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The water heater is leaking. I know it needs to be repaired, possibly even replaced, and yet I have been mopping the laundry room floor every day for nearly a week now. I don't want to know how much it will cost. I try not to know about a lot of mundane things lately, like how much a ton of fertilizer costs this month, how much I will owe in taxes, and how much it will really cost to help a foster dog to survive.
Notice: "This brain has officially checked out after writing over 55,000 words during the month of November. It will continue to enjoy its many delusions in a place that resembles the Bahamas, minus all of the tourists. If you were hoping for a brief witty statement that will completely change your outlook on the Universe and all the wonders it contains, consider yourself disappointed. The entity recording this message adds: definitely consume large quantities of alcohol, preferably in the form of margaritas or rum and Cokes. If you still can't solve the problem at hand, you need four more."
"I'm not being here! It's all about the facts!"
"Fuck-" I see the patterns their angry words make and the tempo of my fingers on the keys and all the voices surround me "Take 'em down then' "I'm hurting" voices around me in a circle, no here I have to breathe with a bucket and a bed today I have to get fast enough. 'I thank the force of man'"Where's Mom." I can't find my mind." The keys cry out in certain angled torrents like moaning children lost who's after you. "Gentlemen we are not playing! Let us out!"
Henry was done for. He was sure of it as he stood on the cold concrete floor of the shelter that had become a prison. It had been months since he had seen that familiar face, and days since the shelter's vet told his staff that this dog needed a miracle, and it wouldn't happen here. Budget cuts, he said. So he was back in his cell. The infection was worse and there wasn't much point in hanging on. Then he saw the green Chucks and a black-clad woman holding a leash. "Hey, bud. Let's get you home."
It was hard not to bring home more dogs with me when I picked up the one whose name would become Henry. There were two pit bull mixes in particular who wore perpetual smiles and were so eager to meet... anybody. I knew that there were about 1100 animals coming into the shelter every day. Of those, maybe half would be lucky to get out alive. I hope that Gigi and Pippen are among the lucky ones.
For every step forward.... I've been sitting up for a while with Henry after he coughed up bloody phlegm this evening. I don't know what caused it. I know that the shelter was supposed to treat him for an upper respiratory infection (who knows if they did) when he arrived. Maybe it's related to the heartworms. Maybe not. If it is, his chances of survival are lower than ever before. Why can't people take care of their animals? I tried to tell him he's just not allowed to die on me as a joke, but I cried instead. Please... please....
Panicked little thing with eyes that only knew fleeting moments of kindness. Two-leggeds were terrifying, and one of them was sent to assess her, to see if she could survive in a world full of those monsters. Monsters who spoke in odd pitches and grunts and moved too fast towards her every time. This one slowed. Leaned against a wall. Layla sniffed her, smelled other dogs, one sick, the other happy. This monster was different. Layla inched her way forward, close as she would dare. Touched the monster's shoulder. Warm furry flesh on the arm. Human. She seemed kind.
'We have to move the children. They're infected.' We're in the morgue, antiseptic white walls, soundproofed to keep our screams from reaching out to others like thin strands of parasites, branching out to infect others with our fear and keep our lives flashing and fluid for moments longer than they wanted to keep us. "Cut it off! Cut it out right now!" the commander cries above the din but there's no central plan of attack. Find walls, push past them, keep running do not fall down. Survival will not happen on this continent. Too much panic around.
Appearances. I don't put much into them, but I was reminded that others do. My foster dog was overlooked when somebody was needed to pull him from the local shelter. Despite all of his great attributes discovered while here, he wasn't wanted by others until he was professionally groomed. Now the adoption offers are coming in. And I realize I don't want to let him go.
Frigging shoulder hurts, and this idiot is asking me why I tackled that guy. He keeps asking, but it's not like I'm gonna answer with more than a bark. My human is holding her head and shaking. Shouldn't the dumbass be asking her a few questions about her attacker? What is it with humans anyway? I tilt my head at him and give him my best sympathetic look and he buys it. He finally goes and talks to my human, but when she lifts her head up she looks dazed and her speech is slurred. He shakes his head and walks back to his car, talking about getting help. Yeah, better let somebody else be useful, pal.
Okay, let's write this quickly since I have to go to work soon. Knew I should have written my words earlier. I'm barely awake. Nice to see the dogs chewed their bones while I slept. In Henry's case, the more accurate term would be "ate". I still have to get one last Cipro into the big guy. He'll be so thrilled. Uh no, he won't. But at least there are hot dogs left to bribe him with. I wonder if he'll always sleep this much. I know Annie will be perpetually active until the end. What a contrast between them.
I see blue sky and white clouds, all perfectly uniform like you'd see on a television screen. I don't know why it always looks like that. We all know it never works out that way in "real" life. It reminds me of a slowly scrolling toy I had when I was five years old that played "London Bridge", and the acrylic lines that were part of that sky always reminded me that it wasn't real, and yet I would play that simple song over and over regardless. Years later, I would learn that people actually drowned when the bridge fell.
The Hubble Telescope recently found seven "primitive" galaxies that are estimated to be around 3 billion years old. The cosmic dust that we're all a part of has been floating around for a long time. And yet the religious fundies don't want to believe that we could have been around for more than six thousand years, because they say that the Bible says that each day God spent creating stuff took "a thousand years." Not bloody likely. If anybody bothered to actually read said book, they'd see it says "like a thousand years." That's a heck of a difference, yes?
Leila was a quivering mess the first time we met. Our second meeting yesterday went only slightly better. This time, however, I was taking her home with me as a foster. One who doesn't seem to know kindness from humans, or that the inside of a house is a safe place to be. Henry and Annie are good teachers, and she seems to look up to them for guidance for just about everything. She felt comfortable enough to sleep by my feet when I slept on the couch last night. Three years is a long time to learn human kindness.
I guess my words weren't saved on this day. I remember writing them. Ah well. I can't believe the month is half over. We're only about a week away from the end of the world (supposedly). I'm still not motivated to care enough to stockpile food or weaponry. Not that these were ever on my list of things to do anyway. I'm coming across names and addresses on my desk that I haven't seen in so long, I don't even know why I wrote them down in the first place. I should probably just go to bed soon. Yay, sleep!
I have been at this current job for all of four months and I already want to quit. I stayed at the last one for four years and left when the administration changed hands. I dread working for this one because the workplace drama never ends, fellow employees give new meaning to the phrase "rapid turnover", and the facility itself is... crappy. I have worked in worse (briefly) but this place has such a depressing aura to it, and the patients don't like it there either. There really is a world of difference between Medicare facilities and private pay ones.
I have heard many stupid reasons for giving up pets over the years. One of the worst had to be the guy who gave his dogs up every time they stopped being puppies, which made me wish we could give humans away for similar reasons. Today, a woman told me that somebody likely gave Henry up "because they couldn't afford to keep feeding him." He's not an elephant who needs hundreds of pounds of food a day, and you shouldn't get a large breed dog if you worry about not being able to afford your daily damned Starbucks latte fix.
"Disengaging from docking station complete. Begin descent."
Tick. Her stomach clenched involuntarily. Reemerging into zero grav always came with a lurch.
"Slide the accelerator to the forward position."
Tick. Inhale. Ignore the taste of plastic in your mouth as best you can. Hold.
"Destination selected. Alignment to jump gate in progress."
Keep holding. Tick.
She could hear comms in her cochular implant. "Brain waves neutral. Ship's headed to pre-programmed destination."
Tick. Slow exhale. Steady.
Comms again. "Boosters engaged. Prototype Masserai en route to company headquarters."
Tick. Blink. Slow inhale--
"Phase drive engaged. What the--"
The Masserai and pilot vanished.
Kessaden's head always hurt whenever the ship dropped from light speed, but the pain was nearly blinding this time. Nosebleeds were sure to follow. She became aware of her right arm-- or rather, a lack of sensation in it. The rest of her was very, very cold.
The irregular hum from the cochlear implant was no more. Funny, she found herself almost missing it even though it surely meant she was out of corporate space. Isn't that what you wanted more than anything?
Yet if she truly made it out of corporate space, where exactly had the ship ended up?
I'm tempted to stay up until midnight just to show doomsayers that the world is not about to end. Not this month, anyway. I don't know what good it will do, as there are those who insist that what happened last week is a sure sign that the Apocalypse is almost here. If you have to listen to the religious programming at work like I have to, you could almost be fooled into thinking just like they do. Just once, I'd like to see someone say "We aren't doomed to destruct. We can choose to be better than we are."
Three green flashes of light. Remokah
A slight blip.
Good to know the real brains behind this ship is still intact. Kessaden opened one eye slowly and saw the metal floor beneath her. Did I finally land it right, or is this all you?
Slow red flash.
Right. Of course. She drew her right leg up towards her side and tried to use it to push off the floor to roll over. She was only partially successful. No chance you could help, is there?
Silence. Or rather, darkness. Funny.
Dedrenda. Faint not-quite-whisper.
She turned her head and...
instinctively pushed with her right leg away from the sight of yellow beams as they moved around the entryway to the bridge. Remokah's kin was all she could think of as she moved mere inches. When one stray beam bounced off of the starboard monitors she found herself relaxing immediately. Headlamps. Humans. Then: Slavers?
Not likely. Remokah had conflicting loyalties at best, but it had reason to dread human slavers as much as she did. But did it know enough to keep the ship away from mercs in the Silent Vale? Two words from the first beam told her enough.
"Periphery Space!" a male voice shouted. Kessaden stared at the headlight for a moment before she realized that his helmet's headset was likely malfunctioning. He probably told her where she was, and now, having heard this, she lamented knowing her whereabouts.
The corps called this area "dead space". It was known that many ships came through here during the Long Flight from Earth, and early corps set up stations and ran all manner of experiments, often to address fertility issues occurred with early travelers. No one knew what caused the corps to flee this area and continue onward in panic.
"Is this a welcoming party?" Kess found herself asking out loud, in a voice not entirely her own. She touched her throat with her left hand, confused. The yellow beams marched towards her in unison and soon jerked her to her feet. Her body felt as though it had fallen asleep for a month and she nearly fell again from the discomfort.
Remokah if you are trying to speak on my behalf now is not the time! She thought she heard it hiss in reply until she realized that it was the ship's emergency ventilation system had turned itself on.
Kess tried to speak but her throat was too dry to form sounds. Remokah, if this is you make it stop are you trying to kill us?
Rapid yellow flash
They have closed units this won't work
Darkness. It was ignoring her.
Kess tried to press her feet into the floor again and regain her body if not her voice. Maybe I can still run out she told herself, not realizing that her left knee was still missing a knee cap.
She was standing at a slowly increasing angle to the right, bringing the gas closer to her. Vent concealed flames.
Lewis Carroll wrote of six impossible things before breakfast. I think about hitching up the Great Pyrenees to a cart like they used to do in Belgium. They even delivered mail. Henry wouldn't do anything that dignified, at least not in my head. He would be maneuvering through the pasture, helping me haul manure to the compost pile. I have learned of late that now he's feeling better, he feels less compelled to stay beside me. He'll try to wander where he feels like on the leash, and he even escaped the backyard with Annie twice now. It's been entertaining.
"Yeah, I saw those people. The ones who tried to pass themselves off as tourists, right?"
Laughs around me at the bar. I could get away with this.
"I killed them."
There's barely a breath of silence before more hearty laughs rise up from all over the room. My confession is hardly the relief to the soul that I thought it would be. I somehow feel worse, as though the whiskey has ruined my gut and is spilling through my shoes. Later, someone will tell me that I did well, I did the right thing, but hell if it's true.
They just wanted out of the city, to go back home. I could see the desperation in their dark eyes. Older children, maybe. But I saw the mottled skin where noses should be as well. At least if they were us. I knew I couldn't let them go back. Not with what they carried. I didn't give a damn about the electronics equipment they had. Didn't care what it could fetch me later. I knew what they were. Knew what they carried. I couldn't let them leave and risk taking out their home world the way they took out ours.
Kessaden felt herself being lifted off her feet and could feel the scratchy sensation in the back of her throat increase. It hurt to inhale and she couldn't determine why. Her mouth was dry, that much she could determine. It wasn't until she felt her eyes sting that she realized there was something wrong with the ship.
Perhaps being unable to smell or taste had an advantage after all, if only because she hadn't been able to panic until she saw the flames begin to escape from the panel on the right. Remokah are you there?
Roaring consumed her ears.
"Dunno, she was seizing when we--"
"Mangled mess she is."
Kess saw dark shapes all around her. She counted four before darkness returned. Other times, she kept seeing Silas in the cargo hold, shouting something she could not understand. His face was bloody, his lab coat torn. He kept trying to reach for her as if he wanted to get her to follow, but of course she never would. She found herself standing upright before him like she never could before. She knew she had to be dreaming... then she smelled something which was impossible... had to...
get away from Silas. Now, while she could still stand. Yet her left leg stepped forward, heavy and slow. Right one followed. Silas opened his mouth as if to scream, as if he finally had reason to fear. She heard herself laugh-- that was her, yes-- and felt her left arm move quickly towards him with sickly brown-yellow skin and slime and now her tentacled hand was around his neck, slamming his body into the brownish wall on the right repeatedly until there was no breath from him. She released him, turned and
I saw the eye I saw it--
The Tip Jar