I watched them moving and I couldn’t figure out why they all kept looking at me. Every day it was the same – they came into the office, they drank coffee, they looked at me, they became slightly unhappy and then…they went about their business. All kinds of business, making copies, talking on the phone, faxing, writing in ledgers, dealing with customers, filling out TPS reports in triplicate and all the while, there was someone looking at me…they would do it furtively as if the sight of my face made them nervous. I don’t know why they should feel that way, sure I’ve raised my hands a few times and maybe that made them nervous but I aside from the occasional strike or two, it’s been incredibly rare that I’ve ever caused them any sort of pain.
Alright, alright – I admit it – twice a year, no more than that – I sometimes say something that confuses them. Out with the old, in with the new, I say and if it makes the sun make more sense as it shines down on us (though I never see it being stuck in this office) then I think the fear, confusion and even the tardiness that can result are worth it. You can’t really blame that on me though – that’s the government making that decision. Fall back and regroup for another attack if that’s what you are after and when you spring forward, I’ll be ready. My hands are up but my face…there is no fear in it.
Towards the middle of the day, as I put my hands up, most of them leave but some sit surfing the net, eating at their desks and enjoying themselves. During most of this period they ignore me but shortly before the others return…well, they start to look at me with expectation.
I can never understand why they all leave me though but no worries, they will come back and meantime I’ll just be hanging out here. Feel free to chime in if you want give me a name. I promise, I won’t be alarmed. After all, it’s really time you knew who I was…
“Whoa man, you must be a Taurus with all that stressed out energy…” the kid speaking to me was probably twenty and his dreadlocks and filthy jeans told me exactly what he was – a dirty hippie.
I tried to ignore him but he was like a fly on shit. No shaking him. He was an unflushable floater and there was no way I was getting him out of my bowl. I knew it right away, but still I had to try so I hit the plunger.
“Look, I’m busy and late and on my way somewhere so..” At this point he was walking next to me.
“Wow man, you’re karma must be seriously depleted, it’s all good man….” And there he was matching my stride, his long hippie legs making my frantic pace look lazy.
“I’m not interested, and my karma is seriously fine…” But I knew he wouldn’t go down the drain. The floaters never do.
“Hey man, you should be careful because your chakras can jam up and when that happens you end up missing the most important things, you know….” Yeah, I knew. I knew I wanted to get away from this guy but wouldn’t be able to. “It can cause all kinds of health problems and make your life unhappy. Time is the gift, Man! Seriously, that’s why we call it the present, can you dig?”
I was becoming frantic. How could I shake this guy? What would it take? I stopped – exhausted and turned to him.
“Is your car out of gas?” His slitted eyes got bigger…then narrowed again.
“Yeah, man, I’m just on my way to Oroville for a job my uncle’s brother’s friend got me but I don’t have any gas to get there and the bus ticket is $35 and this is my big chance, life has been testing me you know?” Yeah, I knew.
I pulled $20 out of my pocket and handed it to him. “This should cover the gas. Good luck. See ya later.”
I quickly walked away but not before seeing the smile on his face. Fucking energy vampires – they’re unflushable but you can usually at least buy them off.
Here is Chapter 2 of Book 2 of my apocalyptic novel The Hu Factor:
If you’d like to purchase the complete novel, you can get a PDF copy at http://garden.vagobond.com/purchase-the-hu-factor/ – also you will find the chapters I am publishing here at G+ archived at http://vagobond.posterous.com
Ever since she had been a young child, she had hated opening her eyes and the work that the real world would then demand of her. As a little girl, opening her eyes meant getting dressed, heading to the barn, feeding the cows, milking the cows, and carrying the heavy milk jugs out to where her father could load them into the truck. As a young married woman, it had meant getting dressed and going into the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her first husband, a farmer. As a middle aged woman, it had meant going to the post office, sorting letters, and putting them into sacks going to different parts of the country and the world. As an older woman, it had gotten better, it had meant having breakfast with her third husband and then the two of them going to various meetings where they would represent the workers of the Postal Union or arrange ‘events’ for those that stood in the way of the Union’s goals. Still, she hated opening her eyes. The world of her dreams had always been the place she was happiest. It was where she wore big hats, drank tea with pinkie fingers out, and didn’t have to sift every word that was said in her proximity for an underlying insincerity.
Emma didn’t want to open her eyes. She was afraid she would still be lying on the concrete slab at the base of the Ocean City fishing pier. She was cold, but it didn’t feel like she was outside. She wasn’t wet. She really didn’t want to open her eyes. As always, she knew that there wasn’t really any choice in the matter. She took several deep breaths, prepared herself for whatever she was about to see, counted to three and….
1, 2, 3….when she opened her eyes, she realized that she must still be asleep. She could see nothing. It was completely dark. She lay still, considering what her next move should be. It was dark. The air was a little bit stale. If she were not still sleeping, where might she be? She went back over the events that she last remembered, Price taking a swim and Jimbo throwing her to safety. It would be nice to think it was a nightmare, but it would also be very foolish. She knew it had been real. Okay, so where was she now?
She moved an arm upward from where she lay prone. It felt like she was lying on metal. She reached to her body and felt her skin. No clothes. That was strange. How had that happened. She was obviously buried under something. The tugboat? But why was she so dry? She reached up again with both arms. Finding nothing above her, she attempted to roll onto her stomach and stand up…only as she rolled over, there was nothing below her. She fell.
She didn’t fall very far. She landed on something that was not as hard as the metal she had been lying on. It felt like…holy crap. It felt like a person.
Her hands frantically felt this person she had just landed on top of. She could feel arms, a chest, it seemed to be a man. She reached down, not feeling a need to be shy as she checked. Holy cow. It was a man alright. He was definitely a man. She moved her hands away from his genitals and reached up towards the face. The body was warm, she thought she felt breathing.
“Jimbo…is that you Jimbo?” She shook the face. There was a wiry beard on the face, Jimbo was clean shaven. For that matter, Price had been too. “Hey, can you hear me?” She slapped the face. “Hey, you, wake up!” She was panicking. She felt it. She stopped. Closed her eyes again. Took a deep breath. She felt to the sides to make sure there was something there, she didn’t want to drop again. There was what felt like a concrete floor. She rolled of the man under her and knelt by his side. He was breathing. She shook him again.
“Hey, wake up. Hey!” She slapped his face again, gentler now, just trying to wake this man up.
Finally, she heard words from him “Huh, what? Where..? What? Where am I?” He was confused. Good, she hated being the only one that didn’t know what was going on.
“Hey. Wake up. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know where we are. Are you okay? Can you move?”
He was sitting up now. “Why is it so dark? Who are you?” This guy was a real question maker. Great.
“I’m Emma. I don’t know. I just woke up and we were here. Are you okay?”
“I think so. I feel like somebody dropped an elephant on me.” She restrained herself from smacking him. He didn’t know she was the elephant in question. “Emma?”
“Emma. What’s your name? Do you have any idea what we are doing here? Do you know where we are?”
“My name is Nick. We must be in my lab, but what are you doing here Emma? Why are you in my lab?”
“I was sort of hoping you might tell me that Nick. Are there lights in here?”
“Oh, the event. It must have been the event. That must explain it.” She felt him standing up, considered standing with him, but figured it was safer to stay where she was.
“You mean when we all got shuffled off to Buffalo? Is that the event you mean?” Something was definitely wrong here, if she were the type of woman that screamed when things were screwy, she might just start screaming now.
“Shuffled off to Buffalo? I’m not sure what you mean? You mean we’re in Buffalo?” Obviously, he wasn’t a fan of baseball..
“Yeah you numbskull, shuffled off to Buffalo, pushed out of the picture, left to find a new gig, involuntarily relocated…you know? This big event you just mentioned.”
“Huh…oh, yeah, funny, that’s a good term for it the Sob. It makes a good acronym. ‘Shuffled off to Buffalo, it’s the first letter of each word. ‘S.O.B….sob.” Emma almost laughed. She didn’t think he’d been shooting for it, but whatever had happened had definitely been a real S.O.B. One huge son of a bitch. She could hear him moving away from her and she still needed information.
“Yeah, it’s a real sob story alright. A real son of a bitch, but what I meant, Genius, was what was the event you mentioned. And just a little by the way, but how did I get in your god damn lab.”
“Hmmm. That’s interesting….” He wasn’t going to answer.
“Look Fella, I’ve had enough of this garbage. You are going to tell me what happened, how I got here, and why I’m not wearing any clothes…now.”
He didn’t seem to be too bothered by what she was saying. “Yes, very interesting…interesting indeed…hmmm”
“Are you going to answer me or not?” She was getting up now, she was going to kick this asshole’s ass from here to next week.
“Ummm…well…yes. Okay first, the Sob was a magnetic event that occurred when solar storms generated by sunspot activity affected the magnetic axis of the planet, or that is my guess…”
“You’re going to keep calling it the Sob aren’t you?” It was really all she was able to process from what he had said. Sunspots? Solar storms? Magnetic axis?
“It’s the only name I have for it and it’s much easier than saying unexplainable magnetic anomaly. Second, Emma…that’s what you said your name is, right?”
“Yes. It’s Emma. Go on, please.” She didn’t know whether to be sarcastic or placating. She settled for impatient.
“Well, second Emma, I don’t know how you got here or what happened to our clothes, mine are missing too you know…”
She was glad it was dark so he couldn’t see her blush as she remembered feeling the guy up while he was unconscious. She blustered “Okay, so where the are we and how did I get here?”
“Well, that’s the thing Emma. It seems that we aren’t in my lab at all. I have no idea where we are or how we got here.”
I penned this from a writing prompt by https://plus.google.com/u/0/117611181638655435522/posts/dgDYa8XkGnVbut figured all the Bransonites might get a kick out of it too…for more great death conversations check out the prompt at
I felt the knife go in. It went deep and it went true. Time seemed to slow down and then the blood started to flow. Somehow, I smiled even as the knife was twisted. The pain must have been horrible – judging by the screams that were coming out of his mouth. He sounded like a girl.
Ha! Who’s the rich guy now?
Pretty soon he stopped moving and I smelled his bladder and bowels let go. I pulled the knife out and wiped the blade clean on his jeans – there were still some spots that the blood hadn’t stained yet. I sat down for a much needed rest.
“Wow. That was nice work. You’re an artist.”
“Thanks,” I said, without even looking up. I knew who it was. This guy followed me around and always heaped praise on me – I didn’t mind – I mean, there could be worse fans. This guy was more like a connoisseur – nobody knew death like he did. That’s why the praise felt so good.
He sat next to me, put his arm around my shoulders. “Is that it? Was he the last one?”
“Yeah. Got em all.” When I’d started I didn’t think it was possible, but there he was – the last of the billionaires. He’d been the hardest to get with his submarines, spaceships, and private islands – but there he was smiling up at me with death’s grin. I’d put him off until last because I actually liked him – but let’s face it – anyone with that much money is missing only one thing – a quick death.
“What now?” my fan asked.
I looked at his pale, skeletal face under it’s black hood. I didn’t understand how anyone could be scared of him. Death. He comes to us all.
Death was waiting for my answer.
“Next? Obviously, the millionaires.”
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