Jack and the Girl

This was originally written as a 7-minute audiodrama for a class I took in script writing earlier this summer. I liked it so much that I decided to adapt to prose. I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it.

The trees rustled in the brisk breeze that rolled through the park, and the birds chirped overhead in an asynchronous chorus. In the distance a whispering of passing cars hummed in the background a providing a muted white noise. Jack traveled down the path, the gravel beneath his feet crunched against his shoes. His hands tucked into the front pouch of his hoodie. The formerly black hoodie now faded to space gray and covered in white specks of lint. The hoodie’s fibers stretched taught across his protruding belly. The man on the verge of his third decade of life paid no attention to the greenery around him, instead his attention focused on his inner voice as it continued its tirade of criticisms.

*…and worst of all he had to fire you with freakin’ a Roomba,* his inner voice said. *I don’t know if he couldn’t stand to see your face, smell your stench, or deal with your personality. Hell, it could be all the above. They might as well put your face next to the definition of ‘loser’ in the dictionary after today because you’re beyond hopeless. I got to admit though, it was cute seeing the little pink slip atop the Roomba as it crashed into your cubical wall.*

“Shut up,” Jack said out loud. “I don’t need to hear it.”

*Face it bud, you’re stuck with me for life.* His inner voice said. *How do you think I feel being stuck in the mind of a loser like you? I gotta live in here.*

Jack shook his head. “Shut up,” he said. His inner voice was like a parasite in his mind feeding off failure after failure. What had once been a small minuscule voice in the back of his head no more than a whisper had grown into a monster larger than his head could contain. There was no room for Jack to think in his own head anymore, for the past few years he had to speak out loud to even think for himself. 

Sweat began to form beneath his hoodie, his breath drew shorter. Jack stopped in his tracks. “I need a rest,” he said.

*Are you breaking a sweat?* His inner voice said. *Jesus dude, when was the last time you hit the gym? Oh right, never.*

Jack didn’t respond instead he focused his attention to his surroundings. He found himself at the spoke of the park, the point in which all six major paths intersected in a Union Jack like fashion around the central fountain. In the fountain choreographed spouts of water jumped into the air and back into the basin like translucent dolphins hoping in and out of the water. Benches lined the edge of the spoke, all empty but one occupied by a woman reading a book.

“Where is everybody?” Jack asked.

*They’re all at work, dumbass.* His inner voice said.

“What about her?” He said looking at the one occupied bench. On it sat a woman no older than himself reading a copy of H.G. Well’s The Time Machine. She wore an oversized gray sweater and bright orange cutoffs; on her head sat a Portland Timber’s cap. He had never been big into sports, but the sight of the Timber’s logo gave him a cool sense of longing.

*Bet she’s unemployed like you,* his inner voice said.

“I’m going to talk to her,” Jack said.

*You’ll look like a creep,* his inner voice said. *Correction: you are a creep.*

“You’re an ass,” Jack said. He checked if the woman had heard him. Her gaze didn’t veer from the book.

*She’s gonna Mace you and file a restraining order the moment you open your mouth.*

Jack shook his head and began his journey to the bench. The rhythm of his steps dilated after each passing second. Meanwhile, inside his chest his heart rate accelerated. The journey to the bench felt longer than the walk to the park from his office which had to have been at least two miles away. When he arrived, the woman looked up from her book, her dark green eyes meeting Jack’s. She was average looking at best, but that was enough to place her far out of his league. He opened his mouth to speak but the words escaped him. Whatever he had planned to say, the words had retreated somewhere deep within his stomach twisting it into knots.

*Told ya,* his inner voice said. *Face it the only girl your age you can talk to is your sister and she can barely tolerate you.*

Jack ignored the voice as he struggled to pull the words out of his stomach. Like a snake eating in reverse Jack felt a lump traveled through his esophagus. The lump wanted to return to the comforts of his belly but he wouldn’t allow it. He had an inner critic he had to prove wrong. He opened his mouth and began hacking. 

*You sound like a cat coughing up a fur ball.* His inner voice said.

The lump had reached his lungs now. Jack filled his lungs up and exhaled forcing the lump up to the back of his throat. He gagged, and then the lump was no more. Jack had recaptured his words and now he was going to use them.

“Is this seat taken?” Jack said huffing between each word, in the same way somebody speaks after vomiting into the white porcelain of a toilet.

The woman cocked her head and scrunched her face. “Hmm…” she said. Her eyes scanned him. “Sure,” she finally answered, “if this is normal.”

*How the hell did you manage to do that?* His inner voice said. 

“Thank you,” Jack said taking a seat. The woman returned to her book.

His inner voice was at loss for words, and same with Jack. He sat there in silence, unsure what to say next. The effort to speak to the woman had exhausted his energy more than the walk had, and for the first time in years his inner voice had become speechless. As Jack recovered, he stared through the fountain and past the trees. Not focusing on anything the world had doubled itself in his vision. In the back of his mind, he felt a foreign presence. The feeling was warm and comforting like a  campfire. Jack had grown used to the cold dark place within his mind taht he had forgotten what the warmth felt like. He struggled to search his mind for the right word to define it. Eventually he did: satisfaction.

*You say anything to her now and you’ll be sorry.* The voice had returned, eclipsing the warmth. The harsh coldness of his mind returned. *You got lucky pal, don’t push it.*

But the warmth, he wanted the warmth again. He turned towards the woman, her face still buried in her book. 

*Don’t push it.* His inner voice said. 

Jack pushed it.

“Say you look familiar,” he said. The woman looked up from her book. “Did we go to high school together?”

*What the hell are you rambling about?*

She gave him the same look as earlier, as if she were studying him. “I am not aware of a school of heights.” She said. 

*Alright this makes total sense now.* His inner voice said. *She’s as weird as you. At least she’s alright looking, can’t say much about you.*

“Shut up.” Jack said to himself.


“Pardon?” She said.

“It’s not you, sorry.” Jack shook his head. “It’s the hat,” he said pointing to his empty forehead. “Your hat it uh, yeah…” The words had retreated into himself once again. He didn’t bother to hunt for them this time.

The woman chuckled and returned to her book. “You’re an odd one,” she said. “Now if you’d excuse me, I’d like to return to this printed story.”

*Even the weirdos think you’re weird.* His inner voice said. *Guess that makes you the king of the weirdos.*

Jack shook his head, his inner voice was right, this was a mistake. 

*You’re a waste of flesh,* his inner voice said. *A no-good loser who can’t even speak normally to somebody. Your life is a downwards spiral. The only thing you’ll amount to is becoming the world’s most miserable person.*

A man wondered into the spoke from Jack’s left passing by the bench. The gravel crunched beneath the man’s shoes at a slow and gentle pace. The man had his hands tucked into the pockets of a black blazer. White Airpods hung from his ears. He stopped and looked towards Jack and the woman. 

“Excuse my interruption,” the man said to the woman. He took out an Airpod. “But I couldn’t help noticing your book,” he pointed towards book in her hands. “I love that book.”

*Look at this guy,* his inner voice said, *he’s like Ryan Gosling attractive, and you’re Shrek. Not in a million years could you dream to look like that.*

“It’s my leader’s favorite book,” she smiled. 

*’Leader’, is she in a cult?*

“I decided to pick it up during my travels. It’s so pleasant to read something on parchment.” She stroked the pages. 

“What are the chances?” The man laughed.

*He’s going to swoon her, and you’ll have to watch it all happen.*

He wouldn’t let his inner voice have the satisfaction of being right again. Jack looked at the man. “What’s your problem man?” He said. The man looked at Jack as if Jack had materialized out of thin air.

“Nothing,” the man said.

“Dude,” Jack said. “The book’s like a hundred years old, it’s a classic. The chances aren’t as slim as you’d think. Now can you leave her alone? She’s trying to read in peace.”

“And you are?” The man asked.

“Just go,” Jack said.

The man rolled his eyes and put the Airpod back into his ear. He made a little “humph” sound and continued his stroll.

“What an asshole right?” Jack said to the woman.

*Takes one to know one,* his inner voice said.

She didn’t say anything and returned to her book. Jack looked at the fountain. A flock of birds had landed on its ledge and picked at the surface around it. The words Jack had lost earlier returned to his lips.

“It’s the hat.” He said pointing at her forehead. She looked up from her book.

“What about it?” She asked.

“I’m, uh, I’m from there.” He guled. “Portland. It’s why I asked if we went to high school together, because you’re wearing that hat.”

*That was your ploy?*

“Portland you say? Are you from Portland?” For the first time since he had intruded upon her, she appeared to be taking a legitimate interest in him. 

“Born and raised,” he said. “Moved out five years ago though to here. My sis still lives there with her husband. I visit sometimes. I’m Jack by the way.” He held out a hand for a shake. Her eyes grew big, she slammed the book shut. The flock of birds fluttered from the fountain.

“Is your name Jack O’Connor?” She asked.

“What?” Jack’s heart sped up.

“Is your name Jack O’Connor. Birthday October 5th, 1991?”

*Stalker alert.* His inner voice said.

“How did y-“

“I need confirmation. Yes, or no?”

*At least she’s a cute stalker.*

“Y-Yes,” Jack nodded.

She broke eye contact with him and held her sleeve to her mouth. “Mission log: package confirmed.” She said to her sleeve. Her sleeve answered with a rapid succession of beeps. “Shit, get down.”

“What?” Jack didn’t know what to make of the situation, he began to wonder if he was the victim of a prank show. Jack looked around looking for signs of hidden cameras or microphones. 

“I said get down.” She jumped off the bench. She snatched Jack by the wrist and pulled him down to the ground beside her. A beam of white light flew overhead buzzing like an electrical line. The moment the light contacted the bench the bench was no more, leaving a pile of incinerated dust in its place. With no time to process the situation the woman pulled Jack off the ground and towards the thick of the woods. 

“Holy shit, where did the bench go?” He said. 

The woman didn’t answer. 

They wound through the forest. Bolts of light shot through the air hitting the ground around them. Bases of trees dissolved into ash and toppled over. The ground burst into craters of dust and mossy shrapnel. Rocks turned to pebbles. Jack scanned the area as best as his adrenaline powered brain would allow him, looking for the mysterious assailer and yet nothing could be found. It was as if the beams materialized from the air itself.

She pulled him behind a boulder, one not bigger than a sedan. They had to duck to get any sense of cover. The woman let go of Jack’s wrist. Jack collapsed on the ground panting and grasping at his wrist. Where her grip once held a ring of dark purple bruises wrapped around it. The woman looked over the topside of the boulder than back to Jack.

“This should buy us some time,” she said. “Sorry about the wrist, I’m not used to my new implants.” She pulled back one sleeve revealing what looked like a steel shell around her arm. The flesh of her hand was cut off at her wrist, like fleshy gloves. Jack shivered. She rolled her sleeve back up. “Didn’t have enough time to get my arms fully skinned, they only got my hands covered before…” she peered over the boulder again.

“What?” Jack huffed.

“He’s getting closer,” she said. She looked back at Jack. “We don’t have much time, so here’s the run down. My name is Emily, I am on a mission to protect you: Jack O’Connor, from any Imperial threats, like the guy on our tail.”

“How can you see him?” He struggled to ask.

“My eyes are augmented too, designed to see right through his camouflage.” 

*Oh look at you, suddenly trapped between the Terminator and the Predator.* His inner voice said. 

“In twenty years’ time,” Emily continued, “a ruthless empire will be built upon the ashes of the modern world. You, Jack O’Connor,” she looked him in the eyes, “will be the leader of our resistance. For the past ten years you’ve been leading the charge and have pushed them into a corner. But,” she looked back over the top of the boulder, then back to Jack, “the Regime got desperate and began building a time machine to stop you before your prime.”

*Or they just watched a lot of 80’s action movies,* his inner voice said.

“We got word of their time machine and managed to attain it for ourselves.” She continued. “Unfortunately, the Regime found our hideout and sent their best man in. He slaughtered everybody…” She took a deep breath. Her eyes grew wet. “But I was able to escape to your time. I thought I arrived here alone, but it looks like I was wrong.”

Jack finally caught his breath and looked at his guardian. Panting he could only say one thing. “Holy shit. Are you saying that I’m important?”

“Yes, sir.” She nodded. 

“Take that!” Jack said to himself.

*This must be a mistake.* His inner voice said.

“Take what?” She asked.

“It’s nothing,” Jack panted. “So, are you going to teach me cool kung-fu moves or something to fight this guy?” 

“With your history I thought you’d be more well trained at this age, sir. And,” she paused to take a look over the rock then back to him, “I mean no disrespect, sir, but I thought that you’d be, er. How do I put this?” She bit her lip. “More attractive?”


“I’m sorry for the insulting remark, sir.” Emily said. “It’s just that I was recently recruited and only had a few days of training before I escaped to your time. I didn’t have time to grab my data pad or anything, so I only have my memory as reference. I hope you forgive me, sir.” 

“Apology accepted.” He said.

Emily gave him salute and nodded. Jack blushed.

Emily looked over the boulder again. The boulder rumbled, gray dust and shrapnel flew overhead. Jack covered his face. “Shit,” she said, “he’s found us. Let’s go! Can you keep up?”

“Yeah,” Jack nodded. “I think.”

*I doubt it.* His inner voice said.

They took off through the forest, Jack slugged behind Emily. Only the sheer will of survival pushed him through the thick of the trees. His lungs struggled to keep up and his heart felt like it was a time bomb ready to detonate inside his sternum. He expected to hear his inner voice speak up insulting him for not hitting the gym for the billionth time today, but it had appeared that Jack had to use so much energy to even jog that there was none left to spare for his inner voice. In this sense, Jack welcomed the exhaustion.

Their path took them to the edge of the park and right into the city streets. People in light jackets and long-sleeved shirts walked along the sidewalk, cars zoomed on by. Jack and Emily dashed through the crowded sidewalk, but nobody seemed to care as if stranger things have happened in the city.

The city itself appeared to provide protection, the beams of white light had stopped flying overhead and, but Emily kept on running and Jack stayed on her tail. 

A few blocks had passed when Emily shouted over her shoulder. “In here!” She said taking a quick right into an alley. Jack attempted to make the turn, but his legs protested. His leading foot gave out. Jack tumbled onto the oil-and-gunk-soaked alleyway and rolled into the opposing wall. His whole body hurt all over.

*The fat-ass has fallen.* His inner voice said.

“Are you okay?” Emily ask.

“I think so,” Jack lied.

She extended an arm toward him, Jack took it. 

“Ow, ow, ow,” Jack said standing up. Cramps twisted through his legs as if his muscles had tangled. He attempted to balance himself against Emily, but his legs refused and turned limp once again. He stumbled, Emily tried to guide him.

“Sir, I think you need to take a rest,” she said. His arm now wrapped over her shoulder as she guided him down the alley.

“Yeah,” Jack said, nodding, “good idea.”

*What happened to mister hero?* His inner voice asked.

“Sometimes heroes need a rest,” he said. Emily gave him an awkward smile. “What do we do now?”

Emily scanned the alley. There wasn’t much too it, just a few back doors, fire escapes on either building and a dumpster. “Behind the dumpster,” she said. They limped around the dumpster. Emily sat him behind it against the wall.

“So are we screwed?” He said.

“Time for plan B,” she looked down the alleyway towards the entrance.

“What’s plan B? Ouch!” A cramp had quivered down his leg. 

“We fight.” She ripped her sweater in two like a superhero dashing off when duty calls. Beneath the sweater she wore a white tank top. Two arms of pure metal extended from either shoulder, capped in gloves of flesh at the wrist. “Stay here, I’ll handle this.”

“Emily wait,” Jack said. She stopped and looked him in the eyes. “I believe in you.” She gave him a small nod and salute. Jack nodded.

Emily walked around the dumpster towards the mouth of the alleyway. Jack watched her through a small gap between the dumpster and the building. 

*I can’t believe this poor woman is about to sacrifice her life for somebody who can’t even run a mile,* his inner voice said. *Shame.*

“Shut up,” Jack said beneath his breath. “You’re irrelevant now.”  

*But I’m still here.*

Jack didn’t answer.

At the threshold of the alley a figure materialized. Jack gasped, he thought he had seen everything today. Metal armor covered the assassin from head to toe. The plating looked like it had been forged from the sky itself with its delicate light blue tint and white shimmers of light reflecting off it. Only the figure’s lower half of its face appeared to be unarmored. The whole suite reminded Jack of a baby blue Judge Dredd. Jack gulped.

The figure held one arm extended forward pointing a jet-black gun straight at Emily.

*Nice knowing ya loser.* Jack’s inner voice said.

“It looks like your mission has come to a dead end.” The assassin said with a chuckle. “Where is he?”

“You’re going to have to get through me first.” Emily brought her arms into fisticuffs.

“I’ve been looking forward to this,” the said. He tossed his weapon aside, it clattered against the concrete and tumbled towards the same wall Jack had rolled into. The assassin switched to a fighter’s stance mirroring Emily’s and grinned. Emily swung first. The assassin blocked.

Perhaps it had been his upbringing of watching nothing but 80’s action flicks with his dad, but for some reason Jack half expected a chorus of synthesizers to play while the two future soldiers duked it out in the alley. He knew the notion of music playing in real life was absurd, but he’d be willing to believe just about anything after today.

Instead the fight consisted of only thuds, grunts and the occasional “hi-ya!” as the assassin and Emily duked it out in the alley. Emily swung and swung at the assassin. The assassin answered with nimble dodges and reflexive blocking with ease. The assassin’s grin slowly faded to a frown, then that frown into a yawn. The assassin swung one fist towards Emily, pounding her right in the torso. Emily doubled over, and gasped.

“I expected more out of an enhanced cadet,” the assassin said. “Your fallen comrades packed more of a punch than you, and they weren’t even augmented.” He elbowed Emily at the back of her neck drilling her straight into the ground. Emily fell over onto her knees, gasping, clutching her sternum.

*Well look on the bright side,* Jack’s inner voice said, *at least if he kills ya you’ll be free of your miserable existence.*

The assassin stepped over Emily. Emily grabbed him by the ankle. The assassin stopped and looked at her as one does an injured animal.

“I will not be defeated by a scumbag like you.” She said standing up. “I may be a cadet, but I have what it takes.” She returned to her fighter’s stance. “You slaughtered my comrades. I will not let you win so easily.” She spat at the ground. She swung out towards the assassin’s chin. The assassin caught her hand inches from his jaw. He quivered. 

“Now that’s more like it!” He grinned. Using her other hand Emily jabbed towards the assassin’s abdomen, the clash sounded like a somebody taking a lead pipe to the hood of a car. If this were a movie there would be a heroic crescendo of synthesizers as Emily fought back and she’d punch her way to victory. But this wasn’t a movie. Instead, the assassin caught Emily’s next punch, and with some judo looking footwork he tossed Emily to the ground. She hit the concrete with a loud thud and gasped for air. Jack’s heart skipped a beat.

“Still a letdown,” he said to the groaning Emily. “I spared you because I wanted a good fight. Is it too late to get my money back?” He laughed.

Emily rolled over and spat at him, but the sputter fell short of his shiny blue boots.

“If you excuse me, I have a job to do.” He said walking towards the dumpster, Jack’s heart rate accelerated. There was no way he could fight back, nevertheless run, in his current condition. 

*Or any condition.* His inner voice assured him. 

Across the alleyway Emily spied the jet-black gun the assassin had thrown and began to crawl towards it. In the opposite direction the assassin’s footfalls thudded towards Jack.

The assassin kicked the dumpster out of the way, exposing Jack. Jack shivered.

“Who the hell-” A beam of light ricocheted off the assassin’s armor. The assassin lurched. The beam collided into the building behind Jack. The walls shook. Jack’s eyes dilated.

“Jesus Christ lady,” the assassin said looking towards Emily. She stood with both arms extended, the barrel of the blaster pointed directly at the assassin. “You could have hurt somebody. What’s your problem?”

“I could kill you right now if I wanted to,” Emily said, gun trained on the assassin.

“No you can’t,” the assassin said.

“Uh huh,” she nodded. “Now step back from him.”

The assassin looked at Jack. Another beam hit him bouncing off his armor once again. This time the beam of light traveled upwards into the sky. The assassin watched as it flew high into the air. He whistled a descending tone until the beam went out of sight. He faced Emily and tapped his armor. “Suit’s calibrated to reflect all shots from a plasma beam. Didn’t they teach you this?”

This didn’t stop Emily from hiding behind the comforts of the weapon, its barrel still trained on the assassin.

“Now as I was saying,” he said looking back at Jack. “Who the hell is this guy?”

“That’s Jack O’Connor,” Emily said. “Our savior and your greatest nightmare.”

“Maybe if you put Jack in a fun house mirror.” 

*Ouch,* Jack’s inner voice said. *Would have been better if he just killed you on the spot.*

“What are you talking about? That is Jack.” She took a step closer.

“If that’s Jack then I’m the Emperor,” the assassin said. Jack looked at Emily, then back at the assassin. 

“Enough with your mind games,” she said. “If he isn’t Jack then why were you trying to kill him?”

“Look here lady,” the assassin said turning to her. “I was given one mission: to take out the rebels who stole time machine and return the Regime’s property. I didn’t expect you to activate it when I got there. I had no choice but to improvise and follow you through the portal. I could have killed you then, but I needed you to show me the goods. You know what I’m saying?”

Emily didn’t answer.

“Anyways. I’ve been following you all week since you arrived, figured you’d know what you’re doing. Hacked into your mission logs to keep an eye on you. Once I heard that confirmation into your log I just started blasting. So, I’m asking you, who is this guy?” He pointed at Jack without taking his gaze off Emily.

Emily looked at the assassin, then to Jack, then back at the assassin. The gun wobbled. “This is a mind game, right?” She asked.

“Look-see here,” the assassin said. He lifted his wrist up as if he were checking the time. With his free hand he began tapping away on the wrist. A moment later a hologram popped up showing the face of a man. The angle made it hard for Jack to make out the man’s exact face, but it was most definitely not him. Jack was sure about that. “This is Jack O’Connor at the age of thirty. Does that look like Jack O’Connor to you?” He pointed towards Jack. 

*That face looks familiar….* His inner voice said.

Emily stepped forward; gun still aimed at the assassin. She took a moment to study the projected face. Jack watched her face as it went from denial to disbelief to embarrassment all in a few seconds.

“But,” Emily looked at Jack. “But you told me you were Jack O’Connor, born October 8th, 1991, in Portland.”

“Did you ask him which one?” The assassin said.

“Which what?” Emily said, the gun shaking.

“Which Portland.” 

“There’s more than one?” She looked at Jack wide eyed and mouth agape as if Jack had personally mislead her.

“Lady you got to brush up on your pre-Conquest geography.” He looked at Jack. “Oregon or Maine?”

“O-Oregon…” Jack said. He felt at the mercy of two giants right now.

“Ah I see, that’s the problem,” he looked back at Emily. “Our Jack O’Connor, enemy of the state and your revered ‘leader’,” he said making air quotes, “is from Portland, Maine.” He looked back at Jack. “Come on up now,” he gestured towards Jack. Jack obeyed. He fought against his fatigued muscles and stood himself up, hissing through his teeth every time a muscle refused to comply. The assassin must have felt sorry for him since the assassin helped Jack up after a few seconds of watching Jack struggle. Jack thanked the assassin.

“Sorry about the confusion mate,” the assassin said. “Partially my fault, I should have cross referenced her mistake. Don’t want to hurt anybody who doesn’t deserve it.” He looked towards Emily who still pointed the gun towards the assassin. “Lady, you can put the gun down. I ain’t hurting anybody else today.”

The hologram still hovered in the air, and from standing Jack could see the real Jack’s face more clearly.

“Hey, I recognize that guy.” Jack pointed at the hologram. 

“Huh?” The assassin and Emily said in unison.

“Yeah,” he nodded. “He’s the guy who approached us on the bench. Talked to you about the book.”

*Looks like I’m right, you’re still just another loser.* Jack’s inner voice said.

Emily’s mouth dropped. The assassin let out a chuckle. He looked towards Emily and smiled. “How about today we call a draw?”

“A draw?” Emily’s said.

“Yeah,” the assassin said tapping his forearm, the hologram withdrew back into his armor. “I like a little fun. You got some spunk in you. How about we wait a week, I let you recover, and we go for round two. You can keep the blaster as a consolation prize. What do ya say?”

Emily groaned.

“Next week then,” the assassin made a finger gun towards Emily and walked towards the entrance of the alley. With his back turned Emily pointed the barrel of the blaster towards the assassin. “I wouldn’t pull that trigger if I were you,” he answered without looking over his shoulder, “the ricochet could bounce back and kill ya right on the spot.” Emily dropped her hands to her side her shoulders slacked in defeat. “Oh, and other Jack,” the assassin said looking over his shoulder, “you take care.” Jack could feel the assassin winking at him beneath his metallic visor. The assassin waved and faded into thin air.

*Just a loser, destined for accomplishing jack squat,* his inner voice said.

“So if you need any help, I’m currently looking for a job,” Jack said to Emily. She rolled her eyes and shook her head, tucking the weapon into her waistband. “Or we can grab a cup of coffee. I’d like to get to know you.”

“This is so embarrassing,” Emily said. She began limping towards the street. “Leave me alone.”

“Do you want my hoodie at least?” 

“I got work to do,” she said.

“Are you sure?” Jack said. “You’ll stand out. People with robot arms aren’t a thing in my time.

“Yes!” She said over her shoulder. She looked forward again and  limped around the corner leaving Jack all alone with his thoughts.

*Born a loser, destined to be one for the rest of your life,* Jack’s inner voice said.

“Man screw you,” Jack said. “At least I asked her out. What have you done?”

His inner voice didn’t answer. Jack stumbled towards the street with a small smile across his face. Inside the warmth had returned once again.

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