Septemus 62

Oops!

SeptOops04

I was reading Octy a bedtime story when we heard them singing.

“Hear that, Octy?”

“Mommy song!”he said.

“Is your mom singing, too?”

“Think so,” he answered.

Oh, boy! Get ready, Pops! He was out working on the rocket, and I knew they were coming to pick him up!

SeptOops01

I’m glad Pops likes spending time with our folks. Even if he never understands what they say, I think he gets it. He describes the feeling as a heaviness pressing down on his brain.

“That’s downloading,” I told him.

He said he understood that, but what he doesn’t know is how to make sense of what he’s downloaded, after he’s downloaded it.

“I can tell there’s information there,” he says,”But I just don’t know how to process it.”

Sometimes, I can help. I can pick up some of the bits and bytes from him and sort and sift them until suddenly, I know something that I didn’t know before.

I figure maybe our folks want to give him more practice. Either that, or they just really like spending time with him.

SeptOops02

I glanced out the window to see the ship take off.  How I love that big eye looking down on us!

Octy had already fallen asleep.  I watched the ship rise. It’s funny–I’ve never even wondered why they don’t take me. I guess–when they come, it feels natural. It always feels right. If they wanted me, they’d pick me up. But they want Pops. So up he goes!

SeptOops03

I hope he remembers something of what they tell him. He always asks me, “What do you think they said?” But how am I to know?

While Octy slept, and I waited for Pops to return, I sang to all my brothers and sisters–it feels so good to be doing that again:

The big eye came
and took my pops.

That’s OK,
he likes space-hops!

If your ma goes, or your dad
Just be happy
At all the fun
that’ll be had!

SeptOops05

He was gone half the night. I waited up. I didn’t know how he’d be feeling when he returned. Maybe we’d have another little sibling, though I sort of hoped not–at least not this time. Octy is still very young, and Pops doesn’t yet seem completely recovered from the whole having-a-baby thing.

I hoped they were telling him more about the rebellion so that he’d be able to clue me in as to what I’m supposed to do. I’m feeling too old to just be going to school, singing silly songs to the pagotogo. I should be doing something!

I keep waiting for orders, and every time Pops has contact with them, I think he’ll be able to let me know what they are.

Or maybe, he’d need to talk. He always seems mildly confused when he returns.

Whatever it would be, I wanted to be awake when he got back, just in case I could help.

SeptOops06

He came home happy, but he went right to bed.

“Not now, son,” he said. “Everything’s OK. I’m not pregnant. But I really just need to sleep, OK?”

I understand. He had a lot to process, and sleep’s the best way to do that.

“Sleep well, Pops,” I said. “Do your best to figure it out, OK? Maybe there’s a message for me? Or for Octy?”

He nodded and tumbled into bed. He was asleep immediately. I kept checking on him, making sure he was all right. He slept soundly, and he seemed comfortable enough.

The munchkin was up before Pops was, so I got him a snack and sat with him.

“Mommy?” he asked. “Where’s Mommy?”

SeptOops07

I felt a dark lonely wind swirling deep within him.

“Did you think Mommy was coming?”

“She here. Where?”

I tuned into him, and I could feel a tendril of love. No words were attached. The only data was love. The wind died down. He breathed deeply.

“It’ll be OK,” I didn’t know what else to say.

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Septemus 50

Septeen1401

Dear son,

The fog is starting to lift, and I remember everything.

Xirra, she’s the one I spent most of the time with, had asked me, “Do you want to remember, or forget?”

“Remember!” I said. “I want to remember everything.”

And I do.

Septeen1402

They all greeted me, all twelve.

“Do you know the history of abductions?” they asked.

I didn’t. Do you? They told me everything. Abductions, not just of people of our planet, but from many planets, have been going on for generations, for centuries. The intentions haven’t been benevolent, traditionally. They’ve been mercenary.

Women were used to provide gene samples–through swabs of skin or locks of hair, mostly, so that they never knew–and the genes were spliced to create new stock.

Males were forcibly, without consent, impregnated. Most of the time, the experience was so traumatic, that the men ended up returning the child to the home planet soon after birth, and these children provided the slave labor that created the wealth of the Mainstreamers.

It’s a practice that the rebels abhor, just as much as they abhor the treatment of bizoobi.

“This is why we fight,” said Xirra. “We cannot support a culture, a society, an economy that rests on rape, slavery, and murder.”

Gotukoda in’i EO!” They all shouted.

“We want to do things another way,” Xirra said. We weren’t on the ship during this conversation–I remember this now. We were–where were we? We were someplace dark, with glowing plants. Someplace purple, with ultraviolet light. It felt like the inside of a flower.

“We are safe here,” Xirra told me. She led me to an inner room. We sat on large plants, purple, soft, like giant mushrooms, only clearly, they were not a fungus. They smelled like cotton candy.

“We want to do things differently,” she said. “That is what we are all about. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

I nodded. So much information, emotional as well as historical, was passing telepathically that I felt that I knew much more than had been said. It was difficult to find words to talk, processing all that was coming in.

She took my hand. “We have been feeling the bonds within your home,” she said. “We know something of love. Do you know, for us, the love of family, of father and pagoto, mother and pagoto, the love that makes a gotukoda–a home–is as close to sacred as anything we know?”

Again, I nodded. I could believe it. It’s sacred to me, too, I tried to say, though I could only think it.

“We want to do things differently,” she said again. “Do you?”

I knew then what she meant.

Septeen1403

I found my voice. “Yes,” I said. “I want this very much.”

It was beautiful, son. It was everything that the creation of a new life should be.

Septeen1404

You are such a romantic at heart, with your crushes and your Big Loves. I know that you have wondered about me and why I have never had much to do with any of that.

I haven’t felt I’ve been missing out. I’ve had no interest. Why should I bother with something that I’m simply uninterested in, especially when that bother could lead to misunderstanding, broken hearts, and misery?

But now I know. There is something in a touch, an exchange, a breath of love that creates a new life–this is more than romance. This is love. This is what makes a family.

What Xirra and I shared during that exchange, I hope you share that with someone sometime!

The way I feel inside–the petals of the blue rose open, and what’s inside? More petals, more opening, on and on, until the edge of me dissolves and the edge of her dissolves and the rose keeps blooming, on and again.

This is what creates a new life.

Septeen1405

I am going to be a father, again.

Septeen1406

When Xirra led me out to the main room, we weren’t bashful. There was nothing secret, nothing shameful, everything sacred.

The others were sitting around low round tables, sipping tart, sweet tea that smelled like green apples, though it was deep red. They made room for us, and without talking, we sat with them.

They all began to sing then, only not out loud: inside, the way you sing to your pagotogo. I could hear them. Xirra looked at me, and I began to sing with them.

Septeen1407

What gift have I been given? I am in awe.

How is it that I came to be your father? What have you taught me? So much! You have taught me love and more. And now. This experience. This is something that I never thought that I would experience. Me, solitary me. I am solitary no more. I am surrounded with gotugo. We are all kin. I never knew this. But now I do.

Septeen1408

I’m going to have a baby!

Septeen1410

I’m going to have a baby, and this new life is the result of the most amazing, reality-altering experience I have ever had. This new life is the result of love.

Septeen1409

You are going to be an amazing big brother.

And I am…

steeped in gratitude,

Your pops

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Author’s note: Sebastion came back from his “abduction” (it felt more like a “visitation”) knowing that he was pregnant. He had all the nooboo-related thought bubbles since he arrived back home.

Septemus 49

Septeen1301

Dear Sept,

It’s from you that I’ve learned to listen to that voice that sounds inside. It’s not my voice. Usually, it’s yours.

This time, it belonged to someone else.

“Come outside! Meet with us again! We want to see you!”

How could I refuse? I knew who it was. It was your people. I’d been hoping to have another chance to see them. I’d been waiting for this.

I felt excited. I was going to see your people again. What would they tell me this time?

Septeen1302

I hoped I would remember every word they spoke.

The light wasn’t frightening this time. It felt warm. It felt like a welcome.

Septeen1303

For just a moment, my rational mind kicked in: What if something happens to interrupt the beam?

The ship was an awfully long ways up there.

Septeen1304

But once I begin to lift off the ground, I put my worries aside.

Trust.

This was their words.

Concentrate.

Septeen1305

I looked in the bedroom window as I began rising up.

There you were, fast asleep.

Septeen1306

Do you know how proud I am of you?

“Sleep well,” I whispered. “I’ll be back before you wake.” I hoped I’d have more news from your people to share with you.

Septeen1307

It seemed like I was gone for a long time, though it was still dark when I returned, and you were still sleeping in your bed.

It’s hard for me to explain what it feels like on returning. It’s something like waking from a dream–so much has happened, more than I can process at the moment. And that strange feeling of adjusting to the atmosphere and gravity of this planet. That’s the most disconcerting part.

Septeen1309

I stood in a stupor on the lawn before our house.

The space craft hovered above.

And then, then I heard singing. It was all twelve of them–all twelve who’d been on the ship–but with the echoing of their voices, they sounded like hundreds. The melody followed the cadences of the songs you sing, that same minor key, filled with longing and love.

Pagoto, dear one,
Hold one,
Carry one.

Love one,
Dear one,
Our one,
Sweet one.

EO inna-inna O
O inna-inna EO.

EO in’i O
O in’i EO.

Septeen1308

I looked up, and the light of the ship’s eye winked, and then it was gone.

Son, when I remember what happened, I will share it with you.

–Your pops

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Septemus 38

septteen515

Dear Sept,

I felt so strange the next day after that dream, as if I weren’t all there. While you were at school, I painted. I have no idea where this composition came from–three fish, swimming through space. These were no ordinary koi. These are cosmic koi.

I felt drawn to the blackness of space.

I had to go inside and sit down. I felt so strange.

septteen601

What could it be? Why could I only remember fragments of that dream?

A few years back, Brio sent me a letter. I looked through the folder on the computer where I save all my correspondence. There it was.

“I know for a fact that me carrying my children had to do with those hours I cannot recall…”

Those hours I cannot recall…

Why can’t I remember all of my dream? I was still trying to reconnect with that dream experience when you came home from your study session at the library.

“Son,” I asked, “do you ever have dreams you can’t recall?”

“I forget them in the everyday,” you answered, “but on some level, their traces remain with me always. What’s up, Pops?”

“I feel odd, son,” I confessed.

septteen605

“Let me see you, Pops.”

I stood before you. What came next can only be described as the sensation of a total and complete body scan. It wasn’t unpleasant. It tickled. But it felt like blue rose petals, and it brought me back to myself.

septteen610

“You’re OK, Pops!” you said. “You’re fine. You’ve just had your first extra-terrestrial experience, that’s all!”

“Oh, man. What do you mean?”

“That dream? That was no dream!” you said. “You met my peoples!”

septteen611

“How can you be sure?”

You launched into a long, detailed explanation about the storage of memory within the consciousness of cells.

“Nothing’s ever lost, Pops. If it happens, it’s there somewhere.”

“But what about dreams? Maybe the cells were storing dream-experience?”

“Nope. Dream-memories taste different. This was my folks, Pops.”

“What’s the purpose? There’s got to be some reason for this, right? It’s not just some random act.”

“Well,” you said, “I suppose it has something to do with me. They want a connection to the person I’m most connected to, which would be you. They like you, Pops. In fact, one of the data-pieces I picked up in your cells contains a very specific coded message.”

“And that message would be?”

“You’re to expect a very special delivery,” you reported.

septteen612

A few evenings later, it arrived. We heard a whirring noise, and when we went out to look, we found a pile of crates sitting on a tiny square of tarmac.

“This is it, Pops!” you said. “Our very own rocket-kit! Straight from the Far Star!”

septteen501

I guess maybe your folks thought we needed another father-son project.

Looking forward to doing some building with you, son.

–Your pops

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Author’s Notes: What… you were expecting a different sort of delivery? So was I!

Many thanks to Kira for writing Brio’s letter! You can find Brio and his family’s story at KK’s Sims Stories.

Septemus 37

septteen101

Dear son,

For the most part, your nightmares seem to have fled. I’m relieved. I like to glance across the room and see you sleeping soundly.

Maybe the dream-fairies have shifted over to me, for I had the strangest dream last night.

While you were at school yesterday, I spent some time contemplating the model of the solar system you made. You cut out a rocket to paste onto the back-screen. I found myself daydreaming about the rocket.

Your song about the far star began playing in my head.

Moonshine! Moonlight.
Smile shine. Smile bright.

–something-something, something else–

And when worlds turn and stars burn
We’ll find where our home is…
By the far star…

One of the parents at the forum asked about the far star. I’m guessing this parent’s kid is one of the ones you’ve been singing to all these years, but maybe it’s something else. Maybe you and the other kids have memories, genetic memories or early imprints, of your home solar system. In fact, the longer I studied the model you made, the more I realized that this was not our solar system. Did this come from your memory or from your imagination? Is that sun in the center the far star?

septteen406

You were busy with homework, so I didn’t get a chance to ask you about this. And then you went to bed early.

While I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, I kept hearing your song.

It’s far. We’re here.
Let’s go. Have no fear.

I’ll see you in my dream
You’ll see me in yours.
And when worlds turn and stars burn
We’ll find where our home is…
By the far star…

I fell asleep with it running through my head.

And that’s when the dream came.

I dreamt of a strange light. I was pulled towards it.

septteen102

It wasn’t moonlight: it was a saucer, as in all the old sci-fi movies I watched as a kid.

septteen106

I had to chuckle at how, even when dreaming, my imagination was formed by B-films.

With laughter, I woke up inside the dream. I used to practice lucid dreaming often, back before you came to live with me, so the experience felt familiar. I noticed details. The space craft wasn’t really like the flying saucers in cinema. The center glowed like an eye, and strange membranes pulsed with light around the iris.

septteen103

I began flying, lifting up, like I’ve done in a hundred lucid dreams before. It felt as exhilarating as ever.

septteen104

I was drawn upwards into the eye.

septteen105

After that, the lucid dreaming stopped. It’s almost as if the dream stopped. When I think back to that time, I feel heavy. It’s that feeling one gets after a massive study session: the mind is full of data, and the brain hasn’t yet created the structures needed to store or process it.

I felt like I was downloading terabytes of information and knowledge.

When I woke back up, I was still inside the dream. I still couldn’t access what had happened during my non-lucid interval.

A shaft of light carried me down towards ground.

septteen107

I heard distant voices, though what they were chanting, I couldn’t distinguish through the echoing.

septteen108

I landed softly, without a stumble. I didn’t want to step out of the light-shaft. It felt warm, and surrounded by it, I felt happy.

septteen109

I must have sleep-walked, for when I woke up, I was in the living room, dancing, full of an overpowering feeling of peace, well-being, and contentment.

septteen1010

You came out of the bedroom and found me there.

“Pops?” you asked. “Are you all right?”

Rebelforcesarestrongerthaninjusticefortheyfightthegoodfightwithlove,” I said.

“Pops?” you said. “Spaces, right?”

I chuckled. “Thanks, son. It’s true what they say: Kindness really is stronger.”

septteen202

“You feeling OK, Pops?” you asked.

“Kinda sleepy,” I replied, and I shuffled back to bed. I kicked off my shoes, and as I crawled between the blankets, I wondered when I’d put my shoes on in the first place. I didn’t go to sleep in my clothes, did I?

Strange times, son.

–Your pops

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First Letter to Brio

sept2728

Dear Brio,

I have a feeling you’re going to be surprised to hear from me. Not that you know who I am–just that I’m writing. You see, I joined the pen pal project in order to get in touch with you.

I’m not a stalker. No. It’s that your kids asked me to write. You see, I belong to an online community for a group of people who are part of a government program. It’s a special program to give homes to kids who need them. Most of us have some kind of experience in education or working with children.

The kids we’ve adopted are a lot like your kids. And your kids, Sirius and Vega, in looking for children like them, came across an online forum we’ve started. I guess our security isn’t as good as I thought–either that, or Vega is a skilled hacker. The end result is that your kids got into our forum, saw us talking about our extraterrestrial kids, and then they emailed me.

They sent me a link to your Pen Pal Project profile.

I must admit: I was very surprised by it.

sept2725

You’ve got six kids? And, though you’re a dad, you carried them? And did this have anything to do with those hours you can’t remember?

Well, I have a lot more questions, but I feel it’s rude for me to ask them before we’ve even met. Your kids sound really well-adjusted and happy, so it seems like your life is working out well now. I’m glad about that.

I guess I should tell you a bit about me.

I was trained to be a children’s librarian. I work at home, though, as a writer, painter, and dad. It’s a far better life than I could have ever dreamed up.

sept2726

My boy, Septemus, amazes me. I don’t mean this in a prideful way, for none of it is from me–it’s all him. Well, your kids seem amazing, too, so you probably know what I mean.

We do a lot of typical Dad-Son things. We dance.

sept2702

We enjoy our favorite meals. Right now, Septemus loves tofu tacos, and I’m on a taco casserole kick.

He calls us the Taco Kids.

sept2724

I don’t always know what to make of the things he says.

He started talking about black holes this evening and how they have the capacity to devour entire solar systems.

“Where do you suppose a civilization goes when the black hole eats it?” he asked. “Like for example, what happens to the library books?”

How do you answer a question like that?

sept2723

I think it’s going to be good for me to be able to talk to another parent who’s been there. I hope that you’ll accept me as a pen pal, and that you don’t think it’s too presumptuous for me to write you or that you’re bothered by your kids getting in touch with me.

I’m counting it as a blessing, myself. I’ve got a feeling you might be able to help with some of the answers I seek. And at any rate, I could use another dad’s advice.

sept2727

Here’s hoping you’ll write back,

Sebastion Sevens

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Vampire Code: Nuptial Babysitters

vc702

After the conclusion of  Jaclyn and Davion’s wedding, a beam of light shone on the cynda.

“Will you watch the kids?” Cathy called to Jaclyn as the light pulled her up into a space craft belonging to the thousand mommies of her best friend, onezero.

vc703

“Where are you going?” Jaclyn called. “When will you be back?”

“Shan’t be gone long!” Cathy shouted back. “It’s onezero’s thousand! I guess they need an update!”

vc705

“Let them know we’ve got it covered!” Jaclyn shouted. “And pick up any strategy tips they might offer!”

“Will do!” came Cathy’s reply, barely audible.

vc706

“I’m faira certain they nae had got the toothfanged ones up in that far away place,” Davion mumbled.

“Don’t be so sure, Davi,” replied Jaclyn. “At any rate, they’ve stronger rune than we and ancient-old ways to draw from!”

vc707

When the disc ascended out of sight, Jaclyn headed in to check the little ones.

Rocket lay curled at the head of his bed, like a pea seed, waiting to sprout.

vc708

“You have got the menë, little seedling. What a big sprout you will grow to be!”

She knew the prophecy, sure enough, as did all who came from her land–Davion knew it, too.

When comes the time that light and dark
are topped and turn,
and he whose name is formed of light
sends the man of dark on the
wisp of the wish

Then the crack shall grow and spread
And all will feel the reach of dread.

The Cynda sees and brings to bred
the wisher and the wishing seed.

From this union,
now come three.
But keep apart the
strong of heart
Until the wish is heard again

And then we find
The merry men.

The line is formed.
Red flows free.
And only one can stop
the spree.

The only one
is Number Three.

vc709

Rocket stirred.

“Ama?” he called.

“Ama will be back soon, little Pea,” said Jaclyn. “Let your Ama’s cynda read to you.”

“Who she?” asked Rocket.

“She is me!” replied Jaclyn.

She found a book of hobbit lullabies tucked in the bookshelf.

“Born of moon,
Little Silver,

“Rest until
Returns the chilver.

“Little lamb,
Little man. 

“With sleep grow strong
Then rights the wrong.

It won’t be long.
It won’t be long.”

Soon he was fast asleep.

vc710

“Do you think Ama will bring back a moon rock?” Florinda was asking Davion when Jaclyn joined them in the living room.

“She’s not going to the moon, though, eh?” replied Davion.

“But she must!” said Florinda. “I saw the moon, and I saw the ship, and then the ship was gone, and now all that’s there is the moon!”

“It’s a very fast ship, henig,” said Jaclyn. “Once it speeds to going, it travels faster than we can see with our eyes.”

“But she always comes back soon,” replied Florinda, “every time she goes with them.”

“It’s the funny time,” said Davion. “Fast for you and me, eh? But for the ones up and away, it’s a very long time. Nae, not to worry. She’ll be back before ye rise with the morning light.”

“That she will,” said Jaclyn.

“And will you and Davi stay with us?” asked Flor. “It’s not like we haven’t been alone before, because usually when she goes with them, me and Sparkie stay. But this is the first time that she’s gone since Rocket was here. And what if he wakes up and misses her?”

“We shall stay,” said Davion.

It wasn’t how Jaclyn had imagined spending her wedding night, but it was right, after all.

vc711

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Whisper 1.5

whisbi501

Drawing days are so much fun. We sit outside the building and sketch from life. It pours down rain, but aside from Ann (my knee-socked dorm mate), none of us care. We’re too into the drawing to mind the wet, even as our notepads get soaked and our pencils rip holes in the paper.

Derek sits as far away from me as possible, so I take that as a sign to pay attention to my work, and not to him.

You never know. Maybe he’s sitting behind you so he can draw you!

After class, I call Cid to see if he wants to catch a film with me. I hear there’s a neat independent film showing.

whisbi502

We’re talking, then I notice a guy performing magic tricks for tips. He’s making pigeons disappear and flames turn into roses. I head over to watch, but then Cid comes storming towards me, looking very angry, like he’s going to yell at me. Is he mad because I left our conversation to watch the magician?

I want to break that pattern that’s happened with Chauncey and Derek, so I deflect.

“Let’s head in to get good seats!”

Half-way through the movie, Cid mutters something about “worst time ever” and he leaves the theater.

I stay to watch the rest of the film. I’m so engrossed in it that I hardly even register that Cid left.

When I step out of theater after the movie’s over, though, it hits me. I’ve been ditched.

whisbi503

I feel like I lost a friend. This makes the third guy who became my friend quick, started to become something else, and then rejected me. Bummer. I think I’ll just forget about guys for a while.

It’s OK. Being alone is pretty neat.

While I ride home, I think about the film, “Corduroy Glasses.”

I’m not sure what the film signified. I think it has something to do with perceiving reality through a warped world view, so what one perceives isn’t really reality–whatever that is–but one’s culturally defined perceptions.

I think about taking off my corduroy glasses. Isn’t that what college is all about? To learn what is one’s culture, what others’ cultures are, how our cultures inform our world views, and then to begin to make conscious choices about what we might want to discard and what we might want to preserve of our own cultural heritage, precepts, and constructs?

God! I am so excited to be here! No wonder I always wanted to come to college! Who needs guys when we can take off our glasses and look at the world, as if for the first time?

Yay, independence!

There you go!

whisbi504

When I get home, Derek calls and invites me to a party. What? I thought Derek hated me.

Cid lives in Derek’s dorm, so maybe I’ll see him there, and I’ll be able to talk with him, and we can re-establish our friendship. I bet he wouldn’t think “Corduroy Glasses” was such a dopey film if he knew what it meant.

What happened to “Yay, independence?”

Cid is streaking through the quad, yelling at the top of his lungs.

I realize that know may not be the best time to talk with him about culturally constructed world views.

Inside, I notice a cute guy with long dark hair. Oh. It’s Anoki Moon. I’ve heard of him. I feel an instant connection to him, like maybe I’ve known him in another life.

He’s surrounded by girls.

Are the corduroy glasses on or off right now?

whisbi505
When the women head over to the keg, I approach.

“I feel sirens going off,” I tell him, “but I’m not heeding any warnings.”

“You’re Cathy!” he says. “I heard about you. Derek and Cid don’t stop talking about you.”

And I feel all kinds of awkward.

whisbi506

Anoki and I begin bonding over our shared vegetarianism. He tells me he’ll get me a great recipe for veggie burgers that he has up in his room. Before he does, the two women come back from the keg. One of them looks really mad.

“Burgers!” She yells at Anoki. “Not bloody salad! You should be eating burgers, fool!”

“OK, so first of all,” Anoki says,”I would never eat bloody salad. And second of all, where do you get off deciding who can be vegetarian and who can’t? It’s my body.”

whisbi507

It’s time for me to go, anyway.

Just once, I’d like to have a peaceful, friendly conversation with somebody, where nobody gets mad, nobody gets insulted, nobody gets offended, and we all find common ground and appreciate each other.

That’s a great goal. Don’t lose it!

So far, all I’ve encountered has been conflict. I’m kinda into peace. I’m hoping to create a peaceful world. And I thought that a lot of people my generation agreed with me. But how are we supposed to create peace when we fight with each other? We need new sets of corduroy glasses.

I get home and just as I’m getting ready for bed, I notice some strange lights outside.

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Holy uh-oh!

I feel my corduroy glasses being ripped off my head!

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Next thing I know, I’m standing out back of the dorm, with a weird feeling in my head and all these strange sensations in every orifice. Ugh. What happened?

Relax. Breathe. You’ll be OK. Once you truly succeed in escaping your culturally constructed world view, your memories of these events will return. Until then, just know that you are home now, and you are safe.

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In the distance, I see a figure riding away on a bicycle.

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I guess life still feels random to me.

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