Chapter 25: The Coma



After Ryan’s apology, the group eventually returned to their discussion of summer camps. Mara hadn’t ever been to one, in fact, she’d never participated in any non-mandatory activity. Her parents sent her to school, but they never had much interest in sending her elsewhere. She told the group of the trips to the mall, and of night spent watching cars drive down the street while she waited for her father to go to sleep. It was the closest she’d come to socialization outside of school. Continue reading “Chapter 25: The Coma”

Chapter 15: The Sins of the Father



They’re all staring at me

Mara sat about 20 feet away from the rest of the group. It had been a tiring few hours with them. She’d learned all about their past, while successfully keeping them away from her’s. The boy had come back, and she learned his name was Ryan. He looked like he could be trouble for her, as many boys were, but at least he seemed pretty jovial after his walk. She wondered what his secret was.

Continue reading “Chapter 15: The Sins of the Father”

Chapter 13: Unidentified Flying Object



Where am I?

Am I finally done? Is it all over?

Sara Beth remembered a day years ago before she met Julie, back when it was just her and her parents, living far out in the country before they moved closer to the city. It was sunny, and warm, likely the first warm day of spring. The grass was green, and smelled great after the rain and passed. She had been cooped up inside the house for so long that she’d forgotten that there was so much to do outside, but on that day when she walked out without a coat and wasn’t freezing cold, she decided she couldn’t stay indoors any longer. She rode her bike all afternoon, and when she came in, her mother frowned, looking at her shoulders. They’d been out all afternoon, thanks to the tank top that Sara Beth was wearing. Continue reading “Chapter 13: Unidentified Flying Object”

Chapter 4: Sara Beth


Sara Beth sat in the corner of the room crying, alternating from light sniffles to harder sobs as she tried harder and harder to tuck herself into a ball. She wanted to block out the whole world, and while successful in doing that, she wasn’t very successful in calming herself down. She never had actually gotten this particular method of coping to work well – she might push herself into a tight, small, space, but her problems remained as overwhelmingly large as possible.
It had been utterly cruel of her friend to say those things to her. All over some silly argument. Sara Beth grasped at the tether looped around her hand, tugging slightly on it to make sure she still felt resistance. She did, and it reassured her slightly in between hysterics. At least he wouldn’t betray her trust.
It had all started 5 minutes ago. The two girls had been playing with Sara Beth’s pet hedgehog, Sonic. Sara Beth never did quite understand why her parents felt it would be a fitting name for the hedgehog – it was something related to an old video game – but she was so happy to have a pet that she was alright with her dad trumping the naming rights. He had brought home little Sonic to her a few months before, along with all the appropriate hedgehog gear. Sonic was a friendly hedgehog, despite his spikes, and Sara Beth had become a good parent to Sonic, rarely holding him in the wrong way, rarely seeing the business end of his most prevalent defense mechanism. Sonic seemed to like Sara Beth, although one wouldn’t know how exactly to tell that from a hedgehog’s demeanor. Perhaps it was the way he would roll his little ball near to her when he was ready to go home to his cage, or the look on his face when she smiled at him (At least she saw a look on his face, others told her she was nuts). His ball had a small hole in which a tether could be looped. It made sure he didn’t roll too far away, and was very useful when your eyes are so full of tears you wouldn’t be able to see your new best friend rolling away after like your former best friend had.
“She’s jealous”, Sara Beth thought in her mind. “Jealous of Sonic and jealous of having a pet – her parents would never allow it!”. Each time Sara Beth would take Sonic out and let him play in his ball, her supposed best friend would try to snatch him away, play with him a bit too rough, or lightly push the ball around, throwing Sonic into a bit of confusion.
5 minute earlier, Sara Beth had had enough. Poor Sonic seemed disoriented and dizzy after being unceremoniously pushed by her friends foot.
“You can’t do that!!!”, she screamed as she snapped the tether onto the ball, in essence keeping Sonic tied to one spot, “He doesn’t like that!”
“How do you know – he looks like he likes playing with his Auntie”, came the sing-song reply of her friend.
“You play too rough with him, he’ll get hurt!”
“It’s fine Sara Beth, you worry too much. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him… unless you made me really mad”, she said with a sly smile that Sara Beth couldn’t tell the true intent of. 99% sure it was a joke, but not 100%.
“You don’t care about him… you just want to play rough. And… and…. you don’t care about me! If you did you wouldn’t do it”
“That’s not true!”
“Yes it is”
“No it’s NOT”
“NO IT’S NOT!!!”
Sara Beth mustered all of her courage and proclaimed:
She then tumbled to the floor while the other girl ran away.
Almost immediately, she regretted her words and actions. She was constantly told at school to act like an adult, but the impulsiveness of a child was still present at her age, and in this case it may have cost her a friendship she’d had for years. They’d practically grown up together, and while so often these spats resolved themselves, this was the first time either had used the H word. She hoped she’d hear her friend return and say something, anything, that would make things normal again. A long while passed and no timid small voice broken into Sara Beth’s balled up figure. This likely fueled her hysterical sobs that punctuated the silent sniffling in the empty classroom.
Eventually, she decided it was time to move on. To raise her head and get ready to go home. While she was old enough to be a ‘latchkey’ child, her parents were skeptical of how she’d do alone, so each day they dropped her, and Sonic, off at an after school program. They’d do some art projects, read stories, and have time at the end to work on whatever they like. From time to time, though, even the older kids like Sara Beth would have a breakdown, evidence that they weren’t quite yet the teenagers they aspired to be.
To her surprise, when she lifted her head, the room was darker than she remembered it. As her eyes focused, she began to realize that not only was it darker, it also wasn’t even the same room.
“Hello?!?”, Sara Beth called out, wondering if in her hysterics someone had come and taken her to another part of the school. She looked down and saw Sonic, still in his ball, still securely attached to her wrist. At least wherever she was, she had a true friend with her. Sonic looked up at Sara Beth in confusion.
Slowly she rose to her feet. Sara Beth hadn’t yet experienced her growth spurt that the others had begun to endure. Her small frame still spoke of childhood, not adolescence. It seemed to fit her well. Her blue eyes pierced through her pale complexion, hair neatly pulled back in the same pony tail that her mom had been putting it in for years. She wore her school uniform, today consisting of a simple red cotton dress, which sharply contrasted with the gray scenery around her.
She spent a few minutes wandering around before it hit her: She wasn’t at the school anymore. She wasn’t anywhere that she’d ever been before. She wasn’t anywhere that she’d ever heard about before.
She sat back down on the ground and tried her best to ball herself back up in the way she had been before, crossing her fingers. But when she looked back up she didn’t find herself magically back in the classroom, she was still in the barren abyss. Pushing her head back, she let out a long wail. The sobbing had returned.


“What should we do today, Sonic?”, Sara Beth asked her prickly friend. Sonic looked up at her, but failed to answer. The sky had undimmed and Sara Beth could make out the familiar splotch of gray that appeared almost directly over the spot she liked to sit in, the same spot she had been sitting in when she arrived.
“I’m so glad I have a way to keep track of you”, Sara Beth continued, “You’d be so easy to lose here”. Indeed Sonic’s grayish colors would act like natural camouflage if it weren’t for the ball made of light pink plastic that he lived in most of the time. When it got close to dim, Sara Beth would often take Sonic out and let him walk around the circle of ground enclosed by Sara Beth’s arms. She figured he needed his exercise, although he never stretched the way he used to when she took him out of the ball. Maybe he wasn’t as stiff.
It had been about a 2 weeks since Sara Beth had arrived. In that time she’d progressed through several emotional stages. For about the past 3 day/dim cycles she’d been mostly stable, and now found that talking to Sonic relaxed her.
“Maybe today we’ll go for a walk again”, Sara Beth proposed, “We’ll go see that spot that looks like a dinosaur before we come back here and wait.”
Waiting was all she could think of doing. If somehow she had been taken to this place, then somehow she could be taken away, right? It seemed so simple. The universe dumps you in a strange land you’ve never seen, somehow it should dump you back out. Maybe this was a crazy dream.
“You know Sonic, we have to wait right here, so that they’ll know where to find us”, she said with a forced smile, “What’s that? No, they’ll come back! I’m sure they miss us. Yes, even her – she’ll come back soon, and I’ll even let her be your Aunt again – I know she just made a mistake when she rolled you that last time”.
Sonic hadn’t eaten in 2 weeks, but of course, neither had Sara Beth. Sonic hadn’t slept, but neither had Sara Beth. Sonic hadn’t wept, but Sara Beth certainly had. Even on her ‘good’ days she still spent a good deal of time crying in some way. The long wails and sobs had subsided, but now the subtle tears of loss and longing had taken over.
Sara Beth’s parents were both busy people who loved her, but had very little time for her. Her father, an overworked police officer, was one of the most dependable people on the force. This meant he often was corralled into taking on double shifts, arriving home either right as Sara Beth had to go to sleep, or right as she was leaving for school. Every 9 weeks, when the school quarter ended, provided she got good grades, she got to ride along with him in his police cruiser for a special date with her handsome police officer dad. That was supposed to be three days ago, but the date never happened. She imagined him looking for her, missing their special ritual just as she did.
Her mom worked as a line supervisor at a local factory. She got off work around 5 PM daily and would pick Sara Beth up and go run errands. Some nights they’d go to the pet store to pick up something for Sonic. Other nights they’d just go home where Sara Beth would help her mom make dinner. She was old enough to start learning the sacred recipes her mother guarded with her life. Yesterday she was supposed to learn the secret to her mother’s sugar cookies.
“They wouldn’t leave me”, she told herself as the sky dimmed each night, “They’re looking for me”
“They’ll find me.”
Three statements she’d repeat time and time again, only to see the sky brighten each morning without a visit from her parents. The memory of them the only thing she could hold on to. Sometimes if she listened really intently, she’d hear something that sounded like voices in the distance, but they never came closer.
Sara Beth and Sonic had begun their daily walk, out over the small hill toward the place in the sky that looked remarkably like a T-Rex, if you looked at it the right way.
“It’s safe, Sonic”, Sara Beth would reassure her little companion as he rolled alongside her, “They’ll certainly wait at the spot for us if we’re not there, besides, it’s good to get out”. She had no idea if that were true – maybe it was good, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the only thing that stopped her crying.
When they’d reached the T-Rex, Sara Beth noticed something she hadn’t before. The T-Rex was changing color. It was almost brownish, as opposed to the gray it had been.
“Something must be happening today!”, Sara Beth said to Sonic, “I bet it’s Mom and Dad! I bet they’re coming to find me. The T-Rex is telling me that’s true”. Sara Beth needed no further proof that this was true. What else could it be?
Sara Beth raced back to her spot. But all that awaited her was a rain storm. She picked Sonic’s ball up and held it close to her chest, keeping him dry from the rain as it poured forth. The rain started slowly, but it gradually increased in magnitude and force.
“What if this is punishment, Sonic?”, Sara Beth said, as water streamed down her cheeks.
“What if this is what happens when you push away your best friend? I wish I could tell her that I was sorry. I wish I could tell her that I didn’t mean what I said. I wish I could take it all back and see her again. I’d let her play with you – I know she wouldn’t be too rough. I’d invite her along with Dad and I – she’d be so excited to ride in a police car. I’d teach her how to make Mom’s cookies. It could be like it was”
Sonic looked up at Sara Beth, but even Sara Beth couldn’t infer emotion in his little face. As Sara Beth thought about her friend, momentarily focusing on their friendship and the fight, the ran slowly stopped. The sky returned to it’s normal shade, and Sara Beth looked out from her huddled mass covering Sonic and his ball.
It was at that moment that the most magical thing happened. It was the thing that would keep Sara Beth from almost certain insanity in the days to come. It was the thing that gave her hope that this world wasn’t as bleakly depressing as it appeared.
As she sat there, Sara Beth began to feel a warm feeling from within her. It was as if she was covered in a warm blanket. All of her worries about her parents and her friend evaporated along with the rain, and she swore that when she looked down at Sonic, he was smiling at her, his little snout pointed up so she could see the curve of his mouth. Suddenly she didn’t care if her parents ever found her. She didn’t care if she were stuck in this world forever. In that moment, everything seemed perfect and right, to the point she even wondered what she had been worried about moments earlier. The sky brightened, and Sara Beth could swear that it looked like a glorious yellow sun might come out from behind the thick gray wall. Slowly Sara Beth stood up, extending her arms out. She prayed this feeling would never end.

Chapter 3: Similarities


Mrs. Corum sat for a long time while G-ma happily air knitted. Finally she’d had enough.
“You know, I would have taken a nap to escape this, by now”, she said.
G-ma looked up from her knitting. “Funny how we realize that a lot of the time we spent napping, or eating, or any other mundane thing before wasn’t because of our need to do those things, but rather our need to not do them – to find anything else to occupy us”.
“Do you think we’re dead?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
It was the first time the thought had crossed her mind, and she mentally chastised herself for not thinking of it earlier. G-ma, however, appeared to have already thought it out.
“No matter what spirituality someone has, they imagine the afterlife to be different than this, honey”, G-ma started, “At the very least, there should be some torment or joy, purpose or interaction with some part of the Universe. Best I can tell, we’re not dead, although the thought crossed my mind that we might be stuck somewhere in-between life and death. In the end though, it’s those weird feelings we have when we’re near a spot we’ve been to before, or my emotional warmth, that lead me to think we’re still very much alive. I also had concluded that if I were dead, I’d meet someone at some point. You kinda destroyed that argument when you arrived”, G-ma ended with a smile.
“I don’t know why I didn’t wonder about being dead earlier”, Mrs. Corum mused, “Now that it crosses my mind, it seems like one of the first things I should have considered.”
“I didn’t think of it for at least a year”, G-ma replied. “It’s almost as if this place actively fights that thought away from you”.
“Speaking of actively fighting, that’s all I feel like I’ve been doing for the last few hours – fighting to remember a time before this place”, Mrs. Corum said softly.
“Damnedest thing, isn’t it?”, said G-ma.
“I kept coming back to one thought – if you and I are the only two here, is it because we’re somehow linked?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
G-ma paused for a moment, as if this time she was the one to have the revelation late to the game.
“I suppose it’s possible”, G-ma conceded. For someone who seemed to know a lot of this world, she appeared shaky in her convictions for the first time in Mrs. Corum’s presence.
“Maybe we should talk about our past, as much of it as we can remember”, Mrs. Corum suggested.
The women sat and spoke at length for several hours, each recalling their own personal history. G-ma had been born about 5 years earlier than Mrs. Corum, and they found they were both from the same part of the country – even being born in the same hospital. Aside from that link, though, most things were different. Mrs. Corum had worked all her life, never married, never had children, and socialized mostly with her students in the classroom, living a solitary life outside of it. G-ma married young to the love of her life, Edgar, had one child, John, and socialized almost exclusively with her husband and child until Edgar died. G-ma hadn’t ever held a job (well, a real job anyway, she’d worked as a teenager at a hamburger stand), and the only children she saw on a regular basis were Julie and Jamie.
Mrs. Corum was still having trouble recalling names of her students, so she began describing them. There was the little boy who was preoccupied with peeling glue from the top of glue bottles, cleaning the whole classes supply out of some sort of prepubescent OCD need. There was the little girl who couldn’t pronounce the word bird correctly, despite loving the creatures. And so on. G-ma humored Mrs. Corum as she told her stories, pushing back the urge to relate each one to an experience with her grandchildren.
“And this year, I’ve got one with one heck of an imagination”, Mrs. Corum started, “She tells the most fantastical stories, with such detail. It’s almost as if she plans them all out and rigorously rehearses them before hand”.
G-ma couldn’t resist this time.
“Oh, that reminds me of Julie so much”, G-ma started, “She would come over to my place when she was just learning to put together full sentences, and I’d listen to these broken stories that she’d tell.”, G-ma smiled while recalling the memory.
“Kids do that so well”, Mrs. Corum said, “Often they take what they see on TV and reinterpret it, re-telling it so that it scarcely resembles the original”.
“If that’s what Julie was doing, then she was mighty good at it”, G-ma replied, “I could never quite figure out where she got these ideas from. Her father wasn’t the most creative person, so I doubt it was from him. And her mom didn’t have time for such things either – too busy working. Such a shame when families break up and the woman must work”
Mrs. Corum wasn’t exactly a diehard feminist, but the last line tweaked her just a bit. She might have wanted to have had a life like G-ma’s, but she was happy in hers. By the time she re-focused herself on what G-ma was rambling on about, she was surprised to hear that G-ma had refocused her story back on little Julie.
Suddenly, as if a bolt of lightning had struck her, Mrs. Corum broke the story.
“My student’s name is… Julie”, she said.
G-ma didn’t waste any time “An interesting coincidence, dear, maybe all Julies are inherently creative?”.
“What is your last name”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“You don’t think that’s really possible”, G-ma said as she realized what Mrs. Corum was insinuating.
“Is this world supposed to be possible?”, Mrs. Corum retorted.
“Alright… McKay. My last name is McKay, as is John’s, as is Julie and Jamie’s”
The look in Mrs. Corum’s eye told the whole story. The women, who up until that point had been walking absentmindedly while talking, stopped, sat down, and looked at each other in disbelief.

G-ma hadn’t felt so free since before she came to this place. It was as if the weight of the world she’d been carrying for so many years was lifted.
They talked for hours, filling in each other’s memory. Verifying it was the same Julie McKay was first up, and everything checked out. From there it went to how Julie was doing, and by extension, Jamie. Mrs. Corum didn’t know Jamie, other than to know that Julie had a little sister a grade behind. G-ma was ecstatic to hear that Julie was alive, well, and a good student in Mrs. Corum’s class. They were so caught up in the discussion of Julie that they didn’t think about what their connection meant to each other, until finally Mrs. Corum remembered a small detail.
“Last Halloween, all of the children dressed up as usual, but Julie said something I didn’t even think about until now”.
“What was that?”, G-ma asked, intently. She waited to hear the answer, as she had waited on edge during the entire conversation. She craved more knowledge about her granddaughters, and badgered Mrs. Corum with her eyes to spill the beans as quickly as possible.
“Well, Julie dressed up as a witch, and when I asked her about her costume, she mentioned that her grandmother had helped her make it.”
“Wow, I only met her mom’s mom once, but she didn’t seem like the kind who had the skills or desire to help out with a halloween costume”, G-ma replied.
“That’s just it”, Mrs. Corum replied, “I think she was talking about you”
“How could she? She probably barely remembers me – I’ve been gone so long”
“What if you weren’t gone?”
“What do you mean? Of course I’m gone, I’m here with you”
“It sounds crazy”, Mrs. Corum conceded, “But what if, somehow, we were copied.”
“You on about aliens again? You can’t copy someone!”, G-ma replied harshly.
“But there isn’t any other way this makes sense. Think about it. If you had disappeared when she was 5, don’t you think that would have made news and a bit impact on a little girl? But she never mentioned it, and I never saw a news story about a local woman missing”
“You wouldn’t remember a news story about me from 7 years back! And kids are resilient, she probably made up a story in which I went away”, G-ma said in return.
“I don’t know”, Mrs. Corum mused, “I think there is something way stranger going on here than we know already”.
The ludicrous nature of the statement caused both of them to smile and laugh. It seemed way stranger than a world that existed in tones of gray, where you couldn’t feel pain except in your emotions, where you didn’t need to breathe or eat, where you didn’t sleep… How could something be even stranger than that?
After several minutes, G-ma spoke.
“I guess anything is possible, since this place even exists… and if you’re right, than I’m even more relieved than I was when I heard Julie was OK. I’m relieved because apparently, somewhere, I might exist… OK… maybe I might even get back there some day”
“Let’s not run too far with it”, Mrs. Corum replied, “It was just a thought, and as you said, it’s a bit unlikely that I’d even remember those things from years ago”.
“Yes, but I believe sometimes that you need to choose what you want to believe in, or else you’re going to go mad”, G-ma said quietly. “And I might just choose to believe that a world exists where everyone is OK, with the exception of clones of you and I, which are stuck here”.
“Well, it seems as reasonable an explanation as any”, Mrs. Corum said.
The rest of that day was filled with more discussion of Julie, Jamie, and some shared connections both ladies had. Mrs. Corum had met Julie’s mom and dad, knew they were divorced and had even met the man Julie’s mom was dating. G-ma, despite feeling that her own son wasn’t the best parent in the world, scoffed at the idea that the girls might have a stepfather at some point.
They had begun walking again, and eventually Mrs. Corum realized they had gone all the way back to where she had arrived in this world, days ago. Their mental map of the space they inhabited had begun to form a bit, and while they had no idea how big the space was, they at least found they could recognize the subtle changes in ground gradation, and tones of gray in the sky. What a crazy situation – this world that was so foreign was beginning to have some orderliness to it. Upon arriving at Mrs. Corum’s old spot, the two decided to turn sharply 90 degrees and head in a new direction. They even joked about spending the rest of their days just devoted to mapping this place out, like an intrepid and cursed modern-day Lewis and Clark expedition. That is if Lewis and Clark were female… and didn’t need to stop to rest.

The journey of the intrepid explorers could best be described as monotonous. Day in, day out, they wandered. Occasionally they’d decide to switch directions, and sometimes they’d quiz each other about the mental map they were building in their head. They became experts at the subtle differences in terrain they found. A 2% grade drop was exciting, and splotches in the sky that resembled something were named accordingly. An equivalent of naming passing clouds, yet those clouds remained the same whenever one returned to that spot.
Mrs. Corum did, however, begin to notice some of the same things G-ma had spoken about earlier. Sometimes the ground did seem to shake slightly. Sometimes Mrs. Corum could easily dismiss this as her own stumble, but other times her and G-ma would both stop and look to each other, acknowledging what they both had just felt.
The two also noticed that the dimming seemed in some cases to be darker, and in other cases, it seemed to occur too early, or last for just a short amount of time. G-ma swore it had always been pretty predictable, so this was exciting news, if for nothing other than it indicated something different than the norm.
“Do you think there is an edge, somewhere”, Mrs. Corum asked G-ma one day.
“You know, sometimes I think there has to be”, G-ma replied. “And then I think about how the Earth wouldn’t have an edge if there wasn’t so much water… one could just keep walking around it, eternally”.
“True, although I think we’re still quite away from walking around the Earth, distance wise”, Mrs. Corum replied.
“Especially since we like to double back sometimes”, G-ma said with a laugh.
As they shared the moment, they both saw something quite unexpected – the sky, normally tones of ashy gray, began to take on a more coppery tone to it. They both stood, in awe, as colors they hadn’t seen began to wash over the area above their heads.
“Did this ever happen…”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“No… nothing like this…”, G-ma replied.
“Did you feel that…”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“Yes”, G-ma replied.
The feeling Mrs. Corum spoke of was a minor ache in her soul. The sort of way you feel when something is wrong but you just can’t put your finger on it.
“Same way I felt the day John called me to tell me the marriage was over”, G-ma began. “Just knew something was off that day. People would tell me I was crazy if I’d told it to them, but I knew a phone call was coming. I also knew it wasn’t going to be as bad as it could be, but it was bad – what’s the word for that kind of thing?”
“Foreboding”, Mrs. Corum replied, “Its one of the challenge words my 6th graders learn during their weekly spelling lesson. I always put it around the end of the year, and make an example of final examinations giving one a foreboding sense”. She tried to force a laugh, however the very real sense of foreboding she felt prevented that from happening.
Suddenly, the ground began to move. It moved faster and harder than both women had expected, and they lost their balance and tumbled to it.
“That would have broken a hip, if we were back home”, G-ma said as they both righted themselves and sat on the still shaking ground.
“How far out are we from where we both started?”, Mrs. Corum asked. G-ma always had the slightly better mental map. G-ma thought for a moment.
“About 2 days journey from my old spot, about 3 days from where you began”, she replied as she gestured toward each of the locations she mentioned.
“I wonder if we would have felt this there”, Mrs. Corum mused.
“Good question… this is pretty far out for us, maybe this area just gets that sky color regularly and these… tremors”, G-ma conceded.
And then, something neither of them had dreamed was possible occurred. It began to rain.
The rain came slowly at first, before it gradually increased to a moderate downpour. The women had nothing they could hide under, and thus just sat there, as the water washed over them. The ground seemed to soak it up, ending all fear they might have had of swimming back to their original spots.
“Why now”, G-ma said.
“Why not now?”, Mrs. Corum replied.
“I suppose – but for 8 years this place has been dry as a bone. Maybe once or twice the ground felt a bit soggy, but I always thought I was imagining that”.
“Perhaps it never rained where you used to stay”, Mrs. Corum offered.
“I guess…”
Gradually the rain let up, and the two women stood to take stock of the situation.
It was then they noticed that neither was water logged in anyway. Sure, they’d felt the rain, but their clothing was dry to the touch. Their hair was the same it had always been. They didn’t feel particularly cold, despite the normally comfortable temperature not going up.
“I’d expected it to be like coming into an air conditioned building after a storm”, Mrs. Corum said as they began walking again.
“Yeah, that cold feeling you get, even though the temperature inside is just fine”, G-ma replied.
“Do you think we should keep exploring, or should we head back to one of our spots?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“Why would we head back?”
Mrs. Corum didn’t have an answer. It had been a crazy few days. First they’d found they had a mutual connection in Julie, then they’d seen colors in the sky, and finally they’d been rained on. Perhaps heading back to her original spot was a way of seeking safety.
“I don’t know”, Mrs. Corum finally replied, “I really don’t know”
“It’s starting to get to you, isn’t it, dear?”, G-ma asked with a knowing smile.
“I suppose it is. Is this what happens before a mental breakdown here?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“Well, I’ve had my share of them, but they never included hallucinated weather events”, G-ma replied.
“Maybe there is a first time for everything”, Mrs. Corum said.
It would be the last words she audibly spoke for several hours, perhaps even days. She felt the frustration mounting and it wasn’t going to go away by returning to her original spot. It just needed to be dealt with over time. G-ma gave her space, both metaphorically and physically, trailing her as they continued to explore the world.

#54 Waking Up

Anna sat up in the bed and yawned. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but lying there sleep had taken hold. It was dark out now, the afternoon sun fading into darkness. She felt groggy, and disoriented from her unexpected slumber.

She staggered over to her desk and sat down across from her laptop, still coaxing the sleep out of her eyes and trying to focus on the screen. She opened her email and found it overflowing with items. It had been empty a few hours before, and in frustration, Anna closed the program. She’d answer emails tomorrow. She turned her chair to face her television and flipped it on. One of her favorite sitcoms was on, replaying last week’s episode. She watched and got up to use the bathroom as the show ended. When she returned, she found another episode on. It was the same show, but she’d never seen this episode before. It wasn’t the show’s regular night, so she sat watching the episode and wondering how she could have missed it when it first aired. Oh well, at least she’d seen it now.

When the show ended, she got up and wandered out of her bedroom into the kitchen. She was hungry, but found that the leftovers from yesterday she craved had been eaten, no doubt by her parents who were not home now to yell at. She glanced at the clock and saw it was 8:30 PM. She was surprised her parents would go out without leaving a note, but shrugged it off. She was sitting on the couch in the living room when her mother and father walked through the door. They saw her in the living room, but quickly walked the opposite direction.

“Hey – who ate my salad?!?”, she called out as they passed. She wasn’t going to let them sneak away.

They both walked toward her with the strangest looks on their faces. Half astonished, half scared. Why were they acting like this? It wasn’t the first time she’d called them out on stealing their food, and it wasn’t like she was overly angry – it was more a playful thing than serious.

“What? Neither of you wants to admit it?”, she said with a slight chuckle.

“Anna…. how do you feel?”, her mom asked nervously as her father walked around her, eyeing her as if he hadn’t seen her in months.

“I feel fine Mom… what’s up with you two?”, she said.

“Julie, it might be her – really her”, Anna’s dad said to her mother. Her mother nodded, as tears flowed down her face.

“What’s going on?”, Anna said as her dad sat down next to her.

“Honey, you’ve been… sick… for months now”, he said slowly.

“What do you mean? I woke up from a nap, I feel fine!”, she said.

“What month is it Anna?”, her father asked.

“September”, Anna replied confidently.

“No dear… it’s March”, her dad said in reply.

Anna stared at him in disbelief. It wasn’t until she realized that some of the odd things she’d noticed earlier made sense, and she didn’t remember putting on these particular clothes that morning either.

“What happened?”, she asked quietly.

Her parents explained that she’d been in a sort of shell-shocked existence for months. She’d wake in the morning, go through a regular routine of preparing for her day, eating breakfast, and then simply return to her room and fall asleep again. She’d occasionally be up at night, but wouldn’t say anything, or do anything, except sit for a few moments and then head back to bed. Tonight when they walked in, they assumed she’d do the same, and were shocked when she called out. Her doctors were baffled, but her parents were happy to have her back.

To Anna, however, it was all just a groggy afternoon’s nap.


#34 A Literal World

“Ouch! That burned a bit”, Amiee said as she felt a warm heat on the back of her neck.

“What was that”, she asked her friend Mary.

“Dragonfly, probably”, Mary responded. “Sometimes their fire breath gets a bit intense!”.

About an hour earlier, Amiee had walked along minding her own business when a rock appeared out of nowhere and tripped her (Amiee wasn’t exactly the most careful person in the world, so it’s possible the rock was there the whole time, and she simply failed to adjust her course). Mary found her a few moments later, unconscious. Since she woke up, after having only been unconscious for a minute, things started getting strange.

“What happened?”, Mary asked as she peered at the wound on Amiee’s forehead.

“I must have tripped”, Amiee responded.

“Well, we’d better get that cleaned out”, Mary said as she guided Amiee toward her home. Her mother, Mrs. Black, came outside as the girls approached.

“What happened!?! Did anyone else see her trip? What’s going on?”, she asked, and Amiee let Mary explain the short story of it. Amiee couldn’t help but notice that something was different about Mrs. Black. She was moving from side to side, as if she couldn’t keep comfortable in her own skin. As they were washing out the cut, Mary spoke of her mother.

“Sorry about Mom – she always needs to be about everyone’s business. She means well though”. Mary said. Once they finished up, they returned to the park where they’d both been walking. It was there that Amiee saw the strangest bird. It appeared to be wearing a black hat and cloak. Why would a bird be wearing clothing?

“Look at that bird”, Amiee exclaimed.

“What? It’s just a mourning dove”, Mary said as she glanced at the animal.

“But why is he wearing black clothing?”, Amiee said. She was relieved when Mary failed to respond with something challenging her view of the bird.

“Well because he’s a mourning dove, silly! Never have quite understood whom they mourn for though.”, Mary said in reply.

Amiee was amazed, and while she stood there thinking, Mary pulled her to the side as a whooshing sound was heard, and the wind swished by them. Amiee saw something flash past, multiple colors and sounds intermingling, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Those boys always rush through here like a freight train”, Mary said. Amiee was astounded – they certainly had. What was going on here? How did one small trip change the world into a place where there was no such thing as a figure of speech, everything was literally as it sounded.

“Mary”, Amiee began, “Did anything out of the ordinary happen while I was unconscious”.

“No, not that I can think of”, Mary said. “You hit your head and cut it, and were out for a moment or two. Nothing happened here”.

“But everything that we talk about is literally occurring”, Amiee said.

“Of course it is – it would be strange if I had told you something different from what was really happening, right?”, Mary replied.

“No – it’s hard to explain Mary, but before I hit my head, I was in a world where we used language differently – we spoke about things using examples. The mourning dove was named because of its call similar to a cry – not because he was really in mourning”, Amiee said.

Mary looked at her for a moment, trying to figure out what was wrong with her friend.

“I think we should go to the hospital”, Mary said, and Amiee reluctantly agreed. As they walked into the emergency room, Amiee slumped over in her friend’s arms, and the attendants took her quickly into examination.

“Amiee”, a voice said as Amiee opened her eyes and began to focus. It was her mother.

“Mrs. Black called me and told me that you were here – I drove like lightning to get here”. Amiee was relieved that she didn’t see any visible scorch marks on her mother.

“Mom… my head hurts”, Amiee said.

“I know it does sweetie, but it will get better. You were out for about 10 minutes, and it had us very worried when you were groggy for so long. You had a fever, but that seems to have broken now”. her mother explained.

“What happened?”, Amiee asked.

“When you hit your head and cut yourself, you stumbled into a bush. Apparently you’re allergic to something in it, and the cut made the allergy even worse.”, her mother said.

“Mom, do fireflies breathe fire?”, Amiee asked.

“Of course they don’t, honey”, her mother chuckled.

“Language is weird”, Amiee said, as she smiled at her mom.


A Long Walk


This morning I had to pick up a vehicle from the mechanics and while it was raining and around 50 degrees out I had the wild idea to walk up there (Rather than drive up and pay, then pick up the car tomorrow). So I put on my earbuds (attached to my Zune) and my SeV sweatshirt; dug an old umbrella out of the closet (My usual one was in the vehicle I was going to get) and walked out into the rain. Yes, continuous rain

LocateMe Locates Us a Contest!

“Easily share your coordinates with others through Email or SMS. Simply select a recipient then press the ‘Send’ button. It is that quick! No extra typing required. The messages are automatically constructed for you by LocateMe.”

LocateMe provides a novel way to let others know what’s going on when you’re running late, or simply want them to be able to find you. I can see myself wanting this for those moments I know I’m going to be a bit late and want others to know where I am so they can estimate when I’ll be there. And for those of us who are late and lucky, Applied PDA Software has offered to give away 5 copies of LocateMe to lucky Thoughts readers. All you need to do is tell us what you would use LocateMe for. When the contest closes, the publisher will pick their top answers and we’ll announce the winners! You have until 12 Noon MST on 1/29/2009 to enter in your answer. Good Luck Everyone!

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Alarm Master Sleys Elusive Enemy ForgetAllAboutis!…master_ppc.html

“Alarm Master is a convenient and powerful utility that helps managing personal alarms and reminder on your Windows Mobile Classic/Professional device. If you need a reminder solution for a variety of purposes from daily alarm-clock to parents’ calls and monthly bills, this flexible tool is an ideal solution for you.”

So indulge me for a moment and pretend there is a mythical monster named ForgetAllAboutis, and further suppose that he/she/it likes to make you forget about various things you should do (e.g. call people you don’t particularly like, clean out pesky facebook friend requests from ex-girlfriends, or in my case, pay your quarterly taxes). Now imagine that some wonderful program existed that kept alarms apart from Windows Mobile’s calendar, included a today-screen plugin, and generally was customizable as one could wish. Now further believe that it has a trial version available and the full thing costs about 2 1/2 fancy coffees (e.g. around $13). If your (my) dream became reality, you’d have this new release from Connective Tools.

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