The Window Model Part II

The Window Model Part II

…if you’d rather, you can easily begin with “The Window Model” if you don’t understand what the eph a window model is, or you can begin at the beginning of all this nonsense (weekly uploads of a 250,000-word manuscript written back in 2017, just now being published online here and elsewhere), or if you’re the fun&spontaneous type, feel free to begin right here and go wherever the wind blows…*peace*

[begin chapter]

The young older woman sits, a bit dazed in the fog of infatuation as she watches the man walk down the sidewalk, until she can no longer see him. She feels giddy and knows that the hour will pass at an excruciatingly slow pace. Tick, tick, click, tick, the second hand of her watch, usually inaudible, beats intensely, boisterously; it’s deafening. She inhales deeply in an attempt to drown out the sound of time crawling. That guy, she thinks to herself, lost in the hope of … of what? Love? Her brows furrow at the thought. Love?, the idea of such a thing mulls at the front of her thoughts. Have I ever been in love before? The calamity. A vomitous ache rolls uncomfortably deep within her. Love? She had never even contemplated the prospect, and she probably never recognized the idea as being possible. Love? What is it even? Her mind meanders through a list of possibilities: Reductionist sensation, spiritual connection, soulful completion, logical agreement, irrational feeling, tolerant partnership, inescapable desire, woeful necessity, pragmatic existentialism, absurd dependence. Her mind wanders. An unfamiliar sensation stretches across her back, clouds form, the mind wavers. Rain precipitates a memory or a dream or a dream remembered.

Red. Flashes. A face of a man lights up before her, repeatedly. The world slows and zooms away from the man’s face. The man to whom the face belongs, stands in the distance. Enriched and ready to explode, the clouds darken. Within a mild windstorm he seems to be yelling at or for her. Blue. She does not know this person and scans the area directly around her to see if he is speaking to someone else. There is no one else. Unable to hear him but curious, she decides to gesture for him to approach. Looking cautious, he slowly walks toward her. Close enough now to be able to hear each other, she still hears nothing. Actually, she cannot hear anything at all. Silence. She attempts to speak back at him. Silence. He looks as though he is still screaming. The silence fills with even more silence. He looks familiar, albeit reticent. She looks calm, albeit cold. All around them harsh rains fall. Two dry circles, untouched by the falling rain, encircle each of them. This time, she yells. The silence expands. She tries to explain something to him. He shrugs and gestures an “I can’t hear you,” mime. She throws up her hands and turns her back to him. He remains standing, firm.

After a pause of unknowable length, he begins to turn to walk away. Before he takes his first step, he peers back over his shoulder. She has turned to face him again. He half turns. She begins to gesture with her hands. He turns fully now to face her directly. She leans a bit to her right and forms what looks to be a circle or a sphere with her hands; she points at him. Then she leans a bit to her left and forms what looks to be the same circle or sphere again; she points to herself. Arms stretched wide, her hands look as if they are each holding the circle/sphere she just previously mimed. Slowly now, she begins to move each one toward the other until they meet in front of her face to form a sphere with the tips of each finger on one hand touching its respective pair on the other. She nods at him to see if he understands. He shakes his head. Ignoring this, she continues to press her hands together until they are in a full clasp. Then she quickly explodes her hand apart as her arms reach high over her head slowly lowering down and around in a large circle. She points to her watch, and then shoots her right hand out and away from herself. The man looks thoroughly confused. He makes a “What?” gesture. She sighs.

Slowly, she approaches him as if sneaking up on him. He takes a small step backward. She gestures a plea for him to stay put. He situates himself accordingly. Again, she slowly begins to approach him. Suddenly, as if he had not noticed before, he shrinks a bit and looks shocked at the translucent red bubble in which he stands. He points at her. She stops, nods and gestures to him in regards to her own blue bubble. Palms down, she gently raises and lowers her hands at about waist height to communicate, “Calm down.” He turns over his shoulder to take in the situation. She laughs a little. With another gesture, she begins to approach him yet again. He looks frightened. Then, as the outer edges of their respective bubbles overlap, the overlapping section opens like a window into a sunny, blue-skied scene. Before he can lurch back from his surprise, she jumps forward into his bubble, and grabs his hand before he can lurch away. Green.

She feels pressure on her shoulder. “Hey.” “Hey,” a familiar voice rings out. She blinks and sees an open book in her hands. She looks out the window and then up toward the voice. “Oh, hey,” she responds, recognizing the manager of the cafe. The manager sets down a large to-go cup of some hot beverage and an orange envelope, “You’re all set. Thanks for the work today.” She exhales a short audible breath, “Yea, sure. It’s no problem.” “Cool,” the manager begins, but then she cuts her off. “Has that guy been back?” she asks. “What guy?” the manager inquires. “The guy that was sitting here with me,” she persists. “Oh, that guy. No. I saw him leave, though,” the manager explains. “Oh. Okay. Thanks,” she acknowledges. “Sure thing. I’ll see you in a month or so,” the manager states in farewell. “Yea,” she dismisses as she packs up the few items strewn on the table. A gentle tap on the glass. She looks out the window and smiles. The guy stands outside, looking giddy. She waves and gestures that she is coming out. As she grabs her bag and beverage to leave the cafe her face grimaces. Unsure, there is something she fails to understand. She was sure that this guy was the man in her dream/memory/remembered dream, but she did not recognize the man in the dream/memory/remembered dream, and this guy was not that man either. Hmmm, she quickly thinks to herself as she reaches the front doors of the cafe.

Stepping out into the warm glow of an evening sun, the guy approaches her and goes in for a hug. Still a bit shaken from the dream/memory/remembered dream, she stands stiff. He quickly releases her and steps back a bit. “Oh, sorry,” he apologizes; “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I just did that.” She chuckles and shrugs, “It’s fine. I was just a little lost in thought or something.” He looks immensely relieved, “Oh. No, I really am sorry.” “I promise it’s fine,” she states; “Do you want to try again? I’m ready now.” They both laugh in excitement. “Yes. Yes, I definitely want to try again,” he enthusiastically responds. She steps into his warm body as he wraps her up in a surprisingly comfortable embrace. She closes her eyes for a moment. They linger, nuzzled for all to witness. As her eyes open, she sees the face and form of the man from her dream standing across the street. She gasps. “Okay, sorry,” the guy withdraws as if confessing; “I’m just so excited to hang out with you.” “No, it’s not you,” she quickly admits as she looks beyond him to see if she can still see the man across the street. The man across the street gently waves. The guy turns to look at whatever it is she sees and then looks back at her, “What’s the matter?” She returns her gaze back to the guy and shrugs, “Oh, nothing. I thought I saw someone.” He looks back over his shoulder, “Oh.” She too takes another peek; the man is gone. She recognizes the sensation stretching across her back. “Well,” the guy begins in genuine excitement, “Are you ready for the best afternoon … or I guess … evening of your life?” “Yes!” she exclaims, “Yes, let’s get the hell out of here. Like now!” And the guy confuses her enthusiasm a bit, but nevertheless, she is enthusiastic. “Uh, do you want to hold hands?” he childishly asks. She smiles at him and grabs his hand, “Yes.” He looks as if he could melt. “Where are we going?” she asks. “Oh don’t you worry about that,” the guy boasts; “I’ve got it all under control.” Desperately, she ignores and pushes the sighting of the man from her mind. Hopeful despite knowing better, she responds, “Excellent!”

[end chapter]

…until the next one.

A Lingerer Lingers

A Lingerer Lingers

…because the world is flat, again.

[This is a portion of a completed first draft of a sci-fi manuscript titled Bromides and is the sequel to a self-published work titled Red & Blue Make Green, and it is the next installment of that sci-fi manuscript, which is uploaded as an ongoing work of serial fiction here on medium &elsewhere whenever the author feels compelled that you are about to begin reading now…begin, alternatively, at the beginning, or read in whatever order you find suits you best…✌]  

The world is flat, remember?, and everything within it lacks depth. I have never been here before, but I have read of its description. One would think that all of this seems strange, but really, it’s not strange at all. I see the person for whom I have been searching. Here? In this place, at this time? The location seems odd but not too odd when considering how she operates. She must have been here not too long ago, I assume. “Mox,” I gently whisper, disguised as a windstorm. “Not only can you not stay here forever, but also, you cannot stay here much longer,” through the wind I continue. Sprawled among the prickly points of the flat, slices of grass, watching as fluffy clouds in the distance retreat, transform into thin sheaths as they fly overhead, “Yes, yes,” Mox speaks aloud in a tone that would suggest his accepted acknowledgement. Awe, look at him; he looks so happy rolling around in this seemingly safe timescape. “Obviously,” Mox continues; “I shouldn’t have been able to be here at all.” He rolls around a bit on the grass, winces at the sting of the pointy grass. “This place is unreal,” Mox thinks aloud to himself in sheer enjoyment of the oddity that is this flat world. Of course, the world is not flat in the sense that the world is not a sphere, instead, everything within this world lacks depth, meaning that, despite the three-dimensional planes of existence, each independent object lacks a third dimension, like a pop-up picture book for those relegated to references from the days of yore, but all of this has already been explained. The idea of a thing, most oftentimes, proves itself to be difficult to relate to for those who exist within, for the lack of a better term, linear time. Nevertheless, to understand the world within which our dear Mox survives, requires little to no imagination. Here, within this flat world, however, Mox relaxes, feels indestructible. The question, of course, soon becomes, “How did he get here?”

According to some, Mox holds the ability to hide here within himself. To a privileged few, the matter is more or less annoying and rather banal; although the irritation of the reality weighs heavy on the privileged few. For those completely unaware of this reality altogether, the matter presumably deems itself quite curious, fascinating, perhaps even exotic to some extent. I, of course, am of the privileged few, but despite this privilege, I cannot know everything, no matter how hard I wish that the truth were not true. The matter of Mox’s arrival seems trivial, when considering the basis of all that is being said and developed through page after page of sheer nonsense. For if I were to tell of the specifics, this chance encounter would deem itself … what’s the word?, … irrelevant?, … meaningless?, … frivolous. Yes, to tell of the specifics would deem this encounter frivolous. A small frustration or perhaps the reality of the worthlessness of this entire endeavor precipitates and drizzles itself upon the minds of the unknowing.

The problem, first and foremost, is that you do not know who I am. Therefore, whether or not I can be trusted diminishes any truth I may or may not tell. Hmmm. Perhaps I could divulge that I am a liar, and so, my lies are true because I have forthrightly told that I am a liar, which means that when I lie, I am telling the truth, supporting my admittance of being a liar. Thus, if I, a liar, lie, then I tell the truth, and then the truth becomes that there is no truth, only lies. But then, when the mind of the receiver of the lies and/or truth believes the lies and accepts the deceit, then the mind builds its response(s) under the false pretense of the knowledge given as truth. And then the real question arises, What is truth? Well, it [truth] cannot philosophically be fact … because … people lie, to themselves and to others. But I’m telling you that I lie, and so you can be freed from the burden of trying to figure out what is the truth.

Okay, I’ll put it this way. If I tell you something [it will be a lie] and you accept that thing as truth, then your mind reacts to the said thing as truth. Your mind then builds upon that acceptance of the truth to form its responses. Then, you respond accordingly. What happens, though, when, say, the truth is made known to you. What you believed was true was actually false. This newfound realization/revelation does not now simply deem your original response as a lie. You responded in truth, according to the information/knowledge that was shared with you as truth. So then what? The onus just ends up being upon each person as an individual to determine what is true and what is false?, that each person must seek and search for the infallible truth before responding to or creating any new thoughts? That seems, what’s the word?, … daunting?, … arbitrary?, … cruel? Ah, yes, that’s it; that seems cruel, at best. But remember?, I am a liar. So do you still want to know the truth about Mox and what he’s doing here in this timescape? I mean, your guess is as good as my lies. I will say this, nevertheless, you can always believe the words of a liar, since they [liars] will undoubtedly lie, and that’s the truth.

“Mox,” I whisper through an even gentler wind, again in an attempt to get Mox to stop rolling around all lax and comfortable, but my attempt to grab his attention so that I may explain to him the truth of his situation is foiled by the implosion of the flat world. As the flat world shrinks into itself, everything within it begins to funnel around and through a point the size of the tip of a pen. To the Circle’s Corner, then. And Mox seems unbothered. Everything collapses, and then with the faintest popping sound, all is lost. Slingshot through space and time, Mox traverses the infinite. Someone has traveled again.

Shivering upon the slick, shiny black floors of the orbital, a stranger approaches, kneels down to check on the incapacitated person, “Sir? Sir? Are you alright?” Nervous, I feel a bit frozen. “Sir?” the stranger continues. Sure enough, Mox begins to stir a bit. Looking disoriented, Mox hurls and spews vomit all over the stranger. “Uh,” Mox coughs; “Sorry.” Oh, gross. The stranger looks disgusted, “Uh, ah, it’s alright. Is there somewhere I can take you? I think I should take you to the hospital.” “Uh, I,” Mox starts as he tries to sit himself upright. The stranger, all too generously removes an outer layer of shirt and begins wiping himself off a bit. “Maybe some water?” Mox asks, looking a little pale. Honestly, this is the first time Mox has looked this bad after a bit of … uh … say … bad dreams. The stranger enthusiastically accommodates him, “Oh, yea, sure, I’ll be right back.” Mox looks as if he’s spinning a bit. It’s a little strange. Obviously, I could just ask him how he’s doing or feeling, but that’s not really my job. The stranger quickly returns, “Here you are. Maybe just a small sip to start off.” “Wow,” Mox genuinely states in surprise; “Thanks a lot, man.” “It’s Hauberk,” the stranger offers. Mox looks at the stranger as if confused. To my surprise, the stranger picks up on this, “My name. My name’s Hauberk.” “Oh, thanks, Hauberk,” Mox corrects. “It’s no problem, uh,” the stranger states while dangling encouragement for Mox to state his name. Mox sips some water and then notices the implication of the stranger’s pause, “Oh, I, I’m … It doesn’t matter,” Mox responds casually with a dismissive wave of his hand. And then Mox suddenly, violently spills water all over the unfortunate stranger. “Fuck! I’m … I … I’m … Shit!” Mox yells suddenly knowing better than to share his name with this Hauberk stranger, and then he furiously asks the stranger, “Where am I?” “We’re quite near the central fountain of Coax Six,” the stranger so kindly answers. “On the Orbital?” Mox further begs. “Yea, on one of the orbitals,” the stranger confirms. “No, THE ORBITAL!” Mox demands. The stranger looks a bit confused, “Uh, I’m not sure which The Orbital you’re thinking of.” “Shit,” Mox spits as he comes to a stand. “Hey, look man, I think you should take it easy,” the stranger suggests as he also stands to balance Mox by the shoulders. “No, I’m good,” Mox mutters; “I just need to know which orbital I’m on.” “It’s Orbital mmphsk [something I can’t make out from this distance],” the stranger softly states as if scared of Mox’s next reaction.

“Fuck,” Mox whispers, and then he sort of looks around as if looking for me, but of course, he cannot be. Nevertheless, Mox tries and speaks to me by simply speaking aloud while looking around as if speaking to a ghost, “I didn’t mean to come out of hiding.” The stranger takes a small step back as the tell-tale signs of fear cast a shadow over his face. “Uh, you look like you’re doing a lot better now,” the stranger observes as calmly as he can; “I guess I’ll just be on my way now.” Mox turns now to look directly at the stranger, “Who are you again?” The stranger contemplates whether or not this stroke of fortune that this man has forgotten his name already is good or bad, “Uh, I. It doesn’t matter. Just a good samaritan trying to help a guy out, ya know?” Hauberk starts to inch away slowly. “Hauberk,” Mox remembers; “It’s Hauberk, right?” Hauberk hangs his head low, disappointed, “Uh, yea, that’s me, but I should just be on my way now.” “No way, man! Please, you gotta help me,” Mox pleads; “If we are where you say we are, I’m in big trouble.” His turn to now turn pale, Hauberk attempts to excuse himself, “You know, I’d really love to help you out, but I’m already late for something. You’re looking a lot better, so really, I gotta go.” Mox looks reinvigorated, intent, “Look, Hauberk, I’ll either follow you around and force you to help me, or you can help me willingly.” “Shit man,” Hauberk responds; “That’s not fair, man.” “Suck it, asswipe,” Mox asserts; “What the fuck kind of name is Hauberk anyway? You’re coming with me. Now!” Mox whisper-shouts. Hauberk, unaware of the fact that the two of them exist within similar circumstances, arriving here at Orbital Didn’t-Catch-The-Name due to forces beyond them, begrudgingly follows.Mox and Hauberk silently make their way through Coax Six of the Orbital. They pass this and that and travel through here and there. Honestly, I am so freakin’ tempted at this point to abandon them and find Ladybug. But wait. What’s this? Hauberk begins to lag behind a bit. With Mox slightly unaware of Hauberk’s presumed attempt, I feel obligated to help the poor guy out. “Mox,” from a position behind him, I whisper. Mox turns just as Hauberk takes off in a full sprint in the opposite direction. “Motherfucker,” Mox spits aloud as he too takes off after him. With a spoke tunnel in the not-so-distant distance, Hauberk’s objective becomes clear. “Goddammit, Hauberk!” Mox screams in a desperate attempt to catch his man; “There’s nowhere to hide! They’ll find you! They’ve seen you!” Hauberk reaches the doors to the spoke tunnel that enables the transport of people and things, I guess, that can figure out how to use the spoke, in and around the Orbital. Quickly, Hauberk waves a call signal. Only a few steps behind, however, Mox reaches Hauberk just as the doors swing open and pummels Hauberk onto the floor of the capsule. Wrestling on top of each other within the capsule preparing to launch them to some other location within the Orbital, Mox screams, “You fucking fool!” The doors to the capsule seal shut. The pull of the vacuum blocks the information I need, and I can no longer see nor hear them. It looks like the capsule will transport them to … let’s see … Coax Three. Okay, then.

Tale of Two Squirrels

Tale of Two Squirrels

[if this were a print publication of this book, two blank pages would exist here…if you’d like to begin at the beginning of this online expression of a sci-fi manuscript written many years ago about time travelers and travelers of time, read Ladybug & The Lingerer {also on medium dot com}, and you’ll eventually read yourself here, or read whatever chapters you’d like in whatever order you deem best…*peace sign emoji*]

[begin chapter]

“Have you heard the Tale of Two Squirrels?” the older woman, again, asks aloud, seemingly to nobody. “Yes, very good,” the older woman congratulates; “If you have heard the tale, well then, please do tell of its meaning. No? To know of a thing while lacking the intelligence to understand the thing may always be forgiven, however, knowing of a gap in one’s knowledge without taking the necessary measures to fill that gap ought never be forgiven. Nevertheless, to know a thing for certain reveals the fool. Thus, do you want to hear the Tale of Two Squirrels?” The older woman walks toward the center of the cylindrical room where a plush armchair sits, accompanied by a tiny side table barely large enough to hold a drinking vessel. Seated, the older woman sits in the plush armchair, “Excellent.”

“At the edge of a wooded forest, a few trees extended beyond the sprawling tree line, inhabiting that strange boundary where the edge effect creates visible, understandable chaos. Here, two trees grew, spread apart by random brush, multiple grasses and varied wildlife. In each of the trees, a single squirrel lived, happy, healthy, hopeful that the life that had been given was a life worth living. How each arrived at their respective tree does not matter, thus, let the presumptions fly free. One day, one of the squirrels, a male, spotted the other squirrel in the not-so-near yet not-so-faraway tree. Excited, he jumped with excitement in an attempt to catch the other squirrel’s attention. For days the other squirrel, a female (or another male or make the other squirrel a female also, the details hardly matter for the purposes of a tale), failed to notice the pursuits of the male squirrel. No matter, he did not give up. Resilient and resourceful, he created large fans to wave and catch the light of the daily sun. Then, finally, the most glorious day arrived when the other squirrel recognized the efforts of the other squirrel. Curious, the female waved back and the two struck up a friendship. The trees, separated by treacherous terrain that made the distance ever too far to jump, provided adequate vantage points from which each could communicate with the other. And so, for a period of time, the two squirrels laughed and shared life from a distance.

“Then, one early morning, the male squirrel woke to the tingling sensation of longing. Even though he had never spent any time in the physical presence of his friend, he missed her. Skeptical of what the female squirrel might think, he worked up the courage to ask if she would be interested in having him visit her in her tree. Perhaps they could live together in the same tree. Before he asked, however, a ray of good fortune came his way in the form of her asking about whether or not one tree could sustain two squirrels. Thus, for an unknowable amount of time, the two squirrels discussed and theorized about one tree’s ability to sustain the both of them. Eventually, they decided that one tree could in fact provide for them. Delighted, the male squirrel finally asked if he could come live in her tree with her. She enthusiastically obliged and communicated that his presence would make her very happy, but being the strong, independent squirrel that she was, she proffered to be the one to make the dangerous journey through the treacherous unknown between them. The male squirrel honestly considered her offer. And so, for another unknowable amount of time, the two debated who was best suited to make the journey. Designing and challenging each other with various tasks that could be fulfilled within each of their own trees, the squirrels underwent a rigorous test of physicality and compared their performances. In the end, they came up with a plan that would utilize both of their strengths.

“The female squirrel (again, which squirrel is assigned to which attributes does not matter if the tale is changed for a reversal of genders or a homogenous-gender retelling) was larger, and so, they thought maybe she would look more appetizing to predators, she was also smarter, in that earlier in their relationship, she had taught the male squirrel how to stockpile food more efficiently. The male squirrel, being smaller, was quite quick, which made him a better candidate to run the distance between the two trees. And so, the plan unfolded in such a way that the two worked together to design armour out of tree bark that the male squirrel would wear as he journeyed through the treachery. Just as the male squirrel descended his tree, the female squirrel would jump down onto the ground on the side opposite the side toward which the male squirrel would run as a distraction. During the hottest part of the day, the two would practice jumping down and running up their respective trees, the male in his armour, the female in an attempt to see if she could draw the attention of hungry predators. Over the course of a few days, the female would make suggestions about flaws she saw in the armour, and the male would make suggestions about how she could scale the tree even faster. Then, the day of the traversal finally arrived.

“Both squirrels woke early in the morning to go over their plan. They had not really worked out a plan if either were caught and taken away seeing how that would merely be the end of all this nonsense anyhow. Therefore, they focused on what they each could do. After a long, loving conversation about the time they had already spent together, the sun sang its midday song. The two squirrels danced a short little dance together, apart, in their own trees. Feeling excited for a new chapter of their lives yet nauseated by the fear of death, the two carefully climbed down to the lower portion of trunk. At some point, they could no longer see each other through the thick brush covering the ground between them. Just as they reached this point, they waved and spoke words of optimistic finality. Then, they each jumped.

“The male squirrel ran faster than he had ever run in his life. He did his best to keep the top of the tree to which he was headed centered directly in front of him, but then he heard the tell-tale sign of a predator. Immediately, he came to a halt and froze. The tiniest swishes of movement pierced his ears. He could hear his little heart beating faster and harder. Then, he recognized the sound of the female squirrel screeching as if injured. His predator bolted away, unseen. He made another run for it. Meanwhile, the female was writhing and making all sorts of commotion at the base of her tree until she too heard the approaching predator. Waiting until the last possible moment, she feigned injury and screamed as loudly as possible. As her spine began to tingle to the point where she knew danger was imminent, she waited a split moment longer and then blasted up the trunk of her tree, just in time. A small cat caught a glimpse of her and chased her right up to the tippy top of her tree. The cat, being larger and heavier, could only scale about halfway up before the limbs of the tree became too thin to support the weight. The cat batted and scratched at her as she hung on for dear life. Luckily, the distraction was working. The male squirrel had made excellent progress and made it to the base of the female’s tree. A new problem, however, developed. The female was trapped at the top of the tree; the cat kept close eyes on her from a branch in the middle of the tree, and the male remained in danger upon the ground. Each squirrel resisted the temptation to communicate another plan.

“Then, the female executed an extraordinary feat. Knowing that the male squirrel had safely reached the base of the tree, she knew that he could perhaps hide along the very base of the tree, camouflaged by his tree-bark armour. Carefully, the female squirrel mimed a little mime about how he could hide and potentially look like part of the tree. The only problem was his tail. After so much time miming to each other from their respective trees, he understood what she was saying and then tucked his tail into the top of his back armour. With the cat’s attention still fixed upon the female, the male was free to gesture that he was ready, and then he began to do a short countdown with his toes. ‘Three, two, one,’ he gestured, and then he crouched tight under his tree-bark armour as she jumped from the top of the tree onto the ground. Immediately, the cat reacted to her movement and also jumped from the tree. The male, safe from the view of the cat, ran up the tree and began to peel off his armour. Running furiously around on the ground, the female quickly grew tired. Luckily, the male squirrel began throwing the pieces of his armour at the cat. Confused and a bit distracted, the cat stopped but for only a split second to look around. It was just enough time for the female to split and make her way safely to the tree. The cat, however, recovered quite quickly and saw the female scrambling up the tree and followed. Seeing the female and the cat rushing toward him, the male too ran up to the tippy top of the tree. Again, with a stroke of good fortune, the cat could only make it about halfway up the tree before the branches began to bend under its weight. Frustrated at being foiled twice, the cat slowly climbed down and jumped out of the tree, turned back to look up the tree, hissed and made its way through the treacherous brush. Exhausted yet exhilarated, the two squirrels embraced each other in a long overdue hug. They made their way down to the female squirrel’s nest and rolled around until the day grew dark. That night they slept like babies, each in the comfort of the other.

“The next morning seemed like the most glorious day. They woke to a bright sun-filled, cloudless scene, filled to the brim in ecstasy. In fact, they were so happy, they failed to see the impending danger of a bird circling overhead. Through the course of the morning, they chased each other up and down the top portion of the tree, shared a meal together, and talked ceaselessly about the adventures of the day before. Then, suddenly, without a hint of threat, the circling bird dove down to the top of the tree, just as the female squirrel ran up the tree from a playful chase and snapped up the female squirrel. The female reached out while screaming in defiance. The male squirrel ran furiously up the tree in an attempt to jump up and reach the female to no avail. Unbeknownst to them, this particular bird didn’t eat squirrel, and so, as the bird flew over the former tree of the male squirrel, it dropped the female who landed quite safely within the branches of the male’s tree. Relieved to still be alive, the female squirrel’s emotions soon flooded with bewilderment. After checking if she was indeed free of injury, she positioned herself near the top of the male’s tree and looked out beyond the treacherous ground below to see that the male squirrel seemed safely within her tree. They communicated that they were each fully intact and safe.

“Fearful and confused, they spent a few days not talking about how to reach each other again. Eventually, however, they decided to enact the same plan as before, and again, the male successfully reached his old tree. Delighted and excited, they forgot about the misery of being separated, and again, chased each other up and down his old tree, now their new tree. And again, after a few days this time, another bird circled, snatched the female and returned her to her original tree. For an eternity, the two squirrels lived in and accepted this harmonious discord.”

“Kill this Lingerer,” the older woman commands a nearby subject.

“But, Ma’am. A deal was made.”

“The liar always prevails in the end.”

“Then what is to come of this position?”

“A replacement.”

“But Ma’am. The conditions of the knowledge known by each version of tellers has been discussed. How will the story unfold in its entirety?”

“Enough. End it now.”

[The sound of static]

…tap the category Bromides to read all of the chapters related to this writing :)

She & The [Old] Man

She & The [Old] Man

Landfill. Yes, she thinks to herself as she climbs over a large pile of, what seems to be, garbage toward the archway of the front door through which she needs to enter; landfill seems like the right word. The heap never lets up. “Excuse me?” she calls through an outstretched neck while still atop the trash mound. Rustling. A man pokes his head around a corner just far enough to catch a blurry glimpse of red hair. “Excuse me, sir?” The man cannot see her very well at this distance, but she does not know that. He can, however, tell that she is a she, by her voice, of course. “Yes? What is it? I think that you are quite late, my dear,” the man shouts from behind the wall, unseen. She begins to clamber down the heap. “It’s not ready anyway,” the man continues on, “A message was sent to you days ago regarding this exact delay. Why are you here?” She stands silently. More rustling. The man emerges from beyond the wall around which he was hidden and slides into the less cluttered room in which she stands. “Oh,” the man states in surprise after now having a look at her. He takes a step back and examines her from a safe albeit oddly close distance. “Hmmmm,” he murmurs. She feels the urge to take off her shoes. “Not yet,” the man instructs. “How long have you been here?” “I only just arrived,” she answers. “No, when did you arrive here here,” the man urges. “Yesterday,” she responds after understanding what the man was initially asking. “Oh, yes,” the man sighs, “Your arrival does make some sense to me now.” The man stops pacing, makes his way to a dusty, darkened window sill, sits and crosses his left arm over his torso as if hugging himself while simultaneously propping his right elbow on the arm so that the fingers of his right hand may stroke his face.

The sounds of another person ring through the corridor beyond the garbage heap. She turns to see who approaches. “Ah,” says the shining face of someone she does not know although she does feel as though she must know him, “I’m so sorry that I don’t have any work for you this session,” the shining face laments. “May I, at the very least, take you out to dinner. I really do wish I could’ve given you the work. I love to send my money into the hands of people I love,” the shining face exclaims a little too loudly. Confusion. “I,” she begins, but the man cuts her off. “She doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter,” the man shouts with a dismissive flick of his wrist. “Well, just come on by for dinner whenever you have a chance,” the shining face blurts out over the heap as the face continues its ascent up the stairs. The man, still perched on the dusty sill, wonders aloud, “Is she supposed to be here now?” “As opposed to when?” she whispers. “Where were you just before you arrived here?” the man asks, and then finally corrects, “the old man.” “I was walking through a dark corridor with …“ she starts, but the old man cuts her off again. “So you did receive my message!” “I received a message. Then I went to go pick up the package, but when I got there …” “That goddamn corridor!” the old man shouts. She knows that this old man has the answer to the only question for which she needs an answer, but she does not know the question. “Yes,” quietly now, the old man speaks gently, “I do have the answer, but I cannot help you until you know the question.” “Do …” she begins. “No,” the old man replies.

They share the space of the cluttered room, the old man still at the sill, she standing on one of the only bare squares of floor. Through the dusty window she can see the glittery sunlight force its significance between the tiny cracks where the dust has not infected. She looks down at her shoes; they are of the dirty sort with which she is less comfortable. She watches the old man think. The realization that she will, unfortunately, have to wait in this … filthy place for an unknowable amount of time dawns on her. “Yes,” the old man states. “There is a room over there that is less, as you put it, filthy. Come.” She carefully follows the old man into a much nicer room that’s filled with ancient technology and plant-based materials. The only pieces of furniture are a bright purple velvet wingback chair, a piano stool unaccompanied by a piano, a large dining table unaccompanied by chairs, and a small table barely large enough to house one large lamp. “No, there is no bed in this place,” the old man answers, “but there is food. Are you hungry?” “Yes,” she responds with curiosity.

She thinks about what it is that she even wants to eat. “It’s difficult to know such a thing at this point,” the old man interjects between her thoughts. “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘food’?” Sandwich, she thinks softly in her mind. “A …” she begins. “Ah yes,” the old man concludes, “Good choice.” The old man leaves her in the velvet chair with knowing eyes. She feels … she feels …

It’s warm. Mox’s tree stands alone, distant in a grassy field lit by the sun’s evening glow. Air rushes by, caresses her face in a swirl of comfort. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath of the fresh air. Exhale. Clouds form. With the flash of cracking thunder, a storm billows instantaneously over her. The sun, darkened, retreats. Her eyes burn. The stream of a familiar voice reverberates throughout the field. Muted, faded, the green of the grass turns pale. She runs toward the tree as it, too, loses its vibrant saturation. Colorless, the grey-scale off of which everything now no longer bounces the sun’s magnificent light strikes her with a vomitous ache. She stops and keels over. “You cannot know that which cannot be known,” the wind whispers as it blows through her hair. She blinks a single tear from her searing, watering eyes.

Cold and stale air hits her face. She opens her eyes to see the old man standing before her with a plate and cup in hand. “How,” she mutters. “It’s only been a few minutes,” the old man answers, “Relax.” “I …” she begins again. “Mox cannot remain hidden for much longer,” the old man responds. She feels something. With a little understanding that her words mean nothing to this man (old man), she begins a thought, Why am I here? “I cannot know that which cannot be known,” the old man replies. “Focus on what you do know, without doubt,” the old man instructs as he hands her the plate with a rudimentary sandwich made of flat bread, an orange sauce and something else she prefers not to know, “And eat this.” But what is it?, runs cooly through her mind. “Bread and cheese,” the man states flatly. Oh, thank you, she thanks in thought.

“Now, tell me about this tree,” the old man demands ever so benevolently while making a seat out of a stack of books and other plant-based materials. It’s not a tree. “What does it represent then?” I’m not to tell details to strangers. “I am not a stranger.” I have doubts. “Very well, then. Does it have a physical location?” Mind clear, she sits silently and eats her sandwich. Then she wonders how she can keep her mind so free of thought, but wait, this is a thought she is having now. The old man chuckles amicably. “Interesting,” the old man speaks aloud. Silence. “I’ll tell you if you really want to know,” the old man offers. Tell me what? “How it is that you can keep your mind so clear.” Does it matter? “Of course not.” Silence.

“If not the tree, then tell me about the boy who brought you here.” What? “The boy you followed into the dark corridor.” But … “It’s okay, I’m very familiar with him. He is why you’re here, in my presence.” Then tell me his name. “Why should I? You don’t even know his name. It was a faulty test of my trustworthiness.” I followed my feet and ended up at his door. “He was upset.” Yes. “You were expected much earlier.” Yes. “What was the delay?” I have doubts. “Where were you before your feet brought you to him?” My home. “And before that?” But you know. “Her presence haunts all, not just you. Could you decipher the contents of the capsule?” Yes. “But I am a stranger.” But you already know. 

The room begins to expand as if it were a balloon filling with helium. The old man’s thoughts make wind and disrupt every particle of settled dust. Calm, she sits. Noisy, every plant-based material rips violently throughout the space. And then, silence. When the mind works at its optimum level, time stands still while every tangible object floats in the limbo between being known and unknown. Through the window now free of dust she can see the glistening sun through the outer glass of the orbital. This place the (old) man lives in, she thinks, rests at the edge; there’s nothing but a cold, dark vacuum beyond these walls.

The room again as it was before the old man’s mindscape, “Interesting.” I feel like I’ve never been here before. “And.” And yet, I do not feel lost. “Do you know who you are?” Yes. “Who are you?”