More Progress!

I’ve been lucky enough so far this month to be able to keep up with my goal of 2,000 words a day. I’ll be hitting 36k tonight. In my opinion, the story’s going great. It’s still hard for me to believe I started this project with a single line in my head. Anyway, Chapter Eight is pretty short. Right now, it’s about six pages. I figure it’s a nice little tidbit that helps tie the room together, so here you go. Enjoy!

 

“What is that, bubble gum?” Carl asked.
“Coconut. Is your nose broken?” Bill replied.
“It smells like bubble gum. I can’t help it if none of the assholes in the air freshener factory have ever smelled a coconut before. I’d buy them all a trip to Hawaii if I could.”
“Florida has coconuts.”
“So?”
“It’s closer. It’d be cheaper to send them there.”
“I don’t give a shit where it would be cheap to send them. That’s not the point.”
“No, I’m just saying Florida is still tropical, and it’s closer than Hawaii. It makes more sense.”
“Do you hear what you’re saying? Ah, fuck. Whatever. Bill, give me the diary.”
Bill pulled the writer’s diary out of the glove box and handed it to Carl. Carl picked out the loose-leaf pages and handed them back to Bill. When they stopped at a red light, Carl opened the diary and flipped to a random page.
“God, this guy whined. He was like a little kid, you know that?”
“I know. I read a little of it yesterday. He goes on and on every day about missing his daddy or his sister.”
“Yeah, it’s like, dude, go for a frickin drive. See um already.”
“Why did you say the old guy next door had this?”
“I don’t know. I bet stole it from the house. It was empty for the whole winter.” Carl said. He sneezed into a tissue, then blew his nose into it.
“Carl, if you’re that sick, I’m not sitting in this car for another three days with you. Screw that. I don’t want to be sick right at the start of the weekend.”
“It’s allergies, Bill.”
“How do you know?”
Carl threw the tissue into a plastic bag that he kept looped around his shift knob for trash. He wiped his nose again, this time with his sleeve. Bill opened his window and turned his head towards it, afraid Carl was wrong, and he would get sick breathing the air in the car. The pair were driving back to their office outside of Boston. A few days earlier, they’d received a call from someone saying Francisco had the writer’s diary. Whoever it was, knew they were working on the sequel to their book on Radwin Ali. They were doing their best to turn the house into legend. As they were rummaging through Francisco’s drawers, they saw his stone carving gear. Bill walked around to the back of the kitchen to take get a better look at the sculpture when he saw it through a window that was further away. He shouted to Carl, telling him what he’d found.
“Good. Maybe the bastard will buy the house next door to keep other folks from moving in. If we’re lucky, he’ll die in that house instead of his own. Imagine if that happened. We’d be famous for all this crazy ass non-fiction.”
“I guess we would. I don’t want anyone else dying, though.”
“Bill, he shot a gun into the air to scare us off last time we were here. You better bet at least one of us is dying if he finds us here now.”
“Got it!” Bill shouted. He’d found the diary in the drawer at the end of the kitchen counter.
Carl dashed over. He ripped the diary out of Bill’s hands and rifled through it.
“Shit. This is it. Everything we need to do the next book is right here.”
“Man, it’s going to be nice not to have to stay in this hell hole interviewing grumpy folks again.”
“That’s for sure.”
The two ran out towards their car, parked on the opposite side of the film students’ house. When they were about to pass the front steps of the porch, Bill stopped and ran up them. He put his hands up against the glass of the front door and peered in to see if he could see anything obviously useful. Carl continued to their car, hopping in and starting it. He starred at the wall of the house where Radwin Ali had crashed his car. It was incredible, a miracle that there was no damage. The first few feet of the house above the ground were concrete, but it wasn’t unusually thick. The turquoise paint on the siding above the concrete was chipping. Underneath was a nasty dark gray that must have been the old color of the whole house. How did that car not plow through the wall? Carl wondered.
Bill came running around the corner and slid into the passenger seat. He popped the glove box open and tossed the diary into it, then slammed it shut again. They drove off down the dirt road, going the opposite direction of the town. Neither of them wanted to run in to Francisco. Unfortunately, it meant adding another couple hours to their trip. Because it was early, they decided to stay in the town to the north instead of driving straight home. On the drive to the town, Bill noticed that the scent coming into the car from outside was stronger than the pine scented air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. When they put up the windows as it got colder, he noticed the pine scent left completely. That afternoon, as they were walking around town looking for food, Bill bought a new air freshener. It was a brown, two-dimensional tree that was supposed to smell like coconut.
“So, if this Christopher Lawson guy didn’t get shot by his ex-wife, you think he would have still killed himself?” Bill asked, watching Carl thumb through the book.
“It’s hard to say. I had a friend in college who committed suicide. That guy was normal as hell. You never know what’s going through people’s heads.”
“Oh, yeah. He could have moved out to this quiet little town with it on his mind. Maybe he was so nice because he was a little coo-coo.”
“You’re saying you’re not crazy, Bill?”
“I’m not crazy. Plus, if being nice makes you crazy, you’re not crazy.”
“Ha! Got me there.” Carl said. The light turned green and he dropped the diary between his seat and the center console.
Bill lit a cigarette. He rolled his window down a few inches. The smoke from the cigarette between his fingers was sucked right out of the car. Carl wanted a cigarette as soon as he smelled Bills. He lit one and rolled down his window.
Carl and Bill had been working together for five years when they started writing the book about Radwin Ali. They met on a collaboration project between two papers. When they finished the project, they talked about how well they worked together over a few beers. Then and there, a little drunk, they decided to go into business together. Coincidentally, they both dreamed of being non-fiction writers when they were young boys. It was something that always intrigued them. Their fathers encouraged them because, the way they understood it, they thought the boys were interested in becoming journalists. In reality, Bill and Carl dreamed of working on a project similar to Capote’s, “In Cold Blood” or Bugliosi’s, “Helter Skelter”. Four years of freelance writing later, Radwin Ali ran his oversized convertible into the side of his house. Carl and Bill’s days of eating rice and beans for every meal were over.
When wind of the writer’s death got to Massachusetts, they hit up all their sources for weeks trying to find out more. When the anonymous phone call came in, they’d given up trying to get enough information about the writer to put together a book about him. That call solidified their reputation as a non-fiction powerhouse. Years later, they’d go on to build one of the largest true-crime publishing companies of their time. The company, Secret Entrance, would go public fifteen years later. Bill would die of a heart attack before seeing any profit from the initial public offering. His first would weaken him, his second would finish the job. Carl was to ride the crest of the wave until the bitter end, when traditional publishing companies were slaughtered by their electronic counterparts. After that, when Carl finally died in his sleep, of natural causes, he wouldn’t be living in poverty, but he wouldn’t get the plot under the willow that he really wanted.

NaNoWriMo Progress

It’s been a long weekend of not getting as much work done as I should have, but that’s alright. I still got enough done to be on track for finishing my second novel this month. Enough talk about what may or may not be, though. Here’s a bit about some paintings:

The Russian writer wore a gorgeous purple robe. The feather on his pen came from a magnificent peacock, which had been owned by his king. His robe was a gift from a lady who believed he was the best writer that had ever lived. She’d only read half of his second book. It was the book everyone talked about when his work first became popular.
There were two scars on his face, one on his chin and one on his right cheek. His right eye had a squint to it, believed to be caused by the same injury as the scar on his cheek. He was balding, but not completely without hair. His teeth were yellow, except for a few at the front of his mouth.
The book he was writing in was thick. It was believed that he wrote about topics no man had contemplated prior to his writing. While his peers discussed Christianity and the Orthodox religion, he wrote about his love for a druid’s daughter. She lived in a far off, warmer land that he would only be able to visit once every decade. If he wanted to see her more often than that, he would have to abandon his wife and children. He loved his family, though, and chose to visit his druidic love as little as possible. It was his effort to keep them together.
The druid woman spoke no language his companions recognized. She chose to abide by the practices of her culture, and its religion. Once a decade, when he visited, she abandoned her family’s traditions to provide her body for the use of the Russian writer, as he saw fit.
“The shape of your body matches the rolling planes of your homeland.” he told her, knowing she wouldn’t understand.
It may have been that he loved her because the women in her community lived their lives unclothed, as the men did, and she had the most alluring physique. The writer speculated that it was a ray of sun shone down from the sky upon her by God himself, that highlighted her spiritual goodness. To truly save her from the hell she was destined to as a pagan, they were required to copulate.
She was caught in a field between her home land’s rolling planes by Radwin Ali’s mind. He saw her there, nude and hurting for her writer. Her ear held a small, beautiful flower, that had been given to her by a suitor. That is where he painted her. In a way, the druid was his mother. To him, she represented the ideal woman: strong and understanding, with unhindered sexualily.
“What is it you want with me?” she asked him when the painting was complete.
“Nothing now. You are done. I will leave you in a sleeve to be sold for a fantastic amount of money, then some drunk businessman will ejaculate starring into your eyes.”
Radwin Ali was a curious man, both in his interest in the world, and others’ interest in him. Before he was famous, he painted in a single bedroom apartment in Rochester, New York. He survived off the occasional garbage plate, ordered in the middle of the night while college students were recovering from their nights of partying. Radwin Ali was not much of a socialite at that time. His dream was to be seen as the world’s greatest living shut in painter. If he ever bought a house, he wanted to fill it with hundreds of painting that wouldn’t see the light of day for ten years. He planned to then flood the market with his work, once it was worth enough. After he accomplished that, he wanted a famous independent director to make a film about his life. These were all things he wanted before he died.
Instead of moving to the country, he’d originally planned on buying a loft in the center of New York City. A feud he started with a famous gallery owner left him unable to find either a loft to live in or a studio to work in. Radwin Ali quickly learned to be more pleasant to others, even though he didn’t appreciate them. He had an epiphany one night, while having sex with his girlfriend on the roof of their apartment building. The people who would first spread word of his work and those he met in the city at that point were the same. Cultivation of their support needed to happen as soon as he met them.
The strange thing about Radwin Ali was that no one remembers what happened between the time when he was a starving artist trying to make it in the big city, and when his paintings were appeared in galleries across the globe. It seemed to be an instantaneous transition. In interviews, his friends would say that they knew him when he and his girlfriend at the time were poor. They would say they loved her, and it was her fault that he became so well known. At the same time, no one could pinpoint the one event that sky-rocketed him to the top. Because his girlfriend eventually ended up hating even the mention of his name, she wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened to trigger his rise.
Even when he became rich and powerful in the art world, Radwin Ali still had trouble finding a good studio to work in. The feud from his younger years haunted him in one way or another for the rest of his life. Instead of trying to repair the damage he’d caused in the city, he decided to take his city out to the countryside. He bought a car, had a truck packed full of everything he owned, and moved to a small town in Wisconsin. It was a few short months before he moved out of the Midwest, back to the area he’d grown up in. Being too far from New York City was very difficult for him. Something was calling him back to the east coast.
Radwin Ali spent months travelling the north east in search of a new place to call home. During that time, he painted on smaller canvases that were easier to carry from place to place. He completed his most famous painting while on the road. The work was titled “Procession”. It was a picture of a dirt road, splitting a corn field. The road led to an enormous factory building that had been shut down. A handful of children were chasing tin cans that the wind was blowing down the road. The painting was a summary of the feelings Radwin Ali had and the sights that he’d seen exploring the Midwest. It became part of his series of smaller paintings, titled “Moving Still Images”. The series as a whole was labeled as mediocre by critics, save for the “Procession”. No one who was anyone wanted to see the representation of the bleak midwestern American states, they said. Art museums strewn about the midwest were quick to pick up a painting or two. They were the most affordable Radwin Ali’s, and boosted their number of visitors for a good amount of time.
It was while he was working on the last painting in the series that he found the house next to Thomas and Francisco. The entire town was tucked away in the back corners of a beautiful forest. That forest hid it so well, that Radwin Ali drove past the town a dozen times before noticing the road to it went somewhere. He became enchanted with the place at once. First, he’d realized that it was closer to an airport than any of the other towns he’d visited. That would make for an easy escape back to the city. Next, everything on the main street running through the town seemed like it belonged in a different part of the country. The New Orleans café, an exotic pet store next to the antique store, and cevicheria across the street, which was only open in the summer. Moving into that house lifted a massive weight from his shoulders. It gave him the space and solitude to paint non-stop.
Every Sunday in the early summer, Radwin Ali had a bottle of wine and ceviche. After his meal, he would walk to the café for a café au lait and a small plate of begniets. Once the number of guests attending his parties rose enough, he was not seen in town. Someone who’d stayed at his house the night before would come pick up his food for him. Usually, this person would arrive at the cevicheria with a headache and sour stomach. After the third time, the chef started including coconut water in the paper bag along with Radwin Ali’s choice of dishes.

Freeing Our Minds

Here’s a work in progress essay that I’ve been toying with for a while. I think it’s an important topic and hope you do, too. The basic gist is that we need laws and regulations for cyberspace that protect our rights. Now that companies are working on connecting our minds to machines, things are about to get serious really fast. Again, this is a work in progress that I just wanted to get out to the world. I wouldn’t even call this a first draft, but I thought it still conveyed my concerns and would be an interesting read. Feed back is appreciated in all forms. Let me know what you think and enjoy!

Free Wetware

Some people are fascinated by the thought that one day they may be able
to transfer their consciousness into cyberspace. Science Fiction stories and
futurists have come up with amazing concepts of what we may be able to do with
the human mind soon. Those who frequent any kind of technology news sites or
forums are well aware that the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are growing rapidly. Darpa has a program now with the purpose of designing implantable chips that will allow communication with a million neurons in the human brain by connecting them to bundles of microwire. Elon Musk recentlt created a company, Neuralink, that is assembling a team with the goal of creating a brain-machine interface to allow direct control over AI. This is all happening right now, in the real world. Our minds being connected to the internet is not going to be science fiction for much longer. The singularity is coming. Siri, Alexa, and Google will soon be able to read our thoughts. Other companies will develop AIs that will read and write to our brains’ internal storage. Not long after that, humans will be able to communicate with each other via a similar interface. There are a lot of people who are afraid of these things. Musk’s reason for founding Neuralink, is to protect us from the Artificial Intelligence he aims to communicate. To prevent it from growing beyond our control. I do not believe we are ready for any of this. We don’t understand the data storage system of the brain well enough to start writing data to it. There are no laws to protect us in cyber space. Most of us still ignore more of the more complex aspects of technology we use on a daily basis. Finally, there are too many companies who grab for as much control over our communications and information as possible. With all of the conflict over basic rights like Net Neutrality, we don’t have a chance in retaining control over our own thoughts.

This is not to say that the technology isn’t world altering and infinitely
beneficial, but there are rules, guidelines, and laws that we need to put into
place to protect the general population from being attacked and taken advantage
of.

Before going any further, we should first take a quick look at their potential benefits to society. If Musk’s company is successful in connecting the human brain to the internet, we’re looking at the possibility of near instantaneous learning. This doesn’t just mean downloading Wikipedia pages into our memory. It implies that one day a slithering politician, as racist and classist as he may be, will be able to instantly understand life experiences that significantly impacted a poor person, a sick person, or a minority on a deep, emotional level. That kind of understanding of a traumatic or influential event would change the way a blubbering fool votes on laws. Changing our government in that way sounds fantastic, but doesn’t come without problems.

As I am writing this, there is an ongoing battle for Net Neutrality that is
being lost. Several major corporations that rely on a free internet are not supporting the masses. The FCC’s change could potentially change the entire internet for
the worse, taking away rights that we Americans assumed belonged to us. Social
network sites have a disturbing lack of information on how the FCC’s change
will impact people’s access to data. Out of the hundreds of connections I have
to people, only a handful seem to be alarmed by the removal of the Title II
protections. I’ve even had someone tell me “It’s just a comment period, then
another comment period. They aren’t doing anything.”, which is totally
incorrect. Granted, these examples are anecdotal, the overwhelming decision to
remain ignorant to technology that plays a massive role in our every day lives
is apparent through the success of companies whose sole product is proprietary
content. Not going into the argument of proprietary versus free software,
there are still other important insights within that information. Most folks understandably don’t care how it works, just that it works. We don’t have all the time in the world. We trust the companies that manufacture the software and
products that we rely on for business and personal use. I don’t blame anyone
for this.

In America, we write software. We power Facebook, Google, Amazon, and a
plethora of other software companies that are constantly changing the world.
What happens when the first virus is written for the human brain? How do we
prevent man in the middle attacks from altering information transmitted between
brains and artificial intelligence? In the same way that experiencing someone’s trauma has the potential to change someone’s outlook and behavior, a
false event would, as well. Those kinds of fabrications have a negative impact
now and they require time, attention, and effort to be written to memory.

A potentially more important issue with transmission of data is capacity.
If the human brain can only store so much data, then reaches that limit, the
file system has to react in some way. It could halt the transmission of
new data, purge existing data to make room for the new, or crash the entire
system completely. We can look at operating systems as an example of this. In
Linux, physical partitions can be configured to prevent catastrophic failure
in the even of a file system running out of space. Without these kinds of
protections in place, the brain could potentially stop working altogether upon
receiving too much information.

In addition to limited storage capacity, there is the much more complex
issue of file system permissions inside the human brain. Right now, we have
some control over what data is written, but that control is not complete. If
a person encounters a piece of information, it may be retained despite that
person’s deliberate effort to prevent it. Songs get stuck in your head. Useless
trivia facts stick somewhere deep down in the depths of your mind. You’ll never
forget that one line from some novel you read in high school. These
unauthorized writes to our brain’s physical storage system are massive red
flags.

Even if we figure out how to prevent legal misuse of neural interfaces,
stopping illegal action completely would be impossible.
We have laws that combat malicious use of computers to a certain extent, but
what about civil rights? Today, we are battling the United States Government
for the basic right to access all data equally. We are not going to be able
to protect the data in our
brains if we can’t even protect our right to simply access websites.
Furthermore, if the inter-connectivity between mind and AI, or mind and mind, is
provided by today’s internet service providers, we’re in for a constant battle.
The road we walk on is paved by people who want nothing more than to tell us
where to walk and how fast we can get there.

The fatal trio of willfully sacrificing rights in trade for
convenience, the deliberate lack of understanding of hardware and software
licensing, and the choice to remain inactive in relation to the extension of
human rights into cyber space leads to a horrifying future. One of the things
we should expect if proprietary software controls the interface to the brain
and communication between nodes is the continuation of business practices that
we are used to seeing now. Advertisements, viruses, bugs in code, etc. can all
be expected to implant themselves in your memory.

Before anything else, we should sit down, take a deep breath and think. It
isn’t just that there is a lot of money to be made off of connecting people
directly to the internet. The dangers previously discussed should be heavily
considered. Perhaps the most important factor to consider is societal maturity.
It takes time for people to grow and become aware of things. At the rate that
technology is advancing, the general populace can’t keep up. We’ve got a school
system that doesn’t effectively prepare people for their current lives in
relation to cyber space. This will only grow more detrimental if it isn’t
changed.

Once mankind is mentally prepared to literally make the journey into the
Matrix, we need to convince our governments to craft and enforce a Bill of
Rights needs to be put into place to protect the average person in cyber space.
Microsoft unexpectedly announced that they believe a digital Geneva Convention
is already necessary. Without a way to govern companies that provide
potentially life changing services, we’re going to be taken advantage of and no
one will pay for their mistakes or malicious actions.

Inside of the Bill of Rights for cyber space, we absolutely have to require
the use of Free Software in the interfaces, infrastructure, and all programs.
Feel free to give up your rights for better directions on your mobile device or
recommendations on where you should eat dinner. No one should be asked to
forfeit their innate human rights, including their safety, just because a
developer wants complete ownership of their code.

America’s Birthday!

About a month an a half until things get really, real, real! First, my third release will be out as an ebook Aug 18. “That Which Gets in the Way” began as a tiny collection of ten poems at the very beginning of 2017. I never had plans to publish it, but it grew into my largest collection yet, and I don’t want to rob the world of… whatever it provides, I guess. It’s all recent and new. Not only that, but it gets about as dark as dark can get.

I feel like I should explain a little bit of the context surrounding this. My first ebook/paperback, “Couch to Couch”, was a collection of poems from a long time ago. Back when I wrote it, the tools didn’t exist to publish it in the way that I was able to do this year. Having even a single paperback on Amazon is a monumental step for me. I don’t give a shit if it’s just self published.

The second ebook I put out, “Four”, is another work that I wrote a long time before these tools were available. It went from pencil on paper to being slowly typed up years later, and now it’s available on those weird little almost tablet reader things across the globe. Soon, that will be on paperback, too.

I’m definitely excited about those two works being available to the public. “That Which Gets in the Way”, though, is all new stuff. I skipped the backlog of poetry I have strewn about my apartment and went with something totally fresh. These poems were all written in 2017. My favorite thing about them is that they were written during one hell of an emotional roller coaster. The first ten poems were written when I was deep within the pits of depression. As a side tidbit, instead of using the word “sucks”, my grandmother would say “That’s the pits.”, which I think holds much more meaning.

Anyway, I just wanted to convey the weight that this new collection carries. It documents an epic emotional journey. It walks you step by step through my grappling with reality and trying to find the way back to being able to access the Truth, then put it on paper. It had been a long time since I’d written poetry before I started work on this. I feel like, now that I’ve worked all that out, my next collection of poems will be better than anything before it.

That said, while I’ll always be writing poetry, the upcoming months (or year?) are about finishing my novels and short stories. I know this has turned into a “what to expect from X” post, but it’s all relevant to my pushing forth. I’ve got one more ebook and two paperbacks to publish this year. Once we’ve all gracefully transitioned into 2018, we’ll hopefully see at least one of those novels and the collection of short stories.

Thanks for keeping up on all this!

Dates for 2017!

Good news! The dates for my releases this summer are all worked out! Here’s the plan:

  1. Second ebook, a strange stream of consciousness work called “Four” will be out this Friday, May 26.
  2. My previously released “Couch to Couch” will be published on paperback on June 22 (my 29th birthday!).
  3. My second collection of poetry, “That Which Gets in the Way” will be out as an ebook on August 18.
  4. “Four” paperback release will be September 4.
  5. “That Which Gets in the Way” paperback release will be December 15.

If I’m really, really good at what I do, one of the novels that I’m currently working on will be ready this fall/winter. We’ll see how that goes. I have a ton of work left on both of the first drafts that I’m working on. We can always hope, though, right?

In other news, I spoke with two friends that were about half way through “Couch to Couch”, and both had great things to say about it. I feel like, even though I’m not living off writing, I can actually consider myself a writer now.

Thanks to everyone for the support and I hope you enjoy the rest of what I’m putting out this year!

Start of a new Novel

After finishing “Lonesome Dove” and “The Naked and the Dead” back to back, then  listening to the “Catch 22” audio book, I was inspired to come up with something that joined them all together in a wild, funny tale that was still rich with drama. I had just bought my first real fishing pole (At 28. Crazy, right?), so I wanted to include the sport in some way as I learned more about it. I slapped together an outline one afternoon and in about a week I’ve got just over 20 pages completed. There’s a long way let to go, but I’m really enjoying writing this story so far.

I’ve written funny poems before, but never a comedy, so I’m definitely going to be running my drafts by as many people as possible before publishing or posting anything from this novel. The other novel I’m working on right now is extremely serious and dark. In addition, that one is based loosely on stories I’ve heard from other people in the various places I’ve lived. This story, while still based on other fictional works, will be my first totally original story of this length.

It may become a challenge at some point soon, but so far it’s been smooth sailing. I’ve set the mood by listening to a bunch of funk while writing. Kool and the Gang, the Meters, etc. Anyway, I figure I should post an update on everything that’s going on, since I haven’t posted a lot lately.

Right now, I’ve got two more works to publish in 2017. One is a collection of poems written this year, the other is a sort of experimental novella, in same same vein as “Naked Lunch”. All of my books are starting as ebooks, then will be published on paper a few months later. My collection “Couch to Couch” will be out on paperback on my birthday this year, June 22nd.

As for projects I’m still working on, I’ve got three at the moment. I’ve made it about a quarter of the way through one of the darker of the two novels I’m working on. As I mentioned earlier, I’m just over twenty pages into the other. The last project I’m working on right now is a collection of short stories, mostly science fiction. Before I started working on this second novel, I had a great idea for another story that I wanted to start working on. For now that’s on the back burner.

At some point, I’d like to start freelancing and ghostwriting, but we’ll see how things go with all of the things already on my plate. I’d rather publish my original artistic ideas than get distracted and not have time.

That’s it, really. Hope the folks following this are excited to get their hands on the works I’ll be publishing next month! Look for a new ebook towards the end of this month and thanks for reading!

Beginning of a Time Tale

This is a story I’m working on about an award winning documentary film maker who is asked by a secret government organization. His trip takes a couple unexpected turns, but the government doesn’t give up after a single failure…

The day on which Peter found the recently opened soup kitchen started off reasonably warm, but by the afternoon a blizzard blew in that covered the city in three inches of snow in a matter of minutes. He had a coat that kept his chest warm, but both of his feet were exposed to the slush through the warn soles of his old boots. His socks were also years old and spotted with holes, not doing much but soaking up ice water. The new soup kitchen would be a perfect place to thaw for a few hours. It wasn’t where he wanted to be, but his primary concern at this point was not becoming a block of grey and brown ice. Secondary to that worry was his fear that the second voice that popped up every so often in his mind would surprise him, causing him to worry the volunteers at the soup kitchen. Since they were most likely new to the field, there was a good chance they wouldn’t understand his affliction.

Peter stood under an awning for a second, contemplating whether or not he should trek the few blocks to the new kitchen. Maybe they would have new socks or shoes that would fit better. Maybe they would lend him a nice suit jacket with a matching tie so that he could go back to work. All he really wanted in the entire world was for his next documentary to be funded. He had just began production with his hand picked, crack team when all of the sudden the voice in his head split in two.

He began making his way toward the new soup kitchen, dragging his left foot a bit because his ankle wasn’t as flexible in the cold as his right.

The voice that came about out of the blue wasn’t what he expected from insanity. Even so, it quickly ruined his career as a prodigy documentarian. His riveting debut, ‘An Orange Kind of People’, about a tribe living somewhere in Asia that primarily ate sweet potatoes, received prestigious accolades from just about every film society one would need cheers from in order to become ‘made’. Peter felt that he had it under control for the most part, a task which proved to be quite difficult for the longest time. He often pondered how his peers would have dealt with the disability. It wasn’t a demon or angel or God or an alien beaming prophecies, advanced quantum theories, or technological schematics into his brain. The voice that had abruptly invaded his reality was his own. It was a duplicate of the already existing voice in his head. Sometimes it thought the same thing he did, sometimes it thought the opposite and gave him a headache.

Peter was almost to the soup kitchen, but noticed a strange man in a suit similar to the one he was hoping to find, who was standing just down the road, hand at his ear. Peter paused for a second, then turned down an alley to his right and away from the stranger.

Less than three strides into the alley, Peter was drenched in a bright white light from above and in front of him. He looked back over his shoulder and saw the man in the nice suit had run up behind him. The suit’s breast pocket was holding some kind of small weapon, which the man pulled out and held out in front of him, steady as a rock. Peter tripped over a car hood, realizing the automobile’s headlights were the cause of the light in front of him and that he shouldn’t have been looking at his shoulder while picking up his pace. His heart was racing. His breath was hard to draw and quick to leave his chest. There came a pain at the base of his neck as someone pulled him down against the hood of the car and pressed something cold and round against it. He thought it was a gun, but second guessed himself when he felt something prick the skin above his spine and sting worse than any infection or puncture he’d felt previously. It hurt so bad that Peter lost consciousness.

Whatever day it was, there were palm trees bathing in bright yellow daylight outside the barred windows in the room where Peter awoke. The first thing he noticed was that he couldn’t think. His body seemed well enough coordinated, but he felt drunk. His eyes were being sucked towards his brain and his neck was completely out of control. He knew he was able to feel and able to move, but he couldn’t form a thought. What looked like an evil black knight covered in denim, plastic, and aluminum stood in the middle of the doorway to the room he was in. The door was open. The guard spoke into a radio, then left for a few seconds. When he got back, he had a bundle of fabric in his arms. It was a suit similar to the gorgeous one his attacker wore. There was a very nice gold watch with a leather band on the top of the bundle, as well.

“Here you go, pal. This will be better than what you came in with. They don’t want you to think you’re in Guantanamo or something.”

Peter snapped his head up and opened his eyes wide. He understood what the man had said. Why couldn’t his mind form a sentence. It was as though all of the words he wanted to think in a certain order instead happened at once. While still attempting to fix this problem in his own head, a group of men entered the room. One of them was holding a camera on a tripod. Another carried a microphone attached to the end of a long, bent stand. The third in the group held a small stack of papers. The final man to enter the room carried the same weapon that Peter’s fashionable attacker hid in his breast pocket.

“It’s been two days.” Said the man with the stack of papers.

“You’ve been moved out of America. We’re now in a safe place.”

“This isn’t the way we like to do things, but he’s right about it being safe.” Said the man who had brought in the camera and tripod. He was now setting up the equipment near the corner across from Peter.

Now that Peter’s gaze was moving about the room, he noticed that is was very clean. Though the windows were barred, there was a large bed with a beautiful red comforter, which he was lying on top of, and there was a night stand with a glass of water and a sandwich on top of it. As he focused more on his surroundings, his thoughts became clear enough for him to sit up. He could see out through the barred window. There was a tall sand colored wall around the complex he was in, though a gate was open and people in a vast variety of clothing were coming and going through it. A market of some sort appeared to be on the other side of the wall. Quite a bit of noise seemed to be on that side of the barrier as well.

“Peter, you’re not insane. The voices in your head are you. They’re you from the future, Peter.”

To be continued…