul one. He was a middle-aged man who’s gluttony showed on his waistline. The teacher had been married for twenty some years. His wife has been fat and filthy for as many years as she’s breathed. He wanted some spice in his life.

Little Susan was a fresh college student who was new in town. She needed some extra money for rent, and heard that Belhor was in the market for making deals. Everyone’s morals have a price, and a desperate and lonely teacher will pay quite a hefty one. A quick set up in a motel outside of city limits, and the teacher was in his pocket.

Of course, every deal has another side of it. Susan gave Belhor her grandmother’s necklace in order for a steady and easy cash flow. Belhor gave this necklace to a construction worker who in turn gave it to the teacher’s fat wife as a way to get her attention off her husband’s extramarital fun by giving her a distraction as well. The worker owed him a deal. The teacher however, in return for a promise of a young college student, gave Belhor leverage over him. Belhor has always had a vested interest in the school.

The student impatiently adjusted his backpack. “What do I need to give you in return?” the boy asked. Belhor chuckled for a bit, and leaned close. “Just tell me what you dreamt about last night.”

By the reaction the student had, you would have thought Belhor had asked for a yellow elephant. The boy stammered for a second before composing himself and saying, “Gladly! I dreamt about a bunch of guys in all black standing in a little ocean that just got bigger. Is that all I have to do?”

Belhor grinned and assured him all would be taken care of. As the boy walked off towards school, Belhor pulled out his phone, and told the teacher the time had come to pay his debts and to flub some scores. After the short call, Belhor shoved the phone in a pocket, and walked the opposite way, humming to himself.
 
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Sitting at a small desk in a quaint bedroom Shizuka was fast sleep. Her head was placed in an unapologetic manner on the hard surface, a lone stray paper sticking to her forehead. A pencil was held in her right hand, a hint of the fact that she had been up all night studying. A trio of loud raps upon her door awoke her, though her head stayed where it was. "Come in..." She mumbled, letting out a yawn afterword. Her door swung open and in stepped an older woman in her late thirties. It was Shizuka's mother, who was already up and about. Her mother walked in without a word, taking a look at her daughter's cluttered desk she tapped the wooden surface.

"I know, I know. I should stop cramming at the last minute for tests." Shizuka mumbled, her voice sounding as drowsy as her head felt heavy. She had a nasty habit of putting things off for as long as possible, she would do something about it, but unfortunately that was also on the list of things she was putting off.

"Shizu dear, if you keep arriving late to school you're going to make mother sad."

Shizuka let out a tired breath, blowing papers about her desk. She didn't need to see her mother's face to know there was a sly smirk on it. Of all the things to pick up upon moving to America why did one of them have to be sarcasm? Reluctantly raising her head she leaned back in her seat, the paper stuck to her head following along. "Just five more... hours please." She moaned, hardly feeling up to dragging herself through school today. Her mother took the paper from her forehead, looking it over she chuckled.

"I'm afraid I can't do that Shizu. And this paper... Since when are the three branches of government bacon, lettuce, and tomato?"

"I was hungry. Most likely asleep as well... Anyway can you give me a ride to school?"
 

Dari

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It was fairly chilly, but Evan didn't mind. The time he had to himself was useful, falling into the life of both lavish and luxury was something only privileged children could know. Born in that very age, yet he knew what it was like to be an orphan during his youthful years, and the adoptive child to a foster family. Buried in a s gray palette scarf, a black fleece, and formal dress pants, with high socks and obsidian shoes.

He stopped at the street light, preparing the cross with the other. The traffic was phenomenal, the people were far more alive than Evan could ever modestly convey. He'd practiced being very reserved, dignified, well-mannered, and a total control freak. His personality was a strong one, because he couldn't afford to not be in control. I felt like others worst enemy because of these characteristics he carried, but he seemed to play the part of a vault for secrets fairly well.

The people seemed as forgettable as the next, walking by paying little attention to the other as possible. This was Pleasington, where you were just as obscure as the men that were the most suspicious. No one could tell that weird things happened, briefly Evan noticed things, but quickly dismissed them after five seconds as himself experiencing a hot flash. As he approached the gates to Jefferson High, he looked at his watch, passing yet another man in a black coat who was just another average Joe to him. He didn't care, the scavengers that crowed and stalked them like until they met the end of dead carcass was profusely unbecoming.

There was a pair, he didn't have the pleasure of knowing either of their names. Male and female, together, and he'd been held up by a mild obstruction of deciding to walk around them. As if he'd some kind of good fortune, where their clothes moved and tattered for a second, Evan remained fine as he walked past them both and headed into the school. He furrowed his brow suspiciously for a second, but didn't make eye contact and just continued on into the school.
 

Endless Warrior Sora

Return of the Kid
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Jefferson High School, the great melting pot of the small little herd of adolescents who gathered here in social and educational comraderie. Which, in Devon's case, was more like a daily performance test to act as least nerdy as possible to avoid getting picked on. Or worse, his camera getting picked on. He walked quite quickly for no exact reason, enthralled in his camera as he scrolled through his recent shots over the past week. He should delete these, seeing as how they were already uploaded on his desktop. Making his way into the school, he bumped into some lavishly dressed kid, and instantly he knew it was. He had worked in the Yearbook Department, and was a photographer for the school, so he had pretty much facial recognition of almost everyone at the school. He was almost certain that Evan did not return that same knowledge, and probably had no idea who Devon was. Stumbling a bit, he wrapped his arms around his camera before quickly gaining his balance and turning to the upperclassman.

"My bad bro!" He sheeply apologized, with genuine concern but not taking a moment to stop as he kept moving. He was afraid that he would receive a familiar look of contempt from the fellow classmate but didn't want to wait around to find out. Looking downward, he kept moving.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hua rode into school on her cruiser board passing a couple she usually saw in front there every morning. Wait, that was wrong. She recognized the two, but they weren't the ones dating. Where was the girl's actual boyfriend? Did he know about this? She raised an eyebrow, picking up her board as she broke into a walk in front of the school. She put her board on the bike racks for the students, not worried at all if it got stolen or not. Usually it would be there waiting for her when she got out of school and there was absolutely no way she was going to carry that thing around with her all day. Especially since the school "frowned upon" skating on campus. And by frowned upon, it usually meant confiscation. And confiscation usually meant cracking down on kids with extreme prejudice. And cracking down on kids with extreme prejudice usually meant detention. So to avoid detention, she left her board there was walked through the school doors, staring perhaps a little too long at couple bewildering her.
 

OmniChaos

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"No, Luke, wait." Chris took a few steps forward, his right arm outstretched to reach the boy's shoulder. But he hesitated, then withdrew it. He turned his head to the sky, which was awashed in a beautiful palette of reds, oranges, and yellows—it reminded Chris of one of those beautiful sunrise pictures he occasionally saw online—and caught the black silhouette of a figure on the roof. He squinted, trying to get a better view of the figure, but as he did, it vanished from sight. He sighed and turned back to Luke. "No, you stay. I'll go ahead."

Chris turned and gave Liora one more hug, then he and Michael continued on past the pair. He couldn't help but feel bad—he felt like he was butting in on Luke's time with his girlfriend, but at the same time, Liora was his best friend. And he tried to befriend Luke, but it just seemed the boy wouldn't have it, as if letting anyone too close would bring him pain. Maybe they weren't so different after all.

A bell tolled, signaling the start of school, and informing the students they had five minutes to get to their first period class. "Ah, shit!" Chris cursed, as he took off in a dash through the gates. The pair ran through the corridors, trying to reach the opposite side of the school, and nearly plowed through a small group of chattering students. "Dammit! I hate first period," he groaned through pants. "I just wish it was already lunch time."

Michael chuckled (though it just came out as a wierd string of gasps). "I'm sure you do, Chris, but—"

~*~

A man in black stood on top of a nearby building, his eyes—resting behind a black pair of sunglasses—set on the school across the street. Though at an initial glance, he seemed no different from the numerous other so-called "agents" spotted around town, a closer look found him much different. His face seem harder, and showed the soft lines of age. Unlike the others, whose hair had been all been black, this man's hair was a bright silver, with only the smallest peppering of black, which poked out beneath his black hat. He seemed taller than the others, though that could simply be due to the air of superiority the man gave off.

He stood, unmoving, as another man in black appeared behind him. The second man stood quiet, waiting to be addressed by the first. He would wait a lifetime, if need be, for it was not his place to address his superior, and doing so would amount great repercussions. He shuffled his weight once from one foot to the other before his superior finally spoke.

"You may speak."

"It has happened," the second man said in a monotone voice. "Should we proceed?"

"I am aware," the first man said with a heavy voice. He turned to face the second man, removing his glasses. His irises held no color, making his eyes appear completely white with two small black specks as his pupils. "And no, not yet. The time is not yet right. We must wait until he is alone, less they are to interfere again."

The second man nodded once, then took a step back, disappearing. The first man turned back to the school, placing his glasses back over his eyes. The sun glanced off the lenses, sending a white streak across the darkness of his glasses. He stood, and he waited.

~*~

"—you're just going to have to deal with it."

"What are you talking about, Mr. Russell?"

Michael stared out blankly, not entirely sure of anything; all of his senses abandoning him at once. It felt sort of like an out of body experience, only that his mind was still stuck in his body while everything else had left. A tingle ran through his body, jutting him out of his pseudo-paralysis, and he stumbled back a few steps. Michael placed his fingers to his temple, massaging it lightly.

"Mr. Russell, are you alright?"

Michael looked out over the classroom and—wait, the classroom? He didn't understand, how could he have been in his classroom? He was just with his younger brother. Moreover, this wasn't his first period class, English IV, but it was his third period class, English I, and the clock read just short of noon. How was this possible?

"I-I'm fine," he finally answered. In truth, he wasn't—not one bit—but it was best his students not be concerned with his apparent nervous breakdown. "I'm just a little light-headed, I'll be alright."

The bell couldn't have rang soon enough. As the children rose from their seats to leave, Michael called out to remind them over their test tomorrow—at least he thought they had a test, and if they didn't, they did now. When they had all left, Michael sat down and dropped his head to his desk. Michael didn't know what was going on, but, hopefully, a little rest would help clear his mind. He could deal with going insane later.
 

Argenteus

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"Good morning class," said his first hour teacher in a near monotone. "Today-" and suddenly he broke off. It seemed to Crate the man was stuttering, and he stifled a giggle. Oddly enough, the rest of the class was not making any reference to the event, they were just there staring blankly when he looked back at them. Something else was off, but he couldn't figure out what. Ah. He realized. It's the light. It's not flickering And indeed the lightbulb that the teacher would always complain about was not flickering. He looked back up at the teacher...

Only to find that the class was no more silent and the teacher was speaking again. But in a blur of color it was no longer the same teacher, rather it was his 3rd hour teacher of English. "--But your just going to have to deal with it." he heard him say. He didn't know the context of it, but judging by the class' reaction they didn't either. Then he dismissed them, and warned them about a test. He hadn't seemed to notice Crate was still in there. "This may be a longshot, and I'm probably about to make a fool out of myself but... Did time just sort of skip a step there for you as well? Were you at the beginning of 1st hour like me and then - Wham! - it's the end of 3rd?" he said to Mr. Russel with a stunned look on his face and a tone of voice to match.

Mr. Russel wasn't a bad teacher by any means. He wasn't perfect, but he knew his subject at any rate. He was known for using a lot of chess metaphors which, in an english class, often were a bit of a stretch to apply to the subjects. But the man loved chess, and Crate couldn't fault him for that. There seemed a certain tragic depth to him, but Crate had no way of knowing why and didn't want to pry where he was not welcome.
 

Kazem

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Mrs. Pearson had her baton up in the air, the entire orchestra set their bows lightly onto their strings, the small crunch of someone moving too fast onto their sting heard from each end of the room, and perfect silence. The baton dropped, and the bows slid down the stings, a beautiful harmony opening up the piece. Ah, I love orchestra. I don't know what I'd do without i-

David's pencil streaked down the paper that was suddenly in front of him. A blink was his only response before looking around. A stool was underneath him, one of the few in the room that weren't unbalanced. Other pencils glided around the paper in short bursts, tapping and sighs from those stuck on a problem, and silence from those who either gave up, or were almost done. A look down informed him that this was the Chemistry test.

Yet another blink.

David flipped his pencil, erasing the streak and looking over the two answers he had already written. Well then. I guess time really does fly by when you're having fun, but there's no way that applies to 2nd period History. Did I sleepwalk? No no no, I couldn't have navigated the halls like that. But then... what exactly did I do? Did I time travel? Am I in a alternate universe? Did I really forget to convert that into moles? After the quick adjustment to the paper, David zipped through the test and plopped it down on the substitute's desk-for-the-day, which left him about three minutes of nothing to do.

A pack of cards was extracted from David's pocket, taken out of the packaging, and was quietly shuffled as he waited for his buddy to finish. It only took a minute more of shuffling until a game of "Speed" was dealt out. Sorting the cards in both of their hands, they both locked eyes and placed their hands down, ready to flip the card underneath them. Cards were drawn and played, in singles and in clumps, sometimes an entire hand at a time. One card was left in both of their hands when the last pair of stalemate cards was required, the tension evident in both of their eyes. A silent mouthing of one, two, three! signaled the anti-climatic flip onto the stacks, the same card being put on top, and neither of them being able to put down theirs.

Both boys laughed and readjusted themselves on the stools, taking the two large piles and straightening them out before setting them down again, this time face-down. The pressure to win was gone, both smiling and ready to slap down their respective card. Another countdown led to another flip. The cards were both played at the same time on both piles, and the winner wasn't clear until after a game of rock-paper-scissors. With a sigh, David gave up his victory and prepared the deck for shuffling again when shuffling and zippers let him know the end of the period was upon them.

The bell rang, releasing the school's attendees to their own devices for lunch. David quickly walked out and was able to get halfway down the hall before students congested in the halls and slowed it down to a normal pace, then a slow walk, followed by a weird sort of shuffling, before stopping completely. Fortunately, David was actually able to enter the lunchroom before the stop, and was able to grab his lunch and plop down on the usual table in about a minute. He waited for his group to do the same. David's mind wandered as he poked at his pasta, rolling the meatballs around and spreading the sauce.

...odd. Could have sworn it was soup day, but I'm not complaining, their usual option of tomato or chicken noodle isn't exactly too appetizing right now. A moment of mental silence passed, and a blank stare toward his food was given.

Wow I'm bored.
 

Dari

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In English I Evan could take a liking to the book report they had to do on The Lord of The Flies. Opening his wool threaded binder, he was simply giving it a final pass over, denoting any errors in MLA. His homeroom would be the eventually be submitting this. Though this attention to the page didn't last very long. He began to feel a little awkward, like an anti-social mess as he sat there staring at the empty teacher's desk.

His blanket was always on, for some peculiar reason he'd never truly attempted to understand why or even how to turn it off. Normally you'd take the expression time flies in the blink of an eye, Evan saw it for himself that expression. As he sat his pencil down, he yawned as their first period teacher had entered the classroom.

Blinking for just a second, he opened his eyes and noticed something. Feeling warmer, as the goosebumps tickled his spine, everything was just spinning around him fast. Silhouettes of people walking, like he was holding his breath this entire time until finally.

"Pauh..." he said exhaling, and attempting to figure out what just happened. Looking at the desk, the book report he prepared was gone, the text he had so intricately placed in the right corner was no longer there, in fact is was an entirely different text he'd bring to his third period class. He was snapped out of his trance by the sound of the bell ringing, releasing them for the lunch period.

"Huh..." he was just as lost, he despised being this oblivious. Third period is over...? Evan just sighed and picked up his books, heading for his locker. When he opened it he removed a black sturdy lunchbox from it, effectively keeping it at a cold temperature with the icepack on the bottom of its inside. Taking it out and placing his books in, his eyes narrowed for a second, fourth period to follow only put them halfway through the day.

He sat at the table with David Wertheim on the opposite side. If there was something that they had in common, it'd definitely be the attention to the weird things going on.

"You ok David? You seem a little...whats the word. Bored?"

"So, I've got an interesting story today. I got brief view of what the heck just happened. Like everything was moving in fast forward for a brief second, then poof. I'm sitting in third period, snapping out of my trance as the bell rings. These random shifts are starting to make me really paranoid..." Evan said to David as the boy was playing with work.
 

Cassette-Disk

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Chase propped open another book. Since classes were about to start, there wouldn't be many students coming into the library until lunch. She used this time to catch up on her own reading, it was either that or talk to the other staff, and she wasn't particularity found of the grumpy old lady who roamed the halls of books shushing anyone who talked louder than a decibel. Today she had decided to pull out a series of very short books, each one was only about 90 pages long and there were three in total. Roughly the same size as a decent novel. She skimmed through a random page before heading back to the beginning and started reading thoroughly.

The first paragraph described the life of a lowly man working at a gas station trying to scrap up enough money to buy an expensive car in order to impress the love of his life. He worked along side a mild girl and a timid teen whose name was
"Chase, I can believe this is happening." She sobbed at her. Sitting in front of the library worker was...herself? No wait, it was her younger sister. Chase had forgotten how much they looked alike, people often got the two confused. The fact that Chas was just as short as her sister didn't help matters. ...Wait, where's my book? And why is Annie here? She didn't want to ask why her sibling was crying, even though she knew it was coming whether she wanted it or not.

"Uh...Err...A-Annie? What's going on?" Chas asked timidly.
"I-I told you" her sibling bawled. "Mom...She got in an accident on her way to work. She's in a comma right now." Annie couldn't look at her sister anymore and covered her face while crying her eyes out. Chase put a hand on her sister's shoulder. She had come all the way here to tell her about their mother. Maybe the sudden...skip? from reading her book to now was to be blamed on her nerves being wrecked so hard over this news. She looked at the clock while her sister sobbed on. It's lunch time. That would be too big of a gap between her being told her mother's fate and her four hour memory lapse. Not only that, but if her mother's accident had caused her to have so much turmoil that she would lose part of her memory, wouldn't she be feeling extreme sadness right now? It's not like she felt as if nothing had happened, but compared to her sister--who was having a breakdown in the backroom of a school library--Chase was feeling...fine.

"I know you two weren't getting along," Her sister blurted out. "and that she kept hassling you over your choices...but she really did care, you know." Chase hugged her younger sister.
"I know. She loves us. All we can do is wait and hope she comes back." That was...pathetic. She told herself. Was that really the best she could say in order to calm her sister down? Compared to Chase, her mother was much more decisive. She knew what to do and what to say. If she were here right now, she would be able to calm Annie down easily. Compared to her, Chase was nothing.
"We'll go visit her soon, okay?" Chase ended. "I promise."

After she calmed down a bit, Annie let. Chase didn't ask where she was going, but she was probably going home to rest. Her eyes were insanely red, and she had said that the doctors weren't allowing any visitors to her mother's room for some reason.
"Are you sure you're alright, dear?" Asked the old lady who also worked in the library. Chase didn't even notice that she was in the room. She also noted that this was the first time she had called her "dear."
"I'll be fine." Chas answered, rubbing her eyes. She didn't feel like crying, and surprisingly she wasn't very upset. She just felt a small amount of sadness. "Dad must be going through hell right now, though... Is it okay if I grab some lunch?" She asked. She wasn't feeling particularly hungry, but the morning bagels had run their course. Mom always did say that eating was important, after all.
 
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