I heard a rustling sound from the corridor and glanced knowingly at Joe. “They’re back.” Together we flung open the door and fired our revolvers at the horde of beards gathering outside. We shot dead perhaps five of the beards and the rest scattered, but they would return before long, and the fact of the matter was there were more beards in the night than there were bullets in the drawer. I poured another glass of whiskey to steady my nerves. Joe flicked open his revolver and calmly slid another round into each chamber. Outside we could hear a dragging sound as the beards carried their fallen comrades away. They’d be back. They’d be back soon.
If you asked me, I would say the best thing about it is being able to see the stars again. But you can’t ask me. You’re dead. Everybody is dead, but it’s you I miss most.
Another thing I like is how quiet it is now. Although it can get to me at times. Sometimes I shout, or talk to myself. I used to sing but I’ve been forgetting things and I prefer not to be reminded about the gaps. I can’t remember what your face looked like. Somehow that hurts more than everything else we’ve lost.
I was at some work function a few years ago, and I didn’t know anyone. I’ve always been rubbish at starting conversations, so I was just listening to the jazz lounge music and staring out the window. One of the few people I know came up to me, saw me staring at this tall, glittering tower, said to me deadpan: “Thinking of buying it?”
Willingly or unwillingly, we are in an indifferent universe where the majority of influences on our lives are not only out of our control but were entirely arbitrary based on the circumstances of our births and the lives of our parents. We still have ultimate freedom, the freedom of a card player: to fold, or to play the cards we’ve received. As Camus said, suicide is the central problem in philosophy. But a game of cards can be won or lost; a life can only be lived, and the terms of that life are yours to define. We recognise that meaning is a value we assign to words and hang on objects; we should feel no despair in realising the profound meaningless of reality, because it is precisely that meaninglessness which affords us the freedom to define ourselves. It is in interpreting that we exist. Humans are a creative race, and creating meaning is the first of our great projects to create ourselves and our place in the vast indifferent universe. Humans were telling stories before they were building cities, before they were sowing fields.
Meaning is not inherent, but you can spend your time however you want. It’s what you choose to do and what you choose not to do that defines you. We are always making these choices.
Anyway, I stopped time, no, I transcended time. It held no meaning. Everything was happening in the same busy instant. But it was not the dizzying journey I had hoped for. It was like flipping through a book. I read the first page and the last page and skimmed the chapters, and that was when I realised that the only good thing about the whole lousy affair was watching it unfold. All I’d done was take away that rush of blackness we’d all been plunging into, and there was nothing more to learn, just a vague irritation with myself for spoiling it.
Two women came before King Solomon. The first woman said to him: “My Lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a child and a few days later, she gave birth too. No one else lives with us, only the two of us were there. This woman’s son died during the night, and she arose and took my son from my arms while I slept, leaving her dead son in his place. When I awoke, I believed my son was dead, but when I observed him later on I realised he was not the one to whom I had given birth.”
The second woman responded: “It is not so! It is my son who lives and yours who died!”
The first woman replied: “It is not so! Your son is the dead one and my son lives!
King Solomon watched them argue for a little while, and then spoke to the second woman.
“So, you claim that your son is the live one and hers the dead one.”
She agreed. He then spoke to the first woman.
“So, you claim that her son is the dead one and yours the live one.”
She, too, agreed.
King Solomon then spoke again: “Bring me a sword!”
He gave the sword to the second woman and said to her: “You may cut the child into two. However it will be her choice which half to take.”
The two women saw that he had ensured they would each recieve an equal portion of baby. They left and spread the word of his decision. All of Israel heard of his wise judgement and held him in great awe.
Today I learned that the drinking fountain on my level at work would be better titled “face hose”.
It was fun though.
The storm was so heavy last night. I couldn’t sleep. I got a glass of water and gazed out the window as the wind and rain beat against it. That was when I saw it.
At the edge of the field, a rain-soaked figure stood silently. A flash of lightning cast it into eerie relief for an instant. For a moment I thought it was a large, emaciated dog, standing on its hind legs and staring mutely towards the house, its shaggy fur hanging wetly. But then I realised the gaunt figure couldn’t be a dog at all.
Despite an odd feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, I went outside to see if they were alright, being out in elements on a bitter night like that. By the time I opened the door, the figure was gone. The next morning, with the storm clear, I walked up to the edge of the field to investigate and found muddy footprints. The rain had beaten at them and I was strangely unable to tell if they were left by a human or an animal.
The manager of the advertising company stood before her employeees.
“Alright everyone, we have a strange request.
Either it was a typo by our client, or else we’re going to have to be more creative and hard-working than ever before. I choose to believe it was not a typo.
No one has ever done anything like this.”
Several weeks later, the advertisements were displayed on the world’s first Tele-Bison. The applause was thunderous. The Tele-Bison was startled, and rushed into the night, never to be seen or heard from again.
Ze Frank finished The Show today.
It is very difficult to explain how this feels to someone who didn’t watch it.
One person on the forums said it was like all of us had been dating him. For 3 – 5 minutes a day we would listen and he would talk. He’d tell us his thoughts, his hopes, his fears. Things that inspired him and things that annoyed him. How he felt about people in Starbucks knowing it was his birthday. How he felt when random crap got him down.
The other amazing part of it was the community. Being a sports racer, being a fabuloso. Knowing that there are people out there who have been touched the same way you have. Knowing that the community would do things for its members, like when a guy went across continental USA using only sports racers for transport. Playing collaborative chess with all sorts of people and learning more about chess than I could digest. Playing in the ORG, ‘you are not alone’. Avoiding being a hard charger. Remembering the initial drive to show Ze to as many people as possible.
Wanting to find other sports racers in the future, just to share that feeling again.
Not wanting to let it go.
There always seems to be such a very big gap between the things that I daydream about and my everyday life. I do not have any real fear of the future, or of change, or of dying without achieving anything by which society will supposedly measure what sort of a person I was. My fears swirl around living a life in which my dreams are more pleasant than my reality. Where the what-ifs and the might-have-beens take up more space in my memory than the things I did. So I am afraid of dreaming about things that might never happen. Things like being an author, since it is so easy to imagine never ending up as an author. In some ways the issue is that all I’d have to do is do nothing and my life would end up living itself and being empty and meaningless.
I also wish I could fly.