So there I was, singing along with music on the clone’s iTunes (the way I do when left without adult supervision), and it hit me yet again: They’re in Florida! That thought was followed immediately by a sudden realization that I now bear a stronger resemblance to one of the major characters in “that novel,” and I’m not the one who’s changed appearance. He’ll get over it, though, and I’ll always be taller. (He knew he’d get over it eventually, but he thought it would take longer. Like a couple of decades. Like last time. But last time, he did the “surgery” himself with a glass bottle, after he’d consumed the contents of the bottle. This time, there was a well-paid cosmetic surgeon and an obsidian scalpel and no scarring of any kind — because colorless obsidian is nonferrous as well as very, very sharp — and what was removed will be visibly returning before everyone beds down for the long trip Out.)
Mind you, these people who are now — finally — in Florida (and I do not want to see mention of Orlando except as a place-name, got it?) are fictional: characters who will eventually, after a long journey and many difficulties, appear in one of the novels I’m working on. (No, I’m not just being lazy. In order to avoid the need for enormous amounts of revision, I need to write this thing in stages, adjusting the details as more connected-but-not-in-the-same-series stories get written by the clone. ‘Sides, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom.) When I say they, I specifically mean Grey and Walotsky, although of course the rest of the Roald Amundsen‘s crew are there, too.
(“If everyone were a cat, nobody would have thumbs, and then we’d have no space program.” I just said that to my cat a moment ago. She likes to “help” me by standing in front of the computer monitor so I have an excuse not to work.)
It’s funny: At some point this year, I expect to become suddenly aware that the Amundsen has left orbit and is on its way out of the system… and none of this is real. Even if it were real, it would be happening in some alternate universe and not here. Sort of like when, many years ago, I was suddenly aware of, as I described it at the time, “the sound of a door slamming open”: the gate-thing up north (north of where? guess…!) reopening for the first time in centuries. ‘Course, that was waaaayyy before the current version of the story. Had to make a few necessary changes along the way as the stories in my head merged with the ones my clone has been carrying around since long before we met. (Does that sound weird, to say that there was a time when I didn’t know my own identical twin? Eventually, I really am going to have to write that “How I Met My Brother” post. Maybe after we get the first couple of Providence novels published and I just don’t care what anyone thinks about me or my weirdo background.) And then, sometime in February of next year, I’ll be minding my own business,and then I’ll look up and say quietly, Boom. And the clone will know that I just became aware that, in a fictional alternate universe, somebody just pushed a button.
(Yeah, whatever. Your creative/fiction-writing process would probably look really weird to me, too. If you want normal, you’re in the wrong place, kid.)
It’s not all bad over there, though. Imagine someone like Elon Musk being owed a favor by someone like Daeren Drake… (*Mutters something about law school and regret and Sorry about the house, but you weren’t living there anyway.*) That’s why, in that alternate and fictional universe, they’re sending a mission to a planet much farther away than Mars. (The official story is that they’re going to a planet in orbit around alpha Cent B; I learned last year — while editing a novel, dammit! — that the official story is incorrect.)
Real-life (and ordinary real-life, at that) stuff: The clone is coming home tomorrow from his archaeology dig near Kutz Canyon. I can’t divulge details yet, but he did tell me he found something unique, which isn’t a word often used in archaeology. (On last year’s dig, he tripped over a mammoth leg bone — almost literally. He was out looking for petrified wood because he’d spotted some earlier in the day, and he saw the end of a bone sticking out of a bank, and he thought, That’s way too big to be from a cow or bison — it’s gotta be mammoth. And so it was. That was at the site now named Garcia Draw, in western Texas. I told him that after this year’s find, people are going to be lining up to join his dig crews because he’s so lucky.)
We expect to be out of here before the end of the year. Gods (especially Murphy!) willing, we’ll move before the end of October. Once the clone has the first draft of his thesis written, he can start looking for jobs, and we can both start looking for somewhere else to live. (I don’t regret helping put my clone through college, but I’ll be happy when it’s over.)
And yes, I have had my coffee today. I’ve had not only my coffee, but also the coffee that one of the aforementioned fictional people would be drinking if he were 1) real and 2) able to hear me talking about him, ’cause drinking coffee is how he deals with certain kinds of stress. So the coffee has cinnamon in it and everything (even though Alex doesn’t approve — he understands the symbolism and says we don’t need that).
In case you’re wondering, the song I was singing along with earlier is “The Longest Time,” by Billy Joel; it’s become a sort of unofficial “love theme” for Jason and Elena.