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The Abacus Protocol author @TheaIsis is Out of Stasis #FourthWallFriday

TGIF to all of you! Today’s Fourth-Wall Friday visitor is someone really special. I met Thea on Twitter back in early July 2011. She had just gotten on twitter and I finally had the internet and because of zombies as a common interest and reading, we ended up friending each other. I have several great memories and I remember when she won the NaNoWriMo publishing gig with Curiosity Quills in 2011 it was so exciting. Now The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum is being re-published by herself in a new updated version. It is So exciting! Her prior stories, Zombie Bedtime Stories, are a blast and really worth checking out. Today, though, is a report about what happened to Thea recently when she was pulled through Fourth-Wall and wakes up… well…

Out of Stasis



My eyes snapped open, greeted by dim lights. I tried to move, but my limbs were hesitant to obey my commands. My face pressed down into curved glass. I pulled my head up with some effort, wincing as a dried puddle of drool threatened to leave my lips stuck to the surface. Hinges creaked, and a cool breeze danced across my skin.

I tried to speak, but my lips just moved around my dry mouth. Where am I? I needed to ask. One night, I went to sleep in my Montreal apartment with my two cats and a day job to wake up for. The next thing I know, I’m in a glass-and-metal coffin. Not that I have anything against coffins, but I’d rather stay on this side of the life-death boundary. Unless I could become some kind of self-aware undead. Like a lich. That could be cool.

There’s somebody here. He’s close by, a deep voice punctuated by reflexive laughter. Words distinguish themselves, first as minced oaths, then as phrases.

By the nine hells! Why did I draw the antiblue quark again?” The man raves. “This place is a mess! The shuttle docked upside-down!”

That’s probability, Alec.” Another voice spoke. It was a gentle tenor, masculine enough to be male, but completely dispassionate. “Mechanical malfunctions can occur at any time. Perhaps you’d enjoy brushing up on your basic statistics? I can recommend several texts.”

quIRK!” Alec began, following with a slow exhale. “You soulless, inhuman machine!”

Alec, there is no need to become emotional. We are able to communicate our differences in a rational manner.”

I hope Vivian upgrades you! Maybe she can change your probability filter.” Alec forced air out of his lips, blowing a raspberry. Boxes shuffled around. “Damn it, quIRK! At least turn down the gravity.”

Very well, Alec.”

Alec continued to mumble about bloody machines and their rigged definition of randomness. I freeze, trying to consider what to do next. This is the Extra-Galactic Observatory, a place I created. In the room outside are quIRK and Alec. A supercomputer of unbelievable computational power, and a loud-mouthed maintenance engineer who could fix everything but said supercomputer.

I probably shouldn’t tell them who I am. But, I really need to get out of this stasis tube before I go crazy. I don’t know what I’m going to say. I’ll think of something. But I need to see them, if only just once. Then, I’m going to get out of dodge and wake up back in Kansas.

Hey!” I push the word out. It catches on the dryness of my throat, the sound coming out gritty and strained.

The movement outside stops. I rub my damp palms on my shirt, trying to play it cool. It is cool, right? I created this place, it’s not like I’m afraid of them, right? Right? Okay, Bryce happens to be an amalgamation of every horrible person I’ve ever met, but still.

Alec, there is an unlisted passenger in the stasis tube. I would—”

Alec didn’t let quIRK finish. “No, I thought it was more kittens.” He sighed.

Okay, I thought. Maybe a quick cup of tea and then I’ll get out of here. Seeing Alec and quIRK in action would be the spectacle of a lifetime.

We already have two cats, Alec. Ordering more kittens would not be logical.

More equipment rattled around. Light slipped in through the open cracks of the pod. I squinted as I tried to peer outside. All that greeted my eyes was a mess of gleaming steel crates, all painted with a black serial number, Dynamo Quantronics, the recipient. The boxes were all being delivered to Vivian Skye.

Why can’t Vivian pick up her own stuff? She’s strong!” A pair of hands grabbed one of the packages, pulling it back to reveal a metal floor. Little bumps were etched along its length, diagonally aligned to the seams in the floor.

I sucked in a deep breath and held it. My heart raced. I was a fangirl for my own creations—kind of pathetic, but also kind of cool. I shook my head before ungluing my tongue from the roof of my mouth. “Where am I?” I ask, despite knowing the answer.

One second, one second!” Alec spoke, his breath heavy and just outside. His hands flashed back and forth, boxes being slid out of the way an almost feral haste.

The way beneath me was cleared. I didn’t like where this was going.

quIRK spoke next. “Brace yourself, I have no choice but to open the tube as it is.”

My eyes darted around, looking for something to hold on to. There was a handle visible at around hip-level of each side of the tube. I worked my fingers in, the bite of the cold metal sliding against my damp palms. I braced my feet against each side, but there was nothing for them to hold on to.  My bare feet slid against the polished surface. “I’m ready.”

The pod door began to slide open. It was slower than I expected, so I held on to the handles and moved my right foot down to the glass. I wedged it into the curve, and pushed my back against the padded cushion. As soon as I had a clear shot to the floor, I swung my left leg down. I shifted my weight, the cool grooves in the metal pressing into my skin. I lowered my right leg, bent my knees, and then I lowered my body to the ground. My hands thanked me for relieving them. My soft gray pajamas brushed against my face as I looked up. A man with deep red cheeks and a ruddy complexion grinned down at me. His hair was a dark mass of curls, and his mouth gave the impression that his face is mostly made of teeth.

I crawl out from under the tube, and stand as soon as I’m clear. I shoot up, rising too fast because I wasn’t expecting the low gravity environment. My head spins, and flashes of red dance in my field of vision. Alec’s eyes go wide. My legs give out from under me and the room goes dark.


For the second time that day, I woke up and had no idea where I was. I was lying on my back, with something warm and soft supporting me. I willed my eyes to open. I was in a darkened room, facing a window looking out into the heart of the Milky Way itself. A banner of stars cut through the black depths of intergalactic space. Each little point of light was fighting against its neighbor for that one speck of recognition in the dark. An unfathomable number of those little points merged, and a veil of dust separated them into fine wisps. It looked more like a tapestry than a galaxy. Everyone I knew was hidden in there, somewhere. But, this was the future. They were all long dead.

A throat cleared. I tore my eyes from the stars to see Alec sitting on a desk next to the door. He grinned and waved. He still had a tablet in his hand, its glowing words drawing faint arcs through the air.

I raised a hand and waved back, trying to hide the trembling of my fingers. There would be no fooling quIRK, but maybe Alec wouldn’t pick up on it. I glance back at the stars before speaking. “Nice view.” Jeez. I wake up in a room with the best view in the galaxy, and all I can say is nice view. Smooth, Thea.

I made it myself!” His teeth flashed, and he started laughing. Alec set the pad down on the desk next to him and stood up.

Alec, while I agree that you are an impressive specimen of humanity, I believe it is erroneous for you to take credit for the creation of the galaxy.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. It surged up from under the knot in my stomach.

Alec glanced at me, before addressing the ceiling. “Come on, quIRK! First Vivian and now the mystery lady. Can’t you let me have one stupid joke?”

Mind your manners, Alec. Our guest is probably hungry,” quIRK said. “Would you like something to eat?”

I paused for a moment before answering. “Maybe just a tea. I’d like to be on my way,” I said. As much as I’d love to peer through the observatory telescopes and meet Vivian, I didn’t want to be stuck in Wonderland.

Tea?” Alec wrinkled his nose. “Nobody but Bryce drinks tea. So, what’s your name?”

My name is Thea, and I want some damn tea already!” I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, setting them down on the cream colored ceramic tiles.

I will prepare the tea. Alec, please escort Thea to the lunch room.”

Alec smiles like the Cheshire Cat and offers me his arm. I loop my arm through his. He’s much taller than I am, but his muscles are small and lean. “Now,” he begins with a grand sweep of his free arm, “it’s technically impossible to get lost on this station, because there’s only one giant circular hallway. quIRK, however, assures me that some people have indeed gotten lost.” He laughs, the sound trickling down the empty hallway.

That somehow doesn’t surprise me,” I replied. I have indeed met people who would get lost in a closed circle.

So, where were you headed?” he asked.

I pause for a moment. “I was supposed to be on a sleeper pod, headed to the Ithaca colony,” I said.

Yeah, I read about that one on Gal-net! It’s another New Damascus research colony,” Alec said.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, before I woke up here.”

quIRK interrupted us just as we walked into the dining hall. There were two long tables, each with six chairs. A series of nozzles hung from the ceiling, dangling by hoses directly over a metal counter. “Your tea is ready. I have made my best rendition of Earl Grey, and I do insist that you try it.

Thank you,” I said with a smile. quIRK has already reached his culinary exploration stage. Probably not a good sign.

Alec removed his arm and sauntered over to the counter. He picked up a white coffee mug, checking the inside before he stuck it under a spigot. An inky black liquid flowed forth. I took a seat in the closest chair. Alec peered down at the tea and sniffed. His lip wrinkled, but he walked over to me and set the cup down.

It still smells better than your attempts at coffee, quIRK,” Alec said. “But, not by much.”

I pulled the cup closer and raise it to my lips. I took a sniff. There were hints of coffee, smoke, and perhaps vanilla. But this was not Earl Grey tea. Not in any definition known to humanity. “Thank you, quIRK.”

Alec pulls out the chair across from me. He began to lower himself to his seat when quIRK said “Alec, there is an emergency in the informatics lab.”

Aw, come on quIRK. Vivian skipping lunch isn’t an emergency.” Alec rolled his eyes and sat down.

There is a critical decompression in the central core. She is in danger, Alec.”

Alec’s eyes open wide. He bolts to his feet. “I’m going! Wait here for me!” He ran out the door.

I took one look at my tea before rising to my feet. If I don’t get off this station soon, then I’ll be at ground zero. I’d have to stand by and watch the destruction and strife that I caused. Alec would be too busy to even notice that I’d slipped away.

I walked to the door, my bare feet padding along the floor. The door slid open in front of me, and I stepped out to the right. Getting lost is impossible—I invented this place. I walked down the hall, picking the direction away from Alec.

Thea, where are you going?”quIRK asked.

I don’t want to get in the way. How about I get out of everyone’s hair?” I said, walking faster.

All of the doors were closed. I was alone in the hallway. The sensation of being watched danced across my back, drawing up the small hairs on the back of my neck. My head turned towards a sound coming from behind a door to my right. Against my better judgment, I pressed an ear against it. Laughter bellowed out. It was without mirth, devoid of joy or any of the other qualities laughter should have. It was forced out, strained, as though the individual making it had never laughed before. Bryce.

I tore my ear away from the door, and began running down the hall. It would be soon. The shuttle bay was dead ahead. I jogged towards it, the balls of my feet slapping against hard tile.

Thea, I do not advise this course of action.”

I’ll be fine, quIRK. We’ll all be fine. Now seal the hatch!” I crossed the threshold. The sharp metal grooves cut into my exposed skin as I come to a stop. The cream colored motifs and gentle lighting gave way to cold steel. The pod had been realigned, and the stasis tube sat open, inviting me to go back to sleep.

This is highly irregular.”

Why did I have to make quIRK so annoying? “I understand, but I don’t want to get in the way. I really need to get to my new home. Where I belong.

I understand.” The door slid closed.

I lay back, the silence assailing my eardrums. I was in the stasis tube, pulling the lid down over myself. I took one deep breath, and then another. My eyes search the ceiling directly above, waiting for the lights to dim.

Goodbye, Thea.”

The lights dim, and the air in my pod grows thin. A deep exhaustion sets into my bones. The ache lulls me to a sleep more intense than sleep. If sleep and death are cousins, then this is their shared half-brother. I force my eyes open, scanning the dark. Did I really escape?

The pod shudders. I’m rocked back and forth in my little coffin, just as temporary death begins to overtake my senses. My hands open, reaching for the glass.

It’s started.

I’m trapped in a steel coffin. My nervous system is being shut down. Cell by cell, I’m winking out of existence as the Extra-Galactic Observatory is rocked by explosions.

There’s nothing I can do to stop it. It’s what’s written.

As my eyelids seal themselves for an eternal and dreamless sleep, weightlessness cushions me from another hard impact against the mattress. I hover just above. My arms melt, and my muscles turn to putty. My senses go dark, but my final thoughts are of my bed back in Montreal.

I’m in space. It’s where I was created, and it’s where my adventure ends.


About Thea Gregory

Thea Gregory is a girl with a physics degree. She loves the dark edges that caress the silver lining of life. Her passions are science fiction, the human condition, and anything that challenges our humanity. Thea loves running, pushups, cooking, and has been known to crochet a thing or two. She has a weakness for gaming and Star Trek. Thea is the author of the Zombie Bedtime Stories, and The ABACUS Protocol. She lives in Montreal with her two cats.


The Abacus Protocol author @TheaIsis is Out of Stasis #FourthWallFridayThe ABACUS Project
by Thea Gregory
Pages: 228
on December 12, 2014.
Genres: Hard Science Fiction, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Technological, Young Adult
Amazon •

It’s the 30th century, and humanity has spread across the galaxy, organizing itself into a loose confederation of worlds. Vivian Skye, of the planet Aurora, always dreamed of becoming an expert in quantum informatics and going on to work with quantum computers. When she is accepted to her first job posting at the distant Extra-Galactic Observatory, she is overjoyed; her task is to perform routine upgrades on the space station’s quantum supercomputer, quIRK—one of the most advanced pieces of equipment in the galaxy.

Vivian leaves behind the anti-technology prejudices of Aurora, only to discover that a more sinister form of oppression exists away from her world. Bryce Zimmer of the planet Caesarea, the head administrator of the Extra-Galactic Observatory, is threatened by her presence. His brooding megalomania and xenophobia, combined with an obsession with quIRK’s recent eccentric behavior, drives him to the brink of madness.

Eventually, Bryce’s jealousy and cruel ambition compel him to pit Vivian and quIRK against each other in a shadow conflict he hopes will consume them both. Vivian must survive Bryce’s cruel ambition and the emerging super intelligence that is quIRK.

Vivian is truly alone, with only over-extended Alec and two elderly scientists she can turn to for help. Can the thing that’s trying to kill her also be her salvation?

Fourth-Wall Friday

Ever wonder what happens if you were to break into your world build and sit down and have a beer with your main characters? I think I would love to have tea with Jane Eyre, or discuss the best way to take care of vampires with Jane Yellowstone…maybe having Susie Shotgun take me out for some Angels Tears…

Interested in being part of Cabin Goddesses Fourth-Wall Friday? Contact me at [email protected] for more info. I have September, November & December open for special event Fridays. I hope everyone (authors and readers alike) takes time peruse the archives and find out just what other authors have done and enjoy a lot of amazing world builds! Or check out the PINTEREST board with every Fourth-Wall Friday pinned!

FWF-300-BUTTAllow yourself as an author to open up a new avenue of sharing your AUTHOR PERSONA & WORLD BUILD in a unique and creative fashion.. Just take a chance, write fluidly and from within that “place” you hangout at with your muse. Or perhaps walk in the door, tuck into a corner & watch your characters get into trouble before you take a chance and talk to them…signups for 2015 will be opening in November! 

One Comment

  1. Great post Thea!

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