Sabbath

windowpane

Idolatry – Pt. 5

Suspended in white, swimming blindly until my limbs give out and I sink like a stone and brace for impact…

A gentle arm embraces and holds me close, enveloped in tender warmth. Embryonic comfort dispels my vertigo and I twist to face my invisible savior. An intimate dance in the ether, wings enfold us in a twirling cocoon of polymorphous release as a distant chime intensifies in tandem with the orgasmic signals broadcast from my every nerve ending until I’m nearly pulverized by the rising crescendo of perfect euphoria —

— my iPhone rattles against the wood of the nightstand blaring out its insistent ringtone. Awake, all dust and sharp edges, I hoist the phone to my ear.

“Mmph~ello?”

“Hi, Sammi.”

It’s Melinda and her characteristic Sunday morning voice of contrition.

“How you doing this morning, Mel? You alone?”

“Yeah. I don’t remember how I got home but my car’s not here. Must have been one of those guys buying me drinks.”

“It was an Uber driver, Mel. I called him for you on my way home.”

“Oh. Right. Thanks, Sammi.”

“Why are you up?”

“I don’t know. I think I felt guilty. You always have to babysit me. Maybe I have a problem…”

“Mel, lay back down and go to sleep. We all have problems and yours won’t seem half as bad once you sleep it off.”

“Yeah, I know. Thanks, Sammi. I’ll call you later.”

“Sweet dreams, Mel.” Now kindly stop fucking up mine.

I drop out of bed and throw on my robe. Filling a glass with tap water from the bathroom sink, I down it in a single gulp and saunter out to the living room. A mosaic of interlocking rain patterns slides down the glass of the back door and I can see Akaaneh braving the elements with bucolic disinterest from his muddy sentry post. Though there’s an awning over the patio, I opt to take my coffee indoors today.  I need to collect myself. For the last 24 hours, the only thing that’s served to dilute the alarming effects of this enigmatic little effigy upon my psyche has been a nagging embarrassment at my own lack of logic in allowing him to take on the characteristics of anything but a piece of decorative statuary.  So while Mel ponders whether she’s approaching the threshold of alcoholism on the other side of town, I sit here cradling my coffee mug and wonder if I’m approaching the threshold of madness. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the majority of suicides are performed on Sunday mornings. Maybe that’s why so many otherwise spiritually bankrupt people keep showing up to church each week. It’s not so much devotion as suicide prevention.

I thought about how I’d designed my whole life to be perpetually frivolous and carefree, a devil-may-care attitude that I justified and mantrafied as a celebration of freedom and spontaneity. Two years at Monmouth University yielded a reliable network of weed connections and a cavalcade of one night stands but precious little in the way of credentials or direction. That was eight years ago and I’m no more motivated by thoughts of practicality and responsible adulthood than I was during my senior year of high school. I had never given a second thought to this seat-of-my-pants approach to living until yesterday.  Suddenly, my lack of a reasoned template for the future has transformed from a source of smug satisfaction to one of shame and panic. Yesterday, a 30 year old single woman working as a receptionist in a dental office seemed a perfectly wonderful thing to be. Today as rain pelts the skylight in arrhythmic thuds, I wish to be anyone but the aimless party girl imprisoned by her own misinterpretation of what it means to live authentically.

A thunderclap breaks my brooding reverie so I get up from the table and walk outside.

“You’re too hard on yourself, Samantha. You can’t manufacture your destiny.”

I crouch to eye-level with Akaaneh and run a finger over his smooth pate.

“How are you speaking to me? Is there some kind of telepathy between us?” I ask in a foolish attempt to rationalize the incomprehensible.

“Something like that, yes. Our energies are intertwined. For now, I just need you to accept that and stop questioning your sanity.  Our friendship won’t get very far if you’re constantly second-guessing its veracity.”

“Why did you ask me if I knew how long you’d been waiting for me? How could you have known about me before I found you in the greenhouse?”

“Our energies are intertwined, Samantha. We’ve always known each other but at the moment, you’ll just have to take me at my word. When you’re ready, you’ll remember things. In the meantime, I’m here to guide you through the gauntlet of voices that will try to dissuade you from living your truth – including your own litany of doubt that just prevented you from enjoying a perfectly good cup of coffee.”

“Did I have coffee?”

“Exactly. Go get dressed and embrace the day, Samantha. When your mind clears so will the sky.  It would be foolish to waste such a beautiful day talking to a ceramic gargoyle in your backyard.”

Akaaneh

the-stone-pony-600x400

Idolatry – Pt. 4

I leaned against the soundboard nursing my fifth IPA of the night while Melinda danced like no one was watching to The Jukes’ encore performance of “Trash It Up”. I used to love this place and when I say “used to”, I mean as recently as three hours ago.

When I pulled into the parking lot of the storied Temple of The Boss, I rolled my eyes at the sea of hipster kids clamoring for a spot in line at the ticket counter as if I had somehow matured out of such youthful silliness since last weekend. Something was amiss, but I wasn’t trying to affect some air of jaded cool — there was an urgency to this sudden impatience with my familiar haunts and those who frequent them. A feeling that there was something very important I should be doing — certainly more important than watching Melinda’s drunken Elaine Benes dance floor routine for 20 songs worth of tired Asbury Park nostalgia.

The house lights back on, I check on Melinda who is sandwiched between two Guidos at the bar. Judging by the duo of untouched Long Island Iced Teas sitting in front of her, it seems they had staked their claims simultaneously. Last week, I’d have had her back. But tonight, I put a hand on her shoulder and say —

“Mel, y’okay? I’m gonna blow, if that’s cool.”

“SAMMI!!! Where were you all night? Oh, wait — this is — what’s your name again, Sweetie?”

“I gotta go. Call me tomorrow, okay?”

Before she can finish introducing me to Giove or Giuseppe or The Situation or whatever the fuck these Goombahs called themselves, I’m wedging my way through the crowd and out the door.

Home. It’s where I’ve wanted to be all night long.  I roll a pinner and walk out back to unwind. This is what I’d been dreaming of throughout the whole interminable evening: a joint, a nightcap, my chaise lounge —

— and him.

My pulse accelerates as I lean down to examine his gnarled yet exquisitely lithe features. In an effort to stem this inexplicable endorphin rush, I begin to speak to him aloud.

“I think you need a name. You look like a Jeremy.”

“You must be joking. I look like nothing other than an Akaaneh.”

The joint fell from my fingers onto the patio. The statue hadn’t moved and a quick scan of the yard showed no signs of life.  It was almost as if the voice had come from inside my head. I steadied my hands and took a long swig of wine.

“Akaaneh,” I echoed.

“Do you know how long I’d waited for you, Samantha?”

For a long moment, I’m frozen, mute. Finally, I resolve to put an end to this psychotic episode, bolting up from the lawn chair and swiping my wine glass from the patio table. Just before I slide the back door shut, I hear a faint voice like a mixture of silk and gravel —

“Goodnight, Samantha.”

 

Homecoming

 

bat

Idolatry – Pt. 3

Bombarded by twin fronts of fertilizer and foliage, I move like the tranquil eye of a storm towards the greenhouse at the rear of the store.

I push a hand truck through aisles of displaced flora until the downy blue clusters of an Adriatic Ageratum beckon a closer look.  Satisfied, I place two of the bushes onto the cart and turn to make my way back to the registers.

That’s when I got my first look at him.

Resting on a shelf of gardening implements at eye-level, a leonine chimera, sleek and stoic like the iconic statuary adorning Notre Dame Cathedral, he elicited a silent gasp that I can’t explain as I ran a finger across his stony features.  It was as though the proprietors knew that to place him alongside the adorably ugly and squat little trolls out front would debase his aura of mischievous yet debonair calm so they hid him back here among the flowering plants where a more discerning eye would be likely to find him.

My heart quickened as I waited for my receipt.  I felt like I was pulling a heist and the cashier’s nonchalant manner was starting to piss me off.  When she finally handed me the curled slip of register tape, I immediately scratched out the cost of the statue in a symbolic gesture.  If Dolores wants to reimburse me for the plants, that’s cool, but this seductive little fellow is mine all mine.

I loaded up the hatchback for a smooth getaway.

From the curb I can see Dan left a note on the front door.  If I don’t read it, I can’t be accused of ignoring whatever entreaties for my attention it may contain, so in one fluid motion I rip it down, crumple it in my fist and chuck it over my shoulder into the hydrangea hedge at the end of the driveway.

I leave the plants in the car and walk inside with the gargoyle, passing through the house to the back door where I perform a cursory scan of the fenced-in landscape.  Just there – one eye positioned to gaze peripherally inside through the patio doors, the other trained on the lush green sea of grass beyond the tiny courtyard.  I situate its base a half inch into the small dirt patch bordering the concrete, take a step back and smile at the subtly magical transformation my new friend has wrought upon this previously uninspiring chunk of South Jersey real estate.  I remember the Ageratum in the car and trudge back out to finish the chore.

My hangover is finally starting to lift so I make myself a guacachito and wolf it down on the sofa, plate balanced precariously across my knees while admiring the exquisite curvature of his arched and winged torso through the door.  I try not to overthink the sudden outbreak of goose flesh on my arms, tiny blonde hairs standing at attention as electricity races up my spine and my face goes flush.

The unmistakable physiology of a woman in love.

I wonder if this odd rush of feelings is anticipatory.   After all, the only thing that would inspire me to discard of a reliable fuck buddy like Dan with such uncharacteristic insouciance is a waxing desire to fall in love – to jump headlong into all-encompassing crazy brain-scrambling soul-fucking infatuation.

It had been a long time and I’d hardened myself considerably in the interim.  I sometimes worry that I’ve become too transparent to bewitch a beautiful unsuspecting boy with my stale array of coarse charms.  Before dialing Melinda to confirm that we were still on to meet at the Stone Pony for tonight’s Southside Johnny show, I glanced outside and thought I saw a subtle smile of approval play across his ceramic countenance.  It was like he knew – my unspoken desires, my secret vulnerabilities and maybe even my fate.

It all seemed so innocent then.  Even so, I blamed it on the residual effects of last night’s pharmacological feast and resolved to kick Molly to the curb along with Dan – cold turkey for two guilty pleasures whose times had long passed.

The Unforgiving Light

window

Idolatry – Pt. 2

I float upward, a rag doll lolling between cross-currents until I break the surface –

— no focus…parched and transparent…traces of MDMA adding a vividness to the hangover, a disembodied demand that I sit up and engage so I rise almost too heavy to levitate to the refrigerator, grab the 2-liter Diet Coke, upturn and drain its contents into a suspended yawn.

A bellicose belch to remind myself I’m alive, my hand squeezes the empty plastic bottle with a satisfying crunch.

I return to my room and see Dan’s already left two texts.  He wants to meet at the Sunset Diner for brunch. He actually uses the word brunch. The thought of spending another Saturday morning stuck to the torn vinyl of a wraparound booth listening to Dan’s distracting drone of masculine condescension, a monotonous plane of sound drifting over his Denver omelet — it’s just too much.

Dan is history, he just doesn’t know it yet.  We’d never defined our little arrangement but lately I could tell he was trying to fuck my mind just as hard as my snatch.  Poor thing.  Beneath the dry-rotted planks of the boardwalk last night, I heard him cum and to me it sounded like an exclamation point, the final relished grunt of a months-long animalistic entanglement.  I didn’t climax and I knew right there and then that this thing had run its course.  Today, he wants to put his brain on display to add an imagined mystique to his overworked cock and I’m expected to gaze at him in rapt attention as if everything coming out of his mouth weren’t so obviously memorized from Wikipedia pages he’d culled earlier in the day.  Like most men, he liked his women smart but not too smart.  I was kind enough to play just dumb enough for longer than Dan deserved and of course he’s getting ahead of himself now because I’m a fucking star and if you want to be treated to the performance of a lifetime, just slide on up to me and put your hand on my thigh like you own it.

But I can’t deal with Dan right now.  Rather than return his messages, I’m just going to let him squirm in uncertainty.  If you think I’m a bitch, try this hangover on for size and let me know if you feel like filling in for me at the diner.

He’ll show up here sooner or later, of course, but I’ll be long gone.

On my way out the door last night, Dolores called and asked if I’d be willing to pick up a couple of potted plants for the backyard.  I rent her home on a month to month basis and I know that she gives me these little errands to run that always result in me adding another personal touch to the place because she’s hoping I’ll commit to signing a lease.  “Oh, Samantha, you just have a better eye for these things,” she always says with a cunning smile.

I hop in the shower and hose off Dan’s intrusive essence along with several thousand grains of sand that circle the drain like the debris-heavy rings of Saturn.

Standing in the foyer, hair damp and brushed straight, cut-off shorts and a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Jersey Shore” in case I get lost and someone needs to return me to the general region of the world from which I’d become separated – an understated vision of detoxifying beauty ready to Feng Shui the fuck out of her backyard.  I scoop some change from the foyer table into my pocket and step out into the unforgiving light of the sun.

Since I’ve abdicated the responsibility of perching in close proximity to Dan and his omelet, I opt for the Sunset Farm Market in Wanamassa, a bit out of the way but much better suited to an artfully exploratory eye than the generic vegetative offerings at the Home Depot Garden Center.  Whenever Dolores asks me to pick something up for the home, she always knows I’ll end up virtually reinventing the entire aesthetic.  And that’s kind of the point.  She only lives a few blocks from here and seems perfectly capable of running simple errands despite the fact that her brains are scrambled.

So many scrambled brains and I can’t resist probing every last one I run across.  If ‘how did you get this way?’ were the only question that could be asked of anyone, I’d still be perpetually entertained for the rest of my life.  As I said, my sanity is lately up for debate, but I know how that happened even if I don’t begin to understand it.  It’s almost a blessing, too, because before I started down this rabbit hole, I had a pitiful reserve of horror stories with which to rationalize my erratic behavior.  Every woman seems to have some unspeakable moment from her past that’s just too upsetting to describe with anything but a hashtag followed by strength in numbers sloganeering.  Not me.  Sure, you could say I’ve made myself the target of a good deal of slut-shaming over the years, but can that really be considered traumatic when it’s exactly what I was after?  The time-honored battle of the sexes is an endless source of amusement to me.  All of this noisy animosity over the insertion of a stick into a hole.  I’m not trying to belittle those poor girls who’ve been targets of a full-on invasive blitzkrieg from the lecherous Cock Luftwaffe — that’s some twisted motherfucking shit.  It’s just that I have no comparable episodes of rape or victimization to share so I’m rightfully excluded from that particular sisterhood.  It’s also why guys find me so unthreatening, as long as I keep the lion’s share of my intellect to myself.

When I pulled into the semi-circular driveway of the farm market, I noticed a new row of slate grey statues arranged in a straight line a few yards from the entrance at the edge of the immaculate close-clipped lawn.  I got out of my car and pushed my sunglasses up to the loose bun of hair in the middle of my head so I could get a better look at the figures.

Gargoyles.  Grotesquely pedestrian and purposeless at ground level, I turned and walked through the automatic doors in search of potted plants for Dolores.

 

 

 

Idolatry

asbury-park-convention-hall

For Tanya.  This is your story.  I am merely its vessel.

Prologue

It all started with a stolen glance.

Jesus, that sounds fucking pathetic. If I’m going to just throw caution to the wind and relate every ridiculous detail of this bizarre turn my life has taken, I better at least back up and make you understand that I was relatively sane not too long ago. I might be a raving lunatic but you would be, too, if you had —

— been taking another Ecstatic wobbly Friday night stroll across the weathered Asbury Park Boardwalk, Dan’s bicep hooked into the crook of my arm for balance, a detailed outline of his hard-on etched into the faded fabric of his slim-fit Levis.

We ducked into the Convention Hall, an imposing eyesore of an edifice that reminds me of the abandoned Ellis Island Great Hall and probably shelters just as many ghosts of the terminally forlorn. Dan tapped two cigarettes out of his pack and handed me one.

“I’m vaping now. Hurry up and smoke that thing so we can get out of here.”

“You’re still scared of this place, Sam?”

“It’s Sammi, for the millionth time, and when I’m at the peak of my roll, I like to be anywhere but a big, musty, depressing fucking building, okay?”

Dan broke into his little weasel chuckle and blew a cloud of smoke into my face. I punched him in the arm and turned to stare at the dark surf breaking on the invisible shoreline. Silhouettes skittered past the clouded glass of the window, vague human forms unconsciously choreographed to the distant calliope music. I shuddered, another micro-orgasm wasted on Dan’s incessant motherfucking smoke breaks. He was leaning against a column staring at the blue smoke curling languidly into the dank atmosphere of our marble mausoleum. Sometimes he irritated the living shit out of me.

“Let’s get the hell out of here.”

“What’s the rush, Sam-mi? Seen a ghost?”

“No, but I see an asshole who’ll never get in my pants again if he doesn’t crush that butt under his shoe in the next 30 seconds.”

Before I knew it, we were under the boardwalk fucking as if our lives depended on it.

Dan and I had spent pretty much every Friday night that summer rolling and drinking and screwing at the boardwalk. It had gotten so routine that I probably wouldn’t have even thought to mention it if this particular night hadn’t preceded the next Saturday morning. That was the morning when I started to question everything I thought I knew.

As I write, I can feel him staring daggers at me — actual soul-piercing daggers. He’s right there outside the sliding glass doors, silent, motionless and inscrutable as you’d expect any ceramic statue to be. Don’t be fooled. He’s pure creeping insidious evil and if I had the will, I’d smash him to jagged shards right there on the patio.

This is a love story. I’m writing it for the benefit of everyone who — like me — hates love stories with a fucking passion. So pour yourself a drink. You’re gonna need it.

Dimensions

Flatlander-disappearing-from-two-dimensional-space-Courtesy-Yoeli-Kaufman

Bill blinked twice. He’d been working on the problem for so long that he hadn’t noticed how small all the domiciles had become. Of course, being a high level contractor for the IA, Bill was well aware of the secret domestic downsizing project but this was the first time he’d witnessed the effects of its implementation first hand. It made him feel lonely. Drones hovered above the rooftops of the stocky community blocks delivering food to those who still opted to take their nutrition orally. If Bill squinted just so, he could imagine that they were pigeons or some other former city-dwelling birds that conveniently scavenged the refuse back when people still produced refuse for winged scavengers.

Inside their increasingly diminutive homes, people were all immersed in multi-faceted virtual realities whose sole commonality was the illusion in the mind of the citizen that he or she was the center of the Universe. Never mind that such a nucleus is impossible for a phenomenon without a definable circumference; nobody thought in terms of physical laws anymore — except for Bill and a few of his cohorts who worked deep in the belly of the Intelligence Apparatus, of course. And though their appointments had been announced with great fanfare, not one of them felt privileged to be among the few remaining people privy to the truth.

It was Bill’s fault that the VR fed into the domiciles had become so absurdly flattering to individual egos. In essence, everyone was having what felt like the experience of being God, impossible as Bill had proven such an experience to be. The IA decided to ratchet up the narcissism of the virtual life after Bill had — innocently enough — managed to finally and permanently disprove the very notion of a Creator. It all happened about a decade ago when he was tasked with solving the growing problem of suicide among seemingly well-adapted citizens. A contributing factor to this outbreak of hopelessness, of course, was the continued growth of the population despite the steady disappearance of habitable land as the world’s coastlines continued to inch ever inward. But back then, people were at liberty to choose their own experiences from a menu of popular scenarios. Not surprisingly, over 90% of all VR downloads purchased worldwide were of the sex fantasy variety. And since people still enjoyed a decent amount of living space, these pornographic excursions were invariably followed by the insertion of a real penis into a real vagina and this, of course, resulted in more and more real babies to ravage the Earth’s dwindling resources. In other words, due to all of that spontaneous and unregulated fucking, the human race now found itself completely and utterly fucked. The IA quickly ascertained the unsustainability of the situation and when the alarming suicide figures came to their attention, they turned to Bill for a solution, never dreaming that he’d actually find a way to make things worse.

Bill first had to identify the problem before embarking upon the search for a solution, and he quite accurately defined it as this: people had viewed themselves as separate from their gods — as other than their gods — for so long that it was now an unfortunate accident of birth to be immediately saddled with the instinctual illusion that every person is a mere plaything thrust into a brutally cold and unkind Universe whose indiscriminate machinations were governed solely by its capricious Creator. This accepted contradiction created an inescapable psychological double-bind in the minds of every man, woman and child. It caused them to feel simultaneously inferior and superior to their alien habitat and the other lifeforms therein, thus imbuing them with motivations that necessarily canceled each other out. Inferior because they were individually helpless to transform the physical laws that caused so much difficulty and discomfort and because they assumed that the god behind this situation was so sublimely inscrutable as to make interaction with his neglected children impossible. Superior because they also managed to imagine that such supernatural interactions are indeed possible because such a complex organism as man can’t have been created in any other image than that of its Creator. This gave them leave to treat nature with unmitigated aggression in a never-ending futile attempt to mold it to their image of heaven. When nature began its inevitable revolt against the actions of its most troublesome and cancerous constituents, people had no choice but to face the results of their collective misapprehension of reality. This is when people began jumping off of buildings and swallowing handfuls of lethal narcotics. This is when the IA called upon Bill for assistance.

Always methodical, Bill was certain that the first step in releasing humanity from its millennia-long dream was to attack it at the root; i.e. destroy the legendary notion of God The Father once and for all. As steps in the imagined process went, this one was child’s play. Here’s what Bill told the human race in a mandatory simulcast from the IA’s Information Service: A limitless, creative being with its own will and desires is a logical impossibility. Motivation, will, aspiration, self-expression — these all arise from an incomplete comprehension of reality. If a conscious being were to possess all of the knowledge that can be acquired, it would be incapable of desire or motivation. “All of the knowledge” doesn’t just refer to the collective discoveries of mankind up to this point — it means knowledge of every single minute physical and conscious activity in the process that is the field of the phenomenal Universe. It means an absolute intimacy with every simultaneous event of the past, present and future. It means having no questions to be answered or problems to be solved. It means, in other words, the death of creativity. A consciousness containing everything there is would cease to have a will. Thus, it follows that an ultimate limitless consciousness cannot possibly be the catalyst for a limited Universe.

Bill had a crystalline reputation in his field of study and that’s why the IA broadcast his message without reservations. “Well, that’s been tidied up,” they told themselves until people began checking out en masse for no apparent reason. The reason, of course, was that their illusions had been shattered but nothing had been presented to take their place. Nature’s sudden dramatic backlash to their lifestyles was the first clue. Bill’s attempt at mitigating their distress was the proof of life’s cruel futility that they needed in order to give up entirely.

So the IA sent Bill back to the drawing board. For now, the wide scale implementation of V.R. Narcissus kept the masses safely indoors, quiet and content in playing God from the comfort of their cramped quarters. If a person should step away from the main screen, applications embedded in their telephones, wristwatches and eyeglasses kept the illusion alive with recorded and texted messages from imaginary friends and relations that reinforced the citizen’s feelings of infinite importance. No one ever suspected that these messages were generated at IAHQ and run through personality filters to fit the specifics of each particular VR experience because it was too tempting for an ego to enthusiastically accept and embrace such confirmations of its imagined supremacy.

IA sent Bill back to the drawing board because it was understood that the current situation was untenable in the long term. Virtual Reality demands actual machinery as well as perpetual maintenance and adjustment thereupon. Humanity needed a permanent solution to the perfect existential storm it was facing and one that relied on manufactured technology was by its very nature temporary.

In college, Bill had read a curious nineteenth century novel called “Flatland” by an author with the equally curious name of Edwin Abbott Abbott. The book’s central character was a two-dimensional square living in a correspondingly two-dimensional world. The square has a strange dream about a one-dimensional world inhabited by points (or singularities) who are unable to see him when he tries to interact with them, because their world doesn’t permit the discernment of more than one dimension. A short time later, the square is visited by a spherical being from our three-dimensional world but is only able to see this entity as a two-dimensional circle due to the limitations of his own world. Bill had found the book’s premise charmingly absurd at the time, but now he wondered if the answer to mankind’s dilemma didn’t perhaps lie in an inversion of its plot.

The dilemma can be summarized thusly: the Earth and its resources are finite and depletable but the human population continues to grow exponentially. Now that the effects of its history of consumption and multiplication have become apparent, mankind is beset by unmanageable guilt and anxiety. The God myth has lost all of its potency leaving its former adherents staring out over an abyss of nihilistic despair. Chin up, Bill, we know you’ve got it in you to sort out this little predicament, Old Chap! Bill stared out over his own abyss of nihilistic despair until that silly old book of geometric fantasy revealed the answer he sought.

Dimensions. We inhabit a world that displays itself through a dimensional quartet (if you include time, whose inclusion in the formula is indispensable to our experience of the phenomena it generates). Therefore, our environment is limited to that which can be experienced by a four-dimensional orientation. Quantum mechanics, however, has revealed a functional field of infinite dimensions beyond our perceptional capabilities. How might we access such potentially expansive realties? Bill pondered this question for several months, often trying the patience of his instant results-addicted superiors at IA.

This morning, Bill perfected the science of accessing higher dimensions. Satisfied at his hard-fought accomplishment, he climbed up to the roof of the IAHQ building for a breath of fresh air. There was none to be found, of course, but today, Bill wasn’t even mildly distressed at the scant breathability of the atmosphere. It simply reinforced his nearly unshakeable resolve. Holding a tiny quantum computer in the palm of his hand, Bill walked to the building’s ledge and looked down, wondering how those poor suicidal souls must have felt when they believed that they were about to deliberately snuff out their own lives. “Morons,” he scoffed under his breath, having lost all sympathy for the planned beneficiaries of his intellectual and ostensibly humanitarian breakthrough. “I’m going home and the last thing I need is a horde of insufferable simpletons riding my coattails.”

With that, Bill stepped off the roof into a higher dimensional plane. Just for fun, he wiggled his middle finger through the invisible midair portal before pulling it back into his newly expansive realm with an audible pop.

Trevor was quickly tapped by the IA to pick up where Bill left off in his work when he incomprehensibly disappeared earlier in the day. A smoker, Trevor’s first order of business after his brief orientation was to steal away to the roof for a quick puff. Lighting a fag while staring out over the motionless city, Trevor could swear he heard a voice in the wind. Subtle but persistent, it seemed to be saying, “Fuuuuuckkk yooooooooooouuuuu!” in a spectral voice that bore an eerie similarity to that of his predecessor. “If I don’t keep my wits about me,” thought Trevor, “this job may well drive me mad.”

Ningún Santuario – Complete

211056-Flickering-Dark-Candles

Just in time for Halloween, the episodic zombie thriller I’ve been posting here is finally complete.  I am enormously flattered that so many of you have followed this over 7 months and across two different blog pages — your encouragement is what motivated me to see it through to its conclusion.    Before I leave you with the links to all 20 installments, I’d like to share a couple of things.  First, all locations mentioned in the story are actual places in New Mexico (except, of course, for the brief scenes that took place in Oaxaca, Mexico and Chicago, IL).  From sites like the Big Chief gas station that may have been familiar to Breaking Bad fans to the Santa Fe apartment complex where Sgt. Martinez lived and the specific venues of local A.A. meetings, I strove to be authentic because New Mexico really is a place of magic — both beautiful and dark.  Second, my knowledge of the rituals and culture of Santa Muerte is scant (not to mention my grasp of basic Spanish), so some inaccuracies are to be expected.  And finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to Vince Gilligan for expertly tapping into the sinister vibe of the southwest and inspiring so much of the imagery I used in my comparatively amateurish tale.  Enjoy!

Ningun Santuario (Prologue)

Albuquerque

LAÇOS DE FAMÍLIA

Diego Huerta

Cibola

Pueblo

Big Chief

Small Mercies

Graveyard Whistling

Avance

Phantasmagoria

Oracle

Justicia Cósmica

Skeleton In The Closet

La Cucaracha

Conduit

Flying Star

Smoke Screen

Convergencia

Tumbleweed