Wednesday, January 13, 2016

/U/nimmthejigsaw [WP] [WP] You run into an old dear friend and say hello. Unfortunately you are a time traveler and this point in time is way before you first met them.

It's not that hard to fake.

I lived in this city most of my life.

Downtown hasn't changed that much. At least the buildings won't change that much. More people now. Not so many later. Not so many then? Upwhen?

English sucks with tenses for time travel. We haven't even got a proper future tense. All future in English is constructed from present tenses and modal verbs. Newspeak is so much more presysnosc.

There should be a change in the verb. I met you, I meet you, I meeet you. Not a chance. So I try not to think about it. I keep my speech to standard English, no doubleplus goodspeak. No anglo-ibero-latino slang.

Der hombre liese die Bàozhǐ. The man reads the newspaper.

I shake my head, memories of English classes fade.  I've been downwhen for 6 months. Still hard to think in standard English.

It was embarassing to have to learn it. I was born in this century, after all. But then I got old, terribly old. Ancient in fact, I've forgotten more than I can remember. I didn't want to come.

There wasn't anybody left from this era to send.

I told myself old friends wouldn't have met me yet. I moved here a few years upwhen ago. Didn't have too many friends to start with. For a long time it was just me and Frank.

If I met him, I told myself it would be like looking at an old image. No movement or sound. Just a flat, still, image.

There are a lot of bottlenecks involved. Most of my present self was leftl back upwhen, running this city. Until I left at which point it all vanished. What I contained was multitudes. What this body contains is but a fragment. Once this was all of me but that was so long ago.

I insisted on decoupling before taking the classes. it wasn't enough to learn English again, I decided I had to learn using all the old systems that I had not made use of since long before my age struck its fourth digit. I wrote words with target century tools on target century devices. I pushed ink around on crushed tree bark. I pushed keys on slabs of plastic. No casual matter, time travel.

My civilization would be erased as a consequence of my journey. All time journeys are one trip.

One passenger. Once.

We had no idea how many times we had reached the juncture we faced. We only knew what our options were: Be destroyed or be destroyed.

In that second destruction we hoped the seeds of our salvation were planted.

Monoculture is dangerous. Transpecies migration of pathogens is rare. One blight wiped out commercial bananas twice. Three plagues at once wiped out half of old Europe.

Our civilization was the greatest monoculture the world had ever seen.

So I was here. The last remaining memory of my people. Here to start it all over again. Limited. Painfully so. The way would be long and dangerous.

I did not want to go it alone.

My resume got me an interview. Frank met me at reception.

I shook his hand warmly. He smiled and invited me into the office.

I would join this company a few years from now. Only now I wouldn't.

Frank was my immediate manager. He would be again. Just a little sooner.

In a few years. We'd have an office party.

He'd slip out when no one was noticing and try to drive home.

Frank would kill four people and injure several others when his car hit the bus shelter.

His fiance would leave him.

He'd lose his job.

Four years into his sentence, he'd hang himself.

I'd be promoted to replace him.

He shakes my hand.

The meeting is over.

I have been offered the job.

I get to work.

Two years from now, I'll drive Frank home.

I can't predict the future any better than he can.

I have a mission and I have the weight of my entire civilization on my back.

I have the technical expertise to raise funds, drive research and beat a problem that may never manifest if I do my job.

But I hope I won't have to go it alone.

The future is an empty stage, there are no players. There is no sound, no fury. Nothing.

There's no justice.

Just us.


/U/Alekosen [TT] After many years, a woman is finally freed from the sex slave trade. (Potentially NSFW, although I would like people to try to keep it SFW).

A cup of hot coffee and a warm, safe, armchair. Silence. Solitude. Safety.

All I've ever wanted.

I keep my eyes open. Nothing good to see when they close.

There is a gentle knock at the door of my flat. I told her not to ring.

Bells. Alarms. Any kind of loud ringing. I can't take it.

She respects that. She respects me. she knocks.

I get up slowly and look through the peephole carefully. She is alone.

I unlock the locks. One by one. I take my time.

It's easier not to take my life if I do everything slowly. Rash actions can't always be undone.

This is my first week living on my own in my entire life.

I open the door and step back.

"Thank you Ilona, may I come in?"

I nod yes.

She is short and a little fat. She said she was like me once. I don't believe it but I don't say so.

She takes her coat off and hangs it on one of the hooks by the door. She takes off her shoes.

"Your flat is so clean."

she says this every time she visits.

It is clean because I clean it. With gloves and bleach and detergents and sprays and brooms and mops.


I will never sleep in filth again.

I return to my coffee and comfortable armchair. She sits on a stool across from me. The chair is only for me. No one else. She asks me questions. I return one-word answers.

There are many pages to read and sign. I do not read them. I sign them.

Then pictures. Photographs. I stare at their faces. three men and two women.

My traffickers, my jailers, my pimps, my masters.

They shuffled me around the unlit world and grew rich off my back.

She asks me how I am. I nod. I say I just want to be left alone. Rest and peace is all I ask.

She nods and asks if she can come back tomorrow.

I nod.

My coffee is cold.

After she leaves I make a fresh cup of coffee.

I keep my eyes open.

Nothing good to see when they close.


/u/Kibbly [WP] You get turned into your favorite character by a rift in the universe but nobody notices the difference.

Insert_delete 1 point 5 minutes ago*
I can feel the streets through my boots. every cobble, every divot, every pothole.

I do not know these streets.

Remain calm. I tell myself. You've cheated death so often he won't let you play at his table. You've been more-than-half drowned. Electrocuted. Barbecued and still you managed to make it home to read your son his bedtime storybook.

I do not know these streets.

Those two men in the blue uniforms, they have the easy lift-and-swing of beat coppers. Grit yer teeth Sam.

"Good evening officers, I'm a bit los--"

"Convention's at the Cheswick Grange this year, isn't it?"

"Yeah, walk down to the river and run a right, it's the old manor house looking building, can't miss it."

"Great costume."

"...Thank you officers."

They walk on. I didn't catch half of their jibber jabber. But I walk in the direction the shorter one pointed and sure enough, I reach a river. turning left, I'm soon in front of a manor.

I do not know these streets. I do not know these strange machines. My jaw is sore from clenching.

I walk towards the building.

I do not know these streets.

I do know my own face. The poster is so lifelike it must have been painted from an iconograph.

Only Otto could have taken that shot of me on the train through the pouring rain and the dark.

I square my shoulders and adjust my armour.

I do not know these streets by the banks of this river called Avon with water that actually runs and doesn't just melt your socks off.

Someone here knows who I am.

I've solved mysteries with less.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

/u/J4ckrh [WP] After you die you're showed every argument you've had from a third person perspective

I'm dead. It's the third time this week. From the perspective of creation,. everything is happening this week. All of it. Everything. Not quite all at once but still spectacular. Outside of time but not without duration. I watch.

I watch myself. Doesn't matter who I've been or when I've been.

I'm everybody, every time.

Watching every argument I've ever had. Each one with myself.

I don't yet know why I put myself through this but at the end of the week when I merge with my greater self I imagine I'll know. Until them, I'm in the awkward position of a raindrop hurtling down to the ocean. there's a lot to see but most of it feels like a rerun.

A lot of excuses. A lot of explaining. There's really no difference. Hundreds of languages, epochs, bodies, reasons.

Lies, from the perspective they're all lies. They distract from the essental truth.

I swear, if I get reincarnated again I'm going to do two things.

I'll hear no excuses or explanations from anyone.

I'll make no excuses or explanations to anyone.

I will never say I'm sorry. Instead, I will say it is my fault when it is or I made a mistake when it isn't.

Or I'll say nothing.

So many of my arguments were petty inconsequential issues that did nothing but waste time.

I could manifest a heart so that it might ache. I am aghast at how much precious time I wasted.

"No, you didn't ask me in time."
"You should have thought of that before."
"I had too much to do."
"It's not my fault you scheduled the appointment in the middle of rush hour."
"I don't see your name written on it."

And so on, all the way back to primary school. So many times over. If I weren't approaching transcendence, I think I'd manifest a stomach and digestive tract just so I could puke.

I'm nearing the ocean. Just another drop of me. My perspective begins to shift, I consume and I am consumed by the waters of the deep.

I gasp.

Where are words for this fierce obliterating love?


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

/u/Ask_If_Im_A_Cat [WP] Write a story containing the words : cat , doritos and Leonardo dicaprio

I was sitting on my horse out alone in the middle of the night. I like to watch the stars and have no use for company. My horse was old, a gift of the rancher I worked for. I called her White Elephant in private although I knew her name was Lenore.

A single car bisected the darkness on the distant blacktop that cut through the valley. a sprinkling of electric lights and over the horizon, the glow of Butte.

"Nice night for stargazing," he said.

White Elephant whinneyed and pawed the grass. but I recognized the voice.

He was eating something crunchy.

"Howdy Leo," I said

"Howdy Gerry," He said.

i watched the stars some more.

"Doritos?" he said. Extending the crinkly foil bag.

I take off a glove.

"Don't mind if I do, thanks Leo, where's your horse?"

"I walked up, didn't expect to walk this far."

I waited. Nobody, not even a greenhorn rancher like my new neighbour here walked out this far, not without being pushed.

"It's Howard."

"Howard Hughes? Your cat?"

Leo sighs. It's a long sigh.

"Howard was an old cat and it was his time," he said flatly.

Meanwhile I think about how long it must have taken him to get up here, in the dark. through the tall grass, the rough ground, the soft patches, the holes.

I rubbed White Elephant absentmindedly with one hand. Thinking I'd be walking up here sometime soon myself.

I couldn't see 'em but his boots were surely soaked. Grief takes strange shapes in Montana. It's big sky country, room for strange shapes.

I point White Elephant at the road but I don't have to, she knows the way.

"Want a ride back to your ranch?" I offered. Passing him back the bag.

He takes it. I hear him take a handful and crunch them in his mouth.

I put my glove back on.

"Nah Gerry, it's a fine night for stargazing."

"Sure?" I said.


"Goodnight Leo, sorry about Howard."

"Goodnight Gerry, excuse my interrupting."

Not at all, I was just heading back.*

"Hey Gerry, think I might take you up on that ride? I'm tired all of a sudden."

"Sure Leo."


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

/u/voltaireAltair [WP] You wake up one day and everyone thinks it's your birthday. This continues forever; every day is your birthday.

It's my birhday.


It's still my birthday.

Every time, I think I'll wake up and it'll be over.

The first time was the worst.

I hardly said a word to my buddies until I said yes to a taxi home.

Time drags on. It doesn't matter what I say or do.

"It's not my birthday," I say. I yell. I scream.

They don't remember the details. someone or something is neatly snipping that intel out of their memories.

they just remember I disappointed them somehow. They remember the hurt.

I've tried quitting. Only makes it worse. My wife surprises me with a party at home.

I've tried moving. The new house continues to fill up with gifts I cannot return fast enough.

My bank account swells with gift card refunds and returns of gifts I've been given a hundred tmes over.

My friends and family continue to have their accounts depleted by their spending.

"Stop celebrating my birthday," I say, I yell, I scream.

They don't remember the details, just the hurt.

I take my family on vacation. *It's my birthday on the plane, it's my birthday at the hotel.

Every day is my birthday.

My family and friends declare bankrupcy one by one.

We move to New York. I rent a storage locker and buy a street vendor's license.

It's still my birthday.

Every fucking day.

Only now it's random strangers, visiting foreign nationals and once, the president of the united states of america bringing me presents.

I accept them graciously. I smile. I embrace the suck.

"How much for that flatscreen TV?" says a customer.
"I dunno, how much you want to pay?"

He gives me a number, I always take the first offer. It's about volume. If he doesn't get away fast enough he's liable to turn around and give it right back to me as a present.

My wife, my friends, my family, everyone who has ever touched my life has been financially harmed by their association with me. All I can do is keep the cash circulating.

By my rough calculations, my problem is getting worse. I've stopped trying to run from it. Unless I die, I've tried and something always goes wrong, the knife slips, improbably, my fall is arrested. I appear unable to harm myself or cause myself to come to harm.

Someday soon, the wealth of the world will be passing through me.

There is nothing I can do to stop it. There is no way I can benefit either. My wife, my friends, my family, they all have friends and family too. Everyone who gifts me knows someone I know. Sucked into the whirlwind, spending themselves on me into bankrupcy.

Every day at noon. I run to the post office and mail off money orders. I donate to charities, I TRY to give it all back. I threw the cash into the air once but it only caused a riot.

One morning, the I.R.S. picked me up for money laundering.

They dropped me off an hour later with a sizeable tax return.

I didn't bother asking for an explanation. I would have gotten some mumbo-jumbo about an auditing error in my favour.

Their eyes were glassy with contented adoration. I was an old friend now, a constant companion, someone they'd been through childhood with and fought beside.

I don't even remeber my own  name.

Today is my birthday, but you know that old buddy.

Is there something you wanted to give me?

Monday, January 04, 2016

/u/Teixeira666 [WP] You have a curse that makes you transfer your soul to your firstborn (or closest relative) after you die, now you are inside your fifteen year old son, in the first day of school.

Being dead. I can't complain.

I really can't. It's got to do with glands, I haven't got any. I didn't know what to expect but it wasn't this. It certainly wasn't this.

I didn't even get a chance to catch my breath. Or my teeth. When you're hit that hard by a speeding car. There's no pain, just force.

Then I blink and I'm staring at the ceiling of my son's room. I expect to feel a wash of relief. I must have fallen asleep I think to myself. 15 and he still likes to hear old Dad read him a story. He says it's like his own personal podcast. He said he'd planned to start recording me. Wish he had, too late now. I'm as certain as the absence of any wash of relief, I feel nothing. I can think but I can't feel. Then I do feel something. A sinking feeling I recognize from my own days in high school. My son's voice in my head.

"I don't want to go to school," he says. Does he? I hear him but I don't. Did he think it?

The feeling dissipates but doesn't fully go away as I have the awkward experience of feeling myself in a body I can't control, feeling feelings not my own, hearing the private thoughts of the boy who doesn't yet know his father is dead.

I know I'm dead, if I wasn't I would cry.

He checks his watch, I haven't missed a day. Three thousand miles away on a business trip but distance and time seem no obstacle to the powers that put me here. I don't understand why but I begin to understand what.

What my son feels, I feel.
What he thinks, I think.

His breakfast is shovelled into his mouth, and he's out the door before my wife wakes up. I wish I could have seen her but it's just a wish. I care but I can't get upset about it. I'm curious to find out if I'm gong to have to go on like this forever.

I certainly hope my own father wasn't trapped in my head all those times I masturbated after his death.

I begin to dread coming home. We run through hand lotion and kleenex fast. I face these realities dispassionately.

If kitsch is life with the necessary shit removed.
Death is shit with all the necessary life removed.

I have no illusions and gain no satisfaction from my newfound clarity.

I fade out. Let the scenes run through like a late night movie. On the bus, at the school, homeroom, second period, third period, fourth period, lunch.

Lunch is awful. I remind myself to give him more pocket money for the sandwich place on the corner, then I remember I'm never going to be able to give him anything again.

Then my son's heartrate goes up, his breathing gets shallow, he's standing up but just as he finds his feet he's pushed to the wall.

The kid is bigger and his eyes are full of bored-ass affluenza bullshit. I feel anger, and fear.

It's so natural, I forget these feelings are not mine, reflexively I imagine heel striking this little shit right in the nose.

My son's hand lashes out and don't hear so much as feel a satisfying crack of bone under my son's palm.

The bully is howling. My son is terrified now, he doesn't know why he did that.

I imagine grabbing the little shit by his ears and shoving my knee into his teeth.

It works! One of the coaches pulls my son off the boy and he's yelling and my son is freaking out, he can't look away from the mess on the floor. The cafeteria is roaring.

In the principals office, midway through the expulsion, they get the news.

My wife comes and picks him up. There's a lot of tears.

Through it all, I feel my son's confusion and fear and loss. Running through it all is another feeling.

Deep relief. "He'll never bother me again," he thinks. I know who he's talking about. You got lucky son, I think to myself. I was a loving father but back before I met your mother, bad things happened when I was around. If they hadn't pulled you off him right then and there, I know we'd have killed him.

I'd died a grown man with a grown man's restraint, gaining control had caught me by surprise.

I wouldn't be so sloppy next time, if there was a next time.

Just like in life, I didn't know how long I had, stuck riding my son like a voodoo god.

But only in anger and fear.

My wife gave him something to help him sleep. I didn't sleep. When he shut his eyes, after about fifteen minutes, I felt the control return.

I sat up.

I tried opening his eyes and felt control slipping away.

I closed them.

Growing boy. Needed his rest. Lost his father.

"I'm here son, we're going to be alright," I whisper. My son's voice.

"Dad?" I've lost control now. I can't answer him.

He drifts back down into dreamless sleep.

I remain awake. My son was always the kindest of us. Which is good and right but I'm sure the cops would be round to talk to him tomorrow. He'd say nothing without his lawyer present.

In the dark, dialling by feel. I make a call I haven't made in nearly two decades.

"Zeke's." the voice hasn't changed.

"Charlie, tell Zeke Flannery O'Connor called for Jimmy, he'll know what I mean."

"Hey! Who is this? How'd you get this number?"

I hang up.

The phone rings in my hand.

"Flannery?" It's Zeke.

"Hi Zeke, it's not Flannery, it's his son Sean. Flannery is dead," I lie. or do I? I don't know anymore.

"Listen kid-"

"My Dad is dead and I've got trouble, I can pay."

The line is silent.

"Kid, you sure you can pay for Jimmy?"

"You don't want to know what happened?"

"Kid, you're paying for Jimmy, by the time you hang up, we'll know everything."

I hang up. Eyes shut tight.

my son is going to have to do some sleep-digging under the rosebushes but I think that's only fair.

Tomorrow night is soon enough. I let him sleep.

He won't have any explaining to do, my old lawyer will fix it. Then I'll have a week to mail him the gold.

I realize I can't risk waiting.

I get up again.

Morning finds my son exhausted, a hole in the garden a package in the mail and my poor worried wife on the phone to the school excusing him indefinitely. Sorry honey, I had to do it, no telling how long I'll be around.

My son will skip an assault charge. He won't be expelled either. Nor will that little shit bother him again.

Or anybody.

Not while I'm still around.


/u/ SamuraiNoKokoro [WP]Upon traveling five years into the future in a successful experiment you find that America is under fascist control. You contact an underground resistance group for information.

My arm is sore where she grabbed me. Pulled me into the building. This used to be a nice neighbourhood.

"Chester, you fucker," she hissed and pressed a pipe of cold metal against the small of my back.

"Francine," I try to sound warm and relaxed. I sound like shit.

"I should have gone first," she says and lets go. She turns away and walks deeper into the darkness of what used to be FabLab, our start-up incubator.

"We didn't know it would work," I say. It's easier to talk when I'm not looking at her. They say living under fascism adds ten years.

They don't really, that kind of talk can get you shot. Learned that quick. People five years in the future are paranoid for serious.

"Your trip broke the eastern grid," she says. Her voice is rough.

"I guessed that, what about the rest of it?" I wave my hand around the burnt-out shell of our lab.

I massage my sore arm while waiting for an answer. She doesn't answer me. When she speaks, it's on another tack. Words that come out off kilter, like she's saying out loud something she's said in her mind a thousand and one times before.

"It was slow, first the spying, then the censorship, then the laws, but slow'" then her voice breaks. "Shit Chester, they had the cool kids so distracted with video games, online shopping sales and prescription drugs that when the purges started south of the border, nobody gave a fuck so long as they could play another round of COD."

"You used to love Call of Duty," I say.

"Yeah? well now I'm playing it for real. Every. Fucking. Day."

"Francine, Why did you bring me here?" I had gone looking for her the moment I got here but turns out when you're new in town and looking for an old friend and that friend happens to be a leader in the fascist resistance it isn't as simple as knocking on doors and ringing old numbers.

Out of the gloom, things separate from the darkness, become human-sized. Patches of darkness upon darkness. Her people.

"You know why," she says.

"You really think I can go back and fix all this?" I say, backing away. "You know that's not how it works."

"Not back," she says.

Then I understand. My eyes wide.

It takes time and time is not our friend, not until we get it working. which was hard enough when the parts could be ordered in. Half are now scheduled and the other half are simply illegal. I write 'What do we want! A time machine! When do we want it? Doesn't matter!' on the lid of my laptop. Which is bullshit, it does matter. Every month brings more atrocities, deportations and dissappearances. My days blur into my nights, my months into my seasons.

Then one day, I'm standing on the spot where the Generalissima of the Universal States, The Supreme Colophon of America, Her Excellency in Perpetuity, Our Fearless Leader, will be standing in 48 hours.

Her annual roadside sermon of the Union address. Well televised, heavily guarded, but it's a public thoroughfare, no sense in blocking a major artery when there's nothing to guard. Video will catch us but our evidence will be somewhere they'll never find it.

In time.

The bomb is a new design, it will turn everything between the capitol building and the monument into a pool of slightly radioactive glass. Everything.

I flip the switch. The lights go out. The bomb vanishes. There is a pop of vacuum rushing to fill the hole but nothing spectacular, nothing hollywood. This is science, not science-fiction.

I stare at the shuttered Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and my heart is heavy with regret. I really loved this part of town.

It's eerie to drive away. In a sense we just turned downtown D.C. into Schrodinger's cat. It both exists and does not.

For we do not know the future but tonight, we made history.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

/u/SpecialAgentCoulter [IP] The tale of four soldiers who single handedly saved New York

"Demons in New York," he says.

I give him the once-over spit-shine lookee-see-here-mister.

"Well, just the one," he says.

"I take it this, creature, ate the rest of your lance, Corporal Kiljoy?"

He says it again, only slower. Like I'm a tour junky.

"Demons. In New York," he says.

"I'm sending you rearwise, Corporal,"

"I''m fit to fight Sargeant," he says.

I shrug and point my thumb over my shoulder. He trots back behind our lines. good soldier, follows lawful order. Make note of his barcode, stand him a round when this is over.

I lower my smartscope and wipe the sweat from the strap of plastic at my forehead. My orders say this is your typical summer riot in New York.

Ever since they shot that boy and his mother back in '15 the hot heads and hop heads have been marching up and around Washington square and each year, somebody gets rough. Well this year, they got a little too rough I guess and the governor called out the guards, but they mucked it up, I don't know how, I wasn't there.

I got the call just as I'd knocked off my moonlighting gig taking newbies, FNG's and tour junkies past the knees of liberty over on Staten, right where the beam weapons of the Mormons had sliced her into the harbour in their bid for supremacy.

Fucking Mormons, nobody saw 'em coming.

My musing gets interrupted by a sudden billow of smoke up the avenue. My nose burns from a rotten egg stench.

"Gas!" I call out then clip my mask to my helmet and purge.

Out of the smoke come smoldering red eyes. One horn is damaged.

"Huh," I hear myself say as I take a knee and fire a short burst before taking a new position further back.

"Demons in New York." I say into the throat mike. My voice sounds flat even to me.

Keeping calm, communicating calm, has suddenly become my second highest priority.

My number one is barrelling down on my position.

I run. I take a sick comfort in noticing I am alone. The rest have bugged out ahead of me.

Then something I don't see every day comes out of the smoke which by now has totally engulfed the street.

Corporal Kiljoy, masked up, strides towards me with a Carl Gustav anti-tank bazooka on his shoulder and level with the lumbering nightmare at my back. There is a crude white cross painted across his uniform in what looks like house paint.

The ground trembles.

Kiljoy drops to one knee and takes aim. He's shouting something but the roaring behind me drowns him out.

I hug asphalt.

I hate guessing games but this time I guess right.

Behind Kiljoy, the fireball silhouettes him in black and orange.

Behind me, the HE round explodes dead centre of mass.

I'm sprayed with demonic blubber.

Corporal Kiljoy helps me up. I make a show of wiping myself off. The Corporal is staring behind me.

"Didn't think it would work," he says.

"Which part?" I ask.

"The paint. Tried Carl before, it ate my lance."

"The paint is what did it?"

"Demons can't abide holy weapons weilded by men of faith."

"Corporal, are you saying you blessed your bazooka? I ask. He nods.

"Any action at the right time is better than the best action when it's too late," he says. Chapter and verse from our own rules and regs.

"G--" I catch myself "--hmm, Good gosh durn it." I say.

"Come on Sarge," he says, "Let's go find another one."

"Certainly," I say. "Just show me where you got the paint first.


/u/GeffoRN [WP] Everyone in the world switches bodies with their polar opposites. For example, a macho body builder could end up in the body of a petite cheerleader.

What hurts?
Dig your fingernails into the cliff. Tearing away is better than dying. Pain so sharp you gasp. It's bright and pitched so high it scarcely feels like pain. It becomes a beam of cold light slicing up your arms, up your back, behind your eyeballs.
A moment and a lifetime ago, you were rested and serene, a Buddha of gentle smiles, your face aglow in the blue light of your screens. Your bones swimming in a sea of your flesh. Warm, dry, utterly unafraid.
A moment and a lifetime ago, on your screens, So many shows, so many screens, so little time.
No time now. Suspended, clawing with manic strength, the snap of the rope tight against your waist and thighs breaks your plunge and you whip against the cliff once, twice, you hang, your death interrupted.
Wait. Thighs? Your toes are bleeding in your tight shoes where they struck the cliff, six of your fingernails are dangling, but thighs?
You haven't seen your thighs in years.
You look down, the sweep of trees and the river beyond is heartbreaking.
You look up, recognizing climbing rope and pitons.
Someone is screaming below you. Their hand is hammered into the climbing winch. What happened to you must have happened to them too. Belaying device? Is that what they're called? The mind takes strange tangents when you're certain you're about to die and somehow, miraculously, you don't.
The pain mingles with the sunlight, your arms hang limp at your sides, dripping. Your fine strong arms.
The laughter from your dusty throat shakes your chest.
Your eyes fill with tears.
Some part of you knows this was a swap. Somewhere far away, behind screens of ancient entertainments, someone utterly undeserving must right now be warm.