Welcome to Frequency 85!
Hello and welcome to Frequency 85, a newsletter written by Nick Mazmanian (Dat me!) that will contain a variety of content month-to-month (Or week to week if I find more time). In each issue, I will have a story for you to read and that story will take place in a single location. The stories will rotate once I am finished writing about a specific locale or theme, but that is one part of this newsletter.
The second part is the blog, in which I will write about: what project I am working on; things I found online that are worthy of your attention; or my love for donuts. It doesn’t matter, but it will be fun to read, I hope.
If you find what you are reading is fun, please share it around; my goal is to build a following with my content here. I want people to find and read this newsletter because if I am going to make content, it might as well be fun to read rather than something that must bend to the will of the algorithm. Will this become monetized? Maybe, it would depend on me being able to consistently deliver this newsletter on time. If I can attain such a lofty goal, I’ll switch this over to help support myself and give me the ability to focus solely on making high-quality content for y’all; because let’s face it, I have to pay bills in the end.
Now that we got the introductions out of the way, here is your first issue of Frequency 85.
Apartment Number: 512
Complaint: Blown fuse. Needs replacement.
Name: Claudia Winfell
“And you’re the new assistant super?”
The young Armenian kid rolled in his tool chest and nodded as he answered, his heavy black curls bobbed as he did so. “Just hired yesterday. Name’s Vartan Petrosian.”
Claudia looked at the Sunset Apartments super Hector Alvarez and raised her wrinkled eyebrows inquisitively. He shrugged back and said, “Yeah, I’m lucky I got an assistant at all. Told him the building has strange tenants and he said he’s okay with strange things.”
The old lady looked back at Vartan and smiled. With a sarcastic flourish, she said, “Welcome to Sunset Apartments, I’m Claudia Winfell.”
Vartan gave Claudia a wry smile as Hector took out his toolbelt and clipped it on over his black slacks. The veteran repairman turned to the very short old woman and asked, “Claudia, did you burn out another fuse?”
“It’s not my fault that this building doesn’t match my power needs.” She walked the two men over to the living room in her two-bedroom apartment. Most would expect to find oak framed pictures and doilies made to do doily things, but those folks would find themselves disappointed. Modern and sleek furniture adorned the old woman’s place. Clean surfaces of mahogany, glass, and cement countertops made the space feel like it was supposed to be on a high rise in downtown rather than the twenty storey Sunset Apartments.
“We talked about this, only run your machine at off-peak hours.”Hector patiently replied.
“Off-peak doesn’t always sync up with my needs, Hector.”
He shook his head. “I need to update your breakers. All the apartments could use new ones rather than these ancient glass ones.” Large, calloused fingers from decades of work pulled open the metal door and showed a blown glass fuse inside. “We’ll get this change out and move on.”
Vartan chimed in saying, “Wouldn’t we want to change the plug too?”
“But it’s burnt out.”
The afternoon light of LA was sending pastels into the small space making it hard to see the plug-in question. Hector pulled out his flashlight and pointed its beam at the scorched plug. Black burn marks on the plug cover told the tale of what happened as he remarked. “It’s melted, a bit, but it still works.”
Claudia coughed a bit and said, “Don’t be cheap, Hector.”
He turned his attention toward the old woman pouring out hot water into a mug. “I’m not cheap, Mr. Rosewater is cheap, and I don’t have the funds to constantly replace the plugs in this particular unit.” He held up the replacement glass fuse. “Let alone to keep replacing these things which are not getting cheaper.”
“You should try to wire the entire building with a surge protector.” Hector and Claudia turned and looked at Vartan. “It’s what most modern buildings have these days to help with power fluctuations.”
“Mr. Rosewater isn’t much for new technology.” Replied the super. “It took me five years to get him to let me install plugs with grounding wires” A smile creased his face as he chuckled, “It’s not a bad idea, just realize the man who owns this building is cheap.”
Vartan looked around the apartment. “This doesn’t look cheap.”
“That’s because Mr. Rosewater allows the tenants to customize their apartments.” He shrugged. “Guess he thinks it’ll help to keep them around for longer.”
“And while the owner of this building is a cheapskate, I am not.” Claudia opened the tea box on the polished concrete counter and asked, “Tea?”
Hector responded, “Two sugars, please.”
Vartan took out a new plug and whispered to Hector, “Hey man, these things are like three bucks. Can’t I just throw a new one in the wall?” He looked around the small living room with its corner views, past the modern furniture in the living room, and stopped on an antique radio sitting on her glass coffee table. The radio was in pristine condition and looked to be in working order. It was a rounded wood affair that carried the letters RCA on it. In a sleek room, inside a modern apartment, it didn’t fit. It wasn’t modern at all, in fact, it looked like it belonged in the window of a church holding stained glass rather than the ornate screen covering the speaker inside.
Hector turned toward his new hire with the tea in his hand and asked, “If you want to install that plug… fine. Just realize you’ll be here often to do it.”
“Because of the bad wiring? Sounds like Mr. Rosewater needs to think of safety rather than bottom lines.” He took the plug and turned toward the old woman who was sitting at her kitchen table taking in the view from outside. “Hey, Miss Winfell…” He wanted to ask about the radio, but noticed her wireless headphones were on her head and she was asleep. “Damn, she’s out.”
“Is it 9 am already?”
He unscrewed the plug faceplate. “This place seems off.”
“I told you it’s an odd building.”
“I mean, she’s ancient, but all of the stuff in this place feels, well, young.”
Hector pointed a $10 finger at the kid. “That’s ageist.”
“It’s just.” Vartan pointed at the radio on the coffee table. “This entire apartment screams ultra-modern and then we have this radio.”
“People like random things man. I don’t know, it ain’t a mystery or anything. We get a ticket, we come in, fix the thing, and leave.”
“I just wanted to know why she has it. Does it work? It looks like it could be a cool Bluetooth speaker conversation project.” He glanced at the old woman and noticed that she held a slight smile on her face, but after a few moments, something was off. Looking at her, he noticed a medical gown under her outfit. Vartan had just chalked up the look to her being old, but now it made the other thing he noticed feel a lot more alarming.
She wasn’t breathing.
Leaving the half-finished outlet, he rushed over to the old woman and checked her pulse.
“Hector, she’s dead!”
“We gotta call 911!”
“That won’t be necessary.” Vartan turned to find a young woman with black hair standing in the hallway wearing a medical gown. “And it would annoy me greatly if you did.”
Hector finished his tea and said, “Vartan, I believe you know Claudia.”
“You know about this?!”
“Of course, why do you think she blows fuses and melts outlets all the time?”
Vartan looked at the old woman sitting in the kitchen chair looking out the window. He then whipped his eyes back toward the young Claudia as she approached him and said, “It’s alright to be a little freaked out right now, Vartan.” She walked past him and into the kitchen to pick up the tea she made for herself. “Hi, Hector.”
Looking at the younger Claudia he waved. “Hola.”
Brushing back her black hair, she sipped her drink, and looked at the still stunned young man saying, “You have questions.”
“Go ahead. It’s not every day someone new gets to see me.”
Catching his breath, the young man took a seat at the kitchen table, and realizing he was sitting next to a dead body, shot back up to a stand position. “What is happening?”
“I am a clone.”
“You’re not some plant being from outer space or something?”
A small smile graced itself across her very smooth face as she answered, “No, I’m just a woman who wanted to see the world beyond the time she was given.”
“So, you just invented cloning?”
“Yes. I am beyond smart. A genius. If there is one thing I’ve learned with my time on this earth, it’s that genius often gets exploited, so I kept it to myself.”
Vartan shot a look over to Hector and back to Claudia asking, “How… did you start or figure this out? Like, are you sad when you die?”
She cleared her throat. “Lots of time and resources were used to build the machine in the second bedroom. As I got older, I knew I had to just take a chance and try it.” Claudia looked over at herself sitting in the kitchen chair. “As to the second question, not really.” She walked over to the old woman, took off the headphones, and slid them around her neck. “These aren’t headphones, they’re a memory buffer. It stores my memories and backs them up to the copier. When I die, my latest version has all of the memories up to that moment. It’s how I knew about you. Better than the old way, I had to sit next to the machine nightly to upload my memories via a connected headset.”
Vartan had eased up a bit during the conversation. He was a bit more relaxed standing as he asked, “Then you’re like a Highlander or something?”
“Something, though this body only lasts seven days before I’m back to old.”
“And it’s getting shorter.” Hector had cut into the conversation, catching the attention of the other two. “You see, I used to be in here every six months, then three, monthly, and now weekly. How many times left you got Claudia?”
She looked down at her hands and saw a slight shake start in her fingers. “Dunno. Not many now.”
“Are you afraid of not coming back?”
“Yes, I am, but I am grateful that I get to see just that much more each day.” She finished her tea. “Can’t fix the machine, the material I use can’t be sourced again.”
Vartan raised his finger. “What material might that be?”
Claudia gave the young man a rye smile and answered, “Something that can never be found again in its purest form because of nukes. They altered the source material to be useless. The amount I have is all I have and it’s all there ever will be. This process dies with me.”
“That seems rather selfish.”
She shook her head. “You know I’m just a lady in the corner of Los Angeles who wanted to see the sunrise a few more times. Imagine if that machine got out into the world. You think it’s bad now? You believe bad ideas die with the previous generation of people? Imagine an infinite generation.”
Vartan started a slow nod as he mulled the idea over. “Good point.”
“Yes, it is, and it is why you must never tell anyone what you’ve seen here today. If anyone comes here to claim this machine, I will know it is you, because the rest of us know to keep our secrets.”
The Armenian raised an eyebrow. “The rest of you?”
Hector finished cleaning up the tools and readied the mobile toolset. “I told you, it’s a strange building.” He looked at Claudia. “Let me know when the next one goes out. Come on, Vartan.”
“Before we leave, why don’t you change the outlet yourself? You seem pretty capable.”
Lines by Claudia’s eyes appeared new crows’ feet creased as she said, “I live seemingly forever, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make some friends...”
Hector chimed in from the hall. “You could always just call me for a beer.”
She locked eyes with the super and said, “Also, I pay rent here and it isn’t my responsibility.”
He pointed at the sky and said, “And there it is. Let's move.” The two repairmen waved to the tenant and walked into the elevator. “We are friendly, but not friends. You get it?”
“Yes, I do.”
“This is a job, we should be courteous with our tenants, but not friends.”
“Because, in the end, we are the help and the help shouldn’t be friends with tenants. Ends bad.” He turned to his assistant and smiled a bit. “You did well with the strange. You okay?”
Vartan bobbed his head as he responded, “Yeah-ish. I figured you meant that people had sex doll tea parties or something, not machines that clone them so they can live for almost forever.”
A moment of silence passed between them before Hector said, “Sex doll tea parties? That’s some gonzo crap man.” He adjusted his glasses and continued, “Claudia is pretty easy going in comparison to our next stop Ms. Lisa Lee.”
The gangly man felt his spine stiffen up. “Oh, good.”
Here’s some non-fiction for ya.
Why in the hell is this newsletter called Frequency 85?
When I made this newsletter, I thought it would be fun to give it a kind of analog vibe. I wanted it to feel as real as a digital newsletter could ever feel real and I love analog technology. And since this entire newsletter thing is going to contain serialized stories from multiple worlds (eventually), I thought the name should signify that there is something more than just the words in front of the reader. That more will come from somewhere, perhaps in a land where my children sleep all day, but somewhere nonetheless.
Whatcha Working On?
I just completed my first draft on the first two entries for my Kindle Villa series OSI: River Running. An X-Files style sci-fi take with two agents who work for the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the various cases they are assigned to investigate using the strange technology that their department has created. I am looking forward to getting this one live asap, and when I do dear readers, you will be among the first to know.
Additionally, I am working on a children’s book for my daughter who has been very patient. It centers on a penguin called Pudgy and it’s about his adventures on a small island with his two sisters.
I hope you have enjoyed the first issue of Frequency 85. There will be more to come in the future with fiction, thoughts on writing, interviews with authors, and project updates. In the meantime, if you dug what I wrote here, share it please with people who you think might dig it too. Additionally, if you want to financially support my efforts, check out my books: