On January First, 2022, at noon Eastern time exactly, Space Man and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ head exploded.
And on January Second, 2022, at noon Eastern time exactly, Tesla CEO, Uberbro and Joe Rogan’s best friend Elon Musk’s head exploded.
And on January Third, 2022, at noon Eastern time exactly, Luxury Goods Huckster and Art Whore Bernard Arnault’s head exploded.
And, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, “And so it goes.”
A blood piñata, that’s how Bezos’ personal assistant Ann Hyatt described the explosion. “One second, Mr. Bezos is fine. The next second, I’m covered in a fine blood mist. His head is gone from the shoulders up, the bottom of his neck a straight, smooth line across the shoulders. The force of the explosion pulverizing and propelling the blood and flesh onto the walls out, like 15 feet away. Ruined my 3,000 dollar pantsuit. Negative red shadows on the wall like Hiroshima.”
On the seventh day (Larry Ellison), the world began to realize billionaires were being knocked off, in order, from the 2021 Forbes world’s richest list. The list contains the world’s 2,674 billionaires. Google’s Larry Page was number eight. The morning of the eighth, Page was sequestered in his panic room, alone. And by 12:01p, his head was gone, the sealed room painted in blood.
And the heads popped, once a day, 2,666 more times.
Bag of chips, Coke Zero, two Virginia Slims, and two Oxy in her car: Allison was in the middle of her mid-shift break ritual when she heard the news about Bezos on the radio. She squealed, “Fuck Yea!” and almost cut her finger fist-bumping the inside roof of her 2002 Honda Accord. Allison was an Amazon warehouse worker just outside St. Louis. Back to work after a roof collapse last month. Twelve Hours a day, six days a week, three am to three pm, Allison was always moving. A monitor strapped to her waist, she had to complete a task—stocking a shelf, sorting products or packing an item—every seven seconds her whole shift. That’s roughly 5,760 tasks a shift. If she fell behind, the clock switched to six seconds a task.
She’d only been working at Amazon for six months, but ached like an aging heavyweight. If she stayed the whole year, she’d take home 31,000 dollars.
And, now, working on New Year’s fucking Day with no overtime, Allison started her car and went home. While she certainly would be fired, who cares, the world is off its moorings. Glued to the TV, she got drunk on cheap box wine and masturbated almost to the point of annoyance that night.
Allison was single. She usually met boy friends at work, but Amazon kept all employees at least eight feet apart at all times due to Covid and efficiency. She called in work the next day to find out she was, indeed, fired. A relief.
Dubbed The Pop or Pop-mas, immediately, the world panicked. Like a 9/11 everyday, news was non-stop. Productivity stopped. The dead billionaires lauded as Gods and heroes. International prayer chains were formed. World leaders convened to form plans. In smaller, backward countries, billionaires and multi-millionaires were executed as an appeasement to various Gods. John Fredrickson (216) from Cyprus jumped into a volcano two days before his number was up. A group of mid-level billionaires launched themselves into space a week before the first one was set to explode. Cameras showed the live freak-out as the other billionaires watched as (Save Big Money At) John Menard Junior’s (145) head popped. The blood mist jammed all the controls and they were forced to float in space and see each other die. NBC made the event a seven-part mini-series. The Dallas Cowboy’s Jerry Jones (264) just disappeared. Days after his pop-date, it was learned Jones had himself cryogenically frozen and buried deep inside Norad mountain. You can guess what happened.
Everyone had theories, except the scientists. They were baffled. Baptists blamed the gays. Marxists blamed capitalism. The President went on TV nightly proclaiming, “Take me and make it stop” to whatever was causing The Pop. Bars would open early and have drink specials based on who was popping that day. Bar patrons watching the daily, live special and cheering. Most thought the cause was aliens or some kind of remote Scanners-type shit. But nobody really knew. Not the politicians, faith healers, tarot card readers, woo merchants, engineers, biologists, other billionaires, philosophers, consultants, and not even Deepak Chopra knew what the fuck was going on.
Congress, after day 50, passed a bill expediting inheritance and eliminating the estate tax. Only about 10 percent of the billionaires gave everything away, mostly to the tax havens of third world countries. And just enough to get off the list. David Geffen built a lot of water filtration plants in Zambia in a short time. And on Day 245, his head popped.
Nothing could stop the heads from popping.
The stock market only dipped a little. The constant transfer of wealth and systemic locks kept the whole rickety operation afloat. Natch.
After nearly seven and a half years, Allison was back, this time huffing paint, in the WalZon parking lot. Sam Walton the Ninth bought Amazon and instituted many new policies including a full-time the six-second clock. The Big Pop only made life worse for Allison. Jobs actually became scarcer as most industries froze in shock of the daily events and stopped hiring. Allison had four crappy low-paying jobs, a drug overdose and three medical emergencies. And felt forced to go back. Life will swamp you every time, she thought. She spent most of the last seven years drunk.
But today was the last day, according to The Forbes List. Day 2,674. The last one. Chinese software billionaire Zhou Wei was set to pop. And it was to be over. Forbes never made another World’s Richest List. A quadrillion dollars were transferred to family members over the past seven years. And little of that wealth made it more than two levels away from the billionaire giving the money away.
Wars were fought, millions died. But it was to be over. Millions stopped working. Drug use was rampant and faith was waning.
But today. It was over. Today it ends.
Allison, resume in hand, walking into the supervisor’s office, pulled out a gun and shot him in the head.
“Pop,” she said.
And on the next day, nobody’s head popped. The world’s remaining billionaires celebrated by holding a multi-million dollar party.
And on the next Monday, all of their heads popped.
What if we’re all just living inside the fingernail of some dumb God.
Cough, yea, yea that. I mean, think about it.
I’ve thought about it, Everytime we get stoned, I think about it. Every stoned person has thought about in every dorm room in every college everywhere has thought about it.
Yea, but have you really thought about it? I mean really, really thought about it? Really, really thought about it, I mean, think about it. Pass me that toad, I think I’ve worked it out.
Henry takes a long lick off the dead Psychadelic toad’s belly, passes the toad back to M.
Ok, ok, ok. here we go. God is the whole universe. The universe IS God. We’re all connected. We’re all star dust. Star fucking dust. I am you you are me and we are all together. Ob-La-Dee, Ob-La-Da. Ob-La Fucking Da. Star dust. So, so, so. think small. Think really small. Each atom inside us is actually a subset of God. God’s atoms are actually you and me and auntie Lou. I am actually one of God’s atoms, a singular atom, Uno atomento, independant on my own, free, but connected, connected, living inside God as one of God’s atoms. That kinda makes me. And you. And auntie Lou—-God. Think about it, God. Me. You. Auntie Lou. Unca Joe. Come on over, Let ‘em in. Ok, Ok, Ok, but where do we live. I mean we have to live somewhere, right? Right? Why not the fingernail? The fingernail has atoms, we ARE an atom. So let’s all live in the fingernail. Why not, huh? I mean it could be the fingernail or the spleen or the kidney or the, mmck, mmck, mmmck, mcck, or the weiner. Yea, think about it, we’re all atoms in God’s jizz bag. Deep shit man. Deeeeep shit.
God doesn’t have a penis.
What no, how does he pee? God doesn’t pee sitting down. God stands to pee. All Gods stand to pee. He’s not a submissive.
No, God’s genderless.
God’s not androgynous. God masturbates and shoots his star stuff all over the universe. Creating planets and stuff. That’s how it works. My God fucks Mother Nature like a champion. Like a champ.
I thought God was the universe.
Yea, yea, yea, you never shot a load on your belly, c’mon, man. We’re getting off track. Focus, M, focus. Each of us is an atom, a singular atom hanging out in God’s fingernail, just chilling, doing our thing. But get this, get this, we’re MADE UP OF ATOMS. There’s atoms inside of us, lots of them. And there’s atoms in our fingernails. Our fingernails have atoms. And, get this, get this, each of those atoms IS a little dude or lady. So we are the universe to our fingernail. I am the universe. You are the universe. We are the universe. Inside another universe. Wait, wait, wait, There’s little dudes and ladies hanging out in my ball sack and later tonight, they’re gonna take a trip to my belly. Get ready dudes. Get ready. But wait, wait, that means the little dudes inside my ball sack also have little dudes inside their ball sack. And so on. And so on. And so on. What that means is I’m filled with Gods who’s filled with Gods whos, you got it, filled with Gods. Blows your mind doesn’t it?
The ground shook, the sky opened up and it began to rain toads.
Whoa, dude, God heard me. Sorry, God, I won’t make fun of your ball sack anymore. I’m sorry, hide, M, hide, it’s the wrath of God.
Henry and M ran underneath a giant plastic palm tree and coiled their tails around their bodies to make themselves as small as possible.
Charlie had homework to do, but he really wanted to play video games, but first, his mom wanted him to feed his pet lizardmen.
“He was an Ordinary Guy, until Lately,” —-The Dream Syndicate, Until Lately.
The Ghost inside Harold was stirring his foot like a soup ladle over the bridge railing. If he’d been at his black void job, the Ghost inside Harold would be obsessively clicking his pen. If he’d been driving, the Ghost inside Harold would be air drumming the steering wheel to White Stripes. If he was with his girlfriend, The Ghost inside Harold would be blankly staring at a TV while she complained about her own black void job.
But he wasn’t. Harold, naked, cupped his balls, scrotum skin contracting beneath his icy fingers, his penis turtled inside. He leaned slightly forward into the late October midnight air. The city lights twinkled out in the distant horizon. A tugboat bleated. Water rushed a few hundred feet below.
Well, he was here. It was now. He wasn’t at work, driving, or with his girlfriend. He was here. It is now. Now is the time. This is the time. In a few minutes, he’d be too cold or a car would drive by or The Ghost in Harold would subside. Now, now, now. All goosebumps and adrenaline.
He’d never heard of anyone dying on this bridge. He never heard anything about this bridge at all. It’s just where his car stopped. Random chance or fate, didn’t matter either way really.
Breathe in, exhale out, simplify. Go clear. Close your eyes. Enjoy the crisp night. Bend your knees. Breathe in, exhale out. Simplify.
Might as well….
“I’ll be dead soon,” Harold thought every time his eye twitched, every time his shoulder ached, every time he threw up for no reason, every time a bone or joint popped, every time no thoughts came at all. He imagined there was a groove on his mostly smooth brain engraved with the with the words, “I’ll be dead soon.”
Harold had read an article claiming 42 was the unhappiest age in a lifetime. Not 13 when the hormones are raging or 70 when the body has completely failed and all that’s left is regrets, but 42. The age you realize you’re a failure. Harold had just turned 43 and felt no happier. In fact, he felt like a failure. No future and an unremarkable past.
“I’ll be dead soon,” was his consolation, his salve. But one day in September a new groove emerged, “I’ll be dead soon” followed by, for the first time “Then live.”
Then live, never occurred to Harold. Then live, seemed too simple, dumb even. Then live, The Ghost inside Harold became known.
The next day The Ghost inside Harold broke up with his girlfriend. He thought the inertia of the long relationship would create pushback, but she went easily, like she was just waiting to go, waiting for the request. The only regret, who would Harold watch TV with? The answer was simple, stop watching TV. The Ghost inside Harold dumped all his streaming services, internet and even his cell phone. He got a library card.
Next, get rid of everything that didn’t ‘spark joy.’ The joy-sparking flint must have been wet, because most of his stuff, a lifetime of stuff, just went to charity and he felt lighter, a weight cut from a helium balloon.
Now, create a bucket list and check it off. The Ghost inside Harold finally used his stored vacation time, a total of three weeks for most of October. Every night the first week, he went to a different nice restaurant, no more home cooked or fast food slop. He took trips to every museum he could drive to in a day, every national park, every monument, amusement park, zoo, and ended the evening at a different bar.
After finding his dead brother’s drug dealer, The Ghost inside Harold went on a drug tour for the second week of his vacation, a new drug each day all day: clove cigarettes, pot, mushrooms, oxycodone, speed, mescaline, and acid. A journey to the back of his brain. Not much in the way of enlightenment, but The Ghost inside Harold’s body enjoyed the sensations.
For the third week, more sensations, a sexual adventure. The Ghost inside Harold tried a prostitute, went to different bar every night, overspending to ensure he’d go home with different woman each night, practicing lines he’d heard on TV with a confidence he didn’t have. On the last night of his vacation, The Ghost inside Harold slept with a man., a nice-looking man. He didn’t like it, but didn’t regret the experience, either. Skin on skin is still skin on skin.
The Ghost inside Harold slept for three days and awoke to find himself fired from his black hole job. So, he packed his car and drove.
“Live, because I’ll be dead soon.”
Harold’s credit cards were maxed out. He’d traded in his normal, regular, five-year old car for a bigger, crappier beater retro camper, one he could live in. He cashed out his savings, 7,000 dollars, bought survivalist gear and pre-packaged food and headed out to find some isolated woodlands. Just the essentials. Just the essentials.
Harold consciously cut all ties with the outside, more ordered world. He read and wrote and wrote and wrote. Harold’s body ached honestly, cleanly. He laid still, slightly sinking into the earth.
“I’ll be dead soon.” Harold drew in the dirt.
The bridge. Harold saw a light in his periphery, a car horn blasted and he lost his balance, stumbled forward, then caught it again, his weight centering.
From the Digizine Harper’s Plus, January 3rd, 2050, The Harper’s Index:
The Many Lives of K. Kenny Kane The Partial Index
Known as Mr. Memory, K. Kenny Kane is a Mentalist, Billionaire and Philathapist. His new book The Many Lives of K. Kenny Kane makes some incredible claims rendering them in excruciating and believable detail. At over three million pages, Kane’s story is engrossing, even though no one in the office is even halfway finished reading this epic.
Kane claims he’s lived 9,861 lives, exactly. Born on January 1st, 2000, Kane says he first died on August 30th, 2075, when the world ended. He then woke up, resurrected, on January 1st, 2020. He then died again, at different ages, 9,860 more times, always returning to January 1, 2020. He expects to return after he dies, here on Earth number 9,860 to a new earth respawned exactly to January 1st, 2020. In our short interview for this article, we suggested he kill Donald Trump, he says he has, hundreds of times, but the world still ends, always before his hundredth birthday.
Each time Kane wakes up on January 1st, 2020, he has a different superpower. Some grand, some dumb. From flight to incredible strength to the ability to make a fine water mist over a square block. They’re different every time. He says in this lifetime, he has photographic memory of all of his past lives and has spent the last thirty years writing this book in the hopes to chronicle his many lives.
He wants to stop the end of the world. And says only we as a society can do it. Kane says the world ends at North Koreas’s hands in 2075. If They’re stopped, China in 2082, then US in 2085, Russia in 2093, Iran in 2095, Pakistan in 2097, and France in 2099. Kane has never lived past 100 years old.
In a freewheeling hour-long interview, Kane talks about his many superpowers, the resistance to his superpowers, wisdom attained from many lives lived and some numbers for the Harper’s Index. Here’s an excerpt:
Why do you think this is happening?
Kane: I don’t know. For the longest time, I assumed this world is a simulation, like The Matrix’s Copper Tops, so I did whatever I wanted. or like Groundhog’s Day. I thought I had to live a perfect life. A perfect life is hard. Then I thought I’m in some experience, a prison experience, by alien overlords like in Billy’s Long Day, there to grade my choices. Even when I was ‘Right Choice’ Man and every choice I made was the correct one, the amount of choices in a eighty-year-old life is near infinite. ‘Math Man’ calculated it at one quadrillionth to the 10th power. Or maybe God’s a dick and this is either Heaven or Hell, hard to know.
How do the superpowers work? Don’t they break physics?
Kane: Short answer yes, long answer no. Sort of. Each superpower is, at its core, based on turning matter into energy in the most effective and weird manner possible, sometimes its changing energy back into different matter like when I have a shapeshifting power. What this means to me mostly is I have to eat a TON of food to create the energy to even use most superpowers. On most earths, I own a chain of carb-based buffet restaurants. The energy-matter machine breaks physics because it’s a near perfect energy machine.
So, Why You?
Kane: I didn’t even realize I had a superpower on my first go round. About three lives in, I figured out my superpower was the ability to eat anything because I once ate a handful of gravel on a dare and didn’t get sick. I don’t know. As a joke, after a Marvel marathon on my twentieth birthday, I wished I had all the superpowers. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.
What was the best/worst superpower?
Kane: The worst was Flame-O. I burned down my apartment and died of smoke inhalation in two days. What a dumb superpower. The best was The Fantastic Orgasm. My penis could make anyone have their greatest orgasm ever. A porn star’s life is the best. No world was saved that earth.
Why write the book if earth is going to end in 50 years?
Kane: Because maybe if everyone reads it or believes it, they can stop the world from ending. Not just me. I can’t do it alone, I’ve tried. It’s probably too late because of climate change, but I wanted to make a record, even if that record will be gone when I die.
The Harper’s Index:
Number of times Kane has been married (to a woman): 13,547
Number of time Kane has been married (to a man): 245
Number of times Kane has been married (To a dog): 7
Number of divorces: 6,845 (No dog divorces)
Number of years as president: 1,137
Number of years in jail: 735 (907 jailbreaks)
Times Murdered: 4, 777
Times Committed Suicide: 1,065
Number of world leaders, past, present and future, murdered by Kane in his Policy By Assassination Program: All (Some in the hundreds)
Number of TV Shows about his life: 448
Number of kittens saved in trees: 10,643
Number of times Kane has fallen in love: 6
Here’s a random selection of some of Kane’s Superhero/Villiian Aliases: The Baby Face, Balloon Man, Average Man (He can do EVERYTHING, averagely) Death Hands, Iron Hands, The Eyebrow, Boneless, The Translator, The Iguana, Teapot, The 5-Second Psychic, Mongoloid, Midas, Poison Finger, Kaleidoscope, Charmer, The Thespian, Captain Bunny, Clown Colossus, Petey Pinhead, Gary the Gollum, Teen Exterminator, Captain Justice, Half-Man, Dr. Dracula, The Dude, Snakeskin, The Transexual Transformer, Mutonto, The Toy, The Leporous Fiend Lepur, The Archetect Art Vandelay, Hydroboy, Mr. Night, The Crack Crusader, The Rock Eater, The Murder Puppets, Mr. Inside-Out, Clarinetto, Willie The Reefer, Cry-Baby, The Sniffler, Wood Pile, Were-Whale, Oooog, Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, Steel Jaw, Larry the Leaper, The Eyes of Fate, Cesspool, Plasticine, The Piranha, Coco The Man-Ape, Sweet Jumping Jesus, The Warden, The Laz-E-Boy, Reflectron, The Mod Hyena, Frankenstein’s Mistress, Bealzablob, The Uber Mensch, Mr. Inconsequential, Strychnine, Phantasa-Mon, The Scarlet Scarab, Stilts, U-G-L-Y (He ain’t got no alibi), The Screamer, Hammertoe, The Black Teen, Captain Lawgiver, The Desert Cactus, General Bong, Blankface, Ghetto-Blaster, Three Heads, The Fantastic Orgasm, Fuhrer Lad, The Hurdy-Gurdy Man, Tapeworm, Roach Herder, The Coffin Nail, Snowflake, Starstorm, The Swarm, Sexy Sasquash, 911, The Atomoton, Dwarf Chucker, Bozo the Crone, Commander Tootsie, The Lie Detector, Gay Radar, Professor Hormone, The Blow-up Doll, Floating Eye, The Fucking Comedian, Ghost Posse, Torso Man, The Iron Tibia, Good ’N Plenty, Roo The Kanga, Eterno, Mini-Satan, The Mad Shitter, Madam Mortality, Flame-O, Major Moon, Sleepy Joe, Transportation Tim, Telepathic Tim, Transustanciation Tim, Tinier Tim, Time Tim, The Great Timothy, Professor Superbrain, Ray of Sunshine, The Red Beetle, The Psychotronic Pony, Maxitaur, The Love Count, The Mysterious Vagabond, Brain-O, The Chicken-Necked Geek, Beast B’Wana, Senior Science, Crab Legs, The Flying Saucer, AK-69, The Miracle Mile, Morouse Man, The Throbbing Muscle, Nutriciousino, The Unknown, Pow-Pow Man, Miss Voodoo, The Mole Rat, Holo-Guy, The Human Fly, Morlock 1999, The Squirrel, Straw Man, Thunder Rabbit, and Cock Block. To name a few.
It’s often been said that the world would end not with a bang, but with a whimper. But the smart money’s always said, the world would end neither with a bang nor a whimper, but with an “Oops.”
As in “Oops, I dropped that petrie dish of the black plague.”
Or “Oops, I set my Diet Coke can on the nuclear button.”
Or “Oops, I had sex with that monkey.”
However, in this case, in this apocalypse, the dumbest apocalypse, started with the phrase….Wait a minute, let’s not, so to speak, give away the goat just yet, we’ll get to the ‘Oops’ soon enough.
Let’s start with the good news first.
Global warming and world pollution has been eradicated. I know in your timeline, most people now wear masks to mitigate the thick, black air. Even your President Eric Trump has to wear an oxygen mask. The scientists say life will be uninhabitable on your earth by 2050.
But, here, in this timeline, three terms of Bernie Sanders including the last year when he was in an iron lung meant America took the green new deal seriously. Solar energy, hydropower, electric cars, even some nuclear. But the gas and oil companies still had a grip on most methods of energy consumption. Until Greta Thunberg came along. You may remember Greta Thunberg as the Swedish kid and enviromentalist who was murdered in her teens by the Trump Troopers in 2027. But in this timeline, no Trump Troopers and she grew up to become a Bio-Engineer and create the greatest energy producer since the sun, The Bugaloo. Of course, Greta Thunberg was murdered by Elon Musk in 2038. Some say it was a car accident, but, c’mon how did Musk end up with the bugaloo AND the Omnis patent?
Oh, what’s the Bugaloo? The bugaloo is an insect about the size of a dime, six legs, hard shell, has a lifespan of about two weeks, reproduces twice within it’s lifetime, smart for a bug and excretes an oxygen-rich air, eats anything non-living that’s coated a special plastic called omnis and can be burned with no pollution and used as energy.
Here’s how it works, the lightly viscous plastic omnis is sprayed onto any non living item or plant, anything—wood pulp, other plastics, grass, rocks, any density of metal up to steel and the bugaloo eats it within minutes and secrets a non-toxic oxygen-rich gas that can be burned for fuel. The burned fuel leaves no residue or pollution.
The bugaloos are placed in a generally steel or gold, even hard rock container with two chambers, one to hold the bugaloos and another to collect the gas to burn to create energy. They also eat dead flesh activated by the omnis, so they cannibalize themselves with no after waste or residue. Living creatures can eat the harmless Omnis, but their excretions are encased in Omnis. You can literally drive your own car with your own poop. Or throw a half eaten sandwich or whatever into your tank, just squirt it with omnis and you’ve filled up your tank and are good to drive for fifty miles or whatever. The main property on the plastic omnis is its ability to encase non-living matter. Control the bugaloos input and omnis and everything works perfectly.
So the bugaloos were cheap, but the omnis was expensive, this is where Elon Musk made his money. However, the bugaloos were used to clean the environment extremely effectively. That garbage island the size of Texas floating in the Pacific, gone in a day, with no power costs and enough oxygen to refill the ozone hole. Overnight, everyone had energy. The more dense metals shot up in price and the Sanders administration taxed the rich to the point that the government became the primary omnis producer which was made by breaking down and reformulating existing plastics.
Within five years all pollution was gone, literally eaten for fuel. And that’s the where the story happily ends. People got rich, but a societal ill was conquered. America.
Oh, yea, the apocalypse. As with many a tragedy, it begins with love, or so the story goes.
Jack loved Jill. Jill hadn’t the time of day for Jack. They were scientists for the government. Jill was obsessed with making a cheaper omnis, one that the rich couldn’t control, as Jill was a Sander’s socialist, working for a better life for all the people. Jack just wanted to impress. So he had the idea, make a complimentary bug that excretes omnis. After a few years, he succeeded wildly, The Omnibug, a quarter sized, eight-legged bug, with a small horn and soft shell that excreted omnis after eating. And here’s the best part, the omnibug only ate water. Everyone has access to water. So now energy production was just another step. Add the omnibug into the chain of production. And he owned omnibus the bug patent. While there was still some fiddling to be done, mostly to engineer a short lifespan for the omnibug so that it didn’t consume too much water and to control just how much omnis the bug produces to keep the energy production in a state of some kind of equilibrium. Success, as always, seemed just around the corner.
Here comes the Oops.
Since the bugaloos introduction, various religious groups formed to worship the bug. One particularly violent one, The Second Coming of Loo, found out about Jack’s work and wanted to stop it. SO, as Jack was flying across the Atlantic to premiere his new bug in Paris, his plane was hijacked by the Loo-ites and forced into the ocean. And, as the story goes, Jack’s last words were, “Oops, these bugs shouldn’t be let loose in the ocean.”
That’s when the shit hit the fan or more accurately, the bug hit the water. With nothing but water in every direction, three bugs multiplied into hundreds in minutes, millions in a half hour and trillions within the hour. They grew so quickly and with so many generations they mutated. At first, the Omnibug just secreted omnis, but with the water overload, the omnibug secreted both omnis and water. The omnis encased everything non-living in the ocean including all plant life. Soon the omnis met up with the bugaloos. And simply put, the bugaloos ate all the non-living specimens in the Atlantic ocean. This took a week. By that time, the omnibug and omnis was in water everywhere. The omnis was light enough to be evaporated into clouds and rained back down, encasing rocks and streets and buildings and, um everything rain touches.
But here’s the funny thing. Some things are a mix of the living and the non-living. For example, you. While you’re not one solid thing, but billions of living microbes formed into a you shape. Also you’re dead things like hair and dandruff and dead skin and eyelashes. After the bugaloos were done, only the eyelash mites remained on your living eyes and last layer of skin. Nobody had clothes, the landrypocalpse. Every non-living thing down to the hard rock layer of the earth was stripped away. The bugs stopped at lava and ate all the corpses. Plus those who were able to survive, hide, were perpetually high from the oxygen-rich atmosphere. As I write this, we’ll all be dead in a few hours.
So, I say to you, in the darker timeline, enjoy your last few years and as you wheeze and choke your way to a slow death and while you may never see another clear day, at least you weren’t succumbed by bugs, hairless and insane.
For the time capsule to be opened in 100 years from this date August 30, 2040. Submitted by Jym Branson, age 47.
We should’ve listened to the frogs in the 1990’s. Scientists of the time noticed that some frogs in the upper midwest were changing genders from classic male to classic female. They attributed this change to large levels of estrogen in the water due to plastic pollution. No one paid attention and just thought it was a weird anomaly.
Until it happened to us. On August 30, 2020, the first case of The Change was diagnosed. A week later, 99.97 percent of the population of the world had been infected. Scientists say the change virus may have been dormant and spreading for up to two years before it’s emergence. About 70 percent of the population believed aliens caused the virus. Some blamed the frogs, but 20 years in, we still don’t know what caused the change. Hopefully, you good people of the future know what the causes are or maybe there was another change. Who knows? It’s a crazy time and continual change has been our steady constant the last twenty years.
Even now, twenty years out, there’s still lots of rumors about what happened in September of 2020, so I’d like to give you my personal testimony. And, no, everybody’s penis didn’t just fall off.
In August of 2020, the world was just wrapping up a minor flu pandemic, the Corolla virus or something. I was 27. First, I’d like to say, physically, the process of The Change was actually quite pleasant. All the changes happened while you slept and wow did you ever sleep! 12 hours a night and you woke up feeling great, refreshed and full of nice endorphins. It was just getting use to your new, slowly changing body. The whole change took about three weeks and affected both classic males and females. That first night, scientists said 99.97 percent of men woke up with a pee hole beneath the the male part known as the scrotum, in the taint, and no longer peed from the shaft of their penis. The next week, while sleeping, the penis shaft and balls began to retract into the body covered by the scrotum skin, until after a week the crotch looked like one of those old Ken dolls from an ancient toy catalog. The second week, the changes were mostly internal. The testicles shifted back, the muscle that propelled the sperm strengthened and shifted back. The head of the penis shrunk and became the clitoris. New nerves developed. The shaft and some of the scrotum became vaginal walls. A gland developed for lubrication. In the third week, secondary features developed. Men grew lactating breasts of various cup sizes. The skin softened, muscles reformed, body hair fell away. All the effects of the increase of estrogen. At the end of the third week, the scrotum skin covering the new vagina fell away and men became what we call Whoa-Men. Many Whoa-Men have that skin mounted like a trophy on their wall. Physically, on the outside, the Whoa-Men were the same as women. The internals were slightly different. Whoa-Men still produced sperm from their smaller testicles, about a third of what they used to produce, and shot the sperm out of the vagina during orgasm, mostly clitoral stimulation. And, as a former male, I can say definitely, the new orgasms occurred more frequently, with greater strength and with less refractory time than the male orgasm I vaguely remember. Scientists say 40 percent more endorphins are released in the brain than in the old male orgasm. Pure Bliss.
Women also changed internally. They were fertile only two days a month, every thirty days, exactly. During their fertility, they, in the old language, glowed. Checks reddened and they were slightly warmer. 48 hours after fertility, women had a painless period that lasted half a day. You could set a watch by it, as my dad used to say. Also, when they orgasmed, also more intense, a liquid ejaculate was produced. The sales of hand towels skyrocketed. The old sexes, in their way, were meeting together in the middle.
When children were born, they appeared female, but had neither ovaries or testes inside. When puberty hit, at around age 13, the child either developed testes or ovaries and the ability to carry a child.
It was harder to conceive. Scissoring without the aid of a tube-like attachments made conception damn near impossible. And that was during the fertile period. Plus the woman could easily flush out any unwanted sperm. It’s why most conception is now funded by the government with sperm extraction and insertion done with gentle machines.
The societal changes and fear and not knowing of what would happen next caused chaos. In the month of September 2020, approximately one-third of the population world-wide died. Either by suicide or by other violent means. Cults rose up to kill women. Cults rose up to kill WhoaMen. The president killed himself in a bunker like Adolph Hitler. There were millions of botched surgeries. I think the aliens were using this virus or whatever as population control. And when babies started coming out as genderless on the inside, there was another thirteen years of more worldwide upheaval, as we thought we were the last of a declining civilization. Only today does it seem like there’s starting to be a return to normalcy.
I’ve always been an optimist and seeing a new, and I think, better world emerging is exciting. Children are always a wanted choice now. Gender now is a fashion, not a destiny. The patriarchy AND the matriarchy are relic ideas. People are equal. Toplessness is okay. There’s masturbation clubs. Sexuality isn’t shameful. Being gay or straight or bi is kind of a non-issue. Let’s be honest, most of the bad people died in their martyrdom in September of 2020. Sure, there are a lot of strange new religions, but the patriarchy of the old ones are dying. When a third of the world dies, capitalism doesn’t seem as important. Governments work differently.
Do I miss my penis? Sure, I still sometimes have phantom penis syndrome, but at the end of the day, what are you going to do? I only remember the penis from old porn now and nobody’s ever found the .03 percent the scientists say didn’t change. That might have been a comforting lie. I miss standing up to pee, but thankfully, urinal technology has evolved as well.
Live and learn, I say.
When I was a kid, I learned, at the time, that all fetuses were conceived female and the male parts showed up about six weeks into the pregnancy. I guess nature finds it’s own equilibrium in the end.
Last year, our closest evolutionary relatives, the Ape kingdom changed. And the bonobos thrived.
Saturday night, another Saturday night of spaghetti and Law and Order on A&E. No big.
The phone rings.
Long pause. I can hear WWE wrestling in the distance.
“Helllooooo. Who ‘s there? Hellooooo.”
Belabored breathing on the other end. Then intentional belabored breathing.
Why did I even pick up the phone? Fucking reflex. Fucking childhood reflex. Who even answers the phone anymore? Who even has a landline? Lonely people, that’s who.
Continued heavy breathing.
“Like wrestling, huh?”
Pause in breathing.
“Well, I’m watching Law and Order, yea, I’ve seen it. It’s comfort food. Something you just put on to forget about your stupid job. To kind of blank out. What’s your name?”
Small cough, throat clearing. The Undertaker is down, down for the count.
“You know, I do have caller ID. Sure the display is broken” (Stupid, stupid stupid, don’t let him know you know)
“But I could hang up and find out, easy, peasy. Then you’d be in trouble. Yea, you’d be in trouble.”
“Okay, ok, I won’t call, but what do you want? You gotta want something, is this some kind of pervy call. Telemarketer? Pervy telemarketer? Well, I’m just in a PJ top, no panties. So go wild.”
“Yea, and I’m hot, certainly out of your league you wrestling watching troglodike. 24-36-27. Strawberry blonde hair, too hot for you, you mouth-breather.”
Did he set the phone down? No.
“Fine, you wanna know about me? I’m 32, a paralegal, the middle child of three, I like Law and Order, crochet, I believe everyone is cosmically connected and therefore worthy of love and respect. Someday, I want to be a laywer, but because of finances, that dream will have to wait. My dream home is a split-level ranch and I prefer dogs over cats but have neither until I move out of this apartment.”
Am I on speakerphone? I hear an echo, no breathing. Did he leave?
So I talked on. I talked about my day, regular stuff, I can’t believe McMasters expects me to get all this shit done in one day. I talked about my strained relationship with my mother and how in my last relationship he cheated on me.
45 minutes past, then I heard a click. Dial tone.
That was the best date I’ve ever had. Someone who knows how to listen.
Before we begin, I HAAATE the term, the descriptor ‘The Blind G/uy.’ Every time I meet new people I overhear one idiot tell the other, ‘Here comes Tony, the BLIND guy’. It’s never ‘Here comes Tony, the jaunty ginger with the gorgeous curls.’ or Here’s Tony—-Shins of steel!’ Or ‘Here comes Tony, the guy with the enormous penis’ or ‘Here comes Tony, he beat up Larry the Cable Guy in a bar fight.’ Well, one could hope.
Anyhoo, What I Love by me, Tony, the guy who kicked Larry the Cable Guy’s Ass.
I love touching people’s faces. Just getting my hands in there and massaging the ole face meat of some stranger. It’s great. And because you’re blind, people just let you do it. I don’t care what you look like, I’n not making some complicated face map in my head, terminator style. That’s stupid. What’s your voice like, do you smell? That’s how I know you. Once, I was eating a sandwich when a J-C wanted me, wanted me to map his face, guess he thought he was good looking or super symmetrical or something. Anyway, I had a gob of mayonnaise—suddenly—
on my hand. Ooops, sorry J-C.
Oh, a side note, J-C’s are saviors, the goody- goodys who see me less as a person and more as their personal pet project, the blind guy they know, a way to show they have empathy for others. Blech. They’re the worst. Ok, some background. I went blind when I was 13, drive-by shooting. No, I kid, burned out my eyes saving a dog from a fire. Acid in the face from a Fatwah? No, No, I kicked Larry the Cable Guy’s ass and he slashed my eyes with a broken bottle. Ok, Ok, it was a degenerative eye disease. Boring. It’s like finding out Spiderman was created by a degenerative spider disease. What kind of lame superpower is that? Because blindness is my weird superpower. That’s what I tell myself: turn your weakness into your strength, some politician once said. However, I still imagine the world is frozen visually, stuck forever in a dumb 13 year old kid’s brain. Some would argue I’m still 13 emotionally, but those people are doo-doo heads.
When I was 14, that first year—which suuuucked —I got so many ‘bumpy Bibles’ I made a tower of bibles against my bedroom wall and finally even read one. Well, up to the part about how to treat your slave anyway. Jeeesh. So, shocker, I’m an atheist. Faith is for suckers, give me solid ground, the world is complicated enough without a layer
of bullshit mysticism, clogging up your thinking. Science, not Jesus is my only hope for seeing again.
So anyway, I love touching strangers faces. I also love close-up hand magic. Freaks people out. Some slightly grooved cards and a lot of practice and I don’t need to see what my hands are doing. No good magician does. I can also tell you how many fingers you’re holding up. It’s all in how my friend Rod asks the question, “How MANY fingers am I holding up?” is two. “How many FINGERS am I holding up?” is three and so on. There’s a whole code for objects as well. Lotta free drinks at the bar, it’s pretty nice.
I love driving. I got a car for my 22nd birthday. An old beater driver’s ed car. Rod and I retooled it so you could drive it from the right side and I’d sit on left side, windows down and drive. Even taught my dog Charlie how to drive. We even got onto America’s Funniest Home Videos. My golden lab, Charlie, loved driving.
I taught Charlie how to sniff crotches and bark, really wasn’t hard. And one time, Charlie and I convinced this one J-C he had testicular cancer. Found out a few months later he spent, like, 20,000 dollars in medical bills. Good news, turns out he DIDN’T have testicular cancer.
I loved Marlenia. Loved. Still love. I met her with Charley driving around after my one semester at college. You see, I had dated a lot of girls by this time, but none of them for a long time. Couple dates. I think I found every girl in the Tri-State who had ‘Date a Blind Guy’ on their bucket list. Had a hard time trusting people’s motives.
But Marlenia DID NOT, I repeat, DID NOT GIVE A SHIT I WAS BLIND. Right away, she’s giving me crap about letting a dog drive a car unlicensed and by the time she was done playfully cursing out my dog, I was in love. I loved her curvy, what’s the word, Zaftig body. She always smelled slightly like vanilla. Her breath was clean like a fall afternoon. Her skin against my skin was what I imagine heroin feels like if it were skin. She didn’t push me up or let me fall when it counted. We were equals and that’s all I ever wanted. Independent, strong, funny and what a talker, not mindless chatter, but descriptive, colorful and with a point. These were eyes I could trust.
And, of course, I fucked it up. We had been together three near perfect years. She had moved in and even used my bell system. Cosy and complacent, but in the best way. Intimate without smothering. I loved her giggle when she’d move my water glass.
One day, she comes home smelling of cologne. Men’s cologne. I was already mad at the car I was working on, it wasn’t going well and my temper was already on an upswing. She said it was some store clerk that accidentally sprayed her.
But, suddenly, it got into my head that she could leave. Like anytime she wanted. The dormant dual fires of jealousy and desperation got lit that day. I overheard her talking to what she said was a co- worker on the phone a few days later and it sounded too, um, collegial for my anger. She said it was job opportunity in Minneapolis and we should move and start a new, different life. I didn’t want to move and got it in my head she was moving to cheat on me. Shame, stupidity and a blind man’s pride let her go. Made her go.
She called and I didn’t answer. She wrote Rod and told him she still loved me. I’m a fool, I pushed her away and fell back into a 14-year old’s pity party that never seemed to end. Threw myself into car repair and porn. I never really dated after that. It seems impossible.
Uh, um, okay, a short list of other things I love: Inappropriate T-Shirts, I like to tell people I think
they’re pictures of unicorns. Welding, I love the warmth on my face. Same with the sun. I just love staring up at it. Crisp, fall days. Blowjobs, but what guy doesn’t love that if he can get them. Joe Rogan’s podcast. Dungeons and Dragons. Hard rock. Turning off lights when I enter a room. Velcro shoes. My iPhone’s battery life (No display). Telling people I’m black. Unmatched socks.
So, In conclusion, Linkin Park rocks! And check out my porncast—Audiogasm for the Blind, available wherever fine podcasts are sold. Thank you. Tip your bartenders. And watch out Larry the Cable Guy.
Shadowy men in unmarked vans stole zombies off the street in Portland last night… A senator retweeted a picture of him and a newly dead zombie, but get this, it was the wrong dead zombie, people are pissed…
America’s zombies are marching again for the thirtieth straight night, the national guard is being sent in to the top 20 American cities… Only Saudi Arabia and Russia are allowing Americans into their countries after a UN resolution to limit American zombies…
The president tweets an ad for baked beans and say all the zombie problems are a hoax designed to abolish the suburbs…
Jim liked to spice-up the boring news by inserting zombies into every story. The boss kept the news on
all-day so he could listen to it non-stop from his office, but the TV was up near the order counter so Jim could’t see it from the prep-station, but heard it loud and depressing. Jim often felt like complaining about the bummer of the news to the boss, but every time he went to the boss’ office, the boss seemed like he was about to cry, was crying or just finished crying, so Jim let it drop. Although he did ask his boss once if he could wear headphones. Man, Tool cranking in his ears all day would make his job perfect. But his boss said no, the customers would see it. Everything’s take-out now, so what’s the point? Who cares if they see it? And now having to wear a mask all day. Jim hated that, but keep the boss mildly happy and he’d never be fired, Jim thought. By the end of the day, every day, the mask was covered in pizza sauce, so the mask came off and stayed off two feet out the door.
But, Go along to get-along was always Jim’s approach to life. He’d had this pizza making job for, what, almost ten years now and he felt comfortable. His boss stayed in his office all day and he stayed at the prep station making pies. That’s the way it was. Mask or no.
Only four pies by 2:30, usually it’d be 10 or more by this time. Used to be, he’d take a long hit off The Hot Sauce after every five pies as reward, now it was
every two. St. Pepe’s burn was the only physical sensation that Jim really craved. Well, that and masterbation. The coolness of the liquid hitting his tongue, the slow burn, then the fire builds to climax on his tongue and burns down his throat, clearing out every passageway, throat and nose, eyes water and the brain implodes in a short burst of fireworks. Guaranteed every time. Better and cheaper than drugs or alcohol. Thirty seconds of pure, alive sensation. Swallowing at the right time is the key. Ha, that what she said, Jim said out loud to no one.
Jim was in a good mood, no real reason really for a Monday. He’d lost big in the weekend LAN party, turtling is never the best strategy. But his 3:00pm restroom masterbation run was, while not the best in terms of quality, was definitely top twenty in terms of speed, two-thirty-five, prep station and back. Yes. Not bad, but he wished Uncle Speedo’s still had an open dining room. For the thrill factor.
3:50 and time for the 4:20 Seafood Special NO ANCHOVY pizza rush. Chad the delivery driver ran a small-time weed business under The Boss’ nose. ‘No Anchovy’ was the code for weed. Speedos didn’t even offer anchovies and only potheads ordered the seafood pizza. So, the boss either knew and didn’t care or was too dumb to know, either a possibility. Chad gave Jim and the counter-girl, Debbie forty
bucks at the end of the week as a cut. Even Chad’s business was down, people weren’t spending in quarantine, even stoners, Chad said. Chad drove the hour down from Gatlinberg for three seafood specials a night? Even Debbie, short, brunette, big boobs for her size, always talking about her boyfriend—Fred or was it Frank, something F—even Debbie asked Chad if the drive down was worth the ‘market costs’ as she said.
“Is the grass paying the cash for ass. Nobody rides for free,” Debbie said. She dropped out of community college second semester and was always using words like ‘valuation’ and ‘market costs.’ And always threatening to quit, but doesn’t because ‘The Market is soft.’ That’s what she said.
Jim thought Chad lived in his car because he smoked more product than he sold, but he wasn’t sure. He always smelled like weed and Jim never felt like driving the hour up to see his apartment, although Jim had a free standing invitation. Plus, Jim didn’t have a car, so there’s that. He only lived four bocks from Speedos AND there was a Taco Bell on the walk home, how sweet was that? Every night he’d walk home, order the 7-layer burrito with extra hot sauce— that was a joke, more like ‘weak sauce’, Jim would say almost daily to the counter person. He’d then walk home, eating the burrito on the way, say ‘Hi’ to his two roommates, John and Jason—Triple J in the
house!—then lock himself in his room, stripping naked, pointing a small fan at his crotch as he sat on the floor playing online video games until 2am when he finally went to bed. Monday Night, Call of Duty. Tuesday, Battlefield. Wednesday, Halo. Thursday, League of Legends. And Friday, out with his friend Tony for whatever Tony wanted to do. The weekends were for quality time with new games. This weekend, The new Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Mortal Kombat 11. Oh, and Rick and Morty, lots of Rick and Morty. This Friday with Tony, The strip club, HOTS.
Jim never tipped and only drank the two-drink minimum.The strippers stopped coming over to Jim on his third visit. It was all about Tony. Tony, Jim’s friend since sixth grade, did everything Jim couldn’t. “Fuck the zombies, Fuck the Panda Mike. Fuck the zombies. Fuck the Panda Mike.” Tony yelled as he shoved ones into Shelia’s G-String. Shelia once came into Speedos and talked to Jim. She had three under-5 kids, a stalker ex and a BA in Theater. “Put a mask on,” Shelia snapped at Tony as she pivoted and walked off. Later that night, Jim masterbated twice in succession, once to the image of Shelia’s sharp pivot and the second, longer jerk to the fantasy of being her stalker ex, watching her watch TV from her bushes. Bushes, Ha, then uuuuughhhhh. Triggers are a weird animal.
The next Monday. Noon. The recap. [Static Noise]
Zombies are disappearing off streets in thirty different cities…. A zombie nun set herself on fire at The Lincoln Monument protesting the governments response to the pandemic and the treatment of other zombies by the police…
The president uses the N-word multiple times in a speech, declares zombies enemies of the state… Another milestone, five million cases, 200,000 dead… Zombie Elon Musk leaves for the moon…
Time for the Service of St. Pepes. The ritual. Reach under table, left hand right hand. sip of water, swish, swish, swish. Hold up plastic bottle up to neon light.
Squint and genuflect. Head back, mouth agape. Left hand right hand, long squeeze. Tongue slack, cup- like. wait ten seconds for heat.
Wait ten seconds for heat. Wait ten seconds for heat. That’s 30 seconds. What the fuck. Swallow, nothing.
Jim repeats the ritual. Swallow, nothing. And a third time. Swallow, nothing.
What-to-do, what-to-do, what-to-do.
Jim decided to take his masterbation run early. Need the ritual. Close bathroom door, check handsome self in mirror, soap balanced on wrist, close stall, lock, carefully, pants to ground, sit, strategically arrange toilet paper, Focus on point in ceiling. And stroke. Stroke and alternate. Stroke and alternate. Repeat until finished. Two minutes. Three minutes. Relax and focus. Shelia’s pivot. Favorite porn. Listen for door. That one blowjob in High School. Shelia’s pivot. Sexy pivot on those high heels, go Shelia, go go Shelia, Go Shelia’s three kids. No, No, No, No kids. Four minutes. Cmon, faster harder stronger, iron pipes, where’s the trigger? The Sarge’s voice, “C’mon we never leave a man behind, pick it up, finish the job.” Five minutes. Hands off, loosen the wrists, start over, think of the explosions, St. Pepe’s explosions. Six minutes, dammit. dammit, nothing, nothing nothing, ow, ow,
ow, ow. Stop, you’re done, Jim thought. No trigger pulled. At 32, this was the first time in his life, Jim didn’t finish.
At 2;30, Jim screwed his courage up to go into the boss’ office.
“Hey, hi, we’re out of St. Pepe’s for the fireball,” Jim kept shifting from foot to foot like he had to pee. “No more Pepe’s.” The boss seemed annoyed, he was focused on what looked like a letter.
“What?” “Yea, we really went through the stuff, it was kinda expensive, plus China stopped making it, something about the pandemic.” The boss was furiously circling words on the letter with a ball-point pen. “But. But the customers, the customers, they loved it.” Jim was practically pee bouncing. “Well they’ll learn to love Tabasco, like everywhere else. I mean, the factory closed, what are ya gonna do?” The Boss’ pen ripped the paper. “Well, where would we get it?” “What are you? Their biggest fan? The president of The St. Pepe’s fan club. I stocked up on the stuff three months ago near the beginning of the pandemic, pretty smart, huh, but they still went under. I think they had an outbreak at the factory. Distributer said they folded two months ago. You’re living in a world without St. Pepe’s now. Get back to
work.” The boss had folded his paper up into a tiny square and was systematically ripping the paper into tinier squares.
Jim thought about quitting. Who needs this bullshit? I’ve given my life to this place and this is how he repays me?, Jim thought. But then Jim remembered the time he jokingly mentioned quitting to The Boss after the dough mixer broke, The Boss jumped all over the idea, saying do it, he could hire a kid at half the price he was paying him. So, quitting meant starting back at the bottom of the heap. No thanks. As crappy as the job was, it was his job.
Debbie was complaining about Chad. He didn’t come in. At 4, she called him and he was apparently home sick, said he was self-quarantining. Debbie was pissed, said how come she couldn’t stay home and quarantine? Why was he so lucky? Fortunately, the weekend driver, Caleb came in to fill the shift. A lot of unhappy stoners today, just getting the Seafood Supreme, Jim thought.
On the walk home, Jim stopped in Taco Bell to get his 7-layer burrito, but learned Taco Bell discontinued The 7-layer burrito because of of an Ecuadorian bean shortage. Pandemic. Jim got the 5 dollar Chalupa. “You want weak sauce with that?” The counter kid took a special joy in saying.
On Tuesday morning, Jim called all the places, he could think would have St. Pepe’s. Mexican restaurants, grocery stores, weird grocery stores, gas stations, bowling alleys, other pizza places, bars, anywhere that sold food. No, nothing.
On Wednesday morning, Jim walked to all the places he thought might be lying to him. No, nothing. On Thursday morning, he took a bus to all the place he thought might be lying to him. No, nothing.
On Friday morning, internet searches, lots and lots of inter-netting. He found a bottle on e-bay, but it was 3,000 dollars. Who has 3,000 dollars?
Friday night, Tony wanted to go to the woods and smoke weed. Jim didn’t smoke weed because three puffs and he was sound asleep, every time. But he did need to spill. After Tony got good and mellow, Jim told him about his St. Pepe’s, um, need and even about his masterbation runs at work.
“That’s fucked up. You’re fucked up,” Tony kept saying. He then launched into the whole ‘Everything’s a hoax or conspiracy’ rant. You name it, it’s a hoax or, worse, a conspiracy: The pandemic, the president, Democrats, Republicans, 5G Cell towers, the secret service, multinational child pedophilia rings, the show Paw Patrol, BLM, CIA, KKK, FBI, Antifa, Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, every president ever. And on and on and on. Jim dozed off from the second
hand smoke and woke up in his bed, naked. Jim rage slept all weekend. The Last Monday of the Story. 5:30pm The recap.
Hundreds of zombies dead after run-ins with the police in ten cities… A zombie Senator is shot in a school shooting, Congress mulls gun control…
Pictures surface of The President making out with a 13-year-old, He said it was consensual…. The ‘Fuck This Shit’ movement gains traction as 10,000 zombies willingly give themselves the disease…
Zombie Elon Musk dies in space… [Static Noise]
The neon static of the overhead lights was giving Jim a headache. He was still tired from the weekend. A text from Tony: “I’ve got good news, I’ll be over in 10 minutes, make me a Seafood Supreme, no anchovies”
“Chad’s gone.” Jim texted. “Then cancel that pie.” Tony responded. Tony finally showed up at 7:30, He had a bottle of St. Pepe’s. It was only half-full and kinda old looking, but there was St. Pepe, a sombrero, priest frock, peppers for a crucifix and holding out fire like a communion wafer, winking. The real stuff. “Yea, my ex Susie bought the stuff a long time ago and it was in the back of the cabinet, guess she forgot it. I hate hot sauce, but was looking for canned beans and found it. Did you know there’s a world- wide bean shortage,” Air Quotes, “This fucking pandemic.” Jim grabbed the glass bottle out of Tony’s hand. “Whoa there, Kemosabe, there’s an old stoner saying…Wait. Wait. Anticipate. Do the Pepe after work, an-tic-i-pation, Jim, anticipation.” Tony was right. Let’s take this ritual to the next level, Jim thought. After work.
Three minutes after Tony left, Jim took a masterbation run. That blowjob Jim got in High….done. Two strokes, done. Well, it has been four days, that’s the second longest dry spell since he was fifteen and spent a week at his grandma’s house.
Tonight. After work.
Jim locked his bedroom door. Stripped naked, turned the main lights off and turned on his desk lamp. He cleaned off the floor in front of his bed and placed six tea light candles in a circle on the floor. He bought them at the 24-hour grocery store on that was on the way home. He turned his TV on and put in a Mexican wrestling tape, sound down. Jim sat inside the circle of tea light candles and lit them one by one, slowly, putting the match out the way a priest sways inscense until all six were lit. He placed the St. Pepe’s bottle on the desk in front of the TV and sat Indian style. Genuflex, grab weiner, genuflex again.
Ohmmmmmmmmm, fiery hot Pepe’s, Ohmmmmmmmmmmmm, fiery hot Pepe’s. Six times, one for each candle.
Jim now had a boner he didn’t have to touch. Jim cradled the bottle like baby Jesus and held it up to the light and it was like St. Pepe filled with blood in the light. He slowly unscrewed the cap. There was crusted sauce around the top he had to remove with a pen from his desk. With the bottle, shoulder, shoulder, forehead, stomach. And up above his head. He opened his mouth, the anticipation, cupped his tongue, held the bottle up, now tilted the St. Pepe’s down over his mouth.
Nothing, no hot goodness. Wait ten seconds. Nothing. Tap the bottom of the bottle, nothing. Then, with his right fist, he hit the bottle on it’s base hard enough to force the bottle into one of his upper teeth, chipping it, as the remanning 12 ounces of sauce dislodged and shot over his tongue, down his throat. No burn until five seconds later when a fire lit in his gut triggering his gag reflex. Up came the sauce, burning its way up his throat as he threw up the half- digested chalupa from earlier and the 12 ounces of sauce, onto two of the candles and a trail down his stomach into his pubes. A second have brought up more sauce and stomach bile. A third heave was all stomach bile as he fell backward almost tipping over the candle behind him, but instead threw up all over his chest. The fourth heave was dry ending with coughing.
And more coughing.
And when he was done throwing up, more coughing. More wet coughing. And more coughing. More coughing. A different sicker coughing. Dammit.
The wound on her hand looked like an open-mouthed slap. Kris had picked and squeezed at a large whitehead between her thumb and forefinger long past the creamy goodness, long past the thin watery puss phase, long past the watery blood phase, long past the straight-up blood phase, long past the wet scab, long past the dry scab, long past the bump phase back to the scab-less wound.
Fuck it, she thought, there’s no turning back now. Satisfied by her dexterity, her doctor-level steadiness, she used the small sword side of the cap on her plastic pen to push and dig the skin around the now friendly, approachable wound back over the skinless part like packing side dirt back into an empty grave. The digging, the prodding, the poking, the picking, the scratching, the rubbing calmed Kris. She was in control. Luckily, she found another zit, a bigger one, on her shoulder just when ritual of the hand pimple was ending.
On Monday, she wore bicycle gloves to work. She found the gloves in the back of a kitchen drawer, a reminder of the time she bought a stationary bike and the relief when she finally took the bike to Goodwill. Kris thought of going full Roarsach from the Watchmen and her last cosplay outing to explain the bicycle gloves. But that would just bring more questions.
Kris worked at Board Game Heaven, a game store, and while she could dress up as Roarschach. She’d be the only one. So, her second skin—polo, khakis, tennis socks and sneakers now added black bicycle gloves. Monday night, Kris noticed black fibers in the wound. She cleaned it with alcohol and put a band-aid on it. She still wore the bicycle gloves to work on Tuesday, because who wants to explain a band-aid?
Not that anyone brought up the gloves at work. She worked with all guys and the talk was all pop culture and board games which was fine with Kris. The guys never made eye-contact, but were always trying to sneak a peak at her breasts.
Kris described herself as curvy, a bit chubby and plain. Her looks were never a concern to her, her body just a place where her brain was. She was always in her head to the point that others thought she was spacey, but she was just
preoccupied with her own thoughts. She rarely wore make-up or a dress. Since she was a small girl, she never felt girly and was always called a tom- boy, but she once when she was six, she told her mom that she a person and not a boy. I’m a person was a common refrain in her head.
In her twenties, Kris decided she didn’t care if boys, and to be honest, most girls looked at her breasts when they talked to her, it also meant she didn’t have to make eye-contact either. She drew a cartoon once, when she was 23, about a superhero, Confidence Man, whose only superpower was the ability to maintain eye contact under any situation, defeating super villains with eye contact alone.
Noooooo, I’m wilting. I’m willlltting!!!, said supervillain Low Self-Esteem Man.
Surprisingly, she was rarely hit on or more accurately, she didn’t notice being hit on. At 35, Kris hadn’t had as many dates as her girlfriends, who were all married at this point. She’d only had sex a few times and didn’t see the fuss. Usually, the guy would spray his salty stick goo before anything had ever happened. On her hand, her stomach. Her face. Big Whoop. Blech. The three times sex went all the way, it was mostly uncomfortable and awkward and had darting eye-contact. Most guys were just apologies and no follow-up phone calls. At 30, she decided she was done with dating.
She was happy masturbating. So, much so, masturbation was meditation. Empty the mind. Let the rabbit run wild, relax, tension, tension, tension, release, endorphins and sleep. A thrice-weekly ritual better than church.
Also, she had a dog, a gorgeous blonde lab named Steve, so she told herself she knew true love, unselfish love. Dog love.
Over her lunch break, Kris would play the solo variant of a board game on an isolated table in the break room. For relaxation and to keep current on the latest games. Tuesday, she was playing Horrified, a game where you battle different Universal monsters. She reached for the rule book to refresh her memory, the game was already set-up from Monday, and under the rule book, there was a photo. The Dracula figure from the game was leaned against the Bride of Frankenstein figure with the note:
I Vant to Smooch Your Neck, Won’t You Play Games with Me? Love, An Admirer.
The photo was taken in the break room, probably with a cell phone. Kris didn’t know what to do, surely this wasn’t for her. Somebody checked out the game, set it up and took the picture. No, it was just somebody fucking with her. So Kris went to her three co-workers and her boss with the same question, “Did you do this?” “No, get the fuck outta here!” “Are you kidding? I have a girlfriend.” “No, do you wanna make-out?” Jerry always took any interaction with a woman as a come-on. “No, ew,” said Kris, shrinking and reaching for her coat. “Not me, that would be inappropriate,” her boss said, “Three other business in this mini-mall share this break room, it could be any of them.”
No luck. Wednesday, a new picture. Dracula on top of The Bride of Frankenstein.
C’mon, just one nibble.
And at the bottom of the photo in a sans serif font,
I’m not trying to scare you and, yes, I’ve been watching you from afar. I know we have so much in common—board games, old movies, bicycling, being creative, cupcakes and a secret wild spirit. I hope to get the courage to introduce myself soon. An admirer.
Nothing to do but wait, Kris thought. That night, Kris masturbated to the thought of an anonymous stranger. It was difficult focusing on the unknown instead of nothing, but the rabbit powered through.
A week past, nothing. She went into the other shops in the mini-mall, but the employees just mostly smiled, treated her like a customer. Of course, her first thought was the bakery where she got her Friday cupcake, but the three women who ran it all seemed older and married. The utensil store had both a hipster man and hipster woman who flirted with everybody. Or it looked like flirting. Kris wasn’t too experienced with the subtle art of flirting. She always thought of the cartoon of the caveman clubbing the cavewoman as the only effective way to flirt. The bicycle shop, duh, the bicycle shop. Well, the three men who worked there couldn’t even be bother to give Kris the time of day. On four separate occasions.
Another two weeks past, the pimple on Kris’ hand was just a small red mark,
as was the shoulder pimple. She had moved on to playing Gloomhaven, a massive game that took up two tables of figures and dungeons tiles. Kris was on the third scenario out of ninety-seven.
Then, one afternoon in March, a woman sat down across the table from her, “I vant to smooch your neck, can I play as a ranger?” Strange, is this real, Kris thought. “Um sure.” Kris said.
The woman looked a few years older than Kris, 40-ish with straight pixie-cut silver hair, like a stand-in for Tilda Swinson. She was the woman who gave Kris her red velvet cupcake with extra sour creme icing every Friday. Kris had never thought of her as anything but the cupcake lady. So……
Kris went into demo mode and explained the rules to Barb, the silver-haired pixie-cut hausfrau stand-in for Tilda Swinson. They kept the talk to the game and gameplay. Barb brushed against Kris’s shoulder as she went back to the cupcake shop. Kris could only think about the new pimple on her shoulder underneath her polo. Her mind erased by the encounter.
After work, Barb was waiting for Kris at Kris’ car. They went out for coffee. Barb was at once confident and relaxed and nervous and tentative. Barb told Kris about her marriage, her divorce, her seven-year old girl, her coming out, owning the cupcake shop, what old movies she liked, the board games she had, her first lesbian relationship and the inevitable break-up. Barb said leaving that photo was the most courageous she’s been since the divorce. Kris mostly stared into the creme of her coffee. She liked Barb and her energy and lord knows she needed more friends. But was she gay, Kris hadn’t given it much thought. She was not not gay. So why not, let’s try it, Kris thought.
The next three weeks were an old movie montage of love. Sunsets. Board Games. Walking Steve in the morning before work. Bicycling. Watching movies curled up in a blanket. Cooking, good God was Barb a great cook. Talking, mostly Barb talking, about hopes and dreams. Barb had a lot of hopes and dreams and plans to attain them.
But not much physical touch. Barb had held Kris’ hand a few times and kissed her on the cheek twice and Kris let it happen. Kris thought there should be some kind of passion feeling, but honestly didn’t know what that feeling was. She certainly liked her and felt a kind of muted love over time, but passion?
She did tell Barb about this, she didn’t use the word, this ambivalence toward
sexual relations. Barb suggested they get drunk and just do it. Rip the scab off, so to speak.
We’ve come this far, why not go all the way, Kris thought.
Sex was, as Kris feared, a disaster. She was too drunk. Barb was down there forever and it was just strange, awkward. Even the rabbit didn’t run wild. She tried so hard to clear her mind, but the act of clearing her mind only clouded it further. She came close to coming many times, but just couldn’t cross that bridge. Eventually, she told Barb it was good and rolled over in exhaustion. After a few minutes, Kris rolled over to return the favor. What a weird chore, Kris thought. Barb came quickly, like all the boys before her. Thank God, thought Kris, her tongue not even wet.
Kris went home, took a shower and passed out after a few more drinks. The next morning, a Saturday, Kris woke up and realized she was probably asexual. She popped a zit on the underside of her leg, left it alone and she and Steve slept peacefully the rest of the day.
Later that week, Kris told Barb she just wasn’t interested in sex at all. It was her, not Barb. But, over time, they became friends. Awkward friends, but friends none-the- less.
Kris was a bridesmaid at Barb’s wedding two years later. Kris bought a tux for Steve and took him as her date.
Man to Woman Rubber to Rubber, Mask to Mask, Someday Skin to skin and skin and skin and skin…
That’s the future, Baby, You and me.
Our love will burn the sun out, Scorch the earth down, Sear the soul clean. Sear the Soul Clean and clean and clean.
The the future baby, You plus me
Holy flaming Jesus, Our love is greater the Bible.
When we get together, We’ll burn the heretic, Fry the leperous, Flame the spastics Crisp the Crazed,
and Obliterate the undeserving.
Homosexual Bisexual Transexual Pansexual All must go to please…
Holy Flaming Jesus Holy flaming Jesus Holy Flaming Jesus.
You and Me me and you You and Me
Alpha Omega omega alpha Alpha Omega Alpha Omega
The mysterious power.
Clip Break (Spoken)
Oh yea, I remember the day we met. The skies were thick with sexy black smoke and my flamethrower was ready to fire, gassed up and good to go, one itchy trigger and I’ll unload, spill my righteous fire, Spill my righteous fire, spill my righteous fire on the creamy white uh, earth.
Then I saw you in the clearing, an angel in black rubber, head-chooping machete in one hand, head in the other. Head in the other, head in the other, head in the other. OOOO, the crease in that rubber suit said you were for me, virus be damned.
My quarantine cutie…
I want to reap you. I Want to reap you. I want to reap you. Reap you.
Reap you. Reap you.
Sow what I reap. Sow what I reap. Sow what I reap.
Honey, I’m gonna build you a sexy love machine. It’ll grind the bones and rend the flesh and make your life easy. It’ll wrench the blood and cream the chaff and purify your world. They’ll say it can’t be done, shouldn’t be done.
But they don’t understand. They don’t understand our love. Understand the future. The future baby, that’s for you and me.