‘Neptune’s penis is a trident-shaped missile’

College life has been interesting for me. I’d taken college prep classes in high school but they really hadn’t prepared me for the rigors of the university workload. My freshman year was filled with relentless study and requisite class attendance to take it all in. There really wasn’t time for anything else. Once I’d met some mandatory credit requirements of my major, I had a little space to breathe. It was in the middle of my sophomore year that l considered joining a fraternity.

There are a lot of them to choose from on campus but I didn’t know how I felt about the idea. I‘m not from a ‘silver spoon’ family. Most of the fraternities seem like glorified social clubs for rich people but you quickly learn that being a member has certain privileges. Both the faculty and other students treat you differently once you join and work your way up the ladder. It’s some measure of artificial respect that (as a socially awkward twenty year old) I could use to my advantage.

Like anything else, you have to pick the one that best suits you and hope you are accepted. Word gets around that you tried out and were rejected from certain houses; and that affects how the others view you. I didn’t want to waste my time trying to pledge the really exclusive ones. I didn’t have the money or ‘class’ to have much of a chance with them.

The only problem was that the ones I had a realistic chance of being accepted in, were ones I didn’t have any interest in joining. It was like the quote attributed to Will Rogers. “I wouldn’t be a member of any club that would have me.” I observed members from all the campus fraternities, hoping for insight into which one I might fit into. That really wasn’t much help. I was put off by what I saw in those guys. To put it plainly, they were jerks. I didn’t want to suck up to people I didn’t even like.

Weeks passed and I started to give up on the idea. It just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I even entertained the idea of starting my own campus support group for nerd students who were not in any fraternity or sorority. It seemed like a clever way around the hazing and sucking up that I wanted to avoid like the plague. I figured there were other outcasts like me who felt the same.

That night, I had a crazy dream. At least I assume it must have been crazy. Many of the details faded after I woke up but I was stuck with a very odd detail. “Neptune’s penis is a trident-shaped missile.”; a voice said. To be honest, it was about the only thing from the experience I retained, and that was purely due to it being such a bizarre thing.

I didn’t have any idea what it meant or what might’ve inspired it. It was a completely random sentence my mind dreamed made up. I grinned briefly about the strangeness of it, and then it quickly faded away. To be perfectly honest, the whole thing might’ve been lost forever, had it not been for an incredibly bizarre coincidence. One that came about a couple weeks later.

I was at a party. I didn’t realize it but a couple members of the most prestigious fraternity on campus were also in attendance. I hadn’t even considered pledging to them. Their members were from millionaire families and political dynasties. It was way too blue for my blood. One of them asked if I’d ever considered
pledging their organization. It was embarrassing but I admitted that I hadn’t. To my surprise, they expressed sincere interest in me. I didn’t even think they knew who I was. According to them, I had been on their radar for some time.

It was all very strange. In just a matter of a few minutes, I found myself at the most exclusive frat house on campus, talking with senior members as if I had some chance of being accepted. They were notorious for turning down varsity team players and academic marvels because their families were not wealthy or ‘connected’ enough. Frankly I knew I didn’t stand a chance at being let in and wondered why they were wasting their time on me. It was an exercise in futility. Still, when opportunity like that knocks, you generally answer, even if you are convinced they are at the wrong house.

They assured me that I possessed several admirable qualities that overshadowed my academic and social status but I couldn’t imagine what they might be at the time. My pledge sponsors led me through a heavily guarded hallway and down a maze of corridors until I came to a golden door with a sliding security panel in the middle of it. My sponsor assured me that very few people had ever been that deep into the building. They were going to ask me for a pass phrase at the checkpoint. If they liked my answer, I would be permitted through the door and welcomed into the Alpha Omega house.

I gotta tell you, I was incredibly nervous. It was very intimidating. I wasn’t prepared for the ‘cloak and dagger’ secret society stuff. My mind raced. What was the pass phrase? I had no idea. Any second, the sliding door would open and I’d be put to the test. My mind raced. If there was an actual answer, I didn’t have a clue but if it was all a test of how I performed under theoretical pressure, I would just offer up something and hope it suited the doorman.

My pledge sponsor stood behind me. I stepped toward the secret door and raised my hand to lightly rap on it. My mind raced. What would I say? I still had no idea but hesitancy was never going to look good to the deciding parties. They were surely looking for decisive men. My thoughts were still blank. Apprehension grew. I had initiated the process with no prepared statement for the Alpha Omega guardian on the other side. Surely that would look worse than just standing there. Inside I was screaming while trying to maintain an outward demeanor of calm. I wasn’t sure if my facade was convincing or not.

The door slid open. A voice from the other side said: “Humble pledge to the great house of Alpha Omega: What is the passphrase?”

“Neptune’s penis is a trident-shaped missile.”; I spoke as clearly as I could muster without hesitation. There was a pregnant pause and dead silence from the other side of the door. I stood there motionless and just looked at the closed sliding panel. I didn’t dare turn around to gauge the expression of my pledge sponsor. I immediately regretted uttering that ridiculous statement for such a solemn occasion but It was the only thing I could come up with at the moment. Fortunately I heard muffled chuckling on the other side of the gateway. Then laughter. Then my sponsor directly behind me laughed. It seemed like a good sign. I heard the sound of a sliding bolt being retracted. The door opened. I was in.

As the newest member of the fraternity, I was sworn to absolute secrecy about the identities of the members and our activities. I’d love to share numerous things but to remain a member in good standing, I must abstain. I don’t know if there is an absolute wrong answer to the passphrase question, but if you are able to make the gatekeeper laugh, I believe you are a shoe-in. That’s a trait they really value. Good luck future pledges to Alpha Omega.

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Posted in Controversial topics, Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Humor, Jokes, Mystery, Sarcasm, Science Fiction, Thought provoking, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘Desire’

“It’s not inflammatory rhetoric or exaggeration to state that the overwhelming majority of problems with humanity come down to our obsession with lust and mating. Sexual assaults, overcrowding, famine, disease, war, pollution, and the exhaustion of natural resources are all related to primal, emotional behavior. Those significant issues are directly linked to our inborn need to reproduce. Just think how much more progress our society could achieve without these base urges, dragging us down.”

The audience remained silent. It’s not that they didn’t agree with the speaker, as a matter on principle. It was widely accepted as fact but recognizing the negative impact of human desire was a far cry from actually doing something about it. To take that beloved feeling away was to remove a large portion of what we are as human beings. It was perhaps a bridge too far for many. Just the thought of a loveless existence filled them with dismay but this natural reaction was short lived.

Over time, the heretical message was repeated often enough that it started to take hold with a certain segment of the population. The idea resonated with a world tired of the negative aspects of human desire. Too many people. Rape. Unwanted children. Hunger, disease, famine. Once emotion was removed from the equation, it all seemed very clear. The carnal passion for mating and competing for the most desirable partner was largely responsible for all those maladies and countless others. The public was slowly being convinced to curb their intimate activities and deliberate efforts to reproduce. The concept of love was dying.

As always, science produced ‘the answer’. Technically it had existed for years but humanity had been too addicted to the opiate or passion to consider it beforehand. Only with time to acclimate to the idea of a desire-less world did the ‘no love’ movement gain momentum. In a stunning example of universal cooperation, every country on Earth made taking the newly synthesized ‘anti-desire pills’, mandatory. With unanimous peer pressure from the initiated and a constant barrage of ugly reminders of the results of passion ruling the heart, it wasn’t even necessary to force the people to accept it. They took their pills and slowly morphed into an emotionless society. The idea of resistance to this radical shift in thinking was over before it even began.

For many years, reproduction was highly regulated and controlled by the same organization that pitched the idea of celibacy and emotional restraint. Suggestive music and adult themed movies were banned. Relationships and intimacy were strongly discouraged. Murder rates went down as a result of ‘the pill’. Wars were few and far between. Rape and unplanned pregnancy were virtually nonexistent. By the numbers, the anti-desire initiative was wildly effective. Early adopters helped bring the reluctant in line by a combination of shame and social intimidation. Humanity had finally found a blueprint for peace; and all it had to do was stifle and suppress its most primal, natural instinct.

Along the way to this emotionless utopia, an underground resistance movement started to coalesce. They were a direct result of the rebellion to our natural instincts being so suppressed. The members of this secret cabal hid their identities from a very disapproving public and stopped taking their mandatory ‘medicine’. They congregated in the shadows and discussed possible ways of stimulating healthy debate on the loss of our human sexuality. They sought a means to shake the drugged masses out of their sterile, loveless utopia. Naturally, the status quo reacted with a fierce level of venom once they found out about the mounting opposition to their global authority. The anarchist, ‘pro-sex’ rebellion forming in the fringes of society threatened to destroy their hard-won, neutered peace.

The more people listened, the more their seditious message spread. Fewer people took their pills. As before, the pregnancy rate spiked. Wars broke out while violence and assaults spiraled. Proponents of maintaining the current system pointed to those troubling statistics as proof of the chaos that human desire caused. On paper, there was unanimous validation for taking the anti-desire hormone regimen. Proof of the destructiveness of emotion was ironclad and indisputable but the cold, hard facts failed to take into consideration the deeper, emotional context. It was part of our DNA to seek love and pair-bonding.

Just as it had begin, the worldwide anti-desire movement collapsed on itself. To seek an intimate alliance with another human being is built into who we are. Humanity craved the tantalizing chaos of love and lust. With that behavior comes a whole host of troubling issues but to suppress our nature is to throw the baby out with the bath water. The majority realized that peace wasn’t worth the emotionless sterility the anti-desire pill caused. Once society witnessed the complex balance of joy and pain which comes from regular human relationships, more and more ‘opted out’. They accepted the possibility of experiencing lows, for the reward of potential highs.

Predictably, there was considerable resistance to ‘the resistance’. World authorities sought peace and order, not potential happiness, because it often came with pain and rejection. It was much easier to maintain a loveless societal flatline than the risk of feeling greater things. The highs were too high and the lows were disappointing and intolerable. Having unprecedented law and order for a long period seemed like it was the mark of great progress. Others felt it was infinitely better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

Eventually, colonies formed across the world of those who wanted to keep the bland security which the anti-desire pill afforded. Theirs was a peaceful, loveless existence that suited their personal preferences. They were happy with the benefits of emotional regulation and desire suppression. For them, the positives outweighed the negatives. It boiled down to a fundamental difference in how some people think.

For the gamblers and risk takers on the other hand, they cast aside the security of a loveless, peaceful utopia, in favor of greater potential rewards and deeper consequences. It was a philosophical trade off. Both schools of thought felt that theirs was the superior ecosystem and way of life (and for each of them, they were right). The divided arrangement was the best type of freedom and liberty for all involved.

Desire and potential love for those who sought it.

Peace and security for those who preferred it.

As it became clear, they realized they couldn’t have their cake, and eat it too.

Posted in Controversial topics, Different Perspectives, Dystopia themes, fantasy, Fiction Stories, Future technology, Romance, Science Fiction, Technology ran amuck, Thought provoking, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Someone kept calling, and it was ‘me’

—————
The phone rang. There was no caller ID so I almost let it go to voice mail. I expected it to be a sales call. On a lark, I answered it just to give them a hard time about whatever unwanted items or service they were offering. Instead of that, I received a very sobering wake-up call.

“Get out of there immediately!”; The unknown caller blurted out. His out-of-breath delivery suggested an emotional investment in my well-being. I didn’t expect that at all.

The voice was oddly familiar but the severity of his barked command was too distracting for me to focus on the message itself. “Who IS this?”; I demanded tersely. The substance of the call, or how seriously I took it, depended wholeheartedly on finding out who was yelling at me.

“Never mind that! You don’t have time to get wrapped up in anything at the moment. I’ll explain later! Just leave the house IMMEDIATELY. Take the back door. NOW. Hurry!”

I wasn’t apt to take unsolicited advice or blind marching orders from random strangers but there was a genuine authority in his voice. I decided to take it seriously. I picked up my wallet and darted out the back door, just as I had been instructed. I felt foolish at the time but in hindsight, I’m glad I did.

As I was scurrying away from the back door like an obedient dog, it occurred to me that the whole thing might have been a clever ruse to get me out of the house. I was acting at the direction of an anonymous caller who conveniently ‘knew’ something was about to happen. Stranger still, he just happened to have my phone number and wanted to reach out and ‘warn’ me. I was about to dial the police with my suspicions when I heard sirens in the distance. I hadn’t even pressed send! Miraculously, the ‘cavalry’ was already on the way. At that instant, my phone buzzed in my hand again.

“What did I tell you? Keep walking and don’t stop! Very bad individuals are on the way to the house. You need to be as far away as possible when they arrive.”

“Are you in my house right now?”; I demanded. “The police are nearly there, buddy. You’d better clear out before they get inside.”

The caller snorted with impatience. “There’s about to be a huge explosion. Why would I be inside for that? You need to be prepared for it. Crouch down and shield your ears. I’m serious as a heart attack about this. Its not a joke. It’s going off in three, two, on…..” BOOM!

As if on queue, my house blew up with the dramatic violence of a blockbuster action movie. It was as if a bomb went off. The percussive wave knocked me to my knees from a quarter mile away. The sirens were blaring even louder than before and emergency vehicles were in the process of pulling up to the leveled ruins.

I saw the twisted, smoldering remnant of my once-beloved home; and contemplated what the hell had just happened. I‘d received a strange phone call. Against my better judgment I heeded the cryptic warning from it. Three minutes later my property was a charred crime scene. I was certain that I would be the prime suspect in its demise.

“My phone buzzed again but this time I completely ignored it. I was too dazed and stunned to answer. I began walking back home to identify myself to the authorities when the text tone dinged. In all of the confusion I couldn’t understand what I saw on the screen. It said the text came FROM my number, and was sent TO my number.

“Hey! Are you alright? Do NOT go back there. Do you hear me? Those people aren’t Fire & Rescue OR the police. Right now they are sifting through the wreckage looking to find your body. Here’s the thing, they want to confirm you died in the blast because it suits their purpose. If you show yourself, they will KILL YOU because they will know you didn’t die. Do you understand?”

Everything was crazy and upside down all of a sudden. Nothing made any sense. This mystery individual just popped into my life and three minutes later I was in the center of some violent espionage plot. No one would want to kill me. I knew that I wasn’t important enough to draw that sort of reaction from ANYONE. I’m just an average guy.

I immediately began to suspect the caller was actually the one trying to kill me. For fairly obvious reasons, I felt much safer revealing myself to dozens of emergency personnel congregated at my property than to the owner of the mystery voice on my phone who’d warned me. Was he really trying to convince me they were all in on some conspiracy and HE was my real ally? All the official vehicles and government uniforms made the idea seem preposterous.

The text dinged again. Unlike a phone call, it was harder to ignore.

“Stop walking toward them, now!”; he demanded in frustration. “If I was out to get you in ANY way, I would have just let you stay in the house, right? Trust me here. I have an important reason to protect you. Those people in the emergency suits do NOT have your best interests or welfare in mind. I do.”

The second text had the desired effect. I stopped dead in my tracks to weigh the pros and cons of his common sense explanation. He was absolutely right that I would be dead if he hadn’t warned me but I was still highly suspicious. I didn’t feel I was important enough to merit all of the danger and intrigue I was being subjected to. Maybe it was all a bizarre ruse to build trust in him. Some criminals do opposite things like that for the ‘long con’.

My phone rang again. “Get in the damn bushes! Now! They will see you, you dolt!”; He snarled furiously. It will take them hours to sift through all that smoking debris. That gives you time to get far away from them. That is if you don’t get yourself shot standing around with a huge target on your back a hundred yards from the scene. They want you D E A D. Have you ever seen paramedics or firemen wear guns in the job? Look at the guy in the fire suit standing in your driveway. He’s got an AK over his shoulder, right?”

I had to admit the caller was right about that. Sheepishly I muttered an affirmative. It definitely wasn’t standard uniform issue for EMS staff. I also realized they weren’t behaving like trained professionals looking to save lives. (Lives like mine.) They were acting very odd.

“Do you think it would be wise to enter a fire with a loaded rifle on your back? Noooo! They want to shoot you, dead! Trust me. Back away slowly and walk through the woods until you reach Dortmund road. Try to thumb a ride into town. You’ll have to sleep on a park bench or something until daylight. Then go to the branch bank across the street as soon as it opens. I’ve set aside a nest egg for you. Ask for Mort. He’ll know what to do.”

“Just who are you and why is all this happening to me?”; I demanded. There was a long pause on the line. My unknown informant fell quiet all of a sudden. The incredibly familiar cadence of his voice resonated in my head but I still couldn’t place him. It was driving me crazy. His identity was on the tip of my tongue but my brain just wouldn’t let me figure it out because the real truth defied logic.

“If you think about it a few minutes, I know you’ll be able to figure it out.”; He suggested. “Forget what’s possible and just spit out who you think I sound like.”; He coaxed.

“You sound… like me.”; I blurted out. “I know that’s a crazy thing to say and it can’t be true but it’s like hearing recordings of my own voice I’ve never heard before. We really have similar voices.”

“Why couldn’t I be you?”; The voice on the other end of the line inquired. It was such a preposterous question I struggled to even respond to it at first.

“Because I’m… ‘me’.”; I blurted out. “It goes without saying. Just drop the nonsense and tell me the truth. Who the hell are you?”

“I’m you, John. I really am. Just three days from your time. I know it’s hard to accept but it’s absolutely true. I was hesitant to tell you before because I didn’t want to confuse you when it was important that you get out of the house and run far away. I’ve already been through everything you are going through right now. Every single one of those things, but I didn’t have the benefit of someone to call and warn me of what was about to go down.

I, er ‘we’ kinda stumbled our way through it the first time but now both versions of us are trapped in a tethered time loop. We were never meant to escape that gas explosion alive. Those ‘people’ at the house are ‘cleaners’ who correct time line inconsistencies and screw ups. I got lucky. I thought it was raining and the car windows were down. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this confusing conversation.”

“But they were not down.”; I corrected with marked skepticism. I heard the weather forecast on the radio on the way home and rolled them up before I ever went inside.”

“The ‘cleaners’ added that to your experience of those events.”; He clarified. “We were supposed to die in that explosion! When I managed to escape by spontaneously running outside to roll up the windows a moment before the gas line blew up, it messed up the schedule of events for them. ‘They’ added the newscast to your version of the circuit so you’d stay inside and die in the blast. It was a way for them to ‘correct’ things and end the fragmentation.”

I’d definitely be blown to pieces if I hadn’t followed his urgent insistence but none of what he said made any sense. How could an earlier version of myself warn me of anything? Just the thought made my head swim but I prodded him to explain anyway.

My future-self informant paused to recollect. “After I ran out to close the car windows, the house exploded and I was blown clear of the debris. I awoke behind the holly bushes after the ‘clean-up crew’ arrived. Just as I was about to call to them for help, I overheard one of them say they had to find and ‘finish me off’, quickly. That shut me up! My accidental survival caused a rift in time and they had to reset things to insure when the cycle started over, YOU stayed inside and died in the blast.”

I shuddered at his dreadful explanation. If he was telling the truth, (and I had no reason to doubt him anymore), then forces beyond ‘our’ comprehension wanted ‘us’ dead. Worse than that, it wasn’t even based on malice I might be able to negotiate with them over. It was all part of maintaining some pragmatic ‘grand design’. The whole gloomy scenario was devastating. The future ‘me’ continued.

“They knew I’d somehow survived because things were still ‘out of order’. It’s their job to put everything back on schedule.”

I asked ‘me’ how he’d managed to warn me through the hazy labyrinth of disjointed time loops.

“One of them was using this electric gizmo like a remote control to scan the area. At least that’s what it seemed like it was being using it for. They aren’t human, you know. They just have a humanoid appearance to blend in so they can ‘fix mistakes’. The gizmo holder set it down and I snatched it when he walked away. I figured it might prove useful. Then I booked it out of there. After fooling around with it for a while, I figured out how to interfere with details in the loop. No doubt they’d love to get it back. It can literally control small periods of time.”

I marveled at the baffling chain of events I was embroiled in. What a nightmarish train wreck. Internally I was proud of my future self for his initiative and ingenuity. He made me proud to be me but the knowledge ‘they’ wanted to erase of our mutual future filled me with a gnawing sense of fear and dread. I asked ‘future me’ (or F.M.) if we could meet in person to put ‘our’ collective heads together. He laughed at my naïveté.

“There’s only one of us. You know that, right? You’re just talking to a later version of yourself through a fragmented timeline portal which shouldn’t even be. The device I stole from them allows me to send you ‘a message in a bottle’, via our phone. It’s amazing I can call your version of our cell phone. It’s only a matter of time before they realize I have this thing and trace it back to me through some form of triangulation. I may lose contact with you. If so, you’re on your own. Good luck to, ummm… ‘earlier me’. They want to erase all of this as if it never was. They want to smooth out the wrinkle in time that I caused by getting one of us back into that house to die. I don’t know about you but I wasn’t ready to expire. We can fight this thing.”

“Do you really think so?”; I asked skeptically. “They have powers and knowledge that we do not possess. We didn’t even know ‘they’ exist until you stumbled upon them. How can any human expect to compete with beings carrying out a grand, unknown design to maintain the singular, unified timeline?”

“Great pep talk there, Junior.”; My future self deadpanned. “I feel so much better now.”

Both of us started laughing at our own unique sense of sarcasm.

“What if you used that device to go back to the day before the explosion and fix the gas leak so there would be no need for them to undo any of this? Maybe they’ll just allow us to carry on, once the preceding cause of the echo is eliminated.”

There was silence on the other end. For a moment I was afraid they’d gotten to him like he mentioned. Finally he spoke.

“That’s actually a very good idea. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?”

“Technically you just did.”; I offered. Both of us laughed again with an identical cadence you’d expect from two versions of the same person. He explained he was still figuring out how the device worked and how to operate it. I told him to stop making excuses and get to work.

“If I can figure out how to do that, and that’s a big ‘IF’, both of ‘us’ will be eliminated and an earlier version of ourselves will have to stop the gas leak, WITHOUT the benefit of the knowledge of all these things we just discussed. How can we steer an ‘even earlier us’ to save himself from their time line coverup?”

I thought long and hard about it. “Can you send a text message or email to ‘even earlier him’ warning that version of ourselves, without going into too much detail? You know as well as I do, ‘we’ would never accept it without evidence, or without actually living through the gas explosion and coming to terms with what’s really going on. It’s just got to be convincing enough that ‘he’ attends to the gas leak.”

‘F.M.’ was quiet again. “How about if I use the time displacement device to back up this whole conversation and record it on my phone? I’ll capture the conversation at the moment we start talking about it. From that recording, I can share the audio file with earlier us, and he can hear the full explanation for himself.”

I agreed it might work, especially if he explained the nature of things on the recording. In the end, the only thing that mattered was for ‘E.M.’ to have the gas leak fixed. It wouldn’t matter if he believed the rest of it. Especially since everything beyond that point would change after he followed through. I felt like it was a solid plan. It was then that ‘F.M.’ admitted we were already on the second cycle of the conversation and he’d gotten it all recorded that time. Both of us wished our (even earlier self) good luck in undoing the disaster we were tangled up in.

————————

The following bizarre transcript was sent to me in a large audio file, via a link in an email. At first I thought it was a spoofing or phishing scam but when I sat down and listened to the recording, it absolutely sounded like me. (Both sides of the conversation.) It was uncanny, really.

Of course I didn’t believe a single word of the preposterous scenario. It was the stuff of utter lunacy but the sheer volume of effort it took to record long periods of my speaking voice to fabricate the complicated ‘testimony’ was staggering. I was thoroughly impressed by ‘their’ noteworthy effort. I wondered what end the hoaxers hoped to gain from such a complex forgery and crazy tale. It’s almost always about stealing someone’s money but I really don’t have much to steal.

Out of whimsical curiosity, I had my gas lines checked anyway. Now I’m certain it was only a ridiculous coincidence but they did find a serious gas leak in my oven! Had I not acted on that irrational curiosity, the natural gas company employee said it could have proven fatal. As a person of both logic and science however, I can tell you the bizarre email I received from ‘future self one’ was complete hogwash.

I know the recording is fabricated for unknown nefarious purposes but there’s still a small part of me that wonders about it. Do I owe ‘future self one’ (and two) my (literal) undying gratitude for detailing their efforts to save me from ‘them’? (Whoever they are).

I guess I’ll never know the real truth unless I see EMT’s nearby with AR’s over their shoulders.

Posted in creepy, Different Perspectives, fantasy, Fiction Stories, Future technology, Horror, Macabre, Murder, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Technology ran amuck, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘I bought a flat panel TV from a salvage store’

I’d never heard of the brand before but it was cheap and I needed one. I assumed they were all made in the same Chinese factory anyway. It was shrink wrapped to protect the screen and had no manual but something about it appealed to me. It seemed ‘different’, somehow. I told the staff I wanted it. They put it on a rolling cart and carried it out to my car. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the strange inputs on the back until I got home. Then I understood why it was so cheap compared to others they had with the same screen size. It was probably a store return from someone who didn’t know what to do with it.

I figured the odd ports were for a newer technology I wasn’t familiar with. Instead of returning it like the previous owner had, I made a mental note to take a photo of the back panel. If I could find the correct adaptors to hook it up to my older AV system, I’d be way ahead of the tech curve. That was always the problem with new electronics. They change the connectors.

To my amazement, there was programming on the screen even though I hadn’t set the WiFi up yet. I wasn’t sure if I was pulling in local ‘on air’ free broadcasts or if it had somehow set itself up automatically. If so, that was a little bit alarming. I hadn’t entered my password or login credentials. I’d just pressed the power button and it was instantly up and running. Doing the setup is always a pain on new devices (so it was an unexpected perk to avoid the headache) but I was still freaked out that it could do all that without my help.

Did the new TV communicate with my modem and router to bypass the security protocols? If so, how did my internet equipment know the new monitor was ‘ok’ to communicate with? My head swam with crazy theories. Perhaps it was so advanced that all of my devices were already in full communication when I carried it into the house. If my internet firewall recognized the phone in my pocket as ‘me’, it might have sensed it was ok to trust the new device since I brought it in. Amazing.

I didn’t have much time to dwell on it though. The programming on every channel was beyond strange. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. It certainly wasn’t local public broadcasts. That much was for certain. While flipping through the myriad of ‘choices’, I failed to find anything even remotely familiar or recognizable.

I stopped trying to explain where the bizarre content came from anymore. That was irrelevant. The disturbing visuals on the screen continued to come, and they filled me with a deepening sense of dread which I couldn’t shake. It was as hypnotizing as it was mortifying. For lack of a better term, I was glued to a consuming parade of personal ‘train wrecks’ and humanitarian catastrophes.

The footage on every channel was like ‘faces of death’ non-stop reality programming. The gritty visuals were painful to watch, yet I couldn’t force myself to avert my eyes. Even when I mustered the strength to turn the channel, it was just more of the same grizzly violence and carnal gore. War. Suicides. Automobile accidents. Natural disasters. Wild animal attacks. Executions. It was all there to witness in vivid, blood red color. It was an ugly collection of concentrated pain.

There weren’t any commercials or station breaks. There were no network watermarks on the side of the screen either. It was awkward and surreal. Channel after channel of inhumane atrocities flashed in front of my unblinking eyes and leached into my brain like a deadly drug. It was a constant stream of raw negativity that I wanted to recoil in horror from but couldn’t.

Somehow I managed to look down at my watch and did a double take. At first I assumed it was broken but I looked past the flickering carnage and saw the unmistakable darkness outside my window. 6 hours of my life had simply evaporated. I’d been entranced by bloody mayhem and unapologetic violence to the exclusion of all else, shown in every shade of the rainbow.

The shock of lost time was enough to temporarily break the hold it had on me. I reached for the remote to shut it off. I had to act fast before I was reluctantly drawn back into the addictive oblivion of the mystery footage. I pressed the power button. Nothing. The visceral bloodletting continued on, unabated. I set the remote down. They always provide those cheap, ‘no name’ batteries that are almost dead when you get them. I’d have to turn the TV off.. manually…

Another 4 hours transpired in zombified trance. My eyes watered and my throat grew parched. I’d witnessed more evil and unnatural death that a person should see in 20 jaded lifetimes. I leaned forward and pressed the physical button on the front bezel. It too failed to shut off the unit. Part of me didn’t care at all. I didn’t mind if I never ate again, or if I watched it all day and lost my job. I was transfixed on the eternal glow of the 50” screen in front of me, with an unknown broadcast source.

With the remote and manual button not working, I struggled to get up and unplug it from the wall. It wasn’t easy to tear myself away from it but I felt as if the constant stream of dark atrocities was physically draining me of life. To my dismay, the plug wouldn’t come out of the socket. A closer inspection of the receptacle and power cord revealed they had ‘melted’ into an organic-looking solid connection! Stranger than that, all of my HDMI and AV cables were also joined with the unknown ports on the back of the unit. It was like vines genetically spliced to their mates.

I couldn’t begin to explain the unnatural technology fusion that had occurred but my new flat panel didn’t want to be disconnected. That much was obvious. It was some kind of life form and it was feeding off of my bewitched attention. Like a hard slap on the face, realizing the depth of what was going on served as a much needed, sobering influence. It did no good to tug on the cords. They were permanently fused together.

Knowing that all living creatures have defense mechanisms in place to protect them from harm, I didn’t waste time trying to sever the cords or cables with a knife or scissors. That would probably result in some serious retaliation on it’s part. I had no idea what it could or couldn’t do, but I wasn’t taking any unnecessary chances. It had already managed to hypnotized me for 18 hours straight while I neither ate, drank, or slept. It had a deeply powerful sense of attraction. I went to do an internet search about it. I figured there might be others who experienced this dark phenomenon.

That’s when I noticed my laptop looked very strange. There was something odd about it which I couldn’t place. It looked ‘shinier’ than before. As a matter of fact, it looked ‘newer than new’. It positively glowed on my desk. I went to wake it up but stopped myself at the last second. Instead, I crouched down and looked behind the desk at the outlet it was plugged into. I couldn’t believe it. The damn thing was fused to wall receptacle, just like the new flat panel downstairs! Somehow it had ‘infected’ my computer too.

I raced upstairs to inspect the bedroom TV. It was permanently fused together and the screen displayed the same cavalcade of depressing carnage. All throughout my house, every piece of electronics and appliances I owned was physically joined to a power source. Even the toaster was connected! I had an old tube TV in the basement. It still worked but it was so outdated that I just stored it on a pile of unused things until I could haul it to the dump. I was curious to see if it was unmolested.

On the wall there was a foreign electrical tether extended from a nearby outlet and stretched across the floor like an ambitious vine. It was slowly snaking it’s way toward the old TV to complete the circuit. As soon as the umbilicus could reach the power cord, it would be fused too. To say I was in a crisis would be an understatement. Some creepy alien entity was slowly taking over my home I’d brought it inside, just like an electric Trojan horse. The unit at the salvage store was basically just a disguised ‘seed’. Like a fool I carried it home and planted it.

I wanted to call the store to warn them, or summon the police to witness the creepy invasion I had triggered but even my home phone line was fused to the jack. My cell was almost dead too but I couldn’t very well plug it up to recharge it. I tossed it down in disgust and grabbed my car keys. I had to get out of the house before the TV, stereo, or my computer lured me back to the zombified trance I’d narrowly detached from.

Predictably, my escape was interrupted. In the hallway by the front door was the main household fuse panel. It’s door was wide open. Sticking out of it was a large 220 volt electrical line that certainly didn’t exist before. I tried to imagine what the electrical entity was trying to merge with now. The dryer was in another part of the house and I couldn’t think of anything else that used a power line that thick. Then the chilling reality dawned on me. This unnatural tether was intended to fuse with me! I backed up slowly and sought another escape route out of the house. In desperation I ended up climbing out a window.

At that point I was running on pure instinct. I didn’t even think of all the electrical lines in the car. I just got in and turned the key. My doors locked on me and the radio started blaring. It started playing the most caustic, malevolent music I’d ever heard. I tried to open the door but the handle wouldn’t work and my seatbelt had me fully restrained. My mind fought but the music started drawing me in. The vicious pattern of the rhythms and blast beats started to be more appealing. With each passing moment, I resisted less, and was starting to enjoy the sonic brutality. Just like the deadly influx of carbon monoxide into the bloodstream, I was rapidly being overtaken by the influence of ‘it’. Every passing moment made it exponentially harder to fight.

In a final act of resistance, I shouted “Nooooooo!” above the din of the Death Metal and reached for my pocket knife. I sliced the seatbelt strap and managed to get out of it. The heat came on inside the car. It was already a hot summer day and with the windows rolled up, the inside temperature was well over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Sweat boiled out of my pores and down my face. The unknown electrical-based organism was punishing me for resisting it. The window switch wouldn’t work either but I had another, emergency solution. I jammed my knife savagely into the canvas of the convertible top and sliced hard. I managed to escape my would-be tomb, via internal ‘cesarean section’.

I don’t know how far the infection has spread beyond my house but I’ve managed to find an uninfected computer at an Internet cafe, downtown. I must hurry and detail the horrors of this bizarre epidemic and warn the unsuspecting public before it’s too late for all of us. I believe this horrific thing can be defeated but the easiest way is just to avoid the infection in the first place. Be careful what you buy and plug into your home. Time is of the essence. I’m asking for some brave volunteers to go with me back to my home and torch the place before it spreads to an area that can’t easily be contained. Who is with me in this deadly mission?

Posted in creepy, Different Perspectives, fantasy, Fiction Stories, Horror, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Technology ran amuck, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘The carrot and the stick’

I couldn’t really tell you the exact moment we noticed the hiss. It was somewhere around the time my family moved into a rundown apartment on the South side. The previous tenants left some boxes in their haste to avoid paying the rent. Most of it was worthless junk but being the sort of enterprising folks who utilize ‘found treasure’, we kept some of it. We were almost penniless and every little bit helped. One of those items was a small plastic doll.

It was the sort of cheap ‘Barbie’ knockoff you’d see in a dollar store clearance aisle. My little sister played with that ugly hunk of rubber more than any other toy she ever had. She eventually developed an unhealthy fixation on it but just like a child’s security blanket, it wasn’t going to be easy to separate her from it. Around that time we first noticed a very creepy, irregular hiss in the apartment.

It always seemed to be coming from my sister’s bedroom but we could never locate the source of it. No one made the connection with the doll because it wasn’t the sort of child’s toy which came with a sound module. It was too cheaply made for that; and it’s not like it was some evil looking ventriloquist dummy or a voodoo doll either. It wasn’t threatening at all. It was just an ordinary looking girl’s ‘fashion’ toy.

A few times my mother tried to toss it into the trash but Tracey threw a hissy fit once she noticed it missing. Strangely, Tracey found it herself buried deeply in the garbage. How she knew to look there, we didn’t know. Mom quickly learned ‘Shelly’ was off limits to her spring cleaning.

The three of us made do with what ever we could. Money was very tight for a mother and two daughters on a single parent income. I wasn’t old enough to work and Mom was killing herself slowly at a thankless, low paying factory job. Honestly, the mysterious noise wasn’t in our top 100 worries. Having enough to eat far outweighed some unexplained sound. We just shrugged it off as a bad plumbing or flooring quirk of our dilapidated apartment building.

Tracey had been telling us the doll ‘spoke to her’ all along but we just nodded dismissively. “That’s what they do.”; We assured her. Neither of us dreamed she was serious. We chalked it up to the vivid imagination of an 8 year old girl with a shortage of fun things to play with. One day I heard it again and decided to investigate a little deeper into what was causing it.

My sister was on the floor with her ‘friend’ against her ear like it was a telephone receiver. Only then did I finally realize where the unexplained noise was coming from. I moved a little closer to confirm my suspicions but it stopped abruptly. I don’t think Tracey heard me enter the room but she turned around to face me like she knew I was there. It was like the damn doll had tipped her off!

“Does Shelly always make that odd hissing noise when you squeeze it?”; I asked. I assumed it was caused by trapped air escaping through the ‘mouth’. Only later did I realize it was a solid piece of molded rubber. Tracey seemed a little nervous by my question. I wasn’t sure why she reacted that way but I figured it out by what she said next.

“Shelly was just telling me about the previous family who lived here. They were ‘bad’ people. They did things that would get them in deep trouble with the police. Shelly made them move far, far away so they wouldn’t hurt anyone else, ever again.”

Her matter-of-fact tone worried me. It was delivered with the devout sincerity of a true believer in the magic of a talking doll. I had no doubt she felt she was telling the truth but some of that could be chalked up to a child’s tenuous grasp of reality. They are quick to accept fairy tales as truth but blind acceptance in fantasy erodes later with the age of reason. Regardless of my greater number of life experiences, I couldn’t explain how Tracey knew the discarded ‘barbie’ was in the trash, or what caused the strange hissing.

In an effort to engage my sister’s logical thinking, I asked if Shelly might ‘tell’ me things too. Tracey looked concerned, as if my question was inherently dangerous to even consider. She reacted as if I had broached a deep, thought provoking topic. Without asking, I picked up her little ‘friend’ and put it up to my ear, the same way she’d been ‘listening’ earlier. Tracey almost choked. Presumably the reaction was from me picking up ‘Shelly’.

I expected to hear a louder version of the nondescript ‘radio-static I’d heard earlier but it wasn’t like that at all. I can’t describe my frenzied state of mind when I realized it was actually saying things; and not just prerecorded phrases. It was really talking! I dropped the cursed thing like a hot potato burning my hands. Tracey was visibly shaken but I could tell she wasn’t concerned about her doll. She was concerned about how dropping it might affect me!

“You should be more careful sis. Shelly doesn’t like to be dropped. You wouldn’t want her to get mad. She can do ‘things’. Powerful things.”

I backed away slowly. I had to regroup and figure out how to convince our mother that Tracey’s innocent looking toy was somehow possessed by a malevolent spirit. It wasn’t going to be easy. Who would believe such a bizarre thing? It took everything I had to not grab it and throw it out the window but I knew Tracey was totally bewitched by it. I had to find a way to break it’s tight little spell on her. Until then, I had to pretend to be on board with the spiritual seduction of my little sister. I didn’t want to think what unknown force was inhabiting that inanimate slab of rubberized plastic.

Predictably, our Mom only heard Tracey’s part of the conversation at first. We ‘see’ and hear what we want to see and hear. Then Mom thought Tracey was somehow doing both parts of the conversation. It was a subtle form of denial because to believe such a thing is inviting madness. Eventually she had to accept it. Just like me, Mom wanted to snatch up the doll and destroy it in the incinerator but I convinced her that Tracey would have another meltdown. We needed to play it smart.

We had to rationalize with her about things until she could see clearly for herself. If we went at it directly, it would backfire and we’d also bear the wrath of the doll. There was no telling what that might entail but the disappearance of the previous tenants suggested crossing ‘Shelly’ was a very dangerous proposition. There had to be a way to pry it and its consuming influence away from Tracey without all of us paying in unmentionable ways.

First, we approached Tracey about it in a non confrontational, non threatening way. Her guard would ordinary be way up; and whatever thing inhabited the doll would also suspect a separation plot from us.
We asked if Shelly would let us know if there was going to be bad weather anytime soon. Unexpectedly, Tracey informed us via her ‘window into the future’ that “a strong thunderstorm was immanent”.

Sure enough, only a few minutes later the storm started and it was a doozy. My Mom and I realized that ‘it’ had a real grasp of future events. As a clairvoyant entity (among other frightened possibilities), it didn’t pay to underestimate the dark powers it obviously had. Tracey relayed a number of messages and warnings from her unidentified rubber friend. We didn’t dare cross it, for fear of finding ourselves in a similar fate to that of our apartment predecessors.

Over the next few weeks, we were notified about car accidents nearby, stock market fluctuations, crimes in progress, and a number of financial investment opportunities. Nervously at first, we heeded the advice of a possessed dime store doll. My mom had squirreled away a small nest-egg for monetary emergencies. Based on the impressive accuracy of previous revelations, she bet all she had on a horse race.

The horse won and Mama made a bundle of money. ‘Shelly’ had done right by all of us, but we were still very nervous about ‘it’ being so close to Tracey. With as much tact as she could muster, Mama asked my sister to inquire what ‘Shelly’ was. Tracey was puzzled. She still saw the world in a very linear way. On the surface, Shelly was a talking doll. She wasn’t old enough to realize it was a thing that shouldn’t be.

“Just ask her WHAT she is.”; I reiterated. “She’ll know what we mean, ok?” Tracey nodded and whispered approximately where the doll’s ear would be, if it was a living creature. Then she switched places and put her ear against the mouth to hear the response. Immediately her eyes lit up in expressive recognition of a significant point. Mom and I couldn’t begin to imagine what the doll told her. Frankly, we were terrified at the possibilities.

“Shelly says that the truth to your question wouldn’t satisfy you. You either trust that she is benevolent (she stumbled over the word but we knew what she meant), or you do not. She says you’d be wise to tread carefully. She can be an invaluable asset or an unrelenting enemy.”

Mom and I looked at each other and swallowed hard. The way Tracey tripped over how to say ‘enemy’ might have been cute under more innocent circumstances. It was our worst fears imagined. Actually, it was much worse than that. Neither of us could’ve dreamed of such a thing. Some unidentified spirit had taken up residence in my sister’s doll, and more importantly, deep in her heart. Any uncertainty about this creature’s potential for malice had been confirmed with that thinly-veiled threat. ‘Shelly’ meant business.

With the money Mama won at the races, she was able to move us to a much safer neighborhood, uptown. Any thought we might’ve had of ‘accidentally’ leaving Tracey’s creepy little rubber ‘friend’ behind was quickly squashed. We were reminded that that money-making and safety tips from Shelly were a prime example of ‘the carrot’. With it being spelled out in those terms, we didn’t want to discover the sting of ‘the stick’. We reluctantly decided it was in everyone’s best interest that ‘Shelly’ stay with our family as long as she desired.

It’s an uncomfortable situation but we know the rules now. Last week she arranged for Tracey to receive full tuition to a prestigious private elementary school. That’s another gift which we can’t be critical about. If you’d told me a year ago my family would be accepting supernatural protection and spirit guidance from a whispering rubber doll, I would’ve thought you were mad. Now you probably think I am. That’s fine. Just don’t make Shelly angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

Posted in Controversial topics, creepy, Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Ghost stories, Gothic horror, Horror, Humor, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘Bob’s last laugh’

I was out for a walk on the road when I noticed several large birds circling overhead. The scavenger breeds always know where to find dying animals. Their target seemed to be in the woods near the edge of the clearing. With my curiosity piqued, I decided to see what their next meal was going to be. With that many vultures involved, I guessed it was either a dog or a deer. As I got closer, the lingering smell of decay verified I was on the right path.

What I found stunned me. It wasn’t a dog or deer. It wasn’t even a bear. It was a deceased human body! As a paramedic, I’d seen plenty of dead bodies in my life but it’s quite a bit different when you aren’t expecting it. This wasn’t an accident or natural causes. By all appearances, the corpse on the ground was the victim of foul play. I was about to call it in when an unusual thing happened. The corpse spoke to me; and I don’t mean that in a symbolic sense. The dead man on the ground literally addressed me; as if that was perfectly normal.

“Hey buddy. Can you help me out? I’m tired of the taste of dirt in my mouth and fire ants are attacking my skin. Will you turn me over? I promise I won’t bite ya.”

With that he chuckled a bit at the absurdity and blew dirt away from his mouth by concentrated exertion. I have to admit. I was seriously startled for a minute but (never one to leave a polite request unfulfilled), I turned him over on his back. The fatal wound to the crown of his head was going to get seriously infected from laying in dirt, but he obviously had bigger problems. I asked where the fire-ants were biting him. He indicated his legs so I dragged him to a spot away from their mound and propped him up against a tree trunk.

“So, ummm…. What happened to you?”; I inquired. “Is there someone you‘d like me to call?” I was treating the situation like I’d encountered a stranded motorist with a flat tire. I wasn’t sure what I’d say on the call. Telling his wife or family that he was dead would definitely be a downer. Not to mention, the awkwardness of trying to explain how I was currently in a conversation with him.

He snorted at the suggestion. “I should say not! How do you think I came to be lying here? If you reveal you’ve found my body, you’ll need someone to turn you over too. My wife will come back here and shoot you like she did me. Have you ever been shot? Trust me. It really smarts. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Then maybe you want me to call the cops and have her put behind bars.”; I suggested. “You surely don’t want her to get away with this, do you?”

‘Bob’ had very little control of his facial muscles anymore but the distinct hint of a smile formed on his swollen lips. “I have an idea.”; He began. “I want to have a little bit of fun with the situation. It’s not like I have much to look forward to anymore. With your help, maybe I can get one last laugh.”

“With MY help?” I didn’t like the sound of that. I was all for helping him achieve justice and vindication for his murder but ‘Bob’ seemed to be cooking up some revenge plot. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be any part of whatever zany scheme he was about to hatch.

“I need you to carry my body to…”

I cut him off right there. “Ah, no! I’m not going to move your body. That would be disturbing a crime scene.”

“But you’ve already moved my body.”; He pointed out. “It’s not like it would make any difference NOW. You might as well help me scare her. That would be the best gift in the world! You gotta admit, propping me up to peer through the bedroom window would be epic.”

He had me with that silly visual. I snickered at the amusing idea but the thought of having to transport his decomposing body or carrying him without a stretcher and body bag disgusted me. I get enough bodily fluids on me during my job. He was beyond ‘ripe’ already and if anyone caught me with the body, I’d have a hard time convincing them I had nothing to do with his gruesome death.

“Come on! It’ll be fun. I can tell you would really enjoy seeing that go down. She will absolutely freak. It’ll be hilarious. Won’t you indulge me one last wish?”

There in the woods with the vultures circling his dead body, I thought long and hard about it. I tried to come up with responsible reasons not to do it but I was only kidding myself. I was already planning the logistics in my devious little head. I went home and got my pickup truck and put the wheelbarrow in the back. Lugging his corpse through the woods was going to be hard work. The whole time I’m wheeling him back to the clearing, I imagined coming upon someone and trying to explain what was going on. Luckily, no one saw me load him in the back.

I think ‘Bob’ was a little offended that I didn’t put him in the cab with me but I didn’t want that smell to linger in the vehicle. He told me where he lived and I parked nearby. His wife’s car was in the driveway, along with another vehicle Bob didn’t recognize. Neither of us said it but we both figured it was a lover. Perhaps it was even part of the reason why he had a bullet hole in the back of his head. Assuming that was the case, I felt bad for Bob. Well, worse than I already did over him being dead and all. He was definitely having a bad day.

It wasn’t easy at all wheeling a fully grown dead man in a wheelbarrow up to his bedroom window, but somehow I managed. He told me he could see her with the male ‘visitor’ in carnal embrace on their bed. At least that allowed me some time to position him perfectly for when they finished and looked up. I even rigged a stick in his coat sleeve so I could simulate him waving.

It wasn’t long before I heard them finish. There was a light curtain on the window so Bob’s grinning silhouette wasn’t readily available. With considerable effort, I made his stiffened hand bang against the window. From behind him I watched her sit up in bed and let out a blood curdling scream. Her paramour scrambled out of the room sans clothing and peeled out of the driveway, naked as a jaybird. Bob’s wife’s eyes rolled back in her head and she completely passed out. At least I assumed she’d fainted. I didn’t want to be an accessory to a worse crime than unlawful movement of a body; even if she had it coming.

Bob ‘laughed’ with a stiffened jaw and contorted facial muscles. Even without the morbid circumstances, it was creepy beyond belief what we did but at least I’d granted his posthumous request and partially righted a wrong. We both figure she’ll race to the murder scene and realize he’s gone, then assume he survived the gunshot. Bob is hoping she will turn herself in and pay for her betrayal and crime but I’m not as optimistic as he is. It may take a few more surprise appearances of ‘grinning’ Bob’ before she confesses. Hey, I’m game. What else do I have to do in my free time? I’ll just need to spritz him down with some lysol.

Posted in creepy, Fiction Stories, Horror, Humor, Macabre, Murder, Mystery, Sarcasm, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thought provoking, Thriller, Twilight Zone Inspired, Whimsical | Leave a comment

‘The greatest secret in the world.’ Audio narration by SoPsyched

please give Aleks performance a listen and a thumbs up. She has a fantastic voice!

https://youtu.be/Kv2w9qlI_zM

Posted in audio narration, Children's Stories, Controversial topics, Different Perspectives, fantasy, Fiction Stories, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thought provoking, Twilight Zone Inspired, Utopia & Armageddon, Whimsical | Leave a comment