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         Chess, the master thief, walked stealthily onward, forcing himself to keep going despite the fear that threatened to overwhelm him. This could be the biggest heist of his career: the job that would set him up for life, if only he could pull it off. But the odds were heavily against him.

         Nervously, he plucked at the buttons on his suit jacket. His mom had told him that things used to be different. Before, when the population had been spread out across the country, there had been many companies looking to hire, and many different types of jobs. Now, however, the people had all pulled tightly into the cities -- well, all the people who had been able to, anyway. Chess’s family had been lucky to be already living in the Great Lakes region. He sighed and tried to appreciate his luck.
         His journey toward the interview had started out in the same direction that he took to go to the game, and he had almost continued that way out of habit. And it was so strange to be walking around in the city this early in the day. The nearness of people moving around him on the sidewalks, and the sounds of traffic on the streets made him uncomfortable. In the daylight, when it was legal to be out, this was not his city. It belonged to others.
         A car passed by, a few feet away, startling him, and he instinctively sought an escape route. At the habitual swipe of his fingers, a map of his area of the city appeared on the link-screen. The three-dimensional terrain map was one that he often called up, and it took him only a moment to plot an escape route: through a shadowed alley between two buildings, then down a flight of stairs -- he saw the path in his mind as if it was a bright line on the map. His heartbeat sped up, muscles tensed, anticipating a new chase. And then he hesitated and took a halting step backward.
         The sun shining, making a dark-bright mosaic of the concrete… the people chattering happily nearby… along with the confining pressure of his unaccustomed suit coat brought him back to the moment. He swiped once more, and the unneeded escape route disappeared from the screen.
         He sighed again, heavily, and walked on.

         He was going to a job interview, he reminded himself grouchily. More than that, he suspected that he was just part of a quota of interviewees for a job that he had no hope of landing. And in this age of constant connectivity and three-dimensional projections, it was a mystery to him why he had to be actually, physically there, in the presence of the interviewers. He shrugged. Probably for the same reason that all of the game players liked to be in the same room: there was still no virtual substitute for actual human contact. But everything was definitely headed in the virtual direction, he mused, what with classes and many jobs being completely online… He tugged at the knot of his tie and realized that he was beginning to sweat. To calm himself, he thought back over the previous night’s game.

         The strategy they had used had been a good one and Chess fervently wished that it had been his own idea. But he was still learning, still kind of new at strategic planning, anticipating outcomes, and that kind of thing. He told himself that he would get better with practice. But, even more than the strategy, he admired the Game Administrator’s ability to improvise the story. The players had all known that this kind of side-adventure was not included in the standard game structure, but the G. A. had done a pretty good job of creating it -- seeming to enjoy it immensely, too. Not for the first time, Chess wished that he could be as good of a storyteller. He was practicing, writing some stories in his spare time. Maybe someday he could run his own game.

         A voice in the ear-link informed him that he had reached his destination. Chess looked up at the steel and glass doorway, anticipating the heart-pounding, sweaty-handed tenseness that awaited him beyond. He knew why they required his physical presence at the interview: because they could.
         He took a deep breath and pushed on the door.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read

What is truth?
Is truth unchanging law?
We both have truths
Are mine the same as Yours?

Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

         I admit this: I am a long-time reader of Time magazine. I like that it keeps me superficially up-to-date with things I otherwise wouldn’t know about, and it also gives me background on events that I hear about from other sources. I also really like Joel Stein.
         However, my favorite part of the magazine used to be the Letters to the Editor, which they don’t really have anymore. Because I would read an article and think, “Wow, that event was terrible!” or “That person is remarkable!” Then, in the next week’s issue, I would read letters about how the article that I had enjoyed was biased in some way: the event was actually beneficial or the person had a dark, terrible past. The letter-writers usually provided reasonable supporting information, and I felt like I could draw my own conclusions between the opposing sides. Given that I am a Libra, most often I end up able to see credible points on both sides.

Hans Gruber: [covers the radio] I read about them in Time Magazine.
Die Hard (1988)



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