A Kiss of Legacy

It amuses me how many books were never lost. Though the cities crumbled and the libraries burned down, the data remained. As society slipped into the black hole it had birthed upon itself, the matter was destroyed but the information remained intact.

Granted, it took a few hundred years for the new colonies to unscramble the data, but it was all there. From Harry Potter to Tolkien, from the Hunger Games to Divergent to the script of Interstellar. These words and images were refined into shots for dispersion. At first all you had to do was take a walk to the drug store, purchase a pack, and head home, but the stories were too good, too great, too easy an escape.

Within a few years, the books were banned, but junkies kept them in the back allies and unlit halls, spreading these memories like a disease.

My friend Tabitha got too caught up, soon enough she couldn’t tell a horse from a Hippogryph or a sunrise from the eye of Sauron. She got locked up. I heard she still screams as she breaks the glass and the whole world shatters.

The truth is, I slip too. That’s what they call it, slipping. Back before only the data remained, you followed the words, they called it reading, but now it’s just a shot and reality slides away. For a while, you’re gone. It’s pure bliss.

But I gotta take it slow, can’t end up like Tabitha. Or James. Demal. Alicia. Collin. Won’t get myself locked up, not like that. Not ever.

There’s a soft spot on my wrist where the blank page fades away. I push my leather wristband down and see that small patch of blue and brown, always bruised, always fresh and raw like the stories I slip in. The books are glass capsules the size of fingertips, one end chiseled to a point. It just looks like water till it hits the air, then it shines in all the colors of the story inside.

As it drains into the syringe, this one turns green and yellow, a rich russet brown. The Canterbury Tales. A classic. I love the fresh air, the sound of streams, the scent of pine needles in the brush. I don’t feel it anymore when the needle goes inside, when the words fill my veins. Instead this bleak horizon starts to blur, to blend, and suddenly, softly, I’m standing in a castle.

Time for the story to sweep me away.

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Mishaps or Miracles

The other day he told me, “Darren,
I need your help, and forgiveness.”
So I rose from our bed nervous
for a moment I stopped breathing
as I slid between the rooms
of his apartment, to where he stood
inside the bathroom.

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Unusual Suspects

Or, A Case for Chemistry

For KC.

It happened in the laundromat. Detective Dan Morris arrived on the scene promptly at 12:01 in the afternoon, the very minute his client, Jeremy Aubrian, had asked to meet him. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Jeremy, the other three suspects had also hired Dan as their personal public investigator (as all four were under questioning) and had each, in turn, asked to meet with him at 12:02, 12:03, and 12:04, respectively. An unusual bunch, Dan figured. But they always were with cases like this.

So for the next five minutes, Detective Dan had to deal with half a dozen accusations of “Why’s HE here?!” or “Why’s SHE here?!” His answer to all of them was rote:

“We’re getting to the bottom of this right here, right now.” He spoke through gritted teeth, holding an artificial stick of nicotine between his lips. Smoking was an unhealthy habit, and his doctor said this makeshift cigarette could help him quit. He decided it was worth trying, since he’d much rather get killed by an angry client than a pack of ‘rettes he’d paid for with a slow week’s pay. His health? Didn’t care. His wallet? That’s where his head was.

Once the crowd was quiet, having finally accepted his ultimatum, Dan was at a momentary loss for words. There were four of them and only one of him. He had to proceed carefully, delicately, have the right one speak in turn, or else everything could unravel. He’d had his time with each of them. Now it was time to use what he knew about each of them to force the truth out of all of them.

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