1.26.2004

2672

Yeah, I'm a jerk. I haven't posted in a while. I'm sure you're all weeping.

Took that test thing that's going around:



Your wings are DRAGON wings. Massive and
covered in scales, they shimmer with strength
and magic. They are the most obvious display of
your power - though it runs equally throughout
your heart and mind. You are uncompromising and
grave, with a profound sense of justice. You
have firm ideas about what is right and what is
wrong and set out to fix what problems you can.
You realize that you are more capable of
dealing with life and evil than most, and as
such you see it as your responsibility to
protect those who cannot defend themselves. You
have existed since antiquity and as such you
are wise far beyond your years in this
lifetime. While you strive for fairness and
peace, if someone should steal from your cave
of treasure (though not all that glitters is
gold) or compromise the happiness of you or one
who is close to you - they have signed their
death warrant. You have a mighty vengeance and
will unleash it upon such people immediately
and mercilessly. Arguing with you is
useless...you rarely back down and are known
for holding firm in your beliefs. Sometimes you
feel intensely burdened with the troubles of
others...acting as a Guardian can get so
wearisome. But you never give up...you see it
as your life's mission. Often very introverted,
you can be so smart...it's scary. Such a
combination of intelligence, creativity, power,
beauty, and magic is often intimidating to
those around you - who are also unlikely to
understand you. Arrogant, proud, overserious,
and sometimes a bit greedy or obsessed with
whatever treasure you choose to pursue...you
have enchanted people for centuries, and will
continue to do so.


*~*~*Claim Your Wings - Pics and Long Answers*~*~*
brought to you by Quizilla

I don't know how well this fits, except maybe the "obsession" thing.

Whatever Autumn has I have, except out the other end. Yay. It was worth it though.

My dream this afternoon was too weird to explain. Part of it had a Nintendo version of Nerfherder's "Love Sandwich" playing while I rode a snowmobile through a black and white pixelated forest. Then the gravity got insane.

Love, J to the B

1.17.2004

The best laid plans.

Argh.

Well, starting Monday at 9:00 a.m., I'll be an official employee of the Lapeer County Press. I don't know how I feel about that, but thankfully I'll be drinking champagne tonight and won't have too.

I just want to apologize for my utter inability to proofread before I post. I was looking at some of my other entries and I felt bad inside. I'm a damn English grad and I have no apparent grasp of redundancy, run-on sentences, or word choice. Sad really. At least I'm not a doctor.

I used to be a good writer, then something happened, and that something was writing class. Ah well.

Here's something I found on my harddrive, from an email subscription people could sign up for. I got up to 100 subscribers before I got to busy and stopped.

A friend and I will be sitting on a couch, watching the weather channel and having a completely logical conversation about quadriplegic whittlers, when my eyes go unfocused and I laugh suddenly.

"What?" they always ask, angered that I might be laughing at them.

"Oh, the pudding, er, um, nothing, never mind. Sorry. What were you saying?"

They try to drag it out of me, and normally I am able to resist until they get bored, or change the topic to something else.

I swear, I am not laughing at you. Below is something that popped into my head while I was zoned out at work (note that the time this actually took to play out was about half a minute):

Two men are sitting next to each other on a pier, their legs dangling over the edge. One, named Zeke, has a platypus head and is wearing denim overalls and a sweat-stained Hooters T-shirt. He is holding a box of chocolates, but instead of chocolates it contains carefully arranged toes of various colors and sizes. For some reason I notice that all of the pinky toes are missing.

The other man is named Krampton and looks for all the world like a 1800’s fisticuff boxer: handlebar mustache, shiny hair parted in the middle, pale skin, thin nose, bad teeth. He is wearing what I can only describe as a furry brown sphere, or perhaps a kiwi (fruit not bird) costume. Only his head and legs stick out, and he is wearing black and white stripped stockings and black pumps.

The pier is made entirely out of recycled boxes, folded up tight, so that

"Thi-
Si-
U-" and "China" can be seen in black and red all over, as well as that umbrella design and broken wine glass that denote "Keep Dry" and "Fragile," respectively.

A painted-on dark-blue forest is on the horizon, past a pale white beach (which appears solid, as if one piece and not grains of sand).

The sky is orange, and I am certain that the “water” underneath them is actually an amorphous blob of vinyl lawn chairs.

Zeke turns to Krampton and, licking his bill, says: “My, my, my fair Susan! Are you lactating or are your nipples merely urinating?”

Krampton doesn’t reply, but instead punches himself in the eye with his own tongue. A black eye rapidly forms, but on the other eye.

Zeke laughs triumphantly, and is just about to stick a particularly big toe in his ear when a flying ocelot swoops down and devours him to the waist, box and all. His legs drop onto the sea of amorphous lawn furniture and start tap dancing “We Built this City on Rock and Roll.”

Krampton snorts contemptuously, but then sobs. He dissolves into static as if his particular reception is poor, and gently disappears.

Soooo… you can see why I normally try to dismiss my random giggles as nothing. They really are nothing more than passing thoughts, and would either make interesting music videos or Lewis Carrollian children’s stories. Nothing more, nothing less.

Other than my passing fancies, I am quite sane I assure you.

1.14.2004

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Here's an oldie, one that was unusually un-detailed and simple.

I'm some low-ranking tech guy working for the military. It's the height of the cold war and I'm holed up in some great-deep underground bunker, alone in a small room filled with computer equipment, radar, switches and blinking lights. In front of me is a great big red button that triggers the U.S.'s anti-missile defense system.

I'm sipping coffee out of a simple white mug and generally feeling uncomfortable and bored in my overly starched uniform.

Then, to revel in a cliché, all hell breaks loose. Lights flash, the radar blips, and klaxons sound. Some grizzled sergeant runs in and starts yelling at me, some privates yell in the hallway panicked. I hit the red button.

The blips pop a couple of seconds more and stop. The alarms go off, lights stop flashing. The sergeant laughs, relieved, pats me on the shoulder, and gives me a shot of whiskey that he pulls out of the air. He winks and then goes into the hallway.

I'm bored again. I wish, vaguely, that I had some pin-ups pinned up.

Alarms again, lights, angry officer and frightened peons. Again I hit the button. Relief, back patting, whiskey, whispers of a promotion.

Boredom.

This cycles through many times, to the point I start angrily hitting the button for no reason and wondering what the hell my sergeant did that gave him short term memory loss. Probably whiskey.

Something dawns on me as the klaxons sound again. I don't push the button. Sergeant Alchie freaks. Pulls out a service revolver, threatens to blow me away for insubordination. I point to the button and tell him he can push it his own damn self.

As expected, the U.S. is not destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. I do, however, wake up and see that I have, indeed, been pushing my snooze alarm for an hour and a half and am now late for school.

It's funny because it's true.

Also, there is lots of snow now and I'm being a stupid whiny boy.
Whine.

1.12.2004

Hello again.

Sorry it's been a while, but I have not really had much in the way of a concrete, memorable dream. Last night’s is still bouncing around in my head, haunting me but refusing to let me grasp it completely.

There are earlier parts, but the first thing that I can remember is it is night and I am walking across a parking lot towards my brother’s apartment, which is in the basement of a large red-brick warehouse. The lot is well lit and I appear to be in semi-formal clothes – button up shirt but no tie, nice pants, patent-leather shoes. In the distance I see a white kid in a knit cap pulling a cart loaded with supermarket odds and ends: toiletries, canned goods, etc. He’s yelling out prices like a carnival barker as he runs by, and I feel hungry so I yell out to him, hoping to buy some cheap, black-market goods. By the time I can get a word out he’s gone already, but two young black kids with a shopping cart pull up next to me, both of them are boys, one about seven the other in his early teens. I go through the cart and grab a package that has the shape and labeling of a 24-pack of toilet paper, but is filled with pasta. I ask for a can of sauce, or salsa, or anything to go with the noodles, and the younger boy tells me I can have the sauce and noodles for $94,000.

I’m a bit shocked at the price, but it’s so high that I find it more amusing than insulting. I try to talk him down, when the white kid from before runs up and tells the others to leave - the cops are coming. We all ignore him, and I try to talk the kid down in price; he keeps agreeing to halves, but the price started so high that it’s still ridiculous. Then my brother walks up and he is a well-groomed young black man with gold-rimmed glasses, an aggressively trimmed mustache and a brown suit. Suddenly I feel guilty, and I know that he is angry about my attempted purchase of stolen goods, because a thief killed our father.

He says nothing to me but stalks away and I sink to my knees in a puddle, feeling the water soaking into my pants. The young black boy sounds sad as he tells me the price was so high because every purchase gets the buyer a prophecy. I’m numb with my apparent betrayal of my brother, so I reach into my wallet and give him $83, asking if it will get me a single pop-tart. He gives it to me and slips a piece of paper into my coat pocket, before he and his brother push their cart off into the darkness.

I walk slowly towards my brother’s apartment; a small ramp down leads to the basement entrance. There are great golden doors with no handles, and they are intricately embossed. I pound and demand to be let in, and some feeling of a biblical reference flits through my mind. The door slowly opens, and as it does I realize that throughout the entire dream, even the parts I can’t remember, there has been a beautiful woman following me, just at the corner of my vision, curious and comforting. She was always there but for some reason unnoticed.

My brother’s apartment is large and richly decorated, lit entirely by candles. He sits in an expensive leather chair and two other large black men stand behind him, but if they are bodyguards or friends I do not know.

He leans forward, elbows on his knees and fingers forming a steeple in front of his face. He says nothing. The candles dance and form harder shadows than they should; not soft diffused light, but either pale yellow or blackness.

I sit on an overstuffed couch; next to me is a stack of triangular bowls, each a different color and opacity. I start throwing them at the wall, taking them from the bottom of the stack instead of the top. No one says or does anything. I stop when I come to a milky white one with swirls of clear glass. Out of my pocket I take the piece of paper that the young boy gave me, I unfold it, start to read it and am afraid.

It is a poem, and I cannot remember it exactly, but I will do my best. There were four stanzas, each four lines, each with a color theme that matched the remaining bowls on the maple end table to my left. I do not know why it frightened me so, or why, when I read it aloud, my brother was afraid as well. I woke up halfway through my reading of it, further blurring it in my memory.

An egg-white sky blows
A wind from that same state
The air is new
The air is dead

The deep red sea boils
Japanese waves
Storms without rain
Sleep without rest

Dark blue flame in blackness
Gives no light
No warmth, but it burns
It eats

Tar-black earth and fertile ash
No seeds, no grass
Soft as dreams, grit and dry
Right colors, wrong time.


I have no freaking clue what it means. I have to stop dreaming about the end of the world or I’ll go mad. The poem was much better in my dream, and I cannot remember the words exactly. I may have ruined it; word choice is everything in poetry. The only lines I am sure of are the first to and the first line of the second stanza. I think “same state” refers to the newness and youth of an egg, like a fresh breeze. I don’t know if “deep red” means the ocean is deep or if the red was deep, but in my dream I envisioned a sea of wine, with waves crashing.

In other news I might have a job at a local paper, so wish me luck. Also, Autumn is simply frikken amazing. I want to give a shout-out to all my peeps…

1.06.2004

There are no words with enough ou's or w's...

It was as if all my life I had been trapped at the bottom of some dark, cold pond. Every time I was with her I swam towards the surface; everytime she left I sank back down. Last night something happened, and for the first time I broke through to taste the sun, to breathe my first ragged breath.
The phrase "soul kiss" comes to mind. So does "ecstacy" and "taste of heaven."
This is what lost and lonely people search for their entire lives, chemically and carnally, and never find. This is what only a few are ever given the chance for.
Needless to say, Florida is now put off indefinately.

1.05.2004

Off to the other pennisula state.

Ugh. Here's another old one, one of my favorites.

It started in a city laid out like a grid, perfectly square houses placed in perfectly straight lines with perfectly straight roads running in front of and between them all. The houses were all a pale grey-tan, with no glass in the windows, doors in the doorways, or ceilings. They were all exactly alike, facing the same direction, a door in the middle of the front wall with two windows, one on each side of the door. The streets themselves were an irregular cobblestone the same color as the houses. Dark grey clouds hung low in the sky, and the shadows existed only on the insides of the houses, making them dark despite their lack of ceiling. The City appeared deserted, save for a large crowd gathered in an almost impossibly tight circle, as if it was not a group of people but one large entity. I was leaning against one of the buildings when they approached me, carrying signs saying "Save us From the Monster!", "It Will Kill Us All!", "Death to the Dino!", and other sayings. Somehow, from the indecipherable roar of the crowd, it became apparent to me that The City was being plagued by a rampant Tyranosaur, and they wanted me to save them. I didn't want to, but they cycled between begging and threatening me until I gave in. They cheered and vanished down one of the streets just as It appeared. I ran and it chased me, always exactly a house behind. Suddenly tired and gasping for breath I dived into one of the many houses and hid in a shadowy corner. Outside It roared. Finally I worked up the courage to peek outside and there it was running full tilt towards me, only a house away. I dove back into the shadows, but when nothing happened I looked back outside. Still one house away it roared yet a gain an ran towards me, but made no progress, unable to come any closer for unknown reasons. Reaching down for I rope I suddenly noticed tied in a loop at my waist I made a trip wire between "my" house and the one across from it. Testing its tautness I then ran exactly one house further and glanced back just as the Tyrannosaurus Rex tripped. It's stubby front legs were unable to halt its downward progress and its chin hit the ground with enough force to brain it. Immediately the crowd appeared, roaring and cheering. Expecting thanks, congratulations or rewards I approached them smiling. Just then they turned their "Death to the Dino" signs around to reveal "Save the Saurus" and they were no longer the frightened and tormented villagers but angry enviromentalists and animal rights representatives. They screamed and charged me, still running in a tight circle, and I fled. The perfectly flat streets and buildings slowly gave way to a rolling grassy meadow and the clouds dissolved into a perfect blue sky, the sun shining brightly. The crowd stopped at the edge of The City and released a bloodhound to follow me. Nose to the ground it traced my trail exactly, If I ran in a circle and then jumped away it would trace the circle the same number of time and hop to the next part of the trail. The meadow had taken on a funnel shape and to delay the dog I ran in circles for a few minutes before taking off towards the lowest point of the valley. In the center, for no logical reason, was a little cement mound with a manhole cover in it. Lifting it I dove inside before shutting the lid after me and discovered myself in a peculiar house. It was shaped like a cylinder with the three floors arranged around a spiral staircase which led from the manhole cover to the bottom. The top floor into which I entered was the master bedroom, with clothes strewn about and my father and a woman whose face was hidden by a pillow sleeping in the bed. Suddenly urgent I grabbed my father's wallet of the dresser and started rooting through it for money. My father awakened and I guiltily said that They were after me and I needed money for a cab. He said Okay and went back to sleep as I went down one floor to the Kitchen/dining room. I picked up a phone that was attached to the side of one of the cabinets and dialed for a cab, but did not listen or talk into the receiver. Looking out of a window in the kitchen I saw what appeared to be the grassy wall of a cliff, with numerous tunnels on its face. A road would come out of one of the tunnels and plunge into another, in and out in a complex pattern that seemed to make no sense. As I watched a checker cab followed the road, coming out and going into tunnels in a random fashion. Suddenly coming out of one of the lowest tunnels it followed the road to a place just outside the kitchen and I rushed out to meet it, though I noticed no door. Out stepped a teenage girl with spiked hair, hoop earings, black and white stripped stockings, and headphones. She tapped her foot and blew pink bubbles with her gum, waiting impatiently.
"Are you the cab driver?" I asked.
"No. The tape ran out." she replied, and then I woke up.

I'm off for a few days, so it may be a week or so before I post again. Road trip and all that. Wish me well.
Also, I love Miss Autumn and don't care who knows it.

1.03.2004

Probably based on a true story...

This one is a bit jumbled and short, since I am having a hard time remembering it clearly and am updating from the library. It isn't as interesting as most of my dreams, but the feelings and colors and tastes were so vivid I have to get it out, even knowing full well none of these attributes is easily conveyed in writing.

I'm sitting in a huge theater waiting for a movie to start. My family sits next to me, but their ages are all messed up; my oldest sister is a baby, my little brother is a teen, my parents as young as me.

The room is at least four times the size of a regular theater, and includes a balcony section - very few seats are open. I am not very excited about the new movie, some action craptacular, but it is greatly anticipated by the crowd.

Unfortunately for me and everyone else involved there is something wrong with the reel, and after sitting in the dark for half an hour, they start to run another movie to keep the audience occupied while they replace the film.

Everyone is getting pissed, but is sitting there taking it as they show movie after movie, none of which are the one they paid to come in and see. Aliens III was one of them.

I get tired of waiting and go out to the ticket kiosk in the center of the cinema.

I don't even ask for my money back, I just ask if I can have some kind of movie pass that will let me see the same movie at a later date, when it is actually working. The ticket agent refuses, and then the manager, and I am livid. Movies are frikken expensive and they can't even show me the one I paid to see. They just shrug, but eventually they give in and bring out this huge plastic barrel with a small hole cut in the top. Some other patrons have come out to support my complaints and they are given the chance to reach in the barrel and pull out a card. Some are two for one passes, some are just random business cards, and very few are actually free movie passes. Only one out of twenty-or so people gets one of the free passes, and in a rage I pick the barrel up and dump it on the floor. People start scooping up passes, swooping by like seagulls in a dump.

The manager, a skinny twenty-something jerk, starts yelling at me, and I leap over the counter and jam his face into a half-eaten cream pie that sits inexplicably on the counter. I grab the cash draw out of the register, and taking a stack of twenties, make a dash for the exit, throwing the rest of the money in the air behind me to cause confusion and aid in my escape.

I run outside to the parking lot and dive headfirst through the passenger window of a white SUV. A bronze colored sedan drives by and the girls in the back notice me. I wave and their looks of concern vanish, as if it is unthinkable that a car theif would be polite.

I reach under the steering column and tear the panel off easily, and then yank down the ignition wires. I touch them together, but can't get the car to start, keep trying, keep failing. Their are four black and four red and I have to match to similair colors together, but I don't know which ones. I can't get it started, but the reality of my dream has a hiccup and suddenly I am driving off.

I'm cruising through the night life of a city that reminds me of Adams Morgan near D.C. I have the vague feeling that cops are after me, but I am not too concerned.

I stop at a Hispanic pastry shop that has an advert on the window explaining the specialty of the store, which is telling someone's fortune by rearranging sticky buns.

I enter and politely ask the matronly old Mexican woman to tell my fortune. I put a twenty on the counter and tell her to keep the change; she smiles in gratitude. She pulls out a hexagon of sweet buns and I am temporarily upset that they are not chocolate covered like on the advertisement. Someone behind me clears their throat politely and I turn to see a woman dressed like a British police officer, twirling a billy club and all. I ask if I can have my fortune read before going to jail and she consents. The Mexican lady starts moving the buns around and I grab one and eat it. The taste is incredibly real. I apologize to the officer and lady before throwing a chair through the plate glass window and running out into the street. I look behind me, but no one follows.

Then I woke up.

Not much, like I said, but there is a particularly cool dream that I have to take the time to write down correctly before I can post it. This one is still odd, as I am noticing a pattern of distruction and antisocial behavior in my dream self. Must have a lot of rage. There was a scene where my mother is complaining about my brother's skateboard, which has a deck whose images magically change everytime you grind, but I don't remember where it belongs in the dream.

I promise better in two days.

1.01.2004

From the files...

Here's one I had a while ago:

I had one of those dreams that leave you confused and blinking, like when you get out of the cinema after one of those deep, weird movies, and you don’t know how you will ever resolve what you just saw with the sun piercing your eyes.

It was in the future, an extreme future, thousands of years ahead. Humankind was still bound to the earth, though whatever history of failed attempts we had made was lost on me, I was just another homeless man, the son of homeless parents.

What had happened, or of which I knew or cared, was that some great sign or prophet had convinced the major religions that a great plague was coming, some pandemic that would finally wipe us out. They had it narrowed down to the year it would happen, and the fear was accepted as fact; the whole world had joined the cult. Anyone who dissented was believed to be a possible carrier, or worse yet, developer of the invisible killer that anyone had yet to witness.

And the world had collapsed, not from the plague, or even the fear of it, but from social stagnation. So many people believed the same thing for so long, with innovation and free thought stopped dead or wasted developing cures for diseases we didn’t have, that the world stumbled to a stop and fell. A post-apocalyptic world, not from a bang, but a whimper.

One of the few technologies to emerge during the fearful days, the weirdest, was “publication.” Computers had gotten good, very good, but for whatever reason, in the future of my dream they were not great outputs of discovery but recorders. Silicon witnesses that remembered everything and reproduced it with loving attention. It made sense for the “publisher’s,” a group of scientists, a company really, that would record who you were into whatever medium you chose. Upon your death you could become a living painting, shifting paint that looked out on the world through your second soul, or a doll that would walk and talk to your descendants for all centuries to come. Why develop A.I. when grandma would make a much more intuitive and loving vacuum cleaner, and one could pick up that postcard from grandpa that was grandpa, the images shifting and the words reflecting his thoughts as he watched the world from his new 2 dimensional prison?

It wasn’t like Mad Max or any of the popular post-apocalyptic movies. The buildings were whole and relatively clean, and some were still wealthy, some were still happy, and some yet led “normal lives,” but the civilization was gone. Militaries were groups of militia men with advanced weapons, but no training. Cities existed entirely indoors, warrens like prairie dog hives, made by each group shutting themselves off from the others, others that would certainly soon carry the plague.

There was no plague.

I lived on the streets with some friends, dusty but not dirty, thanks to whatever hygiene enzymes and nanobots infested my clothing.

The dream was relatively boring at the beginning; even the setting was familiar to my dreamself. I stole food or ate at soup kitchens; I slept in an abandoned warehouse. The only gifts I had to offer my two friends – a fellow my own age, and a girl with some strange beauty – were my ability to read (strange in the time because everything read to you) and a photograph I had of myself, a self-publication I had made in an abandoned hospital in the middle of nowhere. It was a one of a kind for more than one reason. No one had been allowed to be published while alive, the religious fervor at the time. While allowing publication (for even these items would eventually breakdown, freeing the “soul”) duplicating yourself while living was unthinkable, supposedly impossible in much the same way that the earth had once been the center of the universe.

So I had found the equipment, read the laughingly simple directions, and published myself a photo. It came out and there I was, looking at me. I told me it was like looking out through a dream. I kept the photo as an oddity more than for any deep reason. To me it was simply an interesting distraction from the gray and dying world.

Then one of the militant groups made it their mission to destroy all the publishing machines, for some religious sect or businessman, I didn’t know. Freeing souls. My self publication was a secret, one of the last to be made.

I had broken into a house with my friends, and while they collected the food from the kitchens, I was going through an old box of broken toys and keepsakes I found under the sink. Broken or spent publications, a second coffin of second deaths. They were old, first runs, too simple and fragile to be durable. I found one that was still alive, a simple child’s toy with one arm and both legs missing. It couldn’t even move its fingers independently anymore, and its joints apparently had not offered much flexibility to begin with. It was a girl.

She had been young, and, as with my snapshot, her personality was frozen at the point of her death. She was sweet, her voice was beautiful, and when I closed my eyes I could see what she must have looked like. A doll in life as well, surely.

I took her, talked to her constantly over the course of weeks, ignoring my friends, handling her with care, for any moment might have broken her, been her second death.

I had to see what she looked like. I had heard that sometimes couples would publish together, put two minds in one item too spend eternity together. I wanted to find if I could combine my photo with her doll, so that I could see her. It was a last chance for her, I could tell the voice was getting weaker every day, and I would suffer no damage since I was still alive in flesh. In my dream I was ignorant of my potential sacrifice, and even though she was both 14 and 1000 (both ages wrong for me) I loved her, this tiny voice from a children’s toy.

I went to a museum, up to a violently beautiful red and blue cubist painting that was the publication of two of my long dead ancestors. They told me what they knew of their process, told me where to look for more information.

In the end I tried it, and it apparently failed, killed her, but somehow left her still tenuously conscious and my photo, save a slight hole, seemed unaffected.

I made amends with offended friends, and life largely returned to normal. We were planning on sneaking into a large hall where a collector of publications was putting his entire anthology on display, for the food promised extravagance.

We were sitting on the roof of the building, wearing some servant’s clothes we had stolen and preparing to enter the rooftop access when I checked my photo. She was in it. Shyly watching from the corner, tentatively waving hello. My published self was in the other half, trying to get her attention, strangely unable to reach her, but she was looking at me, the real me. Her voice was lost forever, beautiful and pure, but her face was more gorgeous still. My friends impatiently told me to get started, but not before the girl (there are rarely names in my dreams) made it clear that if her parents were in the collection (her mother was in some kind of color-changing rose thing, and her father was a book of law) she wanted to tell them she was okay and that she thought about them. God I loved her in that dream, so I said “okay.”

We broke in, and as we served food to guests and the upper class, we snuck food into garbage bags we brought outside by the dumpsters to be collected later. As I walked around, tidying the collection, I hid the photo in a “rag” to dust the items off, so that she could ask each if they had seen her parents. It took some doing, for it was the biggest collection on earth, a veritable Library of Congress of Souls. I did not get through it all, but she found her father (her mother had been destroyed in a fire), and she seemed happy. I collected my friends, and, sneaking out the back, we gathered our spoils and went back to our warehouse.

I took out the photo. She was no longer huddled in the corner of the frame, but taking up most of it, herself and whatever images she chose to represent her background. My other self was pressed up close to the left hand corner, and looked afraid. She was still sweet and innocent, but seemed oblivious to my published self, who, as I watched, was slowly being obliterated by her. I still loved her, could only think about her, and then I realized what was happening in the photo was happening to me. Yet I did love her, and I think she really loved me, so I did not tell my friends, but left them, so that they would not see me fall.

I went for a walk and noticed an uproar around the gallery that was hosting the collection. I went in, ignored, still dressed in my servant’s guard. In every painting, book, and song played in the great hall was her face, her words, her voice. Even the corners I had not reached in the search for her parents held her form. And she was growing.

The world started looking different to me, I realized I was talking as she did, using the same forgotten phrases. I was almost gone. I could feel her inside, and when I looked into the eyes of strangers, I could see her growing there

The plague had come.