#ThursThreads Week 258 : But It Is Too Late

If Ginger had a bad feeling, so did I. “Let’s see what you’re afraid of, little girl.” I paused, to think, and decided to gather information, and to do that, I needed connections. One empty office network jack later, and I could record every bit of every byte that Ginger’s office computer sent, or received. One dropped pencil on the carpet of the room, and I knew every word spoken. One quick link to the cell network and I knew everything that passed through the System On a Chip that made the phone work.

From there, of course, it was easy to drop background processes into memory, and have them forward every picture, every text message, every e-mail to me.

“So, you wanted someone to do something about the thing you worked with, did you?” She’d even gone off the network, into the world of isolated meshes. The world with no rules. No regulations.

I looked at the picture she’d posted on several of those meshes. Michelle. Pretty smile and all. And underneath the picture, “Can someone please rid the world of this thing?” There’d been no public responses, of course. Private responses were another matter, and her cell phone history showed that. She’d erased everything on the phone, of course. But it was all still there, safe in the computers of her service provider.

Phone calls from sources I knew. Sources I watched.

“Nice try, little girl. But it is too late.” And for Ginger, it clearly was.

249 words
@mysoulstears


This is part 7 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 258 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

I Never Told Anyone

Today, at psychotherapy, I finally said something I’ve never said. And it’s something I need to get into the open. So, I’m going to put it here. My doctor said this is one of those things that older far beyond my years, and certainly was beyond my years when I said it the first time.

I can’t remember if I was in 6th or 7th grade. Yeah. That long ago. Dad had just finished a big project at his work, and I got to see the finished document he’d written. It was a stack of paper, notebook sized, a good inch and a half thick, maybe two. He was proud of it, and I knew to write something that size took a lot of time and effort.

But I heard my thoughts back then. It was years before I finished burying them. Back then, I’d just started burying things. And that day, I heard my terrified thoughts. The work he’d shared didn’t terrify me. Neither did his pride in having completed that work. No. What terrified me was what I saw in him, and the people he worked with.

They were all practically dead. In lives that didn’t change. On career paths. However you wish to define it. Every aspect of their lives matched a plan each of them had made years, perhaps decades, earlier. Many of them were in their 30s. As I watched them, I knew they would never really change. Never really do anything other than what they were already doing.

They’d stopped growing. Stopped changing. Stopped learning. Stopped exploring. They’d grown up, and there was no room in their lives for such childish pursuits. They had responsibilities.

If someone was a Marine, he’d stay a Marine. If Navy, they’d stay Navy. If civilian contractor, or civil servant, they’d always be that. If someone was an administrative assistant, they’d always be assisting someone.

It was the first time I understood how life in our social system worked. That’s what terrified me. And I heard my mind, screaming, “I’m not going to be dead at 30! I’m not going to be like them!”

Of course, I can say this all I want. I can share it. I can talk about it. But sharing it is useless, because, as I’ve said before, no one will understand. Oh, there will be some that understand. There always are, always have been, always will be. But many people will never understand what I saw that day, or how I felt about it.

My doctor and I talked about many things today, centered around that thought.

I told him if you ever want to see the true nature of someone, murder their smart phone. Break it, and watch what happens to them. Watch as they go crazy. “Do you know, there are guys out there, if their phone shuts off, and they can’t turn it on, I wouldn’t be surprised if they throw that sucker through the drywall.” Yeah. I said that.

“Same with their computers. Or their video games. Or NetFlix. Or the Internet.”

I reminded him of the study I’d talked about a couple of weeks ago. The one about 67% of men in the study electing to endure a painful electric shock to get out of sitting still, in a room, by themselves, for 15 minutes, with no electronic devices. Yeah. That’s right. Put a guy in a room with nothing but a chair, and a button that administers an electric shock to himself, and tell him he can leave after 15 minutes, or he can shock the shit out of himself, and he’ll shock the shit out of himself.

And that’s when the lightbulb turned on over my head, and I said, “Holy crap!”

My doctor knows exactly what I mean when I say, “Holy crap!” I’d just had an epiphany. I’d just realized something. Or, as I like to express it, another piece of the puzzle of life finally fit into the puzzle.

“They’re escaping, aren’t they.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. I was reciting a fact. “They’re escaping from their lives. That’s why they go crazy when their phones die. Why they spend hours glued to NetFlix, watching streaming media. Why they bury themselves in video games. They’re escaping the misery they live in. And when they can’t escape, and have to sit silently for a while, they can’t. They’ll shock themselves to escape. So they don’t have to deal with who they are. What their lives have become. The truth that they’re all walking dead.”

My doctor and I spent a lot of time talking about that today. About how people try to escape.

I know. I hear the voices screaming, “It takes one to know one!” and “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!” Yeah. Most people will never understand, I know. I’m flawed. I’m guilty. I’m not perfect.

On my drive home, I listened to my music, playing through the car stereo. I turn it to 24 on the power meter when I’m in the car alone. I can feel the door panels shake in time with the music. I can see the rear view mirror vibrate as the sound waves move it around just a touch. I can feel the music through every cubic inch of me.

It’s my escape. From the misery. My own personal misery. Of dealing with a world I don’t understand, and never made.

But, what happens when that music goes away. In May, 2012, it did. I got dunked in some rapids leading to a waterfall. The camera I owned at the time drowned. It never worked again. The MP3 music player I owned also drowned, and never played another note from any music. It never turned on again. My cell phone took days (at least 3) to dry out. I was without any of those devices for days.

This happened on day two of a five-day camping trip. We had no TV. No Internet. No electricity. And pretty much no cell phone service. It would have wrecked many of the people I know, and have known in life.

I did OK. I was happy to get a new player, a few days after we got home. I was happy when my phone started working, also a day or two after we got home. I was happy when we replaced my dead camera in July of 2012.

I survived without them. And I can survive without them now.

I know people who would shrivel up like grapes turning into raisins if they had to endure such an ordeal. I know people who can’t live without being on their cell phone, on Facebook, or Twitter, or being able to watch another movie on their phone, to kill the time.

Time they can’t face on their own.

Because, if they had to face it, they’d have to face their lives. They’d have to face themselves. They’d have to deal with who they are.

And I see people like them every day. People who will do anything to escape themselves.

“I don’t want to be dead at 30! I won’t be like them!”

I never told anyone.

Until today.

Here’s a link to the study I mentioned.

Study: People Would Rather Suffer Electric Shock Than Sit Silently

#ThursThreads Week 113 : You Would Not Listen

Billy stood on the sidewalk across the street, laughing, and pointing at the dead dog in the middle of the road. My dog, Sam. Billy had just run over him with the truck his parents got him.

I stood on the sidewalk, looking at Sam’s mangled remains. He had broken bones everywhere, and his guts were coming out his mouth.

Billy glared at me, as he sang, “He’s looking over his dead dog rover, laying on the black asphalt! One leg’s broken, another’s just gone. I ran over Rover with my big damn truck!”

Dad sent me inside, before I could do anything, or say anything. “We’ll let the lawyers handle this.”

Like hell we would.

The next morning, I watched Billy get in his truck to go to work.

I knew he would put the key in the ignition, then put his foot on the brake, and turn the key to start the engine. And I watched his truck catch fire when he did. I watched him try to get out of the truck, as the fire spread quickly. I knew he couldn’t.

Billy had wanted war. “I’m gonna take care of that damn dog of yours!” he’d screamed at me.

I looked across the street, as his truck burned, with him in it. Have I mentioned how useful the Internet is? Amazing, what you can find on it. “I warned you not to hurt Sam. You would not listen. You should have listened.”

245 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 113. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#MWBB Week 50 : Dogs Of Lust

[WARNING – This content is for mature readers only! If you are easily disturbed by violence, especially sexual violence, read no further.]


It was Friday night, and Tommy sat in his room, exploring the Internet with his WEB browser. Friday night, and all his friends were out. Billy with Jill. Sam with Robin. Frank with Sharon. Every one of the guys with a girl.

Tommy sat in his room. Looking at the only girls he could look at. The ones on the ‘Net. “Let the bitches talk to the other guys.” He checked his firewall, and security software before clicking on the link, and declaring he was old enough.

“Are you over eighteen?” He laughed. “Twenty-fucking-two. Yeah. I’m over eighteen.” That let him through to the pictures and the videos.

“I asked her! Goddamnit, I asked!” He had. He’d asked Diane, the hot red-head at work, if she’d like to go to dinner.

“With you?” She’d laughed. Laughed, damn-it! “I’d have to be out of my mind!” She’d walked off, laughing.

“Yeah. Bitch.” Tommy watched the screen, as a guy tied a girl up. Tied her hands to posts, her knees to her wrists. Then he took all her clothes off. “Yeah. I know what I’d like to do to you.” He imagined it was Diane the guy was tieing up. He imagined he was the guy. “I know exactly what I’d do!”

He watched the video, as the man had his way with the girl. As he did anything he wanted. Everything he wanted. She couldn’t stop him. She pleaded. She begged. But he did what he wanted.

He watched every detailed picture. Then, he connected to the mesh network. He had to talk about things. With his guys. His buds. They talked about being turned down. About no one dating them. No one even going to dinner. About what they wanted. What they’d like to do. “Girls are for screwing. That’s what we’d do.”

Their conversation quickly grew to five guys, then twenty-five. And it kept growing. Guys from all over, not just guys in town. “All of us. Sitting at home. ‘Cause we can’t get any.” He typed the words. And saw the answers. One “Yes!” after another.

Except for a couple of guys. “Maybe we shouldn’t ask any more.”

Tommy couldn’t help it, “What do you mean?”

“If we can’t get anywhere by asking, maybe we shouldn’t ask?”

It was Friday night. Tommy was at home. Alone. His high school girlfriend had left. “I’ll be free of you!” That’s what she’d said. Hell, she’d never even let him kiss her. He couldn’t hold her, kiss her, or anything. And she left for college. And he’d been dateless since.

“Yeah. Maybe we should stop asking.”

“And start taking.”

They all said that. They all agreed. “It’s Friday. And the night is young!”

Tommy called his friends Ted and Phil. They were part of the mesh network. They knew what was going on. “Let’s stop asking.”

They got together, went out. Patrolled a few bars, a few clubs. Found a girl. Walking by herself. At night. Alone. They didn’t ask.

Tommy slept well that night. He’d done everything he wanted. So had Ted and Phil. And that little bitch hadn’t been able to stop him. He and the boys had fun. So much fun, they agreed to do it again. Next Friday night.

So did all the guys on the network. “I needed that. It felt good.”

“I got what I wanted. I took what I wanted.”

Tommy knew what he’d do. What they’d all do. If no one would give them what they wanted. They’d take it. They’d do what they wanted. Girls were meant to be fucked. And fuck them they would. No more games. No more playing around.

Next Friday, Tommy, Ted, and Phil would do what they wanted to Diane. The red-head. The one too good for him. She’d learn.

And Tommy knew, he’d sleep damn good every that Friday night. Damn good indeed.

669 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 50 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. The song this week is “Dogs Of Lust” by The The. A dangerous song indeed. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#MWBB 37 : The Ghost Of Stephen Foster

Shawn and April were daredevils. They loved exploring mountain trails, big, empty warehouses, office buildings, corner stores, neighborhood markets, city parks. You name it. They loved to explore it.

In October, 2013, they decided to take a new adventure, and spend each Friday night in October in a different haunted house.

For Halloween night, they found an old, abandoned hotel outside Wachapreague, in the middle of the woods, off an old road none of us had ever heard of. It was the Hotel Paradise. The locals all said, “It’s haunted,” and told countless stories of howling coming from the hotel at night. Sometimes it was an evil laugh. Sometimes it was crying, or screams. And people who stayed there never were the same.

On Halloween day, they met after work, piled into his truck, and drove across the Bay Bridge Tunnel. They ate a fast food dinner at a diner they’d never heard of somewhere near Kiptopeak, then drove to the Hotel Paradise.

Shawn grabbed the two sleeping bags, and April grabbed the bag full of munchies and beer, and they broke in. It was long abandoned, so no one cared. Inside, they picked out a room, and threw the sleeping bags on the floor.

The hotel was really just a two-story house, with extra bedrooms, and each bedroom could be locked. The bathrooms and showers were common, shared by all the rooms. It was a little hotel. The interior was dusty, and dirty. The floors were wooden, and footprints from previous adventurers were everywhere.

They took pictures with their phones, posting them on the Internet. Sharing their adventure with their friends. They found an old guest book, and had fun reading the names of hotel guests in it. Noting the last guest had visited in 1933.

Around midnight, April drug Shawn into the room they’d picked out. They’d both stripped, and had fun collecting memories of sexual adventures in an old, haunted hotel. Spent, they’d stretched out in their sleeping bags, and passed out.

Shawn woke up at 3 AM. “April!” he shook her awake. “April! Did you hear that?”

April shook her head, “Let me sleep,” she groaned, and she rolled over, and pulled her sleeping bag snug around herself.

Shawn sat up, and listened. He heard people. Talking. But he couldn’t tell what they were saying. He pulled on his pants, and followed the sounds out of the room, down the hall to the common shower.

The shower room door creaked as he pushed it open, and slipped inside. “Do you think he’s ready?” a voice whispered.

“Shut up, ya idiot. You’ll scare the rats!”

Two people stood next to him, at the room door. They were watching something. Shawn turned to see what they were looking at. It was a woman. Naked, bound, and gagged, on the room floor.

“The show starts soon.” One of the men declared, as he poked the other in the ribs.

“This’ll be good.”

There were scratching noises. Then the grate over the vent along the wall opened up. Rats started pouring through it. Dozens of them. Shawn watched, fascinated, as the rats formed a circle around the woman. Then, he screamed in terror as the rats leaped on the naked woman, and started eating her alive.

The woman thrashed, and twisted, and tried to scream. But she couldn’t. She was bound, and gagged. And helpless to defend herself, or escape. The two men watched. “Oh, she’s a tasty one, isn’t she?”

Shawn ran from the room, down the hall, to get April.

April wasn’t there. He called for her, and heard her scream for help. He raced down the hallway and stairs to the hotel’s main room where he found April, naked, tied to a chair. Rats were climbing up her legs.

Shawn grabbed her and the rats and ropes all faded away. April screamed as she raced out the front door of the hotel, and hit in the truck. They spent the rest of the night in his truck. The next week, they broke up. And neither of them was ever the same again.

682 words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for week 37 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.