> Enter Name.
Your name is JAMES EGBERT, and your life thus far has been fairly good. There are others who would claim that you are surrounded by a certain aura of dire tragedy that borders on the comical, but you never stop smiling and you never stop believing despite it all. You have a wonderful son and a great job and things couldn't be better.
Your friends of course whisper about how it's all an act. After all, your beautiful wife and your loving mother both died in a tragic joke shop fire when your son was only two years old, but while you miss Elaine you choose not to dwell on it. Life is too great an adventure to dwell, after all, so instead you focus on raising John to be the best son he can be. Still, Elaine does haunt your life more than a little. Her influence is clear in the harlequin paintings all around your house; both she and your mother do love harlequins.
You know that Elaine wouldn't want you to be sad, so you smile instead. And today, you think as you adjust your tie, maybe you'll call Lillian after all. You know that Elaine would want you to move on, and you've always liked Lily. Maybe today is the day.
You adjust your fedora (a birthday gift from your dear friend Frank Finnegan) and straighten your tie. Today you go to work at the law firm that you've always told John is full of clowns. You smile to yourself as you think that really, it's only half a lie. Just look at your boss' hair. And the way that Frank acts sometimes.
You check your calendar. The astronomy conference gets out at seven, which leaves you plenty of time for a late dinner, and then to take Lily for a walk around the park. Yes sir, this evening's going to be a lovely one...
> Who's this douchebag?
Your name is AMBROSE MAXIMILLIAN STRIDER, and by god do you hate that name with a passion. You were born into a fairly well off middle class family in Texas, and all your life you wanted nothing more than to get the hell out. Luckily for you, your mom and dad were weird and neglectful hippies (ah, Austinites), and so they didn't care very much when you moved out of the house for college at the age of eighteen and actually took your eight year old brother with you. The only thing they said was that if you had any problems just send little Davey on home. Damn. You're not sure which is worse – Dave living with those stoners or Dave living with you. You're pretty sure it's the former, but you don't know. What you do know is that no matter what you do, your parents seem perfectly okay with it. They even know about your, ahem, [i]independent ventures[/i]. Fuck, your dad sends you a crate of Smuppets every year.
You just don't understand them.
You refuse to go by your full name. Your sort of friend sort of god it's complicated nevermind Lillian always calls you by that name and if you didn't a special understanding you'd flip the fuck out about it, but to be honest she makes it kind of cool. And even almost ironic. You can keep your tough guy image if you don't say a word, you guess.
Still, everybody else calls you Bro. Once you managed to get them to call you Maximum but that was in middle school and it was stupid anyway.
You are known by most everyone as an epic poseur, and you claim to only be a poseur ironically. Originally you adopted your tough guy rapper persona to tick off your middle class hippie parents, except of course your parents are fucking impossible to tick off. So then you decided to only do it ironically to make fun of other rich white guy rappers pretending to be inner city tough guys. Except you get the sneaking suspicion that the irony bit is lost on everyone you know.
Right now you're a senior in college (English major, minors in VMA and music; also minors in 'drinking' and 'the ladies' but who doesn't minor in that), and Dave is going to private middle school, and both of you are exactly the kind of pretentious douchewads who look like they're not trying and claim to not give a shit but get A's anyway. Dave only lives with you part time, and now when you think a little harder about it you think your parents only allow this crap so they could send him to that private school. A kind of a loop-hole. He gets to go back home to Austin on the weekends, which is just as well so that you can do crazy party type things and invite the ladies over without your brother getting underfoot. You've talked to your parents, and thanks to you having a shit ton of your own money (and no college loans, thank you scholarships) that they want Dave to keep going to that private school and to keep living with you. You're pretty sure that this has made Dave (and you) a bit touched in the head.
But you wouldn't want it any other way, and after four years you couldn't imagine not having the little bastard around.
> Be the flighty broad.
Your name is LILLIAN LALONDE. You were married to a gentleman named Robert Lalonde but the bastard divorced you, probably because he found out about an affair you had that you won't talk about but it's his own fault for being such a limp fish in bed. You got away with most of his money, all of your own money, and the only thing that you actually care about – Rose.
You had a brief fling with a young man nearly half your age, which was awkward for both of you; but now you've decided to be a bit more serious about all this. There's a widower you have your eye on, and you think maybe, just maybe, you can bring yourself to care for once. He'd be a good father, and God knows that Rose needs a good father in her life...
The truth is that you're really not cut out for the rich life (or so you think). You are actually a bit of a nerd – you loved wizards as a child, Lord of the Rings and The Once and Future King and all that, and eventually you became a scientist because science was the closest you could find to magic. You're a well known and talented astronomer and unlike most of your brethren you can actually afford your own observatory, thank you Robert. In the end, even the alcohol isn't what calms you – it's the gentle sweep of an orbital and the twinkling of distant starts.
Your specialty is an obscure one – asteroid hunting. Not many follow that path. But it's your hobby and you've named quite a few. In fact, a few have rather whimsical names, and they make you smile. Lalonde, of course; but also Egbert and Harley; Dave, Rose, Jade, John; and yes, even Strider, which you hope that Ambrose never finds out about. As if your relationship weren't awkward enough.
Some part of you likes to think that your work might someday save the Earth. If one could reach the meteor in time. If NASA weren't a bunch of wasteful idiots. If, if, if...
You don't need any funding, but you got it anyway, despite all your protests. You've since piped down and simply taken the money, but it still irks you just a little. You can take care of yourself. You always have. You always will. Still, the old man was so interested in your work and insisted on helping you out, and who are you to turn the fellow down?
For now, you watch the skies, martini glass in hand, and you hope that Rose understands that you do this out of love.
> Yes. Hells fucking yes.
Your name is HASS “THE FLAME” HARLEY, and god damn do you love ADVENTURE. When you were fifteen you lied to the army and went off to fight in the Second World War as an airman, flying against the Japs in the Pacific. Harrowing times, but you felt you were doing a good day, back when wars meant something and men were real men and women were real men and there was such a thing as good guys and bad guys, right and wrong. Or so you felt.
Shortly after the war you began investing in all sorts of things, first and foremost nuclear power and second in aviation and aeronautics. Part of you felt like you'd missed out, being genuinely too young and inexperienced when the war started to work at Los Alamos. Still, thanks to the Russians you never wanted for work, and through a series of clever investment schemes and pure hard work you managed to amass quite a fortune, which you then spent on all sorts of relief work in Africa, India, and the Middle East. You also did a little hunting back when it was still alright to do that sort of thing, but stopped when it became wiser to invest in things like clean energy and probiotic yoghurt.
You began to fund all kinds of other projects. You put some money into a law firm that specialized in patents for magicians, clowns, and other performers; you founded a scholarship fund for English majors; you began to fund a large project to catalog near-Earth asteroids. You had your fingers in all the pies, all of them. Every last goddamn pie.
Sometime in the nineties you became a little too old to keep flying around and doing that sort of thing. Your vision had gone, your old bones were a bit creaky, so, you being you, you bought an island on the Pacific Rim with an active volcano on it and built the most ridiculous house you could afford.
There, you rapidly became isolated from the world. You almost became a complete hermit, so completely alone in the world that you took to talking to the various dolls and mannequins you'd collected in your travels. Fortunately or unfortunately, fate seemed to have other plans for you, and when your young granddaughter was orphaned in a tragic accident you took her in. She never knew her parents, and you cared for her as best you could. You imagine she's growing up more than a little eccentric, but you wouldn't have it any other way.
James: reminisce about Elaine.
You still keep her picture on your dresser to remind you to be strong, to go on, to care for John as best you can. You'll always love her and always miss her slightly gap-toothed smile. Her sister and her sister's husband died in the same fire, and all in all it was the worst day you could ever have imagined.
Still. You know that she's encouraging you. You put on your best tie and your best hat. Lillian will be in town soon, and you must simply look your best.
> Lillian: go to meet James.
You're in town for an astronomy conference. Why the hell they'd hold a conference in Washington State is completely beyond you, as you can never see any stars this way. Terrible idea, really. So you make the best of it.
James. James, safe and stable and steady and loving, and after your last parade of men either too rich or too young or too flighty he's... exactly what you want. Maybe what you wanted and needed all along.
You walk downtown and hold hands, and you drink as always a little too much wine and he drinks only a little and the furthest you get is a goodbye peck on the cheek but it's always so lovely to see him. Always.
> Hass: call Lillian.
In the morning, you call Lillian, and you ask her about her latest findings in regards to meteors. You've been collaborating on cataloging celestial phenomenon, and at this point you're a little too old to leave your island. She gives you the report on the conference – boring, boring boring – and you ask how James is instead.
She pauses, and says that he's quite well. You smile. It's good to know that your nephew is doing well. That he's finally moving on. You say that you think he'll be a good husband.
There's a heavy pause, and then she says something that almost makes you drop the phone. You ask her to repeat.
“There've been some new meteors that I've charted, Hass. I've sent you the data, and I'm reluctant to post the results yet. But you should take a look...”
Ambrose Maximillian Bro Strider: flip through GameBro.
Dave just finished his latest post on his blog about how unbelievably shitty GameBro is, and in the same way that some people just can't not look at a car crash you can't not pick up the thing and take a gander. They're talking about some game named Sburb which of course they haven't played and of course they automatically say is shitty. You smirk. But then you find yourself curious.
You slide into your chair and go to the game company's web site.
> James: think about what to get John for his birthday.
You've already thought of a few things, but there's one more thing John asked for. Some newfangled computer game?
You guess it couldn't hurt.
> Lillian: Chart the skies.
This becomes an obsession for you. You purchase a new mainframe computer and begin to sleep in your lab, charting the path of the meteors you've begun to observe. Too many of them. And sometimes they're there and sometimes they're not and suddenly you start finding reports of them in every astrophysical journal you own.
Reports dating back years.
You don't remember these. You would have remembered them. Especially the ones you wrote.
This cannot be real. This cannot be happening. There are no craters in those locations. You remember. You remember.
So why are you afraid?