The following events occurred on September 16th, 2007

Just another day; another day like so many before, or so I thought. As it turns out, it was the most important day of my life. The day everything changed. The day of the "Deux Ex Machina".

Thoughts of James Hunter, Hocmar 28th 2134 on the Nirnivian calendar

At least it didn't rain. Humid air weighted on their shoulders but, so far, they remained dry. Between steps, James sneaked a peek toward the grey clouds. They grew more ominous by the minute, thus he halted for an instant and studied them. As he brushed a bead of sweat off his forehead, his fingers grazed against his black hair. He pondered whether they'd reach the cinema before their luck ran out. He hoped so since he suggested the stroll. Nadia wanted him to borrow his dad's car, but he insisted he needed some fresh air.

The second his girlfriend entered his mind, James glanced sideways toward the woman next to him. Her shoulder-length blond hair bounced with every pace. She shivered and rubbed her own arms in hope that the motion might warm her up. Her cold body matched the frigid reaction she offered when he suggested for them to walk in this weather. Not helping matters, he begged her to attend the matinee showing. Despite the harsh temperature, however, Nadia's previously furrowed brow subsided and her crimson cheeks returned to their normal color. In short, any sign of grumpiness vanished from her delicate features now that the date started. Perhaps sensing his gaze, Nadia smiled and said, "You're not thinking of cancelling on me again, are you?"

James scratched behind his ear. "Huh what? Oh, of course not…"

"Good! You did it twice already and I'm working next weekend."

"Sorry, it's been a rough couple of weeks." The moment he uttered the words, James tapped the pocket where he kept his wallet. His own touch surprised him.

"Don't worry"—Nadia paused for a sigh—"I'll pay for your ticket… and the snacks."

"No, I have money. I'll—"

"We've been together for over a year now. I recognize the signs"—she patted his shoulder—"Frank screwed you again?"

"Kind of… He swears he'll pay me tomorrow. He always does, it just takes a while. Really, it's fine, Nadia, Patrick lent me a few bucks."

"Keep it. Frank thinks 'day' and 'week' are synonyms"—she shook her head—"I don't understand why you're still working for that asshole."

"I know it's a sucky job, Nadia, I know." Regardless of his effort, James couldn't conceal the annoyance in his voice. "It's not like I have any options. What the hell do you want me to do?"

Until then, their footsteps echoed on the sidewalk in unison, but at that moment, the duo morphed into a solo. Nadia stopped and glared at him with crossed arms. Blushing, James spun around and faced her, though his stare met the ground instead of her deep blue eyes. "Oh, James… I can't believe you said that."

"Please, let's not go there. Not today. Let's not ruin our date again."

Nadia bent her neck and rubbed her brow. "I'm sorry. I don't want a fight over this. I don't care if you work for Frank or not, but you do. You hate that job, and I can't stand watching you give up on yourself when there are plenty of options available because, I love you!"

"I, huh…" The young man shrugged. "Look, it's not like I didn't try. I want to do better. I really do, but I keep failing. I tried to study, I tried to be somebody, but I guess I'm not all that smart."

"Then try again. You're worth the shot, and I'll be there to cheer you on no matter what."

"Nah, I'm too old for that stuff."

His girlfriend giggled. "You're twenty-seven, not exactly over the hill."

"Yeah, but it feels like seventy-two. I'm sorry, Nadia." He approached her and grabbed her wrists. "I'm not special; I'm not a unique snowflake. What can I say? I'm a total loser, I know..."."

"You're the only one who thinks so. And James, you're special to me." She hugged him and James wrapped his arms around Nadia's waist. Her head rested right under his chin. As a reflex, he kissed the top her hair. At that instant, a spark flashed in his peripheral vision. Curious, he focussed his attention toward the trees along the road. The wind explained the leaves' motion and yet… Was somebody there? He had the distinct impression someone was watching them, but why would anybody spy on him of all people? Growing ever more suspicious, he pushed Nadia away thus breaking the embrace.

"What's wrong, James?"

"Nothing, I just want to check something out." He took a few steps toward the trees in order to prove himself wrong.

"Where are you going? The movie's starting soon."

He peeked over his shoulder before fixating on the dubious bush again. "I know, I know, baby. I'll be right back."

That feeling of being watched, I had it before. Everybody does from time to time, or at least all my friends say it happened to them too. There didn't seem to be anybody around, but to be sure, I got a bit closer... and poof! A flash of light... Deux Ex Machina...

Thoughts of James Hunter, Hocmar 28th 2134 on the Nirnivian calendar