L Brick
Nails ☚ Accolade ☛ Film Stills
My Lightning Walk

I’m trying to figure out what my lightning walk means. Maybe I assign more importance to cinematic events, but it really felt as though all the sensations I had during the walk had nothing to do with any superficial intentions. For once in my life.

I couldn’t tell if I was scared or grateful or bitter or even awake. I couldn’t tell if I was daring god to mess with me. I was wearing a backpack. I was too confused to cry, so I just let out a weird sound that reminded me of yarn in some way. None of my senses made any sense.

Usually, wind bothers me, and I spend a lot of time trying to contain my hair from blowing all over the place. Maybe then I didn’t care, or maybe I just accepted that maybe my hair was supposed to blow all over the place. The lightning was so big. The thunder was an ugly laugh. Come at me.

Big drops came down as soon as I got to my door. That’s right, you wouldn’t dare rain on me, hahaha. I stood there for ten minutes and watched the rain march around the corner. Weird rain soldiers.

I didn’t want to go into my house. I wondered if one of my housemates would walk by, see a figure standing menacingly in the doorway, then would open the door and bop me on the head with a big stick or something. Then I would fall down the front steps and die. They would feel so guilty, and I felt guilty thinking about inadvertently making them feel guilty by standing weirdly in the doorway and scaring them. So I went in the house. No one had to die or feel bad.

From: Julie
O’Brien
I MISS YOU ON
TWITTER
Apr 22, 10:33 am

From: Julie
O’Brien
Are you eating
anything rn
Apr 22, 10:33 am

From: Julie
O’Brien
Are you
counting
anything
Apr 22, 10:33 am

» Closer by Greg Egan

Thanks to Jordan for directing my attention to this story.

Exactly two years ago.

I really can’t.

RTE

I lived with a bunch of siblings and friends, most of them much younger than me. A middle-aged man and two of his friends plotted to kill us. They started this online art forum for us to be a part of. It was called RTE. Pat was there, too.

We didn’t know that it was all a big murderous plot, but I was the first to realize what was going on. We lived in this massive mansion with a pool. I tried to protect the kids from getting hurt and from seeing me try to counter-attack these terrible men.

I ended up successfully killing one of the sidekick guys, the bald one. He had kidnapped one of the boys, probably around 7 years old. I couldn’t move him from where he was killed, right on the front stoop, so I left him there. I knew it was a matter of time before the leader guy realized I was wise to their plot and would immediately kill me.

My Aunt Amy showed up and was playing in the pool with the kids. I was very much acting weird, as I was preoccupied with all the traps I had set for these evil men, and I wasn’t even sure where the leader physically was in the mansion at that moment. Amy kept very loudly giving me shit for being so weird. I motioned for her to come over.

"You have no idea how much danger we are in," I seethed, "shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up! I am trying to keep us from getting killed. You have no idea. Shut up!" She was, understandably, very freaked out, and kept quiet.

I finally was able to get ahold of the authorities, and after a few tries I got someone who believed me. It had gotten so bad that I had hidden a bunch of the kids in these little colorful lockers for the time being.

To my horror, when the authorities came to help us, they actually were on the evil RTE man’s side. RTE was in cahoots with the police, somehow. They gathered up my sibling-friends and I and transported us to this huge RTE facility.

On the surface it was a magical creative play complex, separated by different colors and elements and the like. Everyone was making different kinds of stuff and running around completely enthralled. Some people were building robots, others were drawing, stuff like that. Only I knew that ultimately each child was going to be plucked away at random and brutalized.

I finally ran into Pat again in this big bustling open area with all these booths. I was so relieved, I had lost track of him at the mansion and I was so glad he was okay.

Pretty much in a desperate, manic state, I rattled off some plans of escape to him, asking him what he thought and if he had any ideas as well. He wouldn’t really look me in the eye. It dawned on me that he thought I was absolutely crazy - that he didn’t believe this was an evil scheme after all, and that I had essentially killed that other man for no reason.

"It, you know, seems pretty…nice here," he said, looking down. I stared at him with my mouth open.
"Just let it alone, Lauren," he sighed and walked off into the crowd. I felt like screaming. I tried to chase him in the crowd but I immediately lost him.

I ended up wandering from quadrant to quadrant, trying out the different laws of physics in each one. The kids there were all pretty rude to me, and I felt as though they had been programmed against me by the RTE guy to make my time there uncomfortable.

I was in the water quadrant, sitting high up in the air, in a floating pod pool with some kids. I was asking someone closer to my age how they got the different colors for the different quadrants.

"Oh, they installed the spectrum filters in a big shell outside the o-zone layer," they responded. I was baffled.
"That would have to be huge," I said, "don’t they need, uh, permission from the rest of the world to alter the atmosphere like that?"
"What do you mean, the rest of the world?" they asked. I buried my face in my hands. We were all doomed.

Tennis Ball Murderer

It was hard to tell if I was myself or my grandmother, or somehow both, at different points in time. I did some kind of candle performance on a stage.

After the performance, I/my grandma had a big fight with my/my grandma’s boyfriend (not based on any actual boyfriend, past or present). He ended up taking me to the forest and dragging me by the hair through these thick, forceful mud streams. At this point I seemed to alternate randomly between being me, my grandma, and a woman who looked a little like Anna Gunn. After I was beaten up pretty badly, he raped me. It was terrible.

Months pass. I don’t seem to be my grandma at all anymore, I’m mostly recognizable as me. I was in a Target or some kind of store like that, walking through the busy cosmetics aisle. A woman with dark curly hair was looking at a product on the shelves intently. For some reason, I approach her.

"I have to get my makeup just right for my boyfriend or else he gets all [name]-y, you know?" she said. I can’t remember what his name was, but she used his name. I had somehow sensed she was seeing him, and she had somehow sensed I knew.

"You mean, he beats you up and rapes you?" I asked bluntly. She nodded, a faraway look in her eye. I felt for her, and understood how his sociopathic charm had taken hold of her. I walked away.

Some kind of unrelated interlude happens involving an adorable seal.

Later, in a bakery, I snap at a former elementary school teacher of mine. She was not based on any actual elementary school teacher. She was pretty young, somehow, and Korean.

"I remember when Lauren was little, and we had the kids fill out these self-evaluations…she thought she was so smart. She wrote that she was very good at being a genius,” she laughed. Everyone else at the bakery laughed, too, but I was not amused.

"Maybe you shouldn’t go around saying what was on a child’s confidential test papers, since that’s illegal and you could lose your job," I sneered, glaring at her. She was taken aback and pissed.

She walked back over to me after awhile and hissed, “what did you do last night?”
"I went to bed at 9," I said with a scowl.
"Oh, right, sure, of course," she fumed, and stormed off again.

I felt gradually more awful about being rude to her, and I approached her before I left the bakery. Everyone else had left. I tried to apologize and she told me to go fuck myself.
"I wish my brother had finished the job with you," she spat, and I suddenly realized she was the rapist’s sister. I hurried out of the bakery, very shaken.

Before long, I was back in the bakery. All the workers had left. The rapist was there, sitting on a chair in the dim light in front of a wall of rolls. We had some kind of crazy showdown, that somehow felt as though it had happened before, but it hadn’t. I ended up killing him. I don’t remember how, but a bunch of tennis balls were involved.

Turns out the bakery was a part of his and his massive family’s house. I started running aimlessly through the labyrinthine house, occasionally encountering angry children and young adults. Most knew who I was and hated me to death already, but hadn’t yet realized I had just killed their relative. I had to get away before they found his body.

I couldn’t run fast enough, and it felt like I was being compressed downwards towards the ground as I ran. My sense of perspective got all warped and I felt woozy. Children kept chasing after me, shooting at me with real guns. His family was huge and incredibly ethnically diverse. I wondered if he was actually just a cult leader.

Finally, I ended up in a car, and drove around trying to call 911. I couldn’t understand what they were saying on the other end of the line, and they got frustrated and kept hanging up on me.

I finally understood one of them, but before he’d let me explain what was happening, he kept trying to make me tell him irrelevant information, like my date of birth. When I tried to interrupt and explain the urgent issue, he got angry and hung up.

I somehow knew that the police would be at the rapist’s house by now, so I returned to the bakery to talk to them. One of the cops there seemed to side with me for some reason. He gave me the evidence bag full of bloody torn-up tennis balls and told me to run when no one was looking.

The rapist’s family was all sitting around in hysterics. They hadn’t realized I was the murderer yet. I tried to run out of the house and through the yard again. It took forever. I was so afraid.

Snake Bed

We stared at the mossy rocks. A little stream slowly trickled through them.
"So, you’re just not going to sleep there anymore? Just because you saw a snake come out?" someone asked. I shook my head.

"It was probably in there the whole time. You slept there for so long. If it wanted to bite you, don’t you think it would have already?" I didn’t look at them. I didn’t feel like arguing or explaining myself over something that wasn’t any of their business. It’s not unreasonable to avoid sleeping where snakes are.

False Awakening HELL

Last night, I had three false-awakening dreams, one falling into the other, Inception-style.

In the first one, I awoke in my bed. It was dark outside. I left my bedroom and started down the hallway to the bathroom, when I noticed that Andy’s door was open. His light was on, too, and I saw a guitar case on the floor. “But…Andy’s in Europe,” I thought to myself, and at that moment I awoke again in my bed.

When I awoke again, I awoke rolling out of my own body. I went to the left, tearing the body as I rolled out of it. It was so strange - visually and tangibly it was like a mixture between air and putty. I could feel it, but I couldn’t touch it. I could see it but I couldn’t tell where it started or ended. It faded away after I sat up.

There was a (fictional) male roommate sitting in my desk chair, and a girl crouched down nearby. They were drunk and chatting about something or other. I glanced over at them, slightly annoyed, then up at my wall.

My Woody Woodpecker stuffed animal from childhood was up on the wall, as if it was resting on a shelf, but there wasn’t a shelf. I thought it was odd, and then my body went cold as I realized, with terror, that I was still dreaming.

I woke up again in my bed, tearing the air-putty-fabric-gas self off of my body as I outstretched my arms. I got up and went into the hallway. Andy’s door was closed and his light was off. No strange imaginary roommates. No floating stuffed animals. I was so relieved.

I was getting ready for work when I saw John at the end of the hallway, looking down and looking nervous.

"Hey, Jones, you’re up early," I said, kind of confused.
"Hey…yeah…just, you know…doin’ whatever," he said, scratching his head. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he couldn’t pay the next rent, and asked if I could cover for him until he got the money.

"Sure, can you just give me a date you’d have the money to me by?" I asked. He mumbled something and then said never mind.
"I’m sorry," he said, embarrassed, "I have the money. I just really want to buy this really rare record on eBay. I’m really sorry, I feel like a jerk for even asking," he said, and went downstairs. I went to work.

I got to work and we were some kind of knitting department instead of a construction department, which didn’t initially strike me as odd. Our female boss was giving Susan a really hard time about her two rolls of yarn being slightly different shades. Susan just kind of laughed uncomfortably.

"Ugh, she is such a bitch to Susan all the time," I thought to myself. Then I wondered why I thought that, since I realized I didn’t even really recognize our boss. I then realized I didn’t recognize most of our crew, and I didn’t remember my drive to work, or what we were all knitting for in the first place. I felt my body go cold again, completely horrified that I had still been dreaming.

I woke up in my bed again, got ready for work, drove to work, and I’ve been here for 6 and a half hours. I am now fairly certain that I am, in fact, awake, but I don’t really have any way of determining that for sure, I guess.

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