The Restaurant

(This is an old story I’d written maybe five or six years ago. I figured I’d post it and maybe that’d get me motivated to actually write some new stuff?)

“Well.” I took a sip of my beer. It was a Stella; this place always has Stella on special. It was a special so frequently I assumed it was because they couldn’t sell any. To me it seemed more like a permanent clearance sale than a proper ‘special’. Either way, Stella is classier than Bud Light (or is it Bud Lite?), so let it be a perpetual special – I didn’t mind saving a few dollars. I took another sip.

“It’s something new and something I don’t understand yet.” My friend Jeff looked around while he thought. We were at our typical hangout where once a month, more or less, we go out for food and drinks. It was a typical restaurant with the typical fare of burgers, steak, and chicken dishes, usually visited by families, couples, or friends/groups celebrating events that aren’t worth celebrating. Jeff and I were a couple of guys sorting things out, not like a couple on a date with their trivial matters or people “celebrating” some mundane event. Nevermind that our “sorting things out” never actually sorted anything out.

“You’re good at all sorts of things.” Jeff said. “Why would you decide to write?”

“It’s new and artistic.”

“You’re a good artist already. You used to draw, and you can write decent music. You could do those instead of trying to write can’t you? Build on your current skills rather than learn new ones.” Jeff is endlessly curious. Not so much curious about new, unknown things, but curious about the task at hand, the current pressing matter. He won’t go out of his way to learn about some topic on the news that he doesn’t understand, but if someone close to him brings up a topic, he analyzes it like a detective would analyze a case.

“I don’t know man. Writing seems…more mysterious – less dictated by formula, more creative in a way. I mean art, such as painting has tons of mystery to it, but telling stories, or fiction, with just words, seems crazy. That it’s so mysterious makes it even more interesting to me. But you know what Jeff? I have no fucking clue what I should write about. Like how do you just sit down and write a fucking story?”

Jeff thought about this but didn’t have to think long. Music was his life, it was his art, and putting writing and music together was a natural marriage; songs tell stories too. I knew where his line of thought would take him.

“Well, don’t you just write about what you know? That is what I usually read in all the musical biographies. They write about what they know. You know Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” right?”

He knew that I was aware of the song. I gave a quick affirmative nod. It is one of the best songs ever written.

“That is a classic song, and it’s more or less a narrative about his bar playing days. He wrote about what he knew and it was a hit.”

“Well ok, but what the fuck do I know?” I laughed. “I lead a boring life, I have a girlfriend, I work, I smoke weed, hell even sometimes I lift weights at the gym. I’m not complaining about anything, ya know I’m happy, but my life isn’t exactly story material. Maybe I should write about waking up, doing the same thing everyday and then…going to work? Fucking that would be a wonderful book, huh? I could write about being stoned and confused by music lyrics but that’s been done millions of times.” I took an aggressive drink of my beer and shook my head. “It’d be the most boring damn book ever. If anything I’d write a book about nothing, because life is pretty much nothing to write about.”

Jeff laughed and said, “A book about nothing? That’s what Seinfeld was. Well, not a book but a TV show about nothing.”

Dammit, Jeff, such a sharp person. In trying to go on about life not having anything to really write about, being about nothing, he brings up one of the best (if not THE best) show ever created. I dropped the point before he had to prove me wrong.

“Yeah, Seinfeld was a show about nothing. And somehow they made it good.”

Taking a drink of his margarita (yes, margarita), Jeff jumped right into his analysis. “Seinfeld was good because it was about nothing. I mean most people, including myself, feel life is nothing. At least partly. But Seinfeld took these nothing moments that we all know and understand and made it relatable and funny.”

“And without a strict plot too, right?” I added, trying to play an active role in the conversation. I always assumed a story would need some form of structure and a story without a plot seemed like a terrible idea.

“Well,” he paused and plotted out what he was about to say, “the show did have a plot in each episode but no real plot tying the shows together. They had their separate jobs that we constant in a season, but outside of that, you’re correct, there was no plot.”

I sighed. “But it was good. Now I can’t do the same damn thing, even with a story. It’d be a blatant ripoff.”

“Thats where you need to put your own flavor in.” Jeff instructed me.

I drank some more beer, finishing my glass and setting it on the edge of the table so the waitress knew I wanted another. She quickly and silently brought me another drink without me even being aware of it. My last beer was number two, a 20 ounce glass, so really three and a third cans of beer. Cans are the definitive measurement of beer consumption and 40 ounces equaling 3.33333 beers had been established a long time previous. I was feeling good.

We both sat there thinking of our conversation and where it should lead next. I thought of writing what I know (being typical everyday stuff) and Seinfeld’s masterpiece in turning the trivial into something special. Every artform I could think of built itself on its creator’s personal knowledge. Chekhov was a doctor; anyone could tell this by his stories. C.S. Lewis was a passionate Christian and is why Aslan was basically Jesus, Orwell had some career in analyzing politics or something and it was obvious that he hated communism, Twain knew of the river and slavery, Vonnegut was in Dresden and most likely abducted by aliens…all of these are evident upon reading their works. I found one exception, one of many it seemed.

“Ok. You say they write about what they know, right?” I set up the statement for Jeff to agree too, so I could present a counterexample. A quick flash of Socrates standing in a robe flashed in my mind.

“Yeah.”

“What about…uh…the dude who wrote Lord of the Rings? What the fuck was his name? Tole-key-an? Tole-i-kan? Something like that. I mean did he know trolls, kings, dwarves, and elves? It looks like he just pulled Middle Earth right out of his ass.”

“I seen the movies when they came out and haven’t seen them since.” That had to have been quite some time ago, my drunken self concluded. It was too hard to anchor the movies and their releases to a year, especially since I’ve watched them many times since. “I’m guessing he just used his imagination and created something new. And I bet if you dug deep enough into his stuff you’d find something relatable to what his interests were, or points he was trying to get at,” Jeff finally concluded.

He had a point. I bet if I reread his stuff again I could find something that brought the story back to his own life in someway. I nodded. “Yeah…yeah, that is a good point.” Maybe I would do that sometime soon. Too bad the book takes forever to read.

I thought for a moment and took a drink. Jeff pretty much escaped the point I was trying to prove. My drunken mind moved on quickly as if not wanting to dwell in silence for very long.

“You know what else would get me? Ok, I just read The Hunger Games, you haven’t read them or seen the movies have you?”

“Nope.”

“Well it’s a trilogy, and it covers, like, obviously three separate stories but they all tie together, like a story arc I guess. But if I wrote the books I wouldn’t know where to end the thing at. Life doesn’t really end. Katniss, she’s the hero person, she doesn’t just ‘live happily ever after’ after the end of the book. Shit in Panem – uhhh, the setting of the story – sorry Jeff, will just keep going. It’s not like shit happens to her and then she’s done. But the books are done. They finish, because they have to end. Where do you put a book’s ending when nothing really ends? I’d end up ending the ‘trilogy’ with about 20 books where the last five she just gets old, gets Alzheimer’s or some other incurable disease and dies not remembering a thing. And her grandkids hate her for being bad at technology or some other reason.”

Jeff laughed, obvious taken by surprise at my alcohol-fueled rant. He quickly recovered for his chuckle and regained his words. “I guess it’s the same as any other forms of art. You write a song and it has to end somewhere. Personally, I would end it after the main story is over. It’s obvious and exhausting when a story just keeps going on and on and just drags. I actually think it’s rather obvious when a story is supposed to end.” Jeff seemed to be losing interest in my writing curiosities while I found the topic even more fascinating the further we talked and with the more I drank.

One example jumped into my mind from high school. It was one of the two or three books I remember from way back then: the mandatory books we had to read. “Like Huckleberry Finn? Mark Twain didn’t know how to end it so it was just Huck and Tom and their slave buddy – Jim? – hanging out in a shack for months or something. Wasn’t that how it went? At least that’s what I remember. But like let’s say I write a story about us in this restaurant, where and how would it end?”

“That would be a boring story.” Jeff chuckled and took a drink of his girly drink. Damn right it would be a boring story, but what happened to the ‘write about what you know’ idea? I know us drinking and talking about random stuff; couldn’t that make a story?

“But really how would it end?” I laughed, joking around with him although being a bit more serious with my question. I knew it would take a long time to find a halfway decent ending and wanted to see what terrible ending he would throw out with some prompting.

“I have no idea, maybe you could make some people break in to rob this place…” Jeff suggested. I smiled, suppressing a laugh as my mouth was full of beer. Jeff was off to a hilarious start and my imagination quickly gave visuals to his words. I imagined the two of us with Tommy guns, wearing hats like the mobsters wore in the 30s, and pumping the walls of the restaurant with lead as we fended off the never ending army of robbers. Luckily I was able to swallow my beer halfway through my thought. “…and we save everyone. We become heroes and…”

“Is there anything else I can get for you guys today?” The waitress, as usual, did a wonderful job at sneaking up on us. Me and Jeff looked at each other, I tallied up my beers, and feeling satisfied gave a slight shake of my head. Jeff also felt the same; we were here quite a while and it was time to move on with our day. 

“Umm, nope. We should be good.” Jeff said. I usually stayed quiet and let him do all of the official talking.

“Well here’s your check guys. There’s no rush and you let me know if you need anything else, okay?” Our waitress said as she left the check and walked off. It’s amusing and pathetic to see a waitress blatantly being kind, sweet, and even flirting simply to earn a tip. It’s about as subtle as a good analogy about being subtle. Luckily, this girl today seemed genuinely kind to us with no ulterior-tips motives. These are the people that get the best tips.

I sighed. Our tasty food, intoxicating drinks, and good conversation were obviously over. I had about half a beer left and drank it down in a few large gulps. “I’ll get the check.” I figured I’d be nice and treat him this time.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, you can buy next time if you want.” I dropped a 50 dollar bill on the table giving our waitress around a 25% tip. I told myself, knowing it’s a false hope, that if I tipped like this I could change the world for the better.

“Alright. I’ll get you next time.” Me and Jeff put on our jackets. “Hey, about an ending to a restaurant story, we could just put on our jackets and leave.” He laughed, obviously joking with me. “Nah, I’m sure you’d come up with a better ending than that.”

“I sure hope so, that one would be awful. Sorry buddy. Well,” I sighed again, vaguely aware how stiff my legs were and how full my belly was. “Let’s go.”

We stood up and walked out of the restaurant.

The Virus (Part Two)

A typical trip to the store during a pandemic.

Note: This is a continuation of The Virus (Part One). I orginally planned for this to be a two-part story, but it looks like it’ll be a three-parter.

Who is infected? Who isn’t? You can’t tell: treat everyone as a hazard. The six-foot rule? No, give people ten or twenty feet, as much as you possibly can because your life is at stake. The virus is small, invisible, and deadly. Walking corpses of the future pumping respiratory failure into the air with their still-functioning lungs. I picture the air currents and the wind stirring the invisible death into the air, swirling and making beautiful unseen vertices mixing virus and atmosphere together.

A man is riding his bike along my side of the road. I’m upwind of him, and picturing the air leaving his mouth and swirling around his cheeks and chin, around his neck, and into the slipstream he’s dragging behind him. He’s not a threat with the air currents today. Any death he might be carrying blows the other way and I’m safe. As safe as can be in this world at least.

The rest of the trip to the dollar store was uneventful, at least as uneventful as you could expect in these times. A few gunshots and screams rang out in the distance, punctuating the silence of our new world with reminders of the horrors occurring nearby. A drive-by shooting a mile ahead on the road I was walking along; I could see the car slow down and the crack crack of gunshots delayed by five seconds, and the small group of people walking on the side of the road fleeing and collapsing. I couldn’t tell if murder was involved from this distance.

And clouds of smoke rose up to the east, near downtown. More fires, more rioting, more unrest. It was all so uneventful that I didn’t pay it much mind. This was the world now.

Finally I arrived at the store, but as I reached the front corner I noticed something. Blood, a lot of blood on the sidewalk and road that led around the side of the store. The blood smeared towards the back as if someone was dragged away; the streaks leading around the back corner of the store.

My choices were laid out in front of me in a mere fraction of a second. Continue on into the store and pretend that I didn’t notice the blood, cower my head and flee, or investigate the scene. My heart started pounding and I began to shake with adrenaline once again filling my body. Fight or flight? Decisions had to be made even if adrenaline cripples logical thought. Before I realized it my knife was out and I was turning the corner to the back of the store. The choice was made, but seemingly not by me.

The path of blood led to the store’s dumpster area, a tiny fenced-in area to hide the trash the store accumulates daily. The gate was slightly propped open and the path of blood welcomed me through the gate. One new problem now; there was a second path of blood leading from the other side of the building, two streaks of blood from each side of the store. What awaited me along with the pungent smell of trash and refuse?

I slowly peered around the gate with knife in one hand and pepper spray in the other, my body permanently shaking from what might greet me. I was relieved to find two bodies, one with their neck slit wide open and one with a myriad of gunshot wounds in the chest. Relieved because dead bodies weren’t a threat to me, only a sign of a threat, a threat that wasn’t in my immediate area. The shaking still continued though; the mystery still hadn’t been solved.

A weapon, a gun, anything? The man whose neck that was slit open — both of them armed guards popularly employed to stop robberies and hostage situations in these troubling times — had no gun on him, with his holster strangely empty with the strap open. The other man, the one with the gunshots, still had his weapon. I quickly changed my gloves and took the firearm. It would serve me better than it would serve him. Crouched down, I noticed bloody footsteps leading to and from the dumpsters and back around to the front of the store.

Another conflict arose within me between fighting or fleeing, but the new weapon in my hand urged me on. I took a guard’s gun which was a crime itself, and what if I was charged for these murders? Nothing to worry about though, more crimes were more important to investigate even if the law could eventually catch up to me. Once all of this shit was over they could charge me. That was later, in the indefinite future, and I was determined to survive until that day.

Once again, before I knew it I was standing next to the double glass doors at the front of the store. The world was silent — too silent — and time seemed to stand still. I could feel the sun creeping slowly across the sky, my shadow passing as a sluggish sundial on the sidewalk. More choices — act or flee — but here I was: why run now? Everyone fantasizes about these do or die moments where logic doesn’t apply; what you think you’d do you’d never do and my intuition to flee was countered by this chance encounter to finally do something. Face your fate. Confront the demon in the store whose bloody footprints lead directly to his lair, because the alternative was boring everyday life. Escape it even if it means likely death.

The first door opened quietly as I gently eased through it. And the second door? One of those damn bells to notify the store employees when someone entered. Even though I tried to open it slowly, the bell still jingled making a piercingly loud sound in the silence of the world. No sound answered the bell in return. Everything was silent, still, and oppressive.

But not totally silent as I discovered upon entering the store. Strange muffling arose from behind the counter. I stood there for a moment to gauge the layout of the store and listened for any sounds from the beast that might be lurking in here. Still and silent. Only the rustling behind the counter gave my senses something to latch onto. I glanced over and an employee was seated on the floor, gagged and tied up with the look of sheer panic on her face. She appeared unharmed and nodded her head towards the back of the store, with unintelligible grunts accompanying each motion. The beast was back there, she was saying.

More oppressive silence. It was lurking, hiding, stalking me. I crept forward with my finger on the trigger ready to defend myself and the helpless employee if I needed to. Creeping forward step by step until I reached the end of one of the aisles where I hid on the other side of the end cap. 

This time faint footsteps were heard. Cautious footsteps at the opposite end of the aisle. I looked around trying to formulate some plan of attack, some plan for defense, shoot to kill or shoot to wound? Too many thought racing through my head to make sense of anything. And…and above the door was a mirror: one of those spherical mirrors that allows you to see nearly the entire store in a tiny glass ball. Distorted perspectives but the human eye is sensitive to motion, and at the end of the aisle I was lurking at, a shape moved.

I waited until the shape was halfway down the aisle and peered around the racks to get a glimpse of whoever was stalking me. Gunshots immediately rang out in my direction, some missing down the aisle and shattering into the main door while others slammed into the shaving behind me. This man was unhinged, not even paying attention or deciding if I was a threat or not. Instant firing to kill, reckless firing, and my mind was made up: Kill or be killed. There was no reasoning with this person. Shoot first and enjoy your life if you still had it after time ceased to be frozen.

More creeping from the man towards me. I cleared my throat and said in a weak and shaky voice, “Alright. Let’s talk about this. Okay?” There was no reply besides the footsteps creeping towards me. In the mirror he was three-quarters of the way down the aisle, about fifteen feet away from my location. In the distorted mirror I could see his arm extended with the firearm poised to fill my body full of lead.

“Come on, let’s talk. I’m not a cop. I’m…nobody.” No reply. Unhinged. Unreasonable. Off the rails. And he was almost here.

I shot out from behind the endcap with my arms extended. The man with wild eyes seemed surprised, as if he could sneak up and kill me and I wouldn’t bat an eye or fight otherwise, the finger on his trigger poised, but I was quicker. Filled with adrenaline from the past ten minutes of stopped time, my body was as tense as a compressed spring, and at the tip of the spring ready to snap was my finger. The trigger jarred back and forth an indefinite amount of times before time unfroze and the moment was over. The man lay on the ground ten feet from me, slightly quivering extremities until all motion ceased.

And I realized I had killed a man. A fellow human being. Kill or be killed, right?

More footsteps sounded from the rear of the store, somehow quieter than the man’s careful steps moments earlier. I held the gun up again, unsure of how much ammo was left, but there wasn’t time to do anything about it. Bluff if necessary; the gun looked fully-loaded anyways. Recite the mantra again: Kill or be killed.

Around the end of the aisle shuffled a girl, maybe five- or six-year-old. She looked at me, down to the man on the ground, and then looked back at me. She walked over to the man and sat down cross-legged next to him. There were no tears or cries or shouts or curses, just a glazed look on her eyes. The same glazed look the man on the floor had.

“Da…daddy?” she asked the man bleeding on the floor.

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Anna of the Woods

Strange things happen while camping in the woods…

Note: Hopefully my writer’s block is over. I’ve been finding a ton of inspiration and motivation lately: use it while I have it, right? This is a mostly fictionalized account of my time trying to live in the woods.

I was lost for sorts. Not physically lost but mentally lost. Lost in life. Depressed. A drunkard to cope with being lost. Being drunk lets you feel okay with being lost, with having no idea what you’re supposed to do, because it shrinks reality into the present. All you must deal with is the here and now and people are always happier when they pay attention to the here and now. The trouble only begins when you dwell on the past or look forward to the future, traveling the x-axis too far. Regret, anger, helplessness, dread, and anxiety all seem to come from either looking backwards or forwards too much or too desperately.

To find my place I set out for the woods. That was the plan. I was drunk again and it seemed like a great idea. I gathered all the supplies I casually thought about over the past few months in case I ever became crazy enough to actually do it. Cans of coup, a can opener, tent and sleeping bag, a few tiny cans of Sterno, rice, cans of beans, a knife, cigarettes, everything I could think of I put into my car and set out. And alcohol of course. And some drugs in the form of my trusty cough medicine dextromethorphan, DXM. Something to help oil the gears within my mind. Something to let my mind expand outward along the y-axis of whatever you’d call it. Space. Time. Peace. Nirvana. Whatever. I’d felt it countless times but it always escapes grasp.

I went to a local park; an isolated park, not too popular but also not totally forgotten. It was a popular area for disc golfers as there is a course there, but disc golfers are there to golf and not to hike. That was part of the appeal, to hide in plain sight in a park populated by disc golfers who didn’t care much for exploration in the woods. Up a path into the trees I went for a quarter mile in dark, then turned off and walked another few hundred feet. Located close enough to the path for convenience but far enough away that I was fairly hidden. It took three trips to haul all of the supplies to my new home.

I sat in the tent and cracked open a beer. The trusty thought that I always dwelled too much on reared its hideous head: So now what?

I texted some friends and no one replied. I tried to start a fire but the wood and twigs I could find were soaked from days of rain. Even the air seemed chilly and thick with too much water and a faint mist seemed to envelop the woods. Not that I could tell because it was dark; only the lights from the city reflecting pale off the clouds provided any illumination. The tiny candles I had did little to push back the ever present darkness around me.

I was alone. Utterly alone. I checked social media for signs of life and found only ghosts, only the faint images of real life that people wanted others to see. Memes shared, political opinions posted, happy family pictures and dinners. Picturesque to a tee. No, there was no life there at all, and if anything this made me more depressed. Trapped in my mind and isolated left me gasping for anything to hold onto. Some sense of peace. There was no answer from the woods. Only the scraping of tree limbs in the wind replied. Maybe a creature sounded in the dark, but they stayed far enough away from the deadly human trespassing in their domain. Silence. Loneliness. And the time crept ever so slowly. It was only one in the morning. So, now what?

I thought as I drank and made no progress. The same issues over and over. The same flawed person thinking their regular flawed thoughts endlessly. But maybe I needed to go deeper, really get down into the nitty gritty of my mind. Have an experience. Steal some insight forcefully from the universe as if it was mine by right. I popped open my cough syrup bottle and began to drink. The stuff was horrendous and I drank beer and medicine back and forth, desperately trying to clear my tastebuds from the twisted flavors of each of them.

I did some math about how much of the sticky, bitter stuff to actually drink. I came to about half a bottle, but as boozed up as I was wasn’t very confident in my math. Who the hell knew. I guessed. I’d either end up not feeling anything or transcending reality. The stuff tasted disgusting and after 75% of the bottle I gave up the whole project. I wasn’t feeling anything and it was time I tried to get some sleep. My math was probably wrong so I put the cap back on and regretfully laid down for the night.

Sleep. Sleep? No. Music. More infernal music, something I had heard in the past ages ago. Or maybe the future. I sat up and looked at the candle feebly flickering in the tent. And. Fire. Fire. That’s what was missing tonight. This morning. Time didn’t mean anything — the world simply spun and only us humans put meaning on it — and that was fine. Everything was fine. But, fire. Fire makes us human, right? There I was in the woods as a prehistoric human, nothing more than a caveman who happened to have a phone and internet with him. I didn’t have fire. Until I had fire I wasn’t enlightened. I could never be at peace living as a slovenly creature in the woods.

In the tent I said aloud to no one in particular. “I want fire. I will make a campfire. If it’s the last thing I do, I will have fire.” I stood up, grabbed my cigarette lighter, a beer, hobbled a bit, and stepped out into the damp and chilly air.

Sticks. Wood. Kindle. Start small with dry stuff and build up to larger branches. Until you had logs. A self-sustaining fire. A fire hot and fierce enough to burn anything liquid thrown into it. Sure the branches were wet, but with a blazing fire they’d dry and burn like everything else did in the world.

I gathered my piles into categories based on how large the branches were. Twigs, here. And there, larger sticks. And here, branches. The only thing missing was grass, something small and dry that would easily light. But I had paper towels and a nearly empty case of beer; maybe that would suffice? I grabbed the towels, emptied the box, and started tearing the shreds of paper into smaller and smaller bits. I would have fire. It was the meaning of my life in the all-consuming present.

Onto the ground they went into a small pile. I then made a tiny tent of twigs and smaller sticks on top of the pile. I rolled up a tiny bit of paper on the end of a stick and dipped it in the liquid candle wax: a tiny homemade torch. It took fire easily. And this went into the bottom of the tent of twigs.

And fire! It smoked, glowed, sputtered, and then went out. I hopped onto my knees to blow on the remaining feeble embers only to have them die. I tried again. And again. And there was no fire. I was still a dumb caveman who’d never be enlightened and wise. I’d never cook meat, have crops, smelt metal, or build cities. Left in the woods to die and discovered thousands of years later like Homo Neanderthalensis.

I stood up, looked around, and nearly gave up. A tiny bush next to fire seemed to taunt me but I didn’t know why. It was a strange plant, a bush that was only a bush only when you looked at it. Because when you looked away and viewed it out of your peripheral it took on a humanoid appearance. This bush was something human, or humanlike, and it taunted me. It stood over my pile of sticks that refused to burn and made them refuse to burn. It’s name, because it did have a name, was Anna.

I stared at the bush again, knowing who it was (but not what), and said, “Anna, please let me make a fire.”

She stared at me silently, reverting into a form or a bush depending on if I looked directly at it or not.

“Come on. Why? Why do you do this to me?! I just want to make a fire.”

I set back to work. Anna wouldn’t stop me.

More timeless time passed and nothing happened. I came close, once or twice, where flames licked the sticks for nearly ten minutes before it smoldered into nothing.

“Anna. Anna, why?”

Reality came back in waves where I realized I was talking to a bush. A plant. Nothing more and nothing less. I was in the woods trying to build a fire and I couldn’t and I was talking to a plant. Begging the plant to let me make a fire. I felt like I was losing my mind. Nothing made sense. Who was Anna and why was that the plant’s name? Why was I stumbling around? Why did the bush appear so lifelike at times? My thought came back to an old Stephen King story I had read. Something about a hotel room that a totally skeptical guy wanted to spend the night in. And in the room he slowly goes crazy. The room itself was a malevolent being that degrades your sanity causing you to question everything. Until you lost it. Until you went mad. Until the room killed you.

And, what?

I remembered old stories about this park: many people in my city say it’s haunted. My cousin, a supposed ghost hunter, claims she’s seen ghosts in this very park on countless occasions. Right where I was trying to spend the night and seek some solace. There were no ghosts, obviously, and I was a skeptic. Maybe it was just her imagination? There weren’t any ghosts here.

But what if there was.

The woods did seem very silent and malevolent. And I was losing my mind. Was it that far-fetched to believe that I was surrounded by a horde of ghosts or worse, demonic beings that wanted to claim me as their own? I started to panic at the thought. Anna, the bush three feet from my tent, was one of them. A spirit of some long lost and forgotten soul who for some reason haunted in the park I was in. She probably died in a fire, which explained her stopping me from making mine. Even in death she was scared, or even protective of me. Or not. Maybe she was trying to drive me insane, to get me to hang myself off a tree? Or do something crazy. What would happen if I chopped my hand off with my hatchet? Where did that thought even come from? What would people think and say if I came out of the park after one day and had to be hospitalized and institutionalized for hacking my hand off? What if I was going crazy?

No. No way. It was the drugs. Didn’t I drink a bunch of cough medicine ages ago? But, what if it wasn’t the drugs? What if they only allowed me to perceive the unknown? As my mind raced I desperately tried to get a hold of it and keep it under control. Think happy thoughts. I gave up on the failed fire, got into my tent, and finished off the last few beers of the twelve pack.

I awoke a few hours later once again feeling lost, this time mentally. I questioned where I was and what I was doing there. Rain was soaking in through my tent that I was in, my sleeping bag was damp, and I was freezing. My head hurt — the familiar feeling of the hangover — and time would only make it worse. My mind turned back to the previous night which felt like a dream. The demons, the demons that weren’t there but seemed to be there at time, had haunted me and now they were gone. I opened the door to my tent and looked out. I was in the woods and I was certain of my place in space this time. Birds were chirping, the wind wasn’t blowing, and the only sound was the rain in the middle of the forest. Despite my brutal confusion and hangover, there I was. Maybe I wasn’t lost.

And Anna stood by the failed fire. Still a tree but as I looked away there was a person there. I was sober. I wasn’t high. But…the bush was a human. A person. A spirit. Something. I stepped out of my tent and grabbed a couple of beers to think about the situation. I didn’t feel threatened, just confused with this presence still there. After a beer and a half I walked over and grabbed my hatchet which I tossed aside early in the morning into a pile of mud for some reason. I wiped the blade off and it glistened as well as it could under the cloudy and dreary day. I walked up to Anna.

“Anna. You need to leave. You’re disturbing my peace. This whole thing, this whole adventure, was only meant for me to find peace. So, please leave.”

Anna stood there.

I sighed. “Alright, have it your way. I’m sorry.”

I swung as hard as I could drawing all the strength from my body. I waited for a cry or a shout or anything from Anna, but there was nothing. Just the dull plop plop plop of the hatchet striking branches over mud. Eventually Anna toppled over right on top of my aborted bonfire.

And as damp as it was the night before, and as much as it was raining at the time, the fire started to smoulder and burst into a large blazing flame. Here was my fire, here was my peace, here was me transcending my primal spirit.

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The Virus (Part One)

A typical trip to the store during a pandemic.

Note: This is totally unrelated to the other stories I’ve been working on. I think I need to branch out into making separate short stories instead of trying to piece together a novel. As always, I have no plans so whatever I post is whatever I post.

Early May and not a cloud in the sky. The temperature outside was in the 70s — the lower 70s probably — and a slight breeze blew out of the east. The humidity also wasn’t too bad either; maybe I could drag myself outside and go for a bike ride? Or maybe do some yard work? Gardening always needed to be done. The crops were very important this year.

I made some coffee via a pot on the stove; the electricity wasn’t working again and the few solar panels I had couldn’t supply the power to run a coffee maker. Pour the boiling water into a mug and dump the coffee grounds in. It makes a sludge but if you stir it enough the grounds eventually sink to the bottom. Coffee is coffee and depending on how the day is going you can always opt to slurp the sludge from the bottom when the drink itself is gone for an extra jolt of stimulants. This is what I did today.

And no eggs in the fridge either. No bread. Nothing. All the canned beans have been eaten weeks ago. And then the rice. And then the frostbitten meats in the back of the fridge. I had been in the phase of forced caloric restriction for weeks but soon I would graduate to forced fasting. Before I did anything, especially physical yard work/gardening, I’d have to go to the store, or try to at least. I hope it wouldn’t be another day where I’d be forced to feast on dandelions and mulberries from the yard. No mushrooms until the fall, so that wasn’t an option. There were always the five or six stray cats outside or squirrels and groundhogs. But it wasn’t bad enough for that. Yet, always a ‘yet’. One of the cats was pregnant and that wasn’t an option either, not a wise one at least. The smart move would be to wait until the kittens become adults and then see what needed to be done to survive.

I went downstairs and got dressed. New t-shirt, a pair of dirty pants, socks, and shoes. Loop the belt through the pant’s loops and give a thought about hanging the thing from the ceiling with my neck in it instead of pants and my waist. Once again: not yet. Someday, but not yet.

Grab the two pocket knives and place one in each pocket. Grab two bottles of pepper-spray: one clipped to my belt and the other in the pocket for a reserve. I purchased an entire ten pack of these spray cans when things started to go downhill. When was it even? A year ago? No. Just a few months, but the year felt like a decade thus far. Everyone I caught a glimpse of seemed to have aged as well as if the five months of the year really were a decade. Wrinkly skin, sagging collagen draped over bony frames along with grey, unkempt, and dirty hair. Even if the hair wasn’t actually grey, the hues always seemed slightly and tinged towards dreary and earthy tones. Dark circles and bags around and under every eye and even worse, a hopeless, blank, and dead look peering through the masks.

And back upstairs to find a bag. A black bag from the gas station would suffice. Weeks earlier it had held cheap liquor that wasn’t cheap cost wise. Alcohol was in high demand at the time for various reasons. Disinfectant, intoxication, fuel, whatever would kill and burn was needed. Malt liquor supplies were forcefully redirected to distilleries to make sanitizer. Hell, even E85 blend of ethanol/gasoline was being used as a makeshift disinfectant and was more expensive than gasoline for the first (and probably only) time in history. Some heathens with a death wish were even drinking the stuff or attempting to distill it. The news, whenever it was on, would occasionally mention the home fires/explosions due to these activities. Amateurs, I’d always think.

Take the bag, cut two holes in the side, and find some hemp cord. Place the bag on your head and adjust properly: one hole at your mouth and the other at your eyes. And then some fabric for a filter: this time an old dishrag. Place the rag inside the bag over your mouth and tie the hemp cord around your head accordingly. Everyone was using this technique or variation of it: cover your face, nose, and mouth at all costs. Hide your identity in case the worst should happen. In case survival boiled down to instinct. The killing of your own species in order for your own life to continue on. The world was a cruel place and spiraling downwards still. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that the perpetual ‘if’ of life was really a ‘when’.

And how could I forget my own sanitizer? Grab a spray bottle of that before I leave. Homemade from a shitty still and a bunch of wine I had brewed up years ago. Put anything with alcohol into the metal pot from Walmart rigged with copper tubing from the hardware store and cook it on top of a stove or any other available heat source. Water and ice to cool the vapor and you’re left with pure alcohol. Add some water to dilute it down to 70% and you have sanitizer, even if it wasn’t a gel like the fancy store-bought stuff. And it was drinkable: a sanitizer/coping mechanism even if you need to weigh the pros and cons of each. Alcohol is limited and you can get drunk or sanitize. Pick your poison — a zero-sum game — would you like your world to be Clean and Safe or would you prefer a mind that can cope, if only temporarily? A little of both was always a valid option. I opened the bottle and took a drink and sprayed my hands after putting the cap back on.

I put a baseball cap on my head over the black bag, along with some aviator sunglasses. Even during the crisis you needed to look somewhat stylish. The hat had a yellow sun with a silhouette of a tree on it with the words ‘Life is Good’ below the design. Time to go outside, to go to the store. Time to see what horrible things the day held for me and society in general.

The world still looked the same. The birds were chirping, stray dogs and cats roamed the streets, yards, and sidewalks, and the squirrels acted as jittery and flighty as always. The sun was still bright in the sky, the clouds still provided rain and storms, and the flowers and plants were joyfully growing. Trees were as stoic as trees always were and nothing was obviously wrong with the world. You needed to pay attention to other details: subtle details. The lack of litter around the neighborhoods. The quietness of the roads with only a few cars passing here and there. The smoke and scent from the fires. The vividness of the night sky when the power was out. But mostly it was the silence that was strange. Humans are loud, society is loud, motorcycles and cars and semis fueling leisure and the economy with perpetual sounds. The drunken shouting of the nearby bars, the endless drones of the TVs and music from homes. Nothing anymore. It’s dead quiet.

The grocery store was only a half mile away, a peaceful walk on this sunny and pleasant Thursday in May. Was it Thursday though? Luckily, I had a ton of cash saved up and it had benefited me greatly in the past few months. The agreement as society spiraled was that cash, US Federal Reserve Notes, are still worth something. Even as the economy shuts down like a patient being taken off life support, the forces of supply-and-demand and The Market are still enough to hold the Federal Reserve Note as the de-facto lifeblood of the economy. As others steal, kill, and maim to survive I could still live in a somewhat civilized manner. None of that for me yet, although I’ll l do whatever I need to survive and defend myself. I double checked the location of my pepper-spray bottles and adjusted my shopping bag facemask for comfort.

Another subtle thing that isn’t really that subtle — just ever-present now to a degree that people don’t notice much — is the stench. As the hospitals filled and as crematoriums ran at capacity and as society collapsed around us the infected had nowhere to go. The doctors eventually began turning sick people away; there wasn’t any way to treat the amount of Diseased People with our medical system’s limited capacity. So back home they went, usually to die. It attacks the lungs causing difficulty in breathing until you suffocated painfully in your own fluids. It’s a painful and slow death, one you can feel coming in the next day or two but have no way to avoid it. Some energetic people would put a bullet into their heads, or dangle themselves from the ceiling or a tree, but most clung to the slim hope of survival. Instinct is strong and hope is stronger, even if there is no hope. Knowing they’re going to die, most people hung onto life and suffered until their bodies regretfully shut down. Luckily the screams and gasps we’re faint enough; you only heard them if you were directly outside their homes.

But the stench — the ever-present stench of rotting and decaying bodies holded up in their former homes, now their temporary caskets — permeated the atmosphere. Those without families or friends. Those that would rot indefinatley until society pulled itself together enough to clease the homes. You never knew which homes had corpses in them either, the smells of the bodies intermingling indiscriminately in the wind. A few bodies hanging from trees had been picked clean by mice, birds, maggots, and anything else looking for an easy meal, their skeletons hanging by tendons until even those couldn’t support the weight of the bones. Skeletons in yards under the trees, sometimes the skull and vertebrae still hanging from the branches. It was a grim sight but I was used to it by now despite a vague knowledge of the trauma I’d surely carry around with me for the rest of my life; I would be another survivor of a war stricken with PTSD and substance abuse issues. Curious glances at the remains now and wondering how their final moments were. What would my final moment be? How far away was it? Yet? If? When? Not thinking, I pulled my homemade sanitizer out and sprayed my gloved hands.

Around the corner at the end of the block I ran into a group of three teenagers. I knew they’d be an issue as soon as I saw them. Out to cause trouble for no other reason than to cause trouble with law enforcement either non-existent or busy doing other more important things. Cleaning the dead bodies out of the homes, protecting businesses being robbed and picked clean, or battling the periodic riots. No one cared about some punks beating innocent people up. It was every man and woman for themselves in this world.

They eyed me suspiciously as I tried to ignore them by casually walking past them. Finally one, after looking back and forth to his friends spoke up. “Hey friend, what are you doing today? Out for a peaceful walk?”

“Yes. It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it?” I replied, once again trying to mind my own business.

“Where are you going? Huh?” They walked closer to me as I walked along the side of the street.

“Just running errands. No big deal. To the store. For food.” I shrugged and walked past them. As I passed them I turned my head slightly to the side to keep their vague shapes in my peripheral, acting as though I was looking at the homes to my side.

“Hey, where are you going? We want to talk to you. Don’t be rude,” one of them said.

And another said, “Yeah, get the hell back here. Fucking punk. Rude ass.”

And then I heard them walking towards me. Vague shapes moving in the blurry corners of my vision. And without thinking my hand was on one of my bottles of pepper-spray. I knew what was about to go down and I was ready. I had plenty of perfect practice over the past few months; you got your ass kicked a few times and you learned quickly.

One mistake the teens made was not wearing glasses of any sort. A rookie mistake really. My hands would be full if they had their eyes covered, but they didn’t and I realized this fact as soon as I saw their group. I’d be fine. As soon as they were behind me, pounced and tensed to strike, I turned and released a fiery spray of concentrated capsaicin completely taking them by surprise.

At first I sprayed each one in the eyes as quickly as I could. Just a small amount to neutralize the threat and cause them some intense burning and pain. Not surprisingly, they started to scream and flail and were no longer a threat. Eventually they became disoriented and fell to the ground a few feet apart, crawling, screaming, writhing, crying and wondering what the hell they were supposed to do next. What went wrong? They thought in bursts of thought interspersed in tiny gaps of the intense pain.

One thing about the lawlessness in the world is that it works both ways, a fact forgotten by any would be criminal punks looking to fuck someone’s day up. And I wasn’t just some innocent victim acting in self defense here, no, these fuckers wanted my blood; I was their prey. But now I was the predator. In this new society you need to teach lessons where lessons need to be taught.

So as they laid there squirming, I walked up to one of them and hosed him in the face with the spray for a few seemingly endless seconds. While the first spray was for self defense, this was for blatant offence. It was to hurt, to cause harm, with zero regard for these people as fellow human beings. His eyes wouldn’t work for another hour now. And then I crouched down, held the can up to his screaming and foaming mouth and sprayed some more down his throat. The cry that came out was from an animal, an animal that had no idea what was going on. His friends heard and started screaming in sympathy and fear over what was happening to him, and what would soon be happening to them. 

I calmly proceeded to the other two and did the same thing to them. More animalistic shrieks and squirming. They tried to pierce some sense of sympathy into my mind. No, it wouldn’t work. Nothing personal, this world was a cold world where justice was in short supply. Sometimes you need to exact cold vengeance on people that deserve it. They would learn if they haven’t learned already.

More hand sanitizer and adjusting my facemask. Just a tiny bump in the road, no big deal, for the current situation in the world. And onward to the store with the screams behind me turning into sad whimpering and then fading with distance. I wondered what chaos awaited me there.

Read The Virus (Part Two), the obvious second part to this story, if you’re interested.

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Untitled

This was a post from my other blog. I think it sort of fits the theme I’ve been keeping here though. Might as well post it.

“So, how have you been the past two weeks?”

Perfect. Happy. Depression was a thing of the past. Totally conquered. I had finally discovered myself. A toolkit of ways to fend off the bad vibes and thoughts. Perfectly comfortable in my skin. Cool, confident, and quiet. Problem solved! Problem solved…Problem solved?

Two days ago. Spiraling. Pointlessness. Anxiety. Depression. Dread. More sleeplessness. 5 a.m. with the sun coming up wondering what exactly life is. Benadryl to sleep; a drug to crutch along. Sleep at any cost. Where’s the purpose? The point? What am I meant to do here? Wasn’t I out of the woods? Wasn’t I happy? Weren’t those damn pills magical and finally fixed me?

“Where do you see yourself in the future.”

I shrug. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m floating through life too scared to make any choice.”

“Sometimes it helps to visualize where you want to be in the future. This will give you purpose and something to work towards.”

Every path is miserable, only changing certain pros for cons. More money, less happiness. More possessions, more responsibilities, less freedom. More attachment. More stuff. More freedom, less security. The grass is always greener everywhere else. Not knowing what I’m meant to do. Knowing there is nothing I’m meant to do and it’s up for me to decide. Being unable to decide anything for fear of what misery each path holds. And all paths hold misery; I always make the wrong choice. Is floating such a bad thing? Is pointlessness such a bad thing? Is there anyone that knows what the hell they’re meant to do, even if there is nothing we’re meant to do? Is anyone as blindly confident that they know where to go? Is this another form of blindness? Is blindness happiness?

Five steps forward and six steps backwards. Seven, perhaps. No progress. No sense of empowerment. No moving forward. Self-discovery? No. Self-confusion and self-loss. When I think I find myself it disappears. Too much effort, too much work. The tools in the kit take too much work to use. Constantly being on-edge, looking for the next crisis. Playing chess with your own brain, trying to bring up thoughts as pawns to try to stop yourself from checkmating yourself. And the opponent is so much more motivated than you, the bad vibes are effortless. The chess grandmaster in your head; checkmated in less than ten moves. When are all my pawns gone? When do I run out of motivation to fight? When does it become easier to give in?

Awake after twelve hours of sleep: still tired. Still groggy. Still sleepy. Five cups of coffee, eight cups of coffee: still tired. But shaky. Just enough semblance of being awake to function. Nicotine, caffeine, give me any -ine you can find, maybe I’ll eventually wake up. Constantly shaking and tired. Constantly anxious. Enough awakeness to write low-quality posts. Not enough motivation to work on a story. Writer’s block that never ends. The constant fight towards some goal you don’t even have. And the tiredness. And time always moving forward. And you not moving anywhere at all except towards old age, failing mind, and death. Float along the river until it’s too late to change your course.

And sleeplessness at 5 a.m. once again. Still tired but awake.

“Is it possible that I like being miserable? Is that a thing?”

“Yes. Misery is easier than working to be happy. It takes less effort.”

The comfort of depression. Not caring. Knowing you don’t care. Knowing you’re functioning as a basic animal just staying alive. Food not for enjoyment but so you don’t feel more miserable. Water because your mouth is dry. Work because of bills and money. Write because there is nothing else better to do. Silence around people — you’re a piece of shit and are miserable to be around — why make everyone else miserable by being a piece of shit? Blaming your mood for being a failure. The comfort of depression. The comfort of giving up. Thirty years of nothing. Thirty years of zero progress. Thirty years of depression. Of never knowing yourself. Of never knowing anything. Of being totally lost, blind, and stumbling through life. How many more years?

“I woudn’t say this if it wasn’t true: you are making progress. I can see it. You just need to keep discovering yourself and moving forward.”

Values. What are my values? I don’t know. Blank slate once again. I am a nobody. The blank whiteboard waiting to have a purpose. The blank piece of paper waiting for a story, a picture, or spilled ink: waiting for anything.

I’m not cut out for self-discovery. I’m an idiot hiding under a mask of being smart. Maybe I shouldn’t know myself. Maybe I should stay blind to everything. The trivial defines me. Deep down? I don’t know. Why do I do the things I do? No clue. Ram through another wall and find another. The wall is well-constructed this time. Smash through this to find an iron gate. And another taller iron-gate. On and on from one problem to the next.

“Self-discovery is like an onion; it has many layers.”

Infinite layers. The radius never shrinks, the circle never gets smaller. One layer leads to another layer. There is no core. There is no bright and shiny center. So much goddamn effort to peel anything away. Years of grime and dirt that doesn’t make any sense. If it does makes sense you can’t do anything with the sense it does make. One more layer down and onto the next. More confusion than before. More paralysis than before. More dread then before. Why am I this way? I hate myself for being this way. Helplessness knowing I can’t be anything else. This is me, and I hate it.

“Bring yourself to the source — whatever that is — and bask in it. Recharge.”

“Think of the love you hold in other peoples’ lives. Think happy thoughts. Think how you’re part of the whole.”

“Decide where you want to be in the future. It’ll help give you something to work towards.”

“Break a large goal down into smaller goals. Take small steps towards the goals.”

“Decide what your values are.”

“Think, ‘Is this thought useful to have right now?'”

“Maybe set boundaries with yourself in your interactions.”

It’s Friday. March 27th, 2020. 5:09 p.m. Now what? Always: Now What?

Chapter 9

Just finish the story. Just write. Just write something. It doesn’t have to be good. The whole point of this adventure was to write without thought and now you’re thinking about it. And thinking about it way too much. Defeating the entire purpose of the project. Right?

People want plot, and world building, and characters, and character development; the story has none of that. No overarching goals, points, themes or anything. It’s all a goddamn mess that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t even know what it means. What’s the point of writing if you yourself aren’t aware of what exactly it is that you’re writing?

The goal here was to farm the subconscious and to hell with a plot. To hell with making sense. Life doesn’t make much sense. What’s the point of writing a cute, tidy story with a hero who saves the world when there are no cute and tidy stories within the actual world? There are no heroes. Everyone likes to be the protagonist in their own stories, but if everyone is a protagonist, who are the villains? We all play each role — protagonist, antagonist, supporting chracters, and nobodys — and we’re nearly unaware of it. Stories are all lies painting the infinite color in life as shades of grey with no basis in reality, and they’re disorienting in their cleanliness. Stories make too much sense. Even the most unhinged horror stories have a plot, an antagonist, and a hero. Even the most unhinged stories and shitty romance novels are cut out of the same essential fabric. Different types of cookies cut with the same Christmas tree shaped cutter. Different flavors, same shape.

People want to escape from life. They want the stories to make sense to escape the life that doesn’t make sense. The themes in the stories speak to something deeper within them. And within all of us. People live in chaos and crave order, some semblance of meaning and clarity that simply doesn’t seem to exist. People want a happy and clean fictional world and I can’t do that. I’m uncreative. I can’t conjure up fantasy worlds and tie the plot into a nice little story. I can’t find an ending to any story. I’m uncreative. I take what I see, copy it nearly word for word, action for action, tweak it a little bit so it’s not blatantly stealing, and that’s what I write. The world doesn’t make sense and that gets copied and pasted directly into the drivel that I write.

But what’s so wrong with people adding their own meaning to the mess? Even if what you write is life as unaltered as it could possibly be, and it doesn’t make much sense, isn’t this like a puzzle for other people? Think of it as a blank sheet of paper: you can do whatever it is you’d like with it. If you want the story to make sense and find it a mess then take the paper and light it on fire. If you think the story needs tweaking, then cut the paper into shapes that you prefer. If you think the story needs some piecing together, fold the paper into an origami frog. If you read if and enjoy it without much thought, take the paper, fold it into an airplane and let it ride along the air currents. Do whatever you want with it: paint on it, write a love letter on it, wipe your nose on it, use it to soak up spilled juice with. As blank as a piece of paper is, let the story be the same. It’s blank, but it doesn’t mean it’s useless.

And you know what else you can do with a blank piece of paper? Write a story on it. A story that is about whatever you want it to be about.

As a Kid

Sometimes when I couldn’t sleep I would call my grandma and tell her so.

I’d call her, she’d answer, and I’d say, “Grandma, I can’t sleep.”

She’d say, “What’s wrong? Why can’t you sleep?”

“I don’t know. I just can’t.”

“Well just try to relax, close your eyes, and maybe you’ll fall asleep.”

It very rarely worked, but somehow I’ve made it to the age of thirty-five. Even while struggling to sleep almost daily time kept marching on with no one noticing as it usually does so. While I don’t remember what Little Jimmy did to sleep, especially not having access to benzodiazepines, alcohol, or antihistamines as a child, he somehow found the ability to sleep. The thirty-five years seemed to pass in an instant but only in retrospect. Grandma’s advice never seemed to help at the time — just relax — but Jimmy found a way.

My bedroom as a kid had these strange sliding accordion doors — I don’t even know what their proper name was and I’ve never decided to learn as an adult. It made my room seem fancy apparently; a few of my elementary school friends said so. The white wicker furniture on the porch also made out house seemed fancy. A few of them even mentioned that “Jimmy’s family must be rich!” but little did they know we were poor as hell. I didn’t even know how poor we were at the time. We might’ve looked rich on a superficial level, at least to other ten-year-olds, but we didn’t own much of anything. The bank owned most of the important things like our car and the house while credit card companies owned most of the remaining possessions. In fact looking back, I think my parents were perpetually in debt; they literally didn’t own anything. But as a nine-year-old you’re not aware of these things unless your parents were arguing about money, which they often did.

I had sliding doors on my room. Accordion doors. They had these slats on the bottom half of the doors, and smoked glass on the top half. Even though the glass gave some visibility into the living room, you couldn’t see much. You could see shapes through the glass, but nothing definitive. For some reason the left side — from the perspective of someone inside the room — was never moved. If you needed to get into my room you’d move the right side three-paneled accordian door. Never the left. The left panels were always as straight as could be, like they were a wooden and glass wall, and even if they could be physically moved were never actually moved. I didn’t question it: it was a rule. Well, not really a rule, just how things worked. The doors at the time were slightly cracked open. The cat named Patches (the cat I’d sometimes throw off the basement stairs) liked to sleep in the bed with me. He pushed the right-sided panels open just enough to sneak into my room. The right-sided panels were always open enough for an average-sized black and white cat to enter the room. He loved me even if I tossed him off the stairs weekly.

I couldn’t sleep at the time. I would toss and turn in my bed. But then I stopped tossing and turning. I found myself lying on my right side — facing the slightly opened accordion doors to the living room. My room was also next to the front porch with a lone window shining pale, yellow, incandescent light into my room. It almost made a welcome mat in front of the accordion doors, the pale yellow trapezoidal shape of light on carpet. And I layed there. Just existing during another night of being unable to sleep. You could see a tiny bit of the couch through the slightly-cracked door. Patches slept near my ankles.

I went to call my grandma, to complain as I sometimes did, but I felt like I wanted to be totally still this time. Perfectly still for just a little longer. It’s hard to explain. I wanted to call her, but something compelled me not to. While I could move I didn’t want to move. I stared through the tiny gap in my door and looked over the shape of the couch.

I felt dread. I felt death. I laid still and felt something so damning, terrifying, and unholy that I could only stare. I couldn’t cry and I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t do anything. I was locked in place and facing something that only I could explain years later as death: this was what it felt like to die and not to die but to actually be dead. A perfect stillness and comprehension of the darkness behind everything you see. A perpetual “thereness” of a perfect void, of an absolute nothing. Behind every object, person, color, emotion, or anything there was this nothing: this void, this color blacker than black. There was nothing scary to behold visually — just the dark living room lit up by the weak porch light — but something about it felt so ominous that it was beyond explanation. Like there was a dark shape or entity creeping just around the corner, just barely out of sight. Even if you could feel it and know it was there it wasn’t visible. I don’t know how long I laid there or what happened to release me but, as stated, I’m now thirty-five years old and whatever happened that day decades ago remains as vague as any decade-old memory can.

I’ve never experienced it since. But sometimes if I lay very still in bed and keep my eyes focused on a certain point about eight meters away I start to feel that creeping dread. The all-consuming stillness, the background darkness and void that is behind every person, object, and thing. The black shape creeping in my room just barely out of sight around the corner. Something so still and dark and permanent and real that it drills its fear deep into consciousness. If there is anything to fear it is this. I don’t know what it’s called, but that’s the only thing to fear in life…and what exactly would you call that?

If the feeling threatens to wash over me I’ll I take a sleeping pill. Or something. Drugs are a fix-fall for nearly every problem in life and Jimmy didn’t have this option. A half-milligram of xanax scares the demon away long enough for me to not worry about it. As for my grandma? Well, I can’t call her anymore. I’m thirty-five years old. My grandma isn’t around anymore.

Dissociation Highway

A tale of my weekly drive down Route 2.

I always leave for work early on Friday. There isn’t really a reason for this, at least no good and logical reason. On Friday work starts at 7 p.m. whereas on every other weekday it starts at 4:30. I sit around all day feeling antsy, lost, and restless and this usually drives me out of the house much earlier than I need to leave simply to make it to work on time. Sometimes I even make a stop at a restaurant beforehand which I’ve cleverly justified by calling it “Fast-Food Fridays.” I do all of this for no apparent reason, just to kill time. It’s all about killing time really.

I take Meridian Road initially. This takes me out west whereas my work is to the southeast. I then take Meridian south to Route 2. Route 2 connects the city I live in, Rockford, with a nearby smaller town called Byron. Route 2 also connects other, shittier towns further to the southwest but this is besides the point. I don’t even know if the road has a name besides Route 2. The road follows alongside the river and is bounded by trees to the south and rocky cliffs to the north. The river is also to the south, usually hidden from view by the trees and is more visible in the winter after they have shed their leaves for the season. The road, following the river, is a winding road because that’s how rivers are. While every other road in the area follows the north-south-east-west grid that are midwestern country roads, Route 2 does it’s own meandering trek in a northeast/southwest fashion as it follows a river that doesn’t care about cardinal directions. All the other roads are endlessly boring and plain. You literally cannot become lost in Northern Illinois. You go a mile one way and find a road. You continue on another mile and meet another road. On and on until you meet the Rocky Mountains, the Ocean, or Canada depending on which way you’re driving. And maybe it’s the same in Canada anyways. I don’t know.

A problem occurs when I’m on this road and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the incessant winding of the road, or the fact that its bounded by river, trees, and rocks instead of the horizon-bound fields of corn/soybeans that I’m used to. It’s like you’re in another world, or on another planet, while driving on Route 2. It doesn’t feel like Northern Illinois anymore. Maybe it’s the back and forth swaying of the car as you wind down the road that puts you to sleep. Or the gentle up and down as the road rises and falls over the tiny and nearly imperceptible hills along the river. Whatever it is, my problem is this: on this road, week after week, on every Friday without fail I feel like I’m fake. I become totally aware of everything about my consciousness and the fact that I’m basically a meat puppet commanded by a jellyish brain. A robot with a squishy commander at the helm. It’s equally enjoyable and frightening at the same time.

I know it’s something about the road that causes these feelings because Meridian Road doesn’t evoke them. It’s only when I turn onto the snakelike Route 2 do I feel this way. A few times I’ve taken the road all the way to Byron, a ten-mile trip down the river in honor of Fast Food Fridays. They have a lone McDonald’s there that’s wonderfully terrible. Orders are always messed up. The smoothies are never filled to the top of the cup. The slew of teenagers and slightly ex-teenagers that man the battle stations of the restaurant are as incompetent as can be, even at a job as simple as fast food. And I don’t know why I drive all the way to Bryon to visit a shitty McDonalds when Rockford has plenty of shitty McDonald’s to offer me. Maybe it’s just an excuse to drive along Route 2. Maybe it’s suppressed memories. Maybe I like my nature drive to close off the week. And maybe I just like to hate people who mess up my very simple order.

On the way to Byron in the fall you have the recently set sun backlighting every tree, barn, and cliff that surrounds the road to the north and west. It sets an eerie, peaceful, and nostalgic tone. And heading back northeast casts a fiery red and orange hue onto the dying trees and their vividly colored leaves making them glow against the dark sky behind them. The road lures you to sleep. A slight turn here and a slight turn there. Up and down over the slight hills that you’re not sure are even there. You press and release the accelerator to keep your speed. Your heart presses and releases itself to keep you alive. Back and forth. Up and down. Side to side. Constantly going 55 mph along the river without thinking about it.

I become hyper aware of everything, as if I’m an observer watching myself. My thoughts arise and disappear as if another person is witnessing them. I think about food. I think about my indigestion. I ponder why after eating a whole McDonald’s meal I’m still hungry. I think about my smoothie and how the acne-riddled face of the teenager who made it looked like he’s never interacted with a human being before. And maybe I’m the same way? Just a robot stuck inside the skull of some monster who has never interacted with a human before. Some meat and blood-filled bag contained within a layer of skin totally ignorant of everything. Animated by muscle and kept rigid by bones. But this is me. And this is you. It’s not an abstraction. And I’m hurtling down the road in a car for some reason. Going to some place called “Work.” And this “Work” is something that I have to do even though I’ve never properly verified why I have to do it in the first place.

One tiny flick of my robotic wrist can send me directly into a stone wall, a tree, or even the river depending on which way I decided to flick my wrist. Left leads to the stone cliffs. Right leads to the trees and the river. The on-coming cars also make tempting targets, flickering their bright lights off as they approach me and on after they pass. I mimic them by doing the same thing, my brain not actually thinking about the motion required to accomplish it. One flick of my wrist can end this robots life, and another similar flick turns on dimmer lights that won’t upset the other robots. Why robots want to drive into a river that will fry their circuitry is a mystery no one understands. 

I blink a few times and it’s like a camera is taking pictures. Snap, snap, snap.

I’m alive but not. Somehow I’m driving the car without thinking about it. A half-mile passes before I’m aware that it has passed, and my speed never fluctuates one bit. I’m on autopilot and don’t require cruise control. I zip down the road slightly to the left around a corner and right around another.

Thoughts pop into my head uncommanded. I’m here. And everyone is…well, here I suppose. Or out there I suppose. I see a shooting star zip above the tree limbs that hang down like fingers towards me. I only see the fingers for a fraction of a second in my headlights before they’re behind me.

I imagine other people seeing the same shooting star I had just witnessed. I can almost feel their eyes and mine locked onto the same object. Everyone under the same sky but only a select few watching some tiny piece of space dust entering Earth’s atmosphere for the first and only time. Maybe it’s a piece of a comet? Or an asteroid? A chunk that’s been orbiting the sun since the beginning doing nothing until it had a chance encounter with Earth. And it’s gone. And I’m here. Always here. Watching a piece of space debris entering the atmosphere with about thirteen other people spread across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin who I’ll never meet. In this moment we’re the same. We’re brothers and sisters to everyone else even if no one knows this but myself in this moment.

My mind drifts a bit more for reasons beyond my knowledge. A girl I haven’t spoken to in years liked a picture on Facebook today. A random picture from months ago that I had taken of a bird. Yes, she likes birds. And no we’re not friends anymore. Not enemies, but life has put us on different paths. Why? Why are we on different paths when the same path seemed perfectly fine? Why would she like my bird picture? Was it a chance encounter, the unknown and unpredictable Facebook algorithm showing her the photo by chance that she happened to randomly like? Or was there more to it? Does she miss me like I miss her? Does she look at my profile the way I look at hers? Did something finally push her over the edge to like the picture of a bird so maybe I’d remember her? Did a random memory of me appear in her head just like a random memory of her appears in mine? A random emotional outburst of honesty, the likes of which we always try to suppress for some reason or another? And if so, what do I do? Do I contact her? Do I, do I, do I? I do. And does the silly robot that is really me inside my head thinking these thoughts overthink things? Here I am hurtling down the road, hopelessly trapped and lonely inside my car with nothing but the music and my thoughts to keep me company even though they’re the thoughts of someone else who is only called me.

Route 2 ends in a traffic light a quarter-mile from where I work. I exit a tunnel of darkness, trees, water, rocks, and nature into the brightly lit and cruel world of gas station lights, traffic lights, and streetlights. I take a few turns and pull into the work parking lot. Some coworkers are there and I glance over at them. I sit in my car and take a few deep breaths trying to kill the feeling that I can only describe as “funny.” I’m a person just like them, I tell myself. Or that I’m a robot just like them, but then I think that they probably don’t see themselves as robots and explaining this to them seems very robotic and not at all like something a human would do. I can’t ask them if they ever feel like robots. I can’t ask them if they ever feel “fake” or “unreal” or “like a puppet.” I feel like an alien discovering humanity who can’t admit that they’re an alien. I wonder how I can even talk or interact with people in this state. Can I? What if I can’t? Maybe I can act normal enough that no one will notice? Taking a deep breath I open the door to my car and step out into the world.

“Hi,” I say. “It’s Friday,” I say. And I smile. “Do you have any plans for the weekend?” I ask. They reply. I reply. They reply. I reply. And a whole conversation of robots commences.

Fever Dreams

Incoherent ramblings with a fever.

Consciousness swims before me. It’s like I’m underwater but the water is made of pixels. Like computer pixels. Or TV pixels. All screens have pixels. If you look really closely at a screen you’ll see it’s just a collection of tiny dots. Sometimes you can see this if you get a drop of liquid on your phone. Next time it’s raining check it out. Or do what I do and take your tongue and go pppppttttttttttt with it like little kids do. This should spray enough saliva onto your phone to where you can see the pixels. And sometimes I think our eyes have pixels too. That you can see if you really pay attention. But since no one pays attention no one really notices.

They’re red, green, and blue. The pixels on your phone, not in our eyes. But how can you see white if there are no white pixels on your phone? How does white come from red, green, and blue? I’ll tell you in a minute.

But what’s that sound?

Poo. Tee. Too. Wee. Too. Tweet.

Poo. Tee. Too. Wee. Too. Tweet!

It sounds like a bird but it isn’t. It’s a word I made up. Pootetowetotweet. Say it again, and if you need help pouncing it use the words above as they’re broken up.

Pootetotowetotweet. You know what it means? I don’t I just made the word up. I don’t know what it means yet.

Something in my soul is telling me I just ripped off Kurt Vonnegut. A bird in his story Slaughterhouse 5 said something very similar, and when my mind gets back I’ll check it. Tomorrow. When I feel better.

And now that I feel better there is this: One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, “Poo-tee-weet?” I’m a goddamn plagiarist.

A friend of mine is translating an Olde Englishe Booke from around the time of King Arthur or something. The language, while it is Englishe, isn’t even readable anymore, at least by the majority of the population. Perhaps that isn’t surprising since most people can’t seem to read Regular English American let alone Olde Englishe. Languages evolve like everything else. If someone 100 years ago seen the words skeet, or yeet, or vape they wouldn’t have a damn idea what they meant. And 500 years from now those words will be “olde fasheioned” or something. Like how Shakespeare is barely understandable because language has gotten so far along from it through natural language evolution.

It makes you wonder who actually changes language? Does some idiot just misspell words and then they stick somehow? What is hilarious about Olde Englishe is how they have letters they use that don’t even fucking exist anymore. Sort of like the german ß in a way. I was always reminded of the puritanical s that looks like an f. It’s this letter right here: ſ. Who made the executive decision to do away with that? Not that I’m complaining about it. Those silly pilgrims with their stupid hats with buckles on them. Or maybe that was just a lie they told me in school. Kinda like Christopher Columbus “discovering” “America”. That mother fucker was lost. He “stumbled upon” some islands in the Carribean.

Back to language. No one made any executive decisions because language is a perfect democracy. Who knows where words come from or how they end up falling out of use. Once your friend stops saying yeet so will you. And once your friend starts saying pootetowetotweet so will you. Unless Slaughterhouse 5 remains popular because I ripped the word off from that.

Pixels. As I look at the ceiling or my blackened eyelids I kinda see things swimming and moving around. Kinda like the old snow you used to see on CRT TVs. Maybe I can find a gif of it. I don’t know if gifs even format on Kindles. Because you’re reading this on a Kindle. Because that’s where I’ll self-publish it. Unless I’m still posting on my blog. Oh well, no .gif then. My vision is like that — static — but the static is what I’m casually seeing. It’s like the pixels of the world are slightly flashing, kinda angry, eager, and misdirected because there is nothing to actual display. No input. No signal. Only static.

CRT means cathode ray tube and describes how the damn things work. I think a cathode is negatively charged and an anode is positively charged, but maybe I have those mixed up. Anyways, old CRT TVs worked by spewing electrons out of the cathode ray tube and using magnetic waves bends their paths onto a screen (an electron is negatively charged so is affected by a magnetic field). When an electron hit the phosphorus screen it made light. This is what we see when we watch a CRT TV. Electrons hitting a screen and making light. Light that enters our eye and smacks the pixels there that our conscious brain sees as an imagine. It’s so damn strange. When you think about it. If you think about it.

Also think that a TV signal is a radio wave (traditionally at least). This is a fucking photon. A particle of light that doesn’t vibrate as fast as the light that you can see. Even stranger is the fact that a light particle also can be described as an electromagnetic wave: a magnetic field and an electric field that constantly change and create the other. Ya know, Maxwell’s Equations. A changing magnetic field makes an electric field. And a changing electric field makes a magnetic field. And so on.

I’ve always had an issue how very religious people seem to be opposed to scientific ideas. It always seemed to me that the better you understand the world, the better you’d understand God because he created it and what better way to understand things than scientific inquiry? It’s like how you can know a painter from their artwork or know an author through what they write. Like they don’t give a fuck what God the Artist created because they’re too busy idolizing the artist himself. Kinda like the fanbase of a cringy emo band or something, all image with zero substance.

A TV station antenna takes a signal and converts it into these dancing waves. And your TV converts the shit back into electrons, photons, color, and neural signals processed by your brain. This is what your shitty reality TV shows are. Electrons, photons, and electromagnetic fields.

Satellite TV is even crazier as the signal comes from a geostationary satellite way the fuck out in space. All so you can watch shitty TV shows and sports. Some company put a fucking multi-million dollar satellite into space on a multi-million dollar rocket that countless scientist and engineers worked on and designed. All so in the end you can watch your fucking shitty TV shows, sports, and Hallmark movies.

I’ve been drinking cold medicine all day and it hasn’t done shit for my fever. And I just realized that it has no pain relievers and fever reducers in it. Well no fucking shit it isn’t doing anything. I better go find something with acetaminophen in it at least.

Static. Static. Static.

 If I lay really still I can feel my body itself gently vibrating as if all the particles within me are jostling around. You have to sit really still and concentrate to feel it though. And I think this is why people meditate. It gets them in touch will the humming and buzzing that is “within you and without you” to plagiarize the Beatles slightly. The snowy screen effect is also a visual buzzing but still buzzing. And the fan I’m hearing is also buzzing. Or whirring. But it isn’t pootetowetotweeting. I don’t even know it the word is a verb. It’s funny how once you stop listening to the fan you can’t hear it. But as soon as you realize you can’t hear it it comes whirring back into your consciousness. It’s strange, satisfying, and terrifying all at the same time.

If you also lay really still you can feel gravity smashing you into the bed/the floor/whatever. It’s always a constant and we filter it out but it’s always there. When I realize it’s there I can’t help but think how powerful it is. I’m not gently floating on my bed I’m being smashed into it by the mass of the Earth. Fuck. I bet sleeping on the moon would be amazing. Imagine sleeping in one-sixth gravity!

I had just finished the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower and feel like I’m writing in the tone of Charlie, the main character of the book. Like this! It’s interesting how books can rub off on you where you start using the tone and writing style of the book. If I read Alan Watts I’d start using semicolons all over the place. If I read some David Foster Wallace I’d start using footnotes all over the place. And if I try really hard I can channel some Hunter S. Thompson:

I was sitting in a bar, minding my own business when this loud, clumsy drunkard comes stumbling in through the door. Just making a god awful racket out of the simple task of walking. I could feel the alcohol coursing through my veins, but this character had something entirely exotic in his blood, or maybe he was a whole lot drunker than I was. Either way the line he made from the door to the bar was not a straight one even if there were no tables, stools, people, or anything to impede his path. Just weaving around the place like a blind mole. Scuttling around. He was a loathsome and fearful creature and you could see it in his bloodshot and pinhole eyes as he stumbled in my direction.

I did what any respectable human being would do and offered to buy him a drink as he sat next to me. With almost any seat open in the bar, he had to sit right next to me? Has he ever heard of personal space before? Not that any concept of personal space exists when your blood is pumped full of substances, and whatever substances they happened to be didn’t matter.

“Hey, pal, what do you want to drink? I’ll buy you one. Anything you want.”

The man stumbled even though he was seated on a bar stool. Perhaps the world itself was shifting and moving and only he was aware? Who was I to question his reality?

“Maybe a Jack and Coke? A Bloody Mary?” The man was unresponsive but I continued to pester him. “Look, I’ll buy you a drink. Even if you need a goddamn coffee to sober up before you stumble outside of this place is fine by me. Just get something.”

And then something something happens and I ended up pepper spraying the guy. For reasons.

Most of the stuff I’ve been writing has been, uh. Who cares. Probably me. But am I even the author? Or am I just a dreamer in this story? Am I a character in this story? A dreaming character? Or am I me? Maybe this cough medicine is starting to work. I just want my fever, aches, and pains to go away.

As for pixels. I don’t know the exact scientific reason for there being red, green, and blue but basically the way the human eye is created most colors we see can be made up of those three. They’re called the primary colors of light. It always struck me as strange that the primary colors of paint (crayons, colored pencils, whatever) are different. Green is a primary light color but is created by mixing blue and red paints. Yellow is another example in the opposite direction, it’s a primary paint color but a secondary light color. You need to mix green and blue light to make yellow light.

And light is strange really. You know, waves and particles and stuff. And isn’t that what everything really is, waves and particles and stuff? Okay, yeah, the medicine is finally starting to work. The static in my vision is being turned off. My mind is relaxing. Why am I thinking of pixels, static, and electromagnetism when I have to sleep? Just sleep dammit. I have a lot to do tomorrow. Probably go see a doctor for this cold because it isn’t improving. Maybe work on my dream diary. And did I even dream yesterday? Did I write in the journal? Was she there? And was she…? And…eh. Hell, am I tired. I wonder what would happen…if…what would happen if? What? What am I thinking about? I was thinking of a dream diary and I wonder what would happen if…if…if? If! Oh wait. She’s always been there…Hello.

“Unsent Letters” Introduction

People hiding behind masks, never saying how they feel, and the regret of not doing so. And more ramblings!

Note: I’ve been sick the past week. This has negatively affected about everything in my life: creativity, motivation, writing, brain-storming. I haven’t done anything. I’ve been slacking. Although I’ve been consistently writing chapters for the Creepy Story (or whatever) and while I don’t want to break my flow, I also want to get something posted in the meantime. This is an introduction (kinda elaborated on here) about some bullshit hypothetical “story” about writing letters to people from your past but never actually sending them. While I don’t think I’ll make any progress on it because I’m having so much fun being creepy lately, I do like my introduction to it. So while I’m working on getting my shit together again, enjoy this.

Sometimes lying awake in bed you start to think of people from your past. They drift into your thoughts like waves coming in from the ocean, memories here and there, times both good and bad, and you start to wonder what happened to them. It has been years since you’ve seen them and you start to reflect upon the fact that there was a singular last time you’ve seen them and how at the time you never knew it was the last time you’d see them. You start to feel bittersweet and nostalgic and yearning for this lost past. People that are no longer part of your life but somehow part of you as they gave you a memory of them. They formed you into the person you are today. What exactly happened to them? And what did they mean to you? What did you mean to them? Did you mean anything to them?

As time passes you get a clearer image of how they altered your life. As pain, happiness, regret, yearning, joy, and sadness are dulled with time you’re left with only truth as to how they changed you as a person and how you feel about them. Exes and enemies turn from hated individuals to fondly remembered people for how they helped you grow and change. It wasn’t them that was flawed, it was you and them as a pair that were flawed. Old friends and coworkers also take on a new light as you find yourself wondering what happened to the vast number of people who have entered and exited your life, sometimes forever, and who have left small but permanent changes to you. Carving you in the slow and permanent way that flowing water carves stone.

I always find myself wanting to talk to these people just one more time. Not enough to break societal bonds and actually talk to them — that’d be weird — but enough to fantasize about when I’m unable to sleep at 2 a.m. Mental conversations with them as I run into them at a store. Facebook messages sent drunkenly at 3 a.m. on the weekend. Maybe the stray email here and there. Or, lastly, writing on a computer or in a notebook that might not be discovered until after I die. A sort of final “thanks for being in my life and sorry for not saying what I wanted to say when I had the chance to say it” to them. Maybe somehow ramblings about them in personal notebooks might make their way to them and they’d know how important they were to me.

Maybe that’s part of it too: kicking myself in the ass for not being as genuinely open to others as I should’ve been. I still do it too. You always have to play the “be cool” game with people you know. You can’t tell people you love them if they aren’t family, and conversely you can’t tell people you despise them, once again, if they’re not immediate family. While some are more open than others, every one of us walks through life carrying around a mask showing a certain face to everyone else we interact with. The times you actually get to see the soul underneath the person, the thing that really matters, are surprisingly sparse and I can’t help but feel that this is a major area of regret in everyone’s lives. It’s like life is a constant lie that we tell to other people…and that people are telling to us. Who are these people that we go to school with, work around, are friends with, are in love with, see in grocery stores, or get mad at while driving? We see them and we think we know them, but we don’t really know them.

Sometimes in one of these rare moods I’ve found myself writing letters to people, letters that I’ll never actually send but where I can trick my mind into getting some things off my chest. Say what I need to say to these long gone fragments of my past. It sort of worked too. I used to actually open up the Yahoo email app and write these things as drafts, writing a legitimate email and only stopping before hitting the send button. I’d write heartfelt letters to people totally ripping open my soul for them to see and just not send it. I’d feel better afterwards even though I knew I never sent the things. Apparently my brain and emotions are that gullible.

(I don’t know how I feel about complaining that we don’t open ourselves up enough while also saying that I purposefully write letters that I don’t send. It seems like I equally want to bond with people but also hide my true feelings behind some elaborate mechanism for hiding myself. I’m just point out that, yes, I’m aware of how dumb and hypocritical this sounds.)

This is where the pragmatic author in me appears and goes “that sounds like a great idea for a story!” and I really do think it’s at least an interesting idea. I can write all of these fake, never to be sent letters to people that I want to clear things up with, delete the names and any other pertinent information, and make it into a book. I don’t know what to think of it as it sounds: cringy, terribly thought out, like a good idea, kinda contrived, ungenuine, heartfelt, clever, stupid, and overly emotional. It’s all over the place. It can act as an autobiographical account of my average as can be life while also being a fragmentary puzzle that is purposefully vague. Plus, since you’re only getting my point of view you’d wonder how factual it truly is and how the people I’m writing to might have totally different outlooks on things.

A part of me likes the idea of doing some experimental rip open your soul work especially while trying to put together an actual narrative. Sometimes you just want your damn heart to bleed onto paper and this seems like a perfect thing to do just that. I don’t even care if it turns out horrible because it sounds like it’ll make me feel better and maybe even give me some closure to past events. At the very least I’m sure I’ll unearth a bucket load of demon buried deep within my subconscious and if that isn’t fun then I don’t know what is.

Another Note: As with everything, you might think you have a good idea until you find out it’s been done already. Not that I’ve found an actual story or collection of unsent letters (mostly because I don’t even want to look and be discouraged) but I have found a subreddit with basically the same thing going on. People writing anonymous letters to others so they can get things off their chests, vent, feel closure, and whatever other reasons people feel the need to write anonymous letters. It’s really interesting.