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Artifact (1/n)

I AM A SPECTER of myself. The shell of what I once was. Or could have been. I’m going to say those words again… or could have been. I don’t know who I am anymore. Or what’s real. Or if anything’s actually real.

The blending of dreams and reality has left me lost and alone and sitting in this corner rocking back and forth like a small child. I wish I had never picked up that stone. Curiosity over fear. Sometimes go with fear.

Just when I thought I had things sort of figured out. The stone took me deeper. Deeper than I wanted to go. Deeper than I thought one could go. I’ve seen things that shouldn’t be possible. Not sure if it’s magic or some kind of hyper-advanced technology or if I’ve lost my mind. Right now, I think I’ve lost my mind. Yes, most likely, I’ve lost my damn mind.

Listen. To. This. Even though it won’t make sense, yet.

Earlier today, I almost missed my train. My last class ran late and I needed to ask the professor a question about just exactly when she thinks I will ever need to use the Jacobian in real life. Real life, such a strange term nowadays. Maybe it always was. Anyway, she said it wasn’t necessarily about the Jacobian. But then leaned in toward me and said, well, maybe for me it was. I just stared at her until I couldn’t hear her words anymore. I think I willed her to stopped saying crazy things. After a moment, I realized she hadn’t really stopped talking. I long-blinked as if waking from a dizzying dream and heard her last word: mathematics.

After that nonsense, I bolted down the street. Two blocks without losing my breath – all this being late is paying off. I took the subway stairs in two giant, dangerous leaps, barely missing an elderly women, some kids, and a god damn flight attendant. I flew over the turnstile with backpack in tow and managed to slide into the subway car just as the doors closed. Yes, just like in the movies.

As I came to rest my backpack slid off. I slipped it back over my right shoulder and spun around to face the center of the crowded subway car. And there I was, face-to-face with a calm, yet fierce-looking brunette. I was literally not even six inches from her face. We were practically kissing. (I keep thinking about that.) She had sharp features and piercing eyes. It was like she was… made. Somehow chiseled out of stone.

I took a step back, because we were too close. Yes, it was hard to do. And then it happened… our eyes locked and the shells opened. But it wasn’t the typical handful of semi-transparent, concentric spheres depicting the thoughts and beliefs behind the eyes. This was something else. This wasn’t human.

Her thoughts ran and danced like a fractal full of fireworks. Mesmerizing. Dizzying. The shells extended beyond the train car. I had no idea where they stopped. Or if they stopped. They were so complicated. I’d never seen anything like it before.

And even as I say it now, I still don’t believe it was real. I keep wondering if I imagined it. I know I didn’t. Either it was real or my whole damn life is a dream.

I took a step back and was stopped by the door.

She narrowed her dark eyes and peered into me.

Confusion.

I was confused. Uncontrollably confused. She scanned my stricken face, searching for clues. I could sense her uncertainty. She didn’t understand me. I needed to get out. I needed to get away. Something was wrong with her. Or me.

Like I said. Or me.

Moments later the train stopped and the doors opened with a shush. I stepped out and bolted into the rushing crowd.

And now, now I’m cowering in the corner, wondering what just happened. What was she What’s going on? I want to see her again.I need to understand what’s going on. Maybe it is curiosity over fear after all.

I will look for her tomorrow.

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