Entropy and other inconveniences…

linked to this story here: X

„Nobody took a dump here.“ A scrawl in black sharpie stretched over the upper right corner of the booth door. „SEXXX! Call 314-159-26.“ The lower margin of the door warned about the pervy limbo dancers.

Andy cracked a smile and checked for the naked chocolate bar and the newspaper in the inner pockets of his long leather jacket. Someone flushed a toilet two cubicles to the right. He heard the somebody leaving the public restroom without washing hands. The door slammed shut. Andy sighed. He squeezed his notebook into one of the butt pocket of his denims. His naked toes felt wet and cold on the tile floor. He took a deep breath. The air was stale, the aroma of urine was overwhelming. He consoled himself with the fact, that in a blink, he was going to disappear from the questionable puddle.

A whispering fizzling noise echoed from the walls of the room, and Andy concentrated upon an imaginary spot, half a step away, in front of his navel. A little sphere of pale blue ball of brightness formed instantly. He cupped his hands hovering two inches away from the light. He made it bigger and bigger. The muscles in his arms vibrated with effort, he made the sphere spin. He stretched it  over his shoulders and took a deep breath.

Andy stepped into the pale blue vortex in front of him.

The bathroom, and the rest of the world at his back folded, and faded to nonexistence. Everything went black. The muscles on his chest and back rippled with tension and fibrillation.

At the edge of his visual perimeter, the pale blue light twitched and sparked.

He stood in an Andy-shaped hole in the fabric between realities. His spine tingled and burned, as if his skin had been shock frosted. He felt lightning licking and stinging at the back of his head and around his shoulder blades. His fingertips and bare feet stung with electric pins and needles.

Entropy swept over him like a tidal wave, knocking his breath out, leaning on him, pushing downwards. He bowed his head. Submerged in the currents of energy flow, he slid through spacetime layers into lower energy state realities. The torrent caught him in a tight grip around his waist and yanked him down.

He hated this part. The sinking feeling in his stomach froze his mind. He panicked.

He usually did.

What if, he got a hypo here and had no strength to get out again? Would he die, or would he be arrested in the terrified state of  just realizing, that he was about to die?

Forever?

His instincts took over. „Hold onto something.“ They demanded. „Let it guide.“

His hand grabbed his daughter’s little praying bead bracelet. The pressure that made him bow, lifted suddenly.

In his imagination a happy family breakfast flared up. Ava buttered a bun for Emily. He was drinking coffee. He smiled.

Depressurizing made him dizzy. The breakfast table faded, as he stopped focusing upon it. There was nothing to see, nothing to hear. He closed his eyes. For once, no static filled his head. Calm. He imagined this was peace. Surely this was what it felt like.

He wanted to remain. Inertia crept into his mind. But he knew he couldn’t stay.

He never stayed.

Peace was not human nature. Guilt was. Sickness, decay, futility, death, war and famine were too. Always suffering…

The burning sensation chewed up his limbs, his arms and legs stung. His face hardened into a heavy ice mask.

Transition was a bitch. He couldn’t breathe. His eyelids weighed tons, lips sagged.

He couldn’t stop shivering. The clench of solid inertia overpowered his bones, his organs, his muscles.

The breakfast table flickered again. It hung in front of him, some steps away, taunting. He shuffled a foot forward. He had to keep going. He had to reach it. The darkness pushed into his pores, dissolving in his veins.

He felt sick and broken. Entropy knew he was, and caught in his edges, in the fissures of his brokenness. It cooed to the darkness, that sprouted in his body and soul. The rotten blackness in him grew. His heart seemed to transform to a homing beacon to catastrophes and bad intentions. He had no time to brace himself. The dizziness tipped him out of his position. He spun, but his heart slowed.

He had to keep moving. The gaps between his heart beats grew.

Sick yellow light shone somewhere in front of him. It flickered like a candle a mile away in a dark stormy night. He tore at the slowness of his body. He tore at the spinning of his senses.

Move. Just.

One.

Step.

He fell to his knees in a moving cargo elevator, between Floor 17 and 18. The air around him crackled and fizzed. The elevator stopped with a sigh and a jolt. The lights flickered a slight bit.

For a moment, Andy’s arms remembered the shape his dying daughter. The smell of strawberry shampoo and blood hit him. The memory sank deeper and vanished from his consciousness, as his heart accelerated. The familiar pain burrowed deeper into his spine. Guilt zeroed in of him, and he knew he had the right timeline.

He shivered violently. Rime coated the walls of the elevator, his clothes, skin, hair, brows and eyelashes.

His mouth was a desert. His lungs tried to breathe. His heart tried to crawl up his throat. An invisible hand compressed his chest. Air refused to get in.

Andy propped his arms on his knees.

No hunger, no cold, no nothing.

His body willed itself back to normality and tried to swallow.

foxtrot uniform charlie kilo

F***. I’ll miss you. Oz mumbled around his mouthful of Al-Capone Pizza. He wiped the grease from his mouth with his sleeve. He toasted to the city with the rest of the slice in his hand. …Maybe.

He has been on the roof all evening, to watch his last sunset. He let Izanami record all his visual input. Every bit of visual and sensorial memory was important. He was going to be home-sick, he supposed. Everyone was, at least, that was, what they had told him.

Why so serious? Isn’t this what you wanted? Izanami whispered into his ear from his new Uplink implant. He still had to get used to the vision tracking commands, so he wouldn’t zoom in on a passing bottle fly, or falling pigeon poop. If he wanted, he could count the hairs on a mosquito leg, but who would want that?

The orange evening sky withered to an inky brown. In the upper right corner of his field of vision the spectral analysis went berserk. The readout faded, as he failed to focus upon them.

A heavy drone buzzed overhead. It looked like an oversized, robotic amazon-yellow bumblebee. The zoom kicked in. It had 2501 written on its dented body. It was one of those new hub-controlled drones. It hovered briefly over the rooftop of his apartment building, beeped twice, then flew off. Oz sneered. Delivery bumble bee. Data from his new prosthetic eyes pushed into his consciousness. Wind speed. Drone velocity. Hull type. IP-Address.

I booked you unto the 5:50 and the 8:20 flight. Izanami interrupted the flow of information. Also, Strix Genome United sent an urgent request. They need your specs. What should I answer?

Oz scrunched his face into a sceptic grimace. What for?

Dummy, a spaceship needs a life doctor. He swore, he could sense her rolling her virtual eyes. Your hibernation tank. Izanami sighed.

Alright, alright. Send what they need. Oz shrugged. Strix could become a real nuisance…

His contract with them was top secret. They had hired him right after his dishonorable dismissal from Newport Medical University. They took him in like a kicked dog… His experiments with hibernation had failed horribly. The Ethic Committee had made a point in banning him from being a doctor, for a lifetime.

He swallowed hard. He never imagined how it would hurt, to disappoint. The pain, the disgust in his fathers expression killed Oz. The young offspring of a rich family – all famous doctors – sucked at being brilliant, even sucked at being morally immaculate. He would never be able to work as a physician, not on Earth. He never seen his father so upset, not even after his mother died…

The saliva in his mouth turned to acid. It was cold. He wiggled his toes, but the flip-flops did nothing to warm his feet. It was still April, he had to remind himself.

But they offered the kicked dog a ridiculous amount of money… There had to be a catch, he just couldn’t find it. Yet. There had been nothing else to choose.

What if, Strix took everything back, when he vanished? It wasn’t that hard to get a death certificate without a body. What if, they tried to make him vanish after those five years? Wasn’t it probable, that they were behind his hearing, leaving him damaged goods? Possible. He had to be most careful. Izanami, observe all CCT footage around my flat.

Noooooo one hears youuuu scream in spaaaaaace. Izanami prompted with a spooky singsong. That’s because there is no air. He answered.

Behind his earlobe, his implant vibrated with an incoming call. It’s Marcus. Izanami chirped.

He shook his head and she let the call go through to voice mail. Oz hated to be summoned, even to his own „surprise” farewell-party. Whatever Marcus had in mind, it won’t happen. What a shame! Missed that one too. He breathed. It smelled of wet dirt. Rain was coming.

The crate under Oz creaked while he craned his neck after the drone trying to land a block away.

In the lower left corner of his visual field flashed a new message. He blinked twice to open it. Oh come on, you pussy! Pick up. Marcus.

Marcus was what came closest to a best friend. No can do, not even for you, Marcus. A gust of wind tore at his tee. He lit his last cigarette, and inhaled as deeply as he could. He stood and looked over downtown gleaming, not noticing his last night on Earth.

The streets were full with cars, police and ambulance sirens. The taillights and the streetlights seemed to merge to arteries of light, feeding the heart of the city. Oz filled his lungs with dark smoke and damp night air. One star winked at him, then vanished behind thick grey clouds. He was leaving the continent. He dragged in another lungful smoky doubt and shivered uncontrollably.

Time to tidy up, Izanami. The voice command activated a hidden task he programmed earlier, so Izanami would initiate a tiny program in her subroutines and neglect it right away. The blessings of reversed modeling logic worked on every AI, as well as on his personal one. The skin on his nape burned. The feeling of being watched was overwhelming. He flipped the cigarette butt over the edge of the building. He was leaving the planet.

The advance money from Strix sitting in his account went bye-bye. It arrived back, after a brief visit in Switzerland and Cayman Islands. The program moved and shuffled the little zeroes to the music of a quantum key encryption. Even when his account and all his data movements have been flagged, no one could link him to the bits and bites without the key. And the electrons of virtual money circled around him, and his alter ego. Mr Wong was going to be a wealthy, retired and a very happy man. Oz was leaving the inner solar system.

His feet carried him down the staircase, to his apartment. 42. It  was nearly empty, his bags were packed. Izanami hummed softly Babylon Feeling to him. My heart is broke, my will is gone. The lyrics pounced on him, like a lion on a gnu. He felt a heavy thump in his chest, somewhere deep down, where he kept his feverish nightmares.

Everything he possessed was stored away in cardboard boxes. The storage space was paid for five years in advance. It was a long time. Just forget about me… Oz hummed to himself.

On the kitchen counter was a half finished letter. He glanced at it. His nails dug into the flesh of his palms, his clenched fists wanted to crush something.

It was a suicide note to his father.

To leave his old life behind, he needed to die – metaphorically, of course. He had pointed this out to Izanami, as she tried to call the suicide hotline for him. It seemed theatrical, even pathetic. The Strix people were explicit about this part. No one was allowed to know where he went, and for how long. The best would be, he wrote suicide notes to everyone he loved, and just vanish from their lives. His profiling psychologist predicted this, to be his most credible reaction to failure. A knee-jerk reaction, attempting suicide, even if pretended.

Oz thought of the experimental gear he was going to get to work with. He thought of the money, the carefree life he was going to have. What am I getting myself into?

I don’t know, boss. Izanami sighed.

 

-part 2: Interceptor

med bay snippets #2

The soft purring of the monitoring alarm on my watch wakes me, by vibrating. I’m up…

I tell the watch and it recognizes my voice. The command kills the alarm.

Sleeping at the med bay is seldom a good idea, and sleeping at a working station – uh, table – is downright irresponsible. I rub my face into some kind of wakefulness and wish I could rub my back into a painless state.

I wish I would have slept in one of the E-beds, but shake my head at the idea. The beds are semi-autonomous, so they can keep an exhausted man in stasis, till he gets all the tiredness out of his system. No matter how long that may take.

In case you are the ship’s doctor, this is a very bad idea. They tell you that in doctor’s school. Don’t get high on E-beds pain or sleep medication. I guess some of my colleagues must have tried, during their long trips to the Kepler System.

I have Lieutenant Decker in one. The screen above his E-bed flashes red.

Let’s check you then. 

I download the most recent parameters the bed has measured to my watch. I throw out my thumb and index above its display to activate the tablet function. Blood pressure: 100 to 80. Good, pulse: 110. Almost okay. Oxygen saturation: 85%. Not okay… Breathing frequency dwindling under 10. Bad. I shake my wrist to retract the tablet. The antidote is wearing off.

Load E-bed 2 with enough Naloxone. Doctor Oscar Welligton, authorization 00.01, code 672779-0.

The unconscious man in front of me looks like he just hopped from the grim reapers grasp, with a nearly translucent, pale skin.

What a disappointment… I do not recall Decker to be a genius, or  even smart. The flashing red on the E-bed monitor stops. His breathing improves visibly, oxygen saturation climbs above 90%. That’s the spirit, Lieutenant. 

This bloke finds the most pleasant way to go. Fearless, without the hunger for oxygen, without the hunger for life. I make a mental note to stock every suit – at least mine – with enough morphine to kill an elephant. This is a manageable last resort.

It is a stroke of genius to use morphine to save himself from asphyxiation. The question remains, if he’s left with cerebral damage. No one knows how long he was cold out, or even breathing… After all, Rains is not to be trusted with precise observation about his colleagues. If I recall correctly, he even broke Decker’s nose in a brawl a month ago.

How’s the lieutenant? 

The captain’s voice rings through the med bay. The com is in override mode on my watch.

Barely alive. I answer. That’s that.

Any permanent damages? 

Can’t tell… Sleeping beauty has to wake up on his own. The morphine still has  about two hours to the  pharmacological half-life. Ask me again in two hours. 

The Captain seems satisfied, and the com dies down. I pull the footage from Decker’s and Rains’ suits.

#1 – the lion roars

PART 1  - LIQUID PEACE
Part 2 - PATIENT PAPER

The gutter dripped and the rain drops rapped hard on the window. My eyes were already open. The bedsheets felt cold and damp. The shutters rattled with the wind gusts.  I’ve been staring at the dark ceiling for nearly three hours. I sat up. Sleep was busy somewhere else.

Another rotten night.

My mind was stuck in ruminating mode. There was no point in trying to sleep. Heavy rainstorm washed over the town. So thirsty… I tried to breathe. The merry-go-round in my head kept me replaying the last two weeks, pining me to decisions, yanking me back and forth between faces and screams and tears. Decisions that were not my wisest… 

Wasn’t enough. 

I thought of the woman with begging eyes. She came into the ER, during my shift. She had fever, and severe abdominal pain. I guessed her secret right away. Her deep ocean green eyes betrayed her, I could read in them. Everyone could…  That she had attempted  abortion. Bleeding and in pain, she got down on her knees and pleaded. Immediately I got her a bed, and called a trustworthy gynecologist I knew. I trusted him to keep his mouth shut. I trusted that a human life was more important to him than law.

I was wrong.

Nevertheless, I started her on antibiotics and enough painkillers. I refused to make a blood test. If it was positive, she’d go to jail. Maybe she would anyway… If she’d survive, that is… I had Rose, the head nurse, look after her.

I cannot just watch and wait for her to die, that’s what I told her, and that’s what I told the head medic.

He stopped all medication. That bigoted windbag stopped ALL of her medication and I got sent home for a month. Rose tried to calm me down, but by God – I… I.

The oxygen left the room. Two days ago, Rose called. The woman with the begging eyes died. My skin felt dry and hot, like a heat blanket over a snowman.

There was this nagging icy feeling wrenching my guts, that I just couldn’t shrug off. I could use some peace for once – some sleep, or unconsciousness. I could use some liquid peace… I thought of the empty liquor bottles lined up in the kitchen. Vodka was sometimes your only friend. It was a reliable friend. Brushing over my  burning face, my forehead was sticky with sweat.

The phone rang. The sinking feeling sank deeper.

I got up. The cold floor burned  under my soles. I went to the hallway to pick it up, but my hand hovered above it.

Important? Work? Catastrophe? Which is it?

I asked myself. It did nothing to buffer the leaden dread sitting on my chest.

I grabbed the phone. “‘llo?”

“Comrade Hoia?” The stern voice on the end of the line felt like a brick wall I was about to smack into.

“Yes,” I swallowed. ”Who is this?” The man didn’t answer. Statics filled my head. This was a catastrophe, I decided. I heard a pen scratch on paper.

“I’ve got a young man here, a Hungarian Jew. He says, he knows you, comrade.”

Benny… What have you done this time?

Was this police or worse? Securitate? “His name is Benjamin Ekes,” yawned the man.

“Yes.” I croaked. “I know him.” My throat was stinging, I couldn’t suppress a cough. I heard a faint echo of myself coughing. They were recording the call. Securitate it was. My heart knotted.

A big drink, I rubbed my lips, a whole bottle.

“Do you, comrade Hoia?” He paused amused. “Then come and pick him up. Police station.” The man hung up.

“On my way.” I said, listening to the disconnected tone in the line. With every heartbeat it grew louder and louder. I stood in the darkness.

Pull yourself together.

I needed to get going. Who knows what they did to Benny. I grabbed some clothes and spares for Benny, gauze and disinfectant. On a second thought, I called the ER at the polyclinic I work, and had Rose on the phone. At least, some silver lining. She understood immediately what was going on. She said, she’d  had the scrubs ready, if needed. God bless good old Rose, the smartest nurse I ever worked with.

Two minutes later I was on the deserted main road, heading downtown. The rain came down in curtains. My car seemed to be the only one in the whole wide world. I lit a cigarette, and thought of all the peaceful people who could actually sleep. In their beds.

Benny needed me.

And I? I needed a drink, and a month worth of sleep.

 

holy shit, free opening sentences

  1. “Now that’s afterlife,” the ferryman pointed out amused with his clicking teeth, “you really are a busy body.”
  2. I feel like I should say something clever, or sassy, but I am cold and need my clothes back. Please?
  3. My right formed a pretended gun and fired: BANG, BANG – was I surprised when I hit the target…
  4. “What’s the matter sweetheart, never taken a shortcut before?”
  5. “I’m on the highway to hell,” I blared on performing CPR.
  6. My daughter Emily loves pancakes with chocolate chips and bananas, but this Emily at the table is all wrong, and she won’t let me go.
  7. “Not that you could ever use it, but that’s the secret of creation,” Lucifer nudged gently the leaves of the potted daisies.
  8. “I’ve been thinking,” she cut the foxglove flowers into fine stripes and put them into the teapot, “maybe you need a long nice holiday, darling.”
  9. “That ridiculous excuse of a human being was the god of locks,” Paine shook his head in disbelief.
  10. “Now everybody, repeat,” I stood at the speaker’s desk, pausing for effect, “I AM FREE!
  11. “Yeah, I’d go for a big, hairy ‘n all teeth sidekick,” Lev wrung his fist with a fit of elation, as the goblin nodded approvingly.-producing a huge slobbery pug in the size of a pony…
  12. I heard him snicker over his “Ladies first”, so I threw a chair at his face, that’ll teach him.
  13. “Why are you shooting at me?”
  14. I shared a bunk with a quiet man, a huge afro-american cyborg, with the average of ten words and two facial expression a week.
  15. The tall shadow of Lieutenant Rizzo appeared in the doorway, bubbling drunken zombie words, „sowhyamupnwhuusresponsble?”
  16. I lowered the stethoscope and the heavy door swung open.
  17. The pink tutu bounced up and down as the little girl ran away from my yard, screaming for her mommy.
  18. “Less talking, more running,” Ivanov grunted, cranking the control lever on the emergency life support system.
  19. Adam smirked, floored the gas pedal, and the car skid around the corner.
  20. The tiger yawned, looked at me pitifully, folded his paws and studied my CV, not trying to hide his boredom.
  21. Sleipnir dipped over the event horizon, and started broadcasting “I got you Babe” over all emergency channels.
  22. “Fuck off, grasshopper,” the monks sucked his teeth and let his arrow fly.
  23. “Don’t know, whose dream is this anyway,” the monkey asked, “I’m bored already!”
  24. “Sorry,” I managed a confused face, “I don’t speak bullshit.”

  25.  “Well?” The Spanish Inquisitor leaned forward expectantly, quill ready to note my unspeakable sins. He will be flabbergasted!
  26. The Yellow Emperor glanced into the mirror and smirked, taking over the realm of humans was easier than he thought. “All that Selfie-business is playing nicely into his hands.”

the daydream I can’t shake off

The love of my life is fickle.

With every move, with every turn, time brings me further away from my love, but its sweet image nearer to my heart.

It trickles between my fingers, running away.

A hologram of happiness, desire and pain. A flickering glimpse onto something like inner peace, a delusion pinched from a clouded dream.

There is that tiny space, where I belong.

Only a spec on the map of reality.

In those nights and dawns, spent in the silence of that milky yellowish grey of the sky, my love becomes more vivid than anything around me. Or anything inside me…

I keep imagining that I’m on a space station in orbit, and look down on that filthy place I call home. A wonderful and terrifying place I origin from. Itself equally an enigma, truthfully lied, made up and real, beautiful and ugly.

I am ashamed and proud. Even that contradiction is heartfelt and true to me. Equally me, equally not me…

thoughts on shuffle

IMG_3447There are places, which make me stop and think for a while. 

I’ll be more precise.

The feeling they give me, makes me stop. Suddenly I have not enough breath in my lungs and my feet stretch to touch the core of the planet. A weird kind of buzzing fills the space between my ears…

I’ve been here before, haven’t I?

And then I’m empty. It is some kind of blankness. A cold sensation in my stomach. I start to doubt that I’m hermetically locked into my skin. For a moment I’m sure there is a hole somewhere. Something ripped through me, and I didn’t notice. I’m leaking. Or maybe the world is seeping into me. I know it will squeeze me into my every pore, into every wrinkle of my being, pushing me to the outer rim of what uses to me be…

Movement stops.

I fall.

At least, I think it is some kind of falling sensation. A random plummeting to the ground. Downward sucking notion, but without the wet kissing thud at the end. Without hitting any surfaces, without the crashing and breaking, without the impact… Just falling. 

In those moment – I have hope. Hope to find my purpose, my place in the world I inhabit. The hunch I need to grasp the meaning behind all this…being-human thing. It is almost a fully formed thought, a nearly recognized feeling.

I have been here before, haven’t I? 

Isn’t it ironic? I can’t seem to realize it…