Posts Tagged 'fiction'

Science Fiction and Dreaming Big

Your average politician when asked about manned missions to the stars.

A while back I watched a video that spoke to my inner child and reminded him of why he is so depressed. In the video, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains that we, as a human race, have stopped dreaming. Watch the video here:

I look around me, and it’s true. Those who dream are shot down by politics, finances, or safety concerns.

Did the men who broke the sound barrier worry about safety? Yes. As much and as ridiculously as we do? No. What about the Gemini astronauts, or the Apollo astronauts? Some of those men died. A few of them came close to dying. They were heroes, and they knew the risks when they signed up.

These guys almost DIED for science.

Now though, we’re not even allowed to risk the life of an animal for scientific advancement. Remember Laika? It wasn’t that big of a deal back then. Why now? Why are people so afraid to dream and take risks to make those dreams a reality?

Then I read an article in my Popular Mechanics magazine titled, “Why We Need Big, Bold Science Fiction.” That got me excited. Even if people won’t accept the risks, or are too afraid of being politically incorrect to sacrifice a dog to test human safety systems, we can still create inspiring science fiction. Our generation may be paralyzed by political poison, but perhaps our children’s world will be different. They may be willing to take the risks.

And that is why I love to dream. I love to write. I love to create those systems that cannot yet be created.

You can tell me why my deep space exploration system won’t work, but it doesn’t matter. That’s why it’s called science fiction.

Some of my favorite television science fiction is Star Trek: The Next Generation. Remember tricorders? Yeah, so does this guy who is building them. He was inspired to do something amazing, just by watching a television show.

Someday...

What will my science fiction inspire some day? Probably nothing. But it’s worth it to dream. It’s worth it to take the risk of being ignored, so long as the possibility remains that I could one day inspire a mission to another solar system and beyond.

Don’t stop dreaming.

Ned’s Anomaly

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep… Ned’s alarm clock continued relentlessly until he shut it off and forced himself to leave his warm bed and prepare for another day at work.

Still waking up, Ned shuffled into the bathroom. Slowly, he positioned himself in front of the mirror and tried to remember what he was doing in there. Right, getting ready to go to work. In the distance he could hear a soft beeping sound, rhythmic and mundane. Must have forgot to turn off my alarm, he thought to himself.

Back in his room Ned checked his alarm, but it was quiet and properly set to go off the next morning. In his room there was complete silence, the beeping could not be heard. Strange. Ned set his alarm clock down on the dresser and returned to the bathroom, again trying to remember what he was doing.

Got to get ready to go. While he prepared his toothbrush, he realized he was hearing the beeping again. Where is that coming from? He looked around, moved to the window, put his ear by the vent. Nothing. He could only hear the sound while standing in front of the mirror. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep… Muffled and faint, it nagged at him while he brushed his teeth, shaved and washed his face.

While he was rinsing his face, his wife wandered in to the bathroom. She went straight for the toilet, but Ned stopped her in front of the mirror.

“Do you hear anything?” he asked her.

“What, dear? Hear what?” She rubbed her eyes and looked at the toilet.

“I don’t know, it sounds like an alarm clock or a smoke detector. Do you hear it?”

She listened for a second. “No, I don’t hear anything.” Breaking free of the conversation she reached for the toilet. “The neighbors’ alarm clock is probably just going off. Don’t worry about it.”

Ned agreed. I don’t need to worry about it, it’s nothing. The trouble was that it nagged at him and he couldn’t help but worry.

All day he thought about the beeping. He wondered where it was coming from, what it meant, if he could do anything to stop it. Finally, just an hour or so before returning home, he quit thinking about the beeping. His attention was instead turned to an important problem that needed resolving before he could leave work. When he finally arrived home his mind was free and he enjoyed the evening at home.

The next morning his alarm clock yanked him out of sleep in the usual, most dreadfully stubborn manner, refusing to be silent until Ned held the reset button down.

This time, however, when he shuffled back into the bathroom to get ready to go to work, he stopped in front of the mirror and froze. There it is again. He stood there, listening. Several minutes went by. The steady beep was almost hypnotizing, and he didn’t snap back to reality until his wife made her regular visit to the toilet.

She entered the room and bumped into Ned, who was standing motionless in front of the mirror. Sitting on the toilet, she asked, “Are you alright? What were you doing?”

Slightly startled, he took a moment to gather his thoughts. “I guess I was daydreaming.” The truth was that he was daydreaming about where the sound could be coming from.

“It’s strange, it looks like you haven’t gotten anything done and you need to leave in ten minutes. Are you feeling OK?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” He reached for his toothbrush. Suddenly, he felt the blood rush into his right cheek. He put his hand on it. The whole right half of his face was nearly numb and freezing cold. He looked at his wife. “Do you feel cold at all?”

“No, it’s nice. We’ve got the air conditioner on and I’m pretty warm. Why?”

“Nothing, I’m just feeling a little chilly. I’ll put on a sweater.” A sweater wouldn’t do him any good though, his whole body was warm. The only part of him that was at all cold was his face, only on the right side, and it was almost frozen. He finished his business in the bathroom as quickly as he could, but was still a little late for work.

Sitting at his desk he touched his cheek. It was warm now. He tried to get some work done, but this time he never managed to get his mind off the beeping. All day it was the only thing he could think about. When he got back home, he went straight to the bathroom.

Using his hands, he probed around the area in front of his mirror, trying to find out why his face got so cold. After just a few moments, he found a space small enough to cup in his hands that was colder than the inside of his freezer. He couldn’t see it, but it was easy enough to feel. It seemed to be emitting cold air. When he moved his ear closer to the cold spot, he could hear the beeping.

How strange, he thought. He knew just the right person to call though. Ned was still in contact with a friend of his from college. They had taken some general education classes together before parting ways. Ned had studied business and his friend studied physics. They kept in touch over the Internet but had never really had a good reason to talk before now.

Ned went to his computer and wrote a message to his friend explaining the strange place in his bathroom and asking if he would be interested in coming to his house to check it out. In the message he left his phone number and asked him to call immediately.

Ned’s friend, Professor Randal E. Thorpe of the Harvard University general physics department, called twenty minutes later and made arrangements to come over in two hours with a few professor buddies from different fields of specialization who would bring equipment and take some readings.

A feeling of satisfaction and relief swept over Ned. The nagging quit. Now it was in more capable hands. Now he didn’t have to worry about it so much. It was already getting late, so he decided to use the next couple of hours and take a nap before his friend arrived.

As he approached the bathroom, en route to his bedroom, he felt a chilling but soft breeze rushing down the hall with him. Closer still and he began to hear the beeping, only this time much louder than before. Peering into the bathroom he heard the beeping echoing off every tiled wall. The whole room was covered in an icy layer of frost. He could see inside the toilet that the water in the bowl was frozen solid.

Interesting, but out of his hands. He didn’t need to worry about it. He would wait and let the professionals deal with any new developments. He got in his bed, went to sleep and had dreams about penguins and doughnuts.

When the professors arrived, his wife woke him up and had him show them in to the bathroom. Ned had to put slippers and a sweater on because the whole house was cold despite the thermostat being set to the hottest setting.

“This seems much worse than you initially made it seem, Ned.” Professor Thorpe was helping one of his colleagues set up some equipment.

“Whatever it is, it is definitely worse now than when I sent for you. It’s giving off more cold air and the beeping is louder.” Ned surveyed the equipment, wondering what it all did and what they were going to learn about the anomaly in his bathroom. Out of my hands, he reminded himself.

“Well, Ned, if you like you can go back to sleep and we’ll let ourselves out when we’re finished. I don’t know how long it’ll take for us to gather the data we’ll need, but I don’t want you to feel obligated to stay up with us. We’ll clean up after ourselves and everything. Don’t worry about a thing, and I’ll call you tomorrow to tell you what we find out.” Professor Thorpe patted Ned on the back and they shook hands.

Ned was glad they would call to tell him what they learned. His curiosity was growing, and so was the cold spot.

When he woke up the next morning he was almost shivering in his bed. He could hear two alarm clocks clearly now, one in his room and one coming from the bathroom. He shut off the alarm clock in his room, then went to check out the bathroom.

Sure enough, the professors were all gone, and so were any signs that they had been there. It sounded like his alarm clock was still going off in the bathroom, but there was no physical clock in there at all.

The water in the tap was frozen, so he really couldn’t use the bathroom to get ready for work. He shaved with an electric razor and brushed his teeth in the kitchen. At work, he waited for his friend to call with more information. When no call came at work, he went home in the evening and asked his wife if there had been any calls for him. There had not. He decided to call the professor himself to find out if they had learned anything new.

He went to look for the cordless handset. On his way, he heard it start ringing. Now where did I put it? he asked himself. It sounded like it was in the hallway somewhere. The whole hallway was cold and starting to form a layer of frost on the carpet. I’ll have to seal that bathroom off to keep the cold in, he decided. As he passed the bathroom he thought it sounded like the phone was inside. He opened the door, and the ringing got louder, but he couldn’t find the phone anywhere. He could hear the phone, but there was no phone inside.

Looking around the rest of the house he eventually found the cordless phone in his bedroom. He could still hear the faint ringing and beeping coming from the bathroom, but his real phone and alarm clock were quiet. For a moment, the ringing stopped. A minute later it started up again. This time it didn’t last as long and soon all he could hear was the beeping.

Ned dialed his friend’s number and waited. After a few rings the professor answered. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any news to share. The data were still being analyzed. There were no firm ideas as to what the thing could be, but he would call as soon as any theories had been formed.

Ned was disappointed. He decided to turn his attention to sealing the bathroom off. He was tired of being so cold all of the time.

Using everything he had available, he set to work. Towels, extra bed sheets, painter’s plastic and duct tape went on, layer after layer, until Ned couldn’t feel any cold air coming out from the bathroom any more.

An added benefit of the seal was that the beeping was a lot harder to hear through all of the padding. Now it was only a faint sound, as though it were coming from the far end of a neighbor’s house.

A few days passed. The seal was working great. Every morning Ned turned his alarm clock off, heard the faint echo of that same alarm as he passed the bathroom on his way to the kitchen to get ready for work, and left his warm home for work. Every evening he got home, used warm water and a wash cloth to bathe, and retired to his warm bed to repeat the whole thing again the next morning. It was good to have his routine back. The only thing missing was that call from his professor friend. He curiosity about the strangeness in his bathroom had not completely left him. Plus, if his friend could figure out what it was, perhaps they could do something about it. He hoped it wasn’t getting worse. It seemed to be contained, but there was no way to know for sure.

Then one morning he woke up cold again. He shut his alarm clock off, but the beeping didn’t stop. He stepped out of bed and shivers went up his entire body. The floor had frost on it. He checked the seal around the bathroom, but it was intact. The wall next to the door had a big patch of ice on it. Whatever was growing inside the bathroom was beginning to leak out into the hallway.

Ned went to work and called his friend again to tell him about the new development. The professor apologized for taking so long, but some of the data were presenting intriguing problems and they had enlisted additional help from around the country. He promised that as soon as he had any news he would call. Ned picked up two cold weather sleeping bags from the store on the way home.

He got home and found his wife bundled up in a heavy coat, slippers and gloves. The cold was biting and overwhelming. Despite the weather in the house, she had the whole living room completely rearranged, a lot of things still unplugged from being moved. She said she wanted a new look for the house and needed something to do to keep warm. He didn’t mind, it looked good. The television was among the unplugged items, but they were tired, he wasn’t interested in watching television and they decided to fix it all in the morning.

They set up the sleeping bags under the covers of their bed. They slipped into bed and held each other for additional warmth. Ned was starting to drift off when he remembered that their telephone answering machine was in the living room.

“When you were moving things around out there, did you plug the answering machine back in?” he asked his wife.

“I don’t think so, I just moved everything around and left it because I wasn’t sure if I would want to move it all around some more or not.”

“I’ve been waiting for the professor to call, and I don’t want to miss what he has to say.” Ned thought about getting out of bed to plug the answering machine back in. “Do you think I should go plug it in?”

“No, don’t worry about it. If he calls tonight we’ve got a phone right here. We can answer it. I’ll make sure I plug it in tomorrow morning. Just go to sleep.”

She was right. He drifted off. He slept well that night. He slept so well, that he was not conscious when the anomaly in his bathroom exploded in size, almost instantly freezing the entire house.

In the morning his alarm clock went off just as it did every morning.

As for the professor, he and his colleagues were getting close to a solid theory about Ned’s problem. The thing in Ned’s bathroom appeared to be a rip of sorts in time and space. It had properties unlike anything any of them had ever observed before in the real world and it was generating a lot of excitement in the scientific community. Professor Thorpe decided to wait a couple more days before calling Ned, but things were definitely looking good.

Back at Ned’s house a couple of days later, the phone rang. It rang and rang and rang. Finally, the professor hung up, thought for a minute, and called back one more time.Then it was silent in the house.

Except, of course, for that persistent alarm clock.

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep…

The Great Hall of Heroes

Cheers and applause roared from every side as Droth came forth through the city gates. A large mass of townsmen had met him some distance back and escorted him to the city, singing praises to his name. Many individuals had timidly approached him, emerging shyly from the crowd, taking his hand in theirs and thanking him over tears of joy.

“Hero,” they said.

“Thank you,” others choked out through their tears.

Hero, thought Droth, and he smiled. Never in all of his travels had something so innocent and simple been considered such a monumental act of heroism.

A long time ago Droth had left his small village and set out to see as many places as he could before he married. His future bride had given her blessing, as did the Council, so he set off without much of anything of which to speak. So much time had passed since then, that Droth’s hair would now reach down to his buttocks, had he not cut it regularly.

The time had been well invested, as he had learned many new skills, grown stronger and even acquired a good deal of wisdom. It all culminated in this, though. His great moment of glory with the people of Caruthia. He certainly felt that their reaction was disproportionate to his deed, but he also felt pride and excitement from their cheers and the glory of being a hero.

They marched him and paraded him through the streets of their walled city. On the steps of the council building they adorned him with the hero’s cape. They performed many unfamiliar rites, customs and tributes before finally leading him to their great hall of heroes.

The great hall of heroes was a large building, tall, beautifully carved from stone. There was a door in front large enough to fit a giant, and it took four strong men to slowly swing it open. Inside there was no light except some scattered torches along the walls and on some of the columns, unusual even for Caruthia. Someone Droth had seen before explained, in the best words he knew, that this place was a tribute to all of the heroes who had ever performed an act of heroism for the city of Caruthia. As per custom, Droth was to be honored here as well.

They entered the great hall of heroes and walked slowly down the long hallway, the sides of which were adorned with statues of great men, all wearing the same hero’s cape that now gracefully fluttered and waved behind Droth. Some of the statues sported weapons, some were in the attitude of worshiping or praying. They were all in such magnificent poses. What beautiful statues Droth thought. The workmanship was extraordinary. Even their eyes seemed to glitter with satisfaction at being honored as a hero.

“Every young boy in Caruthia dreams of one day being honored here,” his guide explained. “Unfortunately, opportunities for acts of heroism worthy of admittance to the great hall of heroes are not abundant. It may be a very long time before we have the great honor of remembering another hero here.”

“These are amazing statues,” remarked Droth. “When will I meet the craftsman?”

“In good time, my hero.”

He began telling brief accounts of the deeds that brought some of the heroes in to their great hall.

This is Ermod, a simple farmer who was out in his fields when a horrible monster appeared in the distance, headed for our city. Ermod grabbed one of his farm tools and ran to meet the beast, which stood three times his height. A great fight ensued and finally Ermod returned victoriously to his home. News of his heroism spread quickly and we did not miss the opportunity to honor him here.” He pointed at Ermod’s statue. “There, can you see some of the scratches from his fight? Is it not amazing and wonderful to ponder and remember the acts of a hero? How can any society allow such acts to fade into history? The hero must be immortalized, remembered forever. That is why we built this great hall.”

Droth wondered how long it would take for such a statue to be built. He decided that a return to Caruthia to see his statue would be necessary.

Walking down the long hall seemed to take much longer than Droth had expected it would. They may have passed hundreds of heroes, perhaps thousands. It was difficult to tell how long they had been walking. At long last they came to a place where the hall still did not end, but there were no more statues to see. There was a pedestal. There was another pedestal. There were lots of pedestals with no heroes atop.

Ah, here we are.”

Droth could hear the gentle murmurs of excitement humming through the crowd that had followed them inside.

Now for the greatest moment of your life, Droth. We would like you to model for us up on that pedestal the most heroic pose of which you can think. Show us the pose by which you would like us to remember you forever.” Even the guide seemed excited.

Droth looked around at the beaming faces, then without the slightest hesitation leaped up on the pedestal and assumed a heroic pose.

Yes, that will do nicely,” the guide said. “Just hold still a moment, this won’t take long.”

Suddenly there was a burst of light. That must be it, thought Droth. I can probably get down now. He… He, well… He began to panic. He tried to move his legs, but they were frozen. He tried to look down at his guide, but his head wouldn’t respond. He could move nothing, not even his eyes. Low in his field of vision he could see the tops of the people’s heads. They were all looking up at him, commenting on his pose, how great he was, how he would now be honored and remembered forever. What have they done to me? He asked himself. Do they know I can’t move? He tried to call out, but again he found himself unable.

Then, after a long moment of panic and horror, the people began to turn around and go home. He was called back to reality at that moment, and that is when his panic became complete as he realized how long he would be there and he realized just how long forever was going to seem from inside that dark, lonely hall.

The great hall of heroes.

Hesitation

It was at this moment that Kevin always found himself hesitating.

“Why?” he would sometimes ask himself. “What is there to be afraid of?”

Asking himself didn’t do any good though, because he knew the answer. He knew exactly what he was afraid of. It really wasn’t fear, either, that caused the hesitation. It was worry, anxiousness, nervousness and other similar, familiar feelings that would all creep in on him at the same time, making him hesitate.

Memories of the previous times he had been through this only served to make him hesitate longer. For as long as he could remember, this had been a difficult thing for him. He knew it was unique, he knew that most people did this every day, sometimes two or three times a day, and it wasn’t this difficult. In fact, it wasn’t like this at all for them.

He stared down at his reflection in the faucet and other chrome surfaces. Since he always hesitated, he had spent a long time staring down into the chrome. Every day. He always loved the way his face would distort, squashing and stretching. Past the faucet was his canvas, his enemy. The white of the porcelain glistened with a light coating of water. Water. Yes, perhaps a little more water.

He reached, toothbrush still in hand, to turn on the cold water. A little more. He opened the valve all the way. Maybe with enough water it would all wash away quickly. Maybe he wouldn’t even get a glimpse. If he didn’t see, he wouldn’t have to be worried. He wouldn’t have to hesitate any more if he could simply wash away the problem.

Before continuing, though, he rinsed the toothbrush. Washed away all the suds and germs that seemed to hate him so much. Why? Why not anybody else? Useless inquiries, just like the useless hesitation. At least he wouldn’t waste water in the mean time, he would rinse the toothbrush.

Hopefully, this time, there won’t be blood. He shuddered upon remembering the last time there was blood. Bits of food, the suds, anything else is fine. Blood doesn’t represent good things. It always means trouble. Bad trouble.

Keven put his hand back on the cold water handle, locking his arm out so he could lean against the sink. He contemplated turning the water back off, but did nothing. Hesitating. He looked straight down, trying not to look at anything, but instead watching the water pour from the faucet. He watched intently. Waiting. The texture of the oxygen charged water flowing from above, quickly shooting down, a white-water rapids going straight down, crashing into the smooth, white surface of the bottom of the sink. He followed the stream down a little further, into the drain, wishing he could go there too. The whole sink should be a drain, he thought, because that way there wouldn’t be any way to see what he knew he was about to see.

“My teeth are healthy enough,” he told himself out loud. “How bad would it really be if I only brushed once a week?” Going through this mess once a week would be a lot better than every day. He remembered one of his earlier visits to the dentist, as a small boy. The dentist had advised him to brush his teeth at least twice a day, maybe three times. Little Kevin had laughed, thinking it was a joke. When he saw that the dentist was serious, Kevin became frightened. He recalled the ride home in the car, still crying. His mother assuring him that the dentist couldn’t really make him brush three times a day, it was just a suggestion. The thought still gave Kevin chills. Twenty years later, it still made his skin crawl.

Another rhetorical question crossed his mind. “Why is it so much easier to start brushing than to finish?” Of course, it is true. If he knew so well how much trouble it was to finish the job of brushing, why would he not hesitate to begin? As a very small child, the habit had been instilled before the experience of finishing really got bad. Then, things weren’t so heavy, so intense. Now, it wasn’t so light and easy. He would begin brushing each day simply because he knew he had to, but once he began he would have to finish.

There he stood, hand on handle, leaning on the sink, mouth full of suds, hesitating. He focused his vision again, watching the white water crash down onto the white surface, with the little white bubbles dancing into the drain. The dark drain.

Nervousness set in heavily as he prepared to spit into the sink. He would aim for the drain, as he always did, but he knew something would splatter onto the porcelain. It always did. He would try to look away, like he always did, but he would see it anyhow. He wasn’t ready yet. He pulled his face away and looked up at the ceiling.

Ah yes, the ceiling, another of many all too familiar features in the bathroom. How many times had the hesitating led to this, looking up, away from the dark, white porcelain. Looking up always made him think, “I should just swallow the suds, that way I don’t have to spit them out.” He knew how well that would go over though, he had done it a few times before. Every time it led to very bad things. Sickness, vomiting, tense muscles. All of that, and the next day’s spit would always be a thousand times worse. No, he knew it was far better not to swallow. Spitting was, in fact, the lesser of two evils. Two dark, sinister evils. Spitting and swallowing. In any other context it would be humorous. Kevin had very little to laugh about though.

There was one time, a long time ago, that the spitting brought something to laugh about. Among a lifetime of darkness, that one day shone like a candle, a bright light that Kevin always hoped would return. It never had, though, and what that told Kevin was that he was destined to a life full of sadness, darkness and horrors. His hope of another something to laugh at had disappeared forever.

He let his head fall back down, looking down at the water. Watching and listening to the running water was soothing, but he was beginning to feel bad about wasting water. He remembered television ads he saw as a child. They always had suggestions for conserving water. He never left the water running while shaving or brushing his teeth. Just like the commercials said. Now he stood there, leaning on the sink, watching the water.

What did it mean? He stared more intently at the water. The water didn’t seem to be saying anything. It doesn’t mean anything. It had nothing to say.

No, he wasn’t ready yet.

He could carry it around all day, in his mouth. That way, he wouldn’t have to spit it out, and he could just leave it in there and brush his teeth again the next morning with the same… No, that made his stomach sick just thinking about it. Plus, he had to talk to people. That’s hard to do with a mouth full of toothpaste suds and bits of food.

Time to spit. He just had to get it over with. He took a long, deep breath in through his nostrils. He held it. Drums beat somewhere inside, and things shifted. His heart moved up, a void was created near his stomach making that strange feeling you get before doing something that you know will frighten you. He felt his pores widening, he felt his forehead and arms cool down rapidly from the sweat. He put his other hand out to steady himself on the sink. “It doesn’t take that long,” he said to himself. Of course, not really. He couldn’t speak with all of the suds in his mouth.

He hadn’t had breakfast yet, so he wasn’t sure if the rumblings in his stomach were from hunger or nerves. Another good reason to spit though, it’s difficult to eat with a mouth full of suds.

He could simply close his eyes, to prevent himself from seeing the suds, but that hadn’t worked in the past. For Kevin, spitting the suds was like sneezing, except backward. When you sneeze, you have to close your eyes. When Kevin spits the suds, he has to have them opened. If they’re closed, he’ll miss it, and that’s not the way it’s supposed to go.

He spit.

He did it quickly, but for him time seemed to slow. He watched the stream of liquid flow down to the sink. Some of it went straight into the drain, but the rest splashed and sloshed around the drain, speaking to him. Patterns formed, arrangements of bubbles, colors and textures showed him signs. His heart fluttered when he saw swirls and streaks of red. Blood always means bad things. Wait though, over there. Is that a bit of carrot? What does it mean? What about that pair of little bubbles sliding into the drain? Oh, and over there…

What is that?

A will, that’s what it is.

The white noise of the water pouring ferociously into the sink had vanished into the background, but the water itself swirled into the scene before Kevin’s cursed eyes. It’s true, the running water had washed the spit away three times as fast as the usual drainage, but this time, when it was all over and the last bit of suds had gone, something curios happened. Something that hadn’t happened in a very long time.

Kevin began to laugh. There had been blood, but Kevin raised his hand from the cold water handle and put his palm on his forehead, laughing. The laughter soon turned into a fit of laughter that could be heard throughout most of Kevin’s apartment complex.

For a moment he felt bad about laughing, because of the blood. “It’s alright,” he assured himself. “Nobody really likes her that much anyhow.”

He called his mother to find out how his grandmother was doing, it had been a long time since he had heard about her. It seemed she was fine at the moment. “Not for long,” he told himself.

An hour later, another phone call. It was mom. “Interesting that you should call earlier and ask about your grandmother,” she said.

“Oh? Why is that?” he replied, trying to sound casual.

“Did you know something I didn’t know about her? About her health?”

“Mom, I’m a thousand miles away and I haven’t talked to her in years. How could I know anything you didn’t know?”

“You’re right. Well, I just got a phone call from my sister. Your grandmother passed away just fifteen minutes ago. She had been healthy and was doing fine yesterday, but this morning she wasn’t doing too well, and she just passed away.”

Kevin felt bad. He heard his mother’s voice trembling a little. He knew she was trying not to sound too upset, but he also knew how bad he would feel if it was his mother that had passed on. “I’m sorry to hear that. Keep me updated with the funeral plans and everything, and I’ll try to see if I can fly out for the funeral. Work’s been pretty tough on me lately though, and I might not be able to get the time off.”

“I understand. I’ll let you know as soon as I know anything.”

“Thanks. Hey, let me know if I can do anything for you. I love you.”

“Thank you. I love you too, I’ll talk to you again soon.”

She hung up. Kevin closed his cell phone and put it back in his pocket. A little grin came. The spit was never wrong. He walked over to his window and looked outside. He pondered the rest of this morning’s experience. Grandma had indeed died. What was the rest of it? Oh, right.

Later that evening he got another phone call from his mother. It was about the funeral, which would be in a week, and the will. Just like the spit had said. Grandmother had left everything, her entire estate, to Kevin’s mother. Several bank accounts with close to the limit of what the bank would insure, no mortgages, four homes, each on a good amount of land… Mother was still in shock at becoming so wealthy so quickly. Kevin’s mother had always been very poor, and nobody in the family knew that grandmother was sitting on so much money. This morning, mother’s reaction had made Kevin chuckle.

The next morning, Kevin was curious to see what the spit had to say, and he hesitated only a little. Thankfully, there was no blood. There was a curious little episode about a friend of his calling with some interesting news, his job asking him to stay late, and the neighbor playing his music loudly in the evening, making it difficult for Kevin to fall asleep. Harmless. For Kevin, this was a terrific day.

In fact, close to a week passed with similar, uneventful spits and days. Kevin was beginning to wonder if his luck had changed, if perhaps he was no longer destined to live a life of anticipating horror and sadness.

Then, the day of the funeral came around. He knew that his mother would be traveling almost two hours by car to get to the funeral, but there was no way he could have prepared himself for what the suds would tell him next. In fact, he had gotten so used to uneventful days, that this morning sent his system into quite a shock. Plus, there was blood. Lots of blood. So much blood that he very nearly passed out.

When he recovered from the shock, he knew exactly what he had to do. This time, the idea frightened him more than spitting, more than the blood. No thinking about it though, no time for hesitation.

Twenty minutes later, the bus that took Kevin to work every day lost control on a curvy mountain road and fell four hundred feet. Everyone on board died. Keven, who had seen the whole thing in his spit and suds that morning, was not on the bus. He had been in his apartment when a gas pipe and open flame caused an explosion in the room next to his, blowing a hole two hundred feet wide in the side of the building. It wasn’t the explosion that took his life though. He had hung himself just moments before the explosion. What had he seen that was horrible enough for him to take his own life?

Later that afternoon, at the shop where Kevin worked, two police officers showed up with a warrant to arrest Kevin for the murder of his grandmother. Eventually they found his burnt remains among the rubble of his apartment complex. His mother was on the road when they called to tell her about her son’s death. When she bent over to get the call, she took her eyes off the road and didn’t notice the other car swerving into her lane.

Blood always means bad things.


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