fiction

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

A short lyrical piece; as always, feedback, thoughts, encouragement, etc. are appreciated and can be sent to sojustmethen@gmail.com

It all started as a regret, or maybe a worry about a regret. Or maybe a worry about worrying about regrets. I can’t quite remember. All I know is that once it started, it grew like a weed in fertile soil. Suddenly the little nagging voices became a cacophony. They turned into raindrops that fell so hard and so fast that they left welts on my skin and blurred everything around me. I thrashed and I screamed in my mostly blind state. I felt my fists sink into flesh, but I didn’t stop, couldn’t stop. I was soaked and cold and lost and confused.

With time the deluge lessened to a shower, then a sprinkling, then a mist. And one day without me even noticing, when the end credits on that drama were done scrolling, the rain was gone. I blinked in the newfound clarity, and looked around. Everything was clear for the first time in a long time and all I saw was emptiness. I knew you had left but I couldn’t for the life of me remember when, or why.

I forced myself to stop looking for you and instead, looked at the mess I had become. With a sigh, I picked up the chunks that had fallen off and superglued, duck taped, stapled them back on as best I could. I saw that I had grown a whole foot in the rain and my heart had a distinct squeak. I had come through better. I reached up to the sky trying to grow even more when I felt a pang in my heart. Confused, I cracked open my chest to see what was wrong. I pulled out a microscope and saw nestled in my sparkling ventricle, a single grain of sand. It didn’t look like much, but I could feel it rubbing and scratching my tender new heart.

At first I was annoyed. I tried to get rid of it. I hawed and I clawed trying to rid myself of it. The more I fought the more I shrank until I was almost the same size as before.

I stopped.

I don’t know when I became such a super sleuth, but I realized that this grain of sand was what was left of the beautiful crystal heart you once shared with me. I realized, that my rain had devastated the landscape around me, and I could not even fathom what it had done to the fragile thing you gave me for safekeeping.

And that’s where I am now. Every time I move, every time I breathe there’s a little itch, a little irritation, but I stretch my hands up to the sky anyway. I will treasure that pinch as not only a memory of you, but as a reminder of what I am capable of. I can’t shrink anymore for fear of wasting away to nothing, so instead I grow.

Besides, I have heard it said that every pearl of wisdom begins as a grain of sand.

Body Language

These are the first two chapters of a YA novel I’ve been working on. It’s a work in progress so I always appreciate feedback.

Chapter 1A

I slide in and out of consciousness. I see family and friends staring at me with tears and frowns and worry etched on their faces. I see nurses plugging me with holes and letting strange liquids into my body. I see doctors reading charts and shaking their head. I see a tray with food on it and a skeletal arm push it away.

I hear nothing. Smell nothing. Feel nothing.

Taste

Nothing.

Suddenly I am dragged into wake-ness. The room is white, blinding.

I hear beeps and buzzes and the murmur of voices.

Antiseptic burns my nose.

The sheets are rough beneath me.

Iron and cotton fill my mouth.

I am in a hospital.

Chapter 1B

Jamie stares at me. “Have you lost weight?”

“Uh yeah, maybe a little I guess.”

She’s silent. “I mean it’s not on purpose! I’ve just been exercising a lot you know and I’m actually happy since prom is coming up and I want to fit in a cute dress and I guess ive been eating less but that’s only because I’m not as hungry because of the exercise…”

“Yeah that makes sense. I’m going on a cleanse before homecoming for sure. I saw this really cute dress…”

I tune the rest of what she says out. I can’t believe she thought I lost weight. I look at my reflection in the windows across from our lunch table and see my fat face. I look at my hands and see sausages growing out of mashed potato palms. But maybe I have lost a little. I feel a spark of joy. Maybe it’s finally working.

Jamie and I take our trays to the trash. She glances at my tray.

“Cafeteria food makes me nauseous,” I say to the unspoken question in her eyes.

“I wish I had that type of self-control…” she looks down at her clean plate.

Then we head off to our separate classes. In history I stare at Mrs. Smith’s potato head and think she should go on a diet. In art, Mr. Jankins and his doughnut belly need to get off the couch for sure. In gym I get a bit woozy and have to sit out, but I don’t really like gym anyway. At the end of the day my mom is waiting outside to drive me to dance class.

“How was school?”

“Fine.”

We drive the rest of the way in silence.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

There she is, bro-

ken, lying at the bottom of the stairs.

What a mess. Crap…what the heck am I going to do?

Sighing, he walks down the stairs, carefully stepping to avoid the blood.

He stares at the mangled corpse running through his possible options, I could wait until

night and bury her maybe? Or throw her in the lake. I can’t throw the whole

body though…I need small manageable pieces. Where could I

cut her up? He decides that the kitchen would

be easiest, because there he

could clean up the

blood

easy-peasey. And that way he wouldn’t need to cross through any extra rooms. He drags her straight from the bottom of the stairs into the kitchen. He feels a surge of satisfaction messing it up. This had been her space, her pride and she kept it immaculate. He thought it fitting that he was ruining the spotless white floors with her blood. He grabs each of the many knives in their kitchen one by one, testing the weight. Thank god she was a professional chef. He settles for the butcher knife with its heftiness and perfectly sharp blade. Granted, all the knives were perfectly sharp.

“Thank you, darling. Your OCD has saved me quite a bit of time.”

The knife sparkles as he strikes her.

First the arms:

Wrist,

Elbow,

Shoulder,

Repeat.

Then the legs:

Ankle,

Just below the knee,

Right between the ball and socket of the hip,

Repeat.

Finally the head,

Right where the spine meets the base of the skull.

Perfect, she would have been proud.

He wraps up each piece in trash bags with one of the coffee mugs that she loved to weigh it down. They had tons of them and each one had a cute or funny little phrase or picture. He enjoys matching the pieces with the mugs. ‘Hang in there’ with the right arm; ‘fall seven times, stand up eight’ with the left leg; and so on. He puts her favorite god-awful flowery mug with her head. He then piles all the bags on her perfectly clean granite counter, and walks back to the base of the stairs.

There is a large red stain there, and a challenge. The blood has soaked into the carpet and it won’t come out completely no matter how many times it is washed, but then again someone would notice if it was gone. It was a point of pride for her that rug. Persian, cost a fortune and she pointed it out every time someone was over. What to do? If I bleach it, there’ll be a spot and that looks bad, but I can’t get rid of all the blood otherwise…hmm. He decides to clean the stairs while he’s thinking.

There isn’t

very much blood on the

stairs only on the one where she

gashed her head. Here there is a large,

red, glistening, puddle that has

started to drip down

to the stairs

below.

He goes over the area with a fine toothed comb. He makes sure there isn’t even the smallest speck of blood left. This monotonous task allows his brain to puzzle over the rug and figure out what to do.

A slow smile spreads across his face, he’s figured it out.

Clean the blood with bleach and then cover up the white spot by spilling the paint left over from the living room on it. He hated that shade of blue anyway, it was her pick, and it would clash wonderfully with the rug. He bleaches the rug and then take the leftover paint and gently tips it onto the spot. He tries to make it look like the paint was knocked over and then hastily tried to be cleaned up. When he is satisfied with his work he returns to the kitchen to finish the job.

He takes the packages on the counter and packs them into the trunk of his car. He drives to the lake slowly and without incident. Once there he makes sure no one is around and opens the trunk. He takes each bag and throws them as far as he can in the lake

one

by

one.

He hums the whole time.

Buy the mug int eh picture here!

The Day My Whole Life Changed Part 5

logoPart 1, 2, 3, 4

Chapter 2

‘The detainee has escaped’

‘Which one?’ I glance at my desk and see the file pop up. This insurgent is one of our more mysterious ones.

‘Crap.’

I quickly glance at the Sigma. I know the AIG doesn’t approve of such foul language, but sometimes it’s necessary. And I have to hand it to the instigators; they have a knack for coming up with curse words.

‘Is this photo from the most recent incarceration?’

‘Affirmative.’

That made 7 photos in all. 7 different faces all associated with this one name, George. Was this most recent photo the true face? There is no way to be sure. A true face might not even exist. I can feel the nearly daily headache starting. I swipe through the file to see what information we have, mostly just victims, like all the others.

I turn to the Sigma, ‘how?’

Instantly the video feed flashes on my desk. I see the instigator creep out of the cell, and somehow all the way to the exit shaft that was used last time. Then the view switches to an aerial view of the syntho-grid. The movement in the tall grasses shows someone running north away from the facility.

‘And you swept the area and found nothing?’

‘Affirmative’

I clear the image from my desk and sigh. I glance at the Sigma.

‘Report.’

‘The instigator identified as GEORGE was captured and detained at our facility in poor condition. The server deduced that the probability of GEORGE dying was dangerously high. So, GEORGE was mildly healed until the probability of death fell to a normal level. Then we transferred GEORGE to another room that was illusioned to look identical to the first. This room had fewer security measures, and thus less interference in the Sigma’s reading. The Sigma went in, and stayed there for an hour. It is in that time that the instigator escaped.’

‘How?’

‘It would seem that there was a glitch in the server. It received an all is as it should be pingback for the full hour. By the time the system rebooted and noticed the error the instigator was gone.’

‘What is the probability of such an error occurring?’

‘1 in 13,422.’

‘So not impossible. This George obviously has tactical skills. What happened next?’

“The instigator GEORGE made it to the outside access shaft and climbed through. Then upon reaching the syntho-grid, there was another glitch that allowed a clear path to freedom and GEORGE took it.’

‘And what is the probability of both of those glitches happening to aid in George’s escape?’

The sigma takes a second to calculate. It must be a very small probability.

‘1 in 1,000,772,585,200,006.’

‘So either our instigator is supremely lucky, or….’

I trail off. What else could it possibly be? To my knowledge there is no technology that could allow a human to pull of these types of feats. I head throbs as I pull up a blank document on my desk and start writing down my thoughts.

‘Thank you, Sigma. That will be all for today. Please go and report to your next designated authority.’

How are they doing this? This isn’t the first insurgent we’ve had with this kind of ‘luck’, but I have never seen anything on this scale. What is going on?!

The Day My Whole Life Changed pt. 4

logoPart 1, Part 2, Part 3

The first thing I notice when I creep out of that god-forsaken shaft and into the empty field is the complete sensory desolation. The advertising companies had long ago started patenting the smells and sounds of their products. This was not good. Last time I escaped this facility, I had emerged in a bustling town. They must have leveled it.

Crap.

I feel the tears welling up again. The lump in my throat grows and grows.

No! I will not let my brief reprise weaken me like this.

I close my eyes and focus on my breathing. They are better prepared this time, but still not unbeatable. I count backwards from 100 and focus on what I am feeling. The pain in my legs is still very high and I use it to focus my mind. When I have calmed down enough that I know I will not be overtaken with panic, I open my eyes. This is just another security measure I need to overcome. After they leveled the town, they placed a syntho-grid. This particular one was meant to simulate tall grasses that could conceal a person from guards, but I wasn’t fooled. The second I set foot on this grid an alarm would go off.

I take a deep breath and touch the edge of the grid. I need to figure out if it is a pressure trigger or a biological one. As soon as I touch the edge I can see the code that makes up the whole thing. It is a biological trigger set to recognize human. I release the power that built up inside me in order to reveal the code. My vision blurs again and I rest my head against the inside of the tunnel until it clears. It takes longer for me to recover this time. I won’t be able to use my powers very much more. I consider resting here to regain my strength and recharge my powers, but I quickly dismiss the idea. I need to be far away when the mainframe reboots and figures out I’m missing.

Biological sensors are easier to beat than pressure ones, but they’re still no picnic. I hunt around for something useful. The clothes I’m wearing have no doubt been embedded with my DNA so I can’t just wrap my feet up and walk. I glance around until I see a slight dip indicating another opening like the one I am currently looking out of, another grate. It’s too far away to be any use. My only choice is to use up the last of my powers and hope I don’t run into any more trouble today.

I touch the edge of the grid again. The code flashes before my eyes and I examine it to see the ebbs and flows of the sensors. I carefully nudge them to allow a perfectly straight path from me to the edge, but I will have to be fast. I star running in the direction I know will now be trigger free.

As soon as my hand releases the edge of the grid I feel myself falling. My head is spinning and my vision is darkening. I collapse on the grass. I know I have only a matter of seconds to get up and run, but I’m so tired. I try and push myself up, but it’s no use. Using my power drained me too much.

No! Stop pitying yourself, George. You are better than this. You can do this.

I can do this. I prop myself up on a shaky hands.

Just one foot in front of the other, easy.

I plant my feet and push until I’m standing. My legs are screaming in protest, but I have to ignore them. I stare at the edge of the grid and I run, slowly at first but then picking up speed. I feel my old training kicking in and run faster than I have in years. I don’t have the time or energy to check if I missed my window of opportunity. I just keep running.

Part 5

The Day My Whole Life Changed

logoPart 1

Part 2

Part 3:

The metal is cold against my back. My eyes fly open and I see that they have moved me. Oh, they tried very hard to convince me I am in the same room, but I can see the edges of the illusion. They must not know that we were train to see through these parlor tricks. They cleaned me up and gave me new clothes. I was either out for longer than I thought or they did in fact heal me a little because the pain went from a 9 to a 7. Big mistake. They reduced my pain enough to no longer incapacitate me and in fact narrow my focus. I need to escape. I hope that my initial weakness seems like a ploy to them, no need for them to know that I had gone soft. They boosted the gravity in this room so I can only move a little and very slowly. Perfect. I let myself smirk and hope that they are watching. Then, I wait.

Being alone with my thoughts is not a new experience for me. Part of our training was being locked up in a cell much like this one for months at a time to learn how to control our emotions and not go insane like most people would. I don’t have to wait long. I hear the door open and the man with the too pretty eyes walk in. He must be a Sigma because the gravity doesn’t seem to affect him at all. He stares at me. I roll my eyes.

“Just tell me what you want, or at least stream some TV or something in here.”

No response, definitely Sigma.

“I’m assuming you know who I am, so why don’t you tell me about you. Who do you work for?”

Nothing.

“Why did you bring me here? What do you want with me?”

Perfect.

He moves a little closer to me and stares into my eyes. Now that I know he’s a Sigma I can see him monitoring my brainwave activity and trying to read me.

“That’s not going to work. Even earlier in my weakened state it didn’t work. That reading was beat out of me a long time ago.”

I slowly sit up so that I’m almost eye level with him.  Its slow going because of the increased gravity, but it will be worth it. I keep talking.

“You have lovely eyes, I don’t think I mentioned. Did you get them custom made? I’ve never seen another with them.”

Finally I’m face to face with him.

“Do you know why I ended up here?”

I look him straight in the eyes and focus.

“I’m dangerous.”

I see the shift in his gaze. I get the rush of feeling when I realize, I’ve still got it. I slowly bring my arm up above his head. And I let it drop. The increased gravity adds force to my arm and I hear a soft pop when it hits his head. Sigma’s are intricate, wonderfully complex machines that have many small movable parts, and a hit in the right place can incapacitate them just like a human being. I close my eyes again and feel the familiar rush of power that comes from the laser like focus of pain. I can feel the sensors in the room monitoring life signs. They never learn. I slowly get up from the table and feel the sensors try and report the change to the command module. Instead, I send a message of normalcy. The module will not realize I am gone until I am well outside their reach. I casually walk towards the door that I know the Sigma used. I open the door without opening my eyes and step through. There I pause, walking on my injured legs and feet has increased my pain and I can feel the focus slipping. I need to regain control if I want to get out of here. I take some deep breathes and focus again. I close the door behind me and send a signal to the module that the Sigma has left and will report in shortly. I open my eyes.

I am standing in a stark corridor that has doors along both sides. Typical AIG prison. They change the layout of each one to prevent escapes, but now that I am outside the room I can tell that I have been in this one before. The route has been saved in my mind ever since then. I turn left and walk briskly down the hall. The pain is increasing and I can feel my focus slip. I walk faster. Left, right, straight, right, right. I reach the grate that will set me free. It is secured more firmly that last time.

Crap on a stick.

I lean against the wall and breathe.

Focus.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had to use my upgrade and I already feel drained, but I know I have this one last thing in me. I feel the bond between the grate and the wall. It’s a simple molecular bond and a little zap of electricity releases it. I catch the grate before it hits the floor and triggers the alarms and everything goes a little sideways. I lean against the wall for support and wait for my vision to clear.

When this is over, I’m going to start working gout again. For real this time.

When I feel steady enough to move I crawl into the air shaft and make my way upward to the surface. I know exactly where this shaft leads, and it’s not going to be pretty…

Part 4

The Day my Whole Life Changed

Read part one here.

Part 2:

Get it together, I think. This isn’t a situation I haven’t been in before. The AIG has been hunting me for years. You let yourself become complacent, George. Being happy for too long made you weak.

I close my eyes and take a deep, measured breath. I feel my heart rate slow.  After a minute or so of controlled breathing, I feel the panic subside. I open my eyes and scan the room looking for something to aid in my escape.  The once familiar clarity of thought is returning, and I know that I can get out of here.

They know I’m out of shape; they’re counting on it.

I continue to scan the room for anything useful. Apparently, they weren’t going to rely solely on my brief retirement to keep me here, because the room is empty. If I look closely I can see the faint lines left by a mopper on the floor. I look up, hoping they forgot about the ceiling and see… nothing. It is completely smooth except for one panel right above me that glows a soft yellow providing light for the room.

Crap.

I test the zip-tie, but the throbbing in my arm prevents me from getting far.

Double crap.

I guess my only option now is to wait and hope that someone brings in something useful or I can talk my way out of this. They have to feed me eventually, right?

Wrong. About an hour later I hear a metallic click and a panel opens in the ceiling.  Gas starts to fill the room. My first instinct is to take a deep breath of fresh air, but then the sweet lilac smell of the gas hits my nose and I realize, it’s nutri-gas.

Triple crap.

I inhale the gas and feel my hunger and thirst vanish.

“You could’ve at least mixed in some healogen,” I shout.

But of course they don’t want to heal me, at least not quickly. I keep breathing deeply, allowing the gas to nourish my body. I feel my thoughts starting to drift.

I am so lucky to live in such an amazing time. I mean, look how far our medicine and technology have come. Like, woah.

My eyelids droop as if weighted and I am calm.

This is actually a really nice chair, a really comfortable chair.

So calm, and tired.

I should just sleep in this nice, comfortable chair. WAIT! NO! THe gas….

Part 3