Cast of Wonders 124: Old People Rules by Holly Schofield


Old People Rules

by Holly Schofield

So I’ve figured it out. There are eight rules for old people.

Rule #1: Old people try too hard

I didn’t think anything was wrong until Milanda hit ‘upload’. The app’s progress bar had crept almost all the way across the hologram before I noticed the target website was Dad’s.

The icon I’d designed, a grinning 3-D dragon, began blinking its large eyes, showing my app had activated my spyware.

“Hey, it really worked. Uber-crystal, Fran.” Milanda said. She shoved back her chair and turned to face me.

I was sprawled on her bed, painting my nails. “Swing Me Hard, Girl” by BlueLulz surrounded us—Milanda’s new bedroom wall paint, with  nano-speakers embedded right in, was super-crystal. I’d love to design something like that. Some day.

“Your tether-peep’s site is perfect.” Milanda ran her tongue over her teeth. “Your dear old dad won’t even know his cage was rattled. And your spyware will get us a useable lawsuit, maybe an insurance settlement. Mega-bucks, here we come.”

“Pick another site, Milanda,” I said. “Please?”

I couldn’t believe it. I’d coded the decrypting software during math class today and slipped it to her during social studies, expecting her to use it on her other friend’s chat rooms and nonsense like that.

I shoved the lid back on her “Dancing Puce” bottle of polish and plunked it down on her dresser, before continuing. “Other sites would be easier. Dad’s got mega security.” Making Melinda angry always had a high price. Best not to show how mad I was. I blew off steam by madly waving my other hand, the one with the wet nails, as if I was just speeding up the drying process.

“Not since you showed me some of the backdoors you installed.” she replied with a typical Milanda shrug. “When I needed storage, remember? A couple of months ago?”

Spew! Stupid me, putting a worm in Dad’s computer and then bragging about it.

“You won’t tell your Dad, right?” She narrowed her eyes at me.

Easy, I warned myself. Friends are hard to find. Treat them right, Mom had always said. The trouble was, I didn’t always know what that meant.

I leaned over the edge of the bed and grabbed my jacket off the floor.

“Yeah, right. Gotta go.” I said, trying to sound as if I really did have somewhere to be. “See you in virt.”  I pulled the bedroom door shut on her reply.

In the kitchen, I skidded to a halt. Julie, Milanda’s mom, was pulling warm donuts out of the micro. Cinnamon and some other spice, maybe nutmeg? I breathed deep and felt five years old again, not seventeen, and like Mom was still alive.

“Francesca! Nice to see you. Have some?” Milanda really did have great tether-peeps. Her mom was older than most parents, almost a moldie oldie; always rushing around but making time for me. Her dad, a lawyer, was a nice guy, too. Too bad Milanda didn’t appreciate them.

I accepted two jelly-filled donuts, avoided Julie’s questions about my day, turned down the offer to stay for dinner, scored another donut, had a lame convo about the weather, and left through the patio doors. A tramp through the snowy backyard, a fence hop, then two blocks of icy sidewalk, and I was home. Such is life in Bardle, Manitoba. Everything is within a few blocks. Or, rather, nothing is within a few blocks, everything is online.


Rule #2: Old people got the bucks we need

That night, I finished my Chem homework, created an app that tracked how many grams of sugar I consume in a day graphed against my physiology, then opened up the University of Alberta’s website.  I totaled the cost of an undergraduate degree plus a Masters of Engineering. Then I enlarged the holo of the tuition page to the size of a soccer ball. The half million bucks engraved itself on my retinas.  I made it slowly rotate above my desk and sat there in the wintery darkness of my bedroom.

Dad couldn’t afford any university for me next year, much less U of A, what with the bills Mom’s treatments had left behind last year.

I couldn’t earn it, with the economy sucking hard the way it was. Which also meant scholarships and loans had been cut way back.

I was squished like the jelly in a donut. No way out. No PhD was going after my name without a miracle. Or, at least, without my only friend and her fundraising abilities.

Milanda was crystal genius in getting people to do what she wanted. Back in Grade Four, she’d offered to take over the classroom chocolate milk sales from frazzled Mrs. Handley. She set up an account to receive the fifty cents that each kid spent most days. Then she held back sending each month’s money to CowMate until a month later, so she could park it in her investment account. She’d shared her sixty bucks with me that summer. We’d eaten candy until we puked. CowMate had run an audit in Grade Five and Milanda had to e-school from home for a bit, but, like Milanda bragged, who had it hurt? Milanda would go far, her teachers always said–then they’d chuckle.

Her latest idea was pure crystal.  Tap into a social website, record some juicy bits, then hold the dummies to their literal word. She’d got the idea from a news-bite about a lawsuit filed against some guy who said ‘I’d give my right arm’ during union negotiations. The guy was held to it and the court was making him donate a limb to some research lab.  Sicko, right? Trust Milanda to see a way to use it. She’d pirated standard legal boilerplate off her dad’s databases, set up a bogus law firm website, and had me write the spyware and app. But I never thought she’d actually do it and I never thought she’d target Dad’s site.

I told myself she was eavesdropping on Dad’s clients, not on him. Any money she made would be from them or maybe from Dad’s liability insurance coverage. I knew he had mega insurance because he was always bitchen about the premiums. Insurance companies could take a hit and not even feel it, everyone said so.

I chewed a fingernail and looked out at my old tire swing in the backyard. My app was good enough that Dad wouldn’t even know we’d put the spyware on his site. At least, I thought it was; everything I knew about his site was from sneaking peeks at it. Dad never let me near it even though I could probably improve it. And if his clients got themselves into legal trouble, that was their own fault, wasn’t it?

I mean, how else was I going to get a post-secondary education?

The moon was rising, a thin, pale crescent. The winter cold came right through the window pane. No use asking Dad to turn up the thermostat. I was pulling on a heavy sweater when Dad knocked on my door.

I slapped the holo closed.

He entered like he always did, giving sideways glances at the bed and the floor so he wouldn’t step on any bras or stuff I might have left around. Parents. They need to chill, you know?

“Fran.” He crossed his arms then uncrossed them. Didn’t want to play the total meanie, I guess. Things had been a bit weird between us since Mom died. “Homework done? It’s time to start.”

“Mega-yuck.” I said, like I was in junior high or something.

Dad frowned and leaned over my computer, bringing up his website,  HappyHearts4U.com. Yeah, major cheddar, I know. What do you expect from old people?

Dad had been running the site for about four years so it was ancient history to anyone serious about online dating. But he’d gone for the megabucks by doing the demographic strut. Truly old moldies had the massive assets, no kidding, so he angled the matchmaking program their way. Currently, his site was number four in the polls for its category–there was enough traffic that it paid for our mortgage and my electronics, so I ignored the complete lack of crystal.

“Ok, Frannie, pay attention.” His finger jabbed at the holo while I pretended interest. “Here’s the home page.” Well, duh. I started to say something sarcastic about singletaskers but his grin was almost as wide as Milanda’s had been a minute ago. I hadn’t seen him smile for a long time. He really does get off on this stuff.

“Here’s the chat room.” Dozens of tiny white-haired couples danced some old-school thing, hands on each other’s waists, the women’s skirts flying.

He opened the lobby that led to the sessions. “No one’s waiting here, they’re all in sessions.” He added in our faces using closed-mode. The clients wouldn’t see my scruffy T-shirt or my messy bedroom, just my head hovering above some beige furniture. I took the elastic band out of my ponytail so I’d look older.  Dad’s head floated beside me, stern and businesslike.

“You need to start slow as a matchmaker but I know you can do the company proud,” he said. “I’m going to introduce you to Stuart now. He’s eighty-seven and he’s ambulant, with a North American-bias.”

“Eighty-seven! Dad!” I wailed.

“Francesca.” He was back to frowning. “You’re lucky I didn’t ground you for life, after what you did.  I’m giving you a chance to work it off. Don’t screw it up.”

Yeah, he was right. Milanda and me had ‘made poor choices’. Last Thursday, we’d borrowed her mom’s van and gone to a party in Waverly. Well, she’d borrowed it. She’d driven it. I’d just gone along. Still, who gets the most crap? Yeah, you got it.

“Pay attention, Fran. Stuart’s been a draftsman, an architect, and an artisan during his workspan. You can see all sixty-seven years of it here.” He pointed to a data field. “His personality temperament is here. And the computer-generated matches are there.”

Dad straightened up. “What I’m expecting from you is the personal touch that HappyHearts is famous for. The auto-match does all right, but we can do better. You have the people skills. Use them.” Good old Dad, always believing in me, even though I was the world’s biggest social dweeb. “Ask Stuart some questions that aren’t on the initial questionnaire then find him a possible match in the database. Then introduce her to him. Verbally. The old-fashioned, polite way.”

“Yes, sir!” I mock-saluted.

Dad opened a beige “door” and we “walked” into a session room, decorated like someone’s living room.  An oldie moldie’s head floated over the sofa. His white hair was so thin that I could see the freckles on his scalp.

“Here’s Stuart.” Dad poked me in real life and I jumped. “Smile”.


Rule #3:  Old people are electronically challenged

“Hey, Milanda.” I swung a leg over the bench at our usual lunch table in the school caff and opened up my paper bag. Chicken again. I really needed to reboot my lunch choices. “So, you know how I have to work for my dad for six weeks?”

Milanda didn’t look up. I’d pipped her after my session with HappyHearts last night, but she’d been offline.

I kept going. “So, last night? It took a couple of hours but I’m actually getting the hang of it. I made a hookup between this moldie guy, Stuart, and this moldie chick, Carol. He’s like a designer dude and she’s done a few decades as a cartographer-slash-mapping analyst-slash-lunar geologist? They seemed to hit it off.”

“Sounds like yawn pong. Sometimes you are so mainstream, it’s sickening,” Milanda said around a mouthful of soydog. As usual, she was in the latest skinsuit. Her hood and gloves glistened in the sun.

I couldn’t think of anything to say so I slurped my lime-kiwi Frozzy. My eyes stung and probably were zombie red. I’d researched court cases for hours last night. The kind of thing I’d already loaded into the phishing program that was part of the spyware. I hadn’t read any of it then, back when it was just for fun, but I thought I should try to understand it now that Milanda had run it for real.  The impossible legal vocabulary was like a cement wall I couldn’t see past and the way judges looked at past cases, things called precedents, made no sense to me. I had a hard time falling asleep afterwards and when I did, I dreamed of rows and rows of giant black dominos standing on edge, looming over me. I stumbled against one and it toppled toward me in the nonsensical way things in dreams do. I started running as they fell, one after the other, chasing me for miles and miles across the empty prairie.

“I’m afraid, Landa,” I said, “Afraid we’ll get caught. We’d get expelled. We’d even go to jail. Cybercrimes are bad stuff.”

“Bad stuff, bad stuff,” Milanda mimicked me in a little girl voice. “You are such a wuss.”

Uh oh. When Milanda got crabby, it lasted forever. One time, when we were kids, she’d stayed crabby for an entire endless summer.

I had to think of something crystal to say to improve her mood.  Then, when she liked me again, I’d try to convince her to stop the hacking.

Really fast, I said, “Um, anyhow, last night? You’d think moldies would be good at technology, when they’ve had forever to use it. You’d think they could work a holo program. But, nooo, Stuart’s image kept sliding, his chin and mouth kept disappearing out of view.  And Carol’s sound quality was all wavery – maybe it was even her real voice! Mega-yuck, eh?”

Milanda snorted.

I put down my sandwich and took a breath. “Landa–,”

“Rabster!” Milanda’s voice got all perky and cute. I looked up. Rab strutted toward our table. He sneered and tipped his hat.

“Ladies.” He kept tipping his hat even when he sat down next to Milanda. It was the new VeepHat and it was showing the latest DeadBoys vid right on the crown.

Milanda cooed and put her hand on his shoulder, saying, “Too much the cute.”  Well, fadeout time for me. I gathered up my lunch stuff.

So much for getting Milanda to stop. I hadn’t even had a chance to tell her how Stuart had a giant facial mole that wobbled up and down when he talked. He’d thanked me at the end of our session, really sweetly–but I was going to keep that to myself.


Rule #4: Old people have bogus convo’s

After dinner alone,  I’d done another two-hour slave session at HappyHearts then I started prepping for finals, a bit ahead of schedule but I wasn’t going to deny it felt good. Plus I’d aced today’s math quiz with a 95% and pipped the news to Dad. It was Thursday, his tennis night. He knew I didn’t like being alone in the house and promised to be back by midnight. The man got out little enough these days.

I pipped Milanda and, surprise, she answered right away looking tweeny, in a bathrobe with her hair all up in a towel. Maybe things would be all right.

“So, I set up these two moldies today, Margaret and Derek? At first I was going to have Derek meet up with the computer’s number one choice, Danielle, but, hey, her name was just yuck.” I let a giggle escape. I was pleased with myself, all right. The two oldies had seemed to like each other. And Stuart and Carol had met again, several times, racking up session points. I planned to tell Dad later and maybe the frown lines on his forehead would ease up.

“Shut with the spew and listen,” Milanda leaned forward. “I finally got something here.” She waved a hand and her holo morphed into a couple of talking heads. I recognized the HappyHearts logo in the corner and the flowered session room wallpaper known as TeaTime behind them. Oh, spew, it was Stuart and Carol!

Stuart was talking in his gravelly, moldster voice. “…the shoes fit really well now. That brand of ortho-pads really did their stuff. Thanks a million.” His brown mole was all twitchy when he smiled.

Carol showed her overly-white teeth. “No problem, dear. Anytime.”

They kept talking but Milanda had killed the sound. Her face filled the screen again. She looked so intense. She really should pluck her eyebrows.

“Did you hear it? Did you?”

“Something about stinky feet, mayb–?”

She cut me off.

“He said ‘thanks a million’! Your filter says that’s a fifty-six percent chance of an out-of-court settlement!” She’d removed the towel from her hair and suddenly looked older and sort of hawk-like.

“It’s just an expression, Milanda.”

“No, spewsniffer, Stuart has promised a million bucks to Carol. If Carol were to place a suit, she’d win over half the time!”

“He has not–he never mentioned money,” I shot back.  That spewsniffer comment had smarted. “And, fifty-six percent is a real bad chance.”

“It’s a pass. And it’s what I got on today’s math test,” Milanda retorted. Gee, her dad should be proud. Like that would get her into McGill and let her join his law firm.

“Milanda.” I hesitated then came out and said it. “I think we should stop. It’s gonna lead to real trouble, legal trouble. You’re almost eighteen.”

“I should have known you’d side with the tether-peeps.” The distain was clear in her voice. “You’ll be a spewsniffer for your whole life. When you actually get one, haha.” She closed the window and was gone.

I ate lunch alone the rest of the week.


Rule #5:  Old People talk funny

“A flea in your ear? Really? Ew!”  My disgust made Margaret chuckle. I’d been teaching Derek and her the latest slang and our convo had led to Margaret teaching me a few moldie phrases that were spew-city. I wasn’t sure if Dad would exactly agree that kind of discussion was a spot-check the way he intended, but I was having fun.  I was about to explain “cheese monkey” when my pip alert flashed uber-red. It was Milanda. I accepted and my dragon icon superimposed itself over Margaret’s face. It was flashing “87%” over and over. Forkin’ app! I wished I’d never written it. I made excuses to both oldies and closed the session.

The blinking symbol was replaced by Milanda’s face. When had she started to sneer like that?

“Hey, Fran, I got ‘em. Listen up.” The familiar teacup background came into focus.

Stuart was down on one knee with a small box in his hand. Carol sat on a sofa, one wrinkly hand over her mouth. I knew they were in different cities but the split-holo was a perfect blend.

“…my heart, my soul, my very being.” Stuart’s voice came strong and deep.

“Yes, dear Stuart, yes, of course, I will.” Carol sounded so certain and her smile was brilliant.

My vision blurred and my hands got all sweaty. This was how it should be. Not the posturing that Rab and Milanda did. Maybe I’d find something like that someday, like what Mom and Dad had had.

The oldies gazed at each other, image to image, clearly longing to be in the same room. Stuart would have to wait to actually place the ring on Carol’s finger. They began discussing if he would fly to Winnipeg, or if Carol would take the train to Oregon.

Milanda killed the images and smirked at me. She was dressed in a dark red skinsuit today, all crystal sleekness. I tugged at my hoodie collar where it always bunched up.

“Got ‘em,” she said triumphantly. “No mention of a prenup, no holding back assets, no nada. I did a prelim financial on Stuart, he’s rolling like a pig in spew. And Carol’s had three husbands; she’s a gold digger, no bogus.”

“Carol’s nice,” I said, still in a daze. “She wouldn’t–”

“Med records say she needs resveracin, resveraticin, whatever, one of those anti-aging drugs. Like regular. It costs the big bucks.”

“So we get Stuart to agree that if we get Carol to back off, he gives us a consultation fee.  And we hedge that–we get Carol to start the suit and we charge her our paralegal fees. We only need you to sweet-talk them a bit.” Her skinsuit glinted sharply as she leaned toward me.

“Sounds like bribery or extortion or something, Landa. The eavesdropping was bad enough.” My heart dropped farther than it had risen when Stuart held out the ring.

“You want to help Stuart out? And you want to go to UAA, or whatever?”

“Stuart doesn’t need any help. And it’s U of A.” I wanted to smack her. I sat on my hands.

“You tell your Dad now, he’ll be real sad. Do you want to do that him, after all he’s been through?” She pursed her lips at me and cocked her head.

What a rotten thing to say. I closed the connection before I put my head down on my arms.


Rule #6:  Old People make the rules

“Francesca, sit down.” Dad laid a hand on my shoulder. “We need to talk.”

I tried to look surprised and contrite.

It had been two weeks since I’d spoken to Milanda. She tried to bribe me by promising a double-date with Rab and his buddy, Lee-Ming, but I never returned her pip. I had upgraded the security on my computer and avoided Dad. My stomach constantly hurt and my makeup couldn’t hide the big circles under my eyes.

Dad had his stormy face on, the one he tried to hide a lot after Mom died. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been called into his home office. I sat in the gross real-leather chair he kept for guests, trying not to wince at the dead-cow smell. His sports trophies had gathered dust behind him.  Probably no one vacuumed them, these days.

Dad flicked on his computer, a better model than mine. Stuart and Carol’s heads floated life-size above his desk, like they were in the room with us. Stuart looked all uber-twinkly but Carol seemed concerned.

“Hi, Stuart. Hi, Carol.” I gave them a fake little smile but then turned to Dad, finally making eye contact. He had some new wrinkles around his eyes. Dad was becoming an oldie.

“I’m extremely disappointed in you,” Dad said. “You’ve broken both state and federal laws. Your program was not only easy to pick up in my security software but it had your signature all over it.” His mouth twitched. “I knew it was you from the moment you uploaded it on Tuesday.”

It was like a rope around my chest loosened. I’d go to jail but at least the horrible deception was over. The new app I’d uploaded to Milanda’s computer before school on Tuesday had done the job.  Milanda had never changed her passwords since we’d traded them in junior high. Guess she trusted me.

“Since it’s your coding, you’re on the line almost as much as Milanda. Your punishment will start by having you apologize to Stuart and Carol.”

I didn’t leave that office for several long hours. It was the first time in seven years I didn’t finish my homework.


Rule #7: Old People think the best of everyone

I confronted Milanda at her locker just as the bell rang. I held my latest invention, a jamming device, firmly over her lock so her ‘link couldn’t pop her locker open. The hallway cleared out as she dropped her backpack and scrabbled at my fingers.

“What, girl? Spew it out! I need my stuff. I got English, like, five minutes ago.” She pulled at my hand but I held it there like it was superglued.

“Stuart and Carol were actually constructs, computer-generated,” I said, parroting Dad from last evening’s talk. “Dad made them up, he tricked me in order to train me for that matchmaking job. He planted their history online and everything.”

“Fork off! No way.” Milanda put her hands on her hips. “You just made that up to stop me. Too bad for you. My little fake-o law firm will put the pressure on and bring in the bucks, clean out those oldie moldies. And I’m not sharing with you. It’s all mine from here on in.”

“Come on, just erase that one vid,” I said. My voice squeaked.

Milanda laughed, showing her spiky teeth, and shook her head. Dad had been optimistic but I hadn’t thought it was going to work. I sighed and said, “Ok, have it your way.”

I lowered my hand and walked away down the long echoing hallway.

It was easier than I thought it would be, not to look back.

That night, in our session, Stuart told Carol in a steely voice that he had hired a lawyer to begin ‘the preliminaries’. Carol looked shocked. Just what he meant or who the lawyer was, he didn’t make clear.


Rule #8: Old People are uber-emotional

It was uber crystal to miss school for a week and tour Oregon. I’d even enjoyed the flight from Winnipeg to Portland. To pass the time, Dad told me some of his childhood stories. He’s done some really fun stuff, in his time. I still wasn’t going to play tennis with him, though.

Dad even treated me like an adult, kind of. While we drank our airline coffee from tiny plastic cups, he said, conversationally, “Well, solid new technology saved the day, eh, Frannie. Just ten years ago, we wouldn’t have had the tech to reverse-tap Milanda and holo-record her actions.”

“Uh uh, Dad.” I’d shaken my head. “It was good, old-fashioned smarts–Stuart and Carol playing along, your idea of me vidding Milanda admitting to everything–without that, the evidence would have just been circumstantial. It was all solved by crystal smarts!”

“Yeah, smarts make a difference. So do ethics. I hope Milanda learns that.”

We shared a moment of regret that we’d had to take Milanda down. First, there had been a scene with her parents and me and Dad. I watched Milanda’s face crumble when her dad had told her that the court case about the arm amputation had been appealed last week. The judge who originally tried it had been flying high–he had a drug history you wouldn’t believe. Then Milanda’s dad said something about lack of remorse and long counseling sessions. Her mom had stared at the wall the whole time and hardly raised her arms when I hugged her.

Next, it had sucked uber-hard to testify against Milanda and watch her flip a finger at me as she was hauled away to Juvie. I ached all over for days.

“Your mom would be proud of you. You’ve goofed up a bit but you’re coming along just fine.” Dad said and gave me an awkward sideways hug in the tight airplane seats. It was the first time he’d mentioned Mom to me since her funeral. I made him promise we’d talk more about Mom after we got back home.

And he said, now that Milanda was out of my life, he was willing to include me in the HappyHearts business–maybe even give me a job once the profits got bigger. Sweet! Turns out he’d really been impressed by the substituted app. Maybe someday I’ll show him the original program, the less obvious one, the one he never detected.

The plane emerged from a cloud and sunshine filled the cabin. I cranked up BlueLulz and felt happier than I had in a long time.

Portland was pearly grey and smelled like a cleansing sort of rain had just finished.

In person, Carol was even nicer and Stuart’s eyes were even twinklier.

Carol couldn’t wait to tell me that she had used her business contacts in Winnipeg and set me up as ‘assistant to the human resource analyst mid-manager’. Whatever that was. I’d work there for a year starting in June and have enough money to get through the first year of an engineering degree at U of A.  I’d figure out the rest of the tuition later. Crystal!

It hadn’t been so crystal to receive a hundred hours of community service. But I could do it in the evenings, writing apps for the homeless.

And, I’d had to take a thirty-hour online course called ‘Victimless Crimes’. Turns out, there really aren’t any. Victimless crimes, I mean. Dad says I sort of closed off the world because of Mom dying–and, like any teen, squeezed between who I wanted to appear to be and who I was–but I figured that was no excuse. I was an idiot. Genius at writing code, true, but an idiot in the real world.

Anyhow, I decided to suck it up and get on with life. I’d also tried making a friend; a new process for me since Milanda had been my bff since Grade One. I’d been pipping Harpreet, this girl from history class, almost hourly all day today. She seemed to like me! But I took the uber-rare step of going off-line during the wedding ceremony. I wanted my full attention on the happy bride and groom. We had front row seating on the groom’s side since most of Stuart’s friends were buried in the cemetery outside.

“…to have and to hold.”  The ancient moldie words sounded crystal to me. I clutched Dad’s hand, even though everyone in the church could see us.

I’ve added in a ninth rule…old people will surprise you.

About the Author

Holly Schofield

Holly Schofield author photo

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. She is the author of over fifty short stories, some of which are used in university curricula and have been translated into several languages. Her works have appeared in Escape PodLightspeedAnalog, and many other publications throughout the world. This is her fifth appearance in Cast of Wonders. Watch for new stories soon in AnalogBrave New Girls, and The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide. For more of her work, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

 

 

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About the Narrator

Melissa Bugaj

Mel Bugaj (Boo-Gay) is a mom of a 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter. She and her husband produced a podcast called Night Light Stories where you can find and download their 60+ original children’s stories for free. Just go to nightlightstories.net. Mel has been an educator for 19 years and currently is pursuing her second masters in Educational Leadership. In her spare time she enjoys getting her butt kicked when playing UNO with her daughter, listening to podcasts with her son and watching horror flicks with her husband.

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About the Artist

Barry J. Northern

Barry is a game developer based in Bournemouth, England making freemium games for clients such LEGO and the BBC. His latest game is breaking all records on iOS, not surprising with a title like L”. It’s for younger kids, but if you fancy blasting alien brains check out LEGO Hero Factory Brain Attack.

All this game developing has meant that Barry hasn’t been as active in the podcasting and fiction world as he used to be. He still does the occasional narration for other shows, such as The Drabblecast, and appears on Cast of Wonders from time to time.

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