Sunday, July 27, 2014

140Story - Day 55

 I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap

was covered with them.  Not an inch of the station was outside camera range.  Not even the spot where I had taken cover.
    “They’ve been playing me for weeks.”  I felt like an idiot.  “Michaels is Telrik.  Has to be.”
    I looked to Kelly for reassurance, for his measured assessment that I was wrong.  He was nodding.  “It’s the only answer.  They’re pushing me out into the open.  One way or another.”
    “And you’re letting them?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from him.
    Kelly only nodded again, then checked the doors.
    “But they’ve been after you for two years,” I hissed.  “Why are you doing this now?”
    “Because you finally took their bait,” he said with a sad, resigned smile.  “They knew there was no way I’d let you get caught in the middle all alone.”
    He always

Friday, July 25, 2014

140Story - Day 54

 I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap
 
to get to the bus station from here?”

I did.  We parked three blocks away - illegally - and walked in through the back of the station, where the passengers got on board.  The place smelled like exhaust and stale crackers and people at the end of their rope.  We belonged.
    “He’s got dark hair, heavyset, kind of pale,” I said softly.  “Looked like he might need glasses but he wasn’t wearing any when we talked.”
    Tense as an overwound spring, Kelly scanned the lounge, nodding slightly.  “He and I have met.”
    Oh no.  I retreated, ducking behind a vending machine and putting my back to the wall.
    In a moment Kelly was by my side, concern and suspicion in his eyes.  “What’s up?”
    “You never said you knew him,” I craned my neck, scanning the room for...
    Surveillance cameras.  The place

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

140Story - Day 53

 I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap

weasels like Burton?
    I didn’t let him see my pain, I just nodded as if that were the answer I’d been expecting all along.
    My phone beeped and a text scrolled across the screen.
    ‘Clr. M33t @ bus stn. I find u.’
    Kelly read it with me, and frowned.  “So we just trust him?  What if he leads Telrik right to us?”
    Being cautious is always good.  But there are times prudence veers far into paranoia’s territory.  I had a feeling Kelly’s had been living there for the past two years.
    “Do you know how to get to the embezzled money?” I asked.
    Kelly nodded.  “But the second I do, Telrik will hand the whole thing over to the Feds.  And I’m screwed.”
    “I’m pretty sure Michaels can get around that.”
    Kelly considered this for a few moments.  “You know how

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

140Story - Day 52

I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap

the city.
    Minutes ticked by and we sat quietly.  The sun went down and we didn’t say a word.  No one was following, it seemed.  We had given them the slip.  I hoped.
    From time to time I looked over at Kelly.  He was too thin, and even a lengthy shower hadn’t cleaned him up completely.  He looked more homeless than undercover.  But the man I once knew was in there, not too far below the surface.
    “Why didn’t you get in touch?” I asked, after hours of silence.
    Kelly pursed his lips, took a deep breath, and considered his words.  “I wasn’t sure.”
    “About me?”
    He nodded and my heart broke all over again.  How could he think I would ever be a part of the Telrik machine?  How could he put me in the same category as corporate

Monday, July 21, 2014

140Story - Day 51

I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap

jackass in a tinted-window sports car pulling into a handicapped spot up front.  Ten seconds after that to slip the paper printed circuit into the space between the window and the door, and we were off.
    Yes, Telrik would eventually swarm the car, especially if he stayed put for a long time.  But then he shouldn’t have parked in a handicapped spot.  Karma.
    I spent two hours doing everything I knew to throw a tail, aside from stealing another car.  If Telrik were following us without benefit of that tracking circuit switching cars would do no good.
    Finally, after exhausting and meticulous work, I backed into an empty patch of asphalt between two dumpsters in an alley in Southtown.  If Telrik still was on us they’d have to come at us from the front, through the worst neighborhood in

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Epigenetics and Buboes

I've been doing some reading lately on epigenetics, which is the process by which genes are turned off or on based on external stressors, without changing the underlying DNA sequence.  The idea is that most of the DNA in a person's chromosomes is largely unexpressed, but certain sequences can be turned on if, for example, a person is exposed to DDT or dioxin or just general environmental stress.  Epigenetics allows for those newly-activated or newly-suppressed genes to be passed to children.  This process has been proved in mice, and researchers are studying the process in people to show how second and third generations are affected by their ancestors' stress.  In other words, if your grandfather developed diabetes due to environmental factors, the chance you will get diabetes even without experiencing those same factors rises.  The environmental risk for him has become a genetic risk for you.

This got me to thinking about the Black Death, the worldwide plague in the 14th Century that wiped out a third to a half of Europe's population.  Epidemiologists have traced the disease vector to a bacterium carried in fleas in turn carried by rats.  Geneticists have studied the current version of that bacterium to see if they can determine why it was so virulent seven centuries ago when it doesn't seem to be so now.
    What if these geneticists are on the wrong path?  What if instead of studying why the bacterium seemed to be so virulent, they studied why the population of Europe in 1348 was so susceptible?

What if there were environmental factors from two or three generations before 1348 that made people particularly vulnerable to the Black Death?  The 14th Century was the tail end of the Middle Ages in Europe, and the early part of the century saw the Great Famine, which was about two generations before the Black Death.  Was there something about that calamity that turned on some DNA sequences - or turned some off - thereby predisposing certain people two generations later to contract the plague, and others to resist it?  I don't know, I'm not the geneticist, but I think it's worth exploring.

This has ramifications in modern day as well.  Aside from the obvious environmental toxins - like DDT and dioxin, which researchers are studying - there are many environmental stressors in modern society, and stress can do the epigenetic job just as well as chemicals.  Constant levels of stress can lead to increases in heart disease, liver problems, and obesity in people, but what else?  What changes are we making to our genes that we then pass onto our children?  Kind of a scary thought.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

140Story - Day 50

I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap

taken care of the phone.  But I still had the pictures Telrik had given me.  In my purse.  I handed the envelope to Kelly, who ran his fingers along every seam.  He pulled the bottom fold down, revealing a flash of tiny circuitry, printed on paper.  New tech, something I wasn’t familiar with.
    “Gotta admit, that’s some clever thinking,” he said.  “They gave you this two days ago?”
    I nodded.  My face burned hot with embarrassment.  They’d gotten me.  From the very beginning.
    “That’s a long con,” Kelly muttered.  “What do we do with it?”
    My first thought was to ditch it.  Crumple it into a useless ball and toss it into the gutter.  But I had a better second thought.

It took all of ten minutes to find a busy supermarket parking lot.  Five more minutes to find the

Thursday, July 17, 2014

140Story - Day 49

Oops, I missed a day.  Sorry, I was distracted.

  I'm writing a story 140 words at a time and posting the results here daily.  Can I sustain interest?  Will I lose the narrative thread?  Find out in this next installment of Bullets Ain't Cheap

left, then took my foot off the gas.  Kelly now held my phone, staring at it, waiting for the next instruction.
    ‘UR bng followed.  Lose them,’
    I checked my mirrors.  Nothing.  I looked left, right, up, down, and Kelly did too.
    “Where?” Kelly muttered.
    “Doesn’t matter,” I said, slamming the pedal to the metal.  “We evade.”
    The force of acceleration tossed Kelly backwards, and he landed with a grunt.  I took a left, a right, sped up and slowed down.  Doubled back.  Everything I knew to expose a tail and nothing worked.
    “What if they don’t have to follow us?”  Kelly muttered as he stared out the back window.
    “You mean a tracker?” I snapped.  “We only stole this car a couple of hours ago, how would they...”
    “Your phone?” Kelly’s voice was a whisper.
    I shook my head, I’d