The local grocery store, Bob's Discount Tattoo and Grocery, had decided to start offering twenty-four hour service to the strange folk who need to buy a gallon of milk or a carton of cigarettes at 3 o'clock in the morning. They needed brave young men and women to man the front lines of the night shift, and, needing a reason to get out of the house during the summer, I applied and was fortunate enough to be hired. It didn't take me long to realize that work sucks almost as bad as being unemployed.
You see, for the earlier part of the evening, we have a few people here and there who come in for the aforementioned odd item, people who for whatever reason just couldn't wait until daylight to pur
The only page in a ninth grade history textbook, circa 2042:
Never, ever, under any circumstances, should the big red button be pushed. It never ends well, and generally leads to undesirable side effects such as plague, famine, and an irritating ringing noise. Doubly un-advisable would be to press the big red button a second time, but most people avoid a first offense simply because the big red button is labeled, "Do not push." Most people have their curiosity abated by the non-threatening font the label is printed in, and continue on with their lives. The ones who aren't phased by polite warnings are usually obliterated by the unforgiving force of a thousand suns, delivered by a couple of automated laser cannons designed to politely put an end to needless button pushing.
Once upon a time, it was discovered by the people of the world that all of humanities problems originated from said big red button, and so the governments of the world,
The boy without a first name envied those children. Eventually, out of this envy grew jealousy, and this in turn became a seething hatred. As he grew into his teens, he rebelled against society as most teens do, but in a different way; by misnaming. Walking down streets, he would refer to them as alleys. Cats were dogs, boys were girls, up was down, opposites were setisoppo. Names, and by extension words, became meaningless.
Eventually the boy grew into a man, leaving his parents' home and going forth into the cold, named world. He worked at
The void is darkness and light. The void is life and death. The void is everything and nothing.
And then the void becomes a single presence, reaching out… I am aware, and the presence knows me.
The presence is an old man. An old man, who is… sleeping?
He awakens with a start, and asks what time it is.
“It’s 4 in the morning,” I reply, somehow knowing this was right.
Memories flood my consciousness, feelings of a life, an identity. Suddenly I can see, the world in front of me, the darkened room we stand in, the old man before me.
Our eyes meet.
“Are you a boy, or a girl?” the old man asks me.
I was a little surprised by the question. It’s not something I’m asked a lot.
“Hey man,” I said, “Maybe questions like that were okay in 2001, but this is a different time, and you can’t just go around labeling everyone like that.”
The old man is breathing heavily, a look of m
Two men sat in a boat, leisurely floating at sea. Seagulls flew overhead, their shadows cast down onto the water below. One of the men, staring up at the sky, saw the birds and wondered where they were going. Resting an elbow on the side of the boat, he looked to the man sitting opposite of him.
"Where do you suppose they're going?" he asked.
"Who?" inquired the second man, who had been picking at a splinter of wood. He hadn't noticed the seagulls.
"The seagulls. Where do you think they're going?"
"How should I know?" snapped the second man, furiously picking at the splinter. He was intent on his work, being careful not to snap the bit of wood, having managed to turn what was at first an insignificant chip in the wall of the boat to a majestic, three-and-a-half inch strip. He, who was known as Alex, had no time for questions, not when his life's work was so near to completion.
"Fine! Forget I asked!" said the first man, upset at being so quickly brushed aside. He was
I've been staring at the equations and drawings, meticulously calculated and drawn with great care upon the chalkboard, for several hours now. I have yet to come up with anything useful, and am growing impatient. A slow, long sigh escapes my throat as my arms fall to my sides, and I shake my head in impatience.
"I think I need a second opinion." I say out loud to no one in particular, as there is no one in the expanse but me.
As if in response to my rhetorical statement, I find I am now accompanied by several copies of myself, who have appeared seemingly out of thin air. They are gathered near me, each pondering what is written on the chalkboard. One of the copies look
The void is silent, cold. All truth and all of nothing lie within it's depths; here I stand before it, a mere speck in space and time. What is my purpose? What is my meaning?
"What do I want?" I ask again.
The void is calm, knowing. I know what I want, I'm just afraid to admit it. What I'm really asking for is to be told what I want- to free myself of the burden of choice.
Images flood my mind as I fall to my knees, the memories of a life yet to be lived; children playing, their laughter echoing through the annals of my consciousness, a simple home with a well-trimmed lawn, friends gathered together under the shade of a nearby tree, talking and enjoying the warm weather. A woman, standing by me...
"Tell me what I want..." I whisper, more to myself this time than to the ever-present darkness.
Her name makes me tremble, the sound of it familiar, yet unheard. Every curve, every line of her form is etched