The landing was violent and jarring—far from the smooth descent that Pilot was used to with the Elevator. Normally his Elevator would have braked smoothly, banking across the atmosphere at terrific speed but in a controlled and predictable manner. Instead, he could feel himself flipping end over end over end as the Elevator spun out of control, feverishly trying to right itself and brake by using its automatic stabilizers and powerful thrusters. He headed directly for a massive ditch below; and crashed into the earth there, pushing up mounds and masses of red earth in the process. The Elevator’s smoking chassis left a charred trail over a dark, grassy embankment, turning the wet wilderness into a steaming, slippery hell fit only for a fire demon. Not being a fire demon however, Pilot was shaken rather badly. Worse, he could feel that he had hit his head on something inside the Elevator during the crash landing and was dazed and confused, as well. His mind reached back to his basic training but he couldn’t recall what he was supposed to do in these circumstances.

He took a breath, leaning back in his pod, and counting slowly, he tried to get his bearings. Before he could, however, bright Red and Blue lights began flashing on his exterior viewfinder, indicating that the Elevator must have been spotted by locals. Turning on the exterior audio inputs, the chaotic sound of a Siren could be heard, over the sound of pulsing rain. This was not good. Pilot had no plans to be discovered here, not yet, not in this state, so shaking his head free to clear the daze he still felt, he sat up and pondered over his control panel. Flashing symbols and diagrams scrolled rapidly across the holographic display—way too fast for Pilot’s dazed senses. He laid a palm on his control surface, mentally sending the sensation for his Elevator to straighten up and right itself, preparatory to an emergency take-off. 

It was too late. Locals had arrived and were all around the Elevator now, grasping and pulling and pushing at its smooth hull. Pilot, safely ensconced inside, could not really be hurt or damaged, so long as life support remained online. Fortunately this seemed to be working. But there was real damage to the Elevator. Right at the moment he wasn’t sure of its extent or area, but he couldn’t get it to right itself, which was a major issue! Tentatively, he ‘asked’ it to move right, and it moved left. He tried right, and instead, it slid left. Forward, and it went back. Back, and it lurched forward. No wonder he had crash landed. His centering mechanism was clearly malfunctioning, and now with the crash, was possibly broken too. Without a closer examination it was impossible to say. This, however, was out of the question right now as the locals seemed to be taking possession of his Elevator.

Furiously, looking around the cabin for some emergency lever, slide or instructions that he might have forgotten about in his dazed state, Pilot couldn’t do much besides beat his hands on the panel. There were no emergency controls or instructions he could see. All his frantic movements did was make El wave around uncontrollably, which had the unfortunate consequence of the locals taking a firmer grip on it and extracting it forcibly from the wetlands. They lifted his feverish existence into a nearby vehicle—the one with the flashing lights. Pilot went limp, collapsing back in his pod. El settled back as well, as it was wheeled horizontally on a fabric covered gurney with smooth and controlled movements by the practiced locals into the waiting vehicle. Pilot, exhausted by the ordeal, mercifully passed out. Sirens blaring and wheels whirring, the captured Elevator with Pilot in it was whisked away at high speed.

Take It Racing

..one way to improve any performance is to take it racing.

Some YouTuber

Pilot heard the phrase in his echoing chambers resoundingly, even now, and it must be hours (and hours!) later.. What made it clatter so?

Maybe because Pilot was looking for ways to improve performance, maybe because it appealed to the wind-cheating design of his, maybe because he was (at last!) ready to ‘get the lead out’ as it has been described. All this, plus his design did need further tweaking and inwardly Pilot knew he had done enough on his own, it was time for his formulas to be put the test.

Why not race it?? The thought kept circulating with Pilot throughout the day.

By the end of its day (this was early in 2022 1 11 to be exact) Pilot imagine he could see all that was his to be laid out in a giant race track for others to view. Races. Racing. Wasn’t that what a contest was? Hadn’t that been what it had been doing all along? He had started that, at Acadium so far. Now, suddenly more, much more came up on his central screen, long obscured by chiaroscuro. 2022 was proving to be all that he had dreamed so far. It was going to be a trip!

The Interface War

The answer cannot be to be away from all people, all other people, it must be instead to be independent of other people and unmoved by their noise and circumstance. Is that it? Can one be both independent and simultaneously ‘with’? Can I?

Meanwhile, the War plays on, uninterrupted, save I, for the moment a ‘conscientious objector’, using a notebook, not an electronic one either, a paper and pencil analog notebook. Isn’t this rather avoiding the issue, instead of facing and addressing it head-on? I prefer to think of it as respite before heading back to the trenches. Besides, what difference does it make if I abandon my post temporarily. It is not as if I was under direct attack, is it? Only, like you, I AM under direct attack, with almost every interface experience today. There is no such thing anymore (if there ever was) as ‘neutral’ communications. 

Every tap on every ‘Black Mirror’ screen, every tickle of every keyboard is logged and rolled into an unceasing complex of data and information tracked, mined and fertilized with more information and used to retarget more of the same. It was not the mining that caused the war. It is actually the ‘more of the same’ that started it all off. The endless cacophony of more-of-the-same promotion racket that has been running for two decades now. It is so commonplace that younger generations have never seen anything else. As a result they are almost universally cynical. At least older generations had the advantage of television to develop immunity to commercials. With television, you see, commercials came at predictable intervals, grouped together, for predictable (usually short) amounts of time. True, there was the occasional half hour or one hour ‘infomercial’ program, but these were rare and truth be told, often quite amusing and there was no doubt whatsoever they were paid commercial broadcasts. Today, instead, we have slyly inserted micro promotions and attention / intention-grabbers anywhere and everywhere throughout the digital experience. Now everyone and everything is a target for more-of-the-same no matter the occasion. Browsing? Yes. Shopping? Yes. Emailing? Yes. Messaging? Why not? Nothing is sacrosanct, nothing is sacred in this environment.

Used to be more-of-the-same was universally labelled as new, (or brand-new!), whether it was breakfast cereal, cars, or clothes. Now, everything is recycled more-of-the-same but the focus has shifted from new more-of-the-same products to new more-of-the-same interests, focus, beliefs or attitudes. The result is that with more and more information we are becoming more and more polarized. War is the reason why. The Interface War.

Pilot Battles his Interface

Pilot, cool under pressure, found the needed mail missing and so sat back and paused, considering. For some reason he remembered the first time, as a small Elevator, no more than six years old, he had heard the term ‘plastic surgery’, overheard through an adult conversation. He remembers his reaction, as well, in the same engrane. The Reaction was relieved, plus disappointed. Relieved because he could not conceive of any way flesh and plastic way could seamlessly blend, plus it sounded hideous in its possibilities. Disappointed, because it implied to him, at any rate, there was no real way to repair his centering stick mechanism. Less said. At that moment the missing mail arrived. Move on.

Today, Pilot continued battling with his interface. Rain, snow, wind, numerous malfunctions, all conspired against him. Oftentimes Pilot would return to a thought trail, such as this one, only to discover a cooling thread begun days earlier, yet interrupted by any number of exterior factors. Meanwhile, his ‘interface’, what was left of it, in his case has done nothing to forward the action, nor even remind him of the leaving of it, in the rain, then.

Although at times faced with a bewildering herd of signals, numbering in the thousands, including well over a hundred critical ones, Pilot’s attention rarely varied. He maintained his hold, after all these years, in a relaxed grip, but almost never took both hands off the controls at any one time point.

Today, for instance, elements of Pilot’s interface lay scattered about the room he currently occupies, a ‘puter, a ‘pad plus several notebooks from Novella.

Each of these elements held a variety of sub-elements, some (many, in this case) were connected and related with each other, online and offline together, as well. Together each of these thread-elements was a voice in a weaving Pilot was in the process of creating, called ‘My Story’.

Today, for an instance, Pilot started a new list of story elements:

He followed up with a new feature graphic set he had been working with. It was fun developing short new engrains, like this, even as the interface battles progress.

How to Brand Anything

The Day The Facebook Went Down

Pilot had been dreading this moment for years.

A strange and unsettling day, according to Stephen Colbert.

Pilot had been dreading this moment for years. The date and precise nature of the moment, like death, was unknown in advance. When it occurred it did not at first occur as propitious. Nor did it occur as a particularly happy day, nor on a known holiday, besides being a Monday, known for weekly journaling planning, “Holy” calm day for pilots. Usually Pilot avoided contact with People on Mondays.

This Monday about half way into his morning, the part where he’d sat at his desk for at least ten minutes and no more than an hour when he went to complete online re-registration of a few of his newest items, 7 or 8 in the new Novella 260 lineup, the browser wouldn’t load the facebook and we looked the other way.

“Well,” thought Pilot at the time, “that makes one fewer onerous and annoying time draining tasks on my list today, “good.”

That said he returned to attempting to liaise thoughts in moments from many moments in time, not to mention three quite different platforms into on propitious new book, which in turn took housing to at least a dozen more, at least. Still, it was only the ten digits of his elevator to express that in that he has, and only such tools and primitive if not primordial compositional encampments as exist today in hard reality today. Pilot, for the most part, worked on his own at this time.

Pilot’s mission, getting back on his home timeline, required that he do that thing you’re NEVER supposed to do as a time traveler, which is, of course, NEVER “alter the timeline!’

Pilot however, being from the future and trapped here now due to accidental circumstances some half a century earlier had every advantage that innocence can provide but little in the way of worldly know-how. And he knew ‘altering’ the timeline was / is not only what s/he must do but all along, in fact what his mission is.

He did however have yet a residual desire to revisit said timeline and he wasn’t certain he wanted much else, therefore in his career he has put a lot of time into documentation in an attempt to capture the gestalt of the period he was from, before, and employs his meditations on hegemonic melody phrase i.e. harmonic language frequency and the use of Canadian French and English in a verbally articulated language structure.

For Pilot, this meant he had faced looking deadlines and made some inroads with locating and beginning the combining of various text, art and strategy into finished, promoted and printed pieces: Now was when the PR Moment existed with the primordial call for Something Better, wasn’t it?

Something Better was absolutely up Pilot’s alley, and here he was with his pants half on! Just as he’d known for years, at the precise critical moment of greatest opportunity, he was not ready!

All wasn’t lost, however.

In reality, Pilot’s actual calendar schedule stuck to an idea he was simply massaging the “lid” into place, and me would have an adequate one soon, this month even.

And moments can be milked, and would be, for some time, he was pretty sure, meanwhile there was a field of young soccer players ahead of him, a pair of teenage women walking by, kicking a ball was well as a field of lacrosse players behind him to the right. Further behind her could hear the sounds of younger players in the distance, up the hill from here.

He envied them their pleasure in motion and physical connection in the moment of playing sport well and having fun in it, then he returned to enjoying the thrill of watching the lacrosse players in play.

When play ceased he had merely to turn his head to watch this.

Integrate, brand elevator, brand genr8 brand elev8r

Continue, our story continues…


It started to rain just as the trio stepped out the door into the Street. Pilot ran back inside, and grabbing two Umbrellas from a Stand in the Store, he returned to the curb, where Dorothy and George were waiting expectantly under the concrete overhang. The three walked along the wet sidewalk to the Restaurant, Dorothy and George walking ahead under a large Black Umbrella. Pilot followed behind, under his own Blue Umbrella. It is in this way that Elevators, by and large, stayed dry in Rainy City.

After Dinner, walking home in the rain Pilot was left to his own ministrations under his portable navy blue tent. Dorothy had been eager to share her progress with her meeting with Mr. Owedewells, who liked Dorothy and had a Lead for a big Computer Project. George had been his usual quiet and questioning self until Pilot had piped in about something he had heard earlier that day in Mr. Owedewells’ shop, the Zippy Print store down the street. Pilot had gone there earlier to make several copies of the Inventory Blank—and also to get out of the Computer Store for a few minutes. He could easily have printed extra Blanks with the Epsom Printer, but it was “six of one, half a dozen of the other,” which cost more; using the Epsom Printer at their shop or the big Zeroz Machine next door, so since it was slow in the Store that day, Pilot had gone next door for the change of scenery. While there, he happened to hear Mr. Owedewells talking on the phone about the annual Zippy Conference in Tomorrowland, next month. Dorothy’s eyes opened just a bit wider and George raised his eyebrows, wrinkling his large round forehead.

“What if we could show the System we are developing for Mr. Owedewells’ shop to all the Zippy Stores in Tomorrowland, next month?” quizzed Dorothy. George thought this a good idea. Pilot wondered how all this was to occur. Tomorrowland wasn’t parsecs away, but it was far enough. It required flight and Pilot, for one, still hadn’t learned how to fly. Plus, the System the Computer Store had been developing for Mr. Owedewell was enormous. Far bigger than Dorothy or George or Pilot, even. With these questions in mind but few answers Pilot found himself thinking following Dinner.

After coffee, Dorothy and George went to their house and Pilot walked back to the Medieval Mansions. He was now living with Mary, not Robert, but Mr. Farley had not changed much. The Landlord was as gruff and unpredictable as ever. Pilot could go days or weeks without seeing him when suddenly he would pop up in the downstairs entrance fiddling with a lock or a spring or some mechanism of the door. He’d eye Pilot with that inscrutable gimlet eye of his, grunt out some inexplicable new rule, like “Don’t use the downstairs entrance!” and resume his work.

Pilot now lived on the ground floor, in Mary’s apartment, which was brighter and even lovelier. Mary, like Robert, had a Lease with Mr. Farley and Pilot was still a ‘roomie’. While Pilot’s initial experience of ‘Home’ had been excited at first by living at the Medieval Mansions, he felt now that this was not the permanent Home that he somehow sought. One reason he knew this was that Mary held the Lease. This was some kind of special paper ritual that even Dorothy and George had at the Computer Store. It provided certain magical qualities and evoked Responsibilities.

Even so, he felt good about his living situation. Mary had helped, as she was bright and cheerful, much like Mother some days, and he loved the cool grey wood trim and wide wainscotting throughout their apartment; the white painted walls, the high ceilings, the stained glass windows in the doors and the neat hexagonal tiles covering the cool bathroom floor, with its ancient heavy porcelain fixtures and giant bathtub.

That night, Pilot had a dream:

Pilot was speaking in front of a vast audience in an unknown auditorium someplace in Tomorrowland. All around him were lights shining in his armor and he could feel their heat on his heat shields. In the darkness arrayed in front of him there were thousands of bodies, each in an elevator, each with a pair of camera-eyes staring expectantly up at him up on a high stage. He looked down at the podium in front of him and placed his palms there. Immediately the room went dark.

Pilot was walking in a dense forest composed of deep green branches and dense leafy undergrowth. The light was dim and indirect and he had no sense of direction. There were bushes, but Pilot could see no trees. Around him, he detected shadowy, indistinct figures. Scrambling forward and tripping on a hidden stone, he fell onto his hands and knees. Pilot got up and walked further into the woods. He could feel the soft ground giving way to more and more hard stones. Almost tripping again, he looked down and was sure that now he was looking at the cobblestones of some old pavement. 

He walked further and then, bending down, he looked more closely at the ground. Bending over, and brushing aside the leaves he uncovered an old tile floor, made of tiny, ancient hexagons. He stood up; looking around he saw a large, cavernous bathroom made of gleaming white porcelain and shiny chrome fittings. Startled by the change of scene, he lunged forward, almost falling again, but instead was saved from landing on his face by his palms pressing on either side of a large oval porcelain vanity. He looked down at the hands, which seemed otherworldly. Raising his neck slightly, he could see a white bar of soap on one side of the faucet. On the other there rested a dead bird. A robin he thought, or perhaps a sparrow? He looked up and there in front of him,was a large faceted mirror. In it he saw a Man with a Hat On and Golden Eyes. He removed the Hat and saw that underneath it was a fine Crown of golden curls. He tried gazing into the radiant eyes and seemed to see someone he recognized from a Long Time Ago. Who’s was this sparkling face? Looking down at the soap he traced the letters impressed into it. I-V-O-R-Y.

Computer Post

In the Daytime, Pilot was posted to the Computer Store.

Pilot felt there was something he was supposed to do here that had long been programmed. He wasn’t sure what this was, but he was sure it was Important. At first he was asked to do several different things but none of these things made a great deal of sense.

For instance, he was charged with unpacking, testing and repacking components. Components arrived wrapped in plastic with special coatings made of bubbles, immersed in foam perfectly formed inside cardboard boxes, that arrived by delivery on large brown trucks. Once Pilot had repacked them, they had shed their cardboard and plastic and foam wrappings and were locked in place into metal cabinets that were screwed in place and plugged into The Wall. The metal boxes were called Computers, and they sat all night humming and glowing making quiet solitude with themselves.

Another task he was asked to do was Inventory. This involved writing down how many of Every Thing the Computer Store had. There were a surprising number of different Things, for although the Computer Store wasn’t large many of the Things were small. For instance, here were several Books and Tapes about Computers, and Software and Business. There were hundreds of Floppy Disks, a sort of magnetic Media, as well as Toner plus Printer Ribbons, etc. There were Chips and Cables and Buses. There were several styles and makes of Computers and Monitors and there were Printers and Disk Drives and Projectors, as well. It was enough to make your head spin, if it could!

One day, Pilot stayed late because Dorothy, who ran the Computer Store, had a meeting with a Client, and George was staying late as well to wait for her. They were waiting for Dorothy because it was Management Dinner Night and the three of them planned to go out to a Restaurant after Dorothy’s meeting. Pilot sat alone in the front of the store at his sleek Olivetti terminal. Meanwhile, George was ensconced in one of the rear offices, Reading. The Computer Store was quiet, the sliding glass entry closed and locked, the warm grey carpet cleaned by Pilot using the Vacuum Cleaner, and presently absorbing all slight sounds from the now-quiet workaday street outside and the soft hum of overhead fluorescent lights inside into a muffled near-silence inside.

Pilot loved the way the formed grey keys clicked softly under his ministrations. Charged by his energy, a curvaceous Monitor, like a Troodon’s eye from some prehistoric film; obediently winked colored symbols back at Pilot, through his holographic monitors. Pilot, of course, had long since forgotten about his own monitors, and the control panels in his pad where he rested his palms, controlling the Elevator’s movements, including the twinkling of its digital extensions on the Olivetti keyboard. He had even forgotten that all the world was first experienced by his Elevator and that Pilot himself was separate and together, ensconced inside the Elevator.

Yet something about the relationship with the Olivetti brought back ancient memories to Pilot. He could not say what, he could not say when, especially he could not say how, but somehow, something was occurring at the Computer Store. It felt like something Important. Something like Finding Home. Something that both electrified and calmed him all at the same time.

At the moment Pilot was absorbed in an analysis of Moving Inventory. This was a study that the Olivetti helped with muchly at the moment. Pilot had taken Data from the Sales System and brought it into Analysis mode where he could observe how much inventory moved, and how fast, which meant how frequently the Store sold a particular item. He was busy cross-referencing this with how much Margin of Profit each unit earned for the Store when from behind him he heard the sound of a key being inserted into the lock of the glass door. Pilot’s meditations on Margins had just come to some kind of conclusion about Ribbons when the authoritative and confident mechanical click and thump of the mechanical tumblers deactivating followed by the sound of the door sliding part of the way open on its steel tracks, halted his temporary progress. Dorothy was back. It was time to get George and go to Dinner. This was the thing he was asked to do next.

The Landlord

Once Pilot moved out from Mom and Dad’s, one of the first resistant creatures s/he encountered was the Landlord.

Apparently, everyone* in this space-time continuum had one, once they left their Mom and Dad’s, and he had heard it was an unforgettable experience!

Mr. Farley ran the big brick building that would become Pilot’s home for the next few years. Mr. Farley didn’t rent him the suite, nor did he own it, but Mr. Farley was the Landlord and he set the Rules. Pilot found the Suite in an advertisement. It read: 

Roommate wanted, character building, high ceilings, mostly furnished, 2 BR. $405 incl utils GWM Phone 991.4568

The advertisement seemed to be written in some kind of code he did not recognize. However, when he called the number using a Phone, he found he was invited by someone named Robert to an address in the grid not too far from where Pilot was posted during daytimes. There was a large ornate sign fixed to the front of the building that announced its name to the world: The Medieval Mansions. He walked there after his post and pressed a number on the intercom outside.

The door buzzed and Pilot swung it open and walked up to the second floor and down the hall as he had been instructed. At the appropriate door, he found a small indent in the hallway with a stained glass light in the door and beside it a a small metal handle underneath, inviting his touch. He turned the handle and was instantly rewarded with a mechanical RRRringggg on the opposite side of the door. Pilot could see the outline of a figure approaching through the stained glass and a moment later Robert opened the door and invited him in. The suite was very different from Mom and Dad’s house and had many strangenesses to it. For instance, the floors were mostly made up of Wood, with an intricate pattern inlaid around the edges. The Stove had burners that emitted flames, Robert explained they were Superior to the Electric Stove that Pilot had been used to. And the bathroom, in addition to having a floor made of thousands of tiny ceramic hexagonal tiles, had an enormous Bathtub that stood on Feet and was not Built-in, like the ones Pilot had seen before. There were three large rooms plus the bathroom, a foyer and the kitchen, which had a window that opened not to the outside, but to a Light Shaft.

“You will have to meet Mr. Farley,” said Robert, his large brown eyes rolling dramatically up and around as though to imply Mr. Farley was Everywhere including in the cornice moulding and the plate rail that ran high up on the walls and around the dining room.. Pilot didn’t quite understand, but he nodded nevertheless. That seemed to be a way forward in such situations.

“He wants to meet Everyone living in the Building, even if they don’t hold the Lease. He will want to show you the Laundry Room and tell you the Rules.” Robert bobbed his head, thick black recalcitrant curls spilling over a large rectangular forehead. Pilot wasn’t sure what all the eye-rolling or head-bobbing was about; NEVERTHELESS he consented to meeting Mr. Farley.

Robert took Pilot further upstairs around the huge wooden staircase, lit by enormous stained glass windows, to Mr. Farley’s suite. The entrance to Mr. Farley’s looked identical to Robert’s but had a different number fixed to the door. They rang the little bell. Inside, Pilot could hear shuffling footsteps. The large wooden door opened a crack and a gimlet eye fixed itself first on Robert, then on Pilot, then shifted back to Robert, quizzically. The stench of stale cigarette smoke drifted outside the apartment, into the hallway. Mr. Farley opened the door further, enough to squeeze his rotund figure out through it half into the hallway while obstructing the doorway and view through it.

“Ah Robert, I see you’ve brought the new roommate for Approval.” Mr. Farley didn’t seem to need much telling of what was going on. Pilot began to see why perhaps Robert had rolled his eyes around so significantly. “So, you’re wanting to move into the Medieval Mansions, are you?” It was a question, but the tone was a statement. Mr. Farley grimaced unpleasantly when he talked, as though the act of speaking pained him, somehow. Pilot nodded.

“Well, if Robert says you’re okay, we’ll see.” The Landlord sounded dubious, but grabbing a large ring of keys from behind him, inside his apartment, Mr. Farley squeezed the rest of the way through his half-closed doorway and closed it behind him with a thud. Pilot thought he could hear the sound of a cat meowing plaintively, over  the sound of well-oiled mechanical locks doing their job as he did so. “Come with me!”

Pilot looked expectantly at Robert, who shrugged, and they followed the lumbering but surprisingly fast moving Mr. Farley, who was already halfway down the hall to the staircase. Pilot followed, trailing Robert. Mr. Farley was speaking non-stop.

“..built in 1903. There’s steam heat. Some people don’t know how it works. It works! DON’T bang on the pipes! Here, this is your floor. See you Robert.” Mr. Farley had a peremptory air, so Robert took off to his suite and Pilot kept following Mr. Farley further down the stairs. 

“There’s no smoking and no pets: instant eviction! Intercom was put in in the 70s. Don’t prop open the front door. Use your key. Don’t loan out your key. If you lose your key you have to pay $50. Your buzz code is 218.” Mr. Farley didn’t stop talking. Much of what he said was unintelligible to Pilot who understood neither the context nor many of the references, but this didn’t seem to phase the lumbering Landlord, who was now heading off down towards the dark end of a long corridor. Pilot was still standing in the lobby. 

Farley turned his head briefly, for once acknowledging Pilot, “Come on, I have to show you the Laundry Room: it takes pride of place around here.” Ah, at once, a word Pilot knew! Pilot tilted forward and followed his Landlord to the end of the hall and down a narrow staircase of 13 steps into a cavernous cement room that was cool, being partly subterranean, with high narrow windows, far out of reach. It reeked unpleasantly like the combination of dirt, dust and a thousand long-gone bleach bottles, all held together within the rancid bouquet of some putrefying chemical air freshener. There were several large white enamel boxes of varying vintages, something like the ones Mom had at home. “Here are the Washers and Dryers. Washers take 3 quarters. Dryers take 25 cents every fifteen minutes. Don’t leave your laundry here. It will disappear. Not liable for lost belongings. Keep an eye on it. No tie-dying. No washing after 10 pm. No washing before 8:30.” Mr. Farley droned on and on. It seemed to Pilot there was no end to the promises, threats, warnings and rules. Many things seemed obvious to Pilot, but on the other hand, many seemed very odd indeed. Why must he keep an eye on his laundry, for instance, what made it disappear? And what about his other eye?

That weekend, Pilot took a few personal possessions in a couple suitcases and a trunk from Mom and Dad’s to the Medieval Mansions. He saw Mr. Farley briefly, in the hallway, conducting a similar tour to another newbie—someone who looked equal parts terrified and relieved that Mr. Farley deigned to provide his monologue, and grant his permission to reside there. On this occasion, Mr. Farley ignored Pilot almost completely, except to sneer and nod, ever so slightly in his direction. Pilot rang the bell at Robert’s apartment. Robert opened the door, smiling brightly. Seeing Pilot with his bags, he ushered him in. “Welcome!” he said. “Did you see Farley this morning? He’s on a raggy rampage. Don’t mind him. If you follow the Rules (here he rolled his eyes significantly) he can’t bother us. But don’t cross him!” 

Dragging his steamer trunk behind him, while Robert took both his bags inside, they crossed the threshold into what was now Robert and Pilot’s place. Pilot closed the door behind him and he heard a satisfying click. This was home! Was it? Had he actually found home? It had all seemed too easy, somehow.

You’ll See

Pilot had been sent home from the hospital with El a few cycles ago and finally had a moment to himself to inspect the Elevator’s repairs. Pilot perched on the toilet in the downstairs bathroom, feeling his whole being spinning. It was worse than he could have imagined. El’s centering mechanism had been further damaged in the clumsy ‘repair’ at the Hospital.

For the first time since landing, Pilot felt Hope expiring. Cold hard tiles under El’s feet pressed upward against its toes and inside Pilot saw the instant replay screens across all his sensors automatically rewinding and replaying the gory mess that had been made of his centering stick. 

“It’s over.” he thought. He had a sense of finality.

Elevator was damaged, most likely beyond repair. He would not be able to return home. He was stuck here on this primitive planet, with these strange and deaf-to-understanding beings for who knows how long—probably until Elevator was completely worn out and expired. He was trapped inside a perpetually mangled and damaged Elevator with no exit and no hope of escape.

Carefully, he replaced the bandages and with a heavy heart he stood up. Reaching up to the sink he washed El’s tiny hands as Mother had shown him, rubbing the white bar with I-V-O-R-Y stamped on it, until the bubbles appeared. He replaced the bar by the sink and rinsed the bubbles off El’s hands under the softly flowing water. Towelling them off on the Green and Blue fabric with the little loops, then carefully unlocking the door he went to his bed, slipping silently under the covers. He didn’t bother closing the door. At night, both Sister across the hall and he left their doors open a crack. Fading light from the setting sun cast long morbid shadows across the room, which eventually settled into a foggy thick blackness, frightening in its ambiguity. He knew he must stay there until light returned, under pain of punishment.

Elevator’s eyes remained open, seeing nothing but darkness.

Pilot felt nothing. Only terror.


Pilot woke to a new timeline reality.

In this reality a local named ‘Mother’ had taken over running his simulation. Mother seemed well-intentioned enough but he couldn’t communicate with her. Worse, she did not operate on her own, but had a cohort whose intentions he could not judge. The cohort, named ‘Dad’, was also oblivious to his signals and seemed to unduly influence Mother in ways he couldn’t understand. Neither Mother nor Dad seemed to have much interest in Elevator’s damage. Pilot was inwardly grateful for this because he knew that repairs were delicate and if these creatures took matters into their own hands the results could be unpredictable at best, catastrophic at worst.

While El was damaged, there was little that Pilot could do except wait things out. Locomotion was limited to the least possible lumbering movements. Sure, he could ‘walk’ El, he could crawl too, and he was beginning to get how to compensate for the left-right thing but flight was impossible. He’d tried of course, but those circuits, along with much of his memory banks were either blown or  fused. Without extracting himself there was no way to make repairs. Due to the local atmosphere, however, this was out of the question. So, Pilot bided his time.

Communications were limited. It would be thousands of cycles before Pilot learned even limited access to his upper arrays again, so meanwhile, Pilot had to make do with the small amount of communication he could produce indirectly, through El. El’s cameras and listening sensors were in full working order, fortunately. They had not been damaged, but Pilot’s language centers were another story. Either circuits were fused or memories were inaccessible. Pilot had no idea why—it had probably happened earlier. Hadn’t there been some kind of an accident? He couldn’t quite recall the details anymore.

Pilot busied himself with learning the local language. Fortunately, both Mother and Dad talked a fair bit. There were a couple of other characters inhabiting this local timeline as well. One was called Sister and the other Brother. Sister and Brother were Older, so they had more fluency with the dialect, but not it seemed, as much as Mother and Dad. At night Dad would take a small Chalkboard out and draw strange figures on it with a piece of Chalk. Some of these figures were called Letters and others were called Numbers. For some reason, while they looked very similar to Pilot and they all disappeared at the end of the night with a wipe of an Eraser, the others talked and used them as though the letters and numbers were quite different species altogether. 

Letters seemed to have the chief quality of Sound. Numbers, on the other hand, seemed to have the main quality of Value. This was a strange and mysterious distinction to Pilot who had never heard of such a thing. Perhaps on this planet they didn’t know about unified communication yet. Since his own communication at this time was primarily in the mode of observation, however, as he had limited faculty yet with the local language, he focused on learning what he could from these monsters.

The strangest thing of all was that all four of these locals looked a lot like elevators to Pilot, but they showed no sign of being inhabited by pilots. Could it be they were a species that had evolved to represent locomotion but without internal intelligence? With the amount of internal memory damage and lack of the external Total Communications that had been so much a part of his life prior to this, Pilot couldn’t say. It was unnerving, to say the least, but there was nothing he could do about it but lie low for the moment.

One night, Dad didn’t bring out the Chalkboard as usual. Instead, he initiated a Dinner Table Conversation. Pilot was minding his own business, working hard at his panel getting El to import nutrients, when Pilot became aware the Others were all looking at him. Pilot looked up at his display, uh oh; the Discussion was about Pilot! Mother was saying that everything was going to be Alright. Pilot had learned this was code for the possibility of imminent danger. Dad interrupted next, speaking slowly so that Pilot could understand.

“Tomorrow, you will be going to the Hospital. It’s a simple Operation. When you get home you won’t have the Problems you have been having in the Bathroom.”

Pilot didn’t like the sound of this AT ALL. Something was seriously wrong and he could tell danger was imminent. He didn’t know what the Problems were that Dad discussed. But the Bathroom was where Pilot took El for some of its critical functions and Pilot needed to know these functions would not be altered. He had sensed that there were some issues in this area related perhaps to an accident at some time in the past, but it was nothing these creatures could solve. Surely, these creatures realized this. There had to be something he could do!

Pilot decided to speak up. He had learned only a few words of the primitive language but he could combine the “N” sound and the “O” sound. He did this, at first low, and then, when that didn’t do anything, he said it again higher. This time he could hear the sound through his monitors. Yes! He was making Elevator speak the dialect.

Mother looked worried but Dad wasn’t having it. “That’s enough, _____.” he said, “you’re going to the Hospital tomorrow morning. Mother will be taking you and when you get home everything will be better. You’ll see.”