All I Feel Is Pain…

All I Feel is Pain

Memories are nothing more than random bits of information processed at varies speeds. This is how I remember my childhood. It comes back to me in pieces as my head slams back into the ground. Lift and repeat. Lather, rinse, and dry. Blood runs throughout your body providing oxygen and nutrients to every cell. When blood gets into your eyes it provides nothing at all. Nothing more than pain. How does someone end up reliving all their horrible childhood memories on the cold pavement? I’m not really all that sure anymore.

Where did I go wrong? Politian’s, health-conscious assholes, leftist fascists would say it was when I smoked my first cigarette. Signed a one-way ticket to hell by today’s standards. God, would I kill for one right now. Just to feel the smoke hit the back of my throat and shoot down into my lungs would make all of this a little bit more bearable. I wonder what heroin would be like in this scenario. I wonder what food will taste like as my teeth fall to the ground. Will anything ever taste the same again or will it always taste like blood? I don’t think the iron, rust like taste will never leave my mouth. I always speak my mind maybe that’s how I ended up here. The more my head hits the ground the more I forget. In the end all we have are our memories. The good ones and the bad ones. Our memories are all we have. For some reason, the only memory that keeps popping up is the time I learned to tie my shoes. Maybe because when all is said and down here. I’ll never be able to do that again. Funny how after all of this something so significant won’t even matter. Too defiant anyway. Never really learned to tie my shoes. Found a way, but not the way I was taught. The memory still comes breaking through.

My stepmother left me in a chair all day with the same story that I could get up if I tied them the dumbass way, she showed me. With the bunny ears or something. The instructions are still lost on me, but the torture is clear. “If you tie your shoes we can go to the beach.” I used to love the beach. I used to love a lot of things. Too bad we were in the middle of fuck all Indiana where there is no such thing. She paraded around in a bathing suit and beach bag as if we would leave as soon as I miracle my shoes lace together. What kind of sick fuck does that to a child? The company you keep, I guess. Too defiant maybe that is how I ended up where I am. Too strong-willed and stubborn to tie my shoes. To listen to anyone else.

My head hurts so much that my face has gone numb. I’ve been trying to pick myself up, but my head feels as though it weighs too much. Leaning into the punches is didn’t helping any. I say lean but it is more of a sway. Confused by what it is I am even doing.  I’ve got nothing left. Everything I had was all used up before I even got here. A teacher once told me that you come into this world with nothing and you leave it with nothing. I can see her old wrinkled out face mouthing the words, but the world has gone silent. Gone away into the distance that is my existence. She was full of shit. You come into this world screaming and you leave it with pain. The constant that doesn’t let you forget. Can’t change much when your life flashes in and out of focus.

Can’t change much when you know you are going to die. Can’t take away the things that you have done as the last breath leaves. Can’t forget the time that you pissed on the street corner as the neighbor’s daughter watched. Can’t take back the punishment. The belt that struck over and over again. Not even the truth can set you free after it is all said and done. That she wanted you too. No, you are only left with the memories of a childhood you wish you could forget. Can’t change the time you climbed a tree you were told not to climb. Ended up in the hospital for not listening on that one. Should have stayed in the tree. Why didn’t I just stay in the tree? Can’t change the time you got a girl pregnant and waited in the abortion clinic waiting room. Scarred out of your mind, sad for the life you wasted, and too young to realize they are one in the same. No, none of that will ever change. Time can’t change after it is already past. Time can’t change after you’re dead. Your impressions, actions stay with those you’ve affected long after your gone. Actions speak louder than words yet the words of those around you in circle your every thought.

Don’t do this, do that, why do you got to be such a little shit, clean up your room already, have you been drinking, this is for your own good, tell me what happened, happy birthday, please take the dog out, win some and you lose some, thou shall not kill, I hate you, why couldn’t you have been better, clean your face, you disgust me, this is what you deserve, I love you. Some good and some bad they all flood in as if they should mean something, but they don’t. Is now really the time to reflect on all of this? Maybe I just wanted freedom. Maybe it was only love. Maybe it was both. I don’t know what anyone could ever want out of a world like this.

For some reason, they have stopped. Could be because I’ve stopped fighting? Maybe because they know it is already done? I can feel a smile come across my face as the hits start back up. Their anger in this world somehow more intense than my own. I want to laugh, but do I dare? I can still feel as though that all of this is some kind of prize at the end of a long game. The words aren’t clear in my head anymore. Here and gone. Trapped and freed. I feel cold yet warm. But all I really feel is pain.

Layne Ambrose

Chasing Darkness…

Things aren’t quite the way they used to be. Things change fact of life and death. Even if we can change those facts like I have. Things still very much change. I no longer know who I am or what I have become. I’m not what most people would consider normal. Most would consider me to be eccentric. They always have from every moment that I can remember. Strange not normal. Broken and not equal. Different in every sense of the word. They were right of course, but I guess chasing endless winter is not most people’s idea of a good time. Not most people’s idea of where I should be or what I should be doing. But I like the isolation, the cold, and the loneliness of it all. It helps me think and that is all they really want from me in the end. They want me to think for them. To create for them. Being out here in the nothing makes me feel more alive than a room full of people sucking up to my money. Yes, I am rich. Richer than most nations to be exact. To be fair though that isn’t saying much considering most nations didn’t go with technology. The choice was too easy to follow me, to invest in my ideas. Man is flawed in that way. Self-doubt, too easy can’t be the right way. Must resist and so they did. Investing in war and death. I shouldn’t have to tell you how that turned out. But history, stories they are summaries of things we already know.

Turns out bombs don’t feed people or build homes or take care of you when you get old. No, bombs only have one purpose and they do that function very well. But robots? My robots? They can do so much more than kill. Most nations fallen to the way side, disappeared off the map of everything including people’s minds. The advancements were swift, they were quick. I discovered a loop hole that we had missed. An easy option no one believed to exist. Greatly enhanced soldiers that feel no pain, targeting systems that can target any and everything you may desire, and a defense system so advanced that it would make nuclear war less of a fear and more of an annoyance. Whole nations wiping themselves out before the missiles even left the ground. Only took a few of these “brave and fearless leader” to wipe themselves out before all nuclear missiles were deemed obsolete. In fact, less bombs destroyed whole nations then had ever been tested in the history of any nuclear program. I didn’t just make the world better. I saved humanity and everything with it. These were only the beginnings of my ideas. Yes, my pockets were lined with dirty dollars of anyone who was willing to pay for protection. This is capitalism at its finest. This is everything that we once believed in. Things they change even if we don’t think that they can. No one notices if you stay within the lines.

What is left of Christianity would blame faith in false idols and other dated terms for what was coming. Yes, I am that old. Faith can come to us at any moment, but it cannot change in an instant. It is enduring like that. The same can’t be said for nations. Even to those who neither fear or believe in God. Faith is something else. Faith isn’t something than can be so easily pushed aside. Even the most faithless person believes in something. Something they cannot see, but swear that they can feel. The new question now became how do I get them to believe in me? The faithful fought the next wave of advancements. Pushed my patience beyond their limits. I grew bored with enhancing nations to the highest bidder. It was time to take my ideas beyond governmental and to the people. Take it beyond the surface of what I knew and go deeper. Humans are a flawed design. Boasting about how we are the greatest at everything. Spreading lies beyond the fabric of what we know to be true, but I knew with my help. I could make all our lies, all our fables, and all our faith in ourselves a reality. I knew that I could make them true.

My advancements in nano tech and hybrid parts brought the revolution to the people. Put everything in their hands to do with as they wished. So long as they paid. So long as they understood what it was, they were getting into. They didn’t, but it didn’t matter. Humans adapt to ideas they don’t understand. It is a slow process, but they accept the way things are eventually or they die off. Evolution sits as a theory, but the problem is we understand it better than we like to think. We accept it as truth even as we question its very existence. Deep down we already knew. We have always known what is that we are, where we come from, and how it will all go. There may be no all-seeing god, but something moves us to follow blindly. I would give them the means for what we have spent existence to discover. No one, not even myself can be as arrogant to not believe in a purpose. A self-fulfilling prophecy written before the beginning of time.

The fall was coming. Everything I had created was going to turn. Human history is riddle with stories similar to mine. The Roman Empire, the Chinese Dynasties, the rise of early man, and the list could follow us all the way to today. Life doesn’t stop under the wheel of change. It grows stronger. Picking up speed until we no longer understand what it is that we have created. A bump in the road, a great fall, but this one was different. This one was not like the rest. Unlike the falls of the past, the missteps that lead to something else. This one changed the game. Changed the world and the human race. We moved past everything we thought we knew with built in control. We became something greater than ourselves. The ones that were left that is. The advancements I made in human tech changed the game. We became one with the robots. Equal to my creations. Working side by side until we cleaned up everything. We needed something more though. We always need something more. We looked to the skies once again. Except this time, we knew that we were ready to face any and all challenges. No longer a dream, but the next step in our evolution. My evolution, my purpose in this world. For the first time in human history people are too busy thinking. Thinking of ways to make everything better rather than how to destroy. For the first time in human history everyone is thinking like me.

That is why I live here alone like this. To free myself from all the noise. That is why among other things I do what I do. To clear my consciousness. I feel this need to distance myself from them. I feel this over encumbering need to be as far away from them as I can. So, I can better them. So, I can better us as people. Nothing will ever stand in our way of achieving greatness ever again. We will conquer the stars as one. We will take all that is ours as one. For the first time in human existence, we all have a singular reason to flourish and all it took was me.  The weight of the world sits on my shoulders held up by the strength of so many. Change is inevitable even if nothing ever seems to change outside the lines. The wind howls outside of my cabin. A few more days left of darkness and the chase will begin again. The world advancing by the minute and my wealth grows. The owner of this world, my empire, lives in near darkness studying the sky of the lost planet no one’s even heard of yet. Trying to make sense of our new purpose in this universe and the darkness beyond.

Layne Ambrose

This fucking story… This story didn’t start out like this at all… the original draft was trash… an idea that I didn’t know was there until I looked a lot deeper… So I worked on it… worked with it… typed up the whole thing on my phone… had it all amazing… had it to a point that I thought was good… then technology and my stupidity fucked me… While trying to transfer the file from my phone to Layne’s computer… using all the great advancements that Google bestowed onto us… We lost the whole thing… didn’t save it correctly… or lost internet connection… who knows…

Back to step one… and I was fucking pissed… I’m still pissed and it has been over a week… still pissed and I have rewritten the whole thing for a second time… but it is over and done?… I just read it… why are you so pissed?… Who cares?… you are right but it doesn’t matter… We’re pissed because the story was vastly different… and how it was different I don’t know… but I know… it wasn’t sci-fi… I write by the seat of my pants… I write until it is done… I purge the thoughts and move on… then one of us takes over… so if it isn’t written down… saved somewhere… neither of us have any idea what it was that the other even said…

So… all that work… all that effort… gone in a flash… and like this character all I think about is progression… not going back… But we had to go back… We had to finish this story… redo this story… woke up today… and got it done… It isn’t that bad actually… still pretty pissed that I had to do it again… but for all I know… it might have all been for the best… destruction and loss… may have all been for the best… or maybe it wasn’t… “Faith can come to us at any moment, but it cannot change in an instant”

What I’m Made Of…

Only a Matter of Time

“Hello Liam,” I say as I enter the room. “Doctor,” he smiles in his own sinister way. “How’s everything today?” I ask him. “Oh, you know can’t really complain. Got to sleep in late, watched as the birds played in the trees while I enjoyed my very nutritious breakfast, and afterword I went for a nice walk around town,” he deadpans. “Cute, I’m sure it is easy to get around town in that straight jacket,” I say to him. “It is a tad bit constraining, but you know the ladies love a man who knows how to dress for the occasion,” he laughs. “And I’m sure the ladies love you. It is only too bad that you are a danger to yourself and everyone else,” I say as I open the file in front of me. “A danger to myself?” he gasps. “Tell me is that your medical opinion or your personal opinion? Because I will have you know that there isn’t one person out there who would back up your claim,” he shifts in his chair. “That’s because beside me there is no one left who really knows you Liam. You made sure of that didn’t you?” I ask. He tries to lean his chair back but it is bolted to the floor. “There’s no use scratching at the scars of the past now is there Doctor?”

“Unfortunately, that’s all you have any more. Tell me do you ever stop to think that may be the reason you are in here instead of out there?” I ask him. “Are you really asking me if I have time to think right now? Or are you simply trying to get through your checklist of nonsensical questions? Because I’m having a hard time telling the difference,” he fires back. I’m losing him. The nice guy, everything is a joke personality is starting to fade. I can see it in his eyes. The dark hollow orbs staring back at me. I write down my observation on the paper in front of me. “See something you like? Find something new? Care to discuss what new profound idea popped into your head?” I ignore his questions. Bait to fall into a trap. Liam likes words. Uses them to distract you, confuse you into doing exactly what he wants. A trait he must have possessed his whole life. “Stop looking at me like some sort of side show freak,” he growls. “Are you angry Liam?” I finally ask him. He tries to fake a smile but the real Liam has taken over, “No of course not.” His eyes never blink. Only if you are looking for it do you even notice that the skin around his eyes begin to tighten with every passing moment. No one the wiser would think he looks calm, cool, and collected, but I can see through his mask. He has the look of a mostly forgotten memory. “God, there is just so much of him left inside of you,” I say. The lines of his face form a most sinister smirk, “Do you mean our father?”

“Are you sure that I didn’t burn most of him out? Medically speaking.” Liam turns his head to show off his scars and what’s left of his left ear. “I’m very certain that no matter how much you hurt yourself you will always be like him,” I tell him. “Why don’t you take this straight jacket off and we can test that theory Doctor,” he says. His voice calm and his eyes like fire. “I’d prefer we didn’t. Medically speaking of course,” I smile. “I’m sure you do. Remember how you used to hide behind the living room curtains whenever he would come home? You were weak then and you are just as weak now. I never feared our father. Even as a child I could see what he was. Maybe I didn’t understand it completely but I knew what I wanted to be,” he muses. “Are you admitting that you were fully aware of your crimes?” I ask with my pen in my hand. He ignores my question. “You probably get off on the idea that your little brother is some kind of monster? But here is the thing brother. You can hide behind your little curtain. You can roam these halls pretending you are some educated healer, but we both know. I know that you aren’t. No, hidden away somewhere in that thick skull of yours he hides. It hides. You think you are better than me, but you are nothing more than the same,” he rants.

“I think that is enough for today,” I say uncomfortably. “Of course, you do. You have no back bone. Never have. You can’t accept who you really are. What we are,” he taunts. Do not give in I think to myself. Don’t listen to his false words. “I can stand up for myself just fine. I know who I am and what I am,” I tell him. “Yeah, and what is that Brother?” he asks me. “Sane, normal, a free man in this world. A man not strapped down by chains for sins committed.” I say enlighten. He looks almost bored from my words. “I pity you brother I really do. You can hide behind your curtain, your title. The idea that you are sane. Free from the evils of this family, but in reality, it is you that is in chains not me,” he taunts. “You can taunt me all you want Liam, but I am the one in control,” I say firmly. His eyes look as though they might jump from his skull, “You will never know the true meaning of control. You will never feel its true power for as long as you hide behind the curtain. Those victims as you call them were nothing more than stepping stones, martyrs to show me a better life. They showed me the truth of this world. Beyond our father. Beyond reason. So, you can judge me all you want from behind your curtain or you can join me on the other side of it.” I signal for the orderlies to come in and take him away, “This meeting has been insightful as always. Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks to do it all over again Liam.” The orderlies place his muzzle around his face and left him up from the chair. “It is only a matter of time Brother. I can see it in your eyes,” he shouts as he exits the room. “Only a matter of time.”

Layne Ambrose

Finding Peace..

Finding Peace in the Darkness

Scratching the walls with my nails. I want more. Another day or another night. I can’t resist the temptation of the kill. They said it would go away. It hasn’t. They said over time things would become normal. They haven’t. Everything they said never came true. Staring into the darkness around my bed. Dancing figures in my head. I want to kill now more than ever. Drinking a little bit more and think about something else. The thought won’t go away. What’s the difference if I do it for my country or for myself? Pacing again. Over and over with no place to go. I see them all outside my window. Staring back at me. Waiting. Always waiting. Becoming something more than myself. Twenty kills, thirty kills, they took more of me than I could ever give away. I can give it back. I know how. Ten inches made of steel. Sharpened to a point. Carve them up. Take piece by piece until nothing is left. They will never know. Scatter the pieces. Too hard to find. Too hard to prove. The feelings will subside then. Take what I’m owed. I have all the reason to do what I want. Earned my place amongst them. What’s the difference?

Scratching at the walls with my knife. I know the reason but I can’t bring myself to the cause. I’m not weak. I’m not too weak to do what I need to do. Fuck you, I’m not scared. I can do it. I know I can because I have. Over there I did whatever they told me. What needed to be done. Their eyes burned into my mind. Life slowly draining. The relief of living another day surging inside of me. I am safe. I don’t need to do this. There is no reason to kill again. The power is fleeting. Underrated as they laugh. I hear them laughing. Look at the hero with nothing. In the shadows I watch. Pissing it all away. No more wars to fight. No more battles to be won. Cutting out their tongues.  Their eyes looking back at me. Like before. Before when no one laughed. Everything is so meaning less standing in place. I need a purpose. I know my purpose. I have no purpose. Take the blade to myself. End this suffering. Take away this pain digging in my head. No, I am not weak. I am not weak.

She scratches at the walls with her nails. They never did this before. Always fought back. Not the same. Fight me I shout at her. Nothing, weak, useless she cries. Kick her in the side again. One life to live. This is how you choose to leave it. Knife pressed against her throat. Noises and no words. Aren’t they all the same? Weak. Take her apart piece by piece. Going to need rope. She won’t sit still. Won’t fight either. Barely a struggle. Just the tip. Let her know how it feels. Should have gotten a male. Spit in her face. Drag the tip across her skin. Arm swings. That’s what I need. Give me more I whisper into her ear. She shakes in fear. Hand around her throat. Enough playing. Go for the kill. My brain explodes. She goes quiet. Hacking away more and more. Take everything spread it around. Wear her blood on my skin. A war paint I don’t want to erase. Do you feel that? How does it feel? It went away. A calm wave washing over me. Peace at last. Peace at last.

Valerie Hannigan

Should have titled this PMS… See boys, try as you might, but you will never understand the true horror that it is to be a woman. So… either I do or don’t have a story this month, and that is the end of that.

Understood…
-Ambrose

As much time as you need.
-M.T.

Is it wrong… that I am turned on… right now?…
-Layne

Yes…
-Is That A Funeral?

What Has Been Done…

I noticed the way she looks at me again today. The look of a blank stare, but it is not a blank stare. It is as if she is trying to tell me something that words could never really say. I see it in her eyes. Those cold green eyes. They appear almost gray as though something is hidden in them. Ten years I have stared into these eyes. Ten years I have study these particular eyes. I have watched as she has gone from child to woman and it is as though nothing has ever changed. Ten years of failure. Ten years of silence. I’ve run every test possible up to this point. Everything in the book just to hear her speak. Electroshock therapy, two electrodes attached to her head and enough electrical current to wake the dead. Not a god damn peep. If it wasn’t for her pulse and her eyes, I would’ve ruled her dead years ago. I fought tooth and nail to keep her after she turned eighteen. The state told me she had served her time. I argued that she still needs to server more, but like this? Was it worth it?

Her crimes though not as extensive as the others leave a lot to the imagine nation as to why. Why a child would commit such a crime? A silent hour every week for ten years and I am not any closer to finding out the answer. Her eyes motionless as if she is trying to tell me something. Maybe it is a neurological condition? No, I’ve tested that and came up with nothing. She chooses not to say anything at all. Ten years and I have never heard her voice. Witness, the neighbors claim to have heard her scream awakening them from a dead sleep. A scream like a siren only to stop. Replaced with silence. Imagine my jealousy to these complete strangers. Her eyes tease me like a loaded gun. Her eyes so innocent, so green, could they really have comprehended what she had done? Could anyone?

Could anyone understand fully the act of killing their parents? Witness testified that she was often beaten. Appeared to have bruises, black eyes, cuts all over her body. Never enough to raise alarm, but enough to noticed. The scars though faint are still there. Proved to be self-inflicted. Even at such a young age. What all her parents had done to protect her from herself is lost to time, but what she did has been well documented. The simplest of them all murder. The more complex. The ones I want to know, to understand? Hidden behind those eyes.

How does a child carefully remove the skin of a person? Let alone their own parents? I know surgeons.  Doctors paid to be precise every day and every time. Even they do not understand how a child could be so methodic in one’s actions. A pile of skin laid on the floor as she began the real work, she had set out to do. As one police officer stated in their report, “The organs were laid out. Laid out on display like we had to do in basic training for our rifles. Laid there ready to be put back in if need be.” Their husk like bodies resting on the floor.  

No, a child could not understand what they have done? Or could they? None of it makes any sense. The answers I seek sits before me waiting to be discovered. No evil in sight only a blank stare. Yet she sits before me. A child capable of tearing apart her whole family. A child who shaped the bones of her parents to that of some kind of monster. A child who took the skin of her mother from the floor and wore it like a costume until the police arrived. What kind of evil truly lives behind those green eyes?

Valerie Hannigan

My eyes are brown just so you know and why the hell would anyone want to dress up like their mother? It is unsettling enough knowing that I am slowly becoming like her.

West End Love for All the East End Girls…

“So, are we doing this or what?” He asks me for the thirteenth time in the last five minutes. “We need to do this,” he reminds me once again. “We or you need to do this?” I ask barely looking away from my phone. “I’ll slap that thing right out of your hands,” he threatens. “I’m sure you will,” I sigh but I’m not putting away my phone. “Look you need to do this. You are in a rut,” he pauses rethinking his words. “No, you are stuck in some ditch in the middle of nothing town,” he declares. Should have thought harder I think to myself. “Well, I’m not stuck anywhere. I am choosing to be in the middle of nothing town because I want to be,” I let him know. “No one chooses to be in nothing town. Someone chooses it for them or they are there by happenstance,” he tries to recover. “Fun fact I am someone and this is where I have chosen to be,” I say in an abrupt tone signaling I am done with this conversation.

“Okay fine, I need this,” he concedes. “Now will you come with me?” I shake my head no.  “I need a second you know that,” he whines. “I’m not dragging my ass across town. I’m just not,” I proclaim once again. “I’m not shitting where I eat,” he admits. “Never stopped you before. I’m pretty sure your bathroom is right next to the dining area in that trash apartment,” I joke. But then I realize what this is really about. I have the nicer apartment. What a little snake, I think to myself. “Okay, you have me there. Correction I have shit too much where I eat. Is that better,” he smiles trying to get on my good side. “Didn’t we just go out the other night?” I ask deciding on a different way to get out of this other than pointing out I am better off than him. “Yeah, but you are single now. So, we can go out more. Maybe even twice a week,” he suggests. “Twice a week?” I ask my eyes growing wide. “That’s pushing it don’t you think?”

Before I know it I am driving his ass to the other side of town to haunt the usual spots. We don’t come here much anymore and for good reason. He tries to hand me a bottle from under his jacket. “Are you kidding me right now?” I ask pissed off. “Do you have any idea how many cops are staked out on this side of town,” I bark. “That’s what makes it even more fun,” he tells me before taking a swig. I shake my head as he puts the cap back on. “Just a little pre-gaming,” he smirks putting the bottle back in his inside jacket pocket. “You need to learn to find your center without alcohol,” I tell him. “Yes, Master,” he claps his hands together and lowers his head. Not amused I keep on driving and ignoring him. “I’m seeing a lot of ladies that should be having my baby,” he quotes excited behind the glass. If he wasn’t my only friend I wouldn’t hang out with him either.

“No one should be having any of your children ever, Jackson.” That is a fact for a lifetime. “It’s lyrics to a song. I don’t literally want a child, ever,” he rolls his eyes in annoyance at my lack of excitement for this evening. “Could you imagine?” He asks staring out the window. “I mean how does someone like me, like us, not literally carve the child right out of the womb?” He ponders into his reflection. His voice turning cold as it often does at times like these. “Could you imagine how boring it would be to wait for the thing to come out? Then have to actively try to keep it alive,” he shivers. “Plenty of our kind do it all the time,” I remind him. “Yeah, because they don’t know what they are,” he says turning to me. “I take it you have decided?” I ask looking over to him. “Yeah, I think I have,” he returns his gaze to the streets. “Let’s get ourselves a pregnant one,” he grins. His sinister smile reflecting back to him in the rolled up window.

Layne Ambrose

A Story Never Told…

“What the hell are you even doing up at this hour?” A voice asks with a yawn. I bang on the door harder and harder. “Ain’t no one want to see you in there. Hell, I see you and I don’t even want to,” the homeless man moans. “Shut up you stupid vagrant. As a matter of fact, someone in there really does want to see me,” I inform him. “Oh, really? That why you have been out here for a better part of an hour messing up my sleep? The only fact I see around here is that no one wants your ass around. So, why don’t you go ahead and give it a rest and I can get some myself. Got an early morning believe it or not. I’m a very busy man,” the homeless man mumbles into his filth ridden pillow.

I stop banging on the door and I’m ready to bang on something else. I raise my fists, “One more word old man and I’ll see to it that you get plenty of rest.” The homeless man giggles. He giggles at me. I can feel my anger and frustration rising. “Don’t go starting trouble when troubles already found you. Take my advice. I didn’t end up here by design,” the man preaches. I start to take the steps down to his garbage bed when a familiar sweet voice takes a hold. “He’s right you know?” Her voice cutting through the commotion. All I wanted from her was an acknowledgement that I was even there. “I’ll ring you in. I guess we need to talk,” she says from the second-floor window. I turn back towards the door.

“Are you sure Miss Kelly?” The vagrant asks. “Of course, she is sure,” I snap at the man. “There you go starting trouble again. I ain’t afraid of you. Honestly, I ain’t got nothing left to lose,” the homeless man smiles a toothless grin before putting up his fists. “Yes, I’m sure Frank, but if I change my mind,” she begins to say. “I’ll be right here miss Kelly,” Frank finishes for her. She smiles and moves away from the window. Moments later I hear the sound of the door buzzing and I head inside. Frank lies back down on his makeshift bed, “Can’t get no peace and quiet. Thoughts this was a good neighborhood. God damn kids with their pointless drama. You want a challenge. Try washing your ass with no water. That right there is a situation.”

I ascend the stairs rapidly. A flight of stairs in an instant. There is much to say and who knows how long to say it. The door is cracked and waiting for me when I get there. I take in a large breath. Be cool Miles. Be cool I tell myself one more time before knocking on the door. She is waiting just on the other side as I enter. “May I ask what is so important you have to disturb me and the whole neighborhood at 3 am?” She starts right at the door way. There are so many things that I want to say. All at once, but only one thing I should say. “I’m sorry.”  

“Sorry for what? What you did or disturbing everyone? Because only one of those things can be fixed with an, I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m sorry for all of it. I’m sorry I’m here so late disturbing you and everyone else. I’m sorry for what I did earlier. I’m sorry for a lot of things,” I say searching for my words. “Yes, you should be,” she informs me watching my reaction. “I’m afraid, your sorry has come too late. Unfortunately, the words are useless at this point and are no longer any good here,” she pauses for a moment to let it sink in. Her eyes trapping the light from the hallway within. Her eyes look different than the times before. Something so different than the times before.

“Kelly please,” I interrupt. “Kelly please what? Forgive you again and again? Damnit Miles you can’t just keep messing up and thinking I will forgive you later for it. You can only play a song so many times before it becomes background noise,” her eyes like fire now. I step closer to her. I let her speak her mind and now I have to try the one move I have left. If I can get her in my arms, I know she will change her mind. I’m greeted by an open hand on my chest, “Not this time Miles. We are done,” she says sternly. “This is the last time I swear,” I reach for the hand on my chest. She quickly moves it away before I can even touch her one last time.

“You said that two times ago and every time before. Let me say this so you understand. I am done and this is the last time I am going to tell you.” She locks eyes with me. “But?” I try to say. I’m at a loss of words. “It’s time for you to leave and I’m not asking. I’m telling you,” she commands with her finger extended towards the stairs. I look her in the eyes one last time before doing as I was told. There comes a time in any battle where winning is losing either way. I put us here and know damn well I’ll only do it again. There is only one thing to do. I turn and walk my new path. I hear the door close behind me and the door’s lock click over as I reach the stairs. “I didn’t mean it,” I say to an empty audience. From behind the door, she breathes a heavy, “I know,” before her held back tears fall to the ground.

I leave the apartment building at the slowest of speeds. Lost in thought. What have I done this time? What have I given up for nothing? Questions I only have excuses for but no answers. I pass by the vagrant known only as Frank. “Out on your ass I see. You ain’t the only one. Join the club as they say,” he lets out a small laugh. The street goes silent as I walk down the block. A coldness washes over me from inside. Where I am to go from here. I really don’t know.

M.T. Billings

Wait and See…

I’m startled awake confused as to where I am and where I should be. I can feel the bang of the door as much as I think I can hear it. “I’m going already. Give it a rest,” I shout but they don’t care. The door rattles with every strike. Must mean something to bang this damn long. I try to get up and at first it seems that I am having the hardest of times. Everything seems out of place in my brain as I. There’s no other way to describe what happens to me next. No way other than I rise up? A ghostly outline of my former self. Neither here nor there or anywhere to be exact. I watch over my lifeless shell. Who I used to be? Who I am now? Who I will be forever? Confusion doesn’t even begin to explain the feelings of everything that is happening. My door bursts open. No more banging. 

The first emergency responder to rush into my tiny studio apartment seems as though he is caught between two places. Nervousness and excitement flashes across his face in a slow motion that plays out in rapid speed. His partner half a step behind him. Their heavy bags land with a thud next to my bed, next to me. What is left of me? One of them picks up the phone next to my vessel’s hand. Says a few words I cannot understand as I once did, and hangs up the phone. The other man searches for a pulse. Finding nothing of course they begin chest compressions. The difference between life and whatever this is, is only a second but I imagine every second counts at this point. I imagine what is left of my time counts for something when a life is on the line. Try as they might the only fight left is the battle within themselves. They aren’t willing to let go. Not like my body has. I’ve made my peace as I watch them fail. As I watch the needle fall from my arm and onto the floor. I’ve made my peace I think though it would seem that I haven’t. A by stander to my own end and a shitty narrator to my new beginning.

If God is real, he is nothing more than a trickster. Proving a point that only the dead could understand. Even if everything feels like a dream or a shitty nightmare played out in my head. Is this real? Is this the high or something else? The two EMTs fight and fight to bring me back. I wonder why I didn’t do the same. Why do they care so much when I didn’t? I want to make them stop. Tell them thank you but I did this, and it is what I deserve. We die, I died, the end. What’s really left to say? A lifeless corpse with shit in his veins. How else was this going to end? Is this the way I wanted it? Sure, why not? Had to happen at some point or another. Death waits for no one or nothing. More so when you play with it like I have. This is what I deserve and they don’t deserve to watch it all fold out. Embracing my new beginning. Embracing what comes next it would appear that this was all only a warning. A second look at what it is that I have done. Something draws me back to my vessel. Tells me to lay back down. Not a thought or an idea the feeling is beyond my understanding to explain. I do what it is I feel I must.

Maybe if I lie back down. Lay perfectly still the two parts will become whole once more? Nothing left to lose any more. I try to recreate the position my body is in on the bed. What comes next is nothing short of a rebirth. The feeling of waking up after a long slumber as I spring back to life. Gasping for air and for the first time in what feels like forever I feel it. I feel it all. The tears flow down my face as I look into their eyes. Euphoric at first and then nothing but pain. Startled and relieved I grab the collar of the EMT closest to me, “Thank you.” Thank you is all I have to say. Thank you for what however we will just have to wait and see.

Valerie Hannigan

I’ve never done drugs nor have I ever been on the verge of death. I don’t know anyone who has almost died or died and then came back. This isn’t a very personal story though I suppose it could be. Because I may not know of anyone who has died and came back. I do know a drug addict or two. We don’t speak. Don’t need that shit around my children or in my life. No one needs that garbage in their lives. Life is never easy and why anyone would want to make it any harder than it already is, is beyond me. People will do what they do though for whatever reason they think they should do it. I’m not above it myself. I’m not better than every other walking asshole on earth. I got my own set of problems that need to be dealt with on a daily basis. Reflection and thinking past the now is the only advice I can give. It is the only thing that works for me. Could I use an escape? A fucking break from the chaos that is my children? I bet their little souls I could. The now. But when the vacation is over? When their soulless bodies are resting in my arms. What new chaos am I facing? How will my life be then? Peaceful.

Got lost in a fantasy there for a second. My life would be shit. Still here, but a little worse. Do it again and again, and what do you think will be left? Everyone wants to run away from their problems. But no matter how far you run they are still going to be right there. Dealing with them, accepting the challenge is the only way to get over them. Not the easiest of solutions. Not what anyone wants to hear. Cheat codes are the best way to play any video game until you’ve rode out the codes for everything they are. Then that game is trash and all you want is something new. The game isn’t what you can do at the end, but what we did to get there. Or something like that…

Beginning of All Things to End…

“Things went from bad to worse,” he says as they walk down the long corridor. “What do you mean?” One of his colleagues asks. “Most importantly they are being taken to the facility right now to insure there will be a future them,” he says ignoring the question all together. “Doesn’t matter there won’t be,” another colleague responds. They move quickly through the corridor making sure no one sees them. “Sure, maybe not now but twenty or thirty years from now when they have figured it out. It will be the end of the world,” the leader lays out. They arrive at an unmarked door. Looking around he inserts his key card, “Quickly we don’t have much time. The cameras have already alerted them, I’m sure.”

The three of them enter the room. “We need to erase whatever we can,” the leader says. “What are we even really doing here?” One of them asks. They walk through the stacks of tanks. Each one containing what looks to be a fetus. “Trust me they won’t have cloning figured out by then. Cloning doesn’t work now and by the time it does it’ll be two hundred or more years from now. And even by then none of them will be relevant beyond history books,” a colleague states unsure of his own predictions. “Exactly, we need to stop them now. These are all nothing more than failures. But the potential each container contains. This is where it all starts. This is where we have to make our stand,” the leader assures them.

“Your fear of that future is irrelevant. Some other monster will take their place,” one of them proclaims. They begin pulling electrical board after board as the tanks switch to back up power. “We will impact the next fifty years by our actions today. We fucked up already letting them go into hiding. Who knows exactly how much information they were able to collect behind our backs?” The leader admits. “Doesn’t matter they won’t have us when all this is over. The others will find them and do their part. Same as before. This won’t be over but you’re right we can slow it down.”

The lights begin to flash as the backup systems trigger from the disturbance. “We are in the final moments of our chance to do your part. Destroy whatever you can,” the leader orders. They split up and rush through the room pulling board after board. Quickly they pull what they can as they hear the door open and the boots of their oppressors marching through. “Use extreme force,” they hear someone order before they hear the sound of bullets breaking glass. The sounds of screaming and death soon to follow.

The floor becomes saturated in more than just blood as the last one of the resistances takes their final breath. A solider walks over to their dying body. “If you do the devil’s work then you are,” a bullet to the head silences the room. “Sweep the room, recover the bodies, and report back,” the solider orders. The others do as they are told. Dragging the bodies of the dead to the center of the room. The sound of the door opening again fills the room. The sound of footsteps on glass follows.

“Report,” a man in a white coat demands. “All deserters accounted for and terminated. Zero causalities on our side. They were unarmed. Damage unknown. Believed to be minimal,” the solider reports. “Good job. Could have been executed sooner, but good job none the less,” the man in the coat says. “Thank you, sir,” the solider responds. “Now if we can figure out how they were able to bypass their programming?” The man in the white coat questions out loud.

M.T. Billings

Passions…

“So here we are once again. You with the gun and me with the hostage. Who do you think is going to win this time? Me or you?” The madman with the barrel pressed against the victim’s head ponders out loud. “Things may seem like you’ve got the upper hand, but I’ve got something you don’t,” the half-naked, half blown up, and one hundred percent out of patience hero says. “Oh, and what’s that?” The villain pulls the hammer back on the gun. “A chance.”

“Can you shut that shit off already?” She moans. “How can you even watch this crap?” She asks letting me know she isn’t going to stop without an answer. “Why do you do that? Why do you have to interrupt all of the best parts?” I ask. The sound of me hitting the space bar fills the room. “The best parts? What could have possibly been the best part of a movie that failed to get one star?” She badgers. “I don’t know maybe when he pulls a gun out of nowhere and shots him off the building like in Harder To Die, Than To Live,” I answer. “Wait so you’re telling me the best part of a film is a copycat scene from a film you’ve already seen?” She mocks me. “Well madam it’s not a complete copy since that would be illegal. It will be different to a point though overall the same scene in a sense. Plus, this one didn’t go to theaters and is unrated. Which basically means there will be more blood and the fact that the hostage is a woman means there is a good chance of a topless scene. All of this could add up to a better or worse ending than the “same scene” in another movie,” I explain. “You’ve got to be kidding me, right?” She looks more annoyed than confused. “I didn’t invent the male brain. I was just born with one,” I smile.

She sighs in disgust. “What would you rather watch another movie about two people falling in love after overcoming some stupid obstacle?” I ask her. “Of course, at least they are original,” she says. “Original? Right let’s see the last one we watched was about some couple who fell in love, but then the lady had a dog which just so happens the man is afraid of so, they spend the next hour getting over that. The one before that was about two people too afraid to leave their house though they fall in love over the internet so, they spend the next hour and half getting over that. An hour and a half wondering if they will ever be able to be together through this dire situation that is somehow too impossible to get over. How are either one of those movies not the same?” I question. “That last one won an Oscar by the way so, what do you know?” She says defensively. “How can a movie about nothing get any sort of reward?” I mock. “It got six, but that is beside the point,” she tries to play off. “Nothing happens for almost two hours,” I won’t let the point die. “You try making the hottest actress in Hollywood look ugly and then you tell me you didn’t take a chance,” she rolls her eyes as though I am the ignorant one in this situation. “They put a bump on her nose and she was still hot. They could have lit her head on fire and put her in a full body cast, and she still be hot. Changing one thing about someone is not taking a chance,” I protest. “Neither is watching a movie because there might be a topless scene or more blood,” she protests back. The screen goes black.

“How can you watch this shit?” An angel with giant white wings asks. “What are you talking about? There is so much passion over nothing. How could I the Lord not watch?” A figure of immense light and a voice that could crack the sky asks right back. “I don’t know maybe because there are about seven billion and growing other issues you could address. I mean it is all the same thing. Over and over about nothing at all. Couldn’t there be anything else you could do today? I just don’t get it,” the angel tries to reason. “What’s the point of being a God if you can’t enjoy your own creations?” The question hangs in the air. 

Valerie Hannigan