Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

What is the worth of a word?
Trust

Whale… that was unexpected.

Trust: The steadfast belief in the words and/or actions of another to meet some unspoken expectation.

Trust is perhaps the most hotly touted but least earned characteristic of our time. Absolutely essential to modern living, Trust is required, to one degree or another, in nearly every interaction we have: from shopping for groceries, and trusting that the store you frequent isn’t completely ripping you off for Mallomars; To crossing the road (particularly here in NYC), and trusting that the drivers around you will follow traffic law… and not hastily paint a greasy tire track onto your backside while rushing off toward the next red light. Undoubtedly, Trust is the quintessential foundation for ANY relationship, or should be, particularly in those which hope to be healthy and long-lasting, and for good reason — without some sort of basic Trust, how could any relationship ever strive to exist beyond the superficial?

But — and I Trust that you know I had a big ole’ “BUT” planned somewhere in here soon, (and I know, that you know, that I knew that — believe-you-me…) — Trust, good, noble and wholly necessary to cultivating and maintaining relationships as it may be, is a double edged sword, ain’t it? As it’s also the very same condition which flips to become a hotbed breeding ground for treachery and deception. After all, the most effective way to dupe someone is by beginning as an individual whom they implicitly Trust. Someone dark and shrouded against their careful eye of scrutiny? Only an individual given sanctuary from your doubt will find themselves in the unique position to leverage you — you and your peevish Trust, reader — to take advantage, while your back is turned, of you and your good nature.

SUCKER!

Behind-My-Back

It’s a common misconception, actually, that bunnies are of a good nature. If you don’t believe me, go watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

So… getting back on topic.

Here’s the truth about Trust: If you deserve it, you shouldn’t need it. It’s more mere cursory respect. Worth exists individualistically, it’s intrinsic — either you’ve got it, or you ain’t — and thus is wholly independent of others’ regard of you. So when questioned by a friend or associate, IF you’re an honest individual, you shouldn’t distress — you should just be anxious to re-prove your worth. Between those of a valid bond, doubt is always laughable. Encouraged, even. As you’re both clearly confident that you’ve nothing to fear… just something to clear up.

Even in the healthiest relationships, for every five positive interactions, one is still negative. Couples, whatever constituents may make them up, just doesn’t see eye to eye from time to time… and that’s healthy. People are different. That’s what makes them interesting. Negative interaction is NORMAL; natural. Think about it, if two individuals were to agree on EVERY-single-THING, every stones ripple cast across their philosophical matrix, than there would be no basis for a relationship — they’d be the same person… with nothing to gain from an interaction at all. BORING! Without differences, we simply wouldn’t be interested…

Thusly, Paula Abdul was right after all — Opposites really do attract.

Only so long as long as this doesn’t happen too often, this doubt — so long as it is truly reserved for situations of true extremity — these little tests can serve to solidify and reinforce an already sound house of union. However, and as mentioned before, this healthy and natural turbulent period, necessary to the pretext of any relationship and it’s growth over time, is, too, very much sensitive… to exploitation.

Bearing all this in mind, today I’d like to present you with a short story that further examines the virtues of Trust, both from the writer to the reader, and from character to character, within. For this story, there is no right answer. Faith, and whichever direction you choose (or don’t choose) to place it, will determine your alignment in the end… and you won’t be wrong.

Thus, I humbly present to you — good, Trustworthy readers — with…

“The Duel”

The nebulous grey dust will never fully settle on the face of the Moon. It whorls, and kicks, and cuts unseen, vitriolic, against anything left exposed. It’s incessant and furtive, forever under the influence of the restless solar wind, and will, over time, dismantle man or machine alike without prejudice. The Dome was built inspired by this very volatility, fortified against this same eternal plague, and the unbridled solar wind herself, unable to be tamed, was the chief reasoning for our own engineering. We live for radiant energy; our metabolism necessitates it’s consumption. Thus is it our charge to siphon excesses from the craters and their pools for mere survival, and to flock about, endlessly searching for and then drinking from, cuts in their vast cable infrastructure. The same tethering which enables them to stay, and to thrive, on our world.

Something unusual was happening within the Dome. We could all feel it; after all, we were bred to. A flurry of humans, minds buzzing alight with fresh electrical impulses, fanciful notions of fear and doubt, all gathered around the southern lock-gates of their building 42 and made us slaver. Yet today there was no ship we could sense about to be seen off. No piles of refuse were planned to be jettisoned off into our wastelands.  Merely were there two men, each oozing with an abundance of mental radiance, standing in the antechamber, both donned in full Terra-Gear and each wielding an ancient pistol, slung by leather, and hanging low at the hip. It would seem that the most ancient of rituals, one which we hadn’t seen the execution of in many an orbit, was about to be underway…

A Duel.

Audible to our ears alone, the familiar, “Vhur-Woosh”, of the retreating exterior docking doors rang out, (our tympanal membranes had been contrived, perverted really, to be attune in these environs), as the hapless borrowed air from the cloistered commune was hastily released, vacuumed away, and lost forever to the vastness of space. Before long two lone figures, each mind alight with fervent, frantic activity, steadily paced their way out onto our bleak desert plain — one destined to live, and one certain to die. Both men were riddled with their own doubts, and each fed a few dozen of our kind, as we fluttered about their skulls, suckling on errant joules of lost energy expelled by their over-brimming brains, and processed what we stole, inadvertently, to read their every thought.

Eventually, at a spot wordlessly acknowledged by both men, each placed their backpack respirator against the other, and both heaved a lungful, having finally reached their place of destiny where no stray bullet could harm the distant Dome. Then, as their mental activity bounded toward a glorious crescendo, nursing ever more of our kind, the duo began to run through their paces.

These were the thoughts which crossed through their minds as they took their final, fated steps…

First Measured Pace:

“I am Podunck Jenkins. I have lived in this town my entire life. The scoundrel, how could he? I wear the holy helix upon my chest, am clearly a god fearing man of this state, and am a unyielding staple of my town and to my countrymen, who’ve all known this face for life. Clearly I’m in the right. And yet, who is he? An unknown. Some outsider, who dared to challenge my nuptials. A stranger! A nobody! And yet here he is, on the most important day of my life, no less? At the very moment of a Jenkins vow renewal! This cannot stand, this queer perturbation. It is unfounded. It is unjust. It is unfair… No. He cannot prevail this day. This day is bigger than he. Today, this stranger must die.”

“This is stupid, I should just turn around and blast him in the kneecap. Such a shame I can’t kill him myself… all this ceremony, what’s it for? Those fat fools in that bubble wouldn’t even make it halfway up the ridge by the time I’d crested it, hauled his ass in my ship, and set the hyper-drive to Old Abberdine. Wonder if those bastards would pay out all the same? Hell, I’d even take a cut to be done with this. Three days. I’ve wasted three days on this backwater, redneck, puritanical satellite, and this is where I wind up? This is not how you avoid fame, and you know fame gets you hunted. Were I trained, I never would have wound up here, but you know, too, training makes a man predictable. Looks like it’s just me and all I’ve ever had, for better or for worse, my instinct. Let’s hope it was right… Maybe I should just turn around and blast him. Ugly, son-of-a-bitch.”

Second Pace:

“Thank God I had Jerald, that bitch Makenze’s husband, hand out the guns; this fool outsider has no idea he’s only got a single bullet in that chamber. This is my town, this’ll all be over soon enough and I can get back to my business. Amazing… even after the affair Jerald’s still loyal to me. Never said a word about it neither. Not to a single soul, so far as I can tell. That’s good. After all, men are weak, and it was Makenze who’d tempted ole’ Podunck with her smooth, bare flesh. That wayward wench. The only damned person in this whole forsaken commune who agreed with the outsider and legitimized his challenge, making it stick. He’d be a heap of puss and blood were it not for that one. Of course she would. Everyone suspects something, even if they don’t know for certain what. But that’s baggage left behind from a past life, Sir. Now all that matters is my fresh commitment to Patricia, for as long as we both live, in this new one. Just got to make it through this one, little hiccup. And Jerald? Well, after today, I’ll see to it that Jerald never has to worry about a thing again. Today I’ll show him, Patricia, and Makenze just exactly what type of a man I am.”

“Damn this gated commune. Damn these close-minded twits. Never again do I walk in blind, I don’t care what the size of the bounty is. Were it not for that strange woman, I’d’ve been lynched. “Speak now”, they say. Yeah, unless you’re a guest, and, if you are, there better be at least one local supporter or we’ll beat you with clubs and stab you with sticks until you stop squirming. Sounds about right. Still… It’s not like I didn’t try. Couldn’t get a stitch of information about this rock before I flashed my paperwork and shouldered my way in through the door. First in years… and look where it got me. Don’t even partake in the pulse — wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did — heathens. They’re living like it’s earth-1 all over again… OK. Enough of that. No more distractions now. Focus: go over the facts, quick. There isn’t time. You’re hunting a deviant, likely a sociopath, a Missing Mayor from the Centarus Cluster, who’d first been the face of a children’s charity, and then disappeared days before his embezzlement came to light. This type of person will stop at no-one and for nothing in achieving his ends. A grade 8 stake, with the caveat that he’s brought in alive to face the scales of justice in person. You followed the unique ionized signature of a registered and recently stolen ship, which you found abandoned behind a high ridge, invisible to the denizens of this cloistered world, which inevitably led you here. Also, it’s suspected that this deviant has in his possession a quantum holographer — which is wonderful — meaning he can take on any appearance he wishes unless I can get him outside of an atmosphere. Hence: The Duel. The moons surface will suffice in revealing his true form, if my suspicions are correct, and if I can expose him to the elements… without killing him. That’s a lot of “if’s”. Surely this is not smart business. No. This is my mark, I’m sure of it, and I’ll prove it. “Toad-Man mayor”, this is your gambit to lose.”

Third Pace:

“This man, this supposed bounty hunter, will die by my hand in but a mere moment. I shall savor it. He has, thanks to good ole’ Jerald, naught but one bullet, and, knowing this as I do, all I have to do is dive astride, miss his one hasty shot, and, as he retakes his aim with an empty gun, unload my remaining chamber into his foul chest. Damnable outsider. I shall stare into his madcap countenance until the final reserves of his pathetic life drain out through to the acrid soil. Simple. But what after that? The battle is won, but the spoils are rotten. There will be blame yet. Surely this man hails from someplace significant. Others will come. Explanations, sought after… Perchance I can shift focus onto Jerald. Hapless, simple Jerald. If my poison spreads true… Nobody knows of my triste, and he has been acting rather strange. Maybe I could devise a way to have it yet again, after all. The comely Makenze. I know not how much longer I can suffer the company of that dullard Patricia anyhow, but, after the affair, in order to keep her happy and quiet about the… situation, surely I had little other choice. Unfortunate mistakes of the past. But now I wonder, could not I abdicate to finality? I could reclaim Makenze as my own, be rid of the nattering Patricia for good, satiate any authority who tries to intervene with a simple shift of blame, and fade back into the simple life which I’ve sought for so long, and surely so sincerely deserve. Yes! These events shall come to pass, or the name which I bear is not Podunck Jenkins!”

“These hillbillies are not to be trusted. This gambit threatens my throat as much as my mark’s. Never before, in all my starbounding years, have things ever been so out of my control. Even still, and if I manage to win out this day, can I truly be certain that I’m playing the right hand at this game? Am I so sure that an incriminating ledger from halfway around the galaxy, shredded and lining the barn bed of a neighbors horse, is evidence enough? Even when coupled with a hastily called “re-marriage”, a vow-renewal in normal corners of the universe, and some queer local custom of spousal benefactor inheritance, and automatic citizenship? Can I truly be so certain in my comprehension of local law after merely three days of study? Why must the Centarus government respect the laws of some backwards, uncultured religious reservation, anyhow? It’s loopholes like this which permit this exact type of lawless behavior. Then again, if not for bureaucratic oversights such as this, I might be out of a job. Now, here’s how it all could work: the mayor kills, consumes, and assumes the identity of one: “Podunck Jenkins”, utilizing his recently stolen Quantum Holagrapher to achieve the feat. Legally, this makes him a murderer, subject to local law… but only if caught. However, were this “man” to never officially be killed or discovered dead, which is unlikely given the types of acids that a Ratherain carries around in it’s gut, but rather, even as an impostor, remarry — or marry, depending on your particular slant — a local, sanctioned worshiper and denizen of the Helix commune, then that individual, whether or not they had the right, will become an official member themselves, having been ordained by an official minstrel, inside an official place of worship, with official witnesses lining the pews. Furthermore, and more to the point, this individual will, unwaveringly, be extended amnesty through governmental religious exemption. Their dome, their rules. Then, as an official member of this special community, sharing equally with his wife in all of his worldly possessions, were somehow some tragedy to befall his betrothed, he would successfully have become, legally and forevermore throughout the universe, the inimitable owner of a theoretically stolen charity fund — with monies ample to support a lavish lifestyle across many a generation. But I’m here now. It’s obvious, even to an amphibian, that people will be coming for him. He can’t kill his wife to be, unless he first kills me. And if he does, than he can become whoever he wants, and fade into whatever life he desires. No wonder he rallied in support of a duel over a hearing… Well, nothing more to do now but hope my gun swap, and empty chamber trick pays off… and I don’t somehow get shot myself before he shows his true form. Or get lynched. That’ll be fun. Well, here goes.”

*BANG*

Thanks for reading!

~J

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Welcome back everyone,
hello-cute

Hey there 😉

As you know, on this blog I generally do my darnedest to keep things whimsical. I like to try and make intellectuality fun — at least as fun as someone bereft of said topic can make it — and that’s because I understand all too well that pretension will only get in the way of communicating what ideas I may have and would genuinely enjoy hearing others honest opinions about.

For that, I need you all to be smiling.

I require your guard to be down.

(But not your fly… XYZ, reader)

Now, some may call this peevish, and if you do I have a special place for you, (Just click the “X” on the upper right hand side of your web browser, and I’ve got the whole thing set up to redirect you exactly to where you belong on the internet!) but I believe in everyone’s opinion being valid. As I see it, we all have differing life experiences, which lend themselves to differing insights about the reality of being. Each of us alone is only a piece of the puzzle, only together can we see what is. Thus, you may have noticed, across the four some-odd-years that I’ve run this blog, (Say Thank-Ya!) that I’ve always made pains to refer to you all as one. Never referencing color, race, location or gender (unless that’s the topic in question), while addressing you all in these jaunty little introductions, or, in this blog’s previous incarnation, throughout the entire proof of my theorem.

"Humans"

“Humans”

Today though, as you may have already guessed, I’d like to assume a more sober tone. Today I’d like to discuss something that happened to me personally (don’t worry I’m FINE. It merely led to this week’s inspiration), which helped solidify the mere fragments of thought on the topic I’d had, up until it’s occurrence. At first I was going to obscure the introduction, being that the person who did this may well read this blog, but I quickly realized that I am no coward, and that relenting in such a manner would be tantamount to “Do as I say, but not as I do” — which is decisively Un-Cool. And so, without further ado, here it is…

(Wow, can’t quite find words which won’t elicit a giggle….)

(Well, whatever… You’re a mature audience.)

😛

I got my junk grabbed — like full on, a full handful, for a full second — and this was done by someone I work with. A Woman, no less. Now, as you may or may not know, I once worked as a topless waiter at a strip club. There this type of thing was routine, and I was able to shrug it off as the nature of the beast. However at my current job, working for CBS on a television show, this type of behavior, even with a flirty coworker (whom I certainly reciprocate with, just never to this extreme…), was, frankly, unacceptable. And so, with a heavy heart, and plans to kill the buzz, I approached her in a clandestine manner, asking for things to never again go to where she took them. She then responded vocally, amidst a large group of others — people without any knowledge of the aforementioned affront — saying, and I quote,

“Oh, be a man. You know you liked it.”

……

Now, it took me some time to process all the emotions — admittedly, mostly negative — that coursed through my mind at this moment in my life. I’m not going to lie… at first I wanted to smack her, but logic quickly argued against that. Then I wanted to wail vocally, explaining to the entire gymnasium full of our film crew that she had, in fact, sexually harassed me… but my days at the club popped in my mind and it all felt like a rather flat argument. The best reason I could find within for feeling so wronged was that, somehow, a power struggle had been breached… and quite unjustly. Finally I found a healthy way to deal with my feelings on the occasion — I’d write about it. And the story today, after three manifestations that I’d scrapped for being far too blunt, is the result of it all.

I’m not going to mince words here: Equality is a blanket term, it has NOTHING to do with entitlements or supremacy. If you truly wish to see yourself as an equal — a just contributor to modernity — than privilege becomes a slight. It’s abhorrent, as it assumes the same role of the oppressor which you, or (more likely) the brave people before you, had once fought so direly to be free from. You may or may not see how, but this piece is my way of confronting the racism I’d been subject to as a child, the class warfare I’ve bore witness to all my life, and the general ways that mankind has tried to keep his brothers and sisters down. It should also serve as warning to movements of equality, Feminism, Racial equality, First, Second, and Third world conflicts amongst each other, and any people who strive for their fair share, that sometimes we can take things too far. Equality, true equality, is blind to Gender, Race, Color, Size, and shape — and perhaps may someday include Species, Race, Planet — and even Galaxy and Universe.

Everybody’s on a journey throughout this life, one unique to them, and so every point of view is valid — and certainly deserved of a listen by the rest of us.

~J

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ordinary Extremities

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ticket, please”, Bade the Conductor, approaching the squatted pile of rags at the far corner of the car.

The woman beneath didn’t stir.

“Hello Ma’am?” He said politely, “Sorry to wake you, but I need to collect your ticket now.”

Still the enshrouded figure remained nonplussed.

The Conductor bent, waving a translucent blue palm before the hooded cave of the woman’s visage, before kneeling and tipping his face in for a better look.

The fact that this man was, in actuality, a hologram — a mere segmented sliver of the conductors waking mind, present here only due to clever camera and speaker placement — was not lost on me. So at this thought, despite myself, I snorted a laugh.

From his hands and knees the man inclined his head in my direction, before craning his neck to peer under his arm’s nook at the wall of passengers which had built up across the car. The Conductor then got up, dusted off his knees, and approached me.

“Ticket Please”, he said, an accusatory lilt staining his custom level tone, seeming to imply some connection between myself and the vagabond across the way.

Casually I removed a balled fist from the pocket of my well pressed Sports Coat, never bothering to take the sole of my fine Italian loafer away from the door on which I leaned, thrusting it out then for the man to see, before hinging each finger out, slowly and in turn, to eventually present him with a bare palm. From the transparent ceiling above, at a point indeterminate due to the setting sun, a green laser light fanned out, sweeping my palm first in one direction and then the other before blinking out extinguished.

“Thank you.” Said the man, eying me suspiciously. Shooting a thumb over his shoulder, he soon added,  “How about you help me out? Go wake your little buddy over there so I can scan her ticket too.”

“Little buddy?” I scoffed, failing to stifle a second snort, “I don’t know that person.”

The man dove his face in toward mine, searching my eyes, darting erratically back and forth from left to right, before melodramatically stepping back to indicate the crowd.

“Tell me than, what’s this? Why is it you can stomach this woman’s clearly quite pungent odor, when the rest of my passengers huddle and cower like frightened livestock?”

I regarded the crowd, noting that easily three yards separated me from the next nearest paying customer. A singular huddled mass, the people all breathed as one; through sleeves, scarves, and hats — anything that might help stave off the offensive aura being generated by the woman just across from me.

“She’s harmless.” I asserted. “Besides, my desire to be left alone presently supersedes any musk this individual could possibly produce.”

And it was true. I’d hastily purchased a ‘standing room only’ ticket, knowing full-well the risk, and had accepted this unfortunate condition as mere penitence for my retreat.

The Conductor scrutinized me thoughtfully.

“Well then, friend” He began afresh, clearly changing tactics. “Give a guy without a hand, a hand, eh? This form may have function, but it has no form — if you’re picking up what I’m projecting down. Be a pal and, well… just tap her on the shoulder for me, would ya?”

I unfocused my eyes, looking straight through the shifting veil of blue before me to examine the mysterious figure just across the way. Indeed it seemed that the thing beneath the ratty pile of garments was, in fact, a woman… though without removing her thick and pungent wrappings it would be impossible to tell for sure. Long, dreaded hair flowed out from under the dark recesses of her cavernous hood, which then weighed down the loosely stacked garments cosseting her chest to detail two modest, though distinctly feminine, mounds. Carelessly crouched in the corner as she was — wrists rested on bent knees, back strait, shoulders level, with some indeterminate rigidity protruding diagonally underneath her thick vestments — the woman seemed more pious sentinel, particularly in this shade of divine azure, than penniless freight-hopper.

Malodorous scent or not, queer as it may sound… I soon found myself drawn to her. Something was brave and bold beneath that hood. Something new. Something I’d never encountered in all my worldly travels, and someone who the other people of this train would never dare try comprehend… I stared intently into the void cast by it, that hood. Searched every impregnable inch methodically, earnestly seeking but a single point of light being reflected back by flesh… but only found its darkness to be absolute. Just as I was ready to give up, prepared to simply walk on over as the Conductor had asked, a dual burst of slits flashed alight within the gloom, each punctuated by an iris of burning red. Their appearance, though brief, was married to a nearly imperceptible incline of her head, and the collective gestures combined to culminate as a simple yet strikingly vivid message; ‘Stay Away’.

I faltered. My composure shattered. Fear gripped my heart, and my easy lean slipped from the wall. My palms pressed firm to the doors behind me, unconsciously searching for a place to flee, and I found myself flat against the wall standing on tiptoes. The Conductor regarded my change, glancing over at the woman — who only appeared as she was — before whipping back around again to me, scanning my eyes for any sign of a ruse.

Eventually satisfied, he pressed a heavy weightless hand into my shoulder.

“Forget it,” He began, his voice imbued now with genuine care, “I thought you knew her”. He then added, dimming his speaker volume to a decibel only audible to my nearby ear, “I’ll just let the Staties deal with her once we pass Forrest Squarewood. That’s their jurisdiction, you know? They hate Planet Hoppers. Such a shame, too. Hate to hand over someone who’s fallen on tough times. But… a job’s a job. Word to the wise? Beware that woman, friend. She’s likely strange; wily. The type that can’t be trusted even for a second. You keep your distance, now.”

Abashed, staring absently through the clear floor at a tempestuous river we raced above, I nodded stupidly in response.

Then, I was alone. The conductor walking straight into the adjacent car, unperturbed by silly things of matter, like tangibility or mass.

“Get out-of-the-way, Moron!”, came a voice amidst the crowd.

“Move it, Jerkface!” echoed another, seemingly headed my way.

Then, all at once, the hermetically sealed line of average passengers burst, spewing forth, before the wound quickly healed, two attractive young ladies; one a petite Brunette, and the other a voluptuous Blonde.

“Jesus, Tria, you said she didn’t smell so bad. It smells like a Whorehouse’s Outhouse out here.” Exclaimed the Blonde, quickly masking her face with a jewel encrusted hand.

“No, Lo-Lo, that is not what I said at all.” Proclaimed the Brunette, exposing her pierced navel as she yanked a low neck line up over her nose. “What I said was, and I quote; ‘How bad could it be, that guy’s standing there?’ Answer: really, really, really, freaking bad. Wow. The last time that thing took a shower, John-John was on ‘Mercury House’. Am I right?”

“Hell, yes you are.”

“Am I right?”

“Oh my God, bitch, I already said, ‘Yes’. Can’t we just spark? That thing’s making me sick, already.”

“What am I, your mother, you whore? You need permission? Light it. Danm. Light that shit up already.”

“Shut-up, slut.”

“Hoe.”

“Bitch.”

Then, in tandem, they both concluded, “Whatever.”

Flashing each other a vicious pair of smiles somehow seemed to settle the exchange, and soon both were digging through their respective golden handbags, extracting, before long, a pair of Electronic Cigarettes.

The Blonde unscrewed hers at the center, peering inside. “Shit, I’m out. You got any left?”

The Brunette then unscrewed hers, turning about in circles while trying to find an angle for the overhead light. “I can’t tell, I think I need a refill too. You got any more on you?”

“Yeah, I think I do.” Said the one called Lo-Lo, juggling her effects, balancing her bag on a raised knee and struggling to keep her balance. “Somewhere in here…”

“Hang on.” Said Tria, tugging her friend violently by the hand, nearly toppling her over, and then dragging her by me. “Hi there, Mister.” she began, long lashes fluttering, salaciously brushing my arm, “Hold this for me, would you?”

Before I knew what was happening I found myself clutching a clutch, supporting a shoulder bag with my shoulder, and palming hand lotion — amongst other unidentifiable effects of superficiality — in my palm. The two young women, for their part, each held a strap of Lo-Lo’s Bag, and were both digging voraciously through its contents, stopping only to toss out bits of garbage onto the train floor.

Finally Tria produced a small container with a sealed lid.

“Is this it?” She asked, presenting it to Lo-Lo between two raised fingers and a thumb.

Lo-Lo snatched it unceremoniously, raking her friend harshly with manicured nails bearing a collection of tiny circus animals.

“Ah, you bitch”. Shouted Tria.

But Lo-Lo was lost in the vial. She eagerly popped the lid, hurriedly raised the opening to her nose, and huffed the noxious scent therein deeply. The display was for show. Once opened, even from back where I stood, the smell was sufficient to stifle even that of the transient’s across the car. Reaching inside they each pinched off a small amount before plucking their cigarettes from my open palm and stuffing their devices full. Within but a second, the gadget was reassembled, the girls pressed at the ignition, and each was inhaling deeply — leaving me as a forlorn baggage handler at the airport, and without any tip to boot.

From somewhere at the back of the crowd a man’s voice could be heard “Hey, you can’t smoke in here. It’s illegal. Some of us have an allergy.”

“Oh, yeah?” Challenged Tria. “Who’s gonna stop me? Not you. I do what I want.” And to punctuate this apparent fact, she took a long drag, deep down into her lungs, before exhaling a mighty vapor cloud toward the group.

A wheezing, raspy cough was the crowds only retort.

Lo-Lo then took a lungful in all her own, before breathing it out into my face, asking “So… what’s wrong with you? You enjoy smelling like ass or something, Mister?”

“I just want to be left alone.” I insisted, extending the clutch toward Lo-Lo, “I just got back from this long, pointless ‘inter-office relations-trip’ that my boss sent me on, and…”

“That’s not mine.” Lo-Lo interrupted, stepping back from the handbag disgusted.

“Yo. Don’t give that hoe my bag.” Interjected Tria, swiveling her head around like a snake. “She wouldn’t know what to do with one that’s not a fake, anyways.”

“Please, girl.” Pleaded Lo-Lo. “It’s been a long, hard day, and I don’t have the energy left to teach you the difference between a ‘Carl Mongoose’, and whatever it is you’re calling a ‘Petera’ Divine’ over there.”

“Oh, don’t you start with me, Miss ‘I-Don’t-Buy-From-Little-Persia-I-Only-Like-To-Look’.”

But Lo-Lo did start…

And then Tria continued…

And so, as the girls continued to debate the laurels surrounding the question, “Which one of their bags was better suited at holding things?”, I quickly grew weary of acting out the role of impromptu living mannequin. Thus did I proceed to place all of their loose effects into whoever’s shoulder-bag it was I was presently shouldering, to then merely lay the weighty satchel down on the clear floor at my feet, noting, as I did, the first patches of trees springing up on the ground far, far below.

It wouldn’t be long now. Soon I’d find out exactly what type of woman it was buried underneath all that dowdy patchwork.

Lo-Lo seized her bag from the floor with a huff, and shoved me harshly against the wall, saying “What the eff do you think you’re doing?”

“Oh-My-God” Chimed in Tria, slapping my shoulder. “I know that you did not just put her Ten Thousand Dollar, ‘Carl Mongoose’, Winter collection bag on that dirty-ass floor, with that filthy… thing… sitting right there.”

“Girls.” I began, tenderly as I could manage. “Don’t do that.”

“Don’t do what?” Demanded, Lo-Lo, as sprightly green tips began whizzing past her ankles.

“Don’t talk about another human being like that.”

“I will talk about whoever, however I want.” She insisted, the thickening wood growing steadily to overtake her height.

“Look, it’s clear this person has fallen on tough times. You don’t know her story.”

“We don’t care.” Insisted Tria, clapping her hands for emphasis on each word, all while massive shadows painted darting streaks across her form.

“Yeah, well… either way. You shouldn’t add to her problems. Just… leave her be. I’m asking you a favor.”

“Come-on mister. What, you in love? Bitch ain’t even got no clothes.”

“Hoe don’t have no money.”

“Trick smells like ass.”

The tips of the monolithic pines were now beyond the reach of sight, their numbers surging greater by the second still.

“Yeah, well… She’s a person. She get’s to live how she wants. What if this is what makes her happy?”

“What? You serious?”

“No makeup. No friends. No class. Smells like a dirty-ass construction worker that just tipped over in the Pora-a-John. Sitting here, doing nothing but stinking up the train for the rest of us normal, god-fearing, folk. Man, please: that ain’t even a lady.”

Suddenly light inside the car was squelched out entirely, as the encroaching tree line had finally grown bold enough to steal the setting sun.

A mind trembling scream rang out from somewhere amidst the crowd.

As the lights of the cabin pulsed slowly to life, and my vision oscillated between states of pure blindness and mere hazy shadow, I found the crowd was moving toward me, reeling back from some bewitching scene unfolding near its center.

It was then when I caught my first glimpse of the thing. Circumscribed by the ever swelling circumference of screaming and frightened passengers was a beast not quite human, with a wide drawn out squamous face, and a lithe lolling tongue — one which defied jagged rows of impossibly sharp teeth as it danced along their precarious peaks and valleys — actively tasting the air. It held a redundant dagger in each of its two claws, as all of it’s five fingers were adorned with vicious, corkscrewed nails, while it stalked through the crowd of lambs — slaughtering any and all without the sense or wherewithal to run.

Calcified as I was, agog from the massacre unfolding just before my eyes, I nearly didn’t feel the nagging pull of the two wildly wailing women persistently scrabbling at my back. However, when I nearly lost my footing while stepping on a familiar golden bag, the initials ‘CM’ forming a gaudy pattern all along it’s every facet, reality finally came home, drunk and crashing into the garage, and I became instantly aware of the two girls urging me to glance over to my left. There, at the epicenter of the car and just beside where we stood, a luminous pinprick wisp was floating, unaided, and steadily gaining in girth. The wormhole rapidly gained mass and began to pull at me, and, were it not for the frantic women holding firm at my arms, each demanding I, “Be a man and save them!”, and weighing me down, I may have even been engulfed by its mystical allure — cast to frightful plane. Then as the otherworldly draw began to ebb, and just as the brilliant vortex, hollow at its heart, had reached a sizable three yard diameter, another set of scaled and corkscrewed claws braced themselves at the lip of the dimensional rift, to then vault their master whole into our place in space.

The Reptilian beast landed to the floor of the car with a weighty thud, as the wormhole neatly cinched up behind it, sending a splintering shock-wave throughout the reinforced plastic at its wake, compromising integrity engineered to hold a hundred men. It spent but a moment in the throes of nausea before its slitted eyes were trained on us, and the women redoubled in their efforts of shrieking as it slavered and ambled serpentine our way.

Lo-Lo shoved me toward it with one hand, and held firm with the other, bellowing, “Fight it, Mister. Protect us!”

Tria wept, and held firm at my arm, wailing, “Make it go away. Tell it to leave.”

“Girls, let go.” I pleaded. “I can’t move.”

“Do something”, they screamed in unison.

Like lightning the creature was on me, effortlessly shifting its easy gait into a terrifying pounce, clutching then at my coat, arching me overhead, and slamming me down hard onto the floor. The ground groaned and quaked beneath the hammering of my mass, and all the air was stolen from my chest. As the room spun, and the light-show played, my whereabouts grew dubious, and my mind clouded. Sleep beckoned.

Somehow through the hypnagogic haze I felt the light playing on my face dim. Gathering my wits through great focus of effort, I synched my wayward eyes and fought to look out strait from my helpless supine form… only to discover forthcoming doom. The thing was upon me, mighty fist raised high overhead, blotting out the cabin light, and prepared to slam down into my skull. With a greater effort than my body had left to give, I rolled hard to the left, feeling the whipping air thrash my necks nape at the wake of its mammoth fist as it narrowly missed my face. Already undermined, the car yielded to the tremendous power of the things assault, and left me dangling through the floor, hanging precariously by the tips of my weakened fingers.

It seemed the end was near. The creature wasted no time in reeling back for a second strike, this one aimed at my fingertips which clung desperately at the lip of the opening, promising to cast me into an impending free-fall many kilometers long, either to be impaled on a tree, or to shatter my every bone against the distant terra. Resigned to my fate I turned my face toward my attacker, determined, at the very least, to go with my dignity intact. I matched his wild eyes with a level gaze, wholly free from fear, merely patient, and found myself in admiration of the speed in which it’s limb was capable of traveling — that is all before a warm spray misted my cheeks, and the hapless arm cascaded clear beyond me, tumbling freely into the open air beyond my dangling feet. Armless now, the beast hissed in pain, whipping about furiously then to confront its assaulter, only to be diced, just at the hinge of its jaw, by the returning upward swing of a Katana.

And there, flared by the wildly luminous cabin lights, stood a proud silhouette which wielded the brilliant blade — the lowly vagabond from the far corner of the car. Shed now of her outer layer, camouflage from the very start, she shucked her sword free from the serpents blood, highlighting, as she did, bountiful curves of dense musculature beneath an elite black and silken armor. She then kicked at the chest of the thing, still writhing even without a head, shoving it out beyond me and into the open air below, before dashing off, and out of view, presumably toward the panicked crowd at my back.

The drama then unfolded in screams and gasps, while I struggled and flailed, and failed, in extracting myself from my tricky predicament. Before long the cacophony, blind to my eyes, fell to stillness. Not a sound could be heard. Visions of an all-encompassing massacre filled my mind…

Finally then, after a silence of interminable length, where I never ceased in my struggle to re-board the racing car, it was the shallow voice of an elderly man which broke the strange repose.

“Thank You.” He said, voice quavering with emotion. “Thank you so very, very much, young lady.”

Then came another, quick on his heels, a woman this time. “Here, take this. Please, I insist. And… Thank you.”

Before long, another chimed in, a little boy, “That was really cool! Here, strong lady, it’s my favoritest… I want you to have it.”

And then came another, and another…. and another.

And so it continued, as my fingers quaked, from all the voices, of all the people in the car: gratitude. Thanks being showered on one who, only just a few minutes ago, the entire lot had all but condemned.

I felt the dimming of the overhead light once more, and, fingers trembling, strained to look skyward… and there she was, bearing a halo of light — and was she ever beautiful. Long dreadlocks framed an angled face that belonged on the cover of a magazine, were it not for the jagged scars and random battle-won maladies which gave it its fierce character. She had her rags back on now, and from all the errant, random, and poorly sewn pockets, people’s valuables jutted out. Precious necklaces, rings, jewelery and just plain cold hard cash overflowed the paupers clothes, creating a jaunty juxtaposition embodied in the sight of this mighty warrior woman.

She regarded me, as she drew her hood back over her head, sightlessly cleaned her blade on a rag, and sheathed the sword, asking, “You’re the one who defended me in my rags?”

I swallowed hard, saying all I could think to, “Yes…”

“You shouldn’t have done that…” She chided, a bright smile shining out from under the hood. “Look, times are always hard. People will have their opinions. All that really matters is how you react to the ordinary extremities of everyday life.”

I merely nodded, the wisdom of her words failing to presently pierce me in my condition — I was simply praying she’d help me up from my hole.

“Hey!” Came a voice, I knew to be Tria, “Take this. It’s worth alot!”

“Yeah, yeah!” Chimed in Lo-Lo, “And these. They’re yours now.”

“No.” Said the warrior woman, severity back in her tone. “I want you to keep them. After all, they’re all you have.”

She turned back to the hole, regarding me with pity.

“Pull yourself up.” She ordered. “You’ve done it before. I have no doubts that you can do it again.”

And then, without hesitation, she leapt through the hole — never to be seen or heard from again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ FIN ~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sure hope you enjoyed this.

It’s 4 days late, and that’s because I took some more time with it — and it still feels like I could’ve taken another week or so to get it right.

Please leave your thoughts below, on the topic and the story, and I’ll add edits to this as time permits.

Thanks

~J

Greetings, my beautifully deranged and wondrously enlightened lot,

You know… Inspiration can be so fickle at times,

good idea

So obvious… and yet so genius!

Plus, even when it does strike, you’re still faced with a pretty darned big dilemma, aren’t you? I mean… is it even any good!? This random thing that’s just popped into your mind — out of, quite literally, thin air. You gonna to go for it? Eh? Well? Are you? (Seriously, is there a doctor soothsayer in the house?) I mean, somebody’s got to know…

Will it be worth our time?

Will it!?

(Somebody… ANSWER ME!!)

How can we know..?

Is this concept, sometimes no more than a mere sentence in our minds, going to pan out — after sometimes years, or even decades of hard work — into something that, at the start, was actually, truly worth investing into at all? It’s enough to Tonya Harding the kneecaps of even the most intrepid risk-taker! And — furthermore, hitherto, and not to mince words — never doubt, my people, that it is indeed an investment! A huge one…

Time and Land… they’re not making any more of the stuff.

Development, (if you’re here reading this, I’m sure you already know), is painstaking work. A plodding, laborious, hair-raking endeavor, that’s seen ears cut off, peni lobbed off, and children cut off. I mean, people may think that we just don some literal thinking cap, hole away in an attic somewhere, and magically spill these things out of our ears merely by tipping our heads to the page — but that’s not the case at all, is it!? It’s hard work, dag-nabit… It’s stressful!

Sentences can take hours,

Paragraphs; days…

Re-writes… an eternity!

(Thank God for scotch…)

And that’s the funny thing, isn’t it? See, even though it may not be — as, in the end it so oft will prove to seem (ahhh, the dastardly “Creators curse”…) — it’s the pursuit that teaches us our lessons in the end, isn’t it? All of life’s little mistakes, (naturally after lambasting you with your own perceived idiocy), will invariably and without fail, culminate to show us what not to do… so that, in turn, we actually know WHAT TO DO! Thought and execution, married happily, is the only real path toward a personal truth, and an internal sense of well-being.

Or….. maybe I’m just making this stuff up.

(See what I did there?)

😉

Here’s the deal for this week’s short,

Home alone one night, my sole roommate a good 50 miles away, and likely quite liberally inebriated, I heard a rather loud noise boom out from beyond my bedroom door… and, for some reason, my genius-self beckoned it — whatever IT was — to enter. I then proceeded to entreat it, “not to fear”, and insisted “I would totally not freak out once it came in my room” — despite the fact that my heart was pounding heavier than an elephant on a trampoline in the presence of a mouse.

I said, no means no!

EEK!

So anyway, after about a half hour… I began to feel rather silly — and that’s when the inspiration hit. I reached for my head-board, scrawled the rules of this short into the page, and this is what came of it all. I present it here, now, for proof of my theorem: that it is far better to try an idea, even if it seems doomed to fail, than give in to your souls erosion.

Was it worth it in the end?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

(But, hell. I like it.)

~J

Broker your soul

journal

11:26, December 14th, 2013:

I am awakened by a crash, a frightful clamor my living room, the room adjacent to the bedroom where I sleep. Motionless I lie, my mind spinning wild fiction, while I listen, intent on divining some sound beyond the hammering in my chest, waiting patiently for any clue as to what might be the cause — a robber, my dear friend whom I’d given a key, or the possibility of something exotic… an animal perhaps; some beast.

But… Nothing. Not another decibel for the five long minutes I spent mummified under my sheets dwelling solely in my ear.

Eventually, I’d had enough. This wasn’t me; some coward calcified by a baseless fear. I am not a feeble man. Finally, once I’d deemed my reconnaissance sufficient, I crept up from my bed to investigate the scene — my heart setting the mood with its base and snare driven score, despite my fervent insistence of bravery. Full minutes were spent as I’d eased open my bedroom door, stealing an ever greater vantage as I went. Only to discover at my final perspective precisely what I’d not expected… an empty home. Embarrassed and abashed I strode into the room, shaking my head with aims toward my cowardice, grateful to let down my guard — when a menacing shadow darted at me with blinding speed. I tensed up, assuming a fighting stance and ready to engage whatever was intent on assaulting me… before I realized my folly. It had merely been the headlights of a passing car playing through the window.

Crossing the darkened room I shut the blinds against the gag, (an exercise in frivolity, in hindsight), before doubling back to attend the wailing warmth of my comforter, and promptly knocked my tender shin against something firm. And, right there on the floor, there it was. The cause of the clamor… my papasan chair had somehow rolled off its rounded base… I must have left it charged before bed. My forlorn book lie still in its nook. Wearily I made my approach to replace it — suddenly finding myself again filled with apprehension; an irrational fear, (of what, I know not), and, half expecting electrical shock, I grabbed the chairs edge… but again, nothing. I replaced the seat to the pedestal, doubly ensuring its purchase, and merely returned to my bed… baffled, though resigned to simple happenstance as the cause.

11:42, January 1st, 2014:

As I lie restless in bed, my circadian clock maladjusted for the abbreviated work week which loomed, entertained (and somewhat annoyed) by the silhouetted performance of dancing cells playing before my eyes curtain, and considering just getting up to go for a run… I began to hear the unmistakable sound of turning pages emanate from within my home. Being I’d read window-side before bed, I’d naturally assumed that the wind had simply picked up. So, and without delay, I arose… intent on closing the pestering portal and rescuing the precious time I was left to spend on my slumber. I threw open my bedroom door, took quick, dizzied, and shuffling steps to gain on the breathing window behind my couch — only to find it clamped shut and locked. I’d done my chore after all.

That’s when the books hit the floor.

explosive

They landed flat, trapping and then exploding out loudly with the air stuck betwixt them and my planked, wooden floor — engendered, I must say, with far more ferocity than gravity alone could have possibly proffered. Now, and before the instant where my mind would begin to scrutinize the occurrence, I remember noting the two books which had fallen: one, A collection of Poe’s greatest works; and the second, a hardcover of Koontz’s inaugural “Odd Thomas” Novel. Immediately then my mind leapt back to the incident, only three weeks then past, when the papasan had left it’s base of its own accord, stirring me in the night as it played against the floor… and before long I’d had myself convinced that my poor home had become possessed. My body tensed, rallying to run, and I snatched a hunting knife from its plaque before giving in, retreating then quickly to my bedchamber and slamming the door shut in my wake. Leaning against it, weighting it shut, I heaved for the stubborn air which wouldn’t come, (silently as I could manage, as to conceal my whereabouts), both hoping to, and not to glean some sound from behind my back.

It was here that I swear I’d heard a stifled laugh — a giddy little school kid down a long metallic shaft — radiate through the door behind my form. Slumping to the floor, my legs posted firm against my bed-mount for leverage, there I sat and waited… waited for the inevitable attack: an oncoming onslaught from a creature, or spirit demonic, to take my life.

But again… all was still.

And yet I still waited… my eight inch blade unsheathed, held in a vice-like, ice-pick grip, and ready to penetrate anything that darest try to pierce my fortification. Seconds grew to minutes, minutes hastily matured to hours… though my heart raced still… my mouth pooling with the taste of tin. A singular comfort came as the dawn arrived. Perhaps, “Comfort”, here is a misnomer. The dawn had reminded me of my obligations — namely, “clients”, and “work” — and so, despite my arresting trepidation, I ran my morning routine from my bedroom as best I could, before racing through my home, bloodshot and haggard, to dash out the front door, seizing sanctuary within the world.

The day was torturous — just sheer misery. The clients I’d scheduled to train were, each of them, demonstrably tardy, and in the solemn minutes which passed as I patiently languished, it became all I could do to resist the temptation, presented by my inflamed eyelids and weighted cheeks, to slip under the easy wing of comfort, relenting to repose.

I, however, am a warrior. I refuse to be average. I was made to command my mind, never could it be the other way: never could it, a mere organ, hope win this war of wills. I toughed out the day, remaining steadfast to the fire-watch of my mind, and returned home without incident — far too frustrated and exhausted to humor some crackpot, half-cocked theory about a capricious poltergeist — and promptly accepted the rest I’d so surely earned on this day…

12:21, Jan 21st, 2014:

Supine in bed, preternaturally still but yet mentally stirring, an overarching theory percolated within my mind while I reminisced over the copious bouts of queer happenstance which had transpired as of late.

The Poe and Koontz hardbacks were found — each and every morning — strewn across my living room floor. Some sort of odd protest, I’d imagine, which I undid, each and every day, by giving my dear friends back to their preferred recess.

Only a week past now, while a storm of thunder frenzied outside, my running shoes, it would seem, had craved the world without me… usurping themselves to places unknown. A requirement of my trade, I scoured my home for their likeness, only successfully making myself late in the pursuit — merely to find them out, laced up and mud caked, at the center of my floor. It had been my third trip through that particular space while attending to this quest, and I was doubtless that they’d not been there only just before.

Just two days prior now, having drawn a hot bath to assuage my mounting stresses — and with fresh steam still billowing out from it — I stepped easily into the brief pool, only to find my water to be frigid… And so, as a show of command, I willed my bodice into the haunted liquid anyhow, making clear my statement of defiance while holding firm my failing floodgates of fear, proceeding then to linger in the wash just as long as would be custom.

And finally tonight — the crowning jewel of occasion — as I scrubbed a vaguely familiar stranger for the Sandman in the sink, bodily exhausted and off my guard from an arduous days work, a preternatural force seized my skull, shoving it madly downward toward the basin, and successfully bashed my face into the faucet… splitting my nose wide….

Though, a curious thing here happened.

I discovered… that I wasn’t angry.

I found also that I was no longer afraid…

How many times across my long career had a client erred in their training, from fatigue or distraction, and maligned my face with a errant fist? And, equally as many times, had I not then been forced thereafter to forgive this infraction without incident? Countless. I simply moved forward with the session, not a trace of poison to my mind, nary a single drip of anger — when easily it could’ve brewed into a storm. Somehow this physical slight had driven me into my comfort zone. Someway had this barbaric act leveled the playing field in my mind…

Merely then did I raise my head, blood tracing carefree lines down the musculature of my neck, and apply a ginger glob of vaseline from the vanity — pacing then easily into the bedroom, before finding myself here, now, in the present.

Now, I lie in wait — wait for what, I know not… until it would come and teach me — anxious to execute a plan, one, admittedly, compiled loosely, barely held with the unbinding twines of whim and hunch, and about to be tested in a blazing inferno, but the only true course of action I could conceive. An action driven by pure instinct alone… though, despite all this, try I must. Try I will. What other options were left to me?

Then it came — strange footfall from inside; the clicking of a quadrupeds nails against my hardwood floor.

dog

“Come in”, I tell it.

Giving the words an inflated inflection, one engendered with the authority of a recruiter preparing to oversee an applicant with slim, to no potential.

Then, for a time indeterminate due to its sheer confounding length… the air was still. The house merely maintained its stark silence. Before long I found my sanity cast back into the brimstone of question, as I raked, yet again, at all the details of occurrence which had led me to this day, and finding them, not for the first time, to form nothing more than a shamefully dubious pile of mere anecdotal evidence…

…that is, all before the door to my bedroom creaked and began to open.

door

The game was on.

In my mind, fervently excited, though maintaining well the course, I ran a countdown from three… an arbitrary condition of my makeshift scheme… and, just as the numbers exhausted, I leapt up from bed, revealing a man fully dressed, as I flourished the sheets like a mighty Torero would against the pressing horns of a bull — and somehow successfully snagged something within my slapdash net. The covers constricted the entity, veiling it and felling it to the floor, leaving it tangled and flailing at my heel. Then, in a flash, the disembodied heap lunged at me and I felt, through a wild flare-up of pain, the generous jaw of what seemed a common hound seize at my leg — teeth terrifyingly sharp, even through the generous padding of this, my thickest quilt. Out of sheer instinctual indignance, reactively I doubled over, throwing then my best right cross square into the things ribs, while switching my hips mightily for punctuation.

Heartily, it yelped… whatever it was… proceeding then to release its dire grip on my calf. The sound, I’d later note, was not all too dissimilar to that of a wolf — but characterized by an aftereffect; some otherworldly echo, an enhancement of post chosen to support an air of malice and menace. Ignoring the pain in both my leg and my nose, which had begun again to freely flow, I gathered up all the poise I could muster and walked easily into the living room… taking then a comfortable seat on my coffee table, at a place adjacent to and across from my papasan, casually then throwing one leg over the other.

“When you’re done playing the heathen”, I spoke levelly, ‘fatherly’ being my operative direction, “Come have a seat. It’s time we had a chat.”

The snout of the confused blanket searched blindly about its form — whipping from left to right, snarling angrily as it went — though, missing all but the dresser in its wild fury, it soon abandoned this pursuit, growing then to be still. I watched it, enthralled — equal parts trepidation, apprehension, and sheer curiosity — as the rising and falling of the creature beneath the sheet soon eased, calmed quickly to custom, and then physically lowered toward the ground… until nothing of it seemed to remain, leaving the sheet itself seemingly forlorn. Before long a gray, pluming mist wafted out from under a corner, lifting it ever so slightly as it went, before proceeding then to blow, breezeless, toward where I sat in living room — the suction of its wake then slamming the door behind it shut as it came.

The living, darkened air then rapidly approached my face, flowing quickly across my cheek, and striking it along the way… before then caressing the tip my right ear, rolling tenderly, thereafter, behind my head and descending easily down my neck. Threading its way under my left arm, feeling as a creeping serpent to my flesh, the thing then billowed, gathering it’s mass to a dark cloud at my sternum — before shoving violently at me, forcing me to brace, while backing itself deep into the comfortable recesses of the papasan across from me. Now before my eyes did it sit, (or, rather, float), finally permitting me a look at its form. It seemed an entity composed entirely of grey vitriolic gas, showing corporeally only two eyes of burning blue flame. I stared at them, those fiery eyes — not as some challenge of might to the beast, but rather as I would with any other being — as a show of respect. And they, in turn, glared back — clearly wizened, albeit composed with a medium of flame.

At last it spoke, using a mouth which manifest only as air passed its lips, lips not quite inhuman — though violet, voluminous, and uncannily wide — not quite human either… saying finally, “Very well. You’ve intrigued me, little Tremia. Of what purpose should I engage you?”

Ignoring for the time being this cheeky moniker, of a culturally unknown and yet obviously well fleshed out foreign lexicon, I said precisely what I’d planned, “What do you want with me?”

It guffawed at this, heartily, and with great mirth, the lips appearing again for the task though this time accompanied by the outline of two blue hued and rebounding cheeks as well. Abruptly then, its amusement subsided… leaving a frigid chill to the air, and only the duo of ominous, embering, penetrating eyes — floating without context in space — to go along with it.

“I’m here to claim what you lowly creatures have coined, ‘A Soul’.”

I swallowed my Adams-apple, before fortifying my eyes once again.

“Intriguing…” I began, matter of fact as I could manage, “So tell me, why is it important to you. My soul? What even is a soul?”

Again the thing howled with laughter, its full visage gaining tangibility for a moment, horrid, sharp, frightening features to it, before fading quickly back again into the ether, leaving mere burning eyes.

“No matter.” It began, lips showing only as words were spake, “I’m confident as to your awareness of the fact that my power greatly shadows that of a mere Tremia. What I will permit you to know, however, in these twilight moments of your existence, is that you will perish eternally once I take it.”

“I see.” I said, casually pulling a stick of gum from my pocket, and popping it into my mouth. “Well,” I continued, twisting the wrapper distractedly between my fingers to form a pin “not knowing what it is that you are, I cannot deny this… I’m certain that your might remains unchecked particularly to something such as me. But, since you are giving allowances, perhaps you can divulge this truth to me before I go… Why do you want it? My soul?”

Here the flames of its face raged, flashing keener and wider than ever before — swollen seemingly with pride. Momentarily did they squint, a sign of hesitation, a shadow of doubt that, if entertained, could easily signal the abrupt end of my existence… before they widened once more, again showing confidence in their unchecked power.

“I, as you may have guessed, am not of this world…” The beast began, as I gradually fished my phone from my pocket, “…I exist extra-dimensionally. Pan dimensionally, in truth… I have found a means of crawling backwards through the universal fabric — from complexity, where I was born, to here… the lowly third dimension; this final pathetic outpost of life. I’m able to span across varying complexities of existence by diluting my spirit to suit the rules of the realm: First, by leaching souls of natural dimensional origin; and then, bit by bit, by replacing them with increments of my own… all while consuming their life energies along the way. Soon, once I complete my journey in this particular place and thread of time — a journey over two billion years already in motion — I will become a god to this existence, as conqueror of each of its dimensions. Gaining then, and forever thereafter, the ability to continue my expansion, unabated, across all the other splintered, clipped, and forgotten strings of time… interminably spanning to cover all the possibilities of this reality as a whole… at least as it can be understood to one from within it. Then, once all of space and time has been conquered through this consumption — all that is and ever can be possiblefinally a being of this world, finding itself full of it, will be able to venture beyond it. Me. Finally, will I know what lies beyond. A painting freed from its canvas and able to explore the artists hovel. After so long, I will finally find my place among the altar of the gods, and be able to create a world suited to my interests. Leaving behind, forever, the barbaric, archaic, and simple-minded denizens of this realm.”

My face was contorted in shock… How could I hide it? Across from me, in my home, nestled deep into the pocket of my favorite chair, sat the thing which would become something greater than our peevish notions of a God. Was it even possible? Surely whatever it was which presently rested across from me couldn’t know for sure either. Though, in its efforts, it would, undoubtedly, end all of life as we knew it — and even as we ever might come to know it. Acting off this shock, my fingers loosened and released my phone, splintering it to pieces across the hardwood at our feet… it must’ve known that what it had said was simply too much for a human mind to comprehend. Blindly, without ever breaking eye contact, I flailed at the floor… finding the battery to my phone, and cradling it in my lap for comfort.

The creature eyed me suspiciously, though continued on with its story — likely recounting it for the first time in many a millenia, and relishing in the idea that it would also be the last.

“However, frightened little Tremia, for now, all you need know is that my soul is presently still too large to manifest in your world… though only just. To this end, I require your soul. Your soul, you should be proud to know, is that of a type which necessitates my taking of it, rare as it is. It’s known as a, “warriors soul”, and is most precious and quite rare indeed. Congratulations… ‘Human’, is it?” It laughed, and I shuffled the items in my sweat slicked palm, “You’ve worked very hard across your brief life indeed. Your soul has expanded in tandem with your body in a way that only very few people ever even hope to achieve — in equal parts mentality and physicality. Both the knowledge of what you may do, and your attempts of execution are matched. For this reason you, a remarkable Tremia indeed, are whom I have chosen to complete my two billion year journey to conquer all of life, so that I may stand on the shoulders of this withered Universe, and finally, after so long, peer beyond it.”

I’d heard enough. Such an ego had no place ruling anything. Steadying my right hand with my left, with the circuit of my phone battery complete and held open with the simple foil from my gum, I pushed through the violent shock currently coursing through my arm to then lunge at the pompous thing across from me, to successfully land the cathode of this paltry circuit to the still lingeringly manifest lips which hovered where a face ought to be. Fighting the violent twitches of my arm, and ignoring my melting flesh under the ever-growing heat of the highly charged ions in my palm, I watched, frightened and amazed, as this creature composed of pure energy — as attested to in the recounting of his tale — was absorbed by a simple, inanimate material in this lowly third dimension.

When it was done, I dropped the coal in my hand to the floor, and watched it smoulder — radiating blue against my bare wood floor.

I left it there for days, that battery…

and for days I had to due to the heat.

All across the globe, reports of presidents, politicians, congressmen, and clowns dying spontaneously and inexplicably began to flood televisions and newspapers. The world feared some virus, or new strain of disease… but only I would know the truth.

Finally, after a month, it was cool enough to handle.

Instinct told me to leave it in the freezer for another month.

After another month, the battery felt like any other two inch, by two inch, by one quarter inch deep inanimate object might feel: Lifeless, cool, and inert. For giggles, I shoved it back into my phone, and, once booted, instructed the voice activation to regard me with a new name: “Tremia”.

To this day, ten years after my encounter, I’ve yet to charge my phone, not even once — nor have I ever had to replace my battery. However sometimes, late at night, a burning blue flame will show on the screen, lighting my entire room and darting erratically across its face, a thing seemingly scared and lost… and I’m forced to chuck a pillow at it.

~Fin

Ahhh, and there you have it. Interpretations a-plenty are welcome, as I’ve packed in here quite a few. If the language feels weathered a bit, or ‘aged’, there’s good reason: Poe, and his macabre style and setting, played hop-scotch throughout my mind as I thought this up, and thus titillated my inner child, convincing him to try and emulate some of that vibe.

Here’s hoping it worked!

Hope you enjoyed,

Take care readers.

~J

Happy New year, Everyone!

Good_News_Everyone_by_martynasx

Hey there, everyon… Woh!

Heh. Sorry about that. You caught me off guard. No offense intended here, but… you sure put on some weight over these last few weeks. (I barely recognized ya’!). I mean, you’re still dead sexy, Readers… My readers ARE the sexiest group of readers on the planet… but come on! Let’s get with it! It’s time to kick this thang off right!

Anywho, no matter really — we’re all allowed a bit of leeway around the holidays. In fact I believe I’ve missed two weekends worth of stories, myself.

(Tsk, Tsk…)

And so, I thought I’d make up for it today.

This story needs little to no introduction, as I’ve written it, re-written it — and then deleted everything I had because it was crap and re-wrote it yet again!

And now I think I’ve finally got something of merit.

🙂

WARNING: For those of you that live with ADD (like myself) you may want to break this story up — it’s mostly why I add the pictures FYI… ‘Virtual Bookmarks’.

This story was inspired by three splinters that, despite how many times I’d removed them from my thumb over the course of a week, continued to appear. So, as inspiration goes, this was… queer… but I really had a lot of fun with what i came up with here, and believe I nailed the syllogism I was after in the end (if I do say so myself)…

Let’s see if you can catch it!

Please enjoy.

~J

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evolution

Ominous_Mist_by_clacier

He felt it wake up…

He always did…

It wouldn’t be long now…

Hurriedly, abruptly, Hickey threw out excuses, ended conversations, and broke away from the gaggle of foreign nurses and technicians which had congregated around him.

It knew. It surged within him, flaring up from the nape of his neck and growing quickly around his shoulders to embrace his chest and ribs. His eyes watered, blurring his view, as he made his way, serpentine, toward the Janitor, entrusted today with keys that had never before been used.

“I’d like to be let in”, requested Hickey, meekly. His face down and his hands jammed far too deeply into his pockets — feeling more vulnerable than an assistant to a post op, carpel tunnel knife-thrower on a spin-wheel, he told himself.

Wait, what? Where did that come from, he wondered frantically…

Fanning the flames of his fear…

Unknowingly Feeding his demon…

Far too slowly, the Janitor raked a suspicious eye across Hickey from head to toe — it took hours. This is insane, he thought. It was calling again — of course it would, once awake it never stopped — and he didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to resist. He needed to get away. Now. It didn’t know what today was, and Hickey didn’t know what it was, to be fair… not for certain at least. But he simply couldn’t let his peers see him like this; in this sad, weakened state. No way he could let this ruin him. It was a cutthroat industry they worked in, and he remembered well what it had taken to get himself to the top — and he was now, undoubtedly, at the top. He’d arrived. The big dog, chosen alone for this special patient. Looking over toward the crowd of his contemporaries, Hickey thought, All they’d need is a little leverage, and all my life’s work

“You alright, Dr. H.?” finally, the Janitor spoke, “Normally you’re the last one in the OR.”

The overly familiar tone hit a chord within Hickey, making him tic, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly… before something behind his eyes snapped. Suddenly, with deft, explosive speed, he reached out, seizing the man’s Adam’s apple in his fist — gripping it with tremendous force — before proceeding to tear his entire esophagus out through his throat with a violent jerk. He hoisted it then above his head, his slick and throbbing trophy, while letting its fresh, warm blood trickle freely down and across his wildly grinning visage.

Seriously_Scary_by_steelgohst

It’s not real, Sam… It’s your imagination…

You know that it is…

Fight it.

He snapped back to reality, “I’m fine, thanks. Maybe it’s the locked door, George.” He said, selling the ersatz politeness like a veteran used car salesman, motioning toward the door. “It’s… unnerving. Would you mind?”

“Of course, Sam. Of course.” Said George, expertly fishing a weighty, triple-decker key-ring off his belt loop in a smooth and well-practiced motion, before beginning to rifle through the keys. “Hey, did you catch that Re-run of, “House” last night by any chance?”

“No, George” replied Hickey, far more edge to his voice than intended. “I’ve told you, I don’t watch T.V.”.

George tried a wide, bronzed key in the knob — no good. “I know what you say, Dr.H… but everybody watches T.V.”.

“Well… not me”, Hickey answered, saddened somewhat by the prospect of this simple normalcy which had always eluded him.

“That Dr. House, he reminds me a lot of you. You know?” George continued as he tried a dull silver key in the handle to no avail — and as Hickey saw a flash of himself gutting him with all the subsequent wrong choices. “He never gives up, that House. And, like you,” he glanced back at Hickey, “He’d rather be good at what he does, than be healthy”. Finally, his third try, George got the right key. He stepped into the prep room, holding the door for Hickey, and used his custom key to flip the light switches on. ” You look like you need some sleep, Dr.H…”, he concluded.

“I’m fine”, said Hickey, abruptly — before slamming the door shut in George’s face.

Violently, without hesitation, Hickey clawed frantically at his neck, eventually quieting, for but a moment, the crippling familiar which now resided therein. How much longer can this possibly last, he wondered. What have I done to deserve this? Fuck that damned rat, he thought, punctuating each word in turn within his mind… before beginning to feel a familiar warmth radiate from his chest. Returned from their charge, and speedily en-route to engage their fresh one, his hands came back from behind his head contorted, crooked, and, to his great horror, bloodied — which stopped them dead in their tracks before awestruck eyes.

Just then the light in the adjacent OR flipped on, and through the semi-transparent waved glass, just beyond the gap between his stained, seized-up hands, he saw the silhouette of the mystery man, the man who was to be his patient, being wheeled into the room.

Running to the sink, his demon momentarily forgotten, Hickey flushed his hands under the cool water, liberating them from their red coat… only to unearth a brass substrate beneath.

No… It can’t be.

Not today!

His demon laughed at this, and swelled.

Now, visible throughout the tips of each of his fingers, were tiny, filament like shards of browned steel. Most lay flat beneath his flesh, glimmering under the surface against the pulsating fluorescents above, but some jutted out straight, little daggers planted firmly in his skin — their tips sharp, foreboding, and now fairly obviously the reason behind all the blood. Without much thought, he jammed his fingers into his mouth, clamped his eyes shut, and felt about with his teeth and tongue for anything protruding… before yanking them out one by one as they were found, and spitting them into the basin.

Ting… Bing… Splat…

He had to hurry.

Ting… Bing… Splat…

They’d not be far behind…

His humanity was fading. This, perhaps, was the only bit of higher reasoning that remained with him — that he was losing his mind. Whatever he had been, prior to the Rat invasion only two weeks past, he now no longer was. Doctor, Leader, Boss, Friend… The best at what he does… These titles meant nothing to him now. Now, he was nothing but a rabid animal — cleansing himself with his teeth, and using the finished bits to slake away tiny increments of his primitive, senseless urge. God, did he itch! It was nary unbearable. But he had to hold out just a little bit longer. After all, he could always stop the bleeding on his neck, but he could never take the hue out from his scrubs. He just needed to finish the extractions, wash his hands, and put on the gloves. Then, none would be the wiser. Nobody would know. He could finish the surgery in half the time he’d quoted, rush off home to be alone, as he always was, and then calculate his next step.

Just one step at a time, he assured himself.

Just one thing, and then the next, and then… eventually…

…I’m sure you’ll get to the bottom of this.

Licking his fingertips once again reminded him of the devolved state he’d been forced to adapt, but also proved to him that he was now, finally, finished with his task. And as soon as this realization hit, like a green light after a year and a half of sitting at an intersection, he jammed on the gas, succumbed to his need, and worked himself into a tizzy — scratching this way and that, up and down, left and right, and turning about while contorting his shape in order to reach more and more exotic locations… feeling, all the while, like the Tasmanian Devil he’d loved so very much as a child.

What a stupid thing for a kid to idolize, he thought. A mindless, spinning, inexhaustible appetite with eyes. A creature of pure instinct, with no situational awareness whatsoever…

“Sam, what are you doing?” Demanded Ann in a whisper from behind his shoulder — shattering his thoughts, ceasing his motion, and causing him to leap from fear and land on the Moon. Her voice continued on then as an omnipresent echo, a hushed thunder that rang out all across the surface of the great cheese ball where now he stood, agape and staring up at a half-lit Earth, “You’re bleeding…”.

At once, the room he’d forgotten came back into focus, and Hickey soon realized, much to his chagrin, that he’d been doing the ole’, “Hokey-Pokey-Tasmanian-Devil-Itchy-Dance” right before all his contemporaries while they washed in the sink and prepped for surgery — precisely what he’d been planning to avoid.

Well, you got your leverage, he thought morosely, closing his fists to hide his shame, now let’s see if you spineless invertebrates will do anything with it.

“Come here”, insisted Ann, her hand spinning him by the hip to face the crowd, hiding the blood behind his neck as she wiped it tenderly with a paper towel. “What did you do?”

He faltered. “I, uh. I had an itch…”

Gently she grabbed his wrist, as she simultaneously conducted her blind cleaning, saying softly, “Stop. Sam, we don’t have to do this. You look like shit. We don’t know any of these people. Hell, we don’t even know the patient! What are we doing?

“We’re doing the surgery, Ann.” He said plainly, noticing an eavesdropping technician over her shoulder, holding the door for the bulk of the flock as they migrated into the adjacent E.R.. His gaze darted as it met Hickeys, but he was sure he’d sensed a healthy modicum of self-pity in those eyes before they had. Likely trying to justify why it was Hickey and not him — or at least one of their own, this supposed celebrities’ entourage — chosen to perform the surgery.

Because he was the best, he assured himself.

Not anymore, came his unconscious response.

His demon cackled heartily.

“What, were you up all night working on your book again?” Ann inquired as the room finished clearing out, successfully fishing him from the void once more.

“No. I just…. I can’t sleep at all anymore. I actually finished all three a couple weeks ago.”

“Edits and all?”

“Edits and all.”

“So… What is it?” She inquired rather tenderly. “I am so proud of you by the way, Sam… I mean, Doctor Hickey. Truly.”

Her eyes penetrated him thoroughly, leaving him somewhat dumbfounded. Proud? Who was she to care about him? He returned her direct gaze with one of his own, and their eyes began a waltz, chaperoned by dueling smiles. “Well, actually, that night… the night I’d finished, that’s when this all started. I finished typing in the final edits, clicked save, stretched back into my chair — the most relaxed I’d felt in months, honestly — and that’s when I saw it. A rat. A big, brown, bulbous-assed rat, scurrying across my kitchen floor, right in my peripheral vision.”

“Sounds like you need a woman’s touch around there.” She teased.

“I maintain a VERY clean home, thank you” He defended, quickly staving off the worst of his demanding flesh as he rubbed hurriedly at his thigh, hoping not to be noticed.

paranoia-melissa-dzierlatka

The demon was starting to win.

He had to get this going.

…But, what of Ann?

“I meant no offense, Doctor.”

“Never fear.” He assured her, feeling her draw away some. He picked up the pace of the story now, to try and win her back. “Anyway, I did a bit of quick research and found a simple solution: Steel wool. So, I bought a few cheap boxes up the block, scoured my home for any tiny passages, and shoved a ball or two of the stuff into all the spaces.”

“I don’t understand. So… What happened to you, exactly?”

“That’s just it… I’m not really sure.” He distractedly scratched at his belly,  “I woke up the next morning itchy, with a shard of steel sticking out of my thumb — so I figured it must’ve been the steel wool, right?”

“Sure.”

“Only this shard… was brown. And also… there were more.”

“More?”

“Yes. Many more… More buried in my palm. More stuck into my thighs, and my legs, and neck… and even certain… delicate areas. I mean, I did a bit of juggling at one point as I wandered about from room to room, stupid in hindsight, but this seemed… strange. Obviously. To say the least…”

“I’ll say, but…” She trailed off, noticing his balled hands held firm against his waist. “Wait, it’s happening right now, isn’t it?” Hickey didn’t answer, but his skittish countenance said all she needed to hear. She laced her fingers tenderly about his hands. “Sam, let me take a look…”

“No. It’s… it’s nothing. I’m fine. Let’s just head in and get this over with.”

“Sam Hickey,” she began, in a tone which mirrored that of his mothers when he was in trouble as a boy, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you choose me… correction, you fought this celebrity douchebag tooth and nail to have one of your own in the room with you, and you made that person me… and you don’t trust me?” Verily, heartily, Ann was offended. “I trust you…”

Gazing into her thoughtful, deep emerald eyes Hickey felt an immense sense of guilt wash over him. He desperately wanted to relent, but the urge was reaching critical mass within him. Besides, this issue was no simple matter, not that she knew that, or even could know — and time was of the essence.  At once, he broke away and crossed the room, headed over toward the box of sterile blue gloves, saying simply over his shoulder for closure, “After surgery”.

The other side of the room fell cripplingly silent.

She hates me… He thought.

Well… What else is new?

Without looking back, Sam Hickey threw on his gloves, entered the OR, and left Ann behind in the prep room… as she silently began to weep.

In the room, everything was prepared. The patient was drugged, unconscious and entubated, and the impromptu staff had taken their proper places around the patient’s table. The head laparoscopic assisting technician was extending a scalpel in his direction, and Hickey could sense the sneer aimed at him even through the surgical mask.

Well no matter…

Let’s get this done with…

Time to begin.

Looking back over his shoulder, hoping that the soul vestige of his team would soon be at his side, Hickey saw the shadow of Ann grow through the dense and waved glass. Slowly it moved toward the OR door, placing a tentative a hand on it’s flat face, before hesitating, and then slowly retreating back away from it… eventually leaving the prep room entirely to head back out toward the hall. He sighed, and, after a long beat of hesitation, reluctantly accepted the scalpel… just as the sole of his right foot began to flare.

This surgery was going to be a test of will he wasn’t sure he’d pass…

His foot, engulfed in flame, beckoned him…

The demon was growing inpatient.

In his distraction, he never noticed the patient sit up, nor plunge the needle into his neck.

Before he could react, the group of strangers leapt at him, arresting his limbs.

He suddenly grew tired…

His demon assuaged…

Then… Reality grew dark.

Hickey slumped to the floor.

Businessman laying down on white background

The next thing he knew, Hickey was strapped to a massive, upright rotary sander, the pad wildly spinning, wobbling off axis, and making him vomitous. Across from him, on a belt sander, stood Ann, chucking scalpels at him underhand in a windmill softball fashion and missing repeatedly by mere millimeters. Then the queer, detached, markedly unenthused voice of a Man neatly broke his stupor, saying levelly, “Sam? Sam are you there? Wake up, my friend. there is much to discuss.”

Hickey’s eyes cracked open in a flash, his illusion neatly rippling into reality while fear slowly washed over him — as he soon realized that he recognized nothing of his surroundings. He sat limp, exhausted, and cotton-mouthed on an ultra modern, cloyingly adorned, white chaise lounge, amidst an expensive, well furnished, wood finished office, and just before an impossibly wide, somewhat garish, highly polished oak and birch trimmed desk. Behind the desk sat the man who he was scheduled to operate on, a man who had only gone only by the pseudonym, ‘Bojangles’.

“Oh, good. You’re awake.” spoke the mystery man from behind his small fortress. “How are you feeling?”

Groggily, he pushed himself up easy on the sofa, and then swung his legs off to the side to sit upright — and he couldn’t help but notice that his palms hadn’t stuck to the lounger as they sought comfort to lie in his lap. Turning over his palms confirmed his suspicion: there, at the end of his wrist, was bone, blood, dermis, epidermis, nails and knuckles and hair… but no steel. Not one single fiber... He shot a wary, frightened look across the room to the man behind the imposingly wide desk.

“We’ve given you a drug that can stave off the metamorphosis, but only for a little while. You’ll likely need more soon.”

“metamorphosis?” Said Hickey weakly, with a voice around three pitches below the one he was accustom to.

“Yes. Congratulations, Sam Hickey. You’re evolving. And, very likely — if you’re anything like the others — dying. Rather painfully, I’d imagine. I’m so sorry.”

Hickey’s brow knotted.

Dying…?

Evolving…?

Others…!?

Hickey was at a loss. What was he to make of all this? Could he trust this man? This imposter, who’d drugged him, and kidnapped him, and brought him… here. Wherever the hell here was.

His lip twitched…

No. He had to get away. Surely his life was in danger. He shot a glance behind him, discovering the door, and sprang to his feet to dash toward it, quickly finding the floor — which was a surprising outcome…

Speaking relaxed and unhurried from behind him, the man said, “Try again in about ten minutes, the drug is an intense muscle relaxer. You’ll only hurt yourself otherwise.”

Though he couldn’t move to look, Hickey heard the voice of the man grow, and visualized his approach from behind the desk. Soon there was an easy hand snaking its way under his shoulders, which then helped him back up and into the comfort of the Chaise lounge. The man dragged a simple steel folding chair over from the corner of the room, and set it up to sit next to Hickey now.

“Here’s the deal,” Began Bojangles, an older, silver-eyed, bald-headed man, with liver spots and tired sunk-down eyes, wearing a sad, simple smile, “You can never go back to the world.”

Hickey’s eyes went wide, quavering.

“Now you’re a doctor, so I’m going to explain this under the assumption that you know the terms I’m about to use. Have you any questions, let me know at the end, and I will answer them with complete candor. I want you to know, that I am on your side. Alright?”

Hickey eased some, and nodded — knowing that without motor function, he didn’t have much other choice.

At least my mystery has a solution, he thought, …or at least an explanation.

“Very well.” Began Mr.Bojangles, before pausing to clear his throat from what sounded like a golf ball-sized lump of phlegm — which Hickey then involuntarily visualized kicking clear out of his mouth to land a Hole-In-One out the window, which didn’t exist, on a golf course he didn’t know was there.

It had awakened…

The demon yet lived…

It was merely coping with the soporific drug’s effects, itself…

Reaper_155

Bojangles continued, wholly ignorant to his own death and rebirth that had just transpired in the last second, “Lamarckism is true, and it stacks with Epigenetics. Your father, Ron, was a very hard worker, indeed… as was your mother, Diane. As a matter of fact, we followed your genealogy back to the middle ages, and found mostly scholars along the way. Long story short, you’ve tripped an evolutionary trigger. Something you did recently, I’d say about a week ago, maybe more, filled your RNA to capacity. The reaction you’re experiencing is your body’s response to a need for more storage space. An updating of the brain, as it were, which seems to uniformly take place in its oldest region: the Medulla Oblongata.”

Hickey just stared in awe, rapt at attention.

Feeling it was OK to proceed, Bojangles forged on ahead. “Psychologically speaking, who you are is not a single entity. You are the manifestation of three — well, mostly three — distinct personalities: each arising in the major regions of the brain. This happens in any sufficiently interconnected system, given enough time and exposure to the world; consciousness forms. Here is where the problem arises. Feeling itself falling into a death spiral… The brain stem has begun fighting back. The effects can normally be felt as psychotic hallucinations, paranoia, withdrawal from society, and extreme discomfort. Without fail, these symptoms will continue to get worse, and worse, until one day you will snap… and likely go on a killing spree. This is why we must remove you from society.”

Hickey blinked… Then blinked again. Nodding then, ever so slightly, for the man to continue.

“Right.”

Here, Bojangles took a deep breath. To Hickey, he seemed redolent to dive into this next bit. He steeled his mind as best he could to accept what was to come…

Bojangles went on, holding out his fist, “Here’s the deal.” slowly, he upturned his palm and opened his fingers in turn to reveal a tiny purple pill in his hand. “This is the medication we gave to you. It has the power to stop the changes. But there’s a catch. Ultimately, it’ll be your decision whether or not to take it.”

Summoning the whole of his lungs volume to formulate his words, Hickey took the bait, “What’s the catch?”.

“The medication will insure your sanity, granting you the ability to exist without all the pain and mental torture you’ve endured as of late. However, the way it does this is by attacking the culprit at the source… it will erode your Brain stem.”

“Meaning my heart…” Hickey ran short of breath.

“Will eventually stop, yes. And you will perish…. Years from now, though. Probably twenty, maybe more… I don’t know. It’s different for everyone.” He paused here, letting the last bit catch up fully, before moving on. “Moreover, and if I’ve extrapolated properly from your case file, the bit you’ll find most pertinent… because the drug is engineered to pass the blood brain barrier, the other regions of your brain will be subject to the same fate. Basically, your brain will deteriorate. You’ll be alive, yes, but you wont be yourself. We’ll take care of you, we’ll feed you, house you, clothe you, clean you — permit you endless entertainment — but what you must know before agreeing to taking this pill, is that you will cease being who you presently are. But, from what I can gather, this option is far preferable to the alternative; remaining who you are, yes, but being all the while trapped in your mind, as your reptile brain tries to take over, and you journey along the hellfire on a spiraling journey to certain madness…”

Again, all Hickey could do was blink. This was unacceptable. Inconceivable. How could he, or anyone for that matter, willingly give up their humanity just… to be alive. Some lump on a couch with a TV… All that had ever mattered to him was improving himself, and helping others — he’d never even invested the time in someone else to have a meaningful relationship — his brain had always taken precedence… and here he sat, numb, lost, and facing nothing but a choice to give all that up… Meanwhile, in this perspective, he still had so much living to do.

He’d left so much undone in his life…

Ann’s beautiful face flashed before his eyes…

A single tear rolled toward the tip of her attractive, aquiline nose…

His ire at the prospect gave him the strength to speak, “You said I had a choice. This… this is no choice. Nobody would take that offer.”

Bojangles looked to the floor, rubbing at the back of his head with his free hand, “Everyone has taken the offer. Give it time… The pain will return, and you’ll remember why it is that you’re here, speaking with me.”

And it was true. Even as the air passed his lips, a meager flare-up, no larger than a pimple, was forming at the base of Hickey’s skull. Already he could feel it grow. Had all the others actually chosen mental suicide, he wondered? It seemed rather hard to believe, being that these individuals, like him, had reached this end due to a generationally passed down passion for knowledge. Could he really take the comfort of death, over the pain of living?

His mind was made up.

He reached out for Bojangles, lithe, arthritic hand…

And closed the man’s delicate fingers back around the pill.

“I refuse” Said Hickey plainly. “I choose knowledge. I choose myself over some lifeless husk. Even if that means constant torture…”

Bojangles looked up from the floor, and searched throughout Hickey’s eyes for even the briefest glimmer of doubt –smiling broadly when he found that none existed.

“We’ll have to cut you off from the world — you know that don’t you? If you continue learning, you’ll only accelerate the process.”

“All I require is paper, and pen” Explained Hickey, “I will make it to the other side of this… if even that place exists.”

“There is no evidence to that fact…” Explained Bojangles, the hope in his eyes and inflection to his voice mismatched to the words implication.

“Regardless… I want you to observe me. I believe that, over time, being that I now know what it is that ails me, I can conquer this…” And, as he made the claim, almost as a test, a fresh hallucination was unfolding before his eyes — Bojangles made for a very uncomfortable trench-coat, as it turned out… however, Hickey moved on. “I will do my best to document my experience, and I hope, over time, you may come to trust me enough to permit me back into society.”

Now it was Bojangles who could only blink… And with the heavy crease at his eyes, it was nary unnoticeable. Eventually, he said “Very well. The choice is yours, after all.”. Suddenly light poured in from the now open portal behind them, and two imposing men carrying shackles came to stand behind them. “You’re a braver man than me, Sam Hickey. You may always change your mind…”

“I’d like that option to be taken off the table.” Said, Hickey, cutting him off. “Who knows what I’ll say under duress?”

Bojangles looked him over, saying eventually, “Fine. That’s fine. Of course you’d say that. It’s not protocol, but… I’ll make certain that it’s so.” The both of them stood, and embraced, like old friends, before the security detail began to gently bind Hickey’s limbs.

“And… Sam?”

“Yeah?”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks” he said, while being escorted out the door. Adding, beyond Bojangles sight, while walking down the hall and toward a padded cell. “It’ll never win you friends — but somebody’s always got to be the first, before anything can ever move forward.”

Bojangles wished for something to say, something that may carry this brave man through the harrowing years that were sure to come, but failed before the sheer intimidation of what this all represented. Instead, here merely fell to his hands and knees, knowing this to be all too true.

"Thank you..."

He whispered, “Thank you”, just before hearing the bolt of Sam’s cell drive home.

“Thank you…”

“Good luck…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for your time, everyone.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Opinions are relished.

Have a great day.

~J

Don’t you just love a good rule?

I know I do, and I know you do too — don’t play coy. They’re just so darn comforting, is what they are. The more the merrier, that’s what I always say. Otherwise, I mean, how else would we know how to behave — am I right? For, without rules, why wouldn’t we all just be purse snatchers, pickpockets, thieves, card sharks, or, better yet, politicians?

What a world that would be…

Yep, without a doubt, there sure is nothing like a nice, tidy little set of parameters to let us all know when we’re well within the guidelines of society. Nothing quite so comforting as an automatic feedback function to jerk our choke-chains and let us know when we are acting as we should, and when we’ve simply stepped over a line. Indeed, nothing is better for a budding society than a voluminous set of thorough, intertwined, and rigorous rules.

Wait a minute — what am I saying !?

I loathe rules! Nothing more efficiently stifles experimentation, or novel thinking — they’re pretty much the worst thing conceivable for society. Shackling guidelines, put in place by those who came before us, with the expressed purpose of making people do whatever seemingly made sense at the time, but was likely only sensible at the precise second of their origin — and, OK, maybe fifteen minutes or so after that?

No, thank you!

Rules, by nature, establish the status quo. They seek balance, normalcy, and comfort… but since when have any of those things actually been good for us? With respect to our progress — the only true goal of any society, other than survival — every innovation we’ve ever spearheaded has come about, to one extent or another, by being the exact OPPOSITE of these things, I.E: unbalanced, a little odd, and certainly well outside of our comfort zones. Do you suppose the first man who proposed going to the moon thought it would be tantamount to a Honeymooners marathon spent on the sofa?

He really did it. Wow...

Doubtful…

But I get it. I do. Particularly in the professional world, there’s more than a mote of logic surrounding the idea of detailing proper behavioral practices. After all, with the ever-present ‘lawsuit’ looming overhead, one would be wise to take pains and properly insulate oneself from the stupidity of those who merely operate around you — which can be as vast as the ocean is wide… That, at least to me, is somewhat practical.

However, notwithstanding, and that being said, why than would we, any of us, wish to actively impose extra rules onto one another, especially when outside of the professional realm? Why on earth would we ever seek to add additional restriction to our lives? Aren’t there enough guidelines imposed upon us which we have little to no say in, without imposing more upon ourselves? Guidelines that we expect our friends, loved ones — and complete strangers alike — to adhere to, despite their lack of utility, semblance of sensibility, or even the slightest ease of comprehension?

I am, of course, referring to Taboo.

Click this image for a better look. I might still suck at Photoshop, but I've compiled a set of at least 15 taboo's here in this picture. Can you find them all?

Taboo just is…

…and that might just be what irks me the most about it. Rules should serve a purpose and, when that purpose is exhausted, then be eliminated. I, admittedly, have logical issues. And by that I mean, if I can’t make logical sense of a rule, and nobody can aptly explain that rule to me, I will, and have, take(n) issue with it, and will proceed to go out of my way in order to break it.

It’s my nature.

Be the change you want to see in the world, and all that…

I want to see a world full of people who think for themselves. I want to see individuals do what makes sense to them, not some senseless stigma — and if that entails wearing white shoes after Labor Day to match an outfit, (despite the fact that that snob, Becky Sievermore, from the local community watch-group will attempt to oust you from the next local chapter meeting), well, by-golly-gee, I want to see you confident in doing that! To hell what others think about you — you do what makes sense, and if that loses you friends, well, than, why in the heck would you want to associate with those people anyhow?

Don’t follow, simply for comfort.

Comfort has never achieved a thing!

I invite you, here, today, now — be uncomfortable!

Break free from the status quo, and begin traveling new and exciting roads!

Isn’t it high time for a change, people? Aren’t we all ready to usher in a new world? A world where ‘Common Sense’ is just a trifle more common? I mean, for the love of all that is cheese, how can extra rules possibly help with that? I guess that’s my real grudge with rules, standards, expectations, and Taboo’s alike, their execution accomplishes the exact opposite of their intention.

Seriously!

Think about it…

The intention of a rule is to ensure that people behave in a civil manner. OK, I can dig it. The problem isn’t in that, the problem arises when we have acclimated SO MANY RULES that people cease to THINK about WHY the rules exist in the first place. What this inadvertently creates is a society of people who are living up to expectation, rather than thinking for themselves. These type of people are, by nature, followers, and will find it nary impossible to do anything the least bit satisfying with their lives. This, often times, can lead to depression, personality disorder, and overall mental discord.

My friends, all that made us human arises from thought, and when we sacrifice thought, or even expression — on any level — to some nameless, faceless, and, potentially, unjust system of caste based rules, we forfeit everything that might move us ahead.

Why would we ever want to do that?

Instead, as currently unrealistic of an ideal it is, I would like to see a world with no rules what-so-ever. Yea, that’s right. Sure, it might be messy at first, but when people hold others accountable for their faults, and the whole of our society begins to think about how others feel, work, live, and even dream, then, and only then, will we truly know the face of humanity, and, for the first time in history, be able to know what to do, collectively, in order to improve.

So, in conclusion, and contrary, I’m sure, to everything you’ve just read, I do believe in taboo — yet, only the one — the one and only thing that should be taboo is, in my opinion, the ultimate Taboo itself — Taboo.

~J

We see only what’s in front of us…

Cute... no?

…And even then, only what we’ve told our feet to carry us toward. Choice and conviction, too, play their roles at the behest of your own personal direction. Something must physically change, than, in order to view what lies beyond the boundaries of our peripheral — but at least that remains an option.

So how might one begin to look within?

Should we place our faith solely in others? Depending on them to focus our peevish perceptions of the world and ourselves — or is there another way? Can we learn who it is that we are, somehow, on our own, and yet still be free from bias?

I believe we can.

It might be my youthful naiveté, but I have been convinced, for quite some time now, that the self can be known — though it takes a preternatural resolve towards the necessary work, and, even then, years. First and foremost: Honesty. Honesty with ourselves, and, as well, honesty with others. Before we go spreading “information”, which, truthfully, when is unproven, is nothing more than mere rumor, we must know that what we’ve heard or seen was true — and not merely an illusion…

Looks like you're the butt of the joke. Bet you didn't see that crack coming! 🙂

There is a passage in the Pulitzer prize willing, John Patrick Shanley play, entitled, “Doubt”, that I always return to in my mind when I think on the concepts of rumor and gossip, which speaks volumes, as well, as to what havoc they reap on our own psyche, along with others’.

It reads,

VI

Father Flynn, in blue and white vestments, is at the pulpit.

Flynn: A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew — I know none of you have ever done this — and that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rouke, and she told him the whole thing. “Is gossiping a sin?” she asked the old man. “Was that the Hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?” (Irish brogue) “Yes” Father O’Rouke answered her. “Yes, you ignorant, badly brought-up female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!” So the woman said she was sorry and asked forgiveness. “Not so fast!” says O’Rouke. “I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!” So she went home, took the pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old preist as instructed. “Did you gut the pillow with the knife?” he says. “Yes, Father.” “And what was the result?” “Feathers,” she said. “Feathers?” he repeated. “Feathers everywhere, Father” “Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on to the wind!” “Well,” she says, “it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.” “And that,” said Father O’Rouke, “is gossip!” In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Fly, my pretties!

How many feathers have we all cast to the wind over the years?

If you’re anything like me, quite a bit. Embellishment makes for better stories. You instantly become more affable, enigmatic, and entertaining — but, at what cost? In my humble opinion, the feathers that are impossible to reign in which, in the parable, have graced the townsfolk’s ears, are similarly released into your mind whenever you’re not honest with yourself. And soon, if not held in firm check, when you release enough, you’ll find that your living in delusion. Or, rather, you wont. Sometimes you get so deep in the rabbit hole that you can forget that you’d ever gone down it at all…

This is why the self, and knowledge of it, is paramount.

It’s about growth. It’s about improvement. It’s about getting better. You simply can not grow if you cover up your failures from yourself. When you spin lies you become blinded to what is, what can be, and the work — as, there is ALWAYS WORK — required to get there. Blind as you will be, you won’t find the road, and, if you do, you won’t be able to recognize the path anyway to your true happiness. You will forever walk a twisted path of your assumed success, miserable, for some untold reason, with every gaining step.

Surely this is not the way

However, and again, it is possible that all this is just my 28-year-old, unrelentingly child like, naiveté talking (It’s an admission I must make if I hope to believe my own words), but I am skeptical. I’ve been doing my best to relay information honestly, to others as well as myself, for a while now, and though it’s not won me many accolades, nor hoards of acquaintances, it has brought me into some meaningful relationships, of which I would not sacrifice for the world.

In any case this is all very personal, and unique to each of us individually. There is a journey to be taken when searching for the self. An expedition I’m still on, say thank’ya. But I feel that this is the real fun of life. The meat of it. Simply: the path.

It wont be easy, cleaning the mirror we face — but what award would be worth it’s shimmer without a fight? And when you feel down, or lost, or simply out of gas — which you will, if you’re driving at the path with everything you’ve got (as you should) — a good Quote will always be there to remind you of who you are, or at least of how to remember. This is why most quotes revolve around The Self, and this is why I’d like to share with you all my quotes on the subject as well.

The Self

People who base decisions on one factor alone cannot possibly understand the matter at hand. — Jan 1st, 2012

There are no absolutes — only a spot on a spectrum within your own private perspective. If held in mind, this makes life easier to bear. — Dec 21st, 2011

Verbal or mental judgement of others is an obvious and ugly reflection of the self. Don’t judge others — change yourself. Lead by example. — Dec 26th, 2011

If you overly concern yourself with the adventures of others, you will never experience any for yourself. Live or observe — those are the choices — Dec 26th, 2011

The only thing you will ever regret learning, is nothing. – Feb 21st, 2012

When people use words to hold you at bay; to bring you down, make you small and incite a bad day — remember then this one shining truth: You’re fine, they’re in pain and their salvation relies on you — Dec 30th, 2011

You might have the best idea in the world, but present it poorly and no one will notice. If you’ve worked hard, than you’ve earned faith in yourself, and it’s not hubris. – Feb 18th, 2012

A life led in pursuit of understanding the self, is a self that’s lived misunderstanding life. Be good, be, then — be happy. — Jan 2nd, 2012

Health should be regarded as existing in three distinct places: Your body, your mind, and your awareness — all essential, and each no more important than the other. — Jan 3rd, 2012

It’s not everyone’s destiny to be great. Some are destined to be mediocre, to be worthless, pathetic and scared, and some, the smart ones, forge their own paths, knowing that destiny is highly overrated. — Jan 9th, 2012

Inspiration leads to Creativity, Creativity becomes Invention, and Invention lends itself to Inspiration — Thus is the wheel of life.
If you can’t find your place on the wheel of life, well, than — You’re not living it. — Jan 21st, 2012

Discernment above instinct is all that has made us man. Never sacrifice who you are for a group, as you yield to the very thing which has made you. – Jan 17th, 2012

When presented with opportunity, never ask, “why?” — that road leads only to excuses. Instead, try, “why not?”. – March 7th, 2012

Never sacrifice your own uniqueness in order to worship someone else’s. – Feb 28th, 2012

~J

We are the champions!

Hit play, and try to read along with the music’s timing.

🙂

We’ve paid our dues — time after time. We’ve done our sentence, but committed no crime. And bad mistakes, well, we’ve all made a few. We’ve had our fair share of sand kicked in our faces — but we’ve all come through!

Still we must go on! And on! And on!! And on!!!

We, are the champions, my friend. Cause we, we reached success, in the end. We are successful. WE are successful! We are true winners, cause we knew what success was — from the start…..

We’ve done the hard work. And we tried without end. Sure we failed time and time, and time again, but it’s not stopped us yet. True, it’s been no bed of roses. No pleasure cruise. Cause we put ourselves to task against the whole of the human race, and were determined not to lose!!

Still we must go on! And ON! And ON!! And ON!!!

That’s what success is, in the end. Never, ever, giving up on your dream… That’s what success is, THAT’S WHAT SUCCESS IS. Following your passions and knowing you’ll be successful, all along!

~~~ End ~~~

Apropos, I thought.

We are the champions, my friends. We are the fighters. The warriors. The steadfast few who reach for the stars, despite their height in the impossibly dark nights sky. That’s what true success is, my friends. Picking out what you want from life, and going after it. That’s all it is, really. Truly, it’s quite simple. Know yourself. Figure out what you like, and then — go get it.

And Enjoy every step of the way.

I’m not perfect. I wouldn’t claim to be. None of us are. I expect to fail. I have before, (hard), and I surly will again. This I know. But, when success is found in the pursuit, and not only in the goal, than we are always there.  We are ALWAYS on top. We are ALWAYS SUCCEEDING!

You must just be honest.

And try.

🙂

That’s it.

You got this.

(trust me.)

Anywho, enough music and merriment. Here’s my list of quotes for this day. I sure hope that all you successful types aren’t to busy to take a gander. And if you are, no offense taken. You drive the world – and I thank you.

Success:

To view yourself only through the prism of past successes and failures is to forget that you are still alive. — Jan 9th, 2012

To be the best that you can be, at whatever it is that you love yo do, is the only real pursuit in life — other than aiding others with the same quest. — Dec 16th, 2011

Every days a fresh start, every moment a new chance. You can improve who you are, who you were, who you thought you had to be — just take that chance! — Dec 18th, 2011

Life is funny, and unpredictable, and the more you try to control it the more it laughs in your face — might as well just slap on a smile then, and enjoy the ride. Weeeeeeeeeee! — Dec 15th, 2011

Your potential is limited only by the depth of your imagination and dedication. Dream big and work hard — reach for the stars. — Jan 2nd, 2012

Everyone’s a genius in their own way. Everyone’s beautiful to someone. So leave your fears at the doorway. Become a person YOU love. — Dec 25th, 2011

Don’t take a risk and hope you’ll get there, work hard, have faith, and know you will. — Jan 6th 2012

It is a good fact to know that in Japan the streets have no names. So if you were to ask someone for directions there, they could elucidate to perfection and you would still have no idea where you were headed if you thought only in terms of yourself and what you know.
In life too, there will be those who will attempt to direct you. If you listen, not just for what YOU are looking for, like street names, but really listen to it all, wholeheartedly, remembering what was said, you then might someday realize that, even though you still lost your way, what you had once been told was right all along. — Jan 12th, 2012

Passion is the fuel which lights the fire of desire. Without it, the fire can never roar, and will never cure the log into creation. — Jan 23rd, 2012

It’s about more than just being true to your vision, it’s about having a vision to be true to in the first place. —  Jan 27th, 2012

The first step in getting anything done is believing it can be done. — Feb 29th, 2012

Words are merely concepts symbols; something good to remember when facing the impossible. — Feb 25th, 2012

Always step your best foot forward, even if you have to step one back to be able to do so. — Feb 15th, 2012

If inspiration is 90% perspiration… Than is contemplation 90% constipation? If so, it explains why I do all my best thinking on the can… — Dec 26th, 2011

(Don’t know how that last one got in there 😉 )

~J