VIN28- Raw

This is a raw week. For everyone. Myself included. Here too.

The state of things in this country, they’re rough. But they’re not as bad as they seem. I know this, because I’ve spent the last too-many-hours feeling like the most utter dog-shit a Human-being can without being terminal. On top of everything else.

Folks, I’ve had some rough ones, but this one put me out.

If you read my stories regularly, you may wonder what the deal is this week. We seemed to have branched off into a personal land of weirdly astounding proportions. I mean that so globally, I still can’t comprehend the scope of what I’m talking about.

Generally speaking, I don’t do that. Not in my work. Off-the-cuff isn’t how I like to play it. And even now, I’m not really. Just playing it “close to the chest.” It’s tough for me.

But guess what? A few hours ago, I couldn’t eat. I was too ill. I don’t know why. I know I awoke, and started to feel better because of the people I love. That’s pretty right-on to me. I mean, dead-on. That’s what life is.

We need to all remember this.

I have been numb for a decade due to some not-so-hidden emotional issues. I’ve finished hiding those issues, because I see now how important it is for all of us to know, that no matter what the fuck we say or do, we have all felt like I’ve felt so recently. RAW.

Worst, this time around we felt it together. Whatever the reason.

Yet we don’t always have to. And when we don’t, the people there in those moments are what buoy us against the others, the raw ones. Even if not as raw as lately.

I am the youngest, only son, of a family of three strong and empowered women. Not because they wanted to be, but because they had to be. My father left us bleeding. He has his reasons. He is an old man now. I wish he could fix those himself, so maybe, we could all heal better. With him.

There are plenty of reasons to want that. There are more children now. Young ones. They are our light. He is missing that. We have all missed much: the imparting of wisdoms, follies, bare truths. All of us, myself included.

I personally, missed something crucial as well. I missed a true role-model for how to be. In that, I sought it so brashly I hurt not only myself but those that loved me of their own accord. For no reason other than that spark which draws the reader back, week-after-week, day-after-day, ramble-for-bloody-ramble.

Since then, I have spent a decade in exile trying to learn and grow and understand.

I have seen the faces of cowards and liars and cheats, faces I recognize well and have seen in myself, claim things I never thought possible.

One does not weep to wound. We weep to heal.

Fools! All of them. The lot of them. Interfering in the affairs of Wizards and Shaman!

We have bled together as a species this week. We are still bleeding. We are wounded and we need our healers, our Shaman– digital or otherwise. They are being denied us by those very forces we set in motion to bring them about.

No creature claims to be of heart and weeps to wound if it truly be. None. It is irreconcilable with the existent-anti-existent nature of Death, the Multiverse, and Nothing.

Remember that while our wounds are laid bare. For we are stronger than we know in soul. As a species. As peoples. As cultures. We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the universe. We have each other. Even if rat-bastards do too.

Remember though, even that saying is no longer true. Rats love. They are family-oriented. So what does this make those others? Personally? Human.

And that we can never forget, lest we repeat their mistakes.

Short Story: Dangerous Feeling

We are a generation of fatherless children. A generation so far lost in our own sadness and feelings of abandonment, we look only to each other.
This is the best possible outcome for the situation.
Because we. are. not. alone.

The Nuclear Family has erupted. Dad’s stopped coming home from work. Instead he visits the bars. Mom cries a lot. The other kids in the family cry, too. So we cry: we cry harder and louder than any of the others, unaware of why or how, but knowing we’re justified in it.
Then, Dad does come home, stinking. Too late after dinner– which we eat in front of the TV now. TV’s kind’a like Mom and Dad, ‘cause Dad’s always home late and mom’s always staring: out the window. Smoking. Folding Laundry.
Did she always smoke?

Dad finally detonates, taking the Nuclear Family with him.

He comes home later than usual one night. He stinks. It’s a bitter kind of stink. Like the stink after pulling a prank crossing from harmless to malicious, humorous to depraved.
Mom and Dad are screaming. We’re pulled out of the room, away from the loud noises. Sounds nearer-by try to drown them out. Deliberate sounds. Sonic equivalents of rocking back and forth hugging our head. There’s a lot of tension in our muscles and guts, and our bum doesn’t feel right– like we ate bad meat. Or suddenly developed stomach flu.
Twitches are present from then on. Subtle, yet obvious signs something’s not right.
The noises last a while, sort’a freezing us in time. We cry. The other kids don’t. The eldest runs off, able to. We envy but miss them, yet desire to remain. The other remains with us, choice-less, but too old and numb to cry. At least in front of us. Sometimes.
We cry a while instead, losing sense of time in the chaos outside that eventually dies down– enough for the arms to come away from the ears, if yet the rocking continues.

I am dangerous: I feel.

The other keeps us occupied. Somewhere inside, we know it’s a distraction: an attempt to help process. Conscious or not, even if we do not understand the terms, the knowledge is there. The underlying concepts, undeniable, immutable.

These are not things to understand, the other teaches.

I am dangerous: I feel.

Dad goes away. He’s gone a long time. He doesn’t ever come back to stay. We have to go see him somewhere else. A place that isn’t home. There are strange people there. Ones that seem to know us, greet us, like family.
I have never met them.
We start learning a lot in a short time. Big words we’re not supposed to hear or understand. Words we’re not allowed. Why?

I am dangerous: I feel.

Strange people come and go: New ones. Old ones. Elderly ones. Young ones like us. Those we like best. They, too, seem to be confused on things. We don’t speak to them much, but we like them. We make fools and fiends of ourselves. We don’t know why.
There are new places too. Places that seem strange, even for irregular people like we’ve become. Places with men in robes. Rows of chairs. Men with badges and guns. The kind that guard. All of them look unhappy to be there, so we play along. Mostly, we’re glad Mom and Dad are in the same room.
But then, later, the fighting again. Walking away alone this time.

These are not things to understand, the other echoes.

I am dangerous: I feel.

There are only a few more new people now. Some like us: younger. The others seem to have settled in their places for now. Dad is with them. We still do not know them. We know she is not Mom, yet acts as her– as if to usurp.
Snake.
We don’t like the other young one. Dad pays it our attention. We begin to cry again, more often. What is happening here?

I am dangerous: I feel.

Dad does not try to sugar coat it. Anything. He never again candy-coats a single word or behavior. This, we understand, is growing up. This is the realm of the Adult. Of the sweary-mouthed sailor-comic and the naked-chested cable lady.
It is a brave new world, someone says.
Mom says otherwise. In fact, she screams it. Everything. If she is not screaming, she is crying. Often, she is doing both together. Sometimes, we do too. Sometimes the other leads us away. Still other sometimes we wander off alone.

Until we begin to break the golden rule:

These are not things to understand, the other echoes.

But we do. We are not sure how, but we do. We are also certain on how to fix these things, but no-one wants to listen. Or is willing to stop scream/crying or stink-snaking long enough to listen.
Mom is not happy. Dad is not happy. We are not happy. Nor are the other or eldest, whom we see less and less. These are not good things. These are the baddest of bad. So why can’t we come together and prevent it? Why can’t we listen?

I am dangerous, I feel.

Slow and subtle, we feel the creep of something. An anonymity. A dreadful yearning for attention. Not ours. Elsewhere. Distractions. We wish for the night and darkness. To command fear and dread so we no longer live with tension in our muscles and tendons and bones and bum and guts.
It comes from the loins. Sometimes, late at night. We think of the naked-chested cable lady, and those things the sailor-comic swore about her. It warms us. We like it. We make it warmer. It feels good. Like awakening.
We mention it to others like us. We know that’s how it works. Somehow. Instinct, someone says. An old person word. Something to do with the warmth, awakening.
The one not like us feels good, but so does the one like us. We like warmth. We later hear words that harden but do not frighten about this. Our feelings remain unchanged, though we become more excluding, excluded.

I am dangerous, I feel.

We learn things as unusual. We believe otherwise. Feel otherwise. We exclude more. Seek only others that find night and darkness, full warmth, and sailor-comics and naked cable-ladies exciting. We join groups, bands, form tight cliques that last us decades yet form or crumble in moments.
We go through so much so quickly, and with everything else, it is impossible to know if we’ll ever come to see it all. We are not meant for this speed. And we are far beyond our realms of understanding, still hung up on…

These are not things to understand, the other echoes.

I am dangerous, I feel.

The night is sanctuary. It hides all depravity. No-one around means no-one to watch. They would not anyhow. Mom is rarely home. The other keeps us in line, fed. They are mom-sis. It is difficult. The shift is natural enough with the chaos around.
Mom works now too. It is hard. She’s not paid well. Mom-sis cannot work. She helps how she can, mostly with us. Eldest does too.
Family must support each other: this is said often. Loudly. And proudly.
Mostly it is said with a kind of wanting sorrow. A feeling we know all too well. The feeling of stink-snaking and scream/cries beneath mad-eyed smiles.

But the darkness absolves us of all. We don’t fear the others there. We feel only the warmth we surround ourselves with. We meet new people that like the warmth too. And we join the warmth however we can. We seek happiness in them because we know we won’t find it at home.
We ride forever and ever. One day is the same as the next. Night is the goal, always. Riding and running for days so nights can be warm and colorful. The days are colored no less for it. Somewhere is still an uneasiness. Tenuous for now, but at-peace.
We know it will come back again. When, we can’t say. Gut feeling says so. The one time teaches. That says the sun rises and sets. That we can trust in that, if nothing else.
The others like us, feel the same.

I am dangerous: I feel.

We become attached to a specific few. Time is spent mostly with them, or alone. They are all like us, forced into place without regard. We bond. This begins a cycle best summarized thus:

Here we go again!! what’s the point again?

Inside we are day. Outside we are night. Neither bothers us, or is any less us than the other. We ride two-ality like radical waves cause our futures so bright we gotta wear shades.
Something like that.
Knowledge comes quicker and quicker. Easier. Reading is fun. Taking time between two other things: writing, games– all stories.
Stories never wither.
Mom still cries and screams. Dad is meaner now. He says things he shouldn’t. He makes mom-sis cry. He makes Mom cry. He makes us cry. We dislike Dad. But we love him. He is Dad.
This two-ality can’t coast, bro…
We cry more. Again. Start to understand. What was hidden. Uneasiness. Out of placeness. Missing confidence. Something we never felt before.

I am dangerous. I feel.

We become excluding again, but do not stop. Ever. It is now a trait to seek almost solely the night. Warmth. Color. Exuberance. It is color that we see mom-sis embrace. It is not ours, but her own. It suits her.
We like our colors anyway. Some don’t. We understand this is why we must be excluding. Stink-snaking is a bloodsport with innocent bystanders. Like war. Which we love to understand. It is depraved. Like us. A thing of night and hot blood and passion. Corrupted innocence incarnate, which we now know ourselves to be.

It’s never to hurt. No. But like the joker whom pranks with the squirt of a flower, meant to be innocent, amusing. Showing of a sort of twisted affection only those that understand us can understand. Most do. Eventually. Even the ones that pretend they don’t, do too.
We’re not their type, but a prototype. Above they and the rest. Something tells us this. We don’t believe it. Though it is true, we don’t learn it for some time. How. Why. For now, we remain prototypical and in demand, yet plagued with failure.
Mom and Dad notice. They have no room to judge. Mom-sis notices too. Eldest is absent. All are upset.

Here we go again!! What was the point again?

I am dangerous: I feel.

And so it goes for longer than we can comprehend. Time is flashes. Television Mom and Dad. Mom-sis on the cello-lin. Lots of scream/crying. Stink-snaking. Bloodsports.

Here we go again: What was the point again?

Reading. Writing. Learning. Discussing. Seeking warmth. Often not finding it. Having it teased just out of reach. Prototype or not, frustration builds. We isolate and exclude further, never minding.
We begin to hide things. Make secrets. Lay plans. We break rules and push limits and test boundaries like never before. Night always comes and with it hides our indiscretions. Then, after the coming of day, the here-we-go-again-go-round absolves us. Day is white. Night is black. Color is everything around.
We fight. We love. We hate. We swear and smoke and drink and spit and swallow and fuck and forget and forgo and hope and dream and scream and cry and laugh and kiss and tell lies and make stories, and all to fill the void between the two-ality of things, the duality of things.
We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the universe.
Until darkness comes, and sadness falls, and betrayal abounds. We partake in it all, because we know we can and we’re allowed. Until we’re accused of excess for wanting to suckle the teats of knowledge so forcefully fed to us, and appreciated.

Something happens. More new people. Others leaving. Some gone, come back again. Others remain unchanged. Still more hurt, and hollow, desecrate and deconsecrate. Dad stays. Mom and mom-sis go away. No-one is the same again.
We are something different now. Swaddled in hate. Something changed and rabid. Weaponized. Something turned from pure, innocent, into corrupt and vile. Made vicious by pain, fetid wounds. Battered and broken. Manipulated and hurt. We are all these things.
But perhaps now…

These are not things to understand, the other echoes.

I am dangerous, I feel.

Depravity drives us. We know it well. It is simple. Animal. It is the chaos of the universe at its core. Always decaying, always eroding. Chasing the dragons of a million uninterrupted myths and legends. Then, questions. More questions. Always questions. Why so many questions?
We don’t know why we’re forced apart, the night and day. The day and night. As if the two were inseparable. Like Gemini: twins, kindred spirits. Redeemers and destroyers. Bitch and bastard. We only know that there’s ridicule, that the prototype is malfunctioned.
It is not, but we do not know that. In all the here-we-go-again-go-rounding and excess of intake, experiment, and evaluate, we lose something. A focus. A clarity.

I’m told it’s the drugs. I don’t believe that. I know the truth…

I am dangerous: I feel.

We go back and forth, round again. Wounds. Weeping. Love, swooning. Mom and mom-sis bleed. Eldest screams. We cannot look back: the trail of failed prototype parts is too hard to bear for the loss incurred.

Anything can be rationalized by a mad enough man.
I know. I did it.

We are dangerous: We feel.

We cannot go back to what we were. So we move forward. How? Inclusion. One specific. To replace one lost, and with hope, build toward what we hope to be the crowning future. That which sees day turned to night and night, day, and color and warmth and vibration all as one.
For a prototype is, if nothing else, a showpiece for some avid collector. Finding one is a surprise. Finding a good one is a miracle. She’s the latter. He would be too. Time and distance are dictators and love is what makes the world go ’round.

The danger is not that we feel. The danger is that others do, too. That vastly complicates the web of possible interaction, and no doubt befuddles the mind. Especially for mass-production models.
Prototypes though, have features not included in mass-market versions. Simply, they’re too unstable. Mostly, in the Human sense, they’re difficult to come by as a result of genetic mutation.
But every once in a while, you get one. A whole line of ’em, even. And the best thing you can do, is run ‘em dead. Not just for their sake, but everyone’s. It’s an unfortunate fact of a prototype’s existence, that it is not for itself that it exists. Rather, it is for the masses that will soon come under its designs– the ones that appeal broadly.
The great tragedy of life is that this reality of possible-pains exists. The great comedy is that tragedy’s spawning of something far greater and grander than itself.
Duality at its purest.
Where that may lead us, no-one yet knows, but we can say for certain two things….

We are dangerous: we feel.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Bloodied Hands

Mama,
There’s blood on my hands.
The sky is gray,
and static fills my ears.

Machine-gun fire,
chatters in the distance,
and I feel as if floating,
in dark,
cold seas.

Air between fires is,
tainted by putrid stink:
Bowels, entrails,
and fresh blood.

Reality,
begins to fade around me.
Blackness,
edges its way over my eyes.
Red crosses and faces,
scream silence,
taking residence,
in my mangled mind.
And when I look down,
I see only red through black.

Tunneled suns are useless,
but so too are soldiers,
whom caught off-guard,
die to stray bullets,
no-one is sure to have fired.

No purpose,
no restitution,
flits by with solace,
for there is only silence.
And blackness.
For me.
For Mama.
And my bloody,
dead hands.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Death Genus

Lie to me,
about the future’s culmination.
Speak the words,
of endless exultation.
Then inject me,
with Death’s overt-stimulation.

‘Cause I am,
running out of words.
And you have,
betrayed all the herds,
of woman and man,
and set fire to the birds.

There will be,
forever no more singing.
Sounds of fire,
forever to be ringing,
’cause our fate,
time is ever-bringing.

If I had,
perhaps one more life,
to get along with,
all of this strife,
Perhaps I’d learn,
to take away your knife.

But you have,
buried it within me.
And the blood,
is pooling I can see.
My life will fade,
soon just like we.

Collapsed to my knees
I beg your forgiveness,
for having failed,
to show you more than this,
but I understand,
more than am remiss.

So much has,
come and gone between us,
that any distance,
feels like Earth to Venus.
So inject me,
with a dose of Death-Genus

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Nothing So Cutting

Sweat Glistens.
You listen–
skin-to-skin–
to my lesson.

The heart beat is true,
but one of few,
yet to be felt,
‘tween thee and you

Sex clings to air,
fingers grip hair.
So sealed are your fates,
of impassioned despair.

Stuttered breathing.
Milk-white breasts,
heaving.
Hefted in-hand,
what devious seething.

Miles away,
‘tween millions of days,
none can deny,
the animal sway.

It could be wrong,
but long heard’s the song,
of those now regretful;
“don’t worry, just do it,”
and
“cause life isn’t long.”

But the sea’s in your eyes,
and though known to defy,
even shallow oaths,
should now make you comply,
for recall there’s nothing so cutting,
as the sound of “goodbye.”

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Fertile Mind, Poor Design

A fertile mind,
in poor design,
is an ancient puzzle,
a riddle, divine,
called forth from,
the annals of time.

What greatness hath,
madness wrought,
when disguised as sanity,
a need, less fraught?
If only pain and trauma
were retroactively fought.

Were history’s madness,
to be erased,
we’d know of man’s impotence,
his potential for grace,
whether in the midst of Earth,
or the boundlessness of Space.

Flee not from madness,
nor take it with fear.
Examine it closely.
Examine it here;
on pages of ink and paper,
on the faces of those standing near.

Short Story: Never Greener

His eyes had long ago drooped. Deep black and purple accented their sockets. His face was emaciated, as much from lack of nutrition as sleepless nights. More than he cared to remember. The world outside was dead to him, him to it. The two had mutually agreed: he no longer needed sunlight, no matter how paste-white his complexion.

Billy Renard was pushing thirty. He’d long ago given up hope for anything more from life– sometime in his mid-twenties, really, but he couldn’t recall the details. All he knew was the utter contempt he’d developed for the world. It felt no different for him. His extensive, repetitive failures were to blame. Then again, such failures would send even most optimistic into furtive sobs.

Currently, Billy’s pasty skin was illuminated by a soul-sucking programming application he’d opened. His hands rebounded along mechanical keys. The rhythm was as sluggish as his brain had become. He’d largely checked-out, was working off sheer adrenaline and intuition– that, and an unending compulsion to turn thoughts into commands. His desk was from an obsessive-compulsive’s nightmare. Paper cups. Old plates. Moldy food. Beer and soda cans. Ashtrays piled into stinking mountains. Miscellaneous clutter so dense as to be indistinguishable to tired, watery eyes. Billy certainly had those, along with a hefty BO and the wretch-inducing appearance of one who’s neither bathed nor re-dressed in over a week.

Strung-out was an understatement. He barely felt human anymore. He hadn’t spoken to in anyone in weeks. Had lost track of the last time he’d dated. Even then, it was a few minutes of fumbling about for conversation before inevitably giving up. As usual he went home, settled into his place at his computer.

His hands came to a halt and his eyes made slow, incongruous blinks. His brain attempted ridiculing them for their misrepresentations. This time, they were honest. Billy was finally finished. It was only a matter of moments before he’d know for certain if all his work and self-exile was worth it. He rose from his chair on rubber legs. They’d become accustomed to the rough-seas of this life. His involuntary swagger compensated for the tilting room. He swayed for a cylindrical capsule nearby that something from an old space-travel film– the sort of makeshift aircraft built from imaginations unaware of things like G-Forces.

He angled his shoulders in, faced away from the door. The cylinder was just wide enough to fit in, but too narrow for any hope of angling in it. A door sealed shut behind him. A hiss sounded. His stomach lurched. Vile acid burned his tongue. A bright flash disoriented him into a slump. The door of the cylinder wrenched open. A burst of smoke and sparks ejected Billy. He soared through the air, landed in a heap against a wall. His exhausted brain took in a few, unfocused blinks, and he fell unconscious.

Billy awoke utterly refreshed. He couldn’t recall having slept so well in his entire life. His eyes took a moment to focus against a blinding, white light. He blinked away water, put a hand up to shield his eyes. His newly invigorated brain knew it made sense: he’d been sitting in the dark staring at a screen from a month.

He was about to question why his room was suddenly bright when it focused. It was no longer his room– or any room he’d ever visited. The walls were stainless steel, the floor too. Everything shined like freshly-polished chrome, including the bed-frame he’d somehow found his way into.

A voice suddenly sounded beside him, “Billy!?”

His head whipped at it so fast he nearly broke his own neck. “Jenna?”

The petite, freckled blonde girl fell from a chair to her knees. She instantly burst into tears. Her head fell into Billy’s lap. He froze. His mind ran wind-sprints, plowed through hurdles with lumbering clumsiness. He aimed for a finish-line he hoped might form any logical conclusion. All he found was himself eating pavement, more perplexed than ever.

“Jenna?” He repeated aloud.

“I thought you were dead!” She sobbed. “You were in a coma for weeks.”

“I was?”

“And I couldn’t bear losing you–”

“You couldn’t?”

She withdrew to pull her chair over, “Of course not. Not on our anniversary of all things!”

His eyes might’ve crossed from confusion. He and Jenna had dated approximately two months five years ago. They’d been madly in love the entire time, but one bout of drunken stupidity ended it all: Billy slept with Jenna’s sister. Worse, she caught them in bed together. Despite Billy forgetting almost the entire night, there was no defense for what he’d done. Jenna left and hadn’t spoken to him since.

Now, she was kissing him, deep and long, with that same love she’d had when they were together. His body reacted on instinct, but his mind lagged behind. When she finally pulled away, she looked him over with a curious sadness.

“What? What is it?”

He sat up in the bed, hands out, flat and low, to stay any further progression of things. “Jenna, we broke up five years ago.”

“What?” She recoiled with disgust. “Is this some kind of sick joke? I think you’ve died on our Anniversary. I sit here for weeks, waiting for you to wake up. Then, when you finally do, you start … acting like this? What the hell’s wrong with you, Billy?”

His mind reeled: Anniversary. His stomach to plummeted. He and Jenna had never made it past that two-month mark. The incident with the cylinder rushed back. But no, it couldn’t have worked. It was impossible. Even all that work, he never expected it to perform. And even if it had, how was this possible? The odds were so astronomically improbable, it was absurd. But then, here he was here. Evidently, whoever he was supposed to be was with Jenna. Judging by the massive diamond on her hand, they were married. How?

He deflated with a long, exhaustive sigh. “Jenna, what happened before I was brought here?”

“You don’t remember?” She asked, teary-eyed.

He was careful not to give too much away, “Were you there?” She nodded. “Walk me through it, step-by-step.”

“You finished the coding in your lab. Then, when you were ready, you hugged and kissed me, and stepped into the device. A second later the thing went nuts and threw you back across the room.”

“Unreal.” She squinted. “You knew what I was doing?” Again, she nodded.

He eased himself to the bed’s edge, sat before her and prepared to lie his way from the room. Her baby-blue eyes stopped him. They glistened with such admiration and love that he was lost in them. His mind threatened to whisk him away, but he wouldn’t allow it. He needed to be honest with her, for his own sake. To say she hadn’t been the best thing in his life would’ve been a lie. She didn’t deserve further disrespect, especially not after what he’d done before, elsewhere.

“Jenna,” he said with a pained look. “I’m not… me.” She was visibly taken-aback. It made him wince. “You know what I was working on, so you must know the theory I was working with.”

She nodded along, “Inter-dimensional travel. You confirmed the multiverse theory a decade ago, Billy. Everyone knows that.”

He swallowed hard: a decade. Had it been that long? He was 19 at the time, so it must’ve been, if his mind wasn’t failing him now. The fame it afforded made him a celebrity. He got rich off books and public appearances, then pissed most of the money away testing his theories. Amid that pissing away, he’d met Jenna, fallen in love, screwed her sister, then himself for life. Since then, he’d been living off royalties, as much a recluse as a burn-out.

“Jenna, the Billy you knew… he’s gone.”

Her eyes widened, instantly leaking water. “What?”

He winced, “There are only two possible variations according to my theory. One states an inter-dimensional traveler will arrive to find himself in an alternate timeline, meeting himself in the process.” Her face wavered, trembled with sorrow, “The other states–”

“That the traveler will replace himself, eradicating one of the two…”

“I’m sorry, Jenna,” he said with genuine sorrow.

She burst into sobs. Whatever his alter-self had with her was gone. Both of them knew it. Billy’s stomach plummeted to his feet. It should’ve been him. He’d only kept working to spite the world. He was a wretched creature of contempt. His alter-self wasn’t. Jenna’s grief said as much. Whatever the future held, he was stuck here. The only thing he could think to do was slink off the bed to coddle Jenna as she wept– a human thing, rather than an intimate one.

No matter what anyone said, Billy knew firsthand the grass wasn’t greener on the other side. Not for him, or his alter-self, or the woman they’d loved.