Monday, 1 December 2008

2008 November 30

No posting of story today, I did write more though, I just have to find where it all is in the file, make sense of some of it and put it up, which I don't have time for today. The end was something of a mad rush amid a number of distractions.

Words today: 5595
Total for the month: 50,072 (Winner)

Back tomorrow with the last of this year's Novel writing experience. I hope.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

2008 November 29

I did write quite a bit more than this, 6650 words more, but I'm not willing to put it up. And I can't currently think of anyone that I'd be willing to show it to if they asked. That's left me needing to write just over five and a half thousand words today so I reach the 50,000 word target. I believe I will manage.

Words today: 1522 (seen here) + 6650 (hidden)
Total for the month so far: 44,477

There wasn't any real purpose to be me being in the area the wormholes were formed besides curiosity but I still felt better for being there. I even walked around the equipment running my hands over it, something I'd never done before that I could recall, not even with my first car. The control room was also empty so I went and sat in there for a little while as well. Familiarising myself with more of the equipment there than I had already been taught about and seeing if anything would spark insight.

Heading back out of the factory and to my original work area was weird, it had been at least a month since I was transferred out and I was sort of expecting there to be someone new in 'my' space. Instead, I found my desk back as I had left it, and a welcome back note from a few of my former co-workers, instigated by Sara and Fiona if the location of names was anything to go by. I'd obviously been expected back as no-one seemed surprised to see me, and most of the people that went by just said hello or similar and no more.

When I found Veronika at lunch she was pleased to see me but unsure how to react to the news I was going to be spending more time in the front offices. Her first thought was that I'd done something wrong and she wondered if it was a result of her keeping me up when I should have been sleeping. I quickly reassured her that it was only because things had gone so well I was no longer really in a position to offer help much more. I wasn't able to tell her whether or not I was going to be spending more or less evenings at home from now on though, I hadn't thought to ask what the schedule was likely to be for 'testing' now that we'd made contact.

Because of my somewhat unofficial status as a team member I wasn't required to be at any of the evening tests from that point forward, Kevin agreed I'd probably done all I was likely to achieve in the way of big things. Any time I wanted to show up to a test though I was welcome to do so, as long as I continued to keep everything confidential of course.

That week I missed the one other test they held, because I was with Veronika and her family finalising details for the wedding. I didn't manage to contain my restlessness while there though, I was constantly wondering what the researchers were talking about with Cerebros & Styler and if they'd bothered with the video tests yet. Heading home I got questioned by Veronika, curious as to where my mind had been. She had been unsurprised I wasn't particularly interested in the discussion of dresses but when the issue of food got very little attention either she began to worry a little. I let her know that being somewhere other than the testing area while a test was happening had made me feel disconcerted. I didn't think it would be as much of an issue the next time and I was sure there would be a next time.

My sleep that night was filled with dreams of strange places, dreams I actually remembered and found myself needing to do something about so I was doodling in the morning as I ate my breakfast. Veronika had seen me drawing often enough that it wasn't really a surprise to see me like that but it was novel enough that she wanted to see. The pictures looked like alternate wormhole lab setups to me, probably subconscious attempts to figure out what Cerebros & Styler saw when they were communicating with us.

Veronika figured it was simply renderings of where I'd been working and asked if I'd ever be able to show her around. Not wanting to lie or break confidentiality I simply told her that I was expecting to be able to show her around after we were wed. Having been only able to sketch in simple black pencil was probably a good thing after that, I'm sure that if I'd had coloured pencils I would have been using them, including for the hair of some of the researchers. And while I'd seen people with hair those colours on the streets I figured Veronika would know there was no one in the company that had hair that colour. Skin tones would have been the biggest give-away however, nobody I'd ever met had skin the colours I seen in my dreams.

As a contrast to a couple of weeks back I took quite a bit longer to get to through the work in the front offices that morning. I only finished it all up shortly before Veronika would be taking her lunch break so I went to wait for her instead of wasting time walking between the two offices I had and then needing to turn around and walk back to get to the café. Veronika arrived with a couple of her colleagues, and they all came to sit with me so I was immediately surrounded. I got hugged, greeted, and then largely ignored for the rest of the time they were eating, unsurprising when the discussion was wedding stuff that I didn't have a part in. When I got up to leave I hugged Veronika goodbye and let her know that if I wasn't outside when she was ready to leave I was going to be late home.

The afternoon passed quickly for me, much quicker than the morning had, as I read my way through the reports from Kevin, Kris and a handful of the other researchers regarding the previous evenings contact with Cerebros & Styler.

I wasn't surprised to find that Ben's first action during his slot for communication had been to ask the two of them to turn on video reception equipment and then start sending simple test patterns through. I was a little disappointed that it hadn't been received by the two of them in a usable fashion but it did make sense from what I'd been told about the transmission requirements. Styler did mention having set up a recorder to store the transmitted signal and that she'd then hooked that up to a computer to try and decrypt it. Ben passed along the simple explanation of how encryption/decryption worked in that system and she told him it would probably take a week for their systems to manage anything.

Kris, when given his turn had simply told the two of them to expect a pile of junk momentarily and sent a couple of cheap cameras through, each oriented along opposite directions of transit. The result of that was vastly different from what everyone had expected though, signal from each of them was received for long enough that we got a very brief glimpse of the other end. Three still frames were extracted from the returned signal and had been cleared up as much as possible. The view of our lab that had been sent back also provided a large shock, separating out those still frames showed a colour change occurring up until the point the camera had been damaged beyond usability.
Kris managed to draw two strong conclusions from his experiment, the first being that bigger, denser objects were not as likely to be affected by the transit although he'd need a lot more tests to determine if there was an actual safe mass for such a trip. The second, and more surprising to me, was the speculation that what we thought of as differences in colours might be the result of different physical rules in their particular universe. He'd also come to the conclusion that there probably wasn't any chance of them being a part of our universe since that particular test occurred. We had no reason to think that different galaxies would see the same things in different colour.

Dan didn't have anything specific that he wanted to do so he'd simply arranged a number of scanners (frequency, magnetic, etc) in the room and spent the majority of his evening going through results from the current and prior wormholes. Kevin was also free of any prior plans for the evening so he ended up spending most of the three hours just talking more. I didn't notice anything exceptional in the transcript that had been hastily compiled but figured that I'd be well advised to listen to it all at some point if I could.

Getting to the end of my day I'd heard nothing in the way of further instructions and so I cleared my desk of the reports, made sure my other desk was tidy as well, and then went to wait for Veronika to leave. As we walked home we talked about small things again. It seemed that our time walking had become set aside for the normal day-to-day stuff and when we were home we could talk about wedding stuff if we needed to.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

2008 November 28

I had hoped to write quite a bit more than I managed, mainly so I'd have less to write today and tomorrow. I did manage to get to less than 10,000 words behind for the first time since the middle of the month though, which is good.
As it stands currently I'll need to write at least 3,000 again today just to be in the same position I was at the end of last year, and that won't be good enough as I'll have
less time tomorrow than I did on the last day last year.
What I find a little annoying is the fact that if I'd written consistently over the month, the way I did over the past 7 days, I'd have managed 70,000+ for the month.

Words today: 2915
Total for the month so far: 37,064

Most of us were surprised to find that it had arrived while Kevin was informing them that we'd sent it through. Dan just nodded though, obviously having realised that the transmission time would be the same, or almost the same, for physical objects and radio frequencies. The description Styler gave us was not encouraging though, the paper had been shredded by the journey and had become a green colour if the spectrum matching we'd done previously was accurate (it had been plain white paper).

That duality regarding that transmission was an unusual feeling for me, knowing we'd been able to send something somewhere completely new was amazing, knowing it was damaged on the way was disheartening. Kris asked to talk with the Styler for a moment, asking for a few specifics about the paper instead of the generalities that had already been mentioned. He asked for actual dimensions of the strips, whether it would be possible to reassemble them to make a normal piece of paper and what the edges of the strips were like.

I understood why he'd wanted dimensions, after all, if everything sent through was to come out a different size we'd not be able to use the wormholes for travel on a regular basis even if we did sort out the problem of the journey shredding them. (Then again, if the size change was exactly reversed upon returning it wouldn't be much of an issue.) The edging I could sort of understood the questioning about, clean cuts would indicate a different problem to jagged edges. It took a little while for me to realise the importance of the reassembly potential though, but when I did I realised it was, by far, the most important question of all that Kris had asked. If it wouldn't be possible to reassemble the pieces that would be an indication that not everything had gone through completely and even more than the other problems that would prevent transit of physical objects, especially people.

I don't remember the specifics of what Styler told Kris but he did seem to be pleased about the answers. Which I took to be an indication that he was coming up with possible means to alleviate the problems already. He did ask a couple more questions before handing the microphone back to Kevin. How much help were we going to get in coming up with shielding for transit? Would they be willing to advise on possibilities that were speculated on so we didn't waste time on prototypes that just wouldn't work?

Cerebros told us then that we would be told whether certain assumptions were correct, for example trying to dampen certain frequencies. But mostly we'd have to come up with a theory and a way of preventing that particular issue and then we'd be given the benefit of their insight. We wouldn't be told how to build anything or what materials to use or anything else truly helpful. There wasn't going to be any issue with us testing things though, they had plenty of room at their end and were more than willing to have us send test rigs through for as long as we wanted to try. Styler even commented that they could push the wreckage back through a wormhole of theirs once a week or so, so we could see for ourselves how ineffective the devices had been instead of relying on their descriptions.

The rest of that evening was mainly more conversations between Styler and Cerebros and whichever of the researchers was wanting to talk to them. The only other thing that seemed to be actual work to me was the short time Ben talked with the two of them about how video would be exchangeable. Having given it no previous thought I started thinking about why we had the ability to exchange voice communication, even discounting the issue of how they were able to speak our language.

I interrupted one of the minor researchers that I'd seen working on the radio to ask her about that issue. Basically it came down to the way AM broadcasts were encrypted and decrypted. The audio fed into an AM device was pretty much all that the device needed to make the broadcast signal. Decryption would be simple as well, the signal strength as it was received was all that was needed for turning signal back to audio. It was a very simple system that would likely be discovered by any intelligent group of people (or whatever) as they begun their research into radio systems.
Video signal on the other hand required a lot more effort to transmit. For a start there was typically a need for both audio and video for it to be used as a communication device. Each of which would need to be encoded and decoded separately. Getting video transmitted also required a lot of pictures to be taken each second and then each picture needed to be sent, in chunks, to a receiver. The trouble involved in that was ensuring the receiver was set to take the right number of chunks for each picture, and probably even more important, how to decode the information as far as colour, brightness etc. was concerned.

Not having anything I could really work on, after all I was just there as a reward for catching a couple of small issues, I left the lab area and went back to my office to research the video transmission issue. I also figured I'd make some notes about what I'd seen happening and heard discussed in case my perspective could help Kevin or the others in what they were trying to do. I was also wanting away from the wormhole for a time. Unexpectedly it shut off after another half hour or so, I noticed by the lights getting brighter not the lack of vibration. Since the relocation of the experiment it hadn't been possible to notice the vibration while in the offices unless you were using equipment. The lighting however would dim dramatically when the wormhole started to form and once it stabilised they'd still be dimmer than normal.

I headed back towards the lab when the shut-down occurred, figuring there would be another debriefing session, before I got halfway there however Kevin met me and let me know I could just go home. They'd had a quick debrief before shutting down the wormhole so they could keep Cerebros & Styler involved. I'd have a copy on my desk soon after I returned to work but for now I might as well go home to my fiancée

I wasn't much later than was normal for a test night so Veronika was still up (although I didn't see her there were a couple of lights on) and there was food left for me to eat. Not having to cook that late at night was just one of the many reasons I had to be thankful for her shifting in. I didn't expect to find her where I did, out in the hot tub with a book, but when she told me I should join her I went and changed, quickly finishing the first of my food as I did so. We ended up spending nearly an hour in the tub, talking about what she'd done at work that day, and me avoiding talking about what I'd done, although I did mention I knew more about radio and TV broadcasting than I'd ever expected to.

Again, as I had the previous night, I left the water in the tub, obviously Veronika liked it being available, and we went inside to get away from the rapidly cooling air. And Veronika wanted me to eat more, she had started complaining about the rumbling of my stomach while we were talking. Getting the rest of the meal she'd made I went to sit down at the table and found her setting out the game we'd played with Laura what seemed like a year ago. Apparently I'd promised a rematch at some point and the time had come for me to make good on that promise. I wondered if she'd picked that time as she could see that I wasn't really at my best but I figured it didn't matter. Win or lose I was going to enjoy the game, I wasn't tired enough that I'd rather be sleeping and if she said I'd promised her a game then I must have done so.

We ended up playing a couple of games, mainly because I wasn't spending any where near as much time thinking about moves as normal, both of which Veronika won, although the first was very close. It was obvious to her at the end of the second that I wouldn't last through a third game though and we packed it up, I dealt with my dishes and we each went to bed.

That following morning I went in to work expecting to need to read the report on the previous nights activity before dealing with the 'normal' aspects of my job. Instead I found three separate reports to read through, and a note from Kevin saying to head to his office when I was done reading them. The first was from Kevin, with new (to me) detail on the research going all the way back to the first test. The other two were predominantly from Kris and Dan respectively and had far less information in them but a lot of it was more technical. Actually getting through the two smaller reports took me almost as much time as Kevins did because of the technical aspects.
I had no idea how much of what I'd just read was actually going to stay in my head but after getting to the end of Dan's report I picked them up and headed to Kevin's office. The only person I was surprised to see there was Kevins boss that had been at one of the earlier tests. Dan, Ben and Kris were off to one side of the room arguing over equations on a white board that had been brought in from somewhere. Kevin and his boss were looking at each other across the desk between them, Kevin tapping his fingers on the desk.

The boss had only just been informed about my involvement in the research effort, and was not pleased about Kevin recruiting me, even after Kevin explained how I'd noticed things the others had not. Now I was to justify my own involvement in the continued efforts, or I was going to be put back into the boring office and left to do that simple work again. I had no idea what good reasons existed to keep me on and in the interest of not drawing things out into an uncomfortable conversation I said that first up. There were some reasons however, first being the fact I already knew what was going on, sending me off wouldn't change that fact so there was no increase in risk to the companies bottom line. Second was the fact I had, like Kevin mentioned, helped with the work, even finding issues that had been missed by the others. The third and final reason I could come up with at the time was the fact Kevin had hired me to help and as long as my performance was what I'd been hired for there wasn't a good reason to effectively fire me. I wouldn't have been able to sue for wrongful dismissal though and I acknowledged that; doing so would necessitate breach of contract with regard to the confidentiality of the research.

He looked at me for a while, how I managed to return the gaze without blushing, turning away or starting to stammer I do not know. Turning back to Kevin he said I could stay and then he picked up the few sheets of paper that were in front of him and left the office.

Pointing me to the chair just vacated he asked the other three if they'd actually discovered anything useful yet. Each of them started talking at once which was enough of a tension relief after the possibility of me being let go that I laughed for a moment. Obviously familiar with the three of them Kevin told them he wanted the bad news first and then waved his hands to the remaining seats.

Kris remained standing and started talking about the issue of actually using the wormhole as a transport mechanism. So far there had been nothing in his calculations to show a way of getting the object shielded effectively, mostly because he still didn't know what he needed to be shielding against. None of the devices in the lab had ever recorded anything that could tear up a person and even the worst of the readings would barely have had any impact on a piece of paper. There was certainly nothing we had the means to detect that was going to destroy paper as effectively as passage through the wormhole had done.
As things currently stood he figured the best (as in quickest) idea was going to be sending some sort of measurement rig through with it set to transmit back to us everything it could as long as it could so we could get the most accurate and in-depth readings we could. The cost of such a test was prohibitive though, all the equipment would probably be more than Kevin was earning in a year.
I interjected then, suggesting that if we were going to be sending anything through it might as well be a cheap video camera first, if for no other reason than to confirm that there was actually a need for shielding. It seem like everyone had been taking Cerebros & Styler at their words since we first made contact but there wasn't actually any proof of the paper being ripped as it passed through the wormhole. Technically, we weren't even sure it had passed through. My cynicism surprised me, I was usually a lot more trusting of strangers than I was able to be regarding Cerebros & Styler. Even knowing that I was probably being unfair, I couldn't bring myself to put aside the doubts I felt.
The doubts I voiced did convince Kevin that the next test should involve a couple of cameras sent through, one oriented forwards to see where it was headed and one back so we could (hopefully) see how long it took to pass from where you'd been to the mid realm of the wormhole.

Dan had been looking at the possible ways of tracking the wormhole passage, we still didn't know if it was going to somewhere in our universe that we'd be able to reach with enough time anyway or if we'd found a reality bridge that was connecting us to somewhere we could never have otherwise reached. Even scanning it, and the surrounding area with every scanner type available in the factory he'd found no traces of anything to indicate directional vector. Not knowing enough about wormholes however he was unwilling to speculate as to the likelihood of that meaning we'd connected to another reality.

Ben had managed to find a very simple video encryption method that he thought could be sent in the same way the audio had been so far. Transmitting the specifications would probably be the longest part of the process, Cerebros & Styler seemed to have the means to interpret whatever we sent through. Wanting to understand the problem I asked what had happened when we tried sending video through in whatever manner we normally would have. All four of them looked at me for a little while and then at each other. After the months I spent with them I realised fairly quick that there hadn't been any attempts to send through signal in the 'normal' way, they'd assumed that it wouldn't be decipherable and had instead tried to find a simple solution.

Kevin let me know that once again I'd earned a bonus, for pointing out the foolishness of my colleagues. He also let me know that I was going to be doing less in the research area than I had been for the past few weeks. Even after the confrontation with his boss there wasn't actually much for me to be doing, and instead of me just sitting around in the office I was going to be going back to where I had been for half the week. How I split my time would be up to me but he suggested just doing whatever amount of the old time work was needing done when I got in each day and then coming through to the fun side as I finished it.

Before I left there was a short discussion about the three reports I had read, none of which I had any real insights into. I hadn't come across any mistakes and there wasn't anything else that seemed to have been forgotten along the way which I'd figured might be one reason for me being told to read them.

Once I did leave I ended up walking to the testing area, wanting to look at it all without anyone else around. I expect that me going through the checkpoints let Kevin (and others) know that I was there but there would have been plenty of other means to stop me getting through if he wanted so I was obviously not interfering where he didn't want me.

Friday, 28 November 2008

2008 November 27

My required word count for each of the last three days is now more than I should be needing for the entire rest of the month. :(
It seems likely that I'll choose to not take part in the NaNo experience next year. I doubt I'll be motivated enough to sign up knowing how much of the month I'll slack off for. Having proved I can do it, at least three times, I don't feel the same testing of myself.

Words today: 3018
Total for the month so far: 34,149

By keeping the wedding small and simple it seemed we had managed to avoid a lot of the stress that would normally have occupied the planning stages. We still worried about a few things though, Mum still wasn't out of her cast so she could still have trouble walking normally when it came time for the ceremony. The rings had arrived though and we both thought they looked great, it was hard to not put mine on early, ostensibly for the purpose of ensuring it was the right size but Veronika told me that would be a bad idea.

The honeymoon had taken more effort to sort than expected as well, it wasn't hard to find places that looked nice near the waterfront but most were horrendously expensive and we couldn't see the point of spending that much money for a week away for the two of us. When we did find places that looked nice and were priced acceptably most of them were not free anywhere near the date we'd set for the wedding. We had started looking for alternatives, like near one of the big parks, when one of the places had a cancellation that suited us perfectly.

The other things, like suits for us guys and the bridesmaids dresses, catering and photography were all sorted apart from the final checks and so Veronika and I took a day off planning and decided to go for a walk. I let her lead the way and was surprised to be taken in the complete other direction to the park in which I'd proposed. We talked a little on the way, mostly about the little things we'd been ignoring for the prior months, like who was doing the shopping, cleaning etc. She also asked about the renovations/rearrangements she had been intending to make to the lounge and dining room before I so cleverly distracted her from thinking about such things. I burst out laughing when she made that accusation, after all it would have had to have been one of the stupidest possible means of getting her to stop changing things in my life.

It took quite a while for me to realise where we were heading, as I'd only been there once before, also at Veronikas insistence. Shortly after we'd met and begun to develop our friendship a mutual friend had been hit by a drunk driver, the week following that accident had been the worst time of my life, and, if anything, it had been far worse for Veronika. What I hadn't realised at the time of the accident was that she was interested in him and had been waiting for him to ask her out.

The two of them had talked while he was in the hospital and he'd admitted that he was afraid to ask her out, it seemed impossible to him that she would see him as anything other than a friend. A sentiment I understood all too well, it took me nearly two months after our first meetings to even invite Veronika to join Walter and couple of our other friends when we went to see a movie. Now, Veronika was wanting to say goodbye again.

Walking through between the headstones was at turns depressing and something I couldn't identify. There was an element of apprehension about it, but it wasn't simply that. When we got near to the grave Veronika let go of my hand and moved closer on her own. I didn't hear any of what she said but I figured it was along the lines of her saying she was happy, she missed him and hoped he was happy wherever he was now. That life after death thing was one of the reasons I'd wanted to avoid a church wedding, besides the obvious fact neither Veronika or myself were church goers, I had never seen any reason to believe that there was anything besides the life we lived.
After time had passed Veronika and I had agreed to disagree on that topic, there were so many others we could argue about effectively after all.

She looked at me with a question in her eyes as she rose back to her feet and started walking to me, wanting to know if I had anything I wanted to say. When I shook my head she frowned a little, shrugged her shoulders, grabbed my hand and started leading me away. The walk out of the cemetery passed quicker than the walk in had done which I attributed to recognising more of the surrounds and the desire I had to be out of there. Instead of heading home once we left however Veronika again took me somewhere I hadn't expected, this time to the archery range.

I doubt all of her motivation for us being there was my benefit although I had mentioned having a desire to try it a few times. There had been a few occasions in the past that I'd seen her rebuilding things, like chairs, and putting more force behind the joins than seemed absolutely necessary. While I felt that there wouldn't be the same physical release in archery as could be obtained by hitting things with a hammer it seemed plausible that putting holes in objects with sharp metal points would scratch a similar itch.

I was right about part of her motivation but looking at her I could tell that this wasn't new to her. I asked her about that and she mentioned the fact she had been an area representative when was still in high school. It hadn't seemed important since then and so she''d just let it go while she was studying and then didn't want to let me know that she'd already been after I expressed an interest. I wasn't surprised that she was good, it seemed that a strong upper body would be the biggest physical attribute required and Veronika had proven herself in that area a number of times since I first got to know her. On at least two occasions she'd been out for the evening with friends and heard guys talking about how much weaker women were.
Having dealt with a brother that thought similarly until she taught him otherwise, and having had enough to drink that she was less self-conscious than she'd normally have been, on each of those occasions she'd challenged the guys to a test of strength. All she'd get them to do was hang in a doorway, holding themselves up from the frame. Admittedly it was a little rigged in her favour by virtue of her weighing less and having smaller fingers but none of them were willing to try and use that as an excuse when they failed far earlier than her.

After about half an hour my arms were feeling really worn out, and I let Veronika know that I had had enough and would wait for her outside. After another minute or so she came out to join me, carrying one of the arrows. I'd somehow missed her bullseye shot and she had been given the arrow as a memento. I wondered what we'd have done next if instead of archery we'd been climbing, the walk home was slow enough with our legs not having really been used much.

Apart from starting some simple food cooking when we got back the first thing I did was go start a bath running, I knew at least one of us was going to want to take a bath to relax. I wasn't surprised to have Veronika come through and offer to play rock, paper, scissors for the privilege of going first, but I was figuring on dealing with the food first anyway so I let her go first. After all, if I was to go second I could take my time without worrying that Veronika was getting annoyed while waiting for her turn. It also allowed me time to deal with all the food instead of having to dump the responsibility for it on her.

When she came out of the bathroom, earlier than I'd expected, we sat down to eat and talked a little about the walk we'd been on. I was still surprised by the walk to the cemetery but had understood her desire to go there. Actually trying archery had also been very good, although I figured that I'd need to build up to the amount of time shooting it seemed Veronika could easily manage.

I was pushed down the hall when we'd finished eating and told to get myself some clean clothes. As I was getting some I heard the bath start running again and walked out slowly. Veronika put me on the basket and told me to just take my bath, she was going to deal with the dishes and then we could relax in the lounge for the rest of the evening.

I started drifting off not long after we sat down together and while Veronika put up with it for a few minutes the weight of my head upon her shoulder got to be annoying. The prodding served to make me a little more alert but I still needed to hear her a couple of times before I got up and went to bed.

With no particular plans for the next day I wasn't surprised to find Veronika in the kitchen when I made my way out. We'd had the option of going to visit my family that afternoon, but after the walking we'd done the day before neither of us felt like going anywhere. I mentioned the possibility of running the hot tub as it looked like the weather was going to be nice all day. Veronika said that it would be nice to see it running so she'd have a chance of getting it going herself if I was away on a nice day. I felt like a dolt then, we'd had some quite nice days that she could have enjoyed herself quite a bit in the tub. She told me it wasn't my fault though, having never asked about it she couldn't blame me for the lack of instruction.

I asked if we should invite anyone else around and she thought about it for a while. We didn't want to split the rest of my family and hers were to far away to have a visit from them be at all likely, even if they would be interested. Laura and co on the other hand were probably not busy and it was going to be good to see them again so Veronika made a phone call. The tub still hadn't heated up enough by the time they started showing up, apparently it was going to be more than just the three of them, four with the new flatmate. Almost everyone showed up with food though which was helpful, we could have easily fed the three I expected to show up but much more than that would have resulted in a need for at least one trip to the supermarket.

It didn't take long before people were getting into the hot tub even with it not really being ready yet, and I came to the conclusion that I probably wasn't going to be having much time in it until people went home. That irked me initially but when I saw how happy Veronika was talking with people I figured it didn't matter at all. For the three hours we had people there I ended up doing the host type things I'd managed to not do previously, bringing out food, making sure people weren't moving around in the house, cleaning up plates and the like. After everyone but Laura and her partner had left I stopped tidying up and went to join them in the tub. Veronika moved over to where I had sat and kissed my cheek, thanking me for the effort I'd been making.

Laura and Allan didn't stick around much longer after that and that time it was Veronika that showed them out. When she came back she asked how I felt the afternoon had gone. Honestly I was pleased, it hadn't been such that I wanted to repeat the experience every weekend but it had been good to do. And seeing her light up every time she spoke to someone new had on it's own been enough to make the effort worthwhile. We relaxed in the tub for another half hour or so, until Veronika felt her skin was "pruning" too much. Instead of draining the tub like I'd initially thought I would I just turned off the power and put the lid back on, figuring that when she returned home alone the next day it might be good for her to be able to relax for a while.

After being distracted over the weekend the Monday was among the longest of my life, and it seemed obvious that the rest of the research team were feeling similarly about it all. As the evening approached everyone started drifting into the main lab and even before the switch to start the wormhole was thrown everyone was looking towards the speakers.
Everyone but Kevin anyway, he only showed up at the appointed time, presumably having been working somewhere else or talking to his bosses or something. As he walked in he looked around and obviously seeing who and what he expected to reached out to start the wormhole generation. I think everyone had been expecting something more from him before we started for the evening but that wasn't really Kevin.

When the wormhole had grown to the expected size Kevin picked up the microphone again and asked if there was anyone at the other end. The voice we'd heard the last time responded and we heard another voice faintly in the background. Picking up on that Kevin suggested that it might be good to introduce some key members of each respective side. Starting with our side as a sign of good faith he gave his name as well as the three immediately beneath him, and surprising everyone in the room, my name as well. He did mention that there were a dozen others in the room but he always had trouble with names and didn't want to tax those on the other side. The voice was named then, Windcharger, and the secondary, somewhat feminine voice introduced herself as Styler. It was apparently just the two of them in their location, the technology on their end having become so common place that it didn't require many people to monitor it.

Conversation, and it really was a conversation instead of simple information exchange from then on, went around a number of topics. Only a small portion of which had anything to do with the wormhole itself, which I began to realise made sense from the perspective of Windcharger and Styler. They'd no doubt already worked out all the little issues we were going to have to figure out before we could do anything more than what we currently were.

One of the questions we weren't going to be given a straight answer to was where the two of them were in relation to us, or us to them. Styler gave a number of reasons, most of which I completely failed to understand although I did again see a number of people writing furiously as she listed off those reasons. The one that I did understand I happened to also agree with, the act of finding out how to determine relative locations over those distances (or dimensions) would prove far more enlightening than having the means just given to us.

As we'd been told the first time we were also not going to be given the information on how to safely transport people through the wormhole. Partly because the specifics depended on the biological make-up of the person involved and the two of them did agree that we would be unwise to let them know that level of detail about our biology. Kevin did ask if they would mind us sending something small through to see what would happen to it and was given an all clear to send anything at all. Kevin was taken aback at that, having expected to spend a while negotiating the specific molecular structure of whatever he'd send through to ensure it wasn't harmful.
Windcharger laughed at the implication they'd taken no precautions and let us know that it would possible for us to send through a bomb, if we could make one small enough, and it wouldn't affect them on the other side. He did ask how we were supposed to know how the passage of travel had affected the object, it wasn't as though we necessarily had anything in common as far as ordinary everyday objects were concerned.
Kevin's face dropped a little before Dan spoke up, suggesting that either Windcharger or Styler describe what they saw of the object once it had gone through. Again we heard the laughter and were told that we'd answered that question quicker than most of the other groups ever managed. Looking around for something to send through Kevin decided to just rip a piece of paper off the pad that was sitting untouched beside him. He explained that it would take a while to get it sent through, our facility was such that nobody could get within 10 metres of the wormhole apparatus while it was running.
It was a little easier getting the paper into the wormhole than Kevin had expected, getting it into the room was almost enough to have it transmitted through. Something none of us had bothered to notice was the wind currents present in the closed off room. Where the air was all coming from didn't register as an issue immediately though, we were just happy enough to have the paper absorbed by the wormhole and disappear from our sight.
Kevin let Windcharger and Styler know that we'd seen the paper disappear from our end and asked that they let us know when it arrived.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

2008 November 26

I continue to fall further behind as far as the constantly updating quota is concerned. I'm probably going to have to do very little but write on the Sunday afternoon when the last meet-up for the month is finished. Even if I wanted to repeat last year's final day push I still need to write 3,000 words a day for the next three days.
My cold seems to be at least part of the reason I haven't been motivated this year, I think knowing I can do it has also affected me. The first years it was a challenge and thus worthy of time, now it doesn't seem so important.
Having put it up here online may also be impacting my writing, I can't just go off on all the tangents I had in other years.

Words today: 2463
Total for the month so far: 31,130

Kris decided that the radiation shielding should be improved in the experiment room itself, and the surrounding rooms as well. As such I got to help a little in the construction of better shielding, mainly just lugging lead plating and metallic nets around. Having no idea what the point of all the stuff I'd been carrying around was I decided to do a little research, and realised why my first cell phone had never worked in a couple of places my current one did without any trouble.

With the improved shielding in place we had a Saturday set aside for a lot of tests, not just one or two like we had been doing. The extra time wasn't really needed though, test number one on that day brought results, the modulation of growth changed almost as soon as the first signal was directed through the wormhole. Moments later we started receiving a signal in an unfamiliar modulation but it was obvious there was something intelligent at the other end. Cutting the power to the wormhole, as had been agreed for potential safety reasons, didn't result in quite what had been hoped for. The size started to decrease, and then stabilised at about twice the maximum size it had been reaching before tests started happening in the dedicated room.

Kris and Dan panicked for a moment, rushing around trying to find the power circuit that hadn't disconnected. Kevin just looked at the reading with an expression of wonder on his face. Ben started writing furiously on his notepad and started flicking a few switches, switches I hadn't seen used before. The wormhole immediately began to shrink again and within a minute was completely gone, even from the sensors.

People all through the room began to speak then, until Kevin raised his hands and people started to realise he wanted their attention. The first thing he said was that he was pleased beyond words to be a part of such a momentous occasion. The second was his questioning of Ben to find out how he'd shut down the wormhole, it seemed like information that more people should have in case things went wrong again. Basically, Ben told us, he'd set up a feedback loop that directed power to reversing the polarity. It sounded like technobabble to me but Kevin and a couple of others were nodding their heads so it obviously made sense to at least them.

The next hour was spent looking over the readings from several different recorders, including the ones from outside, the records of which I was sent to get. I don't remember who had the idea but it was decided early on to have a couple of recorders set up outside and a fair distance from the labs to see how much, if any, effect the tests were having on the outside world. I managed to open up the devices and get the records copied to the portable data pad I had but when I tried to put the casing back on I noticed that both of them were a little warped.

Kevin agreed that it was odd both had warped, especially when they'd both been checked the day before, and instructed a couple of the researchers to go and check in the stores to see if the spares had been affected at all. He himself had a look at the casings on the recorder immediately beside where he was sitting and found there was deformation of it. More than the two outside had undergone as well. When all the scanners in the immediate vicinity had been checked we spread around the neighbouring rooms and found the same had happened to those scanners as well.

The two that had been to check on the spares in stores returned while everyone else was in the neighbouring rooms so when everyone returned there was reporting back and forth about the status of things. Every recording device that had been powered when the wormhole was created had warped, depending on it's distance from the point of origin, equally, those that weren't powered had remained unaffected. That didn't extend to the other device for some reason though, many of the researchers had looked at other equipment and found no problems with anything that wasn't a recorder.

With it only being the cases that seemed to be deforming nobody felt any real need to take any significant precautions before we ran the second wormhole test and so, where possible, the recorders were removed from their cases and Kevin flipped the switch to start another wormhole forming. Once again the growth was as it had always been to start and then suddenly the growth became regular so the transmit switch was thrown and we waited for a response. Again we got a disjointed echo and then something new. Even I could see that it was readable as one's and zero's which made me think of computers. Two of the less involved researchers had been sitting at not yet utilised PCs until that point and they started feeding info from the return transmission into programs I was unfamiliar with. It didn't take long for them to realise that there was a progression in those numbers as well.

Kevin had decided that it wouldn't hurt to send actual signal through instead of just modulated static so he picked up a microphone, hooked it into the outgoing transmitter and began to speak. There wasn't anything exceptional in what he said, unsurprising when you consider his job, but he did express joy at communicating with unknown entities through a previously only dreamed at medium. There was also mention of a desire for co-operation and exchange of knowledge but mostly it was how he felt about the contact.

Nobody expected what happened next, there should have been a language barrier after all. A voice came through from the other side, modulated in the simple manner we'd sent Kevins words through. The words I heard then will remain with me forever, even if I forget everything else in my life.
"Greetings to you all. We welcome your entry into the brotherhood of universal travellers."

Everybody stopped what they were doing the moment they heard the first syllable come from the speakers, by the time the entity on the other end had finished speaking there were tears on a few faces, massive grins on most of the rest and Kevin had gone completely blank at the overwhelming nature of what had just happened.

After about a minute of silence the voice started speaking again, obviously having realised that we'd need time to adjust to the surprise. The first thing was to tell us our progress from first test to this stage was faster than normal but by no means exceptional and then it went into detail about the wormholes and what could be done.

It would be possible for us to choose the destination of our wormholes after a few modifications but we would have to figure out the specifics of that ourselves. Actual travel through the wormhole was also going to have to wait until we figured out how to shield things from the magnetic and electromagnetic fields far more effectively, which we all took to mean a very long delay, the basic message was that unshielded travel would prove very painful for anyone that went through and they'd die within a couple of minutes of getting through. And even that was only going to be the case if we could get the wormhole big enough to travel through. Right now it was apparently big enough for electromagnetic signals and physical objects no larger than 1 10,000th of the currently used transmission wavelength. Looking around I saw people doing quick calculations and a couple of people raised their hands with their palms no more than a hand span distant.

The voice then asked for some information about us. First on the list being a question about time, namely what percentage of our normal day had been taken up so far during this wormhole experience. Kris worked it out quickly in his head as having been approximately 1 40th of our day so far. Even using the computer I was beside I took twice as long to figure that out. The second piece of information he? wanted was about our periodic table, how far we had found elements. I shut down the communications at the next question. What were the most common elements in our atmosphere and bodies? Kevin started to ask what I'd done that for and the light went on in his eyes as he realised the significance of the information he'd been about to provide. Most of the others didn't realise what was so important though and most of them did ask, with confused and angry tones. Kevin deferred to me which put me on the spot far beyond what I was comfortable with but I did my best to explain the situation as I'd seen it.

If they (whoever they were on the other end) found out what our atmosphere was mainly composed of and what our bodies were mostly made of as well, there was a very good chance that they could send some biological or chemical agent through their own wormhole that would kill us off. I wouldn't have thought that if not for my reading months back on potential uses of wormholes and the militaristic nature of most of the stories. Kevin took the time to compose himself before he turned the transmitter/receiver back on.

There was no voice coming through from the other end at the start but after Kevin asked if they were still connected we heard the same voice we'd heard before. It turns out that the lack of diplomats was probably a good thing, Kevin admitted straight away that the disconnect hadn't been an accident and mentioned that one of the staff had shut down communication for fear of attack. The voice laughed, or at least we all thought was laughter, and then told us that that staff member was wise. At least one other group had just handed over the information when asked and then, presumably after communicating with other end points had failed to contact them again. It seemed likely that there had been some sort of accident or attack.

Other questions of a far less potentially devastating nature followed the most surprising was the nature of our bodies. He wanted to know if we were bipedal, tripedal, quadrupedal or something else. I was momentarily confused as to what that was a reference to and then Kevin answered bipedal and held up two 'walking' fingers in my direction. He gave most of the other information that the voice asked for but only after getting similar information in return. There were differences, mainly in things that a few hundred years ago might have been accounted for by regional differences. It seemed that they had hair of different colours than was normal here, and the figuring out of that fact took a number of questions.

Even with him seemingly having a complete understanding of our language we all, on both sides felt it imperative to check that our understanding of things was concurrent. Getting colours across required quite a bit of back work, dealing with the spectrum of light and such forth. The issue of physical dimensions had already been dealt with when we were warned to not send anything through but the exact size required some more calculations.

The rest of that afternoon went by with more information exchange until the wormhole had been present for a period of just short of three hours. The voice then informed us that the wormhole was about to collapse and all contact would have to wait for what he believed would be three of our days.

The debriefing after the wormhole did collapse lasted until quite late in the evening. At least six hours worth of talking, going over the records and coming up with plans for what we'd do when we had contact with him again. We were all of course told that nothing we'd heard that afternoon could be spoken about with anyone that wasn't in the room right then.

I was permitted to let Veronika know that I wasn't going to be home anywhere near the normal time, and while she heard something in my voice I managed to keep specifics from her. Getting home the house was dark so it seemed obvious she'd not waited up and I simply went the computer and spent some time reading up on some of what we'd dealt with that afternoon. I had picked up on a lot more than I'd previously had expected to but was still well behind pretty much everyone else on the team.

Waking up to the smell of food cooking was a very welcome surprise, as was having Veronika bring me that breakfast in bed. I did get something of an interrogation as she tried to find out what had kept me out so late. I let her know that I'd probably be getting another bonus and that it seemed that the breakthrough yesterday had been the big one to eclipse all previous breakthroughs. I didn't mention that I was going to be able to tell her everything in little more than a month, it was obvious that was still not a good idea.

After eating breakfast, which I was grateful for but not wanting a repeat of, eating in bed just seemed like a bad idea, Veronika left me alone to get dressed and we spent the rest of the morning going over plans for the wedding. The minor problems that had recently developed had been dealt with but we were preparing for more. It seemed that we had sorted pretty much everything that was going to need sorted, I'd even found a best man. During the two months immediately following the announcement of our engagement Veronika and I had spent a lot of time with my eldest sister and her husband as they provided the benefit of their experience.

It wasn't really surprising that the two of us would get on that well, I'd been hearing that we had a lot in common from soon after the two of them started dating. It was just that on the occasions we'd spoken at family gatherings neither of us had had much to say, mainly because he was more interested in being with her and I wasn't a talkative person anyway. Having the both of them in the wedding party was easier as well, neither would be spending a lot of time on their own waiting for the other to finish up with 'responsibilities' or the like.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

2008 November 25

Once again I needed to remove the last of what I wrote before giving up for the day. It seems that my brain starts drifting more than I realise each night. The cold I seem to have developed isn't helping any with my current motivation to write, nor is the fact I know (from last year) that I could still finish even if I didn't write anything for the next three days.

Words today: 1256
Total for the month so far: 28,667
(Total characters in the document: 149,999)

Veronika put her former flatmates at the top of her list, right behind her family anyway. At the top of my list I had my family, and then, I had trouble. I knew a lot of people would be very happy for me but I didn't really have close friends, it was the same basic issue I'd have choosing a best man. Walter and I hadn't really spoken or hung out or anything over the past six months and he had been my best male friend for a long time. While I realised that it would be good to see him again I also didn't think it made sense to strike up the friendship again simply to have a best man. There were a few people at work that I had worked with for quite some time, at least up until the big secret and my relocation. And I got on well with people at the game nights but I didn't really do anything with either group away from work or games.

Having always been more than okay with solitude I'd not really considered how lonely others might see my life. Being unable to think of anyone besides Veronika and my family that I considered particularly close made me start questioning how good my social life actually was apart from Veronika. Looking back on the time since she'd shifted in I realised that I had probably been out socialising more than normal but Veronika would have been out less. Asking about that brought a hesitant response, she didn't want to make me feel bad or guilty for stifling her but she had turned down a few opportunities to do things because she wanted to be with me and figured I'd just be staying in. When asked why she hadn't asked me to go with her the actual event types were mentioned and I agreed that there would have been no point in asking me, I wouldn't have gone unless it was the only way to spend time with Veronika.

Neither of us had any great desire to have our extended families present, simply because we didn't spend much time with them apart from occasional Christmas type get togethers. So we ended up putting a few names on the list apart from family and going onto other things. Second on the list to start on that day was finding a place to have the ceremony, churches were out but we wanted something old and we didn't want to risk an outside wedding with weather concerns. That didn't really leave many places anywhere near where we lived so it was a fairly quick drive around to look at them and find out what could be hired for a day. Of what we saw our favourite two places weren't possibilities so we booked the third, a little earlier than we'd been intending but that's when it was going to be available.

Getting food led to looking at holiday destinations and as we left the third place Veronika won my heart yet again. She suggested we simply find a beach house in the city, rent it for a week and have our honeymoon there. Not having to spend hours on a plane or in an airport terminal seemed like a very good idea to me, as did the fact we'd have far less trouble dealing with problems if there would be problems.

Both lots of parents were happy to have a date to plan for, although everyone but my father seemed surprised at how soon it was going to be, three months instead of six was going to leave certain people rushed to prepare. I expect my father was making the mistake a lot of other people were going to as far as motivation for having the ceremony sooner but it was simply convenient to have it when we were going to.

Over the two months from those plans we ended up getting almost everything sorted easily, making me wonder why so many people complained about the stress involved. And then things went a little bad, Veronikas dress would not do as it was supposed to and stay up so they had to rework it with straps. My mother broke her foot while attempting to change a light bulb one afternoon. The rings we'd ordered didn't arrive when they should have.

My time at work was far less stressful, the formation of wormholes became almost passé and I was at times the only one actually watching the actual event instead of readings. Such an occasion led to the second breakthrough, having wanted to know where the other end was, or even if there actually was another end the group had tried to receive broadcasts at all frequencies they could envisage being used for communication. For whatever reason they hadn't yet tried sending anything through. Getting them to do so wasn't easy either, the possibilities for who they'd contact were overwhelming, and underwhelming. Aliens, alternate reality versions of ourselves or possibly no contact at all were all put forward as results we could expect.

The thing was, they'd all failed to see the pattern in the growth of the wormhole, just watching like I did wouldn't have helped determine anything but the watching in combination with going over the readings should have pushed someone to recognise that it wasn't actually a consistent growth pattern. Going over the micro recordings that had been made of each startup, before the wormholes got to be big enough for human eyes to see it became obvious there was a stepping up of size not a curve. Once it had been growing for a short while (less than five seconds) the growth changed though, most of the time there was simply larger steps in size. It was the others that made everyone think that somewhere new really had been discovered. The step sizes started to increase in specific, consistent, jumps instead of what was a close match to the fibonnaci sequence.

Kevin almost refused to believe me when I told him there was a pattern there, especially when the first three readouts were all different. It was when I showed him the fourth and fifth readout with my notes over the top of them, all five readouts that is, that he begun to see what I was saying. Each step up on the readouts I'd picked as having been interfered with was a specific margin, consistent across the entire test. Getting all the tests we had accurate enough records for and sorting them by date made us all (Kevin, myself and the others) wonder if we'd been guilty of wishful thinking. Each 23 days the jumps stepped back to the initial stage but because of the infrequency of tests that wasn't readily apparent.

Even the two higher ups that were keeping track of what happened in the lab agreed that there was probably an intelligence of some sort doing something to try and communicate with us. How to communicate back wasn't clear but it was readily agreed to just see what happened if we transmitted a specially modulated radio wave through the wormhole. Dan was clever enough to come up with the idea of modulating the signal by the same ratio as the incoming effect was having day by day. Setting up such a simple device would have been possible for me, but far more complicated than I could be bothered with. Fortunately there was plenty of transmission stuff and the means to create the frequency.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

2008 November 24

I started writing early enough that I could have made the new quota, but I kept distracting myself online so today's requirement is 300 words more than it would have been. If every day through the month had been like this as far as word count I'd be set.
20% left of the month in which to write, 45% of the novel left to write. Not a good ratio.

Words today: 1693
Total for the month so far: 27,411

Surprisingly I was informed that I would be able to tell Veronika about almost everything after we were wed. All the spouses were allowed to know what was going on, it had been decided early on that keeping secrets wasn't good for the relationships. He also told me that there was a possibility that I was going to need to be present a lot more out of work hours than I had been for a while. With the new staging area there had been a decision made to try and figure out where the wormhole was going each time and they didn't really know how to work that out. I wasn't expected to figure it out myself but Kevin and the guys figured that with me noticing simple things they'd overlooked I might manage other insights.

I wasn't given any more indication of when the tests were going to be happening so I asked if the coming weekend was likely to be one of the test days. The fact I was asking prompted Kevin to ask what I had planned, every other time I had just come in when asked without concern so he could tell something was up. When I mentioned being somewhat obligated to meet Veronikas family on the Saturday he told me I could pass on the testing if it happened, I wasn't really essential for the experiments after all. Before leaving I did make sure to clarify how much I was able to tell Veronika, if I was going to be able to tell her things I wanted to share what I could. All I was allowed to tell her was that the tests were going well and I'd been given an indication that in time she'd be allowed to know.

My sleep over that week was less restful than it had been before I popped the question, I was less sure of her families opinion of me than I had been of her likely response. It got so bad that on the Friday night she told me to go lie down on my bed and rest while she dealt with our meal. When it was done she came through to wake me up and found me just lying there looking up at the ceiling. It wasn't my favourite meal, we hadn't had the requisites for that, but it was very well prepared and I enjoyed it more than I did most meals. When I started clearing away dishes I was dragged away from the table and taken back to my room where Veronika forced me to lie on my bed again, this time face down. She had rubbed my shoulders on occasion before that, but never had she gone to the effort of massaging my back, neck, shoulders and arms. I melted. And woke up a couple of hours later feeling bad for having passed out on her. When I found her reading in her room I started to apologise and was told to shut up and return the favour. I had no idea what I was doing when I started, the other times I'd tried to massage her shoulders had lasted less than a minute as she stopped me because it wasn't good. Presumably I'd picked something up since then though, I was allowed to work on her kinks for at least half an hour before she suggested that we have an earlyish night.

I still didn't sleep particularly well that night, although I did stay asleep longer than I'd expected, but I felt sure it was better than it had been otherwise going to be. Veronika looked great when I came into the kitchen, well rested and hair tied up. As though she was wanting to leave right away. I was given time to eat, shower and do all the little things that seem necessary before going out to meet the parents but it wasn't long after I got up that the two of us left to go meet my future in-laws.

That family meeting was different to how things had gone with my family and I'm sure that wasn't just the different perspective of being the outsider this time. For a start they already knew the news so there wasn't the immediate speculation about Veronika being pregnant. I did hear her mother ask when the two of them were alone for a moment though, presumably because she'd thought that would explain why we had decided to marry instead of just continue to live together. We did get congratulated by all present, and Veronikas grandmother had even got an engagement present for the two of us. She'd got a photo of us during one of the two times we'd visited her together and at some point over the week she'd had it blown up and framed.

The food situation was different as well, instead of piles of meat and bowls of salad, there was simply a number of plates of finger food, like you find at receptions. Veronikas mum was not exactly posh, but she had aspirations and they showed in the way she kept the home. We didn't all pile onto couches and huddle either, everyone sat on their own seat or portion thereof and the discussions were never loud. It always struck me as oddly formal, which had been part of my reason for not going with Veronika every time she invited me to visit her parents. The nearly hour we had to drive had also kept me from tripping out as often as I possibly should have but I did make sure to go with Veronika on both the occasions she'd been out since shifting into my place.

Over the afternoon Veronika and I were again asked most of the same questions we'd been asked the weekend before by my family, although with an extra week to think about things we had come to a few more conclusions. We didn't want a church wedding, but did want photos taken somewhere that was old. Both of us appreciated the buildings from our great grandparents time and liked the idea of having our wedding photos in that sort of location. Neither of us wanted to marry immediately but there was no way we wanted to wait as long as a year so to avoid winter we were looking at about six months hence.

With the questions dropping off in a similar manner to how they had at my parents place the talk drifted to other topics. Most of which had to do with various extended family and what they were up to, who was pregnant, shifting, fired, hired or the like. I was surprised at how many of the names I recognised but not at all surprised to have no clue what was so shocking about Aunt Deirdre starting to work in a supermarket.

Veronika called our visit short not long after the second round of drinks was served and so we headed back into the city. She'd wanted to drive and I'd taken the opportunity to drift a little while we headed home, as such I was surprised to be prodded awake and look out the window to see her old flat. Laura had arranged a small get together of some of Veronikas former colleagues and the flatmates she'd left behind. I never did find out whether Veronika had been in on it to any extent or if she'd been contacted while driving back to the city but I was glad to spend time with the friends we hadn't seen much of over the past months. Less of the questions we were asked there were about the wedding specifically compared to the questions our respective families asked. Far more were about how we were getting on together in my house (which I made the effort to correct to our house), what Veronika was thinking of her job, how the two of us liked working together (which we had to explain wasn't actually the case), and whether people hearing we were engaged were assuming that one of us was pregnant.

That ended up taking up the rest of our day, in a welcome but tiring way, so after people started heading away Veronika and I did as well. After we arrived home we had something of a free-for-all regarding getting ready for bed, I'd be brushing my teeth at the same time she wanted to and so on. I was given another change to massage her shoulders and seemed to manage better than I had the night before. She remained awake enough to tell me she wanted to sleep now and even with me leaving fairly quick I heard very light snoring before I was turning out the light.

There was nothing planned for our Sunday morning so we both got up early, I never understood why but whenever either of us had plans the other would be the first one up, and if both of us had plans, or even the same plans we only just got up early to do the essentials before we needed to leave. When neither of us had anything on we must have both been worried that we'd forgotten something as we would both rise about the same time as we did for work.

We had, with input from a few people, made a list of things we were going to need to do before we got married and there were copies of it spread throughout the house. As we sat down to breakfast, which I'd interfered with more than helped make, I picked up one of the copies and started looking through the items to see if there was anything obvious we could do that morning but that wouldn't require a lot of effort. Finding "guest list" on the list seemed like a nice simple one to deal with, at least on an initial level. I realised that over the coming months there could be a lot of changes between our initial intentions and what actually happened. Suggestions had been entered into with regard to who we would be inviting from outside our respective families.