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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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Nick 2


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

September 7th, 2038


He took a small swig of whisky, and then set it down gently on the table, hardly making a noise as he touched the bottom of the glass to the surface. It was dusk, the earlier afternoon being warm and calm. The cloudless sky was a lazy purple, the downtown noise not too obvious from the end of the block. Jimmy Morison took a comfortable seat opposite the man, his voice recorder at the ready.


The man he was interviewing was middle-aged, in his late forties. He wasn’t tall and lean, but he wasn’t short and fat either, just average in height and build, maybe a bit stocky. He wore a dark panama hat and kept a trimmed beard around his jaw, to emphasize it. Even though it was dusk, he wore shades – not just to keep a sort of wall between him and the reporter, but probably because they looked cooler than simply wearing the spectacles he wore under the clip-ons. They gave him an almost impenetrable, cool look. You couldn’t read his eyes. He wouldn’t let you do that. They were to remain hidden, to keep his inner self protected.
Of course, if Jimmy were interviewing him, perhaps he’d get a hint of it nonetheless.


“So,” Jimmy started as he pushed ‘record’ on the voice recorder, feeling a mild unease. “Where to begin…”


The man leaned forward: “Blender. Roam. The house. All that she wants. Comparisons.”


Jimmy’s nose itched. “What?” he asked, dumbfounded. He felt stupid scratching his nose in response.


“Nothing, nothing,” the man said in a quiet voice. “Nice evening, don’t you think?”


“Uh, yes, it is.”


“But what do you really think of it?”


Jimmy looked at him for a few seconds. “About the evening?”


“Yes.”


“I don’t know, really, it’s a nice one.”


“Is that all you think?”


“Well, Mr. Forrester, what do you think?”


“I think it’s another opportunity to experience the joy and beauty it is just to be living in the moment. To breathe this air, to take in the natural sounds of the city, to enjoy what you have.”


“That’s very deep.”


“As opposed to what? Shallow? Bare? Young man, if you took into account how deep some things can be, at the right moment, you’d be motivated to do almost anything you want to.”


“That’s…”


“Deep?”


“Ummm…” Jimmy struggled to find another word.


“Why don’t you ask your first question.”


“Okay. Where did you start in life? What did you want to do when you were young?”


The man, Nick Forrester, took another sip of his whisky, and righted his glasses before he spoke again.


“I started the day I was born. That was forty-seven years ago. I was an only child. Life was quite different. When I was a toddler, the cell phone and the Internet were just coming to life, material things we take for granted now, things that are such an organic part of our lives that we never consider anything about them other than whether or not they work.”


“Okay,” Jimmy said. “Keep going.”


“Thinking about the second part of your two-part question, you’re trying to guarantee a varied response full of different options and ideas. I had them. But realize this, Mr. Martin: To be young is to be cocky, to feel invulnerable and above things, to be ultimately naïve. You’ll know I went to college for two different subjects – photography and professional writing. Yet I’ve had a mixed career of music and words and other related arts. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the beginning. No one does. Mr. Martin, are you fully sure you want to be a journalist? How much self-knowledge did you have when you read the university’s brochure on its journalism program? Were you emotionally stable?”


“How does that really factor?”


“Because every generation has a focus, whether it be aviation or science or computer engineering. Parents want their children to matter, to make something huge for themselves whether it’s lucrative or guarantees their name on a reward of some kind, guarantees notability or fame. Children want the same thing. What’s big? Engineering? Lots of money? Everyone enrolls in Engineering programs, every year. Job opportunities fill up. No room left. Everyone wants the same thing, almost regardless of their actual passions or interests – it’s good, it’s lucrative, it’s popular, their parents want it – but you can’t get a job. So you’re left paying impossible student loans via your part-time job at McDonalds while, in the meantime, those firms are changing their standards so that you are now required to have a master’s degree or doctorate when before you only needed a degree. Another opportunity to take out a student loan perhaps?”


“So you’re worried about cocky young people?”


“No. When I took photography, I ended up not making photography my career. Why? Because I read the brochure the college had, saw the line about students being self-motivated and independent workers, and decided I was above all of that and it didn’t matter. It mattered. I was full of myself. I over-estimated my potentials because I thought I was invulnerable. I disregarded the most important part of that brochure in favor of thinking I was already good at what I was interested in, so that amateur experience and skill set would give me a career. Not really.”


“Interesting.”


“Not really. Today’s youth should actually read what’s actually important, but that’s twenty-eight years ago for me. The point of this is, young people are traditionally expected to know an amount of information about themselves and what they want and how it’ll work by the end of high school, before they’re fully mature and ready to commit to anything, and all that does is lead to extreme wastes of money that took years to save up in some cases, while students drop out of university or college and spend two to five years of their lives trying to figure it out, no doubt while under pressure.”


“I’m fine, Mr. Forrester.”


Nick Forrester stared at him. “Of course you are. You’re invulnerable and above it all. You’re young.”


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Next: Nick 1