On Lingering

On Lingering

“Please, come in.”

“ …”

“Please, have a seat.”

“ …”

“You looked concerned. About what do you hold such grave concern?”

“Well, the last time you called, I was unceremoniously dismissed, at which point I was sure I would be exiled off this orbital or worse, killed.”

“The fragile feelings of your kind must be … daunting.”

“It wasn’t a matter of my feelings, ma’am. I have a job to do, and …”

“And what? You felt as though a deep, evil hindrance prevented you from performing admirably?”

“Never mind.”

“Never mind, what? You are the self-proclaimed user of words in order to tell the story, are you not? Then, by all means, use your words?”

“I’d rather not.”

“Oh, by virtue of not feeling like doing so?”

“No.”

“Understood. Have you eaten?”

“Yes.”

“Who fed you?”

“Kira and one other whose name I never learned.”

“That seems rude.”

“Does it?”

“Be sensical.”

“For what purpose?”

“Your own dignity, if for nothing else.”

“Fine. I suppose not knowing the name of one person who silently delivers a meal could be considered rude.”

“Yes. Did you sleep?”

“During the night, no, but yesterday?, yes.”

“How was the garden?”

“Comfortable.”

“Excellent.”

“Ma’am, what’s going on here?”

“Where?”

Here here. What’s happening. Why am I sitting here?”

“Oh, goodness. Your existence is something about which no one can really speak, confidently.”

“No. You misunderstand me.”

“Unlikely.”

“Fine. If this is how you want it. What happened … yesterday?”

“What do you think happened yesterday?”

“Whatever happened does not matter to me, nor does it affect me directly.”

“It did, however, affect you, did it not?”

“What do you mean?”

“You ceased to exist. If only temporarily.”

“No. I was sitting outside, in the garden, waiting.”

“Were you?”

“Yes.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Ma’am, I can’t.”

“What? Be sure? Please, elaborate.”

“I just can’t deal with all of this … with you … with …”

“How all of this makes you feel?”

“No.”

“Individual choices will most often times be made based solely on feeling.”

“I feel nothing.”

“As a result of your inexistence without the need or approval of others.”

“No.”

“That was not a question.”

“No, this, this is exactly what I cannot do with you.”

“Oh. What are we doing now?”

“Ma’am.”

“Please, illuminate the situation.”

“Ma’am, you called me.”

“Very well. Your services have deemed themselves necessary. Thus, please proceed.”

“With what?”

“Your story, of course.”

“Okay?”

“Now,” the older woman commands, in no fewer words, at the curious being to whom she starkly speaks, who sits directly across from her; “Excellent,” the older woman encourages. “Where is it that you would like for me to begin this next account?” the curious being asks. “Wherever pleases you, dear,” the older woman condescends, and upon hearing the description of her tone chuckles in a snide hiss that furthers the condescension.

For the past three biases, the older woman called into question every inhabitant within one klick (or one kilometer, or 1000 meters or .62 mile) radius of her private quarters. Hour after hour passed as dozens of people streamed in and out of the cylindrical chambers of the older woman’s office. “No, please begin again,” the older woman interrupts. “Sorry?” the curious being asks. “Begin again,” the older woman repeats. The curious being sighs a sigh of frustration peppered with a little disbelief at the situation at hand. Mulling the happenings of the day before, the curious being sits and waits for the words to precipitate above and condense into the rightness of a thing. “Ah, interesting,” the older woman interjects again between the curious being’s thoughts. “What?” the curious being inquires. “The day weighs heavy,” the older woman responds. “Perhaps, ma’am, this would be easier if I were left alone or allowed to leave.” Pretending to give the curious being’s request some thought, the older woman instructs, “Indeed that may be easier, but your work here is not finished. When you are finished, you will be dismissed and freed to go about your lingering.” Indeed, the day weighs heavy upon the minds of the inhabitants who live near the older woman. The curious being looks again to the older woman for guidance or approval. The older woman stares back equally curious. Heavy, indeed, the words begin to fall.

Amidst the mist of mild and grey, the day, cold and long, but no longer, for the morning brought about the orbital’s nearest star’s beams of shine. Through the one circled, ceiling window of the cylindrical room, the light shines through and casts a spell of warmth. A soothing respite from the incident of a Bias long passed. Seemingly calm, the orbital settles into the routine of ordinary life. In the air, no matter, a restlessness lingers as the older woman knows a truth about the overarching circumstance. An Earth-man, lost, resides within a time unknown to him. He lives in a past unreachable. Understanding much, the older woman understands that someone is to blame for this occurrence. There lingers, a question, the much larger question, of course.

Few know the full story behind the incident, and even fewer understand it. All, nevertheless, know of the incident. Those who know the full story have yet to make the full connection between the incident and the Earth-man himself. Those who understand the incident, however, understand the implication. To the many, “Perhaps the Earth-man brought himself here, with purpose, but that seems unlikely. The possibility still remains. One cannot dismiss the possible, especially since to travel through time is no longer fantastic,” goes the gossip. To the few, someone is responsible, but who?

The list, of course, is quite short. Nevertheless, unless the inhabitants demand an answer, the incident will no longer be discussed in a few short iterations, the older woman is sure of it. Of what the older woman, no doubt, is unsure reveals the gap in her knowledge, the gap that cannot ever be known. Thus, a search must commence. “Excellent,” the older woman interjects, yet again. “Now, that search must assuredly commence,” the older woman continues as a small fleet of three men and three women orderly enter the cylindrical room through the door directly to the right of the center of the room where the older woman sits, facing forward, to escort the transport of the older woman across the orbital to the Third Corridor where she will finally meet this man from Earth.

Kira’s (sounds like ‘ear’) Staffer

Kira’s (sounds like ‘ear’) Staffer

“Where have you sent him, Kira?”

“He sits in the garden.”

“Very well.”

“Ma’am?”

“Yes.”

“[Staffer] arrives with haste. Shall I send him in?”

“Of course.”

“ …”

“Please, be seated.”

“ …”

“A message is what you deliver?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Who sent you.”

“I sent myself.”

“How is it that you’ve come by this information?”

“I stumbled upon it myself.”

“By chance?”

“By circumstance.”

“Of course. Where is it that you are stationed?”

“The twelfth exit of the third corridor.”

“Excellent. And what do you make of your superior?”

“The favor that you show toward her must mean she is of the utmost competence.”

“Yes, Kira certainly has trained you well. And the superior of your superior?”

“I cannot honestly say.”

“Make an assumption.”

“ …”

“ …”

“Since I was allowed direct entry just now, when word of my message was made known, I assume that I am proficient.”

“Your name?”

“[Staffer].”

“Very well, [Staffer], please deliver your message.”

“Ma’am?”

“Yes.”

“I am in a place of confusion as to exactly what to say.”

“Ah, yes. Who intercepted you?”

“How did …”

“It does not matter.”

“I do not know him.”

“Very well. What did he say?”

“He requested that I not inform you, ma’am, of the information I acquired.”

“Understood. And the threat?”

“Ma’am?”

“This person must have threatened you, or else, there would be no need for your confusion in whether or not you ought to deliver your message, no?”

“No.”

“Ah. What did he tell you?”

“He told me …”

“Quiet.”

“Ma’am?”

“[Staffer], silence!”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“Do you understand the options before you?”

“I believe so, however, would you, ma’am, be kind enough to shed light upon them.”

“No. You may ask one question, if you know what that question should be, and the truth will be spoken in return.”

“ …”

“ …”

“What is the likelihood that I will remember who I am?”

“Strong, most remember. You, however, are under completely different conditions. What needs to be done will be done, but if your messenger finds you first, there’s nothing to be done. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Very well. Have you decided?”

“Yes.”

“Excellent. What is it then, [Staffer], that you know?”

“A man has arrived within the Orbital via a displacement.”

“When is he?”

“The Numerical Years.”

“Earth?”

“Yes.”

“Where is he?”

“The station at Third Corridor.”

“There is no protocol for this, [Staffer]. How did you contain him?”

“Dream capture.”

“Did you wipe him?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Your reasoning for this?”

“The incident.”

“Excellent.”

“I’ve already questioned him, and he remembers much.”

“Yes. These conversations are known. Action has already been taken.”

“But ma’am …”

“You cannot know what cannot be known, [Staffer]. I, however, am not you.”

“Yes.”

“Do tell, nevertheless.”

“The last thing he remembers is watching someone disappear. He, allegedly, witnessed someone disappear on Earth. The next thing he knew, he was sitting in the station being questioned.”

“No, that is not all. Tell everything.”

“But ma’am, I thought you already know of this occurrence.”

“The occurrence is understood. Tell me the how.”

“Nobody knows how. The witness does not even know he is not from this world.”

“He still does not know.”

“Yes.”

“That was not a question.”

“I am sorry.”

“It doesn’t matter. When was this witness found?”

“Shortly after the last Bias.”

“You found him?”

“Yes. He was walking along the pathway that leads out of the twelfth exit, looking strange. I approached him and immediately knew he was not from now.”

“How did you come to this conclusion?”

“His clothing, the overall look to his face, and he, uh, he smelled of a certain, uh, uncleanliness.”

“Of course. Then what did you do?”

“I sent him into a dream and walked him toward Third Corridor’s station.”

“What was he like when he woke up.”

“Seemingly normal. He did not seem confused or unsure of where he was.”

“He sees only what he knows, of course.”

“Oh, yes.”

“What did you ask him?”

“I just had him talk about his day. He seemed a bit shaken about seeing someone disappear, but not worried about his current state of existence.”

“This is your message?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Please rephrase the entire thing and speak it in one concise package.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Begin.”

“This morning, shortly after the last Bias, I walked my routine rounds around the twelfth exit of the third corridor. While walking, I saw an unfamiliar-looking man who I instantly knew was not from this time or place. I knew this because he was dressed in unusual clothing and emanated a certain stench. Not knowing what the proper protocol is for this sort of situation, I enacted, what I thought to be, the safest mode of conscious suspension and dream captured the foreign man. Shortly thereafter, the foreign man was sleeping soundly in one of the Third Corridor’s station rooms. The foreign man did not seem bothered, nor did he seem as though anything was unusual to him. After an hour or so of questioning, I learned that the foreign man is indeed from the planet Earth sometime during the early Numerical Years. According to the Earth-man, the last thing he remembers is a man disappearing before his eyes. The Earth-man’s full account has been visually recorded and documented. The disappearance seemed to have lasted no longer than a few minutes, at which point, the Earth-man does not recall anything else about what happened next. The most recent thing that the Earth-man remembers is waking to our knocking on his door a few hours ago to wake him. That is when I questioned him and learned that he perceived of our knocking on his door as the knocking by friends back on Earth to remind him of work. I’m sorry, to remind him of his responsibilities to his employer. No one can account for the Earth-man’s time travel. So far no one has come forth as a witness to the Earth-man’s arrival on this orbital. It is possible that the Earth-man has been here for some time, unnoticed, but this is unlikely. My conclusion is that yesterday’s incident must be related to the arrival of a man from Earth’s past. I do not have any idea how this man could have arrived here. I also make no presumptions about why. I must then also conclude that there is a chance that this Earth-man arrived yesterday, having only been found today, but again, I do not think this is likely. Further action is recommended, but I do not know what that action should be. Thus, after concluding my initial round of questioning with this man, I made my way straight to you, ma’am, to deliver this message.”

“Understood, [Staffer]. Thank you for your efforts. Everything you say reveals truth and nothing more. You are dismissed.”

“Ma’am?”

“Yes.”

“I cannot help but wonder how it is that this man arrived here. Please, if you would be so kind, tell me what you know?”

“There is no possible way for you to know what is known by those who know the things that cannot be known. Kira!”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Please escort [Staffer] through the door.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And [Staffer].”

“Ma’am?”

“Be careful.”

“Yes.”

“Kira, return to me when [Staffer] has safely departed.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“ …”

“Ma’am?”

“Bring the physicist from the Numerical Years here, immediately.”

“Which era?”

“The last upload.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Of Viruses & Opinions

Of Viruses & Opinions

In the beginning, the year that is 2020 ran through my body with a vengeance named who-knows-what because I did not go to the doctor, but I was quite sick for quite some time as we flew that last bit of distance around our dear sun. 2019 kicked my ass, and I was ready for a fresh new year, and then the year began in what could only be described as a rotted cherry atop a shitty shit sundae. 2019 wasn’t all bad, obviously. We researched and developed our business and I learned a lot managing a restaurant…even if I didn’t manage it long. I was able to spend a lot of time with my parents, and that was nice after half a decade on the other half of the planet. I missed them more than I realized (my dad bought me a gram of pot as a going away gift), but living that close was a little too close (my mom is adamantly against the use of pot). Eventually, I will drag them down here, and they will have to deal with it.

And then 2020 began to pick up steam in a way that I knew was simply unsustainable. I knew that I could not keep doing what I was doing through the month of January and early February. My professional life was expanding fast, with greater opportunity than I had initially anticipated when we were making our plans last year, and my social life was already unbearable with friends and weekends and weddings already booked through the middle of October!, and it was only the middle of February. I thought a lot about what I was going to do and/or if I could even do it. So, if I’m being really honest about how I felt in The Beforetimes, I may have brought all of this upon the world, but I am not so egocentric to actually think this. But then I began to acclimate a bit to my new life here in Longmont, and a routine began to form, and life was starting to make a lot of sense. The momentum that I had to catch up with due to being sick for so long through the new year finally felt like a comfortable pace. I was hitting my cruising speed, and then it seems like it all came to a standstill, but of course, this is not what actually happened. What happened was that it was a slow trickle as it took time to convince everyone to listen to and obey their phones.

I see only dread in not only the handling of The Virus but also, in The Aftertimes, if the smartest among us do not work harder than we’ve ever worked before to dismantle everything that’s crumbling now and then rebuild the world in which we want to live, in and for the future. The 20th-Century growth model needs to be buried in the 20th century. It, alone, is the reason why we are in this fucking mess, and the people responsible are the overwhelmingly ignoranant populus in the middle. They would not know what is good for them if it smacked them in the face. Yes, all of our individual ignorance contributed to the whole, of course. Nobody is free of blame or guilt. We brought this upon ourselves, and now we have to fix it. I can’t blame the Boomers because I’ve contributed immensely through my global lifestyle. I do not feel as though I am better than anyone. It is simply my job to point at the problem so that we may all see it more clearly. This does not mean that I am not part of the problem. It means that I can see it.

The first two weeks of quarantine announcements were interesting, at least on social media. People were sort of excited about the prospect of staying home, but the honeymoon only lasted a few days. Most people barely survived the first week, but now, by the end of the third week, a little more than two weeks after the official announcement, people have been seeming to settle in and realize that this is life now as The Aftertimes glimmers of hope in the weeks-long future. The reality revealed, however, that we all listen to and obey our phones. I got chills the moment I realized what was happening. Sure there are verifiable “in real life” sources to back up all of the stuff we’re seeing online as news and happening, but I cannot help but think that our collective behavior is fucking crazy. But perhaps it is not, though. We are in the 21st century, afterall. The handing over of the collective-control reigns seems more than plausible by this point. Hmm…but that’s it. This is how a society, a species transitions into the clean crisp future of our collective imagination…the objective, collective fear of germs. Wow, it really takes a long time for an intelligent species to “get it.” This also probably contributes to the overall difficulty of intelligent life (if there’s more out there) creating the opportunity to leave their own planets…germs.

The surprising thing is that around Longmont, it mostly seems as though people are obeying their phones, staying home and wearing masks in populated areas. Yes, there are a number of restaurants still open, and all of those employees are still spreading germs around, and so, that’s annoying. But in general, Colorado seems to care.

And so, it is within the here and now that I currently exist, and what I think has not changed all too much from my initial impressions once Colorado went on official quarantine order. I still see mostly dread due to the overwhelming incompetence of the “Administration,” and I still do not have much to make of the stimulus, yet. On the surface, sure, it seems like an obvious solution…give people money. The problem is that what the money is really doing is bailing out banks…again. There’s no way a bank is simply going to let you not pay your credit card bill, right? So, the “government” (I use quotes for obvious reasons) is sending bailout money to us, and then we will pay our bills, which means the banks always win. Super-honesty, I wish the money were closer to $2,000 each. Oh well. And I can’t even focus on the presidential election. Ugh, I was doing so great at getting all of my political writing done, and now I could not care less. Sorry, there is no knowing when there will be more of those.

I’ve not been feeling psychologically stable the past few days…a little down (but not as low as other lows, don’t worry) and burdened by my existential equation, probably mostly due to my lack of exercise. I know I need to exercise a lot to stay really sane, but now that you have to run with a face thing, the task seems even more unappealing. But I do yoga every day, and I walk around the park next to our apartment most days. And so, my days are filled with making shit. I’ve made so much stuff, I’m almost out of stuff to make stuff out of. I’m going to have to make an online order (gross) for yarn and paper and other stuff to make stuff with.

The boredom is not a problem. I am able to make a lot out of it, and that makes me happy. Whether or not I’m being productive is another issue entirely. But it’s hard to care about my productivity at a time like this, so I’m not stressing nor am I beating myself up about not getting some things done that should’ve been done by now. These are difficult times because people are not used to being prey. We, as a species, are not used to feeling hunted. But we have an “enemy” and it feels like it. It feels like there’s something out to get us, and that we’re the thing it wants. We’re prey. And we cannot even enact fight or flight cause we’re all trapped indoors. It’s a difficult, stressful position to exist within, and the existential nature of this threat makes people (Americans) a little crazy, a little dangerous. So, yes, my concerns are shifting as I feel that we are still weeks away from what this will really be…the impending disaster has still yet to come.

Time is moving fast, which is a strange speed for being trapped inside one’s house. I fear the disaster that this disaster will inevitably birth, and I fear the negative feedback loop of that disintegration. Everyone thinks this is bad? Just wait. The worst has yet to come, and then even after that, The Aftertimes will be even worse. I am not being pessimistic so much as I am trying to be realistic. The reality of a shattered economy is one that I do not want to experience, but the inevitability is looking inevitable. And of course, the poorest among us will suffer the most. Chances are that we will not even feel it, or it will be a small hiccup to our accounts. I could blindly be optimistic and look to a brighter future, but that ideology at a time like this is unhelpful. Optimism breeds nothing but hopes and prayers, and what people need right now are answers, solutions, a vision of the future. Now is the perfect opportunity for someone like, say, Elizabeth Warren to paint a picture of the future. If she could outline for all of the young people out there, the world of work, the opportunities of sustainability, the vision of a future that we can build, together. The world as we knew it in The Beforetimes is gone. And the world as we know it, right now, must fall.  And these are the times to which I am not looking forward, despite how necessary I understand these times to be.

Continuance Not Clairvoyance

Continuance Not Clairvoyance

“Sir, look, I know your story; I’ve read what you saw; I just want to hear you speak the narrative yourself.”

“I told the guy like a hundred times what I saw! Like, what more can I say? I just feel like I’m in all sorts of trouble or something. I mean, I was like in my house, then there was knocking, and it all goes foggy, and I can’t remember. I don’t know what I did or what I saw. I just feel like I’m being interrogated. I mean, I know that I’m being interrogated, but nobody will fucking tell me what’s going on. I thought you were here to tell me what the hell is going on!”

“Sir, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what’s going on either. I too just woke up here to a non-stop round of questioning.”

“Who are you?”

“I’ve been instructed not to tell you, but if you can stay calm, I will tell you.”

“I’m like not going to fucking stay calm! Do you even know what I’ve been through today? I mean, you must know what I’ve seen or something, and I like wasn’t supposed to see it or something, and now I’m going to be killed or something! You don’t get it!”

“I do get it. I just don’t get all of it.”

“Then who the fuck are you?! And are you going to like fucking tell me what the hell is going on?!”

“Sir, you just need to stay calm. How about you have a seat. Sit back down. Just relax. Do you want something to drink or eat?”

“What is this like good cop now? I mean, that like other guy already scared the shit out of me. I’ll say whatever it is or do whatever whatever like I need to do or say to get the fuck out of here and back home!”

“Honestly, I think that’s why you’re here. I think they’re trying to get you back home.”

“Fine.”

“So, is there anything you’d like? Coffee? Tea?”

“I’ll take any soda and yea, I’m like hungry. I’ve been here all day.”

“Alright. Just sit tight. I’ll see what I can do. …

 

“Excuse me. Is there any way we can get something to drink or eat in here?”

“Maybe.”

“Thank you. …

“… See that was easy.”

“Yea, we’ll see.”

“Alright. Please, sir, just start from the beginning, and tell me everything that happened from the time you left work until you found yourself here.”

“Yea, fine.”

“Thank you.”

“So, I like work the night shift, and so I guess I left the factory around five in the morning.”

“Was it dark out?”

“No, not dark, but the sun wasn’t up yet, I mean, as best I can tell. There’s not much sunlight these days.”

“Yes, I know what you mean.”

“And I like walk toward the inlet, there’s like this small stream that runs through the far end of the main downtown area of the city.”

“Okay.”

“I always walk along the sidewalk that like runs along that like little stream every single day on my way home.”

“Every day?”

“Yes. Every single ephing day.”

“Okay.”

“But like this time, I’m like walking, and I see this guy like walking across the bridge, Sprouts Bridge, that like crosses the inlet to the west side of the downtown area of the city, and it was a little like strange.”

“Okay. Why, what was strange?”

“Like seeing a guy in the early fucking morning just walking that bridge.”

“What’s significant about that bridge?”

“Well, I mean, it like crosses the inlet to the side of the downtown area that’s basically deserted. There isn’t like nobody who lives over there anymore, so usually, there are like kids who want nothing but trouble on the bridge late at night and whatnot, but an adult man in the early morning? No way. I should know. I walk by that bridge every single day at exactly the same ass crack of dawn. You know?”

“Yes. I understand you.”

“So, since there was that guy there, I like noticed him. I saw him, so I just sort of stood there and look at him. I don’t think he saw me cause we were like walking different directions, but then he kept looking back like someone was following him.”

“Was someone following him?”

“Not that I could tell.”

“Okay.”

“So, then I like keep watching him until he stops on the middle of the bridge, and then he looks like he’s about to jump.”

“Okay.”

“And that’s when I decided I’d like get the hell out of there cause I don’t want to be like part of someone like, you know, killing themselves.”

“Alright.”

“So, I turn around and try to convince myself that I’m just going to mind my own business, but then everything like gets all colorful.”

“Colorful how?”

“Man, sorry, miss…Lady or whoever you are, I mean, you said you read the thing. This is when all the rainbow colored shit started happening, you know?”

“Sir, remember? I need to hear it from you.”

“Agh, ugh, uh, yea, fine. Okay, so yea, it’s like … it’s like … looking through a rainbow, you know?”

“No, I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.”

“Ugh. So, like picture a rainbow, and you know how you can like see through them cause they’re just like light and shit.”

“Okay.”

“So, yea like that, but like everywhere.”

“Okay. Then what happens.”

“So, yea, it was all like crazy, so I turned around to see if that guy was still on the bridge.”

“And he was?”

“Yea. He was still just standing there.”

“Did the colorfulness look any different around him?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did the way the world looked through the ‘rainbow’ as you say, look the same near the guy on the bridge?”

“Yea, I guess. I mean, I think so. I don’t really know if I’d know the difference.”

“Humf … Yea, I alright. Then what happens?”

“So, he’s just standing there, and since we’re like the only two people who could possibly be experiencing this crazy color shit, I decide that I’ll walk toward him to see if I can like chat with him about it or whatnot.”

“Okay.”

“And then as I’m like getting closer to the bridge, there’s this loud crack through the air, like thunder but sharper or something, louder, like a tree branch snapping or something.”

“Are there trees in this area of town?”

“Hell no. When was the last time you saw a tree, outside, on Earth, man! Sorry, lady, ma’am.”

“Okay. Alright.”

“So I look up for a moment, like up to the sky, you know, but I don’t see nothing, so then I look back at the guy, and he’s like looking back at me. So, then I just sort of stop dead.”

“Were you close enough to hear each other?”

“Nah. I don’t think so.”

“Was there anyone else on the bridge by that time?”

“Nah. No, I don’t think so. I mean, maybe, but I don’t think so.”

“No one else? Are you absolutely sure?”

“No, I’m not ab-so-lute-ly sure. But I’m pretty sure.”

“Okay. And then what?”

“And then he just disappears.”

“But how? What did it look like?”

“I don’t know. Like picture someone sitting here. Or yea, like I’m sitting here, and then the next moment I’m gone.”

“Was he there and then you looked away, and then he was gone?”

“No. I was staring right into his face, and he was staring back, and then poof, nothing.”

“Then what did you do? Did you go examine where he stood?”

“No. I mean, now that you say that, I think that’s probably what I should’ve done.”

“Okay. So then what?”

“So, then that’s when everything gets a bit foggy.”

“Alright. Then what’s the next thing you remember?”

“I was like sleeping, and then my work buddies were pounding on my door to like wake me up for work.”

“Did you tell your friends about what happened then?”

“Wait.”

“What?”

“I think I don’t know if the people knocking were my friends cause I don’t remember seeing their faces.”

“What do you mean? What happened then?”

“I don’t remember. I just remember waking up to pounding on my front door.”

“Were you in your own bed?”

“I think so.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, no, now I’m not.”

“Where were you?”

“Well, like, I mean, the next thing I remember is that I’m like walking through some forest, garden place, but that can’t be right cause there aren’t no trees on Earth.”

“Where did you go after you walked through the forest garden?”

“I like entered a room full of books and stuff or something, it looked like old from like, you know, old history books of like when there were kings and queens.”

“Then where were you?”

“I was sitting in some small room with a big couch and like no ceiling or something, and then that guy came in and started talking to me and asking all sorts of questions.”

“Do you know what day it is?”

“Yea, sure. Well, no not exactly. But it should be [day, date] like an R-day.”

“What year?”

“[Year]”

“Alright.”

“What? What’d I say?”

“Nothing. I just. Wait here a minute. I need to talk to someone.”

Not Her, But She’ll Do

Not Her, But She’ll Do

“So, are you saying that the story was of an apocryphal nature?”

“Well, yes, it is.”

“Ah, apologies, yes, the story is still widely heard or told or seen?”

“Heard mostly. I never knew a written account existed for years. Well, I guess it was most of my life, thus far.”

“Understood.”

“People speak of the events as true. That was what drew me to the subject in the first place.”

“Speak to the first part, please.”

“What?”

“How people speak of the events, etc.”

“Well, there are a lot of people who believe that they’ve seen these, I don’t know what to call them except like, maybe disappearances?, but that’s not how those who speak of them talk about the, uh, event.”

“How do the people speak of the event, then?”

“Sort of … magic or some sort of sighting.”

“A sighting of what?”

“Alien beings or people from other dimensions.”

“Do you know what happens during these events?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve seen it?”

“No. I read about them.”

“You believe the written accounts to be true?”

“I’m not sure if I’d say I’m a ‘believer,’ but the situation as a whole fascinates me. You hear the tale or a rumor about a sighting, and then everyone’s interested in what it was exactly. You hear things.”

“And that was what drew you to the subject?”

“Yes, absolutely. I was absolutely fascinated by these accounts of people ‘disappearing’ and the flashes of light and all these different images of color and rainbows, and everything just seemed so, so, intriguing.”

“How is it that you came to read written accounts of these ‘disappearances’?”

“Various books stores.”

“Sorry?”

“Bookstores.”

“Oh, right. Yes. Apologies. And are you fond of this antiq … this form of media?”

“Media? I suppose. Yes, I like books.”

“Do you remember how you got here today?”

“ … ”

“Sorry. Let’s continue with what you read of these accounts.”

“Alright.”

“What was it that you found so fascinating and intriguing?”

“Well, I assume you know of the events; that is why I am here, yes?”

“Of course. The events are known by everyone.”

“So, don’t you find them fascinating?”

“You find them fascinating, and that is what is fascinating. Please, answer the question.”

“Geez, alright. I thought this was a simple sit down to discuss my research on the disappearances, but that’s fine, I’ll just get to my point.”

“Yes, it is important not to have hurt feelings.”

“I’m sorry?”

“When one’s feelings get hurt through a clear lack of revelry, people feel emotionally wounded.”

“Um, no. I don’t feel emotionally wounded.”

“Then why take offense to the directness of this situation?”

“I wasn’t offended.”

“Then why say, ‘Geez’?”

“It just seems rude to have all of this discussion be so one-sided.”

“This is a one-sided situation, however.”

“Is it?”

“Of course.”

“So, I’m being interrogated?”

“More or less. Remember, though, you came here of your own free will.”

“Did I?”

“Of course. How else would you be here?”

“Well, now I’m not sure.”

“Well, if you’re no longer sure about whether or not you want to continue stating answers to the questions asked, you are free to leave.”

“So, you don’t want to know about my research?”

“Do you want to speak to your research or do you want your feelings to feel good?”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at, ma’am, but I’m here because someone called me.”

“And you showed up.”

“Yes. I’m here, aren’t I?”

“Why?”

“Mostly because I need the money, but I also think that these stories aren’t just stories. I think that these disappearances are true. I think that every account is so similar that they cannot simply be brushed off as radical obsession with fill-in-the-blank affiliation.”

“What is the motivation behind the conviction?”

“That the stories are true?”

“Of course.”

“The motivation … I am motivated by the consistency.”

“How often do these disappearances occur?”

“No one can know for sure because there’s a good chance that every event hasn’t been reported.”

“When are you?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What is today’s date?”

“[date/day]”

“Year?”

“[Year]”

“Give a ballpark estimate based on your research.”

“There have been roughly fifty recorded incidents over the past thousand years or so.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning, I’d assume that an event happens maybe every ten years, but there’s a low probability that every event would be seen, and then who knows if the witness would be compelled to record the incident in writing. Therefore, I feel as though …”

“Enough with the feelings.”

“Jesus, fuck. I … would … es-ti-mate … that there’s no way of knowing exactly how many times or how many different people have not only seen the event but also, how many different people have disappeared through an event.”

“Ah. Very good.”

“Thank you.”

“No.”

“No, what?”

“No, thank yous. You have no idea where you are.”

“Within the scope of what these disappearances are or mean? I know! That’s why I’m here!”

“No.”

“No, what?”

“Physically. You have no idea where you are currently located.”

“Yes, I do?”

“This doesn’t matter. What matters is what are you researching now?”

“Well, I read about a hundred different books by people who have either documented as a witness or for someone else who has witnessed a disappearance and learned that there is ever only one witness to the event, even when the witness speaks of other people directly within their vicinity.”

“Yes.”

“Yes, what?”

“Please continue.”

“So, usually, the witness undergoes some sort of mental trauma wherein they feel … they think that they are crazy or have seen something they weren’t supposed to see, and then, they begin to fear for their own safety. Everything basically goes downhill fast, as far as mental stability and mental health is concerned.”

“For the witness.”

“Yes.”

“Understood.”

“Then the witness eventually forgets about the event and when people approach them about it later, they fail to understand its significance. So, if a witness doesn’t speak up fast and loud enough, there’s a really good chance that the witness will forget or write it off as ‘crazy,’ which means the only documented, known witnesses are the ones who really believed what they saw, believed it so much, despite being amongst other people who should’ve also seen the disappearance happen, that they raved about it until someone was willing to listen. Or in a few cases, the witness was prominent enough to write about it him/herself, and the written account was read.”

“So, what is it that you research now?”

“Sorry. I get excited and lose my train of thought.”

“Is it a train?”

“Figuratively.”

“Speak in the literal, please, no more ‘magic’ or ‘downhill’ or ‘trains’ that are not trains.”

“Jeez-us. You are one tough nut.”

“One last time, please.”

“You are impenetrable.”

“Yes. Continue.”

“Alright. These days, I suppose …”

“This really is your last warning. There’s no use for you if you cannot find confidence in your own action.”

“What?”

“You suppose?”

“What the fuck, lady? Nobody just talks so perfectly and ardently in conversation.”

“Try.”

“Jesus-fucking-christ.”

“Are you religious?”

“Fuck no.”

“Why is that?”

“Are you crazy?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Are you religious?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Well, if you are religious, you’re crazy. If you’re not religious, then you know why I think you’re crazy.”

“You only think that, though. How does that matter?”

“My thoughts?”

“Yes.”

“Because your thoughts matter.”

“To whom?”

“To you, the world, to everything that you wish and hope to be.”

“How?”

“You can’t be or exist without having the thoughts you have. Your thoughts are what makes you who you are?”

“Typical.”

“I’m sorry?”

“It doesn’t matter. Continue if you please.”

“I don’t remember the question.”

“Then sit there until you do remember.”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“Shit.”

“Yes.”

“Oh, something about no one speaks so impeccably in real life.”

“What is real life?”

“Goddammit. Do you want me to answer the question from before?”

“If you can remember it.”

“Shit, my research.”

“Ah, very good.”

“Yes, so my current research revolves around figuring out what exactly happens during these disappearances.”

“How can you, of all people, figure such a thing out?”

“I’m a physicist.”

“Are you?”

“Yes, I thought that was part of the reason why my work meant something to you.”

“Of course. Are you any good?”

“One of the only prize-winning females out there.”

“Prizes mean something to you?”

“Okay, just … you’re … what was it?, impenetrable.”

“Please.”

“Yes, fine, I will continue. It must be a matter of physics or at least something that has to do with the relationship between matter, humans, and space, time, and a transference or anomalous change in or of energy around those humans.”

“Must it?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

“Theories?”

“Of your demanded definitive state? No.”

“What is knowable?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes.”

“The obvious problem, for me personally, is that I have not encountered a witness myself.”

“Never?”

“Correct.”

“Never spoken to a person who was close to a witness?”

“I have spoken to people who have directly heard a witness speak of the event witnessed.”

“What would you ask?”

“Everything.”

“Where would you start?”

“Are you telling me there’s someone here who has recently witnessed a disappearance?”

“No. With what question would you start if you were to encounter someone who believed they saw a disappearance?”

“I’m not sure.”

“You have never given this any thought?”

“You said my thoughts don’t matter.”

“Of course they do.”

“Why?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Fuck, lady. Stop shit … just … just … stop … with the … word dom-i-nance.”

“Ah, very good.”