Visiting an Old Friend

An old, beat up green car bounced and bumped its way along a gravel road through the trees.  Each clank of the bumpers hitting the sides of the potholes put the woman driving on edge as she desperately tried to navigate her way safely over the path.  Her jaw had started hurting from the amount she had been gritting her teeth as she bounced along into the forest. Each time the old car skipped on a bump, she could hear the metal shaking all along the frame of the old vehicle.  The car had seen better days and even those were a memory from decades ago.

The woman had been driving for well over thirty minutes through the forest but finally, had found the place.  A small house appeared around a bend in the road. The woman begged the poor car to keep sputtering for just a bit longer as she rounded the bend and pulled into the yard out front.

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The No Cry Challenge

When I was in college, my roommate at the time introduced me to a challenge that was being spread around Reddit.  It was called the No Cry 19 Challenge. It was a playlist of videos that was guaranteed to make people cry. They weren’t all sad, though many were, but were just extreme from an emotional sense.  Extremely sad, extremely happy, and just a whole range of emotions. The comments were fun to look at as you saw a wide range of individuals detailing out how far they made it, with many falling off within the first ten videos.

The challenge was fun but it also made me realize two ideas.  The first, is that it’s a universal thing to need to cry, and through empathy we’re able to share in those emotions other have.  This sounds super philosophical, like some hoity-toity shit, but the fact of the matter is that it is one of the most human things to cry.  Many other animals don’t even have tear ducts that enable them to do so. It’s been shown that elephants can grieve but they still cannot physically cry like we do.  Humans are able to express in such an extreme physical manner what we feel emotionally.  That shit’s ours. We own it.

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My Friend is Very Strange

My friend is very strange.  We are not from the same species.  In fact, everything about them is very alien to me.

We live in the same place we both call home.  Though, my friend tends to leave it from time to time to visit others of his kind.  Still, my friend always returns and makes sure to pick up groceries from time to time as well.  He is a good roommate.

My friend and I like to eat together.  We can’t eat the same food, as it seems his body can’t have the same thing as me.  However, he is always open to letting me try some of his. It’s very… different, though.  Some of it seems the same but… changed? The food smells strange to me. Strange food for a strange species, I guess.

My friend and I enjoy to give each other our space.  I usually use this time to exercise or just take a nap as I don’t have many hobbies.  My friend will sometimes play with me, though. I enjoy these times a lot. Other times, he will simply watch the screen.  I don’t enjoy the screen as much as he does so I usually don’t stick around for long.

We do spend a lot of time together, though.  My friend knows that I tend to get itchy. He will scratch my back for me as it’s hard to reach, at times.  I always appreciate this. His strange limbs are more flexible than mine and bend in ways mine can’t so he’s able to help me out immensely, even reaching stuff I can’t.  It’s weird to watch how his arms move but I can’t take for granted how amazing it feels to get rid of that itch.

Sometimes, my friend is very sad.  I can tell because he’ll want to cuddle with me.  I don’t always enjoy this but when I see him sad, I allow it.  Sometimes, it’s nice to spend time next to each other and I can understand feeling alone.

My friend and I weren’t always together.  There was a while when I had no home. When I was young, I lost my mother.  I don’t know what happened to my brothers and sisters but I never really saw them.  For a long while, I was alone, outside on the streets. There were good people that would care for me but they didn’t always stick around.  And sometimes, some of the people that I found weren’t always nice…

My friend and I found each other after a while.  He offered me a place to stay and allowed me to shower up and clean myself.  I’m not a fan of baths but it felt great to be clean after so long. I was very wary of him for a bit but we became close friends and soon we became inseparable, so I finally decided to stay.  We’ve been roommates since. I will always appreciate what my friend did for me.

There are days when I think about my time outside, especially during those days that its raining and storming.  I’ve had a fear of storms for so long from being out in them by myself. It took me a while to really feel safe.  However, when I’m always scared, my friend is there for me. He speaks softly and pets my head. It may seem demeaning to some but I find the warmth of the gesture and his care very soothing.  He is always there for me, especially in my darkest times.

It’s hard for me to admit it, and I don’t know if I always show him, but I do love my friend.

Even if he is human.

AlphaB Team (Working Title)

Teaser

Two hours is a lot of time, when you think about it.  A lot can happen in two hours.

Sure, it’s just barely a fourth of a typical work shift, and it definitely falls severely short of that recommended eight hours of sleep every night, but two hours is plenty of time for some things.  Six hours ago, nothing was really going on. The city was the same as it ever was and the sun still had time to shine before lazily drifting below the mountains. Then two hours went by and the sun was gone, replaced by streetlights and bright windows illuminating people enjoying the brisk wind, one of the first big ones for the season.  The night life had started to head home in preparation for another boring Monday morning and people were everywhere, still in the middle of their mass exodus out of town. Two hours after that, things continued to change. The people were completely gone, save a few trying to extend their last calls. The cold night in autumn had turned peaceful and serene, beautifully capping off a day that should have felt perfect.  A crisp, cold and uneventful Sunday night that shared nothing in tone to the bustle previously.

But that was two hours ago.  A lot can happen in two hours.

Now, peace and serenity were long gone.  The streets were alive, the lights were blue and blinding, flashing over and over again outside of the museum located in the middle of downtown.  A news helicopter flew overhead, trying to find an easy way to avoid the taller buildings and get closer to the chaos. Off in the distance a police chopper was coming to shoo away the news before returning to checking the nearby streets.  Meanwhile, the chatter of radios and footsteps signified that the front entrance to the museum had finally been unbarred and dozens of men and women in blue made their way inside. Shouts of orders and activity flooded into the building that had, for the past hour been screeching nonstop into the night.

Watching this all happen well down the road were four figures.  They were all completely in black and hiding in an alleyway four blocks away.  One was standing and peeking around the corner, still wearing their mask. Another had his mask off and was on the ground laying up against the opposite wall.  He was breathing hard and holding his side, blood soaking through his black shirt and some hastily applied dressings. The other two were farther in the alley. A young woman was laying on a double folded musty blanket, her back carefully placed to avoid the large holes in the fabric where various debris from the alley jutted through.  She had her leg raised and propped on the lap of a slightly older woman who was bandaging up her ankle, annoyed by the mask restricting her vision but too focused on the task at hand to take it off.

The four of them barely made a sound in the silence as sirens and police shouts echoed down to them, bouncing off the buildings and reminding them that they were still barely safe.  No one dared move, exhausted and defeated; they all were still, silent against the cacophony that was the last two hours.

After watching the chaos ensue for a while longer, the figure who had been peering around the corner finally turned around to face the others.  They removed their mask, revealing the face of a woman in her mid thirties with short brown hair, sharp features, and dark green eyes. She stared at the rest of them, her piercing gaze looking over all of them, like a mother who finally caught her children right in the act, making them all wince.  Finally, her gazed softened as exhaustion and personal guilt washed over her. She sighed.

“Alright.  I’ll admit.  We fucked up.”

 

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Firewood

It’s cold in the folds of these old hills,
The sun did come but darkness won.
I rub my hands to fight off the chill,
And the fire burns in more ways than one.

The house creaks as leaks begin to freeze,
The wind finds perch in walls undone
By idle time which took its fees.
And the fire burns in more ways than one.

Light hits my sight as the fireplace flares.
A lick flicks more wood, a new flame’s begun.
Crackling ivory amidst firey snares,
And the fire burns in more ways than one.

Gone is the dream given up to the now,
Broken for warmth at the set of the sun
Keys and strings are silent, I avow:
The fire burns in more way than one.

Decided to try something a bit different. I don’t usually do poems but I was thinking about lyrical writing, and after listening to Firewood by Regina Spektor, I felt a little inspired to have some fun.

Hopefully, the theme gets across in this. I didn’t want it to be too, too obvious.

The Worth of One or Many

“…All I’m saying is, the guy has the literal cure for cancer in his body and he’s decided he won’t share with the rest of the world.”

“Brain cancer, Jim.  He has the cure for one cancer.  And it’s one that we’re making a lot of progress in obtaining without whatever unique ability his brain has.  We’re not even sure if we could harness that trait. If you remember, the attempts at synthesizing crocodiles’ unique cell defenses failed, even though we truly thought we had that.”

“Exactly my point.  We’ve made progress, Clara, progress.  Nothing more. We don’t know when we might independently find a cure.  But we have the cure right here! Something that could lead to even more discoveries.  Why should we put his life over the lives of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands that would die before we finally crack this puzzle?  What would you have him do, Clara? If it was your loved one with this terrible disease?”

“Are you seriously suggesting that this young man kill himself, Jim?”

“Maybe I am, Clara.  Maybe I am.”

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The Games Children Play

 

The Games Children Play

 

It started out as many things do:  When I was just a child.  I guess as evil as he was, Hitler was on the money when he said that the best way to indoctrinate is when they’re young.  Though, in my case, it was my own brain trying to warp my sense of self before I even had it.

I’d probably say my first memories of a problem were of the games we all played as children.  The first one I remember was classic:

“Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back!”

While, sure, I initially was horrified that my arbitrary carelessness could have put my mother in the hospital, I learned quickly that it made no difference.  I mean, I stepped on plenty of cracks in the floor but my mom was still healthy enough to chase after me when I clogged the toilet.

The thing is, even if I knew it wasn’t true, I couldn’t stop playing the game.  For some reason, there was a very real sense of dread that “something” might happen if I lost my footing.  I remember at the time wondering what was wrong that I kept playing long after the kids around me moved on, stepping on cracks in the pavement with abandon.  After a while, I chalked it up to superstition and hummed a few bars of Stevie Wonder’s big hit while avoiding gaps in the pavement.

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