David Oblivion met Mr. Hamm on the Street of Dreams in Angel City. Hamm was an ambassador from Hell. Nothing could change the present. The outcome was inevitable.
Marty Mekum could hear the dream resonating in his brain like a land-mine about to explode. He told himself, there is no such place as Hell. The characters in his mind were as flimsy as used tissue.
Marty consistently asked questions trying to justify his life. His hands were frozen, stiff with age. He could no longer paint the images that populated his mind. His days working as an artist were over.
Marty left his lover in the past. They stood on a precipice overlooking the Arizona Desert. It was a tumultuous period in their lives. The world seemed to be drowning in a golden-shower of crass abuse and excess. The only way to live was to escape.
Protest marches and benefit concerts became routine. Demonstrations were another form of escape… bolstering a false sense of security. Drug overdoses became commonplace. The lovers lived in a haze of chemical enhancement… on the precipice — suddenly, Marty jumped, leaving his partner & lover behind.
“How are you, Marty?” The cyborg-appliance asked.
“How’s the weather?” Marty replied.
“Same as always… gray.”
Marty Mekum was from the future, but no one believed him. He wanted to save the world, but no one listened. By the time he recorded this story, he was very old. He came of age in the future by giving birth to himself. The Home cared for Marty. The Home was a network of prosthetic extensions that fed, manipulated, and recorded Marty’s existence to use as a merchandising incentive. People had inherent (but limited) monetary value. When inherent value was used up everything could be recycled and reused. All accounts were itemized and reviewed on Twitter. Capital gains and losses were tweeted daily.
Angina Splint was an account executive in the Golden Tower. She didn’t know Marty. She wasn’t concerned with other people’s problems or predicaments. Angina lived for the bottom-line. She loved her job. Perks were numerous. Gold Cadillacs abounded. Designer drugs sweetened the pot. Zombies moved into the cubicle across the hall, but Angina wasn’t bothered. Her office suite was large enough to flatten any zombie invasion.
Angina’s mom lived at the Home a few doors down from Marty Mekum. There was a cost incentive to visit mom once a year. Values were exchanged and increased. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Mom was always changing, trying to increase her value. She was a programmer from the last century so she knew her business. Mom’s brain was mush, puree — it didn’t matter as long as she could offer some amusing entertainment. She had to adapt. Capital gain was the name of the game. She often mimicked Hitler and harassed the “Juden.” Mom was a member of the Baby Generation. Baby clones ruled the world. The unborn were silent no longer.
Angina loved visiting mom — the money kept pouring in. Mom wore a blue hat and began to tick like a time-bomb — pure entertainment. Angina gushed.
The prosthetic appliances at the Home were plugging holes with stoppers trying to halt the flow of effluvium from the newest, Last War. Marty Mekum would have none of it. He began to rant, “the mad man in the tower is becoming more powerful each day writing new edicts, shaping the world into his own chthonic image. I hear the death rattle throttle.”
Angina caught the drift of Mekum’s riff. She was briefly mesmerized, cauterized by words she never heard. Meanings were resplendent.
Dr. Zosomo came to the rescue with an enema plunger to eradicate the excess verbiage.
Marty bespoke, “this is a drift into dark-matter. There are Nine Levels.”
No one understood. Angina and mom were determined to continue espousing the words of the baby prophet. It was a disaster: Matricide with suicidal tendencies.
“No one is free,” Marty sneezed, “we are all Him subject to the same corruption.”
The aliens took notes, gleefully observing the debacle. Too late it was revealed: He was controlled by dark servitors from beyond the veil. Dorian Gray lisped in brilliant decay.
A poet scrawled new codes on a bathroom wall.
Valerian Bortta was fascinated by detritus, especially the parts of himself that flaked off his body like garbage. He was always leaving pieces of himself wherever he went; and he was always traveling — exploring new cities, countries, different time-zones and “other” dimensions. Valerian was a time traveler; but that wasn’t so unusual because everyone travels through time starting at birth and ending in death.
Valerian convinced himself that he controlled time — it was a delusion. In fact, Valerian Bortta was an ordinary man who simply and inevitably got old. He saw his life spread before his eyes as if peering through the wrong end of a telescope, everything appeared far away and very small.
He had no one who could take the pain of aging away, no one to soothe his tired body and overwrought emotions. His life had become frozen in amber, self effacing. His world was a crumbling relic.
Two lovers kiss on a beach. Their bodies glisten like melted butter oozing from lumps of boiled lobster
A young man and an old man kiss triggering a massive landslide that completely obliterates a small town known as “the village of the damned.”
A stranger stands erect on the other side of a door. He cannot be seen directly. His body glows with green fire.
A young man sits in a chair. He is naked — sobbing as he remembers a dear friend who suddenly disappeared.
A woman gazes at her reflection as it changes before her eyes from sweet innocence to embittered regret. Her body responds by breaking down into soft dollops of clay.
Valerian could not understand the language or the visions. It wasn’t his life. Nothing was real anymore. he was consumed with self doubt as he watched his body peel away, shaking off flakes of skin, nail clippings, phlegm, and droplets of piss. He could no longer hold his body together. Valerian wanted to split apart and pass silently into the still air.
Before he began, he was assured by Dr. Mortis that nothing would change. He would be returned safely with no harmful lasting effects. Valerian realized too late that nothing ever works out exactly as planned. There are always consequences — always a heavy price to be paid. Time was the focus of the experiments. Valerian Bortta paid the price: locked in a prison of immortality.
The transmission was fuzzy, hidden beneath layers of static and concealed within a camouflage of codes. Scientists discovered a multitude of transmissions in the sounds picked up by radio telescopes.
Ronnie cut the cable. It was a defining act, a dividing line between his former life as a nobody and his new life as a God.
When Ronnie was eleven he was considered a prodigy. Teachers praised him. His parents, Dawn and Harkness, were ecstatic because their brilliant son gave them the kind of status they dearly wanted, but it didn’t last. Ronnie was paraded before audiences hungry to see a true mastermind. Expectations were overwhelming. Ronnie froze on TV, his mathematical expertise dried up like road kill on hot pavement. His parents let him know how disappointed they were. Nothing seemed to matter and no one cared so Ronnie doused his sorrows with alcohol. He started drinking heavily as a young teenager.
Drinking led to drugs. His mental acuity was short circuited. He lost interest in math. Ronnie left home after high school. He worked sporadically. His life was reduced to hours of watching cable TV. Ronnie’s family disowned him and his only friend was a drinking buddy who was homeless. Ronnie slipped, almost seamlessly, into being a nobody.
He recognized himself on TV, in sitcoms: The hapless drunk, the teenage hophead, the total failure. His drinking buddy called himself, Commander Zorn. He was an old man who was a bit creepy. Several times when drunk he tried seducing Ronnie. The Commander always said it was meaningless fun, but Ronnie suspected Zorn was really gay. The old guy was Ronnie’s only friend so he put up with the nonsense. The Commander had the gift of gab and he often told interesting stories that excited Ronnie’s hunger for something imaginative, a way out of the dismal world he inhabited. There was something mysterious about the old guy who called a cardboard box his home and boasted that it was an Imperial Kingdom. He talked with an odd accent and he used words that had no meaning and sounded more like music. Zorn always advised Ronnie to cut the cable.
He cut the cable with a pair of shears used to slice metal. The TV was turned on at the time and there was an electrical surge that kicked Ronnie to the ground. If he hadn’t been drunk he would have been killed. Instead, his mind was pulled from his body to float free in ethereal space. Ronnie was no longer tethered to 3-dimensional reality. He became part of the transmission, the buzz in space. Life and death stretched before him like a smorgasbord. The music of the spheres rumbled with harmonic dissonance.
Commander Zorn loved a computer game called, Space Invaders. He started playing as a boy and never lost interest until one day he was knocked down by a death ray. At the time he was an adult working as an accountant for a woman’s lingerie company. He was completely disabled by the death ray, i.e. – he was mentally incapable of holding down a regular job. Zorn moved into a cardboard condo and left the workaday world behind, bolstered by a growing addiction to alcohol. He cut the cable and drifted free, conquering new worlds and altering Time and Space.
Ronnie slipped between the ribbons of wireless communication experimenting with different personas. He was in the back seat of a 1938 Ford Coupe with Mary Kemper fondling her breasts and decoding the mystery of sex. Simultaneously he enjoyed a box of popcorn laced with lysergic acid at the back of an Imax Theater with Robbie Collins. The boys became friends and lovers, exploring an infant universe filled with possibilities.
After years of interminable boredom aboard the Zippo Space-liner, Commander Zorn took charge. No one else wanted the job. The previous captain locked himself in his cabin trying unsuccessfully to kill himself. The Zippo fell through a black hole and the lives of everyone on board were extended by millions of years due to a quantum entanglement. After a millennium trying to reset time, everyone gave up and just wanted to die. Seances were conducted by Madame Celia-Quark to contact some outside force to end the boredom.
Ronnie floated like a buoy in a flux of etheric currents. He was information. He had access to all the knowledge in the universe. One moment he held an ordinary glass of water and the next he was the Atlantic Ocean. When he turned up the volume he could hear angels playing electric guitars. He heard voices from every point in space and time. He heard Celia-Quark: her mind trying to crawl out of her skin, asking for help. Ronnie played the role: a ghost at the seance. He couldn’t resist lifting the table, blowing out the candle, and talking like a dead uncle. This was the group’s first outside contact. Everyone around the table quacked with expectation. Ronnie never got over his fear of other people’s expectations so he left the seance as soon as he arrived. The room collapsed like a deflated balloon brought down by the prospect of another millennium of absolute boredom.
Commander Zorn immediately picked up on Ronnie’s presence. They knew each other in another life. Ronnie could feel the resonance of Zorn. He was drawn to the source. In an unexpected confrontation Commander Zorn and Ronnie were pulled together by the currents of space/time. Wireless pixies engineered the encounter. Zorn and Ronnie merged like liquid Jello and then solidified. They were always one and the same person just separated by time (the young self and the old man). Ronnie-Zorn realized the role he had to play aboard the Zippo. The only chance to save the world from boredom was to crash the ship into a giant asteroid. The asteroid known as Bsh-44 was headed toward Earth, on a direct path to cause a major life-extinction event.
Nothing could stop the transmissions. Hidden within layers of camouflage and separated by cryptic codes the messages kept coming. Scientists discovered the transmissions were omnipotent: constantly changing, reshaping the universe — and remaking every form of life.
The car floated down the freeway passing through an endless night that clung like a ragged garment or the claws of a feral beast. Jeremy Quill lay on the backseat pretending to be asleep. He was small for his age with a shock of unruly hair and deep blue eyes. He stared out the window through half closed eyes as the car passed oil refineries shooting flames from chimney stacks. Mom and dad were in the front seat — solid, silent and cold. One moment he lay in the backseat and the next he was somewhere else.
Jeremy was dancing his brains out, cranked on some new designer-drug. The music tore through him like blasts from a bazooka. Everything mutated into sexual desire and intensity. He was in a crucible of intense heat, melting like soft metal. Ecstasy was short lived. He knew it couldn’t last. Time always played the trump card. He was forced to hang his sweet, new body on a meat hook and return to face the judge and jury. First he’d side step to the car that floated past the sirens of hell.
It was safe pretending to be a ten year old boy, but he was a bad boy. He had the experiences of an adult in his head. Mom and dad could never understand how their sweet baby could be so ruthless. The boy drank hard liquor and smoked grass. Threats didn’t bother him. Jeremy was the Alpha Male in the house. He enjoyed bullying his parents. They were too stunned by his behavior to defend themselves, instead they simply cowered and gave in to his demands. Jeremy enjoyed shocking his parents. He forced them to sit in hard backed chairs in his bedroom while he sat on the bed looking at pornography and making lewd remarks. All the while the digital phone kept track of time.
Jeremy flipped into an older version of himself. He was well aware of the entanglements caused by his erratic behavior, but he had to keep moving to stay ahead of the authorities. He had fond memories of the time and place where he currently found himself. He just had sex with Marigold, a sweet high school senior who wanted a little excitement in her life. She was so innocent, putty in his hands. He stood over her body and smiled. He didn’t know what he liked best, the sex or the death. Then, he remembered: he loved her breasts best and he had to have them so he took them. The week before he met a boy named Jason. The results were almost the same, but Jason didn’t have nice breasts… he had an adorable penis and now it belonged to Jeremy. For just a moment he was wistful: all the killing — all the torture — what was it all for he wondered. Self doubt dissipated in a rush of narcissistic pleasure. Jeremy was outrunning time — death was his jumping-off point, the trigger to immortality. His phone purred like a kitten. Time to run.
This time everything was different: a totally new experience. He was tussling with an older man who smelled like sewage. Jeremy couldn’t imagine why he would pick this abhorrent creature for a victim. The man was like a mutant with peeling skin and blood red eyes. He was naked and his body was covered with scars and welts. He was twisted and misshapen; but he was as strong as an engorged gorilla. Jeremy realized he’d been forced into this fight. It was territorial. The monster wanted what Jeremy possessed: the power over life and death — over time itself. The man held Jeremy in a binding embrace, crushing the life from his body. Jeremy felt the searing breath on his neck as the man pulled him closer to extinction. Being this close to death was like an electric jolt and Jeremy became inflamed with passion. He wanted to live and all his resources came into play . Jeremy’s resolve was resounding, heard above the grunts and mewlings of the battle. He broke from the monster’s hold and managed to draw his butchering knife. There was no fight left in the foul man as he struggled to regain his balance. Jeremy did not miss a beat as he stabbed and chopped at the lowly body that seemed to be wasting away before his eyes.
Jeremy had met his match. An entanglement in Time put him at odds against himself. As a result, Jeremy Quill was never born.
“Take the family and go on vacation” was the sober advice from the Cognitive Therapist. Dr. Orlong was not being ironic even though Roger Denten had no family and could not afford a vacation. The doctor was just being oblivious. Denten could never take a vacation. Roger was eighteen years old, but he was really fifty-three. The age discrepancy occurred when Time slipped like a fast car on black ice. Everyone was on the Edge due to the Singularity (the threshold where there is no turning back from a future that transcends humanity). It hit in the blink of an eye… the human species was now outmoded and time-stamped to expire. Denten knew it, but everyone else was blinded by recent events to the point of total ignorance. A new replacement species was in the wings pensively awaiting their turn on the stage of history. Humanity hung by a thread. Roger Denten kept the thread from breaking. Before he reverted to an eighteen year old version of himself he was a physicist, a spinner of threads. He knew all about String Theory and sub-atomic particles. Denten threaded the needle with indeterminate Strings and broke the glass ceiling of Reality. He was partly responsible for the advent of the Singularity; but Denten had a key that could stop the inevitable. He needed access to the Particle Accelerator in the lab where he used to work, but no one believed him. He was no longer recognized as an esteemed scientist because his appearance changed and He looked like a drug addled delinquent.
Roger Denten was labeled “psychotic” and forced to go on a long vacation. Doctors prescribed drugs to make him supine. He was transferred to the Office of Virtual Reality and given a new life with an adorable wife, Amanda, former swim suit model; and two cherubic children, Aniston and Petr — the perfect family. They were all going on a long vacation where sweet, ocean breezes cooled the white sands that were normally blisteringly hot, too hot for bare feet, but the family loved romping in the sand without shoes or socks and the breezes made everything perfect. Roger Denten was convinced his vacation was reality. All the while the strings and threads were unraveling.
The New Collective took the form of an androgynous angel and emerged from the nest to gaze at the surrounding city that was abandoned and crumbling. The Collective was immortal and only as “human” as the machine-codes flashing on a phosphorescent screen. The Collective could alter the environment and change shapes like a Chimera.
In a dark hole there was a brain in a box labeled “Denten.” The brain was part of the engine that supplied energy to power the New Collective. There were billions of boxes in the underground hole. The whole of Humanity was on an extended vacation.
Red City floated like a bloated balloon from one locale to another, shifting like desert sand, wavering like a mirage. In the beginning Red City was a backwater town left behind like the set from a cheap movie about the old west and haunted by fading TV actors. Even before it could be called a town, Billy was there playing with the controller from a game console. Dr. Sam Evanstox was also there hiding in the shadows, manipulating events on a quantum level (story: Level 1).
The old west is often glorified in movies, but Red City had no glory. People lived in shabby lean-tos on a diet of dust. Water was scarce, but liquor flowed freely. Red City was named after a dried up creek. Calling the place a “city” was a misnomer thought up by men effected by heat stroke who were overly optimistic and confused. The place had one saloon, a make-shift general store, and a smattering of shacks. The Doc was also Mayor, barber, and sheriff. On occasion, Doc was also a blacksmith. Nothing changed in Red City. The saloon was the hub of activity. People from far outside of town came to drink, gamble, and pay for sex. The only women in town worked at the saloon. Miners, mostly old men, could register claims with the bartender. Lately there were no new claims. Some men still had enough silver to purchase a night of revelry. Most people just scratched the dirt hoping for something to grow that was edible.
One man always sits at the bar, “My name is Marvin Naivan (story: Fatal Attraction) and I don’t belong here. I keep seeing pictures in my mind… images of some other place… images of space. I’m an astronaut — I landed in this place by mistake. I remember lying in a decontamination chamber — sick. I brought something back, debris from an exploding star — it must have carried the infection. I don’t know how I came to Red City, but I don’t belong. Nothing ever changes here. I drink, but don’t get drunk. I can’t seem to leave this bar. The Doc tells me I’m lucky to be alive. An Angel saved me… but it’s always the same, repeated in the same way every day.”
Miss Harlequin wears back-and-white. She serves drinks and offers sex for the right price. She came from a large city in the east where she managed a computer company. Sometimes she sings and dances to her own music, haunting songs that never end. Miss Harlequin doesn’t know where the music comes from — she never had musical talent. She was always filled with remorse, but now she feels transcendent. Sometimes she vibrates with frantic rhythm like a drum.
The future of Red City lies behind a firewall. The future exists in the Cloud –holographic and solid. Sindhar Golgol knows this because he designed the firewall and he is responsible for renaming everything in existence. First he had to break Reality; then, he isolated worlds from one another to keep them safe from collision. Sindhar works obsessively to maintain balance and Dimensional Cohesion, but he can’t control the actions of other Avatars who conspire to dominate the world. Reality will be broken many times before and after Sindhar’s accomplishments (story: Stone #6).
A cabal of scientists and alchemists is hidden in the crevices and folds generated by the far future. They will create a self fulfilling prophesy to become the Illuminati whose purpose is to guide and control human destiny. Their intention will be to build a God Machine. Their ministrations will send echoes down the time line to the past, changing reality to fit their agenda. It has already occurred. A black cube (measuring 120 feet on a side) was sent to the birthplace of Red City. The Cube was designed to bury the town and its’ inhabitants, but Chaos intervened. Red City was reborn like a ravenous beast. Some of the people were devoured while others became heroes.
(to be continued) (search for referenced stories – search icon at the top of page in the right corner)
He wanted to capture the day she died. He wanted to bring her back and that’s why he built his Jacob’s Ladder machine.
There had always been too much information in his head, but he learned to focus and reduce the level of chatter. He also discovered that certain drugs made it easier to focus. Matt Brandon was a candidate for a doctor’s degree in advanced physics. He was thirty-five and extremely intelligent … He was also mad.
He was inspired to build his Jacob’s Ladder by watching old movies like the original “Frankenstein.” He loved special effects. His ideas were influenced by reading science fiction. As a student he studied quantum physics: the mathematics of Time and Parallel Worlds. Lorna was the name of the person he wanted to bring back. She was not a lost love who died from some tragic disease. She was not even a real person. Lorna was part of Matt’s mind, an alter ego. She died (broke off from Matt) when he turned fifteen and he was forced to “grow up.” Afterward, Matt never felt whole. More than anything he wanted to go back to a time before he was broken. After years studying esoteric texts and completing courses in exotic science he was able to build his Jacob’s Ladder, a Time Machine. Matt believed the machine could reset his life. He could start over and become the person he was mean’t to be. He would be able to embrace his long, lost love — the part of himself that died.
Matt watched with fascination as electric bolts climbed up the Jacob’s Ladder. His hand was on the control lever and his body was encased in fields of electricity. He stared at his hand as he turned the lever to the point of no return. With a terrible snap, Matt felt his body hurtle across the gap in time. An acrid smell hit him like a hammer and he realized he was choking on smoke. He thought sparks from the machine started a fire in his workshop. He looked at his hand, still on the control knob — but it wasn’t his hand. It looked more like a wrinkled claw than a hand. Matt was no longer in his workshop. He was out in the open, in a dismal field surrounded by burning buildings. With trepidation, Matt realized the machine did not send him back in time, but into some far future on a parallel world. He was old, ancient — a crumbling relic of himself and he could barely move. His dream of reunification was shattered — Lorna was lost forever. Matt was at the Nexus — a dimension where all Time comes to an end.