The Boy Who Cried Bitch

“The best defense is a good offense.”

How many times in your life do you hear that phrase? How many different ways do you think it’s interpreted?

For many children who grow up feeling insecure that motto becomes their entire way of interacting with anyone close enough to hurt them. By the time they’re an adult they have absolutely no idea how to communicate with others in a positive and easy manner. They are so ingrained to always point out other’s flaws (to distract from their own) that most people find it extremely unpleasant to have more than a short conversation with them. They have 5 minute shelf-lives to put it another way. This causes their insecurities to increase and they go on the offense even more, a vicious cycle that leaves everyone involved unhappy.

There once was a boy who always had to shout the loudest, have the last word and be the best at everything. For this little boy there was only one way to do everything, and it was always the way he did it. Everyone else was wrong unless they agreed with him. If he was the loudest and the best, if he was always helping others (even if they didn’t want his help) and giving his last dollar to anyone who would take it than he could feel like he was loved, feel secure.

Some people preyed on his generous nature and others dealt with the frustrations of his adamant personality. No one taught him what it was to love unselfishly. No one ever told him, or got him to believe, that he was worth being loved even if he wasn’t always right. He grew up in a whirlwind of dysfunctional friendships and (un-returned) loyalty to family members. By the time the young boy became an adult he knew no other way to live than to always be on the offense.

Eventually, as most people do, he found someone to marry. He had managed to hide many of his insecurities and had convinced himself he could trust his future wife, of course some things he had simply lied about entirely. As the wedding date got closer his insecurities started to grow and some of his lies were uncovered. Nevertheless they both proceeded to say their “I do’s” and the man assured himself he had nothing to fear from the woman who now shared his name. He underestimated the depth of the lessons taught to the young boy, he thought love would be enough to chase away his demons.

He opened up and shared his fears, his desires and his dreams. She embraced them all with kind acceptance and for some reason the man found himself confused and afraid that another person would treat him in such a positive manner, especially when in doing so she was limiting herself. He knew that he was flawed and that most people would laugh at him, or turn away, he knew that he didn’t deserve her. He began to mistrust his wife, not realizing it was only his inner fear that whispered such doubts to him.

He began to grow distant and avoided spending time with his wife. When they did interact he found himself pointing out all her flaws and trying to start fights. He would find a way to prove she couldn’t possibly actually accept him. He would prove she didn’t really love him. He would prove his inner fear correct, that he didn’t deserve to be happy. Problem was, she refused to give up on him and refused to leave. He grew even more aggressive in his attempts to push her away. He became condescending. He would purposely do things to piss her off. When his attempts were met with love and understanding it only served to enrage him. He couldn’t understand her actions and his fear began to do more than whisper at him.

After years of letting his insecurities rule his thoughts he had convinced himself he wasn’t happy and then convinced himself he was only unhappy because his wife wouldn’t agree with him on everything, she wouldn’t jump just because he told her to, therefore she couldn’t be trusted. She also refused to play along when he threw his tantrums, she refused to accept his condescending attitude and she refused to stop loving him. He decided he needed to convince other people that his wife was as imperfect and stubbornly offensive as he’d convinced himself she was in order to push away from her.

He complained to his friends that she was a bitch. He would tell his family that his wife didn’t want to interact with them and she was the reason he didn’t come around as much. He kept saying it until he thought everyone believed him and then he planned to go back and tell his wife that everyone thought she was a bitch too. He thought for sure that would break her. He knew only how to live a life of insecurities and had no idea just how strong a person who didn’t deal with those demons could be. He had no idea that unselfish love cannot be destroyed, only rejected.

When he looked his wife in the eye and told her everyone thought she was an unfriendly, cold bitch the last thing he’d expected her to do was laugh at him. Laughter was exactly the response he got, however. She saw through his lies as easily as through a clean pane of window glass. She knew his friends liked her and she knew his family loved her, as well as her friends and family. “The only person who thinks I’m a bitch is you” she told him. “You are so scared to be vulnerable that you push away or avoid anyone that is willing to love you in a positive manner. You are only comfortable when you feel like you’re in control and only trust that the people who use you and give nothing back in return are your friends. You don’t know or understand what unselfish love is and if you do than you certainly don’t believe you deserve it and as such reject anyone willing to give it to you.” For once the man had no response to fire back.

He had cried bitch and no one was willing to come help rescue his inner demons. If they weren’t strong enough love would get them and he would be left with nothing but the harsh light of truth flooding into every part of his mind. He now had a choice, stand and fight with his demons or let them die and step on into a new chapter of his life.

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Campfire Stories

Almost a decade ago I traveled with a past friend to pick up her ex boyfriend (and future husband/baby daddy) from Wahoo, NE. Had I known then what I know now I wouldn’t have taken the trip with her. She had sent the ex to her pastor uncle in NE to give him a chance to turn his life around, quit drinking and hold down a job. Instead he got drunk and crashed his truck through someone’s fence, lost his job and consequently the pastor uncle said he was washing his hands of the douchebag (my words not his) so past friend had to go pick him (let’s call him DB going forward) up because DB no longer had his own vehicle.

The trip down was pretty uneventful until we got to the border of Wahoo. I had recently gotten a tattoo on the back of my neck, it was my first, and at that time my only, tattoo and words cannot describe it. I woke up one morning to find I had scribbled out a design on a notebook circled it numerous times and wrote TATTOO next to it with many exclamation marks. Not being one to argue with myself I had eventually gone out and gotten the odd symbols that looked like archaic writing inked onto the back of my neck. The second we passed the Wahoo sign the tattoo on my neck began to tingle and by the time we neared the town center the back of my neck was all red and it felt like I had a sunburn or something covering my tattoo. We got to her uncle’s house and I didn’t even want to get out of the car. I told myself I was being silly but inside I felt very trepidations. We grabbed our bags and headed into the house. Uncle pastor said we were sleeping upstairs so we brought our things up to the designated bedrooms. One was pink (pastor’s daughter’s) and one was blue (guest room) and there was a bathroom between them. Past friend said she wanted to go for a quick walk before dinner and I immediately agreed, the rooms creeped me out and I didn’t want to be up there for another second. On the way downstairs we passed a library and I thought I saw a little girl reading a book, figuring it was pastor’s daughter I kept walking and didn’t think anything about it.

Our walk before dinner was apparently so past friend could have a cigarette, a bad habit she had apparently picked up from dating DB and hadn’t told her friends about which was a bit of a disappointment to me, I had thought she was smarter than that. We walked past an abandoned college and a sense of impending doom filled every part of me. I stopped in my tracks and told her I was turning around and she could finish the walk without me. She turned back with me and we started talking about the town of Wahoo and how her uncle had the oldest house in the city. The newest part of the house was the basement he had put in a couple of years ago. We got back and had dinner where I learned that pastor’s daughter was away at a church group camping event for the weekend. I suddenly remembered the little girl in the library and lost my appetite. After we were done eating past friend, DB and I watched a movie in the basement, or should I say I watched one and they squabbled.

Around 9 I headed upstairs to get ready for bed. The closer I got to the bedrooms the weirder I felt and the more pain I got from my tattoo. I told myself to man up and brush my teeth. Grabbed my toiletries and headed to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth while staring at the bathtub. I don’t know what I expected to see but I felt the need to stare at the tub. When it came time to wash my face I felt like someone was watching me. When I would close my eyes to splash water on my face I felt sure that when I opened them I would see that little girl from the library behind me. She looked about 8 with long dark hair and was wearing a blue dress or nightgown. I could see her perfectly in my mind. When I opened my eyes there was no one behind me in the mirror’s reflection. I closed my eyes again and I knew she was there, knew she was watching me and I freaked out. Opened my eyes and saw no one but I knew I couldn’t stay up there. I grabbed my stuff and headed back to the basement. I told past friend I would rather sleep downstairs and would she please stay down there with me. I didn’t care how irrational I sounded I just knew I couldn’t sleep up there. I had no idea what that little girl wanted but I wanted to be as far away from her as possible.

We slept downstairs on the couch and I dreamt of the little girl and an angry old woman who was laying in the blue bedroom yelling at me in a different language. I did not feel rested when I got up the next morning. While past friend went out for another “walk” her pastor uncle came downstairs to ask why we had slept downstairs instead of up in the bedrooms. I told him the bedrooms made me feel uncomfortable and asked if there was any odd history regarding his house. He told me that many decades ago a man had lost his wife and was raising his young daughter in the house with the help of his mother. His mother got painfully sick and died in the blue bedroom. The man didn’t think he could raise his daughter by himself and so one night he drowned her in the bathtub upstairs. Later he felt so guilty he hung himself in the garage. I sat there in horrified silence as he continued to tell me how his daughter claims she plays with a little girl up in her room and they believe their library is also haunted by the child ghost. He said he wasn’t afraid of ghosts because God protected him and his family. As soon as friend came back I asked if we could head out. Now that I knew I wasn’t crazy I didn’t want to be in that house for another minute. I stayed outside as they packed up DB’s stuff into her Suburban and sighed with relief when we finally pulled out of the driveway.

It was a long drive back to MN having to sit between past friend and DB but at least my tattoo stopped burning when we left the city. I will never go back to Wahoo, NE and even if no one believes me, I know there is a dead little girl who lives in the oldest house in that city and she wants something, even if it is just someone to play with.

The Story of FLB

It started one rainy day back in 2005. My bff asked me to drive her to the Animal Humane Society because she wanted to get an orange tabby. As she stopped to admire some ginger kittens I kept strolling down the line of cages, curious to see which animals had ended up in a shelter in Coon Rapids. Suddenly my eyes locked with his…

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Those intense blue eyes took my breath away. His cinnamon nose twitched and he inched over to the door of his cage as I moved closer to read his tag. He was a fully declawed, neutered 2 year old Siamese Tabby mix, relinquished because he didn’t get along with the dogs in the household. His big blue eyes stared at me, silently begging me to rescue him from the loud noises and unpleasant mixture of smells. I already had two lady cats at home, and I wasn’t looking to pick up another one. I found myself talking to him, trying to explain why I couldn’t take him with me. I tried to convince him (and myself) that he was too beautiful not be adopted soon, but a little voice inside my head told me that he was going to be my cat. My friend noticed I was down the aisle talking to a cat and came over to investigate. His attention turned from me to her and he zeroed in on her with his intense stare. She succumbed almost immediately and requested a private room to get to know this random feline. As soon as the worker brought him into the room the cat made a beeline for my friend and snuggled right in by her neck, put his paws on either side of her head and hugged her. We both “awwww’d” and she declared that she was going to adopt him, even if he wasn’t an orange tabby. She took him home and named him after a Japanese condiment. The love affair between them that started so sweetly in the visitation room ended pretty quickly once the cat was settled into her apartment. This furry little bastard (FLB) would act like he wanted to be affectionate then turn and bite for seemly no reason. He liked to hump a large stuffed dog in the middle of the night and wake her up doing it. He was a weird cat and after several years their time together drew to an end. She moved to another state and, knowing my affection for the cat, asked if I would watch him until she got settled in and could fly him out to her new residence. I still had two lady cats who I knew wouldn’t want me bringing a man into their territory so I asked my current boyfriend if he would put the cat up for awhile. He agreed and a few days later he met FLB for the first time.

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The cat and boyfriend seemed to get along quite well from the start…except for the biting. FLB would bite boyfriend if he was given too much attention and boyfriend would just deal with it. Then came the message from my friend that it wasn’t going to work trying to have the cat shipped to her new home and she said she was just going to put an ad on Craigslist to find him a new home. When boyfriend heard this he got angry. He was convinced that anyone else that tried to own this cat would have him killed or surrender him to a shelter after the first vicious bite. I was pretty sure it was just that boyfriend had bonded with the cat, but I kept my mouth shut. This was my chance to finally own the cat I had seen in that cage years ago, even if it was vicariously though boyfriend. We told my friend that we would just keep the cat and shortly after I ended up moving my cats and I into boyfriend’s place. My oldest lady cat never did get along with him but since boyfriend turned into husband they weren’t really given any other option but to co-habitate. Husband finally found a way to keep FLB from biting by biting him back one day. Now those two are inseparable. FLB is definitely husband’s cat and they have a snuggle routine everyday that still melts my heart every time I see it. There is just something about this cat though, he’s got character, charisma and eyes that stare into your very soul…even if he is a furry little bastard.

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Night Terrors

The newscaster announced it was now time for the ten o’ clock news and a series of graphics flashed across his screen. He had to be up at 5:30am, he was exhausted, the logical course of action was to turn off the tv and go to bed. He sat there for a few more minutes, trying to combat the dread that was threatening to bubble up inside. Every night it was the same, he would have to force himself to walk to his room, shut off the light and lay down. It seemed pointless, he wasn’t going to sleep, but staying out in the living room watching late night tv didn’t make him feel any more rested when his alarm went off in the morning. All of his life he had struggled with insomnia. As a child his parents thought he was being difficult. They couldn’t understand, and he couldn’t explain, why it was he simply couldn’t fall asleep until the rays of morning light began to shine through his window. As a result of cycles of little sleep he had struggled through school and failed to learn normal social behavior. He was prescribed sleep aids by a doctor, but they didn’t work. He exhausted himself and tried all suggestions to find sleep at night, but it seemed that when “the cycle” started he would just have to deal with months of zero REM. After almost a year of peaceful slumber, the knowledge that he was in for numerous nights of laying there with his thoughts was almost more than he could bear.

Perhaps it was because he had spent the last year resting up, but the first week of insomnia hit him harder than normal. He started slipping at work, wasn’t sure how he made it to his destinations when he drove anywhere and his inability to remember simple things reached a new high. Three weeks into “the cycle’ the first hallucination happened. He was laying in the dark trying to count backwards from 1000 when he noticed movement out of the corner of his eyes. He chalked it up to shadows from the street light outside and resumed his count. All of a sudden he couldn’t concentrate on counting, his mind started to wander and latch onto topics that inspired anxiety and fear. He desperately tried to divert his thoughts and calm down, but his heart was racing, his palms were sweating…he was as wide awake as one can be. He wanted to cry. His body was screaming that it was tired, but his mind would not allow rest. Again he thought he noticed movement on his ceiling but was too distracted to really register the observation. He got up and walked out to the living room couch. Almost as soon as he laid down on it he felt his eyes growing heavy. His relief was enormous, he pulled himself up and padded towards the bedroom again. Unfortunately, when his head hit the pillow he was awake again. Instantly he felt despair well up in him and the anxiety soon joined in until he was once again filled with a mixture of stressful feelings. As he laid there, thinking about all the pressure of life, he began to pick up an odd sound above him, not quite a slither, or a rustle, but perhaps a soft suckling sound coming from the ceiling. He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down. I am imagining things he told himself, there is nothing on the ceiling, no sounds, no movement. He was about to open his eyes again when he was struck with a certainty that if he looked up he would see something terrifying. His mind’s eye showed him a preview of a creature that was black and dripping silvery smokey wisps from its upside down mushroom-shaped body. It was hanging from the ceiling by a large root, with smaller thinner root strands clinging to the nooks and crannies of his orange peel texture. With trepidation he opened his eyes and looked up…nothing was there.

Over the next week his anxiety grew with each passing night, soon his eyes couldn’t close without seeing those creatures swarming above him. He felt like he was going mad, plagued by monsters that disappeared as soon as he opened his eyes. Sleep was impossible, his life was starting to unravel at a rapid pace. By the fifth day he could no longer even pretend he was able to drive to work. He called in sick and decided he needed to get some professional help. After seeing his doctor he came home armed with a bottle of extremely powerful sleeping pills. He wasn’t going to wait till dark, he took two and headed towards his bed. As he lay there waiting for the pills to take effect, he thought he could once again sense movement above him. A soft rustling sound began to grow in his ears. He prayed that the pills would kick in soon. The rustling began to turn into the sound of something sucking air in, the sound of spongy material opening and closing over and over again. He looked up and thought he saw a shimmer all over his ceiling, could almost make out shadowy blobs hanging down all above him. Panic began to well up inside him, fighting against the fast acting Halcion in his system. As he felt himself starting to fade into the blackness of sleep the shimmering blobs began to solidify overhead, the last thing he saw before the pills overtook him was what looked like a colony made up of something that appeared to be a hybrid virus cell, mushroom, jellyfish concoction. Much more terrifying was his knowledge that its true form was far more horrifying and this was as close as his brain could process without going completely mad. Sleep chased away the terror and as he slept the creatures above him feasted on his energy. Soon they would have enough to transform into the next stage of their life. They had followed him all his life but while he was awake they could do little more than cause his subconscious to awake in fear and send waves of panic coursing through his system. When he was asleep they could suck up the electrical charges that made up his thoughts, dreams and soul. It had taken 27 long years, but they were finally reaching the end of their meal, with a final inhale the last of Eric Johnson was absorbed by the entities above him and in the dark a new demon was born.

The 19 Minds of Marjorie Jones pt 1

Hidden in plain sight a rather remarkable woman lived an astonishingly unremarkable life. As a child, her mother said she had a vivid imagination. Always playing with her imaginary friends and acting the part of different characters. When little Marjorie became teenage Marjorie, however, her mother began to worry that the imaginary friends were not being replaced by real-life friends. Marjorie was sent to a therapist where she learned how to placate people who didn’t understand her, where she learned how to hide her secret when she saw the worried look surface on her mother’s face. Marjorie made a perfunctory effort to chat up the social outcasts at school so that her mother would have proof her daughter was normal, let a couple of girls call her up after school and pretended to listen to their stories about boys and clothes. Marjorie even got herself a fake boyfriend because it was easier than trying to explain to her mother that she didn’t need other people to keep her company. Marjorie didn’t need other people around because Marjorie was never really alone.

What her mother never realized was that Marjorie didn’t have imaginary friends when she was younger and she had no real interest in acting, other than when it was necessary to ensure she be left alone. If her mother had been more observant, if her therapist had been smarter or if Marjorie hadn’t seen the movie The Snake Pit she might have been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Luckily that stigma had never been placed on her, and a good thing too, Marjorie Jones was not suffering from schizophrenia. Marjorie always knew where she was, always knew what was going on but had long ago accepted the fact that she shared her mind with 18 other distinct personalities that together made up the entirety of who she was. When she was forced to go to therapy she made a point of not mentioning how often she talked to herself out loud, made a point to distinguish that she’d had imaginary friends when she was younger but knew they were not real, she was really careful not to trigger any alarms with her therapist because she did not want to end up committed for something as harmless as having differing internal opinions.

Marjorie loved bouncing ideas off herself, loved letting stronger personalities take over when she couldn’t handle life and loved the feeling of having a support system that was always there for her. The only problem was that the older Marjorie got, the harder it became to hide this. In college she kept to herself, her dorm mate was always off with some guy so Marjorie had plenty of time alone. After graduation she got a job and moved into her own place. Some of her colleagues noticed she acted differently some days, but since she never tried to befriend them, they didn’t pay it much thought. Marjorie would often talk amongst herselves on the car rides home. She would analyze the day, debate what dinner should be and make plans for the future. Marjorie was happy with her life but as she transitioned from her 20s to her 30s there was a part of her that wanted more, wanted a family of her own. One day, as she was on her daily commute, one of the 18 spoke up in her mind.

“I want to find a man, get it on it Marjorie or I will do it for you. When you get home you are going to call up Ashley and hit the bars, this is non-negotiable.” Marjorie was mildly startled by the request but she had learned that it was no use arguing with this voice. This particular personality was the same one that had come out on occasion to get Marjorie laid during her adult years. The side of her that flirted shamelessly and enjoyed sucking dick. Marjorie attributed it to a natural urge for sex until another voice piped up. “The bar is no place to find a boyfriend, let’s sign up for online dating.” Wait, wait, wait…dating was not on Marjorie’s to-do list and fear immediately flared up inside her. “I can’t date someone for real,” she argued out loud. “If I date and things get serious then he might want to live with me, he’d notice me talking to myself, notice that some days I act completely opposite in what I eat, wear, musical tastes or even the kind of movies/tv I watch. He’d think I was crazy and leave. No, no dating is dangerous.” “Hush it, Marjorie,” another voice piped in, “you know you aren’t crazy, you are just very well-rounded. If you sell yourself correctly then you can find a man who understands that a person can have numerous interests without being crazy.” This personality was what Marjorie always referred to as her logical side. She trusted this personality the most, had learned to rely on it to calm her down and sort out any confusing situation. If Logic told her it could be done then Marjorie was willing to ignore Fear and appease Sex Drive and Maternal Instinct. When she got home she made plans to go out and set up several online profiles, if she was going to find a date she was going to cover all her bases.

(to be continued)

Quietly Into the Dark

In the fall of 2019 the human race was defeated and enslaved. They fell not with a bang but with a whimper, barely a hand was raised in defense of the planetary takeover. The alien race that had been observing Earth for decades had devised a clever plan for domination. Their strategy allowed them to conquer without a single casualty on their end and also kept the majority of the human population intact for slave labor. Only a handful of humans were able to avoid capture. They hid underground and in caves, living as their ancient ancestors did, with no electronic devices, rudimentary tools and at the mercy of the land. A refusal to embrace technology was the only thing that had spared them the fate of their brothers. For it was through technology that the aliens had found a way to make willing slaves of humanity.

The aliens, a race known in other parts of the galaxy as Coaxians, prefered to work smarter, not harder in their goal to find resources. They had found that in the past, hostile takeovers were messy and to be avoided at all costs. The chief commander, Eyreal, had devised a strategy of observation to pinpoint the weakness of the inhabitants of any planet deemed worth overtaking. Humans had been found to possess a troublesome attitude towards invasion and the ability to band together and overpower enemies even against great odds. They hadn’t evolved intellectually to the level of the Coaxians but still showed flashes of ingenuity and cleverness that presented the opportunity for them to potentially be victorious. This was a chance that Eyreal was not willing to take. He studied different humans from all over the world. He sent small ships to capture samples so he could run experiments and figure out a plan that would not fail. Eyreal was pleased to discover that the human collective would often refuse to believe things they could not see and touch and thus he grew more confident and bold in his capture and release experiments with humans. Even when one of his ships was captured by one of the human governments, the humans did not realize what they had found, or the danger that it represented. The two team members that were held captive by the humans acted like spies, sending all visual and audio back the main ship for years before they feigned death and escaped. It was this information that gave Eyreal the idea for how he would conquer Earth.

Eyreal had observed that humans were often emotionally contradictive but could be easily manipulated if they felt that they were in control. Pride could be used against them quite successfully, as well as the need for adoration. If given the chance, most humans would avoid hard work and choose to be lazy and gluttonous. Eyreal captured a human and implanted an idea in his head that would advance the primitive technology the humans currently had. He sent the human back and watched the effect the new technology had on the civilization. Humanity embraced what the technology allowed them to do. Eyreal grew impatient, however, at the slow speed of tech advancement. He captured several more humans and implanted the specs for even more advanced electronics. This time the influx of new advancements in technology spurred the desired effect Eyreal had wanted. Humans began to try to outdo each other and create better and more powerful electronics and machines. They sought ways for technology to take over all the mundane tasks their bodies and brains previously did. Machines were designed to do the physical labor and programs were created to take over all the complex thinking. By the second decade of the 21st century humans relied so heavily on technology, computers and machines that there were very few who could live without it. The cumulative IQ of the planet, which had been steadily rising for centuries, began to decline. The drive to do better and be better began to cease, instead people just wanted to get paid to watch videos of cats on the internet and type complaints in 140 characters or less to put out into the social media. Entertainment was prized over intellect, amusement over integrity. Creativity morphed into nothing more than creating the next meme. The only scientific advancements were for how to make life easier for humans, so they had even less to do themselves. Eventually people forgot how to do simple math, grow food in a garden, hand write letters, sew clothes, make things by hand and even how to interact in person with each other.

Eyreal began the takeover in early 2019 with the introduction of a new type of personal computer. He had planted the suggestion in all the world leaders to make this personal computer a mandated device for all humans. This computer would be implanted into the brain and would allow the person to sit back and do next to nothing because the computer would take care of everything. It would also contain the person’s currency, allow for long distance communication and access to the human collective of knowledge, thus replacing the need for formal education. With this computer implanted in the brain anyone could solve complex math problems, pick up heavy items, take a photograph with their eyes and so much more. Humanity embraced the technology with open arms, lining up and even fighting to get the computer implanted in them before their neighbors. There was almost no opposition and by the fall of 2019 99.9% of the world had the technology inside them. Once all humans with any ability to command military had been “chipped” Eyreal launched his attack. He sent out a test signal first to a high-ranking earth military general commanding him to pull out a gun and shoot his entire family. The general complied without a single glitch. Eyreal sent several other test signal commands out to the general population and each command was obeyed with no resistance. He broadcast the signal world-wide and the humans became puppets in his hands.

There was a small percentage of people who didn’t trust technology, they had rejected society and lived in the woods or countryside, farming and living off the land. Some called themselves Amish and did it for religious reasons, others just placed a high value on hard work and self-sufficiency. These were the humans who watched the rest of society fall to the aliens, the only free humans left on the planet by 2020. They were the only ones who fully understood what was happening and left written copies of the story in as many safe places as they could find. Each cave drawing the same, each story scribbled down warning future generations of how the aliens manipulated humanity through technology. Over time their numbers dwindled. Living off the land, hiding from aliens, was hard and many didn’t procreate. They were unsuccessful in their attempts to free the enslaved humans. The slaves would refuse to even listen and often times the effort would only cost the free humans their lives. Eventually all attempts stopped and the last free men retreated quietly into the dark, the flame of humanity fading out with them.

Summoning

Jasmine had always been jealous of Micah because he had a good life, and she had to struggle for everything. Whatever Micah wanted he got, one way or the other, and it just wasn’t fair. Why should siblings have such a different experience when they had the same parents and grew up in the same house she often thought to herself, why can’t I be happy all the time like my brother. One day, after Micah came home gloating about how he had found a twenty-dollar bill on the ground, Jasmine decided she’d had enough. That week only Jasmine had gotten her allowance because Micah had failed to complete his chores and she had been secretly pleased that he wasn’t going to have the money to go see the new movie coming out that he had been raving about for a month. Jasmine had decided it would serve him right to miss out for once, that it would be good for him to see how it felt to be deprived of something. Now that lesson would be lost on him, his luck would allow him to go see the movie anyway and he got to skip taking out the garbage and walking the dog. Jasmine devised a plan to sneak into Micah’s room and steal the twenty-dollar bill. She figured he hadn’t earned it and it wouldn’t really be stealing, besides she would put it in their mother’s purse so he would get it back eventually. After dinner Jasmine waited until Micah was deeply engrossed in his favorite show and then excused herself to go do homework. She crept into his room and began looking for the money. She was in the middle of searching through his desk drawer when she heard his feet pounding up the stairs. There wasn’t enough time to sneak out so she shoved the drawer closed and dove under his bed. Her feet had just disappeared underneath when his door slammed open and he strode quickly towards his closet. Jasmine quietly sighed with relief that she hadn’t chosen to hide in there but it was short-lived when she realized that Micah was obviously looking for something, something he didn’t seem to be finding in his closet. She pulled herself forward just enough to peek out and see what he was doing. As he came into view she noticed he was holding his cell phone and in between flinging clothes around he would say a word or two into the phone. Jasmine saw he had left the door open and wondered if she could make a run for the door while his back was turned. She was just about to chance it when Micah backed out of his closet and headed towards the bed. Jasmine felt a stab of panic hit her and she shrank back, hoping he hadn’t seen her and wouldn’t look under his bed. Micah crossed over to the bed and laid down, Jasmine could feel the bottom of the bed push down on her back as the weight of her brother made the mattress sag. He was talking on his phone and with no chance of escape Jasmine began to listen to the one side of the conversation she could hear. “I don’t know where it went man, I looked in all my pants pockets but it’s gone…Yeah, yeah, I know it’s important. I’ll find it, come on, you know… dude…yeah I got it…yeah I know you’ll…I get it man, stop worrying, you know how good I am at finding things. I will call you when I find it…soon…I don’t have a specific time frame…soon as I can dude…yeah, bye.” Jasmine heard him tap his phone and felt the shift as he sat up. Micah let out a loud sigh and stood up. He walked to the doorway and shut his door. He walked back towards his closet and stood staring into it for a minute, idly shifting from foot to foot and tapping his fingers on the door frame. She heard another sigh escape him and then he walked into his closet. Jasmine decided to creep forward again to see what he was doing. She peered out and noticed he was sitting on the floor of his closet. He had his legs crossed and was staring at a pair of jeans lying next to him. She could see his lips moving but couldn’t hear what he was saying. His eyes closed and he continued to mumble something. After several minutes she began to grow bored watching him and was just about to try sneaking out again when he opened his eyes. Micah reached down towards the pair of jeans and felt inside the pockets. She saw him pull something out of the pocket and heard a chuckle of relief emit from his mouth. Micah stood up and walked back out of the closet and headed towards his door. Jasmine waited a couple of minutes after he left to pull herself from underneath his bed. She hurried out of his room and into her own.

Once safe on her own bed she contemplated the situation she had just witnessed. Had Micah lied to his friend about losing something? Had he just not looked very well the first time? What was he doing sitting on the floor, meditating maybe? If Micah talked about wanting something, he always seemed to get it, even when their parents wouldn’t get it for him. It was actually the main reason Jasmine didn’t like to be around him and he never shared his good fortune with her. Jasmine thought back to the family trips and the few times that she was forced to endure her brother’s company. One time they had gone to Disneyland and near the end of the day both Micah and Jasmine had wanted to go on different rides that both had impossibly long lines. Their parents had told them they weren’t willing to wait and they had been so upset. Twenty minutes later a guy had walked up to the family and handed Micah a VIP pass that allowed a person to go to the front of the line. Jasmine was still too short to go on the rides she really wanted to go on by herself so Micah got to go on his ride and she was forced to sit there with her parents, stewing in the unfairness of it all. Things like that were always happening for him and it made her mad that she never seemed to luck out. Plus he was always the one finding whatever their mother would lose. Jasmine had always assumed in the past that Micah had simply hidden the items so he could find them later to gain favor with their mother, but maybe that wasn’t the case. She decided she needed to do some investigating, maybe conduct a test or two, and figure out what was going on with her brother…maybe he wasn’t just lucky.

Almost a week passed before Jasmine was able to devise a plan to test her brother’s abilities. She waited until he was in the shower and she went and grabbed his cell phone off his desk. She turned the sound off so he couldn’t call it and put it deep into the cushions of the couch. Then Jasmine headed towards the kitchen to pour herself a bowl of cereal. She sat at the table, slowly eating and waiting for her brother to notice his phone was gone and come looking for it. Almost thirty minutes passed before Micah came downstairs and Jasmine had given up trying to maintain the ruse of eating breakfast. She waited to see if Micah would ask any of the family about his missing phone, but he simply headed towards the toaster to make a pop tart. Micah grabbed his breakfast and backpack and without a word headed towards the car so their dad could drive them to school. Jasmine was disappointed she wasn’t going to get any results before school and just hoped their mom didn’t find the phone while cleaning before they got home that afternoon. Jasmine was thinking up another test on the ride to school when, to her surprise, she saw Micah pull his phone out of his backpack and start texting someone. He hadn’t gone into the living room, she could see the couch from the kitchen and he hadn’t gone anywhere near it. How did he have his phone? The mystery haunted her all day in school, she could barely concentrate on what the teachers would say. She couldn’t wait to get home and check the couch. As soon as school was over she waited impatiently for her mother to pick her up. Micah wasn’t in the car when her mother showed up, he was apparently going to a friend’s house to work on a project and wouldn’t be home for hours. Jasmine was relieved, this would give her the time she needed. Once home, she ran to the living room and began digging in the couch cushions. She pulled them all off but couldn’t find the phone anywhere. Jasmine asked her mom if she had cleaned the living room that day but her mother said no. Jasmine ignored the follow-up questions her mother was asking and headed up to her room. What did it mean, she thought? How did he get his phone? Jasmine decided on another test before confronting her brother.

This time Jasmine took her mother’s favorite ring from her jewelry box and put it in her pocket, she would keep it on her until the test was over. As soon as their mother noticed the ring was gone she would make the whole family look until it was found and Jasmine wanted to see just how good Micah really was at finding things. It took two days before her mother noticed the missing ring, it was a Saturday and the whole family was home. Jasmine heard her mother yelling about the ring from the kitchen and reached her hand into her pocket to make sure it was still there. She ran her fingers over the smooth band and smiled, eager for the test results. The whole family began to look for the ring, after ten minutes Jasmine noticed Micah head upstairs. She stayed downstairs with their mother, looking in drawers even though she knew the ring was in her pocket. Another ten minutes passed and Micah came back downstairs and handed their mother her ring. Jasmine stared in shock. She felt inside her pocket but the ring was no longer there. Through her daze she could hear Micah saying he found it in a pile of laundry and her mother thanking him for finding it for her. A million questions flooded her mind, and only one person had the answers.

Jasmine followed her brother upstairs and into his room. He gave her a look of annoyance and told her to get out. Jasmine crossed her arms and shook her head no. “I have some questions for you and I’m not leaving until I get answers.” Jasmine exclaimed. “First, how did you really find mom’s ring?” She thought she saw a flicker of fear cross his face before he told her the same story he had told their mother. “No,” she shot back, “I want the truth, I know you didn’t find it in the laundry and I know because I took the ring and I had it in my pocket. How did you get the ring out of my pocket when we were never near each other?” Micah stared at his sister and then stood up. Jasmine prepared herself to fight against getting kicked out of his room, but Micah was only getting up to shut his door. He turned back towards his sister and motioned for her to sit down on the bed. “It started when I was really young,” he began, “I would think about wanting something and then it would appear. At first I just thought that’s how things worked in the world, but as I got older I realized that it only happened for me and depended on what I wanted and how badly I wanted it. Eventually I gave it a name, called it summoning, and tried not use it unless I really needed something. It doesn’t always work, usually only on small things, but it has definitely been a tool I’ve grown to depend on.” Micah finished his explanation and looked over at his sister, “you probably won’t believe me,” he stated, “no one does, but that is how I found mom’s ring. I came up to my room and concentrated on finding the ring, envisioning it, and then yes I did actually find it underneath a shirt on the floor.” Jasmine sat there quietly for a moment, trying to wrap her head around what her brother had just told her. Was it possible? Was he really able to “summon” things? If he was able to, could she? Finally she looked up at her brother and said three simple words, “teach me how.”

Micah and Jasmine talked long into the night. It was the most they had ever talked in their whole life and the first time that Jasmine wasn’t consumed with jealousy. Finally Jasmine headed towards her own room, exhausted but feeling like a weight had been lifted from her. She slept soundly and awoke feeling refreshed and optimistic. She was confident that she would soon be able to summon things just like her brother and couldn’t wait to begin practicing. Over the next couple of days Micah spent all his free time helping his sister practice. Even though she hadn’t been successful yet, a bond was beginning to form between the siblings and even their parents noticed that they seemed to be getting along much better. One night, as they sat in Micah’s room Jasmine was beginning to get visibly discouraged. She kept concentrating but the quarter she was trying to make appear wouldn’t show up. “What am I doing wrong?” she asked Micah, “Why is this taking so long?” Micah thought for a moment and then asked her a question. “What do you want more than anything? What have you wanted for a long time?” “To be happy,” Jasmine responded without thinking, “to be happy like you always seem to be, to not have to spend my life being jealous of all your good fortune.” After hearing her response Micah started to smile. “How do you feel Jazzy?” he asked, “Are you currently jealous of me?” “I’m actually not jealous of you right now,” Jasmine replied, “and it’s been fun practicing with you, I like the  thought of learning to summon things and I would be really happy once I succeed.” “Then you should be happy dear sister,” Micah said, “because you have gotten what you just claimed you have wanted for so long. You summoned a different outlook on life and that is bigger than anything I have ever done.” Jasmine thought about what he said and she started to smile too. He was right, she had summoned freedom from the cage she had locked herself in and that was a happy realization indeed.