Anzu James: Naked in Orbit
Chapter 1: Background, Anzu James

Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft, Ma/ft, ft/ft, Consensual, Lesbian, Heterosexual, Science Fiction, Space, Sports, Black Female, Oriental Female, Oral Sex, Masturbation, Petting, Sex Toys, Exhibitionism, School,

Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: Background, Anzu James - Who is Anzu James? Where does she live, what is life like in 2109, and why has the Program come to her home in Space?

Hello, all you people in the dim and distant past. First off, I'd like to say how freaking WONDERFUL time travel is! Didn't know it even existed, did you? Well, neither did I, but how else could you read this? I'd sure like to thank those scientists (that nobody's ever heard of) for inventing time travel (which nobody's heard of either) and giving me the opportunity to not only run around stark staring buck-ass naked all week, but to tell my flipping ancestors all about it. Lucky me!

OK, I've had a couple of hours to calm down. That first paragraph isn't exactly what Mr. Scott and Ms. Galton wanted, but it does capture my feelings about this whole thing, so maybe I'll keep it. Maybe I'll delete it; I don't know. If I delete it, I'll delete this too, and nobody will ever know.

So how did it happen? How did I wind up sitting in my room, writing a journal about going to school naked? And why am I addressing it to you, who live in the last year of the last century? Well, there is a story to that...

My name is Anzu Patra James. I was born in 2092, and now it's 2109, so I am sixteen, but turn seventeen this week. I get to celebrate my birthday in my birthday suit! Lucky me. I am a junior at Gerard O'Neill High School in Mendocino Island. Mendocino's serial number is I2 B112. I2 B112 means "Island Two, Bernal One Hundred Twelve." That won't mean anything to you, but I'll get to it in a bit.

I mass fifty-one Kg. That's mass, not weight. My mass stays the same no matter gravity or acceleration, but my weight changes depending on such things. That's academic for you, but it matters where I live. I am a little over a metre and a half tall. Hold on.

OK, I checked, and most of the world was using the metric system by your time. For anybody who wasn't, that makes me about five feet and one inch tall. It also means that I weigh 114 pounds or so in full gravity. And this is probably the last time I'm going to convert for you. You have primitive spreadsheets and even the ancestor of Solnet; you can convert for yourself. It'll be good for you.

I have black curly hair that I wear not quite to my shoulders, sometimes in brads. I've been told that I'm pretty, and not just by guys wanting to get into my pants. I think I look kind of ordinary, but maybe I am pretty. I hope I am, since I'm going to be showing so much of myself off this week.

Let's see ... My figure is good, but that's because my mom is a knock-out and I'm an athlete. My tummy is flat, my tits are on the good side of medium, and my butt is just what you'd expect a high school athlete to have. I have dark brown eyes and skin. That skin is usually clear, only getting pimply around my period. I am an Afrin. In your day I would have been black or African-American; a few decades earlier I would have been a Negro, and before that I would've been coloured. "Coloured" made a bit of a comeback in the 2030's, but that didn't last long. I'd feel funny calling myself black, since I'm more brown edging towards black. Also, I'm about 30% other stuff. There's a good bit of Kazoid (white, in your day), and a pinch or so of Chinese. As far as I know, I don't have any Japanese ancestors, but that didn't stop my parents from naming me Anzu, which is Japanese and which can mean either "apricot" or "feminine love." No, I don't know how the same word can mean both.

My skin isn't the only part of me that's brown edging towards black. I have my brown belt in veegeewushu, and my sensei tells me I should go black in another year. Wait, there wasn't veegeewushu in your day. There wasn't a lot of stuff in your day. OK. Veegeewushu is variable-gravity martial arts. The "veegee" part was originally "VG" and "wushu" of course comes from the Chinese fighting arts.

Twice a week I take a work-study course in Space Manufacturing Applications, and am just up to sapphire fabrication. I'm learning to play the frame drum in Music. I can't be in Band, because I can't play AT the game if I'm playing IN the game, and I am on the spoccer team.

Spoccer is Space soccer. It was the first large team sport to be adapted to weightlessness. "Space soccer" gradually became "spaesoccer" and then "sp'soccer" and finally "spoccer," which is what everybody calls it now. I'll explain the game in detail later.

Looking back, I see that I've made several references to "weightlessness" and "variable gravity" and even "where I live," so maybe it's time to go into that. I live in Space. Yep, out in HEO, or High Earth Orbit. That's why my high school is named after Gerard O'Neill. It seems like half the high schools in Space are named after him, with Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert H. Goddard sharing most of the rest. O'Neill gets the lion's share because he was the first to describe in detail a plan for inhabiting Space on a large scale. You can look him up. He was already dead by your time. Actually, it's cool to think that some of you could have met him. I've had kind of a crush. So that's where I live, where less than a thousand of you have ever been. But there are more than a thousand out here now! At last count, a few hundred million people lived away from Earth.

We don't live out in the vacuum, of course. And we don't live in anything you would have called "space stations." No, we live in enormous rotating tori, spheres, or cylinders. The one I live in is designated I2 B112 because it is of Island Two size and Bernal Sphere type, and was the 112th habitat of that size and type built. It's called a "Bernal Sphere," but it's actually not quite spherical. The main body is two thousand metres in diameter but two thousand one hundred metres long. The extra hundred metres is right at the equator, and there we have our beach. Our rotation is one RPM, or rotation per minute. This means that we're actually a little bit over one G right at the equator, but as it's in the water, you don't notice it.

The water is a single ring-shaped pool, circling the circumference and one hundred fifty metres wide, covering the entire one hundred metre wide equator and an extra twenty-five to either side. Sandy beaches rise from the sides of the pool and extend another seventy-five metres to either side. Thus, the whole water-and-sand thing encircles the equator and is three hundred metres wide. The rise here is so gentle you don't notice it. If you jog along the beach, you can jog forever, or at least until you wear out. Waves are generated in the middle of the sea (we call it that, and it is salt water, with tropical fish), every fifteen seconds, and every fifth wave is just big enough for surfing. I'm a passable surfer, but would never win any contests or anything like that.

Along both sides of the beach is the village which makes up the greater community. This is where most of the housing is for the thirty-six thousand people who live here, as well as local markets, schools, and a few local businesses.

Strictly speaking, only the village is named Mendocino, with the habitat itself carrying the serial number, but we all call it Mendocino Island, or just Mendocino. A few people call it Mendo, but any outsider calling it that gets an earful. We run on Pacific Standard Time, the same as Mendocino, California, USA. A nearby habitat is known as Monrovia (I2 B109) and they run eight hours ahead of us (the same as Greenwich, England), and then there is Shunyi (I2 B122), which runs eight hours ahead of that (and thus eight hours behind me). Now you might wonder why in the world or beyond it we would do such a thing, but the reason is because the manufacturing, scientific, and other facilities of the modern Space Age run around the clock, and this way there can be three separate shifts without anybody having to work early morning or graveyard shifts. When the powersat crew from Mendocino calls it a day, the crew from Monrovia is just showing up, and the crew from Shunyi is ready to go when it's time for the Monrovia crew to head for home. It also allows me to get out of school at 4:40 PM, cross over to another habitat, and be in another time zone, enjoying the past-midnight nightlife in Dublin or perhaps watch the kids in Perth start their school day. Actually, I have too many after-school activities for the one, and the other seems somehow cruel.

The rest of the sphere is mostly parkland, and is shared by everybody, sort of like a county on Earth, perhaps. This is a pretty standard set-up.

When you leave the equator you find yourself climbing a hill, where your weight decreases (but not your mass! Remember I said that was important here?) the closer you get to the center. Right at the center, you weigh nothing at all and can float like a cloud. I can't imagine living on a planet, with the same gravity value all the time all the time all the time. I'd go nuts if I couldn't cycle between full-G, low-G, and zero-G every day.

Outside the main not-quite-a-sphere, there are the twelve ag-rings. Six of them are on the "north" side, and six on the "south," not far from the equator. These are tubes, fifty metres in diameter, bent into rings with the same two thousand metre diameter as the main sphere.[1] These are, or rather were, used for growing food. With so many of the old I1's being converted to dedicated food production, we only use half of our ag-rings for food production and import the rest. The others have been turned into parks, with one even holding a small zoo.

One of these parks went clothing-optional two years ago, and late last year another started having "Nude Friday" the second Friday of each month. I actually visited the clothing-optional park last year. I left after a while. Gawking I felt was rude, and I wasn't about to take my own clothes off. I've never been to Nude Friday, because that isn't optional; you trip naked or you stay out. I stay out.

The first I2 B models didn't have a central sea. All of that area was part of the village, or at that size I guess it would be a town, or even a small city, of a hundred thousand. Population density was higher, and there were so few habitats that every square metre had to be used in a more efficient, cost-per-person way. But now there are so many that, starting with I2 B100 (Perth) the newer style was adopted, with fewer than half the people and a more open, recreational landscape.

Mendocino is one of eighty-seven Bernal Spheres grouped together within a few hundred Km of each other. There are over five million people living in this grouping. Each Sphere has its own government and its own laws. So we're not exactly a unified nation, but are mostly independent from each other. We are bound together by treaties, by mutual business interests, and by the fact that we were founded by English-speakers, but we aren't states or anything like that. We're more like a collection of city-states, after the ancient Greek of medieval Swahili model.

Finally, there are many habitats which are not associated with our group in any way. Some are colonies of Earth nations, some are states of Earth nations, and some are nations themselves. There are other collections of "city-states" out there, and even a few communities which claim to have moved on to the next step in social evolution beyond nations ... whatever that's supposed to mean.

I realize that my home will seem huge to you, but Island 2 sized habitats are considered pretty moderate these days, and in another couple of years will probably be considered small. The first of the fifteen Km wide, seventy-five Km long, built in pairs Island 4 sets is under construction as I write this, and quite a few of the seven Km wide, thirty-five Km long, built in pairs Island 3 models are scattered around the Inner Solar System. But I like my little ball of a home. I can always visit the nearby I3's if I need a taste of the big city, and Earth is a place I'll probably visit before I'm thirty. But I suspect that I'll always come home to Mendocino.

Well, if I can get over the fact that they're all going to see me naked. Here's how that happened.

It was Sunday, March 17th, and I was at the beach, lying around in my new bikini. I'm usually too shy to wear anything that skimpy, but I wanted to get over that, and I wanted Kevin to notice me. That's the whole reason I was sunning: to get Kevin to notice me. It was working, too. I'd noticed him checking me out when he thought I wasn't looking. Damn is he hot. Tall, broad shoulders, skin a bit lighter than mine and deep, deep dark eyes. He had a way of carrying himself that was confident, even a bit arrogant. But somehow I liked that.

Then my cell rang. Now, in your day cell phones were these bulky things that you had to carry with you. These days, they're just jewelry. The speaker was in my earring, and the controls were on a bracelet. This little gadget, together with the eyetap, replaces not only a phone, but a personal computer, television, music player, and bookreader. This means that my bedroom isn't clogged up with a phone, TV, radio, or computer, and the living room isn't clogged with any of that stuff either. Also, I don't have to lug fifteen Kg of books around school with me.

I answered, not recognizing the ringtone, but the ID said it was school. This was just a recording, but it was Principal Takahashi's voice.

"Anzu James, please report to my office first thing Monday morning. You have been selected for the Program. Congratulations, and good luck."

My skin started to tingle like I was exposed to the vacuum, and the nine hundred watts per square metre of sunshine wasn't enough to keep me from feeling cold. Suddenly, the bikini felt way too small, and I felt like I was naked already. I wrapped the big beach towel around myself and, when I felt like I could handle more information, put my eyetap on. An eyetap looks just like the sunglasses you probably wear yourself, but they can project images into your eyes. I used it with my cell to check my mail.

Sure enough, there was mail from the school telling me all about the wonderful Program and how lucky I was to be chosen. The more I read the worse I felt. Not only did I have to attend school in the nude, I had to go EVERYWHERE naked! I could only wear my cell, and use protective gear, like my shin guards in veegeewushu or my vac-suit if I went into the vacuum, and I couldn't go into the vacuum unless it was something I was already committed to. Furthermore, I had to participate in all normal activities, which meant I couldn't get out of spoccer or veegeewushu practice. Just wait until I describe spoccer, and you'll see why I started trembling when I read that.

Oh, and the Reasonable Requests. No touching allowed tomorrow, but from Tuesday on, I would be expected to not only let everybody look (no covering up allowed), but TOUCH. Touch me. Anybody who wanted to.

I went home. I just didn't feel like the beach anymore. As soon as I got in I told my mother, and she hugged me and told me that it would be tough but she knew I could get through it, and how proud she was of me. I thanked her, but suggested she hold off on "proud" until she saw how I did.

I suddenly had a thought, and started taking the bikini off right there. Mom startled, but then grinned.

"You think you can get used to it by tomorrow morning?"

"No," I answered, "but maybe I can get used to part of it. Maybe if I can get the not feeling anything on my skin thing down I'll be better able to deal with the rest of it."

"OK, but you can only do this if you stay starkers for everything. No tossing something on when Dad gets home, no wrapping up in a blanket when Steve comes by."

Steve! I'd forgotten about him. Steve is a twelve year old boy from down the street. I was tutoring him in Western Civ, and he was supposed to come over every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. He had a little crush on me, and would compliment me and flirt a little. I'd flirt right back. Not seductive, get him into bed flirting, and not teasing, give him blue balls flirting, just a little to let him know that I'd noticed, and that I took it as a compliment. The thought of flashing skin at him never occurred to me. Well, if I didn't put something right back on, I'd be flashing more than skin this evening. I couldn't do that! It would be too embarrassing, and what would he think?

I wrapped the towel around me again. "I think I'd better go up and put something on."

"You know," Mom started, with that look in her eye that I've learned to worry about, "he's going to see you Tuesday and Thursday anyway. You might as well let him see you tonight."

"Mom! He's just twelve! What ... I can find him another tutor for this week. I mean, God! What will he think of me?"

Mom chuckled. "He'll think you're even more of a goddess than he does already. And besides, you're supposed to do all the things you normally do. That means tutoring Steve Tuesday and Thursday. And tonight, but you can be dressed tonight, if you insist."

She winked. "But you know he'd love to see you starkers, and it would help soften you up for tomorrow."

I thought about it. I thought about it and was torn. Yes, he'd love to see me that way, and if I couldn't get out of Tuesday and Thursday, then why not Sunday as well. But God, letting him see me that way ... my face was burning just standing naked in front of Mom.

I sighed. "Let me call him and let him know. He shouldn't come over here hoping I'll wear a short skirt and get ... this." I stood tall and flung my arms out to the side.

"Fine," she agreed, "but I want your decision in five minutes."

She left the room as I keyed Steve's number. He answered right away. There was no cam, so we couldn't see each other. Just as well, as I was still nude.

"Hey Anzu," his young voice chirped, "Is this about our hot date tonight?"

He always called our tutoring sessions "hot dates." Just part of the flirting. He was about to find out how hot it was going to get.

"Hey Steve," I started, and hesitated. "Hey Steve, you remember that short skirt I wore last week? When we were doing the Hapsburgs?"

"Sure do," he said in a voice that made me know he meant it.

"Well, how'd you like to see me in something ... more revealing?"

"More revealing?" he asked, "You mean like a swimsuit?"

"Skimpier than that," I assured him.

"A bikini?" He was starting to really sound hopeful.


"Skimpier than a bikini?"

I decided to stop drawing things out and get to the point. "Have you heard of this new program in my high school? The one we older kids talk about and giggle over?"

He sounded more puzzled than ever. "Program? What do you mean, program?"

"You know," I continued, "the Program. The one every high school student is afraid of winding up in."

He still seemed not to get it. "What program? And what does this have to do with you wearing less than a ... The Naked in School Proooooooooooo... ?"

Yep, he just got it. I would have said something more, but I was working too hard not to laugh. When he finally spoke again, his voice was very soft and he sounded even younger than he is.

"Anzu, you?"

"Yeah," I answered, with more nonchalance than I felt, "and it starts tomorrow as soon as I get to school. I thought maybe getting started tonight, with only you and my folks here to see me, would help me be prepared for tomorrow, when EVERYBODY will get to see."

"You..." I heard him take a deep breath. "You're going to let me see you a day early, and you don't even have to? Anzu, you are so cool!"

"OK," I laughed, "Just don't be coming over early. I need that time to psych myself up."

His next words touched me.

"Anzu, I really, really want to see you. But if this is too embarrassing for you ... Well, maybe I could get another tutor for a week? I don't want to make you feel weird."

"That's sweet," I told him, "but I don't think you can make me feel any weirder than eleven hundred students tomorrow. So if you try not to drool, I'll try not to faint."

He laughed at that. "OK, that means I've got an hour and a half to work on anti-drool meditation. Can't promise my eyes won't bug out, though. See you soon, Babe."

"Bye," and I hung up. If he was calling me "Babe" again, it means he was getting back to normal.

I went to Mom and let her know that Steve would be here at the usual time, and that I would be naked. I left the towel upstairs to emphasize my nudity. She smiled.

"I know you can do this, Apricot."

Yeah, sometimes she calls me Apricot. I'm glad she never calls me Feminine Love. That would just be too weird, coming from my mother.

The front door swung open. It was Dad, who gets off work an hour after Mom, because he goes in an hour later. He works on Sundays and takes Thursdays off. He only made it two steps into the apartment when he stopped dead.

"I suppose there's some reason for this," he deadpanned.

"Yes there is," I assured him, "and if you'll CLOSE THE DOOR I'll tell you what it is."

Dad closed the door and very pointedly looked at my face. "You're in the Program, aren't you?" Dad's a sharp one, I'll say that.

We talked about it over supper, which had been ready just before I got home. Mom had fixed pork chops, brown rice with onions, gravy, and broccoli. I was full and comfortable when there was a knock on the door. I looked at Dad.

"If it's Steve," I told him, "I'll answer the door myself. If it's somebody else, well I won't run, but I'd rather you answered."

Dad nodded and put his eyetap on. He took it right back off. He didn't say anything, just nodded at me.

Well, this was it. I was going to open the door buck naked and invite in a twelve year old boy who had a crush on me. And I was going to let him look all he wanted, while trying to help him learn about the Enlightenment.

Steve was fidgeting, but I could tell that he was also trying to look dignified and suave. All that went out the window as soon as he got a look at full frontal me. The boy just plain gawked, and seemed frozen to the spot.

"Erm," I started, "if it's alright with you, I'd like you to step in. It isn't like I have a good reason or anything, but I'd really like to close this door."

Two people had gone by on their bicycles, but on the other side of the street. They couldn't see me unless they looked right at me, and neither had. But how long could that last?

"Steve?" I prodded, "Space Command to Steve?"

"Huh? Oh, sorry," and he stepped inside. I immediately closed the door. I was careful not to cover up. It wouldn't be allowed tomorrow.

We got right to work. He paid very close attention, at least to my body. Not sure how much he learned about John Locke or Voltaire. Still, he was a gentleman, if a gawking gentleman. By the time he left, an hour and a half later, he was acting almost normal.

"Anzu," he asked, staring right at my chest, "can I ask you something?"

I looked at him rather sharply. "If you're going to try for a Reasonable Request, the answer is no."

Steve blushed. Ah, so he knew about those.

"No no," he assured me, "I just want to know: is it cold in here to you?"

Damn. I'd been hoping he wouldn't notice how stiff my nips were. Then again, how could he not notice? He'd been staring right at my tits since I opened the door. I mean, he'd looked at my ass, my legs, my tummy, and even my face a little. I'd caught him sneaking glances at the Jade Gateway, too. But mostly, he studied my tits. If a flea had landed on one of them, he would've noticed. I decided to go for broke with honesty.

"The truth, Steve? The truth is, as embarrassing as this is, it's kind of a turn-on to be naked like this. To have a boy stare at you like you're the hottest thing in town, well, even a young boy ... it makes me feel sexy."

He looked at me like I was a nut. "Well you sure look sexy," he assured me, "but what's that got to do with being cold?"

I looked at him like he was a nut. "What made you think I was cold?" I asked. I ran one hand over my left titty. Yep, like a pebble.

He tilted his head. "I have all my clothes on, and feel comfortable, so I thought maybe you'd feel cold, because you don't have clothes on. But feeling sexy keeps you warm?"

I laughed. No, it wasn't polite, but I couldn't help it. He probably didn't even know that cold or sexual arousal made a girl's nipples hard. He was just being considerate.

"I'm sorry," I said, still laughing. "I thought you wanted to know why my ... my nipples were stiff. That happens to a girl when she's cold, but it happens when she feels sexy, too. I guess I'm so self-conscious about what people can see that I just assumed ... well, that you were asking about them."

Steve blushed again. "I thought they were always like that. I've never seen ... You know, I've done the whole playing doctor thing, the whole you-show-me-yours-I'll-show-you-mine thing, but not since I was nine. It was always another kid, a little girl. You're the first WOMAN I've ever seen naked. Anzu, you have no idea how special this is for me. You look like an angel."

Sometimes, it's nice to have dark skin, because it's hard to tell when I'm blushing. Oh, I could feel it alright. It covered most of my face and went down my neck. I was at a loss for words for a while.

Steve bowed his head. "I'm sorry. I embarrassed you."

Suddenly, I hugged him. I didn't think about it, I just did it. I think I was as surprised as he was. He didn't hug me back, but just stood there, in shock probably. After a few seconds, I stepped away from him.

"Thank you," I told him, and I meant it. "Tomorrow, whenever I feel embarrassed that people are seeing me naked, I'm going to remember what you said: that I look like an angel. An angel doesn't have to be afraid of anything."

We talked a little bit about the Program, and about how I thought I'd deal with it, and we even talked a bit about John Locke. Finally, I walked him to the door and opened it. I decided to step out on the terrace, where anybody nearby who so much as glanced in my general direction would see me.

"Good night, Anzu. It was nice ... SEEING you!" Steve batted his eyes at me and grinned.

I grinned right back. "Just don't forget to come by Tuesday and get another look."

He chuckled at that. "There's this thing my grandmamma says about wild horses..." And with that he turned and left, not looking back.

I actually stood out there for a while, wondering if he would, until a stray breeze across my stiffened buds reminded me that I was on naked display to the whole neighborhood, if they knew to look. So I went back inside.

Mom was standing there, and she had a tear in her eye.

"I didn't overhear all of that," she told me, "I didn't mean to overhear as much as I did. But Anzu, you were so sweet with him."

"He's a good kid," I told her. "He's easy to be sweet to. I only wish I could count on everybody to be like that."

I went to my room and looked up some of the history of the Program, and checked my mail again. There was one from Mr. Scott, telling me to write this journal. He said that it could count as my term paper in English.

OK, up to this point I'd been scared. Now I was pissed. I'd already picked a subject for my term paper. Every student got to pick her own subject. But mine was now being picked for me. This wasn't fair, and the Program didn't require it.

The next mail was from Botilda. She's my best friend, and is in the same Homeroom as I am. Our school, with its eleven hundred students, is divided into twenty-two Homerooms, where each class begins the day. We report back to Homeroom right after lunch, and if we don't have some end-of-the-day activity (like spoccer), we spend the last thirty minutes of the school day in Homeroom also. We split up and go to our separate classes, of course (Botilda's taking Pre-Colonial Chinese History this year, while I'm taking Modern Earth History), but we begin in Homeroom. Each Homeroom would have a Program kid each week. Over the course of four years, you were guaranteed to be chosen before you graduated. Since Botilda and I were already juniors when it began here, just this year, we actually had a chance of getting through school Program-free. Well, she still did.

Botilda told me that Kevin had asked her about me. He remembered my name! He asked if I was a junior, and said he'd seen me at spoccer. I was so thrilled!

But her next words reminded me of what I was in for. You see, Botilda has this strong fear of the Program. Every weekend, she checks her mail like mad, afraid that the notice will be there. So now she was cheering that she hadn't gotten it. She was so happy that, three months into the year, another week would go by without her having to attend school in the nude.

"I'm sorry for whoever the poor kid is," she'd written, "but at least it ain't me. Can't wait to see who it is, though. Maybe it's some hot guy?"

Noooo, it wasn't some hot guy. I wrote her a note telling her that it was me, and set it to deliver at six AM. Could you do that in your day? I mean, I know you had electronic mail, but could you do the delayed mailing thing? We always had lunch together, and I didn't want to surprise her.

I guess I should put in that we don't do that weird thing where the school year starts when the real year is almost over. No, our school year starts in the second week of January and goes through the third week in December. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because we get breaks for each season, twenty days plus weekends. In fact, Spring Break starts week after next.

Then there was mail from Ms. Galton, my Modern History teacher. She told me that Mr. Scott had talked to her about the journal idea, and then she had gotten the bright idea that I should write it as if it were to be read by people living in the year 2000. This, she said, would require me not only to research the everyday lives of people alive at the time, but to really get into their heads and think about what life was like at the time, what they would and wouldn't understand of today.

So now I'd had another paper chosen for me, instead of getting to choose for myself. Fucking great. I'll write the damned thing, but I'm going to go on record right here, right now: This. Is. Not. Fair. And if you want to dock my grade for saying so, fine.

When I was done ranting about that, and writing that first paragraph (which is staying, BTW), I found that one more mail had arrived. It was from Steve.

"Just as a show of support, I thought I'd send you a pic of me in the altogether. I have a pretty good bod for a twelve-year-old."

And there was a winking smiley and a link. I was kind of scared to click that link, but finally decided it had to be a joke of some kind. So I clicked it. I almost fell out of my chair, and the laugh I let out made me glad for the soundproofing in my room.

The pic was of this massive bodybuilder in a muscle pose. He was indeed nude, and on top of all that sweaty, veiny, bulging, flexing muscle was Steve's little face, with his eyes crossed and his tongue stuck out. That made me feel good enough to go ahead and start this journal.

I'm also going to write a second "background" chapter about the Program itself, since it was just starting back in your day. So just read that, and don't worry, I'm sure there's more "good stuff" coming up.

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