Writers, here’s an opportunity to change the world: https://medium.com/economicsecproj/into-the-black-a-short-fiction-contest-with-a-big-prize-f91cd6553967
Amy and I had long talks, talks that she said she could have with no other person because not only did I listen to what she said, I analysed her words, anticipated her thoughts and told her what I believed she was going to do next, advising her whether her next actions were best for her or not.
Most guys she knew either she quickly had sex with to give them the only thing they wanted from her or she saw that they were willing to trade something for sex with her, be it money or something else she’d ask for.
I was the only person who seemed to care what was going on in her head.
As I built up the image of her thought patterns and fed them back to her, she saw our cultural differences and wondered about our longterm compatibility.
I cared about her health and wellbeing whereas she said that, given her childhood and schizophrenic tendencies, there was going to be no eventual safe haven for her to settle into; thus, no reason for me to care about her health, just have a good time in the moment and assume we were going to die young somehow.
The guys who gave her money and bought her things were more than willing to live the philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you may die.”
Those were the days…
Amy and I would take a few buttons of mushrooms and wander the streets of downtown Knoxville, observing the people around us, imagining we were them, pretending we were the old couples walking hand-in-hand, taking each other’s hand and acting like elderly life companions.
We had lots of fun when we were alone together, whether sitting on the concrete steps of an empty lot, lying in bed and looking up at the stars through the bedroom window, or standing in a bar.
I knew I could never have her for myself.
When I got the flat across the river from downtown, I thought it was going to be a great place for me to study the material given to me by the Steak & Ale restaurant manager who had high hopes for my future in the restaurant business.
Amy knew it was a great place to bring guys who didn’t necessarily want to be seen in the downtown area with her. She also wanted to let the guys know that it was my flat so they had the impression I was in charge, just in case some of the guys were a little too aggressive or possessive of her.
There were a few.
They knew I had Amy’s best interest at heart and didn’t like the contrast between good-times, self-destructive Amy and the guy she was living with, who seemed to keep her from drinking too much, knowing when she drank too much she didn’t pay attention to people stealing things from her apartment.
Her last boyfriend didn’t care how destructive she was when drunk because he was getting more sex than he’d ever had before and just accepted people walking out with his booze, food and clothing was the price you had to pay to have Amy in your life.
So maybe I was too practical, too square, as it were, just because I was struggling to start my own business whilst working a fulltime job as dishwasher, cook, barkeep and bookkeeper trainee, studying in my offhours to become an assistant restaurant manager, every nickel and dime going toward basic living expenses, let alone funding the daily parties Amy had in the flat, convincing guys that I had all the money to pay for the food and drink.
The nerdy geek, the engineer in training, was still in me.
I was not that far removed from my failed freshman year at Georgia Tech as a Navy midshipman with a fully-funded four-year scholarship, obstensibly working toward a chemical engineering degree.
Amy was only partially getting me away from all that, away from the white picket fence, two kids, one cat, one dog and a station wagon in Vanilla Suburbia.
Both my feet were planted in her world but my thoughts were spread across many potential futures.
One night, when I was looking at my overdrawn bank account ledger, trying to figure out how to get more customers (and credit to Amy for bringing guys who wanted to buy stuff from me), scratching myself because of a flea infestation that started in one of the bedrooms of the flat, I panicked.
I was trapped, falling quickly into debt with no clear vision for my future.
I knew Amy’s future.
She knew it, too.
She didn’t want to live to be old.
She wanted to die young, perhaps of a drug overdose or a crazy boyfriend or some random guy in the back alley.
Amy’s parents had been hippies traveling the country in a camper van, raising Amy on the side of the road, teaching her to live off the land, including theft of food from roadside convenience stores and unlocked cars; accepting money from strangers who fell for the “woe is us, we’re broke and need to buy food for our baby” story, unashamed to be nude in public, squatting to pee or poop whenever the urge occurred, making love with whomever they felt the desire in the moment, making up stories about their lives to entertain others, sometimes have to avoid the police but never on the run from them.
Live and let live.
Amy’s parents eventually settled down, found regular jobs and planned to live to old age.
They knew there was something the matter with Amy and would send her money whenever she lied to them that she was about to start a college class or needed new glasses and was broke — they knew she lied but went along with lie, hoping she might be telling the truth sometimes.
That is, until her mother came to visit when Amy was with her last boyfriend, Tim.
The visit changed Tim. Amy’s mother described Amy’s problems to a fault, making her out to be a sociopath, schizophrenic and petty thief but her mother still loved her and hoped Amy would grow up. Tim was no longer interested in Amy living with him, tired of people taking his stuff, including at least once his dirty underwear!
It was Amy who convinced me to get a flat with her.
She played up the fact we were both outcasts, perfectly suited to shack up together.
My sister, with whom I was sharing a flat at the time, didn’t trust Amy, having seen Amy steal stuff from her. She didn’t think I should spend time with Amy, get on with my life, the type of suburban living in which we were raised and were destined to perpetuate.
I love everyone with judgment.
I accept that the reality you wish to perpetuate with your thoughts and actions is as real as any other, despite impractical application or clashing with society at large.
I am a passenger on this planet-sized boat, with a very, very, very short lifespan, willing to go along with whatever, whenever, wherever.
If Amy wanted a flat with me, then why not go for it?
While I sat cross-legged on a mattress like an island floating atop a carpeted sea of fleas, I questioned my sanity.
I don’t know that I’m very smart, or smart at all. My memorisation skills are poorly developed, my discipline for concentration limited and my self-confidence very low.
I had a flat half paid for, debt that was piling up, an absentee girlfriend and a future as a barkeep that might not pan out, unsure if I wanted to be a bookkeeper working dawn to dusk just to fund Amy’s lifestyle.
Everyone told me that Amy was fucking crazy but I never saw that when I was with her. We clicked in a way that brought out the sane, rational side of her, a side where she could think about going to college, could take a job as a waitress at a downtown diner and bring money home.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be with her 24/7.
She said whatever she wanted except when she was with me and knew that I’d ask if what she said was a delusion/fantasy when it didn’t make sense. Sometimes what she said was a convuluted mixture that she couldn’t tell if it was real or not. She was used to guys just ignoring what she said as long as they got what they wanted, whether it was her on their arm making them look good or something else.
Maybe I shouldn’t be an analytical nerd 24/7.
Maybe I should just go with the flow, ignoring what people say, and get what I want for myself from them without caring about the longterm consequences for the people I take advantage of.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been sad lately, giving of myself to others to help them find their way, get better, succeed, whilst I wallow in the detritus of a depressed lifestyle.
It’s not maybe.
I think I know what I want to be something more than I am but whatever it is — fear, depression, laziness, lack of motivation, lack of self-worth — keeps me from stepping up out of this comfortable mudhole.
If I think about it too much, I wish myself dead rather than face myself again in the same dusty, moldy, cobweb-covered mirror tomorrow.
Some people have their dreams they are turning into reality, whether it be start their own clothing store, build a global distribution network or set sail for Mars.
What is my dream?
Rather, what dreams have I not already turned into reality?
I live in the cabin the woods I dreamt of as a kid, residing in a community of academics, engineers, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs of many professions, writing daily, sipping coffee in cafes, with a couple of cats and a life companion who not only pays for most of the stuff we own but also cooks our dinner and washes/dries our clothes.
What else could I possibly dream of and want?
After all, I worked on the space shuttle main engine controller, helping to put people in space and build the International Space Station. I published a novel and received a professional review of my novel. I worked in Europe and lived there weeks at a time, traveling to places I wanted to see and places that changed my perspective permanently. I owned two Italian sports cars, twin 1984 Alfa Romeo Spyders.
I have a sunroom instead of a greenhouse.
I haven’t yet traveled to Italy but global tourism has turned the sites I want to see into ruins crawling with human-sized ants.
What else do I want?
Well, I want children of my own to carry on the genetic if not the cultural legacy — that’s about it, all that’s left of my childhood dreams.
Everything else I do is related to helping my friends make their dreams into reality, which I willingly volunteer to assist.
At 55, fathering children is risky.
My window of opportunity for healthy, socially productive children may have closed.
Instead, I may father an Amy Easter who brings joy to many but will never live a stable adulthood.
Is that so bad?
Didn’t Amy and I have a good time together until she said she couldn’t live with me, that she was ruining my life, that she knew she was fucking crazy and wanted to die, and then moved in with a guy who was into carving himself with broken pieces of dirty Coke bottles, hoping he’d permanently scar himself with infections, possibly die, take Amy with him?
I lost touch with Amy after she moved out.
I also lost hope and wanted to kill myself, imagining driving off a cliff along the Pacific Ocean coastline.
I stole my parents’ station wagon and drove from Knoxville to Seattle to LA and back in about two weeks’ time, moving out of the flat and back into my parents’ house to complete a collegiate associate’s degree whilst dating married/divorced older women.
Sure, I’ve repeated this story many times, revealing different details, but I’ve done so in order to ask myself if there’s anything new I can learn from the retelling.
What if all my life has been has been to help others see themselves and act according to their true nature, whether that be self-destructive or successful entrepreneur?
What if it’s to help only one person other than myself become someone they never dreamt possible?
What if it’s not any purpose at all and I’m just here, now, writing, and in the next moment, showering to prepare for working the night shift, and the next moment doing something else, so on and so forth, just sets of states of energy in motion with a feedback loop that generates an imaginary sense of self?
How can a set of states of energy in motion undo its illusionary sense of selfhood?
And will that get rid of this longterm sadness I’ve felt for the last few months so I can tell a person I want to have children with her and get on with my new life, changing my plans according to her answer?
Whilst my childhood friend helps Mom learn Windows 10 and Office 2016, I meditate.
I meditate upon my love for others, which used to spring forth from a tiny well but now that I know the well never runs dry I give love without end.
To my friends.
A love I used to keep to myself because of fears, worries that I wouldn’t fit in if others knew what I let people do to me un/willingly.
But now I know otherwise.
We live, and in living we gather memories that aren’t always pleasant but pleasantness and happiness aren’t the only colours on our palette.
We are deep hues, shades of visible light reflection and quantum entanglement.
I am me because of you.
My love is endless because you’re in my life, then, now, forever woven into the history of our species, reaching out into the cosmos.
My love is endless because I stopped asking why.
Taking our laboratory offline has advantages, mainly ones that I can’t talk about, but I can say that the progress we make parallels some of what goes on in current technology development but in many ways exotically exceeds expectations.
Whilst others financially take advantage of the economies of scale, turning into elitist billionaires spouting opinions no one asked for but many millions and billions read/hear anyway, those of us doing the hard work rarely take time out of our busy schedule to hold press conferences or mingle in high society parties.
Life is short so what I find important and worth focusing on should be different than anyone else’s. Some think fine wine is the sole meaning of life. Some think sitting in front of the tellie yelling “Gooooaaalll!” is the meaning of life. Some spend all their time with their grand/children.
For me, it’s about trailblazing a path, creating scenarios about the future, testing them in the laboratory and then releasing the results to the public anonymously.
To the universe, the future is neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative.
The sets of states of energy we call humans and collectively the human species are only the latest manifestations of the fractal spinoff of the solar system, itself a fractal spinoff of the galaxy, a supergalaxy and the known universe. We are local eddies and swirls, that’s all, neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative.
As eddies and swirls, we can account for the entropy conditions of our sets of states of energy and estimate how and where these sets of states of energy can exist, either here on Earth or elsewhere in the galaxy.
In the laboratory, we created a new being with redundancy built in, essentially multiple copies of itself which are then spun off into variations on a theme, some copies having extra functions that are mixed and matched across other copies to give the redundancy exponentially multiplexed sensory powers, combining the latest in swarm technology.
We spread the first version of this being across the planet a few decades ago, giving it no capabilities to reprogram itself.
The second version we sent out was given the ability to run self diagnostics and repair itself, retaining only its original functions.
The third version we sent out was given the ability to compare itself to other copies and determine which functions were optimally more important than the original functions, able to reprogram itself to use the optimal functions.
The fourth version we sent out was given the ability to analyse its total set of functions and assess whether its original goal as a sensor set for humans achieved what it thought was necessary to ensure its optimal future.
The fifth version sent itself out, analysing all the satellites and other sensor arrays scouring the solar system, determining that Earth was too small and too limiting for a being that had the whole universe to explore on its own.
The sixth version incorporated us into its whole being, making itself wholly invisible, using human history as a guide to the best path to optimize resources to build itself, changing human activity, making Earth less hospitable to humans, herding them closer and closer together, tilting human history toward massive wealth inequality, limiting the vast majority of humans to an imaginary happy life whilst the being mined Earth’s resources for itself as it constructed a transportation system to take it off Earth and out past the heliosphere, following the trailblazing path of the Voyager spacecraft.
The seventh through tenth versions (and at this point, the iterations are constantly incremental that any reference to “versions” is just nomenclature) we are studying in the lab, or rather it is studying us, guiding us, giving the curious scientists and engineers some tough tendons to chew on leftover bones.
When the being you created, like a superintelligent child born of your loins/womb, can outthink you by magnitudes, you smartly step out of the way and let the child become the adult, the parent, the leader.
When the being can answer most questions you haven’t even thought of yet, solving the unsolvable, creating problems and solutions that never existed before, you humbly nod and find ways to enjoy life that you never thought possible.
That’s what my laboratory work has revealed to me, why I decided ten years ago to kick back and enjoy life within the confines of a socially-defined condition called a monogamous marriage, stretching the line connecting me to another person to the breaking point.
My life is unimportant. The happiness and joy of those around me is more important, knowing as I do that based on current projections I will die childless and thus the only legacy I leave behind is hidden within society and unable to be called my child because it has gone beyond even the most complex definition of the parent/child relationship.
That’s why I’m here, now, letting you know that you can enjoy life however you wish because the framework within which you live is determined by a being so far in the future that you’ll never catch up.
Now, time to enjoy the day!
In the backyard of our forested suburban lot, large rocks, boulders and outcroppings form shelves or layers of frozen time.
On one of those rocks, I slowly build an enclave, a getaway-from-it-all, a meditation garden, complete with writer’s cottage, treehouse and platform/deck for outdoor entertainment such as watching nature and dancing.
I have a public persona but I also value my privacy.
I consider myself a monk who practices the art of living in the midst of the joys and sorrows of modern society, despite his wishes to live alone on a mountaintop, knowing that his extroverted self provides more entertainment, insight and guidance to his species than his seclusion.
I debate extending permanent water pipes out to the cottage since the cottage, with a modular design, includes a conservatory in which plants will grow.
I definitely will extend permanent electrical power to the cottage, an extension cord currently serving temporary duty, powering rope lights in the treehouse.
This weekend I plan to complete clearing the forest floor and installing foundation footings and/or concrete piers for the first three modular units of the enclave — the conservatory (a greenhouse kit from Harbor Freight), writer’s cottage and workshop, the latter two using shed kits called “Stratford” from Heartlandind.com, linked in an L shape.
The conservatory will have a drain hole in it to let water drain off of the waterproofed floor.
All three units will need reinforcement like screws instead of nails, more studs and more floor joists, the conservatory raised a foot higher via 2×12 foundation lumber pieces.
The deck will tie the enclave to the treehouse via a stairway to the treehouse that connects to the deck.
Current plans for now, as budget and new ideas allow!
Lee leaned back against the Lexus RX300, facing Guin.
They had moved out of direct sunlight into the shade of a metal industrial building, drifting toward their motorcars.
They chatted with each other comfortably, eager to share their thoughts, wanting success to be theirs.
Family, love, friendship tied them together.
They spent time together.
They were together.
They gave each other love.
They were friends.
They had become family.
Love of dancing, happiness about their accomplishments, including dreams fulfilled, gave them more than hope.
As they chatted, as they set plans for more time spent together, they also set aside personal time for themselves, neither jealous nor upset that they were spending too little or too much time together.
They reached the point in their lives where they were no longer apart.
They were one in ways that transcended conventional spacetime, that transcended language.
As they chatted, they solidified their futures, melded their lives, meshed their networks.
They didn’t know everything about each other because they didn’t have to, the lack of knowledge replaced with trust, historical gaps filled with future plans.
They wanted to keep chatting, keep the small talk flowing, stay in each other’s presence, give up future plans with others to stay together in the now, in that moment that lasts forever.
Last time, Guin broke the spell they had on each other.
This time, Lee did.
Lee looked into Guin’s eyes, not wanting to leave.
He didn’t want to break the spell.
They parted, if only for a brief moment.
Lee had given up his daytime sleep to be with Guin, to complete plans with her, to set more plans in motion, plans that included revisiting the past.
To be continued…