Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Hunt

Shara rode past me. She already had the beast in sight. I kicked my mount to go faster. Now that we had it, we could waste no time.

She shot up one, two, three arrows north, right in the clearing between the trees. Then I heard a thundering roar. Though I couldn’t see it, that sound let me know it was much close than I expected. My senses weren’t as honed as Shara’s – that wasn’t really physically possible, but I knew I could more than make up for that with my skills. I was head to head with her when we reached the clearing.
The beast was running in our direction. It was much larger than I could have imagined. Flaming red fur covered most of its body aside from a couple of bald gray patches. How we would manage to fell that thick-skinned a creature with only a couple quivers of arrows was anyone’s guess – but I was confident in my abilities. Shara took a sharp turn to the left and started shooting the creature down with all the arrows she had. She had perfect aim, but the arrows were shot out at a relatively low speed – they barely pierced the creature’s hide. But she wasn’t there to hurt it. The beast followed her, turning its gargantuan back on me. That was my chance.

Not even thinking about it, I reached for four arrows in my quiver. At this point, I didn’t even need to count them. My fingers knew what to do. I put two in my mouth for the time being, let one hang loose as I held it between my fingers, pointing the last arrow at the beast. My muscles stretched as I extended the bow string to its limit. It only took a fraction of a second now. Practice makes perfect, as they say. I could feel my triceps tingle as I took aim and I shot it out. No time to rest, though – I immediately placed the loosely hanging arrow in position and sent it flying right after the first one, in the exact same spot, at the exact same angle. I then instantaneously grabbed the two arrows lodged between my teeth and shot them out the same as the previous two.  At that point I knew my job was done.

The arrows were lodged deep in the monster’s nape. It stumbled on its huge feet and fell to the ground, nearly squishing Shara in the process. I was only hoping she would forgive me that one slip-up.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


“I’m telling you, Jim. Those good for nothing fakes will be the end of us,” I tell the boy as I take a sip of my beer. The bartender glances at me from behind the counter as he meticulously cleans up a glass. I don’t know if I’m just being paranoid, but he seems pretty tense to me. What if he’s one of them?

“You’re just bitter ‘cause you lost a job, dad,” Jim tells me. “They’re really not that bad. They can be pretty useful, you know.”

“You better watch that fucking mouth!” I say as I slam my fist into the counter. The bartender flinches. “Useful or no, don’t you EVER dare something like that to my face like that, ya hear?” Jim rolls his eyes and sighs. “There’s nothin’ those stupid things can do that no human can, I tell ya.”

“Dad, calm down.”

“I ain’ finished!” I take another sip of the beer. “If ya just want them to help why make them look like fuckin’ people in the first place? I fuckin’ knew everything wou-would go to hell when they made that fuckin’ thingamajigger. Roomah, Roobah, Robbah…?”

“Roomba, sir?”

“Roomba! That fuckin’ Roomber thing!”

“What’s the Roomba have to do with you losing your job?” Jim says in a quiet tone. He’s desperate to keep me quiet. Not that he can do anything about it. “You worked as an accountant!”

“But if it weren’t for the Roomber, we wouldn’t have no fuckin’ robos stealing our jobs!”

“They’re called androids, dad. We’ll get thrown out if you keep saying such things. And nobody stole your job.”

“Then how the hell do you explain this bullshit?”

“You weren’t doing a very good job, I guess. Your boss did tell you that you need to pick up the slack if you want to keep it, didn’t he.”

“I’m NOT worse than a fuckin’ robo!” I slam my fist again. The waiter frowns at me. “I won’t have those dirty oil-smelling tin can cocksuckers taking jobs away from normal people! Fuckin’ robos!”

“Dad, shut up!”

“Sir,” a voice comes from next to me. I turn around. The waiter stands right beside me. He is much bigger up close than he seemed before. I didn’t even notice when he came from behind the counter. “Such slurs will not be tolerated here. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Now look what you’ve done,” Jim sighs. “I’m sorry for the trouble. I’ll take him home.”

“Now wait just a darned minute!” I stand up, face to face with the waiter. I look up at his face. He is clean-shaven. There’s not a trace of hair on his face. And the skin looks like plastic. I fucking knew it! “You!” The rage within me reaches its peak. I may be shorter than him, but I still remember how to pack a punch. My fist goes straight into his cheek. I can feel his teeth grinding against my knuckles, soft tissue ripping to shreds somewhere beneath all that skin. No nuts and bolts, no wires, no cables. He hunches down and coughs up some blood. The realization hits me like a brick. “You…”

I hear panicked voices yelling very different things from somewhere far away. “Call the cops!”, “Someone call the doctor!” It all seems so distant.

“I am so sorry about all this, sir,” Jim says as he kneels down and helps the waiter wipe the blood with a napkin.  He then hands him  some cash. “I hope this will be enough to cover all your medical expenses. If not, please call me,” he writes down his number on one of the bills. “I would appreciate it if you would just let me take him out of here and not notify the police.”

The bartender nods and Jim grabs me by the wrist. I can see his face red with a mixture of embarrassment and rage. As we leave the establishment, I can hear a faint voice in the distance call to us.

“Please don’t come back.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Snow Queen

It’s only been a couple of days since we got the news. It seemed like months, years. I was surprised at how lightly I took it all. The very foundations of the life we’d built together were crumbling. And I didn’t care. Had I gone numb?

“Kev,” I said to him, reaching out to grab his hand. He just sat there in front of the computer. He didn’t even flinch. He was like that ever since that day. I gave up. I stood up and approached the window. A flock of birds was making its way across the vilely crimson sunset. Couples walking along the beach, neighbors tending to their barbecues beyond my rose garden, waving their hands in a futile attempt to disperse the thick clouds of mosquitoes. The air was heavy, moist. Warm. Why did it feel so cold, then? “What are we going to tell the kids?”

No response. Only his incessant clicking. That damned mouse wouldn’t stop clicking. I had half a mind to just leave and curl up in a corner. But I couldn’t. Not now. There was too much to lose. Every moment was precious. Why couldn’t he see it?

I’ll make him see. I turned his seat around, so that now he was facing me. “Look at me,” I told him. It took a while, but at long last, he turned his bespectacled gaze toward me. I gazed deep into his green eyes and placed my hand on his cheek. I could feel it prickle. I didn’t even notice when I teared up. But his gaze remained empty, cold. “Why are you doing this? Where are you?”

“I’m already gone,” he whispered after what seemed like an eternity. “I’m dying, Gina.”

“So what if you are?”

“What the hell did you just say?” He pushed my hand away. Finally, a reaction!

“I asked you a question,” I told him. “You are dying. Yes. I know that. You think it’s easy for me to take?”

“Well, ever since the results came in, you acted as if nothing happened. It makes me wonder, you know?”

“About what?”

“If you even care. At all.”

“I don’t care?” I asked him, drawing my face closer to his. I did not notice when he stood up. “All you do now is sit at your computer all day and solve those stupid puzzles while I do my best to make things work around here and not go mad from it all. And you say I’m the one who doesn’t care?”

“I’m sorry,” he told me as he turned his gaze away. For the first time in the last couple of days, I thought I saw something change in his eyes. He felt that. I could see his hands shaking. I grabbed them. “What will we tell the kids? What are we going to do?” His voice was shaking. I kissed him. I could feel warm again. For a moment I lost myself in the warmth. Then came the embraces, and then I whispered into his ear:

“We’ll be fine.”

That night, for the first time in forever, I felt safe, at ease, as if we were two halves of the same whole again. I didn’t know how long it would last – I didn’t care. I was there for him, he was there with me. And at that moment I knew, no matter what may come our way, we had found something eternal. We were swimming in a shard of eternity.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Down the hole

I tripped.

I never thought I’d fall down so low. There was no hole, and yet down I went. The thick trunks of trees whirled before my eyes, their conjoined branches illuminated by the tiny rays of the setting sun forming multicolored vortexes . Red was the color I noticed the most first. It felt as if I’d been engulfed by a crimson whirl as I cried out for help, fiercely trying to cling to the life I was losing grip of. But no one came. The trees seemed further away, and yellow was my companion. At that point I turned my gaze into the abyss I was falling into. The yellow light was not enough to illuminate it. I trembled at the thought of reaching the bottom that was so low and let out a whimper. The trees were even more distant now and the light that stayed with me was green. The deep forest green that I knew I would never get to see again, the one that I most longed for at that moment. Wind hit my face, reminding me of the pleasant breeze I always felt when reading a book under my favorite tree. I let out a sigh.

And then I hit the ground.

I never expected the landing to be so soft. I looked up and couldn’t even see a trace of the forest I’d left behind. But it wasn’t dark. I found myself in the middle of a quiet chamber dyed a deep blue. I didn’t know where the light was coming from, but I didn’t care. The stone walls seemed cold and unwelcoming, but the blueness somehow made me feel at home. I knew then that there was no need for me to come back.