Friday, October 23, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

The day the sun burned out, no one cried. No one was cold. They were shocked and angry. The simulation was revealed, and the people's wrath was pure and beautiful. They hung the Governor from an old oak tree down by the Civic Center. They burned cop cars. They took what they wanted, justice for what had been taken from them.

The buildings burned, and they would have provided heat if it was necessary. But there was no need. The sun was up and running within a few hours. The weather machines never stopped. Hunting parties set out to look for them. No one was in the state-run bars. The buses did not run.

The churches boarded up almost immediately. The gig was up. They burned with the rest of the lie foundations. The harbor was poisoned out of spite. People burned the forests just to see if the trees would catch fire. 

When the gas was released, most everyone died immediately. Those who were spared, by circumstance or evolutionary advantage, felt themselves fracture. They could not handle the death - the corpses. Only the puppeteers in their fortified offices made it through the purge unscathed, licking their teeth, and waiting for the populace to forget. 

And on and on and on and...


  1. “Ann Louise, you have to face the facts, darlin’. Your father is a hopeless alcoholic.”
    I didn’t agree, but this wasn’t the moment to say so, stuck as I was in the Al-Anon team meeting Mama sent me and Daniel to every Saturday night. She wanted to make sure she did right by her children, no matter what they thought of it. Not that she’d ever set foot in such a meeting herself, or allow her own reputation to be sullied by association know hers was the sacrifice we all needed to appreciate.
    The Al-Anon lady was looking at me, expecting expectantly. I nodded once worried cuticle instead. The truth was, I didn’t see daddy as hopeless at all. I mean, sure, he toed the line for a while, then fall off the wagon, and start the same damn pattern over. She’d wait until he dried out, turning up at the front door with flowers and a mouthful of promises, thinking every single time it was going to work out different, even though he didn’t change a thing. It’s kind of optimistic when you think about it.
    But then Mama always said I favored daddy just the way my brother Daniel favored her, but then it was always easier for her to get him to behave than me. Truth is, Daniel bought that whole Al-Anon thing hook, line and sinker. He couldn’t wait to broadcast to anybody who’d listen how he’d been victimized by our dysfunctional upbringing. As for me, I recognized a pulpit when I saw one and kept my mouth shut. Near as I could see, our family wasn’t any worse than anybody else’s, no matter what they wanted you to believe.
    You see, what they were really addicted to wasn’t booze or religion, but each other. They were kinda pitted against each other that way. He figured the world owed him something, then was real mad about about it when it didn’t turn out and she figured he owed her something, but that she had to make sacrifices in order to get it. Didn’t neither one of them have it all that bad, but they couldn’t turn loose of the contest they were in. It was like one of those monopoly games that go on and on and on until finally somebody accuses the other one of cheating. They get mad or bored and the whole works winds up on the floor. After they got divorced, though, things changed.
    First of all, we found out that he had a whole other family and they were the ones he ran to when mama kicked me out. Nice little house over the state line in Alabama with the pretty blonde wife and two little toddlers who never had a clue about us up in North Carolina. Truth is, coming from what they call a dysfunctional family? It’s pretty darn entertaining all around. I mean having a daddy who drinks is one thing, but a bigamist?We were practically celebrities.
    But even in that Mama wasn’t about to give up easy, she didn’t even bring charges. Instead, she started herself up a consciousness group for women, went platimnum blond and wore her hair up in one of their beehives. I got to sit around some of them women’s meetings and believe me, what you heard was quite an education.

  2. Brother Daniel on the other hand, pretty much kept to himself in high school and he was evangelical like Mama was. But he liked to paint himself as a victim, too, though of what exactly, nobody ever quite figured out, except that it was always somebody else’s fault. Before long he joined the Army for his own education and because he got to shoot things and not get into trouble for it. I guess that changed him though. When he come back, he moved all the way to Colorado. He lives up there now, making himself a whole fortune selling organic gummies with CBT and making his fortune on the legalization. Last I heard he was running for alderman. But that’s Daniel too, always did like the straight and narrow and find his way back in the end.
    And me? What’s that they call it? The road less traveled? Always like the sound of that, even if it does take me round in circles some times. Hell, I was on my third husband before I realized that maybe marriage wasn’t as much fun as to warrant a particular line of ambition. I did finally got my degree in life coaching and psychology from the community college, though. So maybe I am like my daddy. I was kind of a slow learner. Though I only wound up in rehab once after my second husband threw me over. I think I had to be 32 years old before I finally realized that everybody came looking to me for a shoulder to cry on. And I would give them my best advice and they’d ignore it. I finally figured out they just needed me to listen and so now I do. Easier on everybody that way.

  3. See the way I got it figured, how you came up hardly ever has much to do with how you turn out. Having kids is like planting seeds. It all depends on the kind of soil you throw them into, or the weather and whether the bugs or the other critters try to mess with how you grow. It was like that with me and Daniel. Maybe mom and dad did their best and maybe they didn’t, but I do know one thing: we all got some addiction somewhere. Give up one, you find another one quick as anything. Maybe it’s rage, Maybe it’s disappointment, maybe it’s because you got caught up in the drama of your suffering and don’t feel right unless you’re in pain and an you reach for something to make you feel better. But we got no right to judge, not any of us.That’s worth saying, even when nobody’s listening. Or maybe I’m just like my daddy. I’m addicted too. Somewhere along the line, I latched onto the idea that hope is always possible. It gives me pleasure to think so, anyway. And I’m addicted to that.

    1. Love this! I want to hear more from this character. I love the addiction to hope.

  4. JD Mader's piece...
    A powerful piece of fiction. You can feel the heat of the fire, reflecting the people's ire. I like the contrast of the corpses, the skeletons and the puppets/puppeteers. And the line about people setting fire to trees just to see what would happen. The waste of anger, the follow-the-lead on anger, the unnecessary destruction. And there's, for me, the image of the globe overheating - it's on fire - due to man's greed. Good stuff.

    1. Yes, it's chilling. I had a similar response to Vickie's. Felt the heat, the anger.

  5. Will you?

    Will you follow my lead through
    the wild streets and fields
    where gold light once spilled,
    confidence your true shield?

    Will you dance amongst the barley
    full grown, heady in still breeze,
    as the nights draw out so long
    we grow old in our heads?

    Our hearts, they feel no shame
    in our fight against Time,
    the Father we all hope to tame,
    challenged in the flip of a dime.

    These waxing candles will blow out
    when the shorn fields fall fallow
    and we have no passion left to follow,
    but for now there is time to borrow.

  6. “I used to have the most wonderful dreams,” I told the cat, turning in bed to face her. “Now, by the time I wake up, I’ve forgotten them all.”

    For a moment we sat in silence, bathed in early morning light, then she said, “Maybe this is a good thing.” With inscrutable feline wisdom she began grooming her paws.

    “Why? There have been entire stories in those dreams. Whole novels.”

    “If they don’t stay, they aren’t yours.”

    Sometimes that wisdom irritated the hell out of me. Like a bad mashup of fortune cookies and Zen cliches. “But…they were mine. I saw them. In full technicolor, with dance numbers.”

    She stopped, a sliver of pink tongue frozen between her lips, and gave me a baleful stare. “Dance numbers.”

    I blushed. “Well. Not big dance numbers. Nothing tacky. No Esther Williams or Busby Berkley stuff. You know. Tasteful.”

    “So, more La La Land and less Singin’ in the Rain.”

    “You watch too much Netflix.”

    “As if.” She resumed her toilette. “No opposable thumbs, remember.”

    “Maybe it’s my medication. Or something else. Stress?”

    “Are you searching for a truth bomb or is this more of your random outgassing?”

    “Boy, you really are crabby before your coffee.”

    “Have you met me?”

    I sighed. Stroked the soft fur beneath her chin. She lifted it and purred, then rolled onto her side.

    “Sorry,” she said. “Look. If you really want the answer, I’ll tell you. But knowledge comes with a price.”

    Did I want to pay that price? I just wanted my dreams back. So I nodded.

    “Your mind is protecting you. This is why you don’t remember.”

    “Protecting me…from what? I know that I dream. I know that they are mostly pleasant. So why would my mind protect me by making them evaporate?”

    “Your mind is what makes them…mostly pleasant, as you say. The evaporation is a different kind of defense mechanism.”

    I had no response.

    “I see I have not penetrated your odd human mind. So let me put this in different words. If you remembered what you actually did dream, you’d be very upset. Because the real dreams are quite upsetting.”

    “Singin’ in the Rain upsetting or La La Land upsetting?”

    “Xanadu upsetting.”

    This also quieted me. “The evaporation is so I won’t remember that my mind fakes the whole thing?”

    “I’ll take ‘Finally Gets It’ for $2000, Alex.”

    “I want to see them.”

    “Do you think you’re strong enough? Remember the last time I took you there.”

    “Apparently that wasn’t evaporated from my memory.”

    “It was for your own good. We would have had to take drastic measures otherwise.”

    “Yes.” I cleared my throat, sat up in bed. “Yes. I want to see them. Well…not all of them. Maybe start with one.”

    “One. We can do one. Fix me coffee and we’ll start.”

  7. “I can’t even,” they say.
    In this new language.
    It’s all odd now.
    Water, dry; sand, wet.
    Sky, green; grass, blue.
    Ignorance, bliss; war, peace.
    Freedom, responsibility.
    Truth, lies; lies, truth.
    The only equation that, oddly,
    in this new language,


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