Dan

Afterimage

when I close my eyes I just see the void

Haha. Well consider yourself lucky

what do you like to do for fun??

I’m big into horse hairstyling.
And also making fun of people who ask me that question as an opener

damn gina
sue me, I can’t tell much about you from the bio, sheesh
do you like it when robots fight?

Uhh. No.

okay good
we are on the same page on that one at least

Okay, better.
What do you do to fill that void with fun?

ive been working on a self-referential poem
that destroys the mind of whoever reads it

Cool. Send me a copy?

nah I think I’d rather take you out to dinner and then go protest a robot fight
no need to erase your mind juuuust yet
that didn’t come out like I meant
sorry sorry

I know you’re joking and all this satire and cleverness is just what the dating apps require but
I would actually pay good money for a mind eraser

understanding is cruel the monkey said as it launched to space

???

sorry I bet u haven’t had lyrics quoted at you by a boy in quite some time

Truly true
You may be fulfilling the “desperate nerd” portion of my requirements

wow jeez girl
would you go into space if they asked u?

Heck yes
I love the sky, it’s one of the few stable things for me.
When I look at it and then close my eyes, I just see black or blue… Sometimes gray.
That would be so comforting to be out there.
Simple. 🙂

wait
i had to go back to ur bio
“when I close my eyes I see the fate of everything like an afterimage”
you are running with that
like, for realz

Oh yeah. Too literal for you?
I figure I better get my deep dark secrets out of the way right away

okay now you got me intrigued
(back in the day I had to remember how to spell that by saying INTRA GOOED to myself but now my phone does it, yay)
anyway your dark secrets dont scare me
want to meet up this week for that roboprotest?

I don’t want to see you yet.

o because then you will see my futures
shit, right
got it sorry

That’s… part of it.
But don’t worry, I won’t have to see your future if I keep my eyes open.

my future is probably pretty dang horrifying tbh
can I ask some qwestions? I have many

Sure. Fire away.

what happens when u blink

Fortunately my brain can’t keep up
Like both our brains just edit out the blinks
Mine might have shit, yours might too, you just don’t notice…
and I’m pretty used to ignoring the brief flickers.

i just tried it in the mirror to confirm
but I just see me, no you between the reflection

Ha ha.
It’s not really that powerful.
But no that was a good question

so hmm
is the time distance equal?

Huh?

uhh this is confusing
is the time you see, fast forwarded, like
the same amount of time all the time
or if you look at a fruit can you watch it rot

OH. Great question
No it’s even more unnerving because I see things shuffled.
Like, sometimes only minutes into the future. Sometimes years.

like uhh

Once in a while, more time has passed than I know how to comprehend.

give me an example
of that last one I mean

Oh you know, like suddenly the sun is a giant overheated red ball that fills the sky
With all these weird little black marks on it
And earth is just this cooked-up magma land

whoa dude

Or sometimes the sun is gone entirely
and there’s just a sea of this dark gray
sometimes with speckles in it sometimes not

that’s dark
i think you need a hug
maybe keep your eyes open during, tho

Ha ha

so yikes this is so detailed that im starting to actually believe you now
how do you ever fall asleep

Oh that’s actually easy.
But sometimes I have to blink a lot because it shifts every time I close them
And sometimes it’s awful
So I shuffle through the futures until I find something that’s dark (lol)
or just me lying in my bed not too far from now
Which is pretty hard to differentiate.

so have you ever seen me in your bed

Haha. Would I tell you if I had?

i dunno, im not the one with the mental abilitiez
what happens when you put something over your eyes, like a hand, instead of eyelids
you there?
sorry if my dumb line offended you
im not usually like that i swear
well then, how about this:
just keep your eyes peeled for me behind your lids,
and message back sometime if you do spot me

<2 WEEKS AGO>


Hey, how’s the roboprotesting going?

oh snaaaap it’s the scary psychic
i haven’t made much progress on convincing anyone robots are people too 😦

I haven’t seen you in my afterimages yet.
But maybe I need to make a move first.
Want to make some protest signs and maybe catch a dinner after this weekend?

of course
i can’t see the future but i got a good feeling about this
you’re sure it’s not something like…
you saw a tableau of you murdering me for my crappy jokes
so now you have to follow through???

Nope. Your jokes are dumb, but I haven’t seen anything like that…

good

YET!!! HAHAAA
<3:02 PM>

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Dan

Mike Pence

Mike Pence grimaced as he angrily shook off his suit coat, thundering down the grim cement tunnel with his security detail. “I thought the FBI had this under control,” he snarled at the meek-looking bespectacled man next to him.

“Yes, and they sure seemed certain the drop was tomorrow. But we now have reason to believe the eagle has landed early.” The mouse-like fellow shifted Pence’s coat from hand to hand, nervously, as Pence strode ahead of him down the long hallway. “That’s why we had to… pull you out.”

“Well then. That’s a fine relaxing football game, ruined.” Pence fumed as they stormed out of the tunnel towards a waiting helicopter. As its blades began to slice the air, he yelled, “Do we know why they chose Indy yet?” He slid on a pair of sunglasses, staring off into the distance, trying to divine why they would have moved early.

“No. That’s for you to discover, sir. We’ll tweet that you left because of the kneeling players, for cover.”

“Good. Good. Tell Mother I’ll be home late tonight, Kenneth.”

The aide coughed, nodding. “Yes sir. Of course, sir.” He passed a metal briefcase from one of the security men up into the helicopter. “You’ll be needing these.”

Pence said nothing, setting the case on his lap, and saluted to the Secret Service as the copter began to lift off. He quickly took the shoulder holsters out and strapped them on, then grabbed the headset. “How much time do we have, captain?”

“ETA is just under 5 minutes, sir. We’re rolling in hot.”

Checking the assault rifle stacked next to him, Pence continued to clip on the gear he would need. As the helicopter flew over the White River, he stoically took a breath and snapped open the metal case with his lucky guns.

Two chrome pistols lay in the foam, calling his name. It was just another day to do the right thing, he thought. When he picked them up, they glinted in the sun as it peeked through the clouds the copter ripped through. On the handle of one was an intricate scrollworked GOD, and on the other, COUNTRY.

The sun choosing to shine just now is a sign from God, he thought. Praise Jesus! He cradled the stocks in his hands, feeling their truth. “I’ve got some fake news for you, terrorists,” he whispered, as he jammed fresh clips into them. “Michael Richard Pence is done messing around. America is coming for you bastards.”

The helicopter began to descend on a rooftop. The pilot’s voice came through his earpiece. “The Planned Parenthood is on this block, four buildings north. See the green spire? That’s the one.”

Mike Pence said a quick prayer as he slid his pistols in place and checked his ammo. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land…” And then he was out on the rooftop, running to stop another baby-killing stem cell research terror plot before it claimed more potential lives.

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Dan

Passerine

Farah wipes the dust from her hands onto her jeans, and the worn white hills turn fuzzy gray. Like mountains after the sun melts the snow, and the smog pours in. She stares down for a moment, the pattern more interesting than the topology of yet another dying town. This is the fifth anonymous town they’ve stuck her in, or is it the sixth? The witness protection program is more exhausting than glamorous.

Squinting back the tears, she stares blankly out the windows at the sad little trees and the brown yard. Birds are chirping, but instead of bright it feels monotonous. Walking back out to the rental truck, she suddenly notices a neighbor on the porch across the street. Farah waves, and turns intentionally to watch the birds bicker in the branches before he can respond.

Abe waves, but she doesn’t see it. New neighbors are fascinating, in this quiet place. The best entertainment he gets outside of NCIS and football on the TV. He watches, trying to guess why she moved here. Her hair is a black cloud that lags behind her, bouncing in opposition.

The jackdaws, sparrows, and finches from all around seem to have set up choirs in her trees, trying to impress the new resident. Abe watches her bent over the fence watching all their dancing, and feels a prickle on his skin like she can read his mind through the back of her head, using her hair as a satellite dish.

He gets up, painfully, and walks inside. “We finally get to meet the gal who bought Jolene and Paul’s house. Looks like a single woman, hon.”

“Well there goes the neighborhood,” his wife jokes. “Now with your knees how they are, don’t you dare go offer to help move. What kind of sandwich do you want for lunch?”

He doesn’t answer at first, thinking of songbirds singing in the impossible dark nests of the new neighbor’s hair.

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Dan

Escalation

The woman sits on the bus, like the rest of us. In strained silence, watching the sun leak out of the clouds and rehydrate our shadows as they flicker on the dirty rubber floor.

Then her phone rings. We all get to hear some terrible Billy Joel song I didn’t know existed, and will be very thankful to forget. Everyone like me who doesn’t have headphones blocking their vision scuffles their feet and looks around. Nasty looks. Nobody knows whose phone it is.

It keeps going. Jesus. It’s still going.

But it’s her phone. She answers it.

“You are a bad baby,” she says. No hello. Then, “You are a very bad baby.”

We’re wondering if this is just a warped term of endearment. I giggle a little, imagining a guilty baby calling his mom. “It happened again. The death brown, Ma. It happened. I’m sorry.” But we don’t get to hear the other side. She sits and listens for a while, and we sink into the mystery of it. A bad baby. Or a bad man.

“I’m very upset with you all right now,” she suddenly yells. And she does sound upset. Now we all think something the baby said made her very angry. Maybe the baby and his baby friends are all in trouble, now.

But she yells that so loud that the bus driver turns around and hollers, “Hey. No yellin’ on my bus this mornin’, alright?” And the alright manages to encapsulate the sound of a man working split shifts and eating cheap pre-packaged food to support his family. Maybe he has a bunch of bad babies, too, we think.

So she puts a hand over the phone, and very theatrically mouths a big “SORRY” to the people around her. Nobody looks her in the eye. We’re all still puzzling it out, and it’s about to get worse.

Before the woman puts the phone back to her ear, we hear a loud squawk from it. It sounds remarkably like a baby crying. But her voice goes into a parody of stern, like she’s heard on daytime TV maybe, and she tries to talk over what I still imagine is a crying baby, but can’t be. “Does your husband know about this? I said, does your HUSBAND KNOW ABOUT THIS?” And by the time she gets to the end of saying it the second time, she’s shrieking, holding the phone at arms length like it’s going to bite her, and her face is turning red.

We’re starting to get legitimately worried for her and the baby or whoever’s on the other end of the line, but the bus driver just doesn’t give a shit and pulls over to the side of the road. “Candy. Get out,” he orders. That must be her name, we realize. Even though it sounds like a curse when he says it.

Candy ignores him and the rest of us, fuming at the phone in her hand. “You are still a very bad baby.” Somehow it becomes clear to us that she’s somehow indicting the driver when she says it.

He stands up out of his seat, and sighs as he walks into view of the camera that’s recording all this for some poor person to have to watch back later. “I’m sick up to here with you riding on my bus trying to start shit. If you don’t hang up or get out the bus, I’ll have dispatch call the cops and have them at the transfer point.” The rest of us don’t have to watch it later. We’re all watching it now, missing our damn transfers because of Candy’s very bad baby.

So finally, Candy stands up. She looks me straight in the eye, and says, “I’m very upset with you all, you know.”

Then she walks past me and looks at some old woman across the way. “Does your husband know about this?”

As she steps off the bus, the driver lowers himself back into his seat gingerly, shaking his head. She turns around as the door closes, and points the phone at him, violently flipping him off with the other hand. “You are a very bad baby!”

“Sorry folks,” the driver says over the intercom. “I don’t know how Ma found out what route I drive. We’re gonna be late to the transfer point.”

Someone up front derisively yells, “You a bad baby!” We all laugh a little. Not a lot… just enough to try to forget that it all happened. But I can’t get that god damn Billy Joel song out of my head.

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