Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.3

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“What,” I resisted. “I just told you what happened to my mom. She’s dead and that’s that.”

“I know you better than that, Sydney Winters. You were the star of Azure Coast University 15 years after your mom died. You loved your life, and you really loved the nightlife. Losing your mom when you were three years old did not turn you into…” she motioned at me with her hands, fumbling for the right words to describe the mess of me. I’d thought I’d help out a bit.

“What? A jerk? A smartass? An insensitive prick who thinks everyone around her is a –?

She retaliates, “A person who absolutely is dealing with depression, a mental illness which affects literally a billion people.”

“What the hell are you saying?” I feel this powerful surge of anger. I can acknowledge that I’m an asshole. I can get behind the fact that I’m mean to people and deserve to be treated likewise. But depression, that’s the thing that put my mom in the ground, and I wasn’t about to let that girl start flinging around words like depression and mental illness. I am not weak. I am better than that. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.3”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.2

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I remember one time, when I was sixteen-years-old and finishing up another lazy spring day in the life of high school sophomore, Dad got off of work from the lab early. He pulled up blaring some deep cut from Soundgarden or something – I’m not sure, I wasn’t really into that kind of music at the time – and said he wanted to take me to a baseball game. I think I had plans that night with one of the hundred jerks I dated in high school, but something about hanging out with my dad just felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t much care who the Jacksonville Suns were even playing or how they were doing in the standings, I just remember eating this really big hot dog and cheering when the crowd did. I was also a fan of pulling for the underdog during those stupid half-inning mascot race games. That night, it was The Great Office Supply Race, featuring Nicky the Sticky Note, Armstrong the Rubber Band, and fan-favorite Jim the Paperclip.

One thing I had always found odd was that it was just my dad and I living in such a big house. The residence at 1228 Halcyon Drive, with four bedrooms and this awesome loft, was clearly big enough for a family much larger than our little dynamic duo. That loft, which I eventually named the Sky Roost, was my sanctuary and favorite room in the house. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.2”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.1

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Chapter 3

“Metal Conducts Electricity”

“You know you’ve got a bed, right?” Millie says, closing the apartment door behind her. Knowing my dearest roommate, she was out until 11:00 p.m. with her friends. And by “with her friends,” I mean quizzing each other on possible drug interactions using flashcards. You have to think that on long nights things devolve into something a little dirtier, like competitive ganglia nerve cluster diagramming.

I must have turned the heat in the apartment up to like 75 degrees, drawing a short complaint from Millie as she walks by, but I still feel cold. I’m sprawled out on the couch in my purple tank top and a pair of mismatched running shorts I changed into when I got back. Honestly though, I’m wide awake thinking about everything that’s happened today and how much I miss the people I love.

“There’s, um, some pizza in the refrigerator if you want it,” I mutter, unsure if I was speaking loud enough for her to hear me. Gosh, I must have been just staring up at the ceiling for hours now. It has become so incredibly hard not to cry. It’s like you can build that long-term toughness where you don’t cry at anything anymore. With practice you can sustain that stability for a little while, but then the dam breaks and you find yourself depressed even deeper underwater. I must have cycled through that process three or four times over the past two years. Millie is heading to her room, study materials in tow, without any intention of saying another word to me. The way I treated her this morning, I don’t blame her. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.1”

Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.3

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Dude comes back to take our food order, but of course I don’t have to say anything because Val’s already got it covered with my favorite. Large thin crust. Bacon, bell pepper, mushrooms, and that oh so scrumptious pineapple. Pure pizza bliss.

“Sector… Zero?” I’m trying to comprehend what that has to do with society or history or really anything of the sorts. I understand the words, of course. Land is often divided into sectors forming a grid. So are areas of three-dimensional space. And they’re often numbered 1-100 based on a predetermined position and established area size. Meh, who knows, maybe the office just got together and voted on a cool name.

“And you’re saying that’s somehow less ominous than CHASR?” I quip. Continue reading “Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.3”

Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.2

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She shrugs, of all things, and says, “As a matter of fact there is.” Then she smiles, and it’s all rather peculiar. I’m trying to comprehend why someone would be so happy-go-lucky about apprehending me, or whatever is going on.

“Go on,” I say, tilting my head, feeling more annoyed than anything.

“Are you hungry?” she changes the subject. I quickly shake my head no, furrowing my eyes behind the sunglasses. That was actually a lie. Millie was right about the sugar crash.

“Are you going to tell me what the hell you want?” I fire back.

“Hey, relax. I’ll tell you everything, but can we do it over lunch? Please? Something tells me one granola bar just isn’t enough.” She pulls out the empty wrapper I had dropped on the ground.

“How the –” Continue reading “Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.2”

Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.1

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Chapter 2

“A Study in Bad Acronyms”

As I escape Elmore Hall like a prison break, I notice the same female professor from my earlier observations had stationed herself on the park bench at ground level to the left of the steps. She is using a fairly bulky laptop, and for a moment I get a glimpse of what appears to be some kind of computer code or programming language. Was I wrong, perhaps? It occurs to me that she might not be a professor at all. Upon further inspection, she does look rather young. Long red hair, tallish, slightly olive skin, green – no make that blue – eyes. At first I had her pegged for sociology, or maybe archeology, but neither of those fields use a level of computer complexity anywhere close to what I think I just saw. Suspicious.

Descending the steps, I’m contemplating what I should do now that I’ve flown the coop. This could have been planned better. I think I’ll go into town, stock up on some supplies, and just go wander for a little while. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. Continue reading “Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.1”

Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.4

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He glares for a second before giving me the third degree, telling me that I’m lucky he even lets me take the exam at all. That would be fine by me. I don’t even care anymore.

The computers were set up in hexagonal groups, six to a table. He told me to take a seat at one of the open iMacs, so I park myself across from Amy. Amy Summers. Somehow I think the only reason she got in this school is because some admission dean somewhere thought it would be hilarious to have a person with the name Summers and someone named Winters in the same classroom. She’s my only sort-of ally in the program. I say ally because she’s not even close to being my friend. However, she’s also the only person who doesn’t hate me, so she’s got that going for her.

Suddenly Ryker comes scampering in, his hair a mess and the bottom button of his jacket undone. Papers are flying, and he practically crashes into the computer directly behind me. Nobody says a word. Such is life. You think people are beyond middle school social cliques, organizing into groups and singling out people to pick on, but that maturity is too much to be expected of people of any age. The social dynamics of 14-year-olds are not much different from those of 24-year-olds, they just take on a different, more “professional” setting as people age. And academic types, for all their “knowledge” of why people behave the way they do, are the absolute worst. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.4”

Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.3

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I take a moment to notice the outfits of the people walking by. Call it a pastime for someone who’s really good at noticing things. On rare occasions you find someone who truly looks good, but today it’s the usual spill.

Dude in a navy sweater vest.

Girl in black leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt three times her size.

Fraternity bro in a New U mascot sweater.

Being honest, I would go to blows with anyone who says we don’t have the strangest mascot of all the colleges. Technically, we’ve always been known as the NCU Fighting Turtles, and there was a biped tortoise as the mascot. The issue came up a few years ago, though, that a certain large university over on the east coast also has an anthropomorphized turtle as a mascot. And if we ever wanted to get our football program off the ground, we might want to go with something a little more, well, menacing. So, New U’s crack team of marketers, graphic artists, and PR professionals came up with… a glowing sea turtle. Apparently it was a big deal that scientists, including one from New U’s biology department, discovered this fluorescent neon red and green turtle off the coast of the Solomon Islands. Now we have this super-cartoony bioluminescent amphibian that looks like it was designed by an eight-year-old on our logo. It gets worse. They let the dude who discovered him name him. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.3”

Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.2

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It’s not that I am violently angry about it or anything. I’m pretty well insulated from my emotions at this point, I’m just so used to this kind of stuff happening that I expected it sooner or later. Probably should have been sooner, honestly.

A couple shreds of paper, just enough to make the words all blurry, were too buoyant to go down on the first flush. I decide to leave them there. It will confirm to Millie that, yes, I did read your stupid letter, and no, I really don’t care.

I peek out the bedroom door after changing into a black tank top, maroon cardigan, the same pair of jeans from the day before, and my trusty old pair of black Converse. Then I put on the Cheap Stupid Watch (CSW) my dad gave me for Christmas right before that happened. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.2”

Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.1

<< About the Project 0.1 | Patch LogCold Outside, Cold Inside 1.2 >>

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Welcome to Dysontopia, a novel project/serial I am developing. Every Monday I will make every effort release a new section of the work. Why? First, it holds me accountable – each week I must write and edit about a thousand words, minimizing writer’s block. Second, I get constant feedback from my amazing followers! Third, you get to read a compelling story in small portions so you don’t get burnt out. I welcome your feedback, positive, negative, or neutral.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but, do not steal. In this age, it’s very easy for me to find out. For more info, please see the copyright notice in the footer of this site.


Chapter 1

“Cold Outside, Cold Inside”

I’ve been looking forward to this party for months, I mention to my cat. She’s following me around while I’m getting ready, and I’m trying to recall the day I got my constant companion. I can’t remember, but it’s probably because Avocado, a beautiful black and white Tabby, has been my beloved pet since childhood. As far as I’m concerned, she’s the only cat I’ve ever had, and will be until she dies. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Cold Outside, Cold Inside | 1.1”