Open Up Your Door

It’s all about that first conversation.

For reals.

The deep sleep right into the morning routine. No time for thought. The sleep is filled with dreams directed by one’s self with characters and abstract ideas aplenty. The routine is filled with introversion, habits, and routine to set up the day for success. Making the bed, brushing your teeth, meditation, stretching, cold shower, journaling – It’s lonely.

The social battery of the human, albeit charged and ready for use after a peaceful night’s sleep, collects dust and remains shelved. Going too long without talking with someone else starts to hurt the potency of the battery’s charge. Before you know it, the battery likes the dust. The battery enjoys its neglect of it’s handler and the peace that’s brought upon its’ lack of use. It doesn’t want to be disturbed, it wants to enjoy the silence of the world around it. Consider it like laying out on the beach miles away from anyone – it’s serene.

The body continues to move, but the battery continues to live in it’s own type of peace. In the car there’s a podcast, music, or silence… but no passengers. At the gym, there’s headphones, a physical routine, and tasks to attend to… but no conversational partner. This might be the strangest place to isolate as you’re surrounded by masses of people with ears covered to eliminate any outside noise. We then look at our handheld devices between exercises whether to respond to a correspondence via text, change a song, check social media (masturbate), or keep track of time.

We then leave to shop and use the self-checkout because it’s not only quicker, but we’re losing our want to converse with any strangers. We head home to get more work done in front of our computers without a soul around us. After work concludes, we can then stare at another screen for entertainment or take part in some artistic endeavor that may or may not require other people. The entire day has passed and no face to face conversations were had. Not one. Not only did we never have a conversation, but we avoided them too.

Part of you likes this. It’s a sick part of you, but a part nonetheless. The other part of you is having a wild and fiery anxiety attack that feels like going to the local watering hole to have a conversation… and that part will need a few strong drinks to quell their social anxiety. And we all know… this is not the most helpful solution. It can be fun, but is painful in the long run. Ask your liver.

We are social beings, you and I. Interaction with one another not only helps us internally, but without other people, we cannot build and we struggle to grow.

Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to others. Anxiety is a motherfucker, we all know it. As we get set into a groove throughout our day without conversing with someone else, we like our peace and quiet. Our internal dialogue becomes far more important than whatever anyone else was going to say. But yet, the internal dialogue can become toxic, like stale water without transitions to rivers and streams can become a swamp… that swamp will breed disease, just like a stale mind. The anxiety is like the mucky swamp… it doesn’t want growth and it wants to sink you. Sometimes when we’re anxious or scared, it’s a solid sign that overcoming it will yield the greatest rewards… even just a simple conversation.

That mind needs interaction with other minds, not just the intake from others’ creations and teachings. There needs to be a set of ears to take in the thoughts that pass through your mind in order to understand their validity. Similar to a match of tennis, someone needs to slam the ball back for you, otherwise your skills diminish hitting against a wall daily.

Jim Carrey once said, “Solitude is dangerous. It’s very addictive. It becomes a habit after you realise how peaceful and calm it is. It’s like you don’t want to deal with people anymore because they drain your energy.”

Boy, was he right. This is true about a genuinely introverted mind. Speaking with someone that has a chaotic life without routine and no care for growth can rip whatever energy you have right from your soul. On the flip side of the coin, there are also so many people that you could spend days with that don’t require charge from your battery and make you a better human in the process. Depending on how far in your day you’ve gone without a conversation, you may meet them and write them off forever. Your perspective was off, your judgement was clouded, and now there’s no longer an opening door down that hallway. You’ve closed off an opportunity to possibly meet someone great which could have opened exponential possibilities. Or they could have stolen your valuables and sold them for meth. The point being that you’ll never know. At least a thieving meth-head leaves you with an interesting story.

Similar to art, exercising, cooking, etc…. your first conversation will be clunky, dopey, and a rough draft leaving you with probably a “What did I just say?” Like when a waiter tells you to enjoy your food and your response is “You too.” We’ve all done it, but they’ll giggle and you’ll turn rosy red in the cheeks. Everyone wins. But in the first conversation, the win is just doing it. Open your door to them, let more people in. Without ever opening your mind to others, you’re essentially stealing from other humans what is your beauty.

We all have some shit days, but brighten the fuck up, bucko… you’re a great person and sharing your mind with others will only brighten their day too. Get the first conversation out of the way, try to be the first one to speak, go out of your way to have it… and just like every other “morning habit,” this one will continue to set you up for success.

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A month. Over a month. A month and a few days with some hours, minutes, and seconds dropped in there.

That’s how long it’s been since there has been a post on here. I get it, I know… all 2 of my readers want more content. There was a span of time in there where my interests started to shift into a couple different directions. If it were degrees in a circle, it would be 360. Everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Writing, learning to create YouTube videos, learning how to code for Etherium, martial arts, exercise, teaching, masturbating furiously. And I mean FURIOUSLY. Imagine Due Date and Robert Downey Jr. spitting on Zack Gallifinakis’s dog. No… wait, don’t imagine that. This got weird quick.

Honestly, It was madness and madness building momentum. Time became dominated by complete and utter focus of whatever was being done in that time block, but the choice was based on how the mind felt that day. Yesterday is when the epiphany finally erupted… “IT’S TOO MANY THINGS!” This epiphany was subsequent to what felt like a mental breakdown; a full fledged anxiety attack that was finally subdued with a long walk, my martyr of a girl, and a White Claw or 3. Not the healthiest medicine, but a quick solution in a weak moment.

But while that White Claw(s) was sipped, there was more thought about what the issue is. Once the breathing calmed down and a few meditative moments were taken, it hit like a brick upon the head.

Focus. Our focus need more focus.

“That’s right, Daniel-san.”

Too much social media, internet browsing, reading headlines, too many goals for hobbies and skills that we want to learn.

All those interests mentioned previously? They haven’t faded, but there needs to be priorities set and focusing on ONE thing until it’s completed, then the next. Not what we feel like working on in that moment or what the magic eightball says. Should we study coding, should we practice martial arts, should we write, should we make a YouTube video, should we __________?

What’s the priority? Which one sits higher on the food chain? Which one is more important to you? Reflect, motherfucker. Maybe you should put on some damn underwear before practicing high kicks?

Too many people these days have 8 “side hustles,” post them on social media, tell you why they’re successful at everything while they’re playing guitar, drums, and doing pushups at the same time.

We’re all different and learn differently too, but if you bite off more than you can chew, your bite may chew you. I assure you, the rhyming here was only half intentional.

Personally, as someone that wants to always do things to a closer level of perfection, it’s important that there’s one thing I focus on completing daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. If there are 7 things, I’ll miss 1, then 2, then 3, then the downward spiral happens until I feel like completing nothing except the masturbating furiously.

But there are people out there that operate better when they teach a class, learn an instrument, make internet content, run a company, train martial arts after a sprint workout. Fucking fantastic for them, but that’s not me and it might not (probably) be you either. Maybe this is ADD, ADHD, ADHDHDHD? A rose is a rose by any other name, so does it even matter what it’s called? The important thing is that to accomplish a goal, task, or even just a hobby that you like to enjoy from time to time, regardless of how big or small it is. If it’s on the list, it’s big enough to you. FOCUS on it. If it is a goal, set out a certain amount of time to work on it, a milestone to reach so you can put it down and revel in what you’ve done.

During a conversation with a person who would call themselves moderately successful, they said that they have to look back upon, and write down, what got accomplished each quarter to physically see that progress has been made. Some evenings, they journal the daily accomplishments too. Otherwise, they would spin into their own downward spiral and erupt with anger at themselves thinking that they’re in the same spot as before. This was their medicine. Stagnation is a cause for disease, mental, physical, spiritual. Growth and change is important to the health of all things. Without growth, you’ll stop doing whatever it is. We all need to see progress.

In fact, journaling what’s been accomplished the first 4 months of this year is going to be what happens tonight. The inability to see what’s grown is another cause for the downward spiral. But this will be a fun task… a necessary one, but fun as well. Let me take this medicine, it’ll be healthier than the other 3 White Claws in my fridge… which might turn into a reward? “MIGHT” is the key phrase here.

Maybe it’s time you do the same? Maybe instead of beating yourself up take a look at everything that you’ve done this year thus far and write it down. If it’s a lot, GREAT… use it as motivation for moving forward. If not, put something on the list that’s small and pat yourself on the back… but use this as motivation to get started on somewhere you left off. Maybe make a new list of where you want to go? Either way, grow and keep growing before the stagnation catches up.

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Paralysis by Analysis

“I’m a perfectionist.”

You’ve heard it before and it probably had some sort of condescending tone to it, didn’t it? Like some white girl bullshit with that weird, yet stereotypical sideways head nod and the eyebrow raise paired with a half eye roll. Or it’s someone’s scapegoat as to why they can’t do something.

Either way, you’ve heard it and probably cringed… at least internally you did.

Perfectionism, albeit sounds great on the surface, is not a positive trait but yet it’s a negative one. A hinderance to your work and your daily life. Nothing will ever be good enough, so why even try?

In 3rd grade, there was a discussion that was being had between my friend, the teacher, and myself. “That’s a perfect circle!” I had exclaimed, and was making no reference to what was an amazing band to come later in time, but something that I saw on a chalkboard. It could have been a compliment to whomever drew it, but quite frankly it’s not a part of the memory that stuck. The friend at the time countered and made sure that we all knew that there could never be anything that’s perfect, as it will always have it’s faults. This hit in one of those strange, 3rd grader, philosophical ways that would morph your perspective on life for years to come.

There cannot be a “perfect” anything. Nothing will ever be perfect, certainly not even this piece. Everything has faults, no matter what it is, there will always be some insignificant breaking of the symmetry or some insignificant mistake made by the artist that, with the largest magnifying glass on Earth, you could find.

The rest of the day I spent breaking down everything in sight and why it wasn’t as perfect as initially thought. The carpet beneath my feet had scuffs, the walls had bump outs in the paint, the gym floor was uneven. On and on this went, sending the 3rd grade me into a spiral of criticizing everything… including myself and my work. Not coloring inside of the lines perfectly, not having perfect handwriting, not getting a 110% on my quizzes and tests (perfect meant getting that extra credit by spelling that 11th word on the quiz).

This was absolutely terrorizing to the malleable mind of a 3rd grader. Setting up this unachievable state of perfection, knowing it doesn’t exist, but also trying on each attempt of anything to achieve it. Oddly enough, I’m realizing now that this is when the decade long battle with migraine symptom began. What interesting correlation…

You’re now put on a treadmill where it’s your job to keep chasing the dragon, but it’s moving ever quicker and further from your sights until eventually… “fuck it,” and you hop off. Despair can start to set in. To reiterate what was said earlier, why even try? It won’t be perfect, you know what it takes to achieve that 110% and if it can’t be that, why be anything at all? The cycle begins. You’ve now stared your work in the face, you’ve thought out everything it’s going to take to complete to the best of your ability, you now see the mountain of tasks you’ve compiled for yourself, you see the entirety of the project… the time it’ll take, effort, thought.

Oh no. Well, you’ll be able to get that done when you finish the dishes, take out the trash, vacuum the house, clean off your desk, watch that one YouTube video.

Oh no. It’s 5 hours later. Okay, well, you can start it all tomorrow, right? Now that the conditions will be perfect…

PLAY THAT SHIT AS IT LIES, MOTHERFUCKER!

What needs to happen is a restructuring of the perspective and habits. If nothing can be perfect, then EVERYTHING is perfect. With anything, we must accept and love its’ faults. The mismatched carpet is artistically beautiful, the bump outs in the painted wall have character, the uneven floor helps your balance. They are perfect. Purely existence is perfection.

From time to time, it’s nice to reflect upon other more successful people’s perceptions of the world. Jocko explains how he sees things that “suck.” His question will be rhetorically asked if something sucks and his response to himself or his audience is “good.” The existence of the suck gives the opportunity for growth in one form or another. Does running sprints suck? Yes, yes they do. Good. If they didn’t, you’d continue to exist within your comfort zone and anyone with a brain knows that being comfortable is the opposite of growth.

Returning to the idea of perfectionism, we stare at the mountain of work we’ve created. The perfect storm of problems? That’s OUR creation… we did that to ourselves. We’ve created what smarter-people-than-I would call “paralysis by analysis.” We’ve now overthought the issue, the project, and stifled any progress we were going to make by asking that pesky old question “What if?”

“What if” is a killer. The hypothetical mind spends more time worrying than it ever did problem solving. The perfectionist mindset can’t slip. It won’t allow you to fall and pick yourself up. To fall is to break the idea of a perfect run. The fear of failing stops you from even attempting. Within this mindset, there is no growth. Growth comes from failing, from fucking up, from blowing shit up in front of your face. Without failing, there are no lessons learned. With everything needing to be perfect, you never tried. Now… the memory, the creation, the attempt of something great never existed.

Fuck it. Seriously, fail often, fail hard, fail big, and laugh it off while you learn your lessons. The only one that gives a shit is you. Personally, I have a great deal of respect for the people that get in the arena L after L chasing just one fucking W. Nothing is more simple than fighting. You put your health, the most universal trait we all share on this planet, for nothing more than glory. You just want to win. That person that has lost 15 in a row and continues to fight has my respect. Regardless of their record, they’ve spent more time in that ring than most, and now have more experience than that undefeated record of 3-0. What has the undefeated fighter learned? That they’ve played their cards right thus far, but they haven’t learned a whole lot from their experiences… not yet. Each upcoming fight is more pressure than the last. The feeling of loss is alien to them. What will happen when it inevitably happens?

Probably relief. Now they can focus on being their absolute best and not give a fuck about records.

To have an outline of a project is productive and helpful, but steps 2-100 matter not. What does matter is step one – getting started.

When you do fail, be happy, because now you have something to take from it, something to learn from the experience. You can appreciate those that have attempted and been successful. You’ll see all the work that they put in and appreciate what they had to put in for those results. Now little by little, apply those to your next project.

In conclusion, that white girl nonsense of holding their “perfectionist” mindset above you like it’s some dumbass trophy, can fuck itself. Focus on step one – sit your ass down and get to work. By creating your work, it will be perfect. You are exactly where you need to be, right now. Put the pen to paper and quiet the mind.

Get started… but make sure the dishes are done first. Dirty dishes stink.

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” – Mark Twain

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Moving forward…

Writing fiction is similar to writing non-fiction – there’s this semblance to some true situation or feeling that you’re trying to explain without being bluntly straight-forward or an absolute doofus. That’s right – doofus. One of those strange words that you still can’t believe is a word. Spell check didn’t squiggle it’s red pen underneath it, so I guess we’re good.

It was fun. Anyone can do anything. It’s not real. It’s all theoretical, metaphorical, and can be just plain silly at times. Nothing needs to be serious, which when writing general thoughts, can be taken as such.

The problem doesn’t lie in the writing, it lies in actually starting the work. Every damn time my fingers rest upon the keyboard and my ass sits in this chair, it’s coupled with the riddling of distractions. Between social media, to YouTube, to literally any sort of masturbation of procrastination… there’s a constant nag to avoid the work like it’s going to disappear or go away.

It’s not. Trust me, I’ve tried. Those dishes in the sink aren’t going to clean themselves either.

…or are they???

Nah, probably not.

What will then happen, is after I’ve break danced around it, I’ll convince myself that there’s other more pressing things to get done, more important things to get done. Time is of the essence. “You don’t have time to sit here and write for a little bit, you have to get X, Y, and Z done.” Check the phone, check the notification popping up in the corner of the screen, check to see if there are any notifications I may have missed.

I didn’t. And even if I did, they are of no importance right now. The art of writing is what deserves the attention. Self-expression is what matters right now.

Is the coffee too cold? Yeah, I should go heat it up. The coffee needs to be piping hot, otherwise it’s just lukewarm coffee-water. Fantastic, hot coffee. What’s that out the window? A car going by. Nothing more. That car looked like my friend’s car. I wonder what my friend is doing. Maybe he’s at work with his 9-5 job that offers the security that he loves in life. Man, security would be nice. Knowing when the paycheck is coming, medical benefits, a 401k.

Fortune favors the bold. Risk it for the biscuit. Chase dreams. What are the dreams? No idea, really. I just do things I enjoy. Where am I right now? Ass is still in the chair and distracted more than ever. That’s where.

Writing long-length-esque fiction was more difficult that I imagined. In my own opinion, I decided to write myself into a corner each week and hope that I could figure out a witty and interesting ending. I couldn’t. What we got instead was a simple, action scene at the end. Punches, kicks, etc. No twists. No turns. Just solving my problems with violence – literally… literally. But who doesn’t love a good action scene? Sometimes the simplicity is key. B-movies are still entertaining movies, they just don’t win any oscars.

What I learned is to have great appreciation for all these writers out there that can turn the plot from page to page, or to set something up in advance and call back to it chapters later. “Foreshadowing” I believe it’s called. Doing it consistently throughout the book and getting me to turn to the next chapter, staying up well past my bedtime because I NEED to know what happens next. Those guys. Give up the appreciation for the art they put on paper.

The true goal was not to write the next greatest piece of fiction, but to write 6-8 chapters of fiction and publish it for all to read. Good, bad, who gives a shit. It’s done. We don’t always try to win a marathon, but we’re just happy to finish one.

This is something I’d like to continually do, but the strategy needs to change. The level of commitment needs to change. The elements of a good story need to be implemented rather than skimmed over. Consistency is key. If we continue to show up and do the work, the fruits of our labors will come… one day.

The goal of the next piece will to be to improve upon the writing, to improve the storyline, and to have more fun with it. Stressing over our own artificial and manufactured deadlines can steal the joy from things. Sure, the deadline needs to be there, but with more discipline everything will improve. Discipline to consistency, discipline to the attempt, discipline to writing wildly, discipline to writing something that I want to read, too.

This has been one of the hardest ones to write. I’m unsure why. Switching gears and actually having to analyze what went right, what didn’t, how to improve, etc. is, for some unknown reason, incredibly difficult. Writing has always meant to be therapeutic for my insanely self-critical mind, so having to allow said criticism to come through without beating myself repeatedly along the way… it’s not easy. There’s a bracelet that sits on my wrist as a reminder to be peaceful and gentle to myself. Once I can ease up on myself, it’s much easier to be much less critical of all those around me.

The paths of self-expression we choose are supposed to help us feel better. Just like everything we do, it’s important that we reflect upon our journeys and see how we can improve. Music, painting, you name it. Staying in the same skill level only produces stagnation, with stagnation will come disdain for the art, when it’s not really the art – it’s us. We need to improve and that means doing the uncomfortable, whatever that may be. We can be our own best teachers and we owe it to the art to march forward.

What’s really wild to me is that this may seem obvious to a lot of people and it is for me too. The issue being is taking the action. What will you do? Sit there and tell yourself to get outside the comfort zone… or are you actually going to do it?

Now I’m off to play some Elden Ring. The work is done for today. The battle might not be won, but the army showed up and fought. That’s all that matters.

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FIN

*SLAP*

Nicole stared at him. He looked lost. The gaze was a million miles away but directly into the swirly vapor of steam arising from the black, fairly bitter smelling juice that had been poured into the typical white mug. The mug was a completely blank slate, nothing to give it identity besides its’ single purpose of holding hot liquids. Replaceable in an instant by its’ owners but showed up to work every day, never complained, did its’ job with pride daily… and yet would lose its’ job in an instant if another mug came about with a little pizazz on the outside. The job of holding hot liquids would be done no better than before than before, but wrapped with a quirky slogan, an unorthodox handle, or even with a different color than “white” would push this mug out the door to make room for the more “woke” mug.

“ED! WAKE UP!”

She couldn’t get through to him. Lost in thought, in a prison of his own mind, he couldn’t hear her. It was like he had fallen asleep but his eyes were still cognizant of what was happening. He was gazing, but his eyes were very subtly vibrating. She knew he loved coffee and without it, could certainly become victim and trapped within the walls of his own mind, drift into deep thought or the lack thereof, but usually after a couple sips he would become more lively or at least aggressively push onto her his opinion of the coffee… whether he felt it was a shotty product of a bean or just operator error, as she would sit there and politely listen to his passionate ramblings about coffee.

Frustrated, annoyed, and ultimately just concerned about his lack of responsiveness, she lifted her canvas covered steel tipped boot off the grungy cafe’s ground with an audible peeling noise and slammed it into the inside of his shin, right in the sensitive spot that feels like it’s been mortally wounded every time it’s impacted and the nerves were ripe like summer tomatoes. She had been sitting perpendicular to him, not directly across, as it’s the best seating arrangement for conversation. They had known each other forever, but there wasn’t any pressure to make eye contact during chitchat, they could focus on their thoughts as they conversed… or as they didn’t in this case. There was an odd sense of satisfaction when she planted the stiff part of her boot into the soft part of his shin, like the sensation of a baseball bat connecting on that perfect hit, sending the ball miles away… except the ball was more alive since it was his shin and all.

His eyes widened as if he never had eyelids to begin with. The pain hadn’t even hit his nerve center yet but he could feel it traveling through his body, just like when a stubbed toe doesn’t hurt for a moment. The vibrations crawled up his leg, through his hip, and all the way until the shock zapped him back to life.

“WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK?” exclaimed the man who you’d think got shot in the shin.. “WHY in the hell did you kick my shin the the toes of your boot? Was it necessary? I was actually trying to concentrate on something!” he started to trail off again. His eyes started to drift back into the abyss of his coffee cup, his coffee still steaming up out of the mug but less than a moment ago, starting to cool to a drinkable temperature.

These mother fuckers. This cunty little fruit fly that won’t let me drink my coffee. This manipulative seductress of a waitress. Those babbling little midgets parading as children. And the GOATS. ENOUGH FUCKING GOATS. I just wanted a calm getaway with some reflection and these dumb cunts try to trap me in this mental prison. Halloween is over and these demonic fucks are spoiling not just MY good time, but subsequently Nicole’s too. She’s a goddamned saint and deserves to be treated as such. I love that girl with every ounce of my being and these shit eating cocks are ruining mine aaaaaaaand HER vacation.

He was becoming visibly red, comically red. Nicole could see the gears inside his head turning. She could see the emotional shift happen in real time. For a moment she wondered if he was even breathing. Any look of sadness had dissolved and left the building. Instead, just like when things get hot, he was turning shades of rage.

I’m going to bring death to all of you.

*SLAP*

Time slowed down again, but this time he was on the outside. Ed’s hand moved at the speed of lightning. While a moment ago it had been clenched and resting on his lap, within an instant he whipped it over the edge of the table as soon as he saw the tiny fly landed. He turned his hand over with anticipation and the expectation of seeing his victim. It looked like when you lean your hand on some cheap crumbled mascara. There was what looked like black soot across his palm close to the thumb. A big satisfactory smile came across his face.

You dumb bitch. Taking your life brought me great joy this morning. You’re now one less problem that will haunt me. I can sip from my coffee without having to drop my dollar store mug in fears that I’m going to snort your tiny ass up my nostril and choke on my happy juice. I want to kill your entire family. Your sisters. Your brothers. Your parents. Your children. Your husband or wife. Dead. . I’m going to burn their home to the ground, I’m going to trap some in a cup and watch them suffocate to the end, I’m going to play with myself as I watch them take their last breath. I might even defecate on them. No. No. Probably not… BUT I MIGHT.

….Holy fuck has this gotten dark. Unfortunately, this force can only be met with a much greater force. Fight fire with a bonfire? Go tit for double d titties? Blow for blowjob? If it’s going to be me or them… it’s going to be them.

It all played out like a scene from an action movie. The ambiance and background noise was vacant, time slowed to that of a quarter of the speed we usually perceive it at, and a cool kickass song that has no copyright bearing played over the entire scene. The song started slow with Ed sitting at the table staring at the black smudge on his palm. Little by little, the rhythm sped up nearing closer to the beat-drop as he continued to stare at his right hand while it slowly clenched into a fist. Suddenly, the music drops to that of a whisper while his gaze slowly comes upwards back to all the enemies that haunted him.

Happening in an instant, the beat finally dropped and a heavy metal song started to play over the action that ensued. Ed made an unintelligible shout as he kicked the table from the stem sliding it into the long legs of the “waitress.” The shouting noise that he made was somewhere between a battle shout, a growl, and a cough… it always seemed so much cooler in the movies with the badass protagonist kicking off a fight scene with that noise, but unfortunately it wasn’t as cool this time around. Thankfully, we had that music playing over it so we never really got to hear it.

The evil waitress buckled over the table with her hips and legs sliding back while her face left an imprint on the recently set out napkins. He shifted his focus over to the wee man who was wobbling over towards him with his own knife in hand, pulled back as if he was going to stab in a lunging, linear motion. Ed, again, saw it all in slow motion. Instincts kicked in and while sidestepping the lunging beach ball of a man, he grabbed the hair and quickly brought his knee straight up to meet the jaw… repeatedly. With two more approaching in a similar manner from both sides (imagine – lieutenants of the midget army… the evil midget army), he dropped his foot quickly, replanted, and shot to his right side kicking his heel and blade of the Vibram-soled foot sideways through one’s face, looked over his shoulder, calculated, then gave the next approaching fun-sized villain the same kick but with the added momentum of a spin. It was like watching a Bruce Lee film but he was fucking up females and midgets. EVIL females and midgets.

Sideways pupils. Staring directly at him. Before he could be pulled back into it’s evil stare, he marched over to the tincan chewing demon, took a skipping step, and met the slack-jawed animal with the laces of his shoe, like how you would dropkick a soccer ball. Blood poured from the mouth and the servant of Satan dropped to the floor, most certainly biting off its’ tongue and fracturing the neck upon impact of the floor.

One left. The waitress had stood back up and regained her bearings. Nicole had used the balls of her feet to shimmy her chair backwards into a safe space on the wall, not entirely free of the commotion but definitely out of the way. With the fun music playing over everything, it wasn’t possible to hear the nails-on-a-chalkboard-esque scraping noise her chair was making. Her mouth was agape and her eyes showed a mixed emotion of shock and “go get’em.”

Lasers might as well have been coming out of his eyes. He was locked onto the seductive, black haired, dressed-as-a-witch, witch. She was trembling in fear knowing that she wasn’t making it out of this. Regret shot through her mind like lightning. I should have let this one be.

Grabbed by the hair and dragged down to the ground. There was struggle, but she had always relied on her mental abilities to subdue her prey that she was out of her element. Without taking his focus off of the demon that had tried to prey on him this fateful day, he reached behind him to another table that had been set this morning. Patting around the table from side to side, looking for something without the use of his eyes.

The music was coming to an end, as was the scuffle. He knew how he was going to end her and he wished that he was more witty so he could have dropped one of those cool one-liners you’d hear out of a Die Hard movie. He noticeably shrugged as this dialogue played out in his head. Oh well.

The knife plunged into the side of the abdomen. Her empty evil eyes looked upwards into the great beyond and her jaw dropped like she was trying to breathe air that wasn’t there. He pulled forcefully, but slowly across her stomach, making sure that she felt all the pain that she had caused to others for an unknown amount of time. As he reached the other side, drawing a long red line across her belly like gutting a fish, her last breath released like air from an sliced car tire.

It was over.

He got up, pulled the table back to where it was, pulled Nicole back to where she was, kissed her on the top of the head, looked at her eyes with a genuine and relieved smile, walked over to the kitchen and poured himself a fresh cup of coffee as his other one was spilled over the floor, sat back down at the table, and sipped it smacking his tongue satisfactorily against the roof of his mouth.

*Smack*

“Aaaaah.” His smile widened and he shifted his gaze to out the window, staring at the beautiful mountains across the landscape. Nicole stared at him trying to unpack and digest all that just happened with a big “What the fuck” look in her eyes.

“What do you want to do after brunch?”

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Part Roku

Firmly grasped, the knife slid across the table, dragging his fist along with it. Ed didn’t want to do it, not at all, and complained to himself like an annoying 5 year old with an anger problem turning red in the face being told to takehis mess of lego scattered pieces and put it back in it’s original box. Even being as strong willed as he was, as stubborn as he was, as do-the-opposite-of-what-you-tell-him he was… whatever voice compelled him to maneuver the knife towards him, seemed to be the more convincing of the two sides. The knife was that of a more quality steak knife; not the sharpest blade of the bunch, but certainly sharp enough to do it’s job.

BLEAAAAAT

What a strange noise for an animal to make. Is it communicating with us? Is it talking with itself? Is it just trying to squeeze out a shit? Trying to understand the loud, audibly disturbing, and anything but soothing noise that finds its’ way through the vocal chords of an animal that butts its’ head against inanimate objects every few moments for whatever fucking reason may as well be putting yourself at the receiving end of the headbutts. What an odd representation for an animal’s call. A dog “barks.” A cat “meows.” A goat “bleats.” Perhaps it’s just universally known that goats are the most abnormal and superficially soft-brained animal, so much so that Webster-Merriam called a quick poll in the room and asked, “What noise does a goat make?” while the responses were probably similar to What does the Fox Say? … they decided that it was too intelligible a noise for an animal that holds the same anti-evolutional traits to that of a lemming, someone combined a cough and a sneeze at the very same time which actually forced that person to have an aneurism and drop dead on site. Police came to the scene after a responsible adult dialed 911 and doing their job, the officials on site had to rule out any sort of foul play before the autopsy came back (no one knew it was an aneurism at this point). They questioned the others in the room extensively and checked his overly seasoned cheeseburger, tater tots, and Mountain Dew for any contaminants. Frank… that was the dumb bastard’s name, wasn’t the healthiest or really the brightest bulb in the box, which was ironic since he was on the dictionary’s board for creating words, was notorious for overeating. People that were close to Frank always knew that his shitty eating habits would be the death of him. Mid 40’s and the blob of a man had trouble breathing while walking up stairs. Detectives, before they could go back to their families, needed to watch the security footage with one of the administrators, as was the protocol. Watching from start to finish, which was a lengthy few hours of mundane dictionary gobbidygook between people that gave a rat’s ass, felt similar to writing each of those words on the chalkboard 50 times in detention, found absolutely nothing but a fat, dumb man dropping to the floor like a brick off a 2nd floor windowsill. When the moment of Frank’s death finally did come across the screen and headphones, they were subjected to the abrasive noise he made when he seized up mid-bite of his burger in which he had compiled the tater-tots onto the ground beef slop with his other toppings (mayo, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion rings, etc. etc.) and slurped on his green acid of a soda, all that could be heard through the headphones was an intrusive sound of “BLEEEAAAAT!” before his overweight dumpster of an organ holster dropped to the under-carpeted conference room floor. At that moment, it was decided that in memoriam, this was the word for the sound of what a goat makes. Bleat.

The music stopped. The commotion that the room was once full of screeched to a halt. All eyes seemed to turn to Ed. Everyone was watching, waiting, and commiserating. There was no feeling of sadness, fear or empathy in the air, but more of a sense of “Good,” surrounding him. Good in the sense of “Good riddance,” not the type of good that would be misrepresented as positive. He couldn’t hear the thoughts whirling around him, but he could feel them cutting like the thorns on a rosebush.

A fruit fly. An inaudible speck in the vision floated between his eyes, buzzed to his nose to a spot where he couldn’t really see it, but he could feel it. The black dot had to be as small as a grain of salt, and not one of those grains of salt that would sit on a warm, greasy soft pretzel that you find at a street cart, but more like one of those grains of salt that come from the shaker and make you wonder whether or not the salt even came out, then your food is over salted burning your tastebuds. It was just as annoying too. From the nose it started to buzz towards his coffee cup. Ed wasn’t one to always be distracted… in fact, he was usually a pretty focused individual. Sure, he could procrastinate like the best of them, but if he was wrapped up in something important, especially something like taking ones own life, he wouldn’t veer from the task at hand. Though, at this moment, was something sacred being intruded upon. Not the moment that was revolving around the fact that a sharp enough steak knife was nearing towards his abdomen underneath his own direction. Not the fact that he was looking to spill his intestines all over his bought-on-deep-discount designer jeans that he would wear for weeks on end without washing in the middle of a restaurant with supposed children, families, witches, and goats about. Not that he was going to leave the love of his life, the girl that had helped him stay the course of becoming a better person, the woman that had grown with him for the past 10+ years, the female that constantly kept his impulsivity to act afool within check, permanently just because he was having a DebbieDowner Moment© that trapped him in a thought-loop similar to that of that song you can’t stand but runs through your mind on repeat regardless of how hard you try to sing another tune… yeah, that one.

What the fuck am I doing?

The fruit fly continued to buzz around the coffee cup and he could feel his temper flare. It was resilient. Silently buzzing around the cup that held one of the few things that he could truly enjoy from moment to moment; a sip of the juice of the gods. The heat of his emotions rose through his body from the depths of his loin, reaching his skull it started to spin him upside down like repeated somersaults or cartwheels on a gymnastics mat. Either his hair started to grow or steam was shooting through his ears in a cartoon fashion.

Fuck yourself,” whispered the maneuvering and hovering black dot within his vision. Shock ripped through his body like a static charge released from shimmying around upon a very shaggy carpet all day in socks that had far too much fabric to them, like an amount of fuzzy fabric that would make you feet sweat and if unwashed would leave you with athlete’s foot between a couple of toes.

He swatted which drew it closer towards his coffee. He pinned it’s flight path and clapped his hands together hoping to find its carcass smudged across his palms. He waited for it to settle on the table for a second before violently slapping said table causing everything to shake and rattle, even the knife he was holding moments ago.

I’m going nowhere. When you kill me, I’ll only be replaced by another… and him? Another. And so forth,” the fly taunted him.

There was only solution… to kill them all.

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Part Phive

Ed was an average heighted dude and constantly dressed both for style and function – Under Armour and Oakley tended to be his go-to’s. With a shaved head topped upon his reasonably athletic build, he was constantly asked if he was ever in the military… it was probably because he called all males “sir” and all females “miss,” looked people in the eyes, and used his please and thankyou’s. He knew respect and manners went a long way with people. Alas… at least he was comfortable for his extended stay.

Being unwantedly motionless was such a strange feeling. It’s not that only his body was frozen, but he couldn’t vocalize anything. In his body but shoved deep down below where he was unable to communicate by any means, he was internally petrified. Petrified both metaphorically and literally. He was stuck within a pit of himself where he could only feel fear grow around him like an anaconda squeezing tighter on each exhale. It could have manifested into anything but just its presence created panic. His heart rate rose but without the ability to control his breath. He wasn’t able to do a damn thing about it. Which subsequently created more panic. It was a deadly cycle. His legs trembled and he felt his entire body shudder real quick. It was a similar sensation to a January’s wind shearing through your summertime bikini.

He continued to hear voices and commotion around him, but it wasn’t the sounds of the café he was initially looking to eat in. In fact, the voices he was hearing were of no distinct tone, but more of an energy or a vibe. There was no placing if it was female or male, man or creature, or something from beyond. But the messages were clear…

You’re a fucking PUSSY. Scared little bitch.”

You’ll never be good enough, quit now. You’re wasting everyone’s time and energy.”

No one gives a fuck about you… just end it. Save yourself the suffering.”

It was a prison of these thoughts, but they were not his own. They had been heard before, but never conceived by his own mind and narration. An outside force that had found its’ way internally was to blame. Somehow, his mind had been manipulated, tangled, and locked down for a good ol’ fashioned mind rape.

“You’re poison. You’re a failure. Look at everyone around you… they all know it.”

This was the opposite of meditation. Instead of being able to focus, being able to correct his mind and put it on track, whatever had invaded was in control. Like being in the front seat of a busted roller coaster, he was held hostage and all he could do was feel the track crumble below him.

It continued to loop, the same messages over and over for what seemed like forever. They played through his mind like a song on repeat, but remixed. The words weren’t always exactly the same, but the message was clear: End it. Your life is futile, stop dragging others down with you. Eliminate yourself. It was harsh, painful, and unfortunately convincing.

Images started to flash on the screen of his eyelids, but yet he couldn’t be sure. Imagery of how to take his own life… a full bottle of pills, a noose around his neck and tied to a beam above his head, stepping into oncoming highway traffic, dropping off the tallest building he could find. The visions he saw were darker than when he was seeing nothing at all.

Being completely stuck where he was, with no ability to speak or be present, he was unable to escape what was ripping through his mind and changing his entire mentality. Maybe I should do it. I’m wasting everyone’s time. I’m so sorry…

Ed was an honorable man or so he always did his best to be as such. He was always trying to do the right thing even in those moments that would be considered a gray area. At this point, his mind had been warped into believing that taking his own life was the only response to the pain and suffering he had caused others. There was only one culture that he could think of that found suicide to be the honorable solution to shame: the Japanese samurai. They were certainly one of the most honorable people to ever grace the Earth.

Hari Kari was by no means the most elegant route to take his own life, but if he was to go out, it would be a conscious decision to feel every ounce of his lifeforce leave his body. The visions continued. Sitting with his knees bent and his feet tucked under himself, sitting tall within a dark room, both his hands cradled the hilt of a extremely sharp, but shorter sword. Perhaps it was a katana of sorts, but he wasn’t sure and it didn’t matter. All he knew was that the samurai carried a long and short sword. Doubtful that they carried it just for this reason. He took his last breath and with it apologized to the universe for everything… for not creating enough, for taking and not giving back enough, for lying and cheating and stealing, for not living up to his human potential.

Tears poured down his face as he looked down with the dagger turned inwards to the left of his belly button. Searing pain followed as he quickly shot the blade into his abdomen. It felt like a precise flamethrower melting through all the layers of his skin, each and every fiber of the muscles, and being blown directly into his organs. The ability to breathe left him and at this point he was committed. With the last drops of strength his mind and body had, he ripped his arms and the blade across his body. Muscles tried to contract and relax at the same time. He tried to breathe and scream but couldn’t. The dragging of the blade through his body was the longest few seconds of his life. Stomach, diaphragm, his “hara” or center was released. As he could intensely feel all the pain and see the blood pour from his intestines… he started to lean back like a tree being split in half. As he fell backwards onto the floor, he felt peace with himself and the world around him. His vision started to close in… but as he saw his last sights he could see a version of himself moving upwards towards the white light. Finally, peace at last…

MY BODY! I can feel it! He had snapped back to reality.

Still having no control over anything, he felt it moving… just like the roller coaster but with eyes open. He even had a little bit of his sight back. Nothing had changed, everyone was still right where they were before he slipped into this “coma.” The smell of bacon wafted back into his nose, the goats behind him were still being obnoxious and out of place, and his ass was still uncomfortable in the lopsided chair he had sat in. I’m so grateful to be back…

It was at this point, his hand drifted towards the knife on the table and firmly grasped it…

“Firmly grasp it.”

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Part FOOOOOORE

Ed and Nicole had been together for over 10 years at this point. They were each other’s best friend. Not codependent upon one another, but they made a great team between the two of them. She was young when he met him but he was young at heart and still was. Taking trips for special events and holidays were the few times that they could experience the world together, sharing moments that would last a lifetime.

Together, they found this to be quite uncharted territory. Not often where they chased by goats… but there was that one time with the wild turkeys. It was wild.

This was a different kind of wild. One of those “I don’t believe this to be real” kind of wild. The taste of disbelief was heavy enough to cut a knife through.

“So what do you think was in the water? How much LSD are these hippies dropping on a regular basis to the point that they have no trouble feeding it to us?” Ed was just trying to get Nicole to smile, to realize that the madness was over and they could enjoy the rest of their day without being locked down with fear.

She didn’t respond. Nicole was still in super serious mode, she felt the gravity of the situation. That energetic, spiritual, surreal experiences weren’t ones she particularly liked. Encounters like these were ones that couldn’t be explained with rational logic and that’s what really got her.

Years back, Ed had spent many of his hours visiting and training with an ordained Taoist priest who was also a heavily vetted Karateka who’d been dedicated to his arts for over 30 years. He explained the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective on life. To summarize, organs were responsible for emotions and health, they were energized by particular types of breath and movement, and residual spirits/energies were real. There were also the 7 levels of heaven and hell, “Satan” had generals and lieutenants, etc. Nicole got to train with him once and was instantly introduced to his ability to understand and manipulate both his and other’s energies when he touched her back from across the room.

After a full day of learning how to strengthen your own energy and use it for day to day life and self defense, food and drink was in order. They were lucky enough to spend the evening in Sensei Tony’s presence, drinking wine and listening to stories. He made mention of exorcisms that he had to conduct, spirits he had to release to the afterlife, and just generally insane shit that you would never believe unless he had “played with your energy.” Mirrors were portals for spirits, they could find a home in them. Strong and malicious energies could invade weaker humans and ruin their lives just by manipulating their thoughts and health. Demons were roaming the Earth before humans were really in existence. To put it bluntly, the spirit world was nothing to be fucked with. Wu-Tang would agree.

“Ed, I just want to go home. I don’t like being out here, the energy isn’t good, and I don’t want anything following us home. If we stick around here, there’s going to be something… an attachment… an energy… I just don’t want it.” Nicole’s voice quivered as she spoke. The words were hard for her to muster and drained her to form the coherent thought, but she was direct in her message. Since she worked so hard to be clear in her demeanor, he felt it was important to take it more serious than usual.

“Yeah, I get that, sweetheart…. but pizza!”

They had only heard of this pizza place for the years they had been cooking on their frozen crusts. A month ago, they decided to visit the restaurant in which they were originated in. To their dismay, the restaurant had closed on Ed’s birthday for a short break to reward their staff. It was really the only thing he wanted for his birthday and he proclaimed they’d return next month… and they did.

“I know, Ed… I know. They don’t open until 4pm and it’s 10am now. So much has happened in the past hour, what if it keeps at this pace?” She was starting to bend, but only because she just wanted to accomplish their mission of having the pizza they set out to have a month ago. She knew it was fairly important to him and it was her only rationale for risking her own well being… for pizza.

Nicole was a very genuine human being. She was open, caring to everyone around her, would give someone an hour to tell her a story with no meaning or punchline… just to be a good person she’d do anything she could. Unfortunately, with no shield up at all, other energies could and would attach. They would use her energy to carry themselves and strengthen their force. Malicious, selfish, and negative energies that no longer had any right here…

His mind was always centered around food. Whether it be where they’re eating now or on the next meal. “Let’s go to the brunch place. They’ve got bomb coffee and make a mean omelet. Plus, I don’t think anything else will be riproaring open at 10am on a Monday morning,” Ed said through his rumbling stomach.

The car turned, stopped, and accelerated all the way to Brunch Place for what felt like hours. Realistically, it was a half mile drive with a lot of impatient foot-tapping and fidgeting.

Something about the slight hangover and the fact that they were still technically on vacation, made his pants smaller. She was driving and he was engaging some of his more primitive intuition. His hand reached across the center console and onto her leg. She felt maybe that he was trying to make her feel better, and he was, just not in the same innocent sense that she had thought. It dawned on her quickly when she felt his hand slide up her slightly torn denim leggings.

“We’re here. Stop it.” Nicole slapped his hand away as the car slammed into park.

Aaaah fuck it… there’s always later. Maybe after a morning bite and some coffee she’ll loosen up.

His stomach’s excitement for food superseded his dick’s excitement for action. He almost floated into the breakfast nook like Donald Duck following the scent to the pie on the window. The door ripped open with a jingle of the bells hung above and the bustle of the diner was immediately apparent. Smells of bacon, eggs, coffee, and pastries shot up their noses. Endorphins started to wipe their memory of the strangeness of last night and this morning. Hell, just the smell of bacon eradicates any and all hangovers. That’s an actual medical truth. Maybe.

Halloween is over, freaks. Time to leave the costume at home and get back to reality.

The waitstaff was still wearing their outfits. In fact, even the cooks in the back were still dressed up in their Halloween garb. Spiderweb decorations still hung from the walls, a couple orange and purple string lights illuminated their surroundings, and there must have been a fog machine still pumping somewhere. Is Halloween actually honored on Monday because it fell on a Sunday? Like when Christmas falls on a weekend they actually observe it on a Monday or Friday because we need the extra day off. Halloween’s a weird one, it’s more of a kid’s holiday but I guess we can all dress up an extra day… to each their own.

“SIR!”

Ed shook his head out of the clouds and followed the witch to their table in the corner. Literally, she was a witch. Her face was lightly dusted in makeup and her eyes were seductive in nature. She wore a pointy black hat and had a long satin robe somewhat hid her attractive body. The long black hair was real, lustrous and shiny. Ed and Nicole fell into their booth in the nook and immediately perused the menu after he stole a few moments of staring at her curves. He decided on his an omelet filled with avocado, peppers, and steak with a side of bacon and endless cup of coffee. Nicole’s decision making was a little slower, she apparently had not fantasized about it all morning like he had. With his mind made up, he was able to finally indulge in people watching. She wasn’t the only cute witch kicking around on the waitstaff. There were a few and they all had attractive features in one way or another. He felt the drool and quickly wiped it off his mouth that he found slightly agape.

Ed’s leaned back onto the wall where it met the front window. Out his peripherals he could see the gorgeous landscape that the small town offered. The sun hit the crawling mountain landscape while the clouds turned some pine trees darker than others. Brick, three and four story buildings gave the stores somewhere to call home while acting as curtains to the mountains behind them. If only we could stay here forever… it’s all so breathtakingly stunning.

“We can accommodate you with that,” their witch interrupted his train of thought, almost like she was responding to it. She was staring directly at him.

“Thank you,” Nicole placed her menu down and also started to stare across the table at Ed. Oh..

He looked back at his witchress, errr WAITress about to place his order. His mind drifted into her deep brown eyes, unable to see where her pupils met the color. The curtains on his vision started to close as he went down the tunnel of his eyesight. Before he was able to speak or act, all he could see were her eyes. He was paralyzed and saw nothing but black. The menu firmly gripped, his feet flat on the floor, his ass on the seat, it was all unchangeable in the moment. Time lost value… this moment was either 20 minutes long or half a second… he couldn’t tell.

“There’s no rush… please take as long as you’d like,” he heard her say with a devious smile to the tone of her voice.

Uh oh.

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Part Twee!

Was it a dream? ‘Course it was. How many edibles did I eat last night? Did I bring the mushrooms…? No, I left those at home. Okay, so definitely a dream. Maybe some weird energies floating around these woods. Thank god we’re out of here today. We’ll sleep in our own bed, watch our own tv, get back in our routine and enjoy our home and it’s stability.

WHAT THE FUCK?!” she yelped in a tone of horror mixed with disgust

There was a black, twisted, and broken bird laying dead at the foot of the bed.

He was less reactive, but only because he was paralyzed by the shock that carried a big sense of confusion.

“Huh…” he drifted into thought, unsure if it was what he was really seeing. After a night of drinking the eyesight is always a little blurry in the morning and with that he occasionally saw things that weren’t really there. It wouldn’t be possible to form a coherent thought without at least gulping a 10 second count of water and taking a leak outside. He very carefully toed over the black and bloodied avian that was lifeless on the planks between him and the outside world…gross.

He unzipped the canopy and stepped into a brisk but refreshing 40 degree sunny day, hobbled down a few steps to the side of the platform, unzipped his pants and watched steam evaporate from his laser-beam of urine. That’s pretty clear considering how much booze I took down yesterday. Well, some of it was kombucha so that makes it healthy liquids, right? Those were delicious. Maybe we should get more of them… why the fuck are the goats staring at me? He quickly shoved himself back into his pants and zipped himself to reality.

“Dead bird on the floor. Totally normal,” he rationalized to himself, as if this thing happened weekly.

As he was pulling himself together mid-shiver, his eyes scanned the horizon and although beautiful, he noticed the 5th building… one that was hidden under the distraction of the tour from Kelly yesterday. It was a schoolhouse that looked like it had been built in the early 1800’s. The windows were akin to the ones in front of the barn; busted up and staring back at him – like the eyes of a giant looking over the hill it sat upon. Fuck you, house. Keep your stupid fucking bird to yourself. The dark maroon paint chipped off the siding like the rest of the buildings on the lot. The ominous building was sitting far off the hill, further away from everything else, like a smelly child that no one wanted to be around. It’s front door peered into the main house and driveway, inviting its suitors away from the rest of the property and into whatever vortex was held within.

“QUIT LOOKING AT ME GOATS,” he goofed in the same tone you’d hear from Billy Madison as he fell into deep intellectual conversation with a swan whilst sudsing himself… you know the part. His comedic demeanor was how he dealt with discomfort. Obviously finding a dead bird within a closed tent had him concerned and these creepy goats didn’t help. Their pupils are sideways and reminded him of a goat version of the Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. Their gaze followed him wherever he went, they never blinked, and were statuesque in posture. This morning, these goats did nothing but stare and pierce his soul with their frisbee pupils. It was time for him to go back inside the shelter and deal with the reality that abruptly woke them this morning.

*tap tap tap*

“Are you done with the box of shame?”

Nothing.

“HellooOoOoOoOoO??? All good, baby?”

Still nothing.

His heart rate jumped immediately. Her time-limit for a witty retort had passed. Something was wrong.

The tent was ripped open. She was laying back on the bed, sitting up, legs crossed, but staring a million miles away. Her red bedheaded hair hung over her lightly freckled face but her hazel eyes beamed through to somewhere beyond that tent.

“You okay?” he asked hoping she would snap out of it instantly.

Nope.

Stepping over the crow carcass, he tried to cut the path of her stare and connect with some eye contact. Everyone has their daydreaming moments, but she seemed absolutely gone, as if she was in a deep sleep while she was awake.

Still nothing.

“HEY! WAKE THE FUCK UP” he barked while shaking her by the shoulders. Her head rattled back and forth with the shake until she gasped for air like she came out of water. The hair that was masking her face moments ago exploded as she shook her head side to side and blinked like she had something in her eye. He could tell she just came back from somewhere and it wasn’t somewhere she went intentionally.

“What was that? What happened to you?”

She was looking around the room as if she was going to find an answer wherever her hazel eyes shot upon. Searching for words all that came out was a stuttering “Uh… I… uh…” on repeat.

“I don’t know. You went outside and I leaned over to look at the bird, then I stood up to use the box and before I could take a step my vision went like a curtain being pulled shut. Next thing I know you’re shaking me awake shouting in my ear to wake up. I feel like I was gone…” Tears were welling up in her eyes as she started to see where she went. They were glazing over and her lip was quivering. She was visibly frightened for her safety. “I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that at all.” She pulled him hard for a hug and squeezed him tightly. He was her grounding back to our reality, to safety, away from whatever had pulled her to begin with.

“Let’s go get breakfast, have some coffee, and leave this place behind us. It’s all good now.”

She sniffled, wiped the tears from her cheeks with the sleeve of the shirt she slept in, and nodded fast and in strong agreeance. Something had taken her away and all she could think about was being somewhere that it couldn’t happen again, away from this property… away from the woods around them.

2 minutes was all that he would need to get it all together. He grabbed his dirty clothes from the day before him and shoved them into his backpack in the same manner you push down the trash when you don’t want to change it. The wrappers and cans from last night got soccer kicked into a bin in the corner while she dunked the remaining scraps down the chute. They both glanced around the room to see if they left anything that they couldn’t buy at the CVS down the street, looked at each other, and beelined for the tent’s zipper.

Black frisbees. 4 of them. They may as well have been razor blades in the manner they cut through to your soul. The air was frozen still and it felt like time was just the same. He blocked her as if his wall-esque behavior would save her from some imaginary force… the same force that turned his feet to cement blocks and turned everything in his backpack to lead weights. His vision started to vibrate and started to close in on him, as if he was closing his eyes. Certain things on the landscape started to stand out to him, as if their energy was what came through in his senses. The two goats vibrated red and angry. As he continued to trudge forward, the old run down schoolhouse along the side of the property was buzzing along the same wavelength as the eyeballs that he so desperately wanted to rip from the skulls of the two goats ruining their good time.

He could barely see ahead of him, but there was no way he would allow himself to stay put. His hand grabbed ahold of hers and dragged her behind him, but as time crawled on she became the one to start leading him. His vision continued to fade in and out. There wasn’t a loss of consciousness but he started to feel disconnected from his body. The legs were still moving and were under his control but by the reptilian part of his brain. His consciousness started to see everything from the 3rd person view. It was cutscene of a video game and watching his character follow his instructions but couldn’t actually feel what was happening.

As they neared the schoolhouse he started to hear conversations, children’s voices… a deep humming like something from a the bassline of a Bob Marley song. She dragged him closer as the path veered closer to the historic building filled with energy. Fear struck him, it became harder to take a deep breath. They were 20 feet from the car but it might as well have been 20 miles. He couldn’t tell if the voices or noise was in his head or truly coming from within that building. WHAT’S HAPPENING? Is it Halloween voodoo? Is it the devil-goats? Am I having a stroke?

The noise dimmed as they neared the car and fled from the woods. Relief hadn’t set in but it was in view like the finish line of a marathon… except while being chased by the devil and his army of goats. The car doors opened, their belongings were rocket launched into the backseat and they piled in as fast they could. She threw the transmission in reverse and they sped away leaving the property in their rearview forever.

As they looked in the mirrors they both inhaled quickly and deeply and he asked in a very facetious manner, “Who let the goats out?…. baaah baaah bah bah.”

“Fuck you, Ed.” Nicole was not pleased.

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Part 2

“Fucking goats? Really?”

Their names were Salt and Pepper, but there was really no telling any difference between the two… unless you were some sort of certified goat expert. The pair of big-eared and big-bearded animals wandered about their fenced in area which was probably the size of a football endzone but certainly not as well kept. They had plenty of room to roam without their moving be inhibited, but they were by no means “free range,” but maybe organic depending upon USDA guidelines. The 4 legged, furry dopes stared sideways and chewed grass like a slack jawed yodel from the stereotypical south. You could almost imagine them leaning back into their rocking chair spouting out, “Y’all ain’t from around these parts, are’ya?” with one hoof hanging from their overalls and their trucker cap wiping away the sweat from their brow. It was a hard day of tending to their crops… or eating them.

It seemed like a great idea to rent a tent in the middle of the woods on a stranger’s property in the middle of the mountains… with goats…. on Halloween…. with a full moon. It was a recipe straight out of a corny horror movie for teens that enjoy something that barely grasps their attention but does a great job at creating the perfect ambience for a “Netflix and chill” kind of evening… WINK.

Ever since he was a young lad, he had a innate fear of goats. One of his first memories of his childhood was his grandmother bringing him to some local petting zoo and feeding the different animals. The only animal he actually remembered was feeding the goat… and the piece of shit ignored the hay in his hand and went for those mini sausages for fingers. Of course, whenever this happens to a 4 year old, that kind of a memory sticks with him for life. So Salt and Pepper were met with some bias this afternoon… a strong “if you make a sudden move I’ll kick you in the jaw” kind of bias.

Kelly and Scott were gracious hosts. They showed their beautiful space and spared no detail. Kelly came off as more the pants wearer of the household. She was a solid 5’8″, proportional in size, with dirty blonde hair and a demeanor that showed she accepted no bullshit. Scott, on the other hand, looked like a grown-up version of a little rascal. Any of them. He was white, though, so pick accordingly. His hair was lightly gelled and spiked like Bart Simpson, and he stood a tall 5 foot nothing. He balanced her out with the ability to smile and share conversation with anyone. They both wore the appropriate mountain-farm flannel and jeans, but Scott wore moccasins. Go figure.

“Follow me,” Kelly uttered in her empty-toned voice. Perhaps she was inconvenienced by an early arrival or she was constipated. There was no telling, but a day without pooping is never a good one. Her attitude would be justified if that was the case.

The property had 5 structures upon it. First, there was the primary house. Built in the 1800’s on the outside, fully renovated and modernized inside. Scott made sure to mention how they had just purchased when the plague hit to get out of “the city.” They were financial advisors from New York who told rich people what to do with all their money to increase it’s quantity… including paying the two of them enough to become wealthy themselves.

Next they were shown the garage. The door was open showcasing a ping pong table setup for guests amongst the surrounding normal garage clutter. “It’s undergoing renovation still,” Scott said excusing it’s lack of being up to his standards. “You two are more than welcome to play some ping-pong whenever you want!” Because we came to the mountains to play ping-pong… what an attraction!

Next was the goat shelter. It looked like it was going collapse upon itself if you farted next to it. If you ever got to wear drunk-goggles as a kid going through middle school, imagine that’s how you viewed this building. The maroon paint was darker than it should have been and chipping where the weather had gotten the best of it. Even with a blue sky, the shadows were casted through the tree branches like they were hands shooing our presence away. The two windows that it had hanging over the barn door were fogged and had tape over it’s cracks to prevent further destruction. From further away, it looked like a the mask from the movie Scream. “It’s where we keep all of our equipment and supplies for the goats,” Kelly The Robot explained. “Let me show you your tent.”

Walking around their garage, they had to pass through their pool patio. The green concrete screamed “I NEED A POWERWASHING!” but it was muffled by the deep groans of the picket fence that looked like it had given up on it’s cries for help long before the concrete was even stepped upon.

*Squish, squish, squish*

He looked down and noticed his feet were almost an inch deep into the earth. “Watch your step, it’s wet.” And in other news, the sun is still yellow. They trekked about 20 yards back being guided by the overgrowth and the fencing for the goat farm. “Here’s where you’ll be staying this evening,” Kelly pointed with her palm up and fingers together in a sweeping motion, as if the guests had been led down some red carpet to a 5 star hotel room.

In her defense, it was a very new setup and perhaps something they could have been prouder of if it didn’t look like it a cluster of dead trees had not fallen on either side of it. The pearly white safari tent sat upon a newly planked platform. The wood it rested upon looked like it had been pulled from Lowes just that day, it even had the smell of walking through their lumber aisles. Everything was constructed of the same type of unstained and unsealed wood. There were 2 patio chairs outside the tent, a picnic bench on the ground to it’s left, and a small storage cabinet that held items for the portable grill. There was also a black steel firepit that rested on the ground beside the dead trees inviting disaster.

Inside their resting place for the evening was a queen mattress, better than what you’d find in a dorm room but not better than what’s inside your bedroom. Do the math. Warmth was supplied by a propane heater in the corner which removed any sense of “roughing it.” It was counter balanced quickly when Kelly kicked a box in the other corner of their luxurious room. “Here’s your toilet this evening.” It was a box with a hole, in the corner of the tent. It looked less comfortable than a jail cell potty. “Just make sure you put one of these bags in there before you do your business,” as she held a miniature trashbag filled with kitty litter.

It made him wonder how hunters and serious hikers deal with their shits. While hunting any significant smell can scare your prey, so perhaps this was more common than they realized? Either way, they would make sure to use the restroom in town for number 2’s. Number 1 meant he’d just piss in the woods next door while she was still subjected to the “box of shame.” Heh, sucker.

It was time to eat a big meal and pretend they were staying in a real hotel room. They went out for supplies… everything from firewood (even though they were surrounded by it) to snacks for the evening. He grabbed a couple pieces of dark chocolate and organic/whole food/vegan/non-gmo/some-other-bullshit-marketing-ployed treats. The two were very cautious of what they put in their bodies, but it WAS Halloween after all… so everyone gets a pass. Now it was time to eat like a king and queen.

“I’ll have a glass of Johnny Walker Black on the rocks with a lime on the side, please.” It was his first drink in a month. Sober October was a chance for him to clean out, regardless of how “trendy” it may be. The Patriots were on tv and this pub had some of the best chicken wings and burgers he’d ever tried. The ear-to-ear smiles were plentiful that afternoon. Halloween’s spice of living-a-little was coming in full swing. They laughed, they ate, drank, and the Patriots won. Overall, the afternoon was one they both needed – a little escape from the normal routine of back home and the constant nagging of tasks that would always surround them and their minds.

These two always connected so well. One of their friends referred to them as a “Power Couple” years back. It was a nice compliment, a reflection upon how well they always got along, and one that reminded them how truly unique their relationship was.. They didn’t always agree on everything, but they always made each other smile and made for a great team. What she didn’t get done, he could and vis versa. They were best friends and had been for over 10 years with no end in sight. She lit up every room she went into and everyone loved to have her around. Thankfully, she was paired at his hip so that any room he went into they put up with his bullshit. She brought a lot of levity to his off and on annoyances to the surrounding people.

Ultimately… they were happy.

After the dinner and the game, they cruised back to their 5 star cabin in the woods for a fire, drinks, and reflection. The moon was full and the sky was generally clear. What clouds did come were gone in the blink of an eye. The air was bitterly cold but smelled crisp but stung the nose if huffed too quickly. Mountain skies were different than city skies as the light pollution was nonexistent. Stars, the Milky Way, the universe… you could see it all clear as could be. It was beautiful and something they had never experienced alone nor together. They held each other and stared up into the infinite. Thoughts escaped them and their minds became empty. Realization of how little everything matters became quickly apparent. Wow.

Laying in bed, enjoying some of the propane heat, throwing back a few healthy Halloween munchies while reading the Sunday comics, life seemed so perfect.. if only just for a moment. Eventually they both became weary as the AM hours crept in. In order to enjoy tomorrow, today had to end. Lights out, they snuggled and closed their eyes looking forward to a fun Monday that they would steal together while others were dragged into the man-made work week.

Drifting into what they had just spent an hour staring up into, he heard rustling outside of the tent next to him. There was no space behind the tent or around it – it was all dead brush and fallen trees. Wind, critters, the platform settling. It’s your mind playing tricks on you, as per usual. Shut the fuck up and get some sleep.

More rustling.

Definitely a critter. Are mice nocturnal? I’m sure owls fuck their day up from time to time so there MUST be a couple that are in these parts.

Rustle.

“Kill the bitch.”

OK, now he could admit there was a problem.

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