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Altimexis

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Altimexis last won the day on November 24 2021

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  1. The skin on my face still stung a bit from my very first shave as I emerged from my prison into broad daylight. The biggest surprise was that after walking up three flights of stairs, I found myself at street level. At no point had I suspected that my prison was located underground. When I looked behind me, what I saw was a very traditional colonial-style building in the typical pastel colors that seemed to dominate the landscape of the buildings around me. The black limousine I got into drove f
  2. I don’t usually reply to something like this, but other than the fact that the story is a first person account told entirely from JJ’s perspective, this misses the point. JJ is alone and he has no idea what’s going on back home. He’s isolated and the lack of contact is driving him crazy. Not only would switching viewpoints be out of context, but it would negate the sense of isolation and loneliness. I wanted the reader to feel what JJ felt during his time in captivity. The next chapter will be posted this Saturday, and the first words out of Henry’s mouth when they’re reunited will be, “Don’t you ever do that again!” At least Henry knew that JJ was kidnapped and that he didn’t just disappear, thanks to surveillance video from Times Square, but otherwise, he heard nothing from the captors for seven weeks. Of course Henry and his family, and the Walters missed JJ. Of course Applazon pulled out all the stops to obtain JJ’s release. The full force of the US government would have been involved, but not even JJ will learn the entire backstory of the kidnapping until near the end of the story. Please be patient. All will be revealed in time.
  3. In 2004, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba in a State Department program that was curtailed shortly afterwards. I went with an open mind, believing as I still do that the trade embargo has been a failure and that it would be better to engage rather than isolate the island. That said, I found the situation to be one of the most repressive of any place I’ve visited. It reminded me of Eastern Europe under communism, only worse. At no time was I ever free to set my own itinerary, nor could I escape the propaganda to which we all were subjected. I went there thinking all of the hype about the Castro regime was overblown, but I was wrong. It was even worse than I could have imagined. If the terms of JJ’s release involved an opening of Cuba, that would be huge, and not necessarily in line with what his Russian captors had intended. Trust me, there’s more going on than meets the eye.
  4. The thing that pissed me off the most about being in captivity was that there was so much I needed to do that wasn’t getting done. I was supposed to go with Larry to Pittsburgh to interview a couple of very promising candidates for research positions in the division, but that was a couple of months ago, and I couldn’t help but wonder if Larry ended up going without me. I was supposed to be working on my Ph.D., and I was missing the twice-weekly seminars. I wondered if I’d be able to make them up
  5. With Franklin now in his junior year at HSMSE, living in a dorm during the week, and with Henry and me in school as well and busy with our studies, the only time we could all get together was on the weekends. Not all of my weekends were free thanks to the demands of the corporate world, but as much as possible, we made it a point to get together. Franklin took pleasure at showing us all the places in New York that he thought were the coolest. Of course, there were multiple trips to the Metropoli
  6. True to my word, I picked the Walters clan up promptly at 6:45 the next evening. The Mach-E was branded as a Ford Mustang, but it was an SUV that didn’t resemble the original Mustang in any way other than the logo. Not only did the Mach-E have significantly more room inside than my Tesla, but it had smoother delivery of power and handled better overall. Although the Tesla Model Y, which was called an SUV, had an extended range per charge of over 300 miles, the all-wheel-drive, extended range per
  7. “This isn’t in the block of rooms I set aside for my guests,” I noticed as we got off the elevator on the V.I.P. floor of the Holiday Inn. “How do you think I was able to talk my parents – our parents – into staying at the Drury Plaza in St. Louis?” Franklin asked. “It’s not that they’re pretentious or anything. I don’t want you to think we’re snobs, ’cause we’re not. Both Mom and Dad give generously of their time and money, and Dad does a lot of pro bono work. I wasn’t kidding about using
  8. With trepidation, I got up to deliver my eulogy. I kept it short, but poignant. I am proud and humbled to speak on behalf of the Gonzalez children – Celia, Camilla, Hillary and Lindsey; Rob, Sammy and last but not least, Henry. And of course we have a new ‘daughter’, Sam, the love of Rob’s life, and me, another ‘son’, not by blood but through a set of improbable circumstances that highlight the kind of man Jerry Gonzalez was. I knew him, not as a military man but as a father, a husband and
  9. As the family went about preparing a list of family and friends to notify of Jerry’s passing and the funeral, I, too, had a list to prepare. I assumed Juan or Lucinda Gonzalez would notify the Rodriguez family, back in Kansas City. If not, I would. Of course, I’d call Jitendra, and I expected Henry would want Franklin Walters to know. His parents, too. Not that I’d expect them to come to the funeral, but I’d want Greg and Billy to know. Greg, in particular, would understand what we were going th
  10. We arrived at the North Unit entrance of Theodore Roosevelt National Park at 8:20 and showed the ranger Henry’s Military National Park Pass and were at the Juniper Campground at 8:40, but the campground was full. Noticing a couple who seemed to be getting ready to break camp at a campsite right next to the restrooms, I parked the Tesla across from them while Henry got out and confirmed that they were getting ready to leave. It wasn’t a prime spot, but any spot in the Juniper Campground inside th
  11. We could have taken a much more direct route to Fargo heading back down U.S. Highway 85 to Belfield and heading east on Interstate 94, but we’d left time for taking a more leisurely, scenic route, so we turned onto North Dakota Road 200 just south of Grassy Butte. Taking the long way to Fargo wouldn’t have been possible, however, were it not for the recent addition of a Level 3 charger in Totten Trail on Lake Audubon. Even so, there were a number of sites we would have liked to have visited, suc
  12. Altimexis

    Sweet Sixteen

    I mentioned previously that the Pentagon bought fifty of his original data mini-centers, and that was before he’d even discovered room temperature superconductors. The application to quantum computers, which I don’t actually get around to explaining until several chapters from now, is profound. JJ’s technology could be used to tackle many seemingly impossible problems, including being able to design pharmaceuticals to correct genetic defects or to counter pandemics, or even to track thousands of incoming missiles and to target all of them in real time. I mentioned that application specifically. So yeah, JJ’s work has military implications and the US government is aware of his work, all the way up to the White House. Add to that the energy implications of his ideas for motors and wind power, and you have a kid who’s invaluable and he doesn’t even realize just how much so. Naturally, everyone is going to try to get their hands on the technology by any means possible, and some, barring successful industrial espionage, might even resort to kidnapping… or to killing JJ to keep America from having the technology if they can’t. It’s even possible that the CIA would kidnap him for his own sake. It could also be a criminal organization, seeking a ransom in the trillions of dollars. The smart money, however, would be on one of the major world powers, which creates its own problems as there’s a risk it could lead to war. Such an operation would have to be well-planned, and while they might attempt to use torture to get JJ to reveal his secrets, that would be a foolish endeavor with at best short-term benefits. They might try brainwashing JJ into long-term cooperation, but with his history of abuse, he’s likely resistant to those sort of techniques. Without giving more away, it could be months before his kidnappers even contact Jeff Barlow to make their demands known. If Applazon and the US government are smart, they’ll keep JJ’s disappearance quiet, as they want him back and don’t want to take a chance on provoking his kidnappers. Of course they’ll know he’s been kidnapped, as the whole thing was undoubtedly captured on the numerous cameras that make Times Square one of the most heavily surveilled places on earth. The kidnappers know that and are counting on it. Henry and the Walters will of course be devastated and will probably draw closer as a result, but we’ll be seeing things from JJ’s viewpoint. Strap yourselves in as the roller coaster ride is underway.
  13. Altimexis

    Settling In

    The cliffhanger at the end of this chapter is a warning of a major cliffhanger to come at the end of the next. Otherwise, the next chapter is a happy one, revolving around the celebration of Henry's sixteenth birthday. There will be a few major cliffhangers to come in future chapters, but I promise that things will work out in the end, and soon J.J. will be catapulted to the upper echelon of the corporate world. That said, meteoric rises are sometimes followed by epic falls, but there are often golden parachutes involved and you know J.J. and Henry will turn adversity into new opportunities. As promised before, you're on a roller coaster now. As to my background, I never suffered abuse as a child, but did lose my father to a heart attack when I was sixteen. I never killed anyone that I know of, although as a physician, it's natural to question if something could have been done to save every patient lost. I'll go into a bit more detail on my background in the afterword to the story. I have a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, which explains my knowledge of solid state physics, even though it wasn't my primary area of expertise. My career was never quite so illustrious as J.J.'s as I chose academia over profit, but I have few complaints. I've always been passionate about writing. The combination of talent in so-called left and right brain skills is quite rare and something I'll never take for granted. I'm thrilled to be able to share my imagination with others. Thanks to all for their kind comments.
  14. Even before I wrote Franklin's part, I knew I wanted to have J.J. meet his birth family early on and not even realize it. Indeed, the entire point of the Midwestern trip was for J.J. to meet his birth family surreptitiously, and of course to reconnect with Greg and Larry. However, when Covid became such a major issue, I decided J.J. need to come face-to-face with the terrible toll it took. I therefore added that Franklin lost his gran to Covid, and that Larry died from it. I tempered Larry's loss with meeting Billy, the love of Greg's life. Of course Covid also provided a reason for J.J. to travel the world, which was important to the evolution of the story. J.J. would have traveled anyway, but Covid changed that from an adventure to a necessity. The question was, how to bring about the meeting between J.J. and his birth parents without tipping my hand. Obviously, it couldn't happen by accident, but the big reveal had to happen much later in the story. Obviously, if the parents found their long-lost son, they'd scoop him up and not let go, so I needed to have a premise that would keep them apart and make the 'coincidence' of their meeting seem plausible. A kid brother seemed to be the logical way to do that - he'd be naïve enough to search for him, without regard to legal consequences meant to protect J.J. However, none of my readers would have believed a chance encounter to be pure coincidence, were it not for the use of distraction. Franklin's telling J.J. that Henry loved him was a major distraction that shifted the focus elsewhere, but there was a risk the reader would question the coincidence of the meeting before Franklin's comment. I therefore added a second distraction, right at the start of the segment in St. Louis. That came in the form of a hook-up with Dave, the valet. When J.J. checked in at the front desk, the clerk inferred that Dave had been through some tough times. Quite a few people asked about this, and for them I explained that Dave had some bad burn scars on his torso, but that the details had been cut from the story to make room for other happenings. In reality, the hanging question of Dave's past was meant to be unresolved - a distraction to keep the reader's thoughts elsewhere when the meeting with the Walters clan took place. Sorry about Jerry's demise, but I needed a way to cut the summer trip short, so as to accommodate other things that will be happening soon, not to mention the meeting with the Walters. Although cruel, a funeral was the best way to bring about J.J.'s reconciliation with his birth family. It will also give the reader a chance to see how strong Fran turns out to be. I won't say anything more for now, as the story speaks for itself.
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