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A Blank Paper and a Blank Mind
Markham Connor was bored. And he hated to be bored. It wasn't even his problem this time, either. He would have gladly left the classroom to head for the library or mall to entertain himself, but the problem was that he couldn't. He was in his English class and the ever so lovely Mrs. Bishop was running late again. She always had a good reason, but it was mildly irritating none the less. She was a nice teacher. Middle-aged, kind, and quite energetic about her subject (which to Markham was amazing, since English had to be one of the most boring things on the planet), he liked Mrs. Bishop.

With a sigh, he pulled out a small journal and began jotting some notes down into it. The notebook doubled as a diary and a little notebook for his analysis on the other students in the class. It was a little exercise that his dad had taught him. By writing down basic notes about the day as well as about your fellow students, you can learn more about them and yourself.

He looked around the class. It was almost packed although there were still some empty seats (no doubt belonging to students who had gotten used to Mrs. Bishop's routine of being late). 'Well, there's nothing else to do but wait. How boring.'

He wished he was at the mall. There was some music he had to get. He pulled out his iPod and flipped it in his hand, staring at the shiny, glossy front and the metal back. It was amazing how one could listen to 80 GB of music on something so small. Just another product of modern technology.

"I'd love to."

Those three words made Melissa's day. She wasn't exactly sure why she was so happy about it, but she was. It was like...getting presents on Christmas Day. And not stupid presents like clothes or school supplies. Presents that you really enjoyed like...a good classical novel or that brand new video game you had been coveting for weeks. Yeah...that was what she was feeling right now. Making new friends always made her happier...it was like getting someone new that you could share the whole world with.

Her smile widened as she heard about Jennifer sewing her the China Woman costume. It was really just a joke...she had never considered wearing such a thing before but now that she thought about it...it might be fun. Her parents would have to never know about it because they would get angry but...yeah, the more she thought about it...

"Well, you don't really need to sew the costume for me or clothes really, but if you want to, that'd be awesome." She clapped her hands together. "I honestly just like helping people with their school work since its one of the few things I'm really good at. But if you don't mind making me some clothes...I think that would be amazing, really."

She took an idle glance at her watch and froze. It was almost an hour after the normal time she went home. Already the sky was beginning to turn that beautiful orangey-purple color as the sun set. 'Did time really pass that quickly? I was just talking with her....oh no, my parents are going to be so upset. They're going to wonder where I was...Hopefully the library excuse will still satisfy them but...'

At that moment her cell phone rang. With a sinking feeling of trepidation, she flipped it open and was immediately blasted by a loud combination of Chinese and English which she compressed into a single "Where are you?!"

"I-I'm sorry, Dad! I just lost track of...yeah, I know but...Yes, I know!" Melissa snapped into the phone. "No, I'm not doing anything bad! Okay, I'm heading home right now! I'll be home in another ten minutes, okay? It was just another...Fine. Fine...Fine...Fine. Bye Dad."

With a sigh, she flipped the phone closed and cast Jennifer an apologetic glance. "My...parents really want me to get home right now. Sorry...Oh right, I should give you my cell phone number. It's 635-4772. Call me later, okay?"

Quickly bowing to her new friend, she grabbed her backpack and sped off for home. When she got home, she knew what was waiting for her. Another thirty-minute lecture about how she was wasting her time not studying. Just what she wanted to cap off an almost perfect day.

(Melissa Li continued...Elsewhere.)

"Hahahaha! Sure! Tell me the next time she traps you in her diabolical lair. I'll be there in a flash to defeat her in the name of justice." She shook her head and grinned. She imagined that they must look ridiculous to everyone else on the street. Two high school girls talking and laughing about being secret superheroes. But for one of the few times in her life, she wasn't worrying about what other people thought of her. Right now, she was just enjoying the moment.

"But honestly, if you want help in your classes, I'll be glad to help. I mean, if you actually need it. It's the least I could do for my friends, you know?" Melissa smiled at her before freezing 'Friends? When did I ever call her a friend? Hell...we just met today. Would it be okay if I asked though? I mean...it's fun talking to her and stuff but...'

"I mean, if you want to be friends." Melissa said a little shakily. "It's kind of weird, huh? Asking to be friends when we just met."

She sighed mentally. What the hell was she doing now? She never had problems talking to the loners in school...maybe it was just the setting. That could be it. She was always so...calm and composed at school. At least that was the type of aura she tried to emit. She could deal with anything that came at her...but the moment she stepped out of school grounds she was dragged back down to nothing more than a meek, empty shell filled with the words, hopes, and dreams of her parents.

But maybe she could just get a little bit stronger. She smiled again at Jennifer. "So how about it? We can be partners of justice, fighting against the cruelties inflicted on us by schoolwork and evil tests."

Melissa laughed and smiled as Jennifer described what she did. It was entertaining to listen to and she was actually having fun. At least more fun than she normally had blasting loud rock music into her ears during her normal walks around the city. She had been a little pissed when she had been interrupted but that feeling had all but disappeared now.

A small smirk appeared on her face when Jennifer asked if she was actually a secret superhero. Melissa carried it to its natural conclusion. "Yeah, don't tell anyone this but I'm actually a part of the Justice League. I can control time and space and stuff like that. Like...you see that fire hydrant at the end of the sidewalk over there? I wouldn't do it now cause there's people around and I'm not in costume, but I could teleport there in a blink of an eye."

"And my costume? It's like all red and yellow and I have a big red cape too. And on the chest...like right here..." Melissa pointed to an area just below her breasts, circling out a small portion. "Right there? That's where my symbol is. It's a bowl of noodles and pork with chopsticks. They call me China Woman back at the headquarters and my main weapons? Fortune cookies."

She nodded self-confidently, a wide grin on her face before she started breaking out in laughter. It was all just so silly...she couldn't help it. Her being a super hero? Far from it. Just a simple high school student, that's all.

Pre-Game Senior Prank
I remember my Senior prank. Bunch of people just drove cars into the campus and started honking them at random times. There probably was more but I don't remember much of it, really :V

"You make clothes?" Melissa blinked in surprise, looking closer at the clothes that Jennifer was wearing at the moment. They were very...red, to say the least. She wondered if Jennifer really liked the color or just decided to go with it. Still, they looked fairly well made. Fashion wasn't her thing so she couldn't tell if they were fashionable or not but she'd buy a set like that if it was in nice shades of blue. She nodded approvingly and grinned at Jennifer. "They look great...I wish I could do something like that. I wouldn't mind buying something from you. Heh, all I can do is solve math problems and write essays."

"As for what else I do..." Melissa paused and began ticking off things on her fingers. "Uh...I write at home, listen to music, play the piano...stuff like that, really. I don't get out much. I probably should find another hobby but I never have enough time..."

"And watching movies, I guess, but right now there's really nothing I like." She shrugged. "So what about you, Jennifer? Anything else besides making clothes? Do you have anything fun or interesting? Maybe you're a caped crusader in the night, ridding St. Paul of evil."

She laughed, shaking her head ruefully. She had loved reading superhero comics when she was a kid. Who didn't? Reading about them defeat crime and bring peace and justice to the city (in the comics that didn't suck or were really weird) was...well it was really fun. It had made her hopeful...gave her dreams of one day being her own sort of...modern day crime fighter. As she grew up though, she realized they were just stories. They weren't true...nothing like that ever could be true. So she packed away all those comics and shoved them in a closet in her room.

Her parents never really approved of her reading them anyway so...well, it worked out in the end. There was no need to have worthless fantasies about the future, at least according to her parents.

But that wasn't the point here. Right now it was the present and there was no point in reminiscing about old hopes and dreams when she had more than enough current worries and problems. She waited for Jennifer's answer, curious what she would say. Maybe she'd actually do something new for once and break out of this endless loop she was trapped in.

"Brings me out? Oh..." She laughed and shrugged. "I had some free time so I just...took a walk to sort out my thoughts and enjoy life. Something like that. It calms me down...helps me relax, you know?"

She grinned a little at Jennifer, adjusting her glasses. She wondered what she should say to the girl. This wasn't like school...there wasn't a problem on the board that she could help with. There was no essay that she could give pointers and assistance to. She didn't even know what classes or interests this girl had...which left a sad lack of things to actually talk about.

Still, it wasn't like she was helpless. It didn't seem like Jennifer would be the one who would be the life of this party so Melissa just continued smiling at her and thought of some general topics to talk about or ask. "Oh yeah...if you don't mind me asking, what brings you out here? Same reason as me?"

"Although perhaps we should get out of the middle of the street first, huh?" She chuckled before walked to the Cinema wall and beckoning Jennifer to join her. She lay her backpack on the ground and just leaned against the wall, her arms folded over her grayish-white shirt. She smiled again at Jennifer.

Smiling. It was one of the few things she was sincerely good at. No matter the situation or place, she could mask all of her emotions and wear that pure smile for the whole world to see. It was good for other people to see her smiling. A smile meant that she was happy. A smile meant that there were no problems haunting her.

Just another hypocrisy.

Melissa's blissful journey in the world of ignorance was brought to a sudden and screeching halt when some girl walked up to her and began talking. Her nirvana shattered and everything rushed back in. A brief look of irritation flashed across her face before she got a good look at the speaker, recognizing her from school. She couldn't bring up the name, though...but she looked familiar, at least. She introduced herself as Jennifer and Melissa racked her brain to try to tie a last name to it but failed.

She affixed her trademark smile on her face again and held out a hand for Jennifer to shake. "I don't think we've ever met before. My name's Melissa. It's nice to meet you. Uh...do you go to Bayview Secondary? If so, then that's probably where you've seen me."

She waited for the girl's reply patiently. All in all, this really wasn't that bad of a distraction. Talking to a fellow classmate could be fun...much better than walking into a random passerby or pole. Maybe she'd even make a new friend. That'd be cool.

(Melissa Li continued from dz/dt.)

Life...Life...Well, there wasn't a correct phrase or word that could adequately describe how Melissa felt about life. In one hand was infinite possibilities and freedom. In the other was the chains and shackles of society and expectation. You could do whatever you wanted in life (at least that's what everyone said)...as long as it was acceptable and you found a means and a way to achieve your dreams. You could learn whatever you wanted to learn...as long as you had the money to pay for it. You could live however you wanted to live as long as your parents weren't there hovering over your back, watching your every move to make sure that you lived up to their hopes as the ideal daughter. You could reach for the stars...but you'd be burned way before you'd even touch it. That was the swirl of contradictions that life was made out of.

It wasn't that she hated her parents...no, she couldn't allow herself to hate her parents. And she was grateful for their support and their...their lovely, overbearing care. She was certain that other kids didn't have parents that made sure she got the best education she could and had planned everything out for her, all the way through college. She was blessed...if only they could stop arguing.

A frown crossed her face as fragments of last night's argument drifted through her head. She quickly tried to drown it out by calling up the silky operatic tones of Ave Maria but that didn't help much. The topic was already firmly in her mind as she continued her walk around town, lazily looking around the people and the shops. It was rush hour and the streets and sidewalks were crowded with various people looking to get home to enjoy some time with their family.

'Home...' Melissa sighed. It was back to the same topic again. No matter how many times she wanted to drive that out of her mind, it would always come back like some bratty kid...or like Jordan in Calculus when he wanted some help. A small smile formed and she continued walking, letting the noise sweep her off her feet and wipe away all the worry and paranoia.

She always enjoyed it when she reached this state...her nirvana. This is what life should be like...just the mindless enjoyment of being able to experience everything happening around you. No need for worries. No need for tests or pleasing people who would never be pleased or grades or...anything. She remembered the saying "Ignorance is Bliss." Whoever said that was a genius, at least to her.

Her wandering landed her right in front of the Sunset Cinema. She looked upon it blankly, just watching the people who bought tickets for the next great flick. There were a few couples walking in and a couple of rambunctious kids as well. She swiftly sidestepped one such youngster who had nearly ran into her. She contemplated watching a movie but...No, she was already late as it is. Her parents would want to know where she had been for the past...She looked at her watch. Past hour.

Well, she could always tell them she had been in the library. It was true, after all.

Step, step, step...the endless journey continued.

Melissa laughed a little at Robert's question and shook her head, getting ready to explain the question. She put pencil to paper and began writing out the first couple of steps to solve the equation. She wondered how she should describe the various tricks and techniques that they had been taught in order to solve equations like this but quickly pushed those doubts aside. She had done stuff like this with Robert before...this would be no different. She cast a brief glance at the clock.

'Around 8 minutes left, huh? Well...finish up with this and it's off to the next class. Then free time before heading back...home. Better than nothing, I guess.' Melissa closed her eyes and took a deep breath to steady herself before looking back at Robert. "Okay, let's begin here...Looks like gibberish, right? There's really no way to solve the first part of this problem unless you find the derivative first so..."

Seven minutes later...

"...And then for the last part, all you need to do is find the integral and with that, you can just put in the numbers that are provided and find the answer. Do you get it?" Melissa lay the pencil down and looked at her detailed page of notes. She had taken special care to go through each step precisely just so there would be nothing left out. Her parents liked that. She smiled at Robert. "If there's anything you don't understand, please, just tell me."

There was no time to wait for his answer, though, since the bell rang just seconds after she had finished talking. "I guess we'll have to shelve that for later...Sorry."

She carefully tore the paper out of her notebook and handed the paper to Robert with an apologetic smile. "Hopefully this will do for now, okay? Make sure to study it since I'm almost a hundred percent certain that this will be on the test."

Another minute or so and she was packed and ready to leave. "Don't forget to call me if you have any other questions. I'd be happy to help."

With another smile and a wave, she left the classroom and ran down the hallway towards her next class. 'Why oh why does math have to be on the second floor?'

(Melissa Li continued elsewhere.)

Markham Connor
Spruced it up a bit. Tell me if the changes are okay or if I need to add a little more.

V4 Moderators
Congratulations guys! I am more than willing to join your army when you take over the forums for yourselves! Maybe.

And the Hits Keep Coming
It was so beautiful. A triple-layer strawberry cake sitting was right in front of her. Coated in sweet, delicious cream and scoops of vanilla ice cream that just seemed to scream "Come eat me!"...it was almost a crime for something to be so sinfully delicious. Violetta reached out a shaking hand towards the delectable item, ready to fill herself with greatness when-


Violetta was jarred awake from her dream and nearly leaped out of her seat, shouting "JESUS FUCK!"

Placing a hand on her heart, she looked at the offender, her girlfriend Cyrille. Gulping in some fresh air, she looked at her with a hurt expression on her face. "Did you really have to do that, Cyrille? You nearly gave me a heart attack, yanno...And I think you burst my eardrum. I can't hear too well."

Her complaining was done in a flash, however, and she immediately hugged the smaller girl with a wide grin. "Glad to see you finally made it! What kept you, Cyrille? You left ol' me hanging here with a book girl and that artsy boy over there!"

Melissa watched Peter leave with a small pang of regret, but quickly brushed it aside as her attention was taken by one (very) late Robert Jenkins. She couldn't help it considering he just got in a...well it wasn't a shouting match but it certainly was an argument, with the teacher. After that, he was almost at her side in an instant, kneeling down at her desk. She sat back down and smiled a little at him. Rob was a nice enough guy and pretty well-meaning. She didn't really care for jocks though and she was almost certain he harbored some feelings towards her, but she never reciprocated those feelings.

"Hey Melissa... Long time, no see. How's it going?"

"Good enough, I guess." She smiled again, getting an empty page in her notebook ready and picking up her pencil once again. He always asked her for help on some of the tougher problems and no doubt this was one of the harder ones that Mr. Kwong had just posted. And she didn't mind helping him. It was just another thing to do and it made him happy, which was good.

"So...shall we start?" She asked absentmindedly as she scribbled down the problem on the empty page. She looked at him with a stern gaze but softened it with a smile. "You know you shouldn't be late for class. Next time you better wake up in time, okay?"

Markham Connor
Name: Markham Connor
Gender: Male
Age: 19
Grade: 12th
School: Bayview Secondary School
Hobbies and Interests: Psychology, hiking, bowling, and music.

Appearance: Markham Connor was raised with the principle of looking good and holding yourself with dignity. As such, he usually never wears loose T-shirts and ragged, baggy jeans or anything of the sort. Instead, he's seen with a collared polo shirt and beige pants. His basic outfit doesn't change all that much, even in colors. He has corn-colored blond hair that's combed well and he wears a pair of thin-rimmed glasses over his deep, chocolate brown eyes.

He's fairly fit for his age and while he doesn't show much in the way of muscle, by no means does he look overweight or flabby. He has a roundish face that's usually set in a set, calm expression and he doesn't expression emotion all that much except for a curving of the lips or a little twinkling in his eyes. When on his free time, you can see him holding a book on psychology and listening to some music in a nice, secluded spot.

Biography: Markham was born in a family of fairly famous psychologists. His grandfather had been a professor at UCLA and did heavy research in the areas of adolescent psychology. His father is currently a psychology professor at Macalester College while his mother is currently researching native tribes in Africa. It was at the age of six when his mother left for Africa to begin her research and while she still says there are more things she needs to do, she visits the family once every month if she's able. Because of this, while his parents are separated by a huge distance, Markham was able to live his life without missing too much of the typical parental activities. His father was an excellent parent and spent much time with young Markham on all sorts of activities. Whether it was hiking in the weekend or a bowling trip after his father's classes had finished, the two of them spent as much time as possible and formed an unbreakable bond.

Unsurprisingly, as he grew up, Markham became interested in the workings of the human mind. During his first year of high school, he took a beginner's psychology course and aced it with flying colors (thanks to some help from his father on some of the harder parts). He continued in this fashion and even joined the Debate Club in order to get other people's views on various subjects. He considers a person's reaction to be the most revealing about a person and isn't afraid to state his own opinions about various controversial issues.

He has various other interests besides psychology and debate. While it started with his father, he's grown to enjoy going out hiking and often takes his bike to a nearby trail to spend an hour or two. He's also a fairly good bowler although he attributes that more to luck than any actual skill. He enjoys rock music as well.

He's not a particularly social person and does not wear his emotions on his sleeves. He does have a few friends that he enjoys hanging out with but beyond that, he doesn't try to make an effort to make more. What he's mostly interested in is getting into a good college (most likely Macalester) so that he can get his psychology degree. His favorite areas have to be in the areas of criminology and personality theory.

In other categories he shuffles between good and above average. While he's smart enough to understand the materials and work on the problems and do the quizzes and tests, he doesn't put nearly as much effort into them as he does in his main interests, which causes his grades to dip in the other subjects. As to how other students see him, he could be considered stuck up or just stand-offish since he doesn't talk to others all that often and pays attention to his own business instead of prying in others.

Advantages: Markham, while not genius smart or super smart, is smart. He's very analytical and thanks to his psychology studies, he believes he has a good insight onto the human mind. Whether or not the theories he reads in books will be good when put into practice has yet to be seen, however. Also, thanks to his hiking and other physical activities, he's fairly athletic.

Disadvantages: He isn't much of a talker and won't actively search out people to ally with. He's also overconfident in his abilities to analyze the human mind and usually won't change his mind about his initial assumptions about a person until proven wrong.

And the Hits Keep Coming
'Oh, that's right! Edison! How could I have forgotten that name? My cousin has the exact same name! Well...first name, at least.' Violetta thought to herself as she learned the identity of one Edison Rossivitch and filed it away in her memory for certain memorization. Before she could say anything else, she heard something falling and she turned to see what it was. Another girl had fallen, scattering what seemed to be library books all over the ground. She heard a muttered “Oh damn it, Lex,” and assumed that this was the friend that Edison had been waiting for.

Edison seemed perfectly capable helping her friend with her things, so Violetta just sat down on the bench and let out a tired sigh. She would have gone to help, but she wasn't all too sure her presence would be appreciated and she knew how to not butt in. Sometimes, at least. Her gaze drifted away from the two friends and latched onto something else, namely a guy with combed brown hair. He seemed very intent on his work, whatever it was. It had to be art, though. That's what you did with a pad and a pencil.

She promptly ignored the other five things you could be doing that involved a pad and a pencil and just began to rest. Cyrille would wake her when she came.

And the Hits Keep Coming
"Huh? Drama club? Was I ever in the drama club?" Violetta blinked a couple of times before rapidly ticking off the clubs she's been on. She said them all in a sing-song voice, a far away look in her eyes as she recounted the many memories. Most of them good while some just sucked. "Debate, rock climbing, band, choir, AV, anime, math, biology...ah, yeah! Drama club! Yeah, I was in the drama club for a while."

She nodded confidently, smirking. "It was pretty fun! But a little too tough, yanno? I can't really act. Too impatient for something like that. Wait, if you recognized me from the drama club, then you must be a member! Lemme see if I can remember your name. Hmmm..."

This went on for a couple of seconds before Violetta promptly gave up. "Nope, no clue. Oh right, by the way, the name's Jane. Jane Lindsberg. Nice to meet you again, I guess."

She held out a hand for Edison to shake. "Mind filling me in on your name as well?"

And the Hits Keep Coming
Violetta was bored. She hated being bored. But unfortunately for her, school had just gotten out and she still didn't see Cyrille for the past 10 minutes. Sure, she could have stayed awake and waited for her, but that would have been way too difficult. She had enough trouble waiting for the 10 minutes as it was. And she has forgotten to bring anything that would help keep her occupied. So Violetta decided to spend the time as easily as she could.

Namely, go lie down on one of the benches, place an open textbook over her eyes, and try to sleep. There really was no way she would be able to sleep in a position like that, but for her, it was the experience that mattered. 'This sucks, screw it.'

With an irritated sigh, she tossed the textbook off of her head, sat up on the bench, and started whistling a random tune she had heard before. She was getting jittery again and she didn't even have any caffeine. She really needed to do something besides sit still on a bench. 'Cyriiilleeeee....Where are you? Ugh, I hope you haven't gotten caught up in class.'

Speaking of class...Violetta shook her head. Class is something best not spoken of when not in school. It would only bring despair and tragedy. She spotted someone else waiting by the school entrance and shrugged. She might as well talk to her. It was something to do, at least. So she walked over to the other girl and raised a hand in greeting.

"Yo, you waiting here for someone else too?"

Melissa sighed as she sat at her desk, mulling over her sudden hallucination of her mom's voice. She knew what caused it. Her mom had said that last night when she was working on math homework. Her parents thought it would be a great idea to argue right outside her room. Surely family conflict would be an amazing motivator for doing well in school. Admittedly, it did work...in a way.

She shook herself out of these moody thoughts and turned her attention back to the teacher, who was beginning to write out the problem they would be working on for the next fifteen minutes of class. It was difficult, yes, but she knew it like the back of her hand. A couple of minutes after the group activity had started, she had finished writing down the steps and the answer to the problem. She wondered if she should go help out with any of the other groups. Or maybe she should just wait to get asked.

The choice was made for her when Peter walked up, kneeling next to her desk. She recognized him from the school band and she worked a small smile on her face. He seemed like a kind enough person, but she didn't know much about him beyond that. Still, when he offered to help her not only with schoolwork (not that she needed help with schoolwork), but with other problems, she could have hugged him.

She didn't, of course. She was tempted to, but she didn't. She was also quite tempted to tell him everything about her home life. To lift the burden from her shoulders...or at least lighten it a bit. Just a couple of words or a couple of explanations and that's all she would need to say. She wouldn't have to pretend that everything was all right with her and she could share her worries and fears with someone else.

"No, not really. I skipped lunch so I guess I'm a little hungry and tired, huh?" She grinned back at Peter. She could have told him everything, but she wasn't about to tell someone she barely knew outside of classes something that important. And besides, it would be too easy and what would it change? Her parents weren't doing anything wrong, really. The only real outcome would be scarring her reputation forever and in this world, appearances are everything.

'Sorry Peter. Maybe later.' Melissa placed her pencil down and got out of her desk. "So perhaps we should go help out the other groups?"

'Oh come on.' was Melissa's first thought as she heard the angry voice of one Mrs. Collins, the school's librarian. This whole thing was just one big explosion waiting to happen. A brief thought crossed her mind that her parents had set this all up just to punish her for listening to music instead of studying but she immediately crossed that out. That was stupid.

So when Mrs. Collins demanded that they all open their backpacks so she could see if they had stolen anything, she just opened her backpack obediently. She waited for the librarian to be finished with Madeleine's things first and watched as the young artist bolted from the room. 'Well, so much for being able to speak with her.'

"Now Miss Li, what exactly were you doing?"

"Just trying to talk with her, that's all." Melissa explained. "I guess I must have startled her. It was my mistake."

"Of course." The librarian said nothing more as she examined Melissa's backpack. She watched the display with some amusement. After all, who the hell would be so hard up for things that they had to steal from a high school library of all places? Mrs. Collins finally handed her bag back after a couple of minutes and Melissa nodded her thanks.

She left the library, triggering that annoying scanner, and decided to just wander the halls until her next class. 'Oh boy, math. Well, whatever...I'm doing well enough. A couple of more As and maybe things will be just fine.'

She sighed. Life sucked.

((Melissa continued in THE FUTURE at dz/dt.))