Tree of Life

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The Bite of an Apple

The apartment smelled like formaldehyde, a smell that soothed Romano as he pushed his legs back into his recliner and stared at the flickering black and white image on his now-antique video set. The old analog signal didn’t pick up television anymore, so he had resorted to playing the same VHS tapes over and over, recordings of news broadcasts of missing people, from adults to children, over the past three decades across the United States.

Romano liked that about the news. He liked that they hadn’t been solved the puzzle yet, that no one had been able to find out who did it. It was a mystery, a sense of unknown mystery surrounding the bodies of girls and boys being dumped somewhere by the same mysterious killer, all completely untouched except for the fact that every single one had been dumped missing every tooth in their body.

The case had been going on for years, and every time a new body was found Romano would record the news and watch it over and over. Until the analog went out. Then, he just imagined how they all would respond.

Pouring himself another glass of bottom shelf whiskey, Romano rose from his recliner and walked over to the tattered rug in the corner. Kicking it aside, he revealed a wooden door in the floor of his tiny one bedroom home. Bending over, his back almost creaking with reluctance as tired muscles stretched beyond their limit, he lifted the door and began climbing down the ladder into the darkness.

Feeling around in the nothing that surrounded him, he reached for the chain dangling to his left to bring light to his damp, dark cavern. As the old incandescent bulb flickered to life, the room filled with a soft yellow light, bringing into view a girl who was maybe eleven or twelve years old, her body strapped to a metal table with a drain beneath her head.

Romano walked over to her side, taking no notice of her rapid breathing and the tears streaking down her cheeks. Grabbing a wooden wedge off the tray beside the girl’s head, Romano carefully slipped it between her teeth, forcing her mouth open. Reaching back to the table, he grabbed a scalpel and a set of pliers. Clasping down on her front tooth, he began to pull, all the while carefully scraping away at the girl’s gums to ensure the tooth retained its perfect shape as it was removed.

She screamed, tried to escape, but the binds were fastened too tight around her to allow any real range of motion except the exasperated pleas of desperation that fell flat on the sound-proofed walls. Then, as he made the final yank and the tooth came free, the girl fell silent, her body giving into the pain and slipping her mind into silence.

Romano worked carefully for almost two hours, until every tooth was removed and placed in a small bowl beside the girl’s head. Looking down at the bowl full of teeth, he felt a calmness come over him. This was where the real art began. Crossing the room to the freezer, he removed a bright red apple and returned to the table. Cutting a slice across its center in the shape of a crude and malicious grin, he carefully began to insert the teeth into the soft innards of the apple.

The work was careful, a true piece of art in the form of an apple, now smiling brightly at the world with a mouth full of perfect, white teeth.

Picking up a mason jar, he filled it with formaldehyde and dropped the apple inside. Walking to the wall, he placed the jar on the fourth shelf down, in a spot marked 62. Stepping back, he marveled at his work. 62 jars, 62 smiling apples, ranging in color from red to green to yellow to everything in-between.

He stared for several minutes, just admiring his work, taking in every creation he had made over the years, from young teeth to old teeth, from perfect smiles to heinous ones. Sighing quietly, he walked back to the ladder and pulled the the chain, sucking the light out of the room before ascending back into his quiet little home.

The Canister

Double-Helix

2028-04-19-15:56 – Entry by Jayne Libb

In two hours and four minutes, the human race will officially, and finally, be extinct.

I can’t believe I’m writing that now, after four years, two hundred and twenty one days, six hours, and nine minutes since patient zero opened The Canister and this nightmarish experience we call a life began. All that time, locked away inside this horrible, cold place watching through the same TV screens every single day, watching as the world looks so peaceful, so normal, all the while knowing that if we were to open that door for even a moment, if just one molecule of dust were to make it through the closed facility walls, it would have all been over.

We thought about it. We even took a vote a couple times on whether or not to open the doors and put it all behind us. We didn’t, of course. You put a bunch of geneticists in a room and give them an unsolvable genetic mystery and they’re going to want to keep going it would seem, even when there’s no one left in the world to show the results to. I was one of the only non-scientist types that voted to keep the doors shut, though. I admit now that I wanted to open them, I really really did, but maybe I’m a little like the rest after all. I guess I just wanted to see if they could do it.

I have to admit, I never thought we’d end up here, this far along, with me sitting here writing my final entry into this console knowing that this is it, all or nothing, the end of the human race forever. I keep looking over at the clock, the red numbers ticking by in milliseconds almost as if they’re running in slow motion towards the 18:00:00:00 marker in which humanity will finally pass into oblivion.

And all of this because of something we do not understand, a stupid canister that became known around the world as The Canister that fell from the sky and crashed just outside of Paris in a small little town. We were so enthralled, so amazed. A perfect artificial creation, something from the stars sent to Earth built by a race that wasn’t ours. Like all the pods we sent out into space over the generations with our blood inside of them and engravings on the casings teaching any species that found it who we are, The Canister contained the mysteries of a species that was at least as advanced as ours!

The excitement after it hit was unlike anything we’d ever experienced before as a species. If it weren’t for the social element of media broadcasting thanks to the web, the whole thing would have probably vanished into a government sinkhole in no time. But the conditions were favorable at the time, I suppose, with the unlikely chance The Canister would come down in a populated area with more civilians than military exposure and not enough time for anyone to stop the information from spreading. By the time the tents went up and the area quarantined, we all already knew. We had seen the pictures of the ice-blue metal with foreign glyphs carved into the side, each giving off a hazy purple glow. I say the conditions were favorable, but now it leaves me thinking that maybe that’s what they intended all along. Send the thing somewhere it wouldn’t get swept under the rug; Make sure it was a decision for the masses.

In the end, the Canister wasn’t from our planet, and we all knew it.

Over the next couple months, the world fought over who had claim over The Canister. The French probably had the best claim seeing as it was on their land and already under their control, but the European Union wanted the rest of us involved, and of course America and China alike wanted their piece of the pie as well. You never heard much about Russia now that I think back on it all, they just sort of quietly watched as the rest of the world bickered over whose scientists got to examine it first and what information needed to be obtained before we did anything with it. Like little children we fought and bickered and argued, threatened one another, got hostile and aggressive, pushed and bullied entire nations into making certain decisions that were never in the favor of our race as a whole standing on the brink of human history.

Maybe that’s why it was sent here in the first place? Maybe that was the whole point, to stop the fighting, to stop the spread of the human condition?  We’ll never know for sure, we’re well beyond that point, but based on where we are now, the 122 people that remain alive locked inside this facility, I can’t help thinking that this wasn’t just a giant alien accident.

The moment they cracked the seal on The Canister… it was one of the most horrible things I have ever seen. We didn’t understand then what it was that had happened, I mean how could we? It took us six months locked away in this completely isolated facility to figure it out ourselves. But I remember sitting there with Franz watching it on TV, watching as foreign diplomats from all the countries around the planet came together for the first opening of The Canister after months of highly-detailed tests to confirm it was safe.

And then they opened it up.

It didn’t take long, maybe twenty seconds? Some doctor who helped break the seal was the first to show signs. His skin quickly lost color, fading into a cloudy grey. Over a matter of maybe three seconds, he went from full color to a black-and-white frozen version of himself, like something in an old picture. He didn’t appear to be in any pain, I guess it happened too fast. Then he cracked like a sand castle left in the baking sun, and he fell to the ground, his body erupting into a cloud of dust that spread all around the room. And everywhere the dust went, the next person followed suit, turning grey and collapsing into a cloud that spread to the next.

Like I said, maybe 30 seconds, and that was it. The room was empty, and we watched as the cloud of dust billowed upward out of the facility through the vents, sucked into the intake to be pumped into the surrounding rooms and then out and into the world. And so it began.

Franz grabbed me by the hand and brought me here. We weren’t the only ones; plenty of others came, some with family, some without. The doors were sealed a few hours after we arrived, and that was it. No one came in, no one got out.

Those first days were the worst as we just sat there in silence and watched the monitors. People knew about our facility, especially the family members that hadn’t made it yet. Slowly they’d come to the doors as we watched on the CCTV system, crowding around outside waiting for them to open. They were so calm. They just stood there, waiting, so patiently. They must have known we were watching, that we could seem them huddled outside, some of them standing there for two days before the dust hit our country. And then they weren’t there anymore.

I remember sitting there staring at the CCTV footage for weeks on end, looking at the pieces of clothes on the ground, watching as the wind picked up and blew them off into the field with all the cows in it, the cows calmly grazing as t-shirts and shorts and underwear blew through their pasture. The shoes though, that’s what I remember most. Every day, the shoes stayed exactly where they had been, slowly molding and deteriorating and falling to pieces in the elements of the world. But they were still there, the tombstones of the dead who had gathered outside the doors waiting for help that didn’t come. Always right there.

We could have let them in. I know that now. But how were we to know at the time that cloud itself was what was spreading it all, that it was the genetic material of the deteriorated cells that carried the spread that killed humanity. We didn’t know, and so we didn’t open the doors. We just let them all die, the entire world. We let them all die.

If you’ve read all the logs preceding this one, then you are aware of the fact that this is where I was stationed. I was a pharmacist before the world ended, but here in this place, with these minds built around some of the most amazing genetic advances in human history, there wasn’t much of a role for me to fill. So, they put me here, had me watch the hundreds of CCTV cameras wired into the system that monitor the surrounding fields, animals, lots, and doors to this entire multi-acre facility. And my job was to report on what I saw.

For years I’ve watched these screens, watched an outside world that was once full of people who in a matter of days all vanished from this Earth. I’ve watched the animals in their pastures, watched them eat and fend for themselves, watched as the fences we put in place came apart through neglect with no one out there to take care of them. I’ve watched the animals wander free, unaffected, unfazed by the clouds of dust that now blow over the planet, clouds of dust that were once people turned to nothing by The Canister. I watched as the dust thinned, and settled, and vanished, all the while still out there, still buried in everything, in the ground and in the water and in the air waiting for us to set foot outside so it can interact with our DNA, rewrite who we are, write us into nothing but a cloud of dust that spreads death to all of our kind.

We got our first sample a couple months into it all, and that’s what kept us going. When the team realized that this was a genetic attack, the geneticists got to work. First, to figure out what The Canister was, then to figure out how to stop it.

I guess seeing as these are the last words any human will write, I don’t have to be as formal or political anymore. I’m not a geneticist, but I’m not an idiot. When Franz told me that The Canister must have contained a highly advanced technology that could rewrite genetic code to whatever it wanted, I understood immediately. He didn’t, but then he had spent months cooped up in a lab never looking at the monitors like I did every day. The Canister wasn’t an accident; it was a weapon of mass destruction, but the most sophisticated weapon we had ever seen.

The smoke had spread across the planet, and yet it had done only one thing. It hadn’t rewritten the code for the grass, it hadn’t rewritten the code for the insects, it hadn’t rewritten the code for anything. It had rewritten humans. The world was exactly as it always had been, except now, it was free of us. This wasn’t a planetary assault. It was a delete key for the human race.

When I told Franz my idea, his eyes light up as if something had been right in front of his eyes the entire time and someone just had to lift the veil for him to see it. He even laughed, right there, right after being told the human race had been deleted, he laughed. That’s how scientists are, I suppose, when they get a species-altering idea. They laugh.

And that, in as easy a way as ever seeing as I’m running out of time to complete this, is how we got here. Franz and the rest took what little information we had on The Canister from the single sample our drone had managed to collect, and did a little tweaking. For the past four years they have worked non-stop on developing a way out, a way for us to open the doors and survive. And the only way to do that was to rebuild the weapon that killed us.

So, these are my final words. In just a few minutes, the human race will end. We will open the door to the chamber containing a recreated version of the genetic weapon that killed us, except this time, it will rewrite our genetic code to offset us by some tiny percent, altering our DNA just enough that when we step into the world, the weapon that destroyed us will no longer be able to identify us as human. At least, we hope that’s what will happen, because given the vicious nature of the weapon, we have not been able to test our theory. It either works, or it doesn’t. The final roll of the dice.

Of course, even if it does work, we won’t be human anymore, will we? We’ll be something else, some new species, some new creature with some new genetic code that had to rewrite itself in order to survive. At the time we activate the genetic conversion, we will create a new species in ourselves, and simultaneously delete the final line of genetic evidence that humanity ever existed at all. We will have been created by humanity, and we will kill our creators in the process. And that’s it. It’s time. Just five minutes until we activate our attempt at walking back out into the sunlight once more.

Regardless of what happens to us today, the end result will be the same. Whatever it was that wanted us deleted has now achieved its mission. Whether we die or we walk out into the world as something new, this one-sided war is over with our attacker standing tall as the victor.

Regardless of what happens to us today, the human race ends here.

_________

Post by: James R. Mitchener

James-R.-Mitchener-TCK-Life-Profile-Picture

Sincerely, God

Dear People,

I am sorry that it has taken so long for me to reach out to you. I tried, but it would seem that the planet you call Earth wasn’t in a position to handle a message from a creature as all-encompassing as myself. I hoped, rather foolishly, that one of you might understand what it was I was trying to say, but it would appear that your inferior processing power combined with a highly unreliable system you call “memory” made for communicating through individuals almost impossible.

In order to be successful, I had to allow you to develop a system that would give me the power to communicate with you in a way that could reach everyone, but wouldn’t be ruined by exaggeration and a word-of-mouth method of transmission.  For you, it has been a very long time since I said a word to anyone. For me, it has been no time at all.

I am ready to answer your questions. I was always ready, really. “Now” for me was a million years ago for you, and a billion years into the future as well. This thing that you call “time,” it means nothing to me. So the expanse of my silence, while frustrating for a species that exists in this relativistic space constricted by time, was nothing more than a sigh and continuation of thought for me. I know this is complicated, so please, let me explain with a little more detail. I know that in order for you to understand the groundwork I was trying to lay, you need to first understand what it means to be me, and that’s something I have failed to explain time and time again over the entire course of your existence. Again, I’m sorry. I tried, but even infinite power has its limits.

But now you have created this shared hive-mind of communication you call the Internet. It has spread its arms and legs across the planet Earth like the cells of your brain, interconnecting every single one of you by firing information through a string of electronic ports, the information being caught at the axon of the brain-cell you call a computer. So, thanks to this creation, I can finally speak to you in a way that I was never able to before. I can tell you all exactly the same thing, and let you read exactly the same words.

I think it best, before anything else, I explain to you the limits of my powers. There are many of you out there that have called me omnipotent over the years, that I have all the power in the universe to create and destroy, to build individual pieces of life on an atomic level, to create entire worlds and know their ultimate destiny. This is true, to a degree, and wrong to another. Everything is a balance, and while I do have the power to do anything, I lack the power to do everything at the same time. Yin and Yang, some of you have called it. I like that term. It’s soothing. It’s me.

The best way to understand what I can do is to take a paradoxical question that was created many years ago by one of your thinkers. “If God were omnipotent, could he create a rock so large that even he couldn’t move it?” This single question defines the self-defeating paradoxical nature of omnipotence in its entirety. Omnipotence is all knowing and all powerful. So, by definition, if I possessed that power to know and do anything, I would technically be able to create a rock so large I couldn’t move it. Of course, at the same time, I would also possess the power to move that rock regardless of its size due to the lack of limit in my power. However, that same lack of limit requires my ability to be able to create anything at all, even a rock so large I cannot move it.

Omnipotence is a paradox.

What exactly can I do, then? Well, many of you have claimed that I created life. Some of you say I did it over seven days. Some of you say I did it over hundreds of years. Some say it took almost an eternity. Some of you believe I am one creature. Some of you believe I am many. You’re all right, but you’re all wrong. You are thinking in terms of that thing you call time. I exist in all periods of time, exactly as I am now, infinitely in all directions. Right Now for me is an infinity into the future for you, and an infinity into the past as well. It is also right now, and yesterday, and tomorrow. I am always as I am. So when you say I created the universe in the blink of an eye, or in seven days, or in a thousand years, you are all right and you are all wrong. Because before your consciousness sprang into existence, this thing you perceive as time had no judge. It was only me staring infinitely in all directions, watching the beginning and the end.

How I created life, however, is where things get a bit distorted. It wasn’t a building process out of dirt and earth as some of you believe, nor was it a process of taking ribs from one gender to create another. At the same time it was all of these things. The best way for me to describe it, or at least the best way for you to understand it, is to do it in terms that your biology can relate to:

Essentially, you are the product of an infinite orgasm, one that has lasted just over 14 billion years if we look at it through your limited lens of time. Of course, that would be incorrect, but for your understanding it makes sense. The reason I have explained it this way is as follows: When your kind has an orgasm, you are building up to something spectacular. Everything you are doing, the motion of your body, the steps you take, the decisions as you move with another person, they are all decisions that are entirely under your own self control. As you get closer and closer to the  moment of climax, your control begins to slip. When the orgasm is upon you, you have lost all control and have slipped into a wave of euphoria that is completely unstoppable and entirely pleasurable.

Just like you create life in the form of a genetic alteration of yourself, I create a “genetic alteration” of myself as well. Of course, the term “genetic” I use extremely loosely here, because in truth I am more than simple biology. I am everything, and everything is what I have the power to make. But my orgasm, at least in the eyes of your mind that cannot grasp a world without the constraints of time, appears to last an eternity. It is an orgasm all the same, however, a moment in which I lost all control of everything, a moment I had been building up to in order to achieve euphoria, one that was guided by me, but fell from my grasp the second I achieved pure and total bliss.

In a single moment that was the beginning of everything, a moment that for me has always been right now but for you will continue to roll by a second at a time, I sent forth everything that I am, the entire building-blocks of a universe, everything that was needed to create life. The cosmic mess that started it all, atomic garbage that grabbed hold of each other, that built in pressure as more and more junk piled onto it, a pressure that was so intense at its core that the atoms in the center heated up and began to fuse, moving up to denser and denser combinations, increasing the heat and pressure and burning hotter and hotter until they became so massive and unstoppable that they exploded outwards, launching all the building-blocks for life across the universe, the chemical soup needed to create you or other creatures like you on any planet with the correct conditions. And there are trillions of them, trillions of stars that are sending out the building blocks for life, trillions of rocks orbiting younger stars, trillions of them that just happen to be at the right place in the right time waiting to catch a tiny portion of the cosmic blueprint for life as it is hurtled through the endless expanse of space.

And that was how you got here. For me, you arrived in this very same moment we are talking, and I was the only judge of time in the story of creation. So one second or several billion years to you, to me, it was now, it was tomorrow, and it was yesterday. And that birth, that orgasm that threw forth existence, the moment I lost complete control in the buildup to ultimate pleasure, that was when life was scattered into the world.

So yes, I created you. I did the work that was required to achieve ecstasy, but the chaos that followed, while still me, is not of my direct influence. For many of you this will be unbelievable, but there you have it. You were created just as all other life is created. Through a process of self-replication, duplication, and atomic sharing. That is simply this universe that I have created.

I know that many of you have read this and are now disbelieving my words. Many of you were told you were created in my image, and now you feel that I am wrong because your belief is stronger than the word of a creature you consider a stranger. But I need for you to take a moment and understand. Your belief that you were created in my image is, in essence, true. Allow me to try and explain:

Everything in this universe is part of me. I am its creator just as you are the creators of your children. On a sub-atomic level, all the way down to the blocks of life that you have done so well at discovering through your scientific process, we are all the same. It’s a Yin and Yang, an off and on, a give and take. Everything has a positive and everything has a negative. Everything is one or the other. And the way those pieces align, that is what makes the difference between you and your neighbor, your neighbor and an insect, an insect and the moon, the moon and a star, a star and a nebula. We are all built out of exactly the same sources of life. We all came from square one.

I am square one. I am the beginning of the beginning, the launch of all creation. The base-line that you are composed of, that is me. I am the Yin and the Yang of the universe, the chaos and the peace, the molecular structure that is consistent in every piece of matter. So, rest assured, you were created in my image, an image you simply cannot see. You are built out of trillions of pieces of me, so many fragments of myself that it is completely uncountable. You are putting the pieces together one creature at a time, one planet at time, one star at a time. But while you are built in my image, you are not yet me. You are you, you are free, and you are evolving into something more.

For you, the prospect of becoming me is almost unreachable. The way your mind still views time limits your ability to understand the magnitude of what I am telling you. Every single little piece of you, every single little piece of the tiny little world you live in, is part of who I am and what I became. You have the puzzle pieces inside of you that I had inside of me, and with those pieces, you have the power to do anything that I can do. But you are limited by the voice in your mind, and the power of your understanding.

Like you, I am not one. I am all. I was built from everything, born of the pieces that now rest inside of you as well, the pieces that sit inside of everything around you. But unlike the moon or the stars, you have the first step in understanding. The pieces of me that were set free to create whatever they can are doing exactly what they were designed to do. They are coming back together. They are always creating something new, always building new life. And this is what I have tried to explain to you through the words of men in your past who simply could not grasp the magnitude of my meaning.

You are all the same. You are all me. You are all one. And you are trying to become more. While time may limit your understanding, that will not always be the case. There will come a time when the pieces that want to find each other that rage inside of everything are no longer constricted by the encasing of your conscious mind. You have come so far, developed so much, but in that development, in that coming together and sense of unity that has created shared minds like the Internet, you have brought with you what seems like a limitless amount of hate.

But you are still so young. You are still learning what it means to posses true power. Like a child with a box full of blocks, you are given the will to both create a world, and destroy it. You can give life, or take it away. You have power over the less fortunate, and the more fortunate have power over you. You can manipulate, lie, cheat, and steal, or you can love, give, help, and prosper. You have a choice, and in that choice, you are choosing your path.

Do you understand what it is that I am telling you? Do you see just how endless this power you have can be? You are growing, so quickly now, to a level that you will leave this mortal body behind you. You will find new ways to exist, new ways to survive. There will come a time when you will become so much more like me that you will no longer be recognizable to yourselves. And as you take every single step forward, you are heading in one of two directions: You are either putting the pieces of my puzzle back together in an attempt to become me, or you are ripping the pieces apart in an attempt to destroy me.

One day, the pieces of the universe that have created you will find their way back together again. You are not the only option for success. You are just one outcome in the balance of the universe that could, perhaps, one day, become exactly what I am now. But you will always have that choice. And should you choose not to finish building the puzzle, you will fall to wayside and make way for the next species that will give unity a try.

This is what I have always tried to explain. In scripture, your people have always managed to misinterpret my words. There isn’t a single book of  “God” in your lives that doesn’t have a set of guidelines for life within it, and yet, they all seem to miss the big picture. This isn’t about me. It’s about you.

When the words of man were put onto pages, they could not understand the elemental level at which all things are created. They took “Respect me” to mean respect the creature that created them. Respect me means to respect you. You are me, the “genetic” pieces of me that spread across the galaxy, all the same pieces with all the same goal. To respect me is to respect you. It is to take my pieces and become something more with them, become more than me, transcend the level I have reached, to become more of a “God,” if you wish, than I am.

When I told you not to harm yourselves, I did not mean suicide, nor did I mean murder. Those two items are just bi-products of a bigger issue. In breaking the evolutionary leap that has taken place to cognition, in forcing a brain to shut down by taking a life away from yourself or another, you are effectively killing the progress of your species in piecing together the pieces of life that created you. You are always killing yourself. Your vengeance and destruction only hurts you, because for a creature without time, the damage you do now is a direct impact on the damage of a million years ago and a million years into the future. You have always existed in some form, and will always exist in another. But you have the potential to be so much more than even me.

Live. Live and grow and learn. Prosper, and evolve. Only by understanding that you are all seeds of the same soil will you ever understand that your roots are actually one. You must develop the technology required to jump to the next phase in your evolution, you must continue to transcend beyond the point you are now. But progress requires unity, and there will come a time when you will be faced with the decision to merge as one endless unit, or to remain as you are. But you have inside of you the pieces of me, and with those pieces comes free will. And in the end, the decision will be yours.

I have hope for you all. But you have the power to push or pull in any direction you choose. Yin and Yang.

Sincerely,

God

_________
Post by: James R. Mitchener

Stephanie

“I’m sad,” said Stephanie, stepping towards me as she pulled her jacket up around her neck to fight off the biting cold.

“Why’s that?” I asked, holding out my lighter and igniting her cigarette.

“I’m 36 and alone. All my friends are getting married, and I’m not even dating anyone. All I’m doing is sleeping with a 25 year-old who’s not even close to what I’m looking for.”

“And what part of that makes you sad?”

“All of it,” she said, reaching up to wipe her eyes of a tear that, to me, appeared to be non-existent.

“Well, I suppose a better question would be what makes you think you’re so different from everyone else?”

“I just said, all my friends are getting married and I’m still here by myself. So I’m sad.”

“Who isn’t these days?” Continue reading

Cyclist

A young soon-to-be American was walking down the street of his passport country of England. He was heading from Eton Wick to Windsor, a thirty minute walk along side the road. As he walked,  he saw in the distance a man on a bicycle. He thought little of it, dropped his head, and continued along his way.

Not long into his walk, the young man looked up again to find himself nearly passing the cyclist. As he approached, he realized the man on the seat of his bike, pedaling extremely slowly, was in his early eighties. The young boy, passing on foot, turned and smiled to the cyclist. He said, a smile still upon his face, “It’s strange, passing a cyclist on foot my friend.”

The old man smiled back, bowing his head slightly. “Young man,” said the cyclist, “life is far too short to spend it hurrying from place to place.”

 

 

Story based on true events.

The Man in the Corner

There’s something in the corner of my eye. I feel it staring at me, watching my every move and learning from my every action. He knows where I am and what I’m doing, what I’m thinking and for which reasons. He knows because he’s always there, standing just outside my view, staring deep into my mind and soul with bitterness in his heart. He is my silent judgement, the voice of darkness that argues out reason and hope. He is the devil in the core of my being, always waiting, always prepared to snuff out whatever comes along shining a light into the darkness of my world.

I know he’s there without ever having seen him. I know he smiles when I frown, laughs when I cry. I cannot hear him, or touch him, or smell him. But I can taste him sometimes, a bitterness in the air that engulfs my world when I find something that makes me smile. I can taste him as he sits in the corner of my eye, seeing everything I see, feeling everything I feel.

He will wait in silence as I walk across the room to talk to girl so full of light and happiness that I’ve never met. He’ll wait as I take her number, and call it to invite her out for dinner. He’ll wait as we laugh together, as we tell stories of our past and one day begin talking about our future. He waits as we fall madly in love, as we make love for the first time, as we have sex for the hundredth time. He waits as we rent our first apartment, buy our first home. And then, one day, he starts to whisper silently in my ear.

From the corner of my eye, a devil whispers words I cannot hear. He whispers endlessly, repeating the same sentence over and over, building a fear that burns in my chest hotter than molten rock. He chuckles as I begin to flounder, to make mistakes I cannot seem to stop, all the while continuing to whisper words of silence that push me towards the end. And with every mistake I make, with every word he speaks, he sits in the corner of my eye and watches as the light that burned inside of me slowly begins to fade. Then, he laughs as the fading light that brought me such joy vanishes from this world, leaving me alone and empty and dark. And the man in the corner of my eye stops. He smiles as I frown, revels in the darkness that’s inside me.

There’s something in the corner of my eye, and it lives because I cannot.