Poetry-Thing Thursday: On the Prow

I nearly fell upon
my knees,
oh please,
don’t tell me the seas,
have memories,
of all of the fallacies,
that men and machines believe or breathe.

I couldn’t tell about,
the time,
or crime,
that lead me to climb,
a ladder of slime,
atop a bell whose chime,
certainly leave you a mime.

If I had known,
the song,
a gong,
from my heart would wrong,
the messer of prongs,
dislodge and assert them inside of your bong,
or perhaps wetten a sect of your thong.

Were I to say,
The word,
I’d heard,
No more than a third,
of the mourning bird,
would flock with a herd,
of cattle-men ready to hone the absurd.

So do I,
sit here right now
with unbidden bow,
out on the prow,
of bright-white ship but how,
could they, I wow,
in wake of a filth and greed-laden sow?

Short Story: Brace-Face

She looked at herself in the mirror, stretching her mouth and lips to better show her teeth. The gleam of wires and metal was far from visually pleasing. Aesthetically, she hated them. One day she might say differently of the whole thing– one day when her teeth were pearly white and perfectly straight. For now, she curled her lips closed and frowned.

Danielle had never been one to speak out of turn, or fuss over things. Mostly, she sat in her room, or in one of her various classes, and let life swirl by in silence. She didn’t have friends to speak of, or to. It kept her quiet most of the time. Maybe, she thought, she could hide her mouthful of metal until graduation. It was a couple years away, sure, but she’d managed the preceding ten without much peer-interaction. Then again, she wasn’t about to add a blotchy, red face to the mix by holding her breath.

She brushed out her long, bushy hair. Yet another of Genetics’ slights was to give her the thickest, curliest hair a girl could have without being of some exotic origin. Each day, she’d stand in front of her bathroom mirror, vainly fighting it. Whether morning, afternoon, or night, they battle raged until Dani gave up and wrestled it into a bushy ponytail.

“More like squirrel-tail,” she always muttered. As always, thinking of how akin her hair was to having a long-haired cat rooted into her scalp– but less cute and twice as angry.

And now, there was the metal. A literal ton of it. Okay, maybe not literal, literal, but there was a lot. She might have cried, had she built any type of social standing that was to take a hit. Otherwise, it was just par for the course of a life as dishwater-dull as stagnant. She did her best to settle into her nightly homework, added to by the missed assignments from the day’s be-metaling. The only time she rose was to answer her mother’s call for dinner. It was only afterward that she realized just how bad it felt to have someone drill, glue, and wire her mouth together. To say nothing of having to pick, brush, and clean them for the first time.

By the end of it, she was haggard, emotionally and physically. With the last finishing touches on her homework, she collapsed into bed. The night passed in a patchwork of introspective bad dreams until she found herself lucid and aware she was dreaming, and completely helpless to stop them.

In the same, befuddled manner of all dreams, enough reality melded with hallucinatory strangeness to form a believable dream-world. Dani found herself at a school not quite the same as usual. Never-ending hallways took eternities to cross, super-imposing vast barren dunes atop them. Peers with transmogrifying faces drifted here and there or accompanied her for unknown reasons, refusing to listen to her cries of help. Others wandered about without faces. More still kept up an unending chorus of “brace-face, brace-face” that followed her as if ethereal whispers on an ever-blowing wind.

The dream-school was the very definition of eerie strangeness. After a while, even dream Dani found the chanting more tacky than hurtful. For hours and hours, the hallways carried her across their deserts, her would-be friends came and went, strangers stared from black-holes in their heads, and the wind chanted incessantly.

When the sun decided to grace her window and rip her from sleep, she returned from dreamland with gratitude. She praised the sun, albeit silently. Dreamland had become more twisted and sordid over time, in ways she couldn’t describe nor recall, but that left her feeling uneasy. The monotony of her years-old morning routine was just what she needed. It remained largely unchanged, though slightly more dismal now from aching teeth and a metal-bruised ego. Fighting her hair into its hairy-cat state helped her feel a little more normal. Her best “don’t look at me” clothes formed a hopeful shroud that allowed her to make for school without collapsing in embarassment.

Bacatta High-School was a place filled with paradoxes at every turn. Certain class rooms were dark, dank dungeons, windowless and cold. Beside them were warm meadows, windowed along one side with vibrant warmth. A time-vortex or dimensional rift would be perfectly at home there, and admittedly, not surprising. In her words, “You know, a regular high-school.”

She entered school to the drone-procession of students too-asleep for the morning hour. At least there she was invisible. Good. No one would notice her new metal-mouth. Not even if they tried to. She kept her head bowed, flowed with the rivers of students toward class. There, she floated in place like them, but half-submerged to remain invisible. It seemed to be going well until midway through Algebra, when she was forced to speak aloud.

Mrs. Harmon eyed the room, “Who can tell me the value of x, if x equals seven, plus two, divided by three. Hmm, let’s see… Danielle?”

Danielle was a deer in the headlights, hit by the car before realizing it. She was expected to answer. Her brain had already worked out the problem, but the few eyes that turned her way froze her in place. Mrs. Harmon leered with expectancy. Never in a million years could it help. It made things much worse than she ever expected.

She grimaced, did her best to hide her teeth, and saw herself flipping up and over the car, headlights already long gone. As she end-over-ended through the air, she revealed her unintentional lisp.

“Exsss equalsss three?”

“Correct. Excellent,” Mrs. Harmon said, moving on, completely unaware of the slaughter she’d caused.

Dani shrank in her seat. It was even worse than she’d expected. She’d probably sprayed the girl in front of her with a fountain of saliva. She didn’t seem to notice, but Dani did. A hand suddenly tapped Dani’s shoulder. She nearly fainted. Her eyes met another girl holding a folded scrap of paper. She gestured for Dani to take it.

Me? She mouthed. The girl nodded. Dani opened the note.

Girly scrawl formed the words “New braces?

Danielle’s face almost fell off. She’d known. Things must be even more terrible than she realized. She glanced at the girl, whom nonchalantly divided her attention between Mrs. Harmon and Danielle, then scribbled a reply:

Yea, why?

The note changed hands, was read, scribbled on, then returned.

It helps to have water. Or get some wax to put on the back.

Danielle’s eyes were a portrait of confusion. She scribbled back; Thanx. Is it really that bad?

The girl took the note, read it, then shook her head at Danielle.

I know the feeling. Mine was sooo bad at first. BTW, I’m Sara.

The bell for class-end rang. Dani read the note, then stood next to Sara. “Danielle. Mosst people call me Dani.”

Sara flashed a metal smile. “Cool. I’ve gotta’ head ‘cross the building, but you wanna’ sit together at lunch?”

Dani followed her from the room, carefully evading any esses. “Okay.”

“I’ll meet you in the commons later,” Sara said with another metal smile.

She turned for the long passage across the school and waved good-bye. Dani waved back, managing a smile of her own; maybe being a brace-face wouldn’t be as bad as she’d thought.

Energy and Matter: Part 3

3.

Go Google Yourself

Hailey and Elise found a place beneath a massive oak tree to sit and smoke. By all accounts, it was the perfect day for it; not too hot or cold, lively wildlife, and just enough of a breeze to keep the air from stagnating without blowing the weed away. The pair soaked up the spring afternoon in peaceful silence. Elise’s whispers were quieted by Hailey’s continual concentration on not hearing them. Hopefully, it would become second nature. For now, easing the throbbing headache was enough.

Despite the serenity, obvious tension clung to the air between them. Hailey’s newfound ability had met its match in what Elise had revealed. Given the emotions brewing beneath both subjects, there a conversation or two was to be had. For the moment, they were occupied by the bag in Elise’s lap. She gave the joint a final lick and her tongue ring glinted at Hailey’s eye.

The signs of her changing sexuality seemed more obvious now, but nothing was so glaring out of context. The conversations they hoped to avoid were entwined now, but Hailey kept quiet to enjoy the clean air and pure bud.

She blocked out the whispers by focusing on the wind: whoever had these abilities naturally must hide them expertly– or was incurably insane. She wasn’t sure which direction she was headed yet. Elise passed the joint. She took a deep hit, exhaled a plume of smoke. Her head fogged over to obscure the whispers. The vise lifted from her head, allowing her to relax against the tree-trunk.

“Damn, that’s good weed. Where’d you get it?”

Elise chuckled, “That’s like asking where the bodies are hidden. You know you aren’t getting an answer.”

Hailey managed a snort, “There’s bodies now?”

Elise winked over a wavy smile. Hailey managed a laugh. Elise took another hit. The joint made its rhythmic passage between them without need of acknowledgment, but the tension was nearer than they liked. Elise took the joint back and inhaled a massive drag.

She spoke from a shallow throat, “Guess we should talk ‘bout the elephants, huh?”

Hailey blew a long, defeated cloud of smoke. “I guess.”

Elise passed the joint, “We did ditch class for it.”

Hailey worked up her courage, “You wanna’ go first?”

“Oh no.” She gave a firm shake of her head. “You brought us out here, you spill it. Besides, it’s not like there’s much to say about… my thing, anyway.”

Hailey wasn’t sure she agreed, but went ahead. “I told you, I was… meditating about this book, and now I can hear people’s thoughts. It’s weird. And scary. And I want it to stop.”

“Not to mention pretty intrusive. No offense.”

Hailey deflated, “I know. Who would want this? And why me? And what about that vision thing? Is this how my life’s going to be now? Hearing people’s deepest secrets and living stuff twice while passing out? What the hell kind of life’s that?”

Elise shrugged, “Sort’a sounds like a gift to me.”

“A gift!?” Hailey blurted. “You’re out of your mind.”

“Think about it. It’s like a super power. You get the cool stuff, like hearing what your crush thinks, and the not so cool stuff– like, well, having to see bad things before they happen.” Hailey’s mouth squirmed with dread. “Maybe though, being able to see it happen means you can keep it from happening, like a superhero.”

Hailey’s mouth continued to make funny shapes, “Elise, you’re nuts. This can only be a bad thing. Why would you want to hear what people think?”

She cocked an eyebrow up, “It’d be a lot easier to date… But yeah, I get it.”

Hailey whined, head in her hands, “This is not happening. It’s a dream. A hallucination. Too many mushrooms– are there such things as ‘shroom flashbacks?”

Elise shrugged, “Never heard of ‘em.” She took the last hit off the joint then snuffed it in the grass, “But if you wanna’ know about something, check the ‘net. You know, google it.”

“Google what? How to tell if you’re psychic?” She snipped derisively.

“Why not?”

Hailey groaned, “This is so not good I can’t find a word for it.”

“Bad?”

“It’s beyond that.”

Elise stared off into space, “Beyond bad. Hmm…”

Hailey let her words ring for a moment, “I’ll look into it, but… can I ask you something?”

“Hmm?” She said with a glassy-eyed look.

“What made you realize–”

“That I’m Gay?” Elise said with a raised brow.

“Yeah, sure… gay.”

Elise considered it, “Probably rubbing off to girls instead of guys.”

Hailey’s face crumpled, “T-M-I.”

“You asked.”

Hailey rolled her eyes. “You haven’t told anyone else, huh?”

“Technically I didn’t tell you. But no.”

“Is it hard? Living with that secret, I mean?”

Elise pawed at her hair, flattened it from the breeze, “Not really. It’s not like anyone’s asking. My parents like that I’m not dating and the rest of my family wouldn’t care anyhow.”

“What about your other friends?”

“You mean the invisible ones here now?” She asked with a smart-assed, sweeping hand.

“C’mon, it’s not like I’m you’re only friend,” Hailey argued. “What about Trent and those guys? Or Mal and her group?”

“They’re more acquaintances than friends. Trent and his friends mostly want to bang me. And Mal and the others just mooch my weed. You’re the only one I’d consider a real friend.”

The admission stung her heart a little. “Quality over quantity,” Hailey reassured her.

Elise’s mouth puffed out a little. The rest of her face rose and fell, “That’s what I keep saying.” An awkward silence descended. Hailey broke it to move on, “So, um, any crushes then?”

Is this your way of trying to get me to say I like you?

“Don’t think that,” Hailey corrected. “I’d just ask.”

“Sorry, but no. I’m still trying to figure out what my, uhm– type?– is, I guess. Not you.”

Hailey laughed, “No wonder we can only stand each other. We’re like a couple of whiney old ladies; the haggish psychic and the smart-ass lesbian.”

Elise chuckled, pushed herself up “C’mon, let’s head to your house and google psychic stuff.”

“Okay,” Hailey said, following her up. “And maybe some lesbian porn, if there’s time.”

She shoved Hailey playfully, “Jerk.”

Hailey shoved back, “Lez-bo.” Hailey gave her a sideways hug as they walked. “This person loves you at least.”

“Enough for me,” Elise said, less sarcastically than usual.

They headed back to Elise’s car and made for Hailey’s house. On arrival, they piled their stoned arms full of pantry-booty, then headed to Hailey’s room to sit side-by-side at her desk, surfing the net for anything even remotely related to psychics. Eventually, they ended up on her bed propped in various positions with the high wearing thin. Elise lie near the bed’s edge, feet in the air on a wall, and reading from an e-tablet. At the head of the bed, Hailey sat cross-legged to sift search results for anything outside conclusive proof of human insanity.

“Check this out,” Elise said, righting herself to face Hailey. “Separation between Seer and norm is genetic, but requires the activation of the Seer’s latent abilities. Most usually, through accessing The Link, an otherwise cryptic name for the state of mind connecting Seers to their sight-based power and the energy that they rely on. Sound familiar?”

“The Link? What the hell kind of name is that? How reputable’s this site?”

Elise shrugged, “How reputable are any of ‘em?” Hailey saw her point. “Anyway, I don’t think there’s a “Psychic Handbook.”

“Probably not,” Hailey despaired.

A knock sounded on her door and she was suddenly glad her psychic abilities were suppressed. The last thing she wanted was knowing her mother’s twisted thoughts. Her head poked through the door, her face an aged version of Hailey’s. She stuck it into the room with her top-half, held on the door’s edge as if about to be swept away on a rapid.

“Hi, Elise.”

“Hi, Mrs. Ferguson,” Elise said with a wave.

“Hailey, your father and I are going out to dinner. There’s money on the kitchen table. Order whatever you want, but I want the change, okay?” Hailey nodded. “Have a good time and be good.”

“You too,” Hailey said. “Have fun I mean.”

Mom let the rapid pull her from the door as it shut. Elise chided her, “Your mom’s kinda’ hot.” Hailey faked gagging. Elise laughed, half covering her face, “I didn’t mean it. I just wanted to see your reaction.” Hailey gagged again. “C’mon, free food’ll help.”

They grabbed their respective tech to head for the kitchen. Before long they’d settled on a pizza from a place down the road. Delivery meant more time to waste on the net– and sneaking to Elise’s car for another joint. They returned lighter than before and in time for the pizza to arrive. For a while, Hailey forgot the world, soaking instead in the ambrosial mix of food and grass so often the cherry atop a good night.

Tonight it felt less good. Something about her fainting spell nagged at her. Contrary to expectations too, even the less tinfoil-hat websites hadn’t mentioned anything about it. Whatever had happened to her, however similar it was– if the web were truthful– there was a definite difference in her. Nowhere had she read anything about fainting or migraines. The most common side-effects ranged from minor paranoia to full-blown psychosis. She didn’t need either of those. Part of her was grateful for headaches and faints instead, but the rest wondered what made her different from other Seers– if indeed she were one.

The more she thought, the more the word seeped into the cracks of her mind. “Seer” had been defined as one whose mental abilities allow access to future, or present, remote events. Her vision at school easily fit the former definition, but what about hearing voices? Was “Seer” separate to her, like she was separate from a “norm?”

Her mind fell to The Link. Supposedly Seers used it to access their powers. If her suppositions and experiences aligned, it was the thing linking them to the “dark energy” her book’s author had presented as the force through which such abilities manipulated reality. If that was true, there was no telling what a Seer was capable of if properly trained.

Dark energy and dark matter were said to be the counter-balances to the universe. In ways, as much had already been proven via Relativity and the blunder of the cosmological constant. In others, the sole question remained of whether or not the “dark” affected them. In no way were there questions of if these things existed. Unfortunately, if that book’s author proved right, Hailey had just been given a sizable chunk of power over the universe– or at least, access to said power.

She didn’t like the idea, liked where things were heading even less. Being a psychic wasn’t high on her list of priorities. Had it been on the list at all, it would’ve been nearer the bottom, far below things like; “don’t flunk out of school,” and “get a job, or get a car.” It made her squirm to think of it being on the list, but it wasn’t the thing bothering her most about being a “Seer.” That was something else. Something beneath the factual tones of net-articles, and even the incredulity Elise used; fear.

Fear dominated all of the information she’d taken in. Seers were simultaneously respected, awed, and terribly feared. She could only think of Tolkien and his “affairs of wizards” when she considered it. Even after her high wore off, and Elise left for the night, Hailey couldn’t help but wonder at it:

What would her life would be like now? Anyone that learned her secret, and accepted it as truth, would be leery of her. She doubted Elise would ever outwardly show it, but she was obviously uncomfortable with someone listening to her most private thoughts. Hailey wanted everything to be a bad dream or a bad joke.

She forced herself into a restless sleep, peppered by dreams of random nothingness. Midway through, one dream hit her hard. She found herself lucid, conscious of the dream-state. Terror stirred her gut. Bile burst up her throat.

Elise slid into her car outside her home. Morning fog rolled beneath overcast skies warning of ill omens. Half-way through Elise’s trip to school, Hailey’s gut wrenched into a knot.

Then, glass shattered. Metal twisted. Elise’s head hit her window. The impact’s bloody orb splintered in a spider-web. In a blink, hands went ’round Elise’s half-conscious body. She was grappled out the door over aggressive shouts.

As if time skipped, Hailey saw a darkened room. Elise was lashed to a chair. Hailey could neither move nor speak. As if stuck on-high, helpless and consigned to watching. A muffled voice demanded something. A silhouetted figure knelt behind Elise. A moment later, a resounding crack of bone echoed through the room. Hailey was ripped from sleep by breaking fingers.

She yelped, upright, sweating, and feeling her hand where the finger had been broken. It was fine. The residual pain from the dream was already fading. No other explanation was needed. The dream was a vision. Another one.

Far from being benign as the last, if reality held true, Elise would be kidnapped and tortured. As the seconds passed, residual guilt from the dream told Hailey it was because of her. She wasn’t sure how or why but her gut confirmed it. If she wasn’t careful, Elise would die soon.

Missed part 2? Find it here!

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Merely Human

Close your mind,
and shut out life.
A beautiful thought.
No pain, no strife.

But no love. No Growth.
All darkness and an abyss.
A death of the spirit–
fate of the heartless.

All good things,
come from an open mind;
art, music, literature
the roots of our kind.

Imagine if the world,
closed down its doors,
turned out its lights,
cast off its moors.

Life as we know it would cease.
All our great progress,
turned to dust,
in the shadow of duress.

So keep it open,
and widen it if you can,
for the universe is larger,
and we are merely human.

Short Story: A Cataclysmic Event

Lightning snaked across a black sky. Thunder cracked nearby, rumbling asphalt and concrete. The highway was abandoned– not from the late hour, but rather from the cataclysm most were still coming to grips with. Bethany and Robert were two of those few whom recognized at least some part of the cataclysm’s effects. They wandered along the highway, terrified and lost for action otherwise.

Rain was ready to unleash hell on them, fueled by the flashes back-lighting Beth’s, plump, pale cheeks. Her black hair made her seem all the more ghostly given darkness. Rob didn’t have to see her face to know all color was gone from it. They’d been humping in the back of his late-90’s station-wagon when it happened. Pumping across folded down seats in the woods off the highway kept them free from the angry intrusions of their respective parents.

Until the flash came, the only worries they’d had were whether or not Rob would pull out fast enough. Or if Beth would be part of the point-ex-ex percent whose birth-control failed. Then, the flash; like a giant m-80 that turned night to day. It was so bright it nearly blew Beth off Rob– and him inside her. They panicked, their first instincts of police intrusion. The flash died out a second later though– far too short for a copper’s flashlight.

They panted terror and pleasure, their nerves settling into shakes as they rolled apart at the ruined mood. Beth worked her panties back up her skirt while Rob wormed back into his pants. For a long while they sat, silent and catching their breath on the open tail-gate and sour from their ruined masterplan. When they finally parted for either side of the car’s front, slid into the darkness inside, Rob’s key turned to start the engine.

Nothing happened.

His heart pounded, stomach limboed up into his throat. He turned it again. Nothing. Not even a click. His horrified gaze fixed on the dashboard through the darkness. He suddenly understood irrational panic better. At least this was rational…

“What? What is it?”

It took him a moment to muster his courage. His mind was ablaze with the millions of ways both of their father’s would kill him once they found out where they’d been. That was, of course, after the public derision and castration.

He choked on hard saliva, “It’s dead.”

Beth’s eyes became late-50’s UFOs, “What? What’re you talking about? How?”

He shouted in panic.“I don’t know! It’s dead! I don’t know!”

“Did you leave it on?”

Frustration ground a roar from the back of his throat. He was irritated. His balls were blue, and now, destined to be cut off and stitched back on to his forehead only to be cut off again.

He slammed a hand against the steering wheel. “Stupid piece’a shit!”

Beth’s face turned green usual. “W-we have to do something. Find someone to jump it.”

His breath fluttered the last vestiges of hope, both for his rust bucket and his favorite, dangly bits. He kicked his door open with a squawk of metal. Beth was out behind him, stuck close for fear of being lost in the unimaginably-deep darkness. Even the city’s usual glow was gone– the first signs of something amiss.

But Rob was focused on the empty highway. Its usual vacancy seemed gone, different. The area generally came with fairly sparse traffic, but now, not a single car came nor went. Not even the few expected of waning evenings hours. Not one head-light or hi-beam cut the darkness.

Thunder rumbled again in the distance. Beth inched over. “Rob.” She clung to his arm. “Rob, we need to go before the rain hits.”

His mind was focused where the city’s glow should be. “No cars. No lights at all. And the car won’t start.”

“We need to go back and wait out the storm,” Beth urged, tugging at his hand.

He stood firm, “No, we can’t.”

“We have to. We’ll find help once the storm’s over.”

Rob was certain something had happened; not what, but its effects were obvious. “There’s no-one on the road, Beth. No cars. No lights in town.”

She followed his gaze to the glow’s dark place, “What happened to ’em?”

He wasn’t sure, but he sensed the flash was responsible. Whatever it was, it must’ve killed power to everything. That thought alone was enough to prompt him to take Beth’s hand and walk with her along the small access road. The lightning began, carried on as they inched onto the highway against their better instincts. The trek forward was empty only a few minutes. Then as if from nowhere, a vacant car appeared, mid-lane change and abandoned in the center of the road. Thunder rumbled again, deafening them. They fled for the car as the downpour began.

It was daylight when they finally emerged from the backseat of the strange car. They continued toward town, Rob’s fear for his “boys” only overshadowed by the alien displacement of his now-silent world. More empty cars appeared here and there, abandoned as before. They grew denser and more numerous as the city’s limits came and went. The streets and shop-fronts were devoid of humans, but their presence was felt in what they’d left behind.

Beth’s house was the closer of the two, as certain a place of genital execution as his own. They headed over, encountering the first signs of humanity– a welcome relief from the xenotian terror the empty city had imparted. A man fiddled about in his open garage, a simple sign that they were not, in fact, the last two humans left alive. It put Beth at-ease, propelled her along the twists and turns toward home.

The nearer home came, the more Beth was forced to drag Rob. His uneasiness doubled at his impending, albeit rightly due castration. With that uneasiness, came more people, most as confused and aimless as them. Some were altogether hysterical from the worlds’ forced stop from electricity’s absence. Rob sympathized; his world would stop soon too, or at least a small part of it would– though Rob had always been of the mind that big things came in small packages.

They found Beth’s parents standing worriedly outside. They rushed up to her as she appeared, hugging and kissing her with paternal relief. Rob swallowed hard, his hands unconsciously crossing to cover himself. They paid him no mind as he shuffled awkwardly to her side to await his scrotal death-sentence.

Her father began questioning them, his mind too dulled by the goings-on to notice their obviously guilty faces. Rob was equally dazed. Sweat beaded on his brow. He barely breathed, awaiting the ninjitsu strike that would severe his sperm-pipes and sunder his sausage from his body..

Before her father could turn his eyes to him, Beth threw herself on the proverbial scalpel for Rob’s testicular cause. With a muster of fearful tears, she lied and begged forgiveness ands understanding.

“We were on the highway driving, and the car went dead, and we pushed it into a log but then we freaked and on our way back the storm came, and we hid in a random car and–”

The run-on sentence continued for two full minutes. Rob’s brain struggle to transfer focus, but caught on to Beth’s angle. He retained his stupor with purpose, merely nodding along. It wasn’t difficult to keep her parents suspicions away given the enormity of what had occurred. Before long, they’d even admitted gladness that the couple waited out the storm– despite the obvious fears they’d cause.

Only moments later, the two were wandering to Rob’s house to repeat the scene. His parents reacted with all the same obliviousness as Beth’s had.

In the end, he and Beth were in agreement; whatever had happened saved them from certain doom. No matter how much it had doomed the world, it wasn’t quite as important their respective selves– and Rob’s dangly bits. It may have taken a cataclysmic event, but they’d weaseled out of paying for their petty, teenage rebellion, prolonging the testicular execution for another day.

Energy and Matter: Part 2

2.

In Through An “Out” Door

Dinner was the first time she heard them, but given her state, Hailey ignored the voices. School the next day was another story. At dinner the disjointed conversation between her parents could be reasoned to make sense, somehow. This was different. The unconnected dissonance finally revealed itself in full as she passed through BHS’ rear-doors for its crowded commons area.

A usual morning’s din was sluggish half-speech over silent breakfasting of the less-than-morning students. Today, a sea of whispers crashed against a relative silence beneath it. The sheer magnitude was staggering. Hailey stumbled like a drunkard into the commons, and toward a bench. She clutched her aching head, groping for the mental volume-knob jacked to eleven… and failing to find it.

A voice approximating her best friend’s sounded before her, mired in lisping chaos. It took a couple tries before Elise got her attention. When it finally clicked that Elise Brennan was both before her, and trying to speak, Hailey’s eyes rose slowly. They took in the pear-shaped waist and denim hip-huggers to ascend past her small breasted t-shirt in slack-jawed confusion. It was only once she reached Elise’s thinly-bespectacled, blue-gray eyes that she knew fully whom stood before her.

Elise squinted with derangement, “I asked if you were alright. Hailey?”

She shook off pain, uttered something noncommittal. Elise sat beside her on the bench, scratched the shaved side of her platinum blonde hair, then pawed the blue highlights of her bangs to flatten them; a habitual act.

“You’re out of it today. You get a bag of spacey-weed or something?”

Hailey half-shook her clutched head, fought to sift through the crashing surf to pin down Elise’s voice. She managed dim the others a little, but the constant lisps remained.

“I… something happened last night,” she moaned. “Now my head’s killing me.”

“Were you taking Xanax again?” Elise asked, caustically. “I told you that shit messes you up!”

“No.” She paused to wince and grimace. “I wasn’t taking anything.”

Elise’s face resettled into its usual visage. Her glasses slipped downward. She nudged them back up with a finger, “Good. So, what happened?”

“I don’t really know–” The five minute bell cut her off. Elise stood beside her, helped her up. “I’ll tell you about it later.”

“Are you gonna’ be okay?”

Another noncommittal mutter allowed Hailey to depart for class. Her usual meandering was absent. Class was difficult to focus on. The whispers were a fraction of what they’d been, but much louder, directed. Dozens of voices, too jumbled to be understood, meleed for attention. Hailey didn’t want to understand them. She wanted them to go away. Half way through her last morning class she laid her head on her desk to rest a moment, then was suddenly torn from bliss by a lunch bell.

Oddly enough, lunch was quieter. Internally. Externally, it was the same as ever. Hailey found a secluded corner, and ate from a bag lunch with her headphones fighting valiantly to drown out the ever-present voices. It was a shame the battle was lost from the start, given the voices were coming from inside. Even after finishing her food, she kept them in, hoping to space-out enough to unravel her knotted mess of thoughts.

Everything stemmed from the Dark Matter book. That much was obvious. Nothing made sense without it and everything began after reading it. She tried to piece together– or rather break down, piece by piece– the nature of matter. According to quantum mechanics, its hierarchical structure ended with solid matter. Going backward mentally, she’d begun stripping matter into its more basic forms.

At the time, she’d focused on heat and a leaf. In simple terms, heat was a process acting on a thing, matter, to alter its properties. Conversely, a leaf was the thing acted upon. The collection of energy, or heat, into the matter caused it to warm. The book’s author had often posited a similar transference of energy– from thought– as the cause of dark energy.

Hailey couldn’t even begin to fathom what had caused him to begin formulating his theories, but he fitted them to established facts in a curiously logical way. He’d likened the effects of thought to those of heat produced via friction. Like rubbing one’s hands together, thought and brain-waves produced an effect that radiated from the thinker. EEG machines took advantage of this fact.

However, the author extended these facts to his theory, positing that such brain-waves continued to radiate outward, eventually becoming too sparse to measure via our insesitive instruments. In effect, they did not ever truly fade, merely echoed at lower and lower wave-lengths, transferring their energy from the mind to cosmos. This transference then, might account for the growing increase of dark energy, and in turn, the accelerating expansion of the universe.

When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. In simplest terms, every action has an equal and inverse reaction. Newton’s “Third Law of Motion.” Simultaneously one of the simplest, and most revolutionizing, concepts in history. Hailey knew it well, but the Author might rival Newton’s contribution, if his wild theories proved true. If what was happening to her was what he’d suggested– and not a mental breakdown, it meant a revolution for not only physics, but all of human kind.

Hailey recalled a passage from the book while Pink Floyd soothed her mind into soaring further from the din and the migraine it was causing:

If dark energy is then the manifestation of psychokinetic processes— that is, mental processes which create energy– it is a fair assumption to find intelligent life as its source. Humanity included, however much our experiences might dictate otherwise.

“If true, should not see our world as one of possibly many points from which the universe’s expansion emanates? In theory, yes. Unfortunately, none of our observations supports this. One may only further postulate then, that either natural wellsprings exist elsewhere in the universe, or that other beings with similar mental aptitude exist through-out it.

“Taking this to mean there are multiple points of expansion, we might see how, like the gravity-pocked curved fabric of the cosmos itself, the various wellsprings could mesh into a form deceptive at smaller scales and only evident at larger ones. In other words, that while the entirety of the cosmos’ expansion is not fueled by our minuscule place in it, we might nonetheless remain yet a pinhole leak fueling the spillway.

Most things regarding alien life was beyond Hailey’s realm of knowledge, at least logically speaking. Her suspension of disbelief could be extended for the posterity of scientific theorizing, but otherwise, she wasn’t about to speculate on it. In this way though, his theory seemed sound. Combined with her experiences, a lone passage placed him in the realm of right.

“Thus by acting as heat might to molecules, it is possible for pyschokinetic energy, or dark energy, to be manipulated, as well as to manipulate the fields of various, other forms of matter or energy. The only barrier is method with which the force is interfaced. Returning to our metaphor, we bring heat to the leaf only with the right tools. Most of the time, this is a lighter.

“Overall, the interaction of these fields, as evidenced by their effects on the cosmos at-large, might allow for smaller scale interactions (such as telekinesis, precognition, or telepathy) for one who’s managed to harness some method of interfacing with the thought-generated energy. Given the mind may be the mechanism for its creation, the interface itself might be as simple as “the right thoughts, making it no different from setting the leaf alight by passing the proper temperature.”

Whether he’d been right intentionally, or a crackpot stumbling onto one of the universe’s great secrets wasn’t clear. What was clear was that Hailey had begun to access that energy, linking to it through proper, mental stimulation. At least, she hoped that was the case. Otherwise, there was something seriously wrong with her, and she was probably going to end up institutionalized.

When the bell rang to signal the end of lunch, Hailey didn’t hear it. She sensed it– not with her new, special, and completely undesired powers, but by the obvious mass-exodus proceeding around her. She half-stood as something hit her Occiptal. Hard.

She fell to her knees and hands. Crowds surged around outside her, oblivious. She growled an obscenity, fingers nursing with begrudging pressure as she moved to stand again.

A second blow to the temple knocked her sideways to her knees. She staggered. A pained yelp escaped. White-light flooded her vision. Images flickered past. Her lungs fought for air, unable to inflate. A hallway crowded with students parted for EMTs rushing someone through on a stretcher. To her side, Hailey faintly heard Elise’s voice over the tidal wave of whispers.

A moment later, she was staring at the floor from an angle, her head propped against a brick wall and throbbing worse than ever. A small trickle of drool leaked from a corner of her mouth beneath wet eyes. Another groan and she straddled rubber legs for a footing. Her tears wiped black eyeliner to streaks across her fingers.

Her legs half-swaggered, half-stumbled toward the nearest bathroom. The halls were largely vacant already, but Hailey suddenly didn’t care about tardiness. She stood before a mirror, wiping her running eyeliner beneath bloodshot eyes. Her eyes said she’d smoked a joint, her cheeks said she’d been crying. Neither one could be anywhere near the level of reality.

She checked her cell-phone clock: she wasn’t about to be late for class, she was late for class, by fifteen minutes. How? She’d only just heard the bell, only just saw the crowds start to form. What the hell was going on? And what were those images? A vision? It couldn’t have been a dream. It didn’t feel like one. It felt real. Yet to come. Like knowing you were about to vomit, with no way to stop it, but not quite being there yet.

The more she tried to think on it, the louder the whispers grew, and the more sick she felt. Whatever was happening wasn’t good.

She wiped off and reapplied her make-up, then spent the rest of fifth period waiting for it to end in the bathroom. When it was over, she’d have to find Elise, convince her to ditch, and carefully maneuver Elise in the right frame of mind to reveal what was happening. Whatever that entailed, she had to convince Elise of the truth, there was no other avenue forward in her mind.

When the end of fifth period came with the ringing bell, Hailey was once more in the hall near the commons. The geyser of lunch sprayed students into the crowded hall. Hailey eschewed her aloofness and half-ran for Elise’s locker. She weaved in and out of the crowd as fast as possible. Elise was at her locker, prattling on to the girl at the next locker over. Hailey skidded to a stop, doing her best not to pant desperately, and waited for the girls to say good-bye before leaning in at Elise.

“I need to talk to you.”

Elise squinted confusion. She nudged her glasses back up her nose, “Okay. Talk.”

“Not here.” Hailey eyed their surroundings. “Not in school.”

Elise’s brow furrowed, the ring in her left brow catching light. “Oh…kay.”

“Ditch with me.”

She snorted at the thought, “You’re serious? You wanna’ ditch physics?” Hailey was silent, her eyes pleading. Elise sensed the gravity of the situation, and dug her pack out, “Fine, but if we get caught, I’m blaming you.”

“Fair enough.”

Hailey pulled Elise through the crowds that thinned near a stairwell. They were down and into another crowded hall when someone started shouting something. All eyes turned to the disturbance: Vertigo upturned Hailey’s stomach. An Assistant Principal jogged toward them, shouting to clear the way. Behind him, EMTs rushed a student past on stretcher. Hailey’s mind overtook the vertigo, only to see the vision play out a second time.

Time slowed. The Principal jogged past. Whispers rose and fell, internally and externally, Elise’s among them. A second later, the stretcher rolled past, a student’s face upon that she’d never met but had seen once before. As they passed, the crowd’s heads turned to follow with a flocking motion. Only Hailey remained still, blinking hard as time passed outside normal rhythm. She turned her head to eye Elise, mind swimming through molasses. Their eyes met, blackness overtook her vision.

The next thing Hailey knew, her eyes were fluttering open on a tiled ceiling. She lie on her back on something stiffer than a concrete floor. Elise’s face overtook the view above. Hailey squinted at her, head throbbing from fluorescent lights that infected her brain with ultra-bright luminescence.

“Hailey?”

She groaned and sat upright. “Ugh. What happened?”

“You passed out. The nurse is calling your parents–”

“No.” She lowered her voice, “No, I need to talk to you.”

“Hailey, this is a little more–”

“Just trust me,” she said, standing and swaying. She found the nurse across the room, her back turned and a phone in her hand on the far-side of her desk. “Please, don’t call my parents. I’m fine. I’ll go back to class now.”

The nurse whipped ’round, frail frame and eyes moving much quicker than Hailey thought them capable. “Excuse me?” Hailey repeated her request. “I’m sorry, Ms. Ferguson, but I can’t allow you to stay here in your condition.”

Hailey did her best to lie through her teeth; she hated doing it, but was shamefully good at it. “No, it’s alright. I… I was just a little dehydrated. It happens sometimes. It used to happen a lot when I was younger too. If I don’t get enough water, plop! Down I go. I’m sorry. I should’ve paid better attention.”

The nurse eyed her skeptically, searching her for traces of deception, and finding none; a testament to Hailey’s abilities. She was particularly good at appearing innocent, had to be to keep suspicion off her when high– which was more often than not. Hailey feigned shame and relief until the woman softened.

It was a moment before the nurse sighed and hung up the phone, “Very well. I can’t hold you here if you’re up and moving.” She circled her desk for a refrigerator, fished out a bottle of water, then handed it to Hailey. “Drink this. If you end up back in here, I’m calling your parents. Okay?”

Hailey nodded with a small smile. She uncapped the water, sipped it, and thanked the nurse. The aging woman handed her a stamped hall-pass and shooed the girls out. Elise followed behind Hailey, stunned. They diverted from the offices as if heading for the rear stairwell to Physics. Then, with a cursory survey of their surroundings, they passed for the rear-doors and the school’s parking lot. It wasn’t until they slipped into Elise’s late-90s Civic and pulled from the parking lot that they spoke.

“Elise, I’ve been hearing things.”

They pulled onto the main road, “Did you eat mushrooms again or something? I swear, you’ve been weirder than ever today.”

“Elise, listen to me,” Hailey begged. “Something happened to me last night. This weird, white-light thing appeared after I was like, meditating, or something. Ever since then, I’ve been hearing voices.”

Elise looked at her with a question to her sanity, but redirected her eyes to the road. “Look, I don’t know if this is some kind of joke, but it’s not funny so, just stop. First you pass out. Now you’re talking about hearing voices. What am I supposed to think? That you’re nuts?”

“I hope not,” she said, wondering where the line between that and this lay. “Just listen, okay? I don’t care if you don’t believe it yet. Just listen. Can you do that?”

Elise’s mouth squirmed in a frown but settled into an emotionless line. They pulled to a stop at a light. “Fine. Go ahead. I’ll do my best.”

Hailey instantly launched into the events of the past few days; the book, its contents, her thoughts during and after reading. After explaining that she’d returned the book to Mr. Harmon, she continued, “I was thinking about what I’d read, and making these connections about how it might work. How a field, or something with the right properties, could affect bonds between molecules. Then I started thinking about how that might work for a person’s thoughts, if they generated that field. Then all of a sudden, it was like… reality fell away. This weird white-light appeared. I was there, in the center of it, emitting this blue light. Then my mom walked down the hall, and she was blue light too. And then, today in school, I kept hearing all these voices, but they weren’t voices, they were thoughts.”

Elise squirmed uncomfortably, steering them around a corner from a main road to a rural one. A tense silence that Hailey was almost dreading came. A few dozen whispers rose and fell; Elise’s erratic thoughts, both of fear and concern, with questions of whether it was true or not.

“There’s one way to confirm it,” Hailey said, quieting the whispers. “Think of something. Something I don’t know. Something I couldn’t possibly ever guess. Think it, and I’ll repeat it.”

You’re out of your mind.

“Something less obvious,” Hailey said with a roll of her eyes.

I didn’t say that out loud, did I?

“No. But I need to convince you.”

Elise took a deep breath, “Okay. Give me a minute to think.”

A few dozen whispers sounded at once. They all went silent together. Then, with a depressed longing, and immeasurable fear, Elise’s thought whispered; I like girls.

“Uhm. Oh,” Hailey said, eyes bulging. She stared off at the rural road passing by.

Did she really hear that!? Does she think I’m– no, she’s my best friend, she’d never think that. Would she? Is she like that? I’ve never…

“Like what?” Hailey suddenly asked.

“Huh?”

“Am I like what? A homophobe? Jesus, Elise, you know me better than that.”

Elise cleared her throat uncomfortably, “Um, okay. So… why’d you go all quiet?”

Hailey thought for a moment, shrugged, “It caught me off guard. It’s not the kind of thing I was expecting you’d say. I didn’t expect it to be so… personal.”

Elise’s heart visibly sank, “Can we not talk about this, please?”

Hailey turned her eyes at Elise, “Um, okay, but… listen, I don’t care. I mean, not like I don’t care about you. I do care about you. But it’s not a thing to me. Okay?” Elise gave a slight nod. The whispering thoughts raged forward in a jumble. “Quit thinking so many things at once, please.”

“Sorry, this wasn’t what I was expecting today,” Elise admitted, eyes intentionally forward.

“I know the feeling. We’ll just… talk about it when you’re ready, okay?” Elise nodded. “We have bigger problems. Something’s wrong with me. That kid in the hall? I saw him in this vision I had during lunch. It was like a flash of the future. Before I knew what was happening, class had started. I had to blow off the period because I was so late and felt like I was losing it.”

Elise frowned, angling the car along a gravel road toward a circular bluff of trees that surrounded a gravel parking lot. Bacatta’s Grove Park had always been a mainstay for them, and now more than ever, they needed the serenity it provided. Elise rolled to a stop and shut the engine off.

With visible difficulty, her eyes rose to meet Hailey’s. “If you’re not gonna’ judge me for… well, then I’m not going to doubt you. But honestly, Hailey, this is way beyond me. I don’t know anyone it isn’t beyond.” She reached over, fished through the glove box for a bag of weed and some rolling papers, then shut it and pocketed the items. “But I’ll help however you need. I just hope I can.”

She frowned again. It made Hailey wince. They slid out of the car together and headed into the woods.

Missed part 1? Read it here!

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Distraction

Yellow. Orange. Black. White.
A rubber ducky in my sight.
I promise to speak of only right.
But I’m sure you’d like to fight.
Sorry, I don’t. Go fly a kite.
And while you’re at it, don’t be so uptight.

Smoke. Mirrors. Lights. Action.
You only go where you can gain traction.
With those whom form but a minuscule fraction,
of that which we call the “sub-human” faction.
The same kinds of folks that would caption.
Michelangelo’s David “distraction.”

What. Why. Who. Where.
That. ‘Cause. Them. There.
A fat man. A small man. An Au-paire.
A bald man. A shaved man. A man with long hair.
If only. If only. A blind-man could stare,
more men would take a lover, not a brood mare.

But tick. But Tock. But money. But mock.
I jest with the best whom can take a knock.
As meant to be, for even thee, must sometimes feel stock,
and believe in life as naught but a clock,
that’s ticking and flicking for a lone moment of shock,
but you know what I think– it’s all a crock.