I used to think reality was made up of choices. A hundred little choices made every day in a row, strung up like a necklace of pearls. You probably think reality is something like this too, each thing that you do could go a hundred different ways, and the only way it goes is the way that you choose for it to go…but that’s not how it works at all. That’s not how anything works. Reality is manipulative, just like people are and it’s manipulating all of us. It’s even manipulating you. You might not think so. Choices are only binary. Yes or no. True or false. There’s no great big gray areas like they tell you.
“Daddy come get me.” It’s four words a parent never wants to hear. I’ve always been worried about these calls. Being her father never gets easier. I don’t even ask her what is wrong. I don’t need to because she’ll tell me what happened when I get there. “Are you someplace safe right now, baby?” “I don’t know. Please hurry.” She might be crying, it sounds like. She gets upset a lot. Most teenagers do… But she almost never cries. “Hide. And keep your phone on okay? I’m coming now, I’ll call you when I’m close.” I say. I take off my apron as a dozen burgers sizzle on the flattop grill in protest, I take off my stupid paper hat too and look around the kitchen. Jimmy is the only one back here with me. He’s slow. He can’t manage the rush alone. Glancing next to me, I can see Read More …
CALL LOGS I’m not the first one to say it and I won’t be the last: I don’t think Brighter Futures Suicide Hotline is what they say it is. The past few weeks, I’ve been gathering as much information as I can find and I’m good at finding things. Damn good. It’s literally my job. I’m a Digital Forensics Examiner. I can’t tell you my name and I can’t tell you the name of the company I work for — I’m afraid of retaliation and not just from my company but others. For the purpose of this post, I’m going by Maddox. I’m beginning to see that this goes a lot deeper than a call center and a bunch of strange coincidences. This is massive. Global. From what I can tell, something is attempting to shift the path of humanity itself. They’re doing it unseen. They’re doing it successfully.
Part I “Hello!” I said as I approached the bench. The man’s eyes shot up with a start looking up over the thing he held in his hand. “Are you talking to me?” He asked. He looked tired and agitated despite the placid mask of emotionless empty the rest of his face conveyed. I felt my insides lurch, instantly regretting the interaction. I had to keep going so I kept smiling until he smiled back. There was no way he could be like all the rest. If he was, there was no hope. Finally, he did smile and I felt my stomach fall. His smile was exactly like the ones I’d left behind. Fake. False. I felt my heart racing a bit in my chest.
I could write you a book about cleaning. If I did, it could have an entire section devoted to getting out your stains. I clean houses. I’m sort of a maid, I guess. I’ve learned a lot about people while doing this and the most important thing I’ve learned is that they’re pretty horrible. Including you. The second most important thing I’ve learned is keeping my mouth shut. I could tell you how to get the bloodstains out of the curtains at 4829 Barren Drive, Apartment 7 — but I probably shouldn’t. Nobody will ask anyway. There wasn’t a spot on them after I left. I cleaned up your mess. I keep your secrets.
There’s a Raffle that’s been going on in my town ever since I was a little boy. They started doing it in the 90’s. People seemed to have a lot of opinions about it. Everyone’s always said it was stupid and they hated it. I think some of those people are lying. People say we should get rid of The Raffle but they never do anything to actually change it. It’s all a bunch of talk and no action. The Raffle’s been going on so long I was numb to it for a long time but I’m starting to feel some way about it again. I started to read between the lines and understand what was actually happening in our city. If you live here too, just be glad you haven’t won yet.
My husband Daniel is the type that keeps to himself. He doesn’t talk to any of the neighbors whereas I’ve always been outgoing. Even as a kid, I liked to get to know people so I could understand them better. Understand what they’re feeling better. I can learn so much about people by striking up a conversation…occasionally, I’ll meet someone I’d be best off avoiding…
They shone in the moonlight, scattered all directions on the sand. Glistening with the borrowed shine of distant stars. Some came in their slippers. The majority forged their way through the howling dark in socks or the bare feet they rose with. Abandoning their beds in the quiet dead of after-midnight, the hordes of somnambulists shuffled through the drifts of New Mexican desert sand, painted black by dark. From every compass point, the masses shared one destination.
“Let us pray.” “Heavenly father, we are the family of Holy Cross. Bless us and guide us as we pray together in our church. Teach us wisdom and give strength to our community. Keep our family safe and our moral compasses true. We ask this in your name. Amen.” The congregants voices rise in unison to echo off the rafters of the old wooden building off north Main, just outside of town square. “You may be seated.” Pastor Thomas, with his palms up, extended, directs them. His wife Gwen mounts the steps to the podium.
Everyone knows something about these Crow kids. They ain’t sharing whatever memory’s hidden in their stupid collective small-town unconsciousness with me. We’re outsiders. We were accepted until now. I guess. When I needed help and to know what happened to Jenny these past few days, nobody was sharing anything to go on.