Felixuish – Page 2

The soft sound of fingernails running across a smooth, metal surface whispered to my agitated ears. Subtle vibrations ran up my fingers, into the tendons, and ground to a halt when I stopped on the engraving, eyes focused ahead of me, on the road, flickering toward every shadow that kicked up dust against the breeze. A piece of early autumn fell on my shoulder, and I brushed it off.

The sun was beginning to set; I had to find a place to rest before creatures of the night awoke. Unfortunately, seeing as this was as far from any mapped civilization as I’d ever been, I would have to improvise.

At a fork into deeper woods, I paused. A white rabbit darted out from beneath a bush on the right and scurried into the shadowed left fork. Taking this as an omen, I pulled my modest cloak around my shoulders and started down the path. The air here smelled of rotting wood and fresh daisies. The ground felt like marble through my soft shoes, though it visualized as a well-worn footpath.

Shadows danced in the dusk. I had to find shelter quick.

Off to the side, I spotted a large oak tree, its trunk sizable enough to carve a small home out of, if one had need of it. Its branches were still thick with leaves, but a decent ring of red skirted the area. This would have to do.

Cautious of traps and dens, I made my way between two nondescript trees and leapt into the arms of the oak. My arms wrapped around a large branch, and I swung a leg up to straddle the upside. Below, colored leaves stirred from my disturbance. When that had settled, the forest was still. Above me rang the rustle of small animals and birds.

The tree went up still higher, so I began my ascent. Each time I came to a sturdy enough branch, I placed one hand on its connective nub and whispered my prayer: “Be thankful for my grace above,” and the oak warmed to me as I climbed.

When I reached the top, the sun had set, and my vicinity was quiet. A wisp of cloud sent shadows into a valley visible from my vantage point, as well as across the silver moon. It was almost full tonight. That may well have spelled trouble for me.

Yet at the very tip of the tree, I found a comfortable nook indented between four, slim branches, inside which a fresh pile of golden leaves had settled. The brisk night air tamed here as I stretched out to gaze up at the sky. I closed my eyes.

A canine howled in the distance. Throughout the night, such sounds pawed at my ears, the nearby danger alerting my secondary senses. A few matron vultures circled my oak, but she sent them away, and for a few hours, I was able to sleep.


Felixuish (a small series I came up with on a whim) is a part of a two-step program I’m using to keep myself on my mental toes:

  • Step one: Every goddamn day, grace the internet with single piece of writing, written that day, in protest of the sense of unmotivated despair hanging over the creative corner of my mind.
  • Step two: Keep doing that.

I first heard of this method referred to as “Don’t Break the Chain” in this random YouTube video. Thank you, reader, for being a small part of this, and to chance that brought me to it. ❤

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Replaced

I still feel like myself. Everyone changes, with every atom in their body switching out for a new one every few years, so why shouldn’t I still be myself?

It’s not like I don’t still have feelings.

Having no regard for such things, some guy with some license signed some document, officially writing me off as a living thing. I was forced to physically stand there and watch, an arbitrary necessity that some other guy insisted upon — I assume to remove all doubt in the first guy’s mind.

Now I’m forced to follow this guy down some empty hallways that once gave me comfort, if just for the promise that someone was going to try and keep me “alive.” Hospitals are hypocrites in building form. When I first came here four years ago, it was because of a bad fall that broke my spine just below the neck. With the new technology available in our rapidly advancing world, they were able to construct me a new one. A new spine! At the time, it was insane and magical, and the only reason I could afford it was because it was still experimental — that, and I was dying. Something about the fluid in my spine at the neck? I was never good at biology. They fixed me back then. I was happy. My family was happy. I was able to go back to school, where everyone was enraptured by the new cyborg classmate.

We step into the elevator. I hope this guy doesn’t think I don’t notice him staring at me. Of all people, he should know I’m not dumb. I stare at my blank-faced reflection in the doors as they close. Perfectly human. Maybe even a little prettier than I used to be. Then again, I might be biased; there’s a reason I got these purple eyes when I was given the option. I didn’t want to change anything else, though. Plastic surgery was weird enough before it involved actual plastic.

We’re outside, and I’m now planted in the passenger seat of the man’s unimpressive sedan. He gets in and finally speaks. “At ease.”

I tense. “Why that phrase exactly?”

He puts the car in reverse to back out of the tight parking space. “The men upstairs are unoriginal. It’s useful, though. No one is likely to say ‘at ease’ in normal conversation.”

I continue to stare silently out the windshield. We pass a few teenagers screwing around by the lake next to the hospital. I recognize one of the Freshmen from Senior year. Tommie, I think his name is. He would be a Junior now.

We stop just there for a stop sign behind a white Jeep, and the streetlamp illuminates us. Tommie’s looking this way. He recognizes me and leans in to the girl next to him. “Is that Lennon?”

I barely pick up the question. I have to wonder if this guy next to me has cyberenhanced hearing too. That would be uncomfortable… potentially dangerous.

He doesn’t seem to have noticed, though. This gives me a bit of a rebel thrill feeling, and so, wondering what might happen, I mouth silently out the window, ‘Help me.’ Unfortunately, we turn so I can’t see them anymore before I can get a reaction. Damn.

I lean back in my seat, heart pounding a little. I hold onto it, which causes the feeling to be magnified. How can they say I’m not human? “Where are we going?”

The guy doesn’t even turn to me — which is fair, seeing as I haven’t looked at him once since leaving that room. “A lot of people have put investments into this technology. They expect to see the results tonight.”

I check my internal clock. It’s already past midnight. Are we late? “That sounds disturbingly similar to a slave auction to me. Call me over-imaginative, but am I seriously getting involved in the return of one of the most immoral recurring human vices?”

The guy finally turns to look at me. I retaliate and make eye-contact. He goes back to focusing on the road, but I get a shiver up my spine at the wistful smile on his lips. “Incredible. But no, this is not a slave auction. It’s not an auction at all. Your final destination has been predetermined. We’re just holding true to our benefactors.”

I’m bristling at the implications of his initial response, but I have to take the branch of a real answer that he offered. “Final destination. What?”

It takes him a few moments to come up with a reply. “I guess your confusion wouldn’t do us any good. Ben Laxley put the most into research on neuron replicators. He’s been made aware of how new this all is, but he still insists on, uh, first dibs.”

I sink into my seat. “Great. So I’m not going to be auctioned off, because I’ve already been pre-ordered.” I turn to him abruptly. “I still bleed, you know.”

The guy refuses to look at me. “Yes, I know. I was closely involved in the engineering.”

My shoulders hunch reflexively. I squeeze my eyes shut, and my stomach is clenched. These are all signs of anxiety. I’ve experienced this before. I don’t understand how so many people can just agree to write me off as “without consciousness” with so many clear, physical symptoms of…everything. It’s not fair. I still feel. I still think.

I force myself to calm down. Deep breath. I still breathe — no, I have to relax. There’s nothing I can do about it right now. There’s nothing I’ll ever to be able to do about it. They could literally just turn me off whenever they want. I’m not going to give them a reason to.

We pass into what looks to me like a rich neighborhood. We must be getting close. I can smell barbecue through the air conditioning. We’re forced to slow behind a limo that turns the corner, so the guy takes this opportunity to take out his mini-pad and flick through some options. I not-so-discreetly lean over to see what he’s doing, but I can’t understand it. I mean, I know it’s English, I know there’s some kind of menu, and I know that he’s doing things and typing something into another thing with text. I can feel it; I just can’t seem to comprehend what I’m looking at.

They can do that to me?

The guy puts the mini-pad back in his pocket and eases us into the parking lot — I mean driveway — of this… enormous mansion. The limo we followed here has already parked, and the woman stepping out has noticed us. She waves discreetly as the guy stops the car a few empty spaces to the left of her vehicle.

He orders me out of the car. I don’t even bother to see if I can fight it. We step out into the night. The woman, dressed in sparkling red (skin tight boots and all), sees me and immediately makes her way over. “Is that her?” she asks in a harsh whisper. I’m not sure if I should feel offended or not. “She’s beautiful!”

I decide to feel offended, but I can’t do anything about it. The guy smiles in greeting and nods at me, a clear gesture. Turning to the woman, I’m forced to smile kindly. “That’s so nice of you to say.”

The guy frowns a little, which makes me think he expected something else. Well, tough. They haven’t figured out how to control my thoughts yet.

I’m forced to follow the pair up the drive and into the building. There’s no one outside to make sure strangers don’t wander in, but I detect three cameras on our way in and at least one deactivated trip wire.

Nobody’s gonna come rob this house of its merch.

It hits me that I’m this house’s merch tonight. Shivers run up my spine.

We make our way through a crowded front room, immediately bombarded with questions and staring and smiles from people I don’t think I need to have met. The guy whispered to me before stepping in that I need to “include compliments and cheerful tones in your dialogue,” which seems to be putting people into this strange, prideful state.

An old woman in a crop top is ecstatic that I’m “so glad you’ve come this far to see me.” I don’t even know where that came from — it started off as a sarcastic thought; I couldn’t think of anything genuine — but she’s just giggling away about how she saved my life with her contributions to cybernetic cancer treatment. And — yeah — sure — I guess the research that went into it did, but she’s acting like she personally stood over me while I suffered for it in the hospital. No. No you did not. Bitch.

We move on. I, unfortunately, am unable to communicate properly with anyone. Whatever that guy did on the mini-pad, I’m hoping it’s not permanent, because I’m starting to run out of ways to pretend I don’t hate the person I’m addressing, and I don’t want to find out what happens when I do.

Finally, the room goes quiet. It’s 2AM on the dot, and I’ve been led to a room big enough to hold all the guests. It really does look like some kind of auction house. I don’t want to be here. I really don’t want to be here.

Maybe I can actually talk to this guy, since he only demanded I treat the rich people with deference. As we’re standing off to the side, forced to listen to another guy give a speech about modern technology, I lean in so I don’t have to speak loud enough for anyone else to hear. “Please don’t make me do this anymore.”

He looks at me in something like surprise, but the response is emotionless. “Do I need to suppress your stress hormones?”

The clinical nature of his words jars me. “N-no. No, of course not.” Wait, what am I saying? I’ve wanted a way to turn off my anxiety for years! But I don’t say anything. I can’t. I don’t want to give him a reason to do anything else to me.

The guy giving the speech finally concludes with, “Tonight is a very special night indeed. All of our efforts have come to fruition — granted, a novel fruit, one which may be further enhanced in the future, but fruition nonetheless.” He looks at the guy standing next to me. “Mr. Rogers, I believe, has brought us this fruit.”

“With me,” the guy, whose name is apparently Rogers, murmurs to me. I know it’s directed at me. I wish I could make myself respond as if I don’t, but I do, and I can’t, so I follow him up the steps and onto the slightly raised dais to the excited eyes of the one-percent. Their greedy, happy faces make me angry. I hate this. I hate everything. I want to go home to my cat. I want to go visit my mom. I don’t want to be here. I’m not a machine.

If only they cared.


Replaced is a part of a two-step program I’m using to keep myself on my mental toes:

  • Step one: Every goddamn day, grace the internet with single piece of writing, written that day, in protest of the sense of unmotivated despair hanging over the creative corner of my mind.
  • Step two: Keep doing that.

I first heard of this method referred to as “Don’t Break the Chain” in this random YouTube video. Thank you, reader, for being a small part of this, and to chance that brought me to it. ❤

My Brother’s Angel

Brandon stood at the edge of the precipice, ready to leave this world behind. I could see his intentions, and I didn’t want to get too close for fear of provoking him further, but I had to remind him I was there. “Brandon,” I called tentatively. He turned his head slightly, just enough so I could see his mouth. He whispered something I couldn’t hear. I swallowed. “You can’t…”

I couldn’t think of what to say next. Nothing I said could have been a valid argument. If I were in his shoes, I would want to go too.

He said something else to the air in front of him. I wished I could see who he was talking to. Finally, he moved forward, and I shouted in an incoherent jumble of panic. Brandon’s left foot stretched over empty space; his right followed. He hung there for a breathless moment, then he opened his arms, and I was reminded of those images you’d see of Jesus standing in front of Heaven, warm and welcoming. He even had the light: There it was, silhouetting his figure like a halo.

This is it, I thought. I’ve lost him. I’ve lost the last of my family.

But then something amazing happened, and he didn’t disappear beyond the cliff-edge. Brandon wrapped his arms around the glowing figure he’d been speaking with moments ago (I could see it now) and then turned away from his guardian angel. With a tear-filled smile, my brother stepped back onto solid ground.

My eyes flickered to the figure beyond. Dan—his name was Dan—smiled quirkily and waved at me before fading away… like he’d never even existed.

“Alex.”

I yanked my gaze away from empty air to find Brandon now standing in front of me, his hand on my shoulder. He smiled. “Thanks, Al.”

My lungs expanded so rapidly it almost hurt. “Fo-for what?”

Brandon laughed. I’d never thought about it before, but his laugh was endearing—in a little brother kind of way. “For giving me something to live for.”

My face burned. “Yeah? Well, I guess you owe me an explanation, then. What’s been going on with you? Why haven’t you answered my calls, you freak? What was that? What were you talking about just now?”

By the end of it, there were tears in my eyes. Manly tears. Brandon raised a knowing eyebrow, but he didn’t comment.

“I’ll explain in the car. Let’s go home, yeah?”

I knocked him in the head. He seemed to take that as a yes and walked off to where we’d parked our vehicles. As soon as we were both in his car, he sighed. “I think you already know the gist of it.” He hesitated, glanced at me, and asked, “…Right?”

I thought about it. “Yeah—yeah, I uh… I think I do. The… dream?”

He nodded. I wasn’t going crazy, then.

Brandon was referring to last night, when… something had happened. It was a dream, I’d swear—but it was vivid, and it was what led me to this place, to finding my brother with an angel on our childhood cliff. What sort of people have a childhood cliff, anyway? That’s dangerous as hell.

But the dream… It began like a normal dream. I found myself in our family’s old church, up in Maine. I hadn’t been there in years, but dreams don’t care; the service went on, droning in the background of my vague dream thoughts. Then one of the thoughts became an angel. That’s not too strange, is it? Not in a church. It stood there in the aisle, next to my brother. That was normal. This was all normal.

“Go on,” the angel said, which jarred me. Voices aren’t supposed to work in dreams. “Talk to him.”

I slowly turned my head to meet my brother’s eyes. He was crying. His eyes were red. It looked like he’d been having a bad time. Next to an angel? This guy could complain about anything. I thought that, but every molecule in my body was aware of the discomforting change in atmosphere now that these two were in the room.

My brother crossed his arms and glanced away, a younger Brandon’s signal that it was time to go home. “You’re being unfair, Dan.”

Dan? I tried to get a good look at the angel’s face, but it was all a blur of miscellaneous colored light.

“You never talk. You’ll be sad forever if you stay.”

“But I’ll never see him again. O-or dad, or mom, or Aunt Patty, or…” Brandon seemed to run out of family members.

The angel put a hand on his shoulder. “They’ll be fine. Hell doesn’t exist. You can do better.”

My dream-ridden brain finally caught up with the conversation. ‘Wait a second, Bran—you’re not doing what I think you’re talking about doing.’

He didn’t seem to hear me. Instead, the dream changed; we were on that cliff-side, with that silhouette standing beyond the edge. It only lasted a moment, so short a time I’m not sure if I was meant to see it—but then I woke up, and I panicked.

Now here I was.

Brandon started the car. “He was… hounding me about it.”

It was a long story.

“Look—I can’t fully explain it. Religion is mostly all wrong, but partly all right, and I’m your guardian angel.”

“Nice summary of your non-explanation, Mr. Angel Man,” Brandon moaned, arms crossed tightly. His voice reverberated off church walls and empty pews. It wasn’t the same church as my dream; it was just the closest one he knew of, and he hadn’t known what else to do. “Please just tell me why you’re here. Why you chose now to come see me?”

Dan the angel sighed. “I want to… take you home with me.”

Brandon couldn’t believe his ears. “What, to Heaven?”

“Yes,” Dan exclaimed, then reddened, like he’d broken some rule. “It’s your only chance, Bran. Very few people end up like… me.”

Brandon stared at him silently. A man walked in just then, but he was able to ward him off with the generic ‘I’m praying’ excuse.

“Praying won’t do anything,” Dan told him.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I told you—religion isn’t right. You can’t just pray to the ‘one true God’ and get a free pass into bliss.”

“Clearly,” Brandon muttered, squeezing his arms tighter.

“The criteria aren’t that simple.”

“Dan—”

“But I can take you home with me. That’s what angels are for. I couldn’t do anything until now because I’m supposed to let you take your own path—”

“Dan, please”

“—but your path lead to nowhere. Do you realize that? It leads to nothing. You may as well be an atheist, if they were right…”

“I am an atheist. Dan—”

“But Heaven is more amazing than any silly human myths can tell you—”

DAN, SHUT UP!”

Dan shut up.

Brandon closed his eyes. “You can’t just turn up and tell me all this at once. Let me absorb just… the fact that you exist. Please.”

Dan’s facial features immediately softened. “Okay. Sorry. I know you don’t like that kind of pressure.”

“You’re a jerk of an angel, you know that?”

Brandon’s guardian angel just shrugged, smiling that quirky, almost apologetic smile of his. “There’s no such thing as perfection.”


Dan followed Brandon around for the next two months. Within that space of time, Brandon refused to answer my calls, responded to texts with bland, ‘yeah I’m whatever’ responses, and took a lot of sick days. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t worry too much until that dream. It wasn’t super weird behavior for him, and I thought maybe he’d gotten a girlfriend.

Me and my excuses.

The two of them often talked as if life was normal. Brandon said he was actually really happy while they were together, just… very uncomfortable whenever Dan brought up his proposition.

“It’s that or humanity all over again.”

“Is that what’ll happen to Alex?” Brandon grilled him. “Is that where my mom is? A baby somewhere?”

“That’s not how it works,” Dan muttered.

“Well, how does it work?”

Dan shook his head. “English is literally insufficient in explaining the concept.”

“I speak a little German.”

“The human brain literally cannot comprehend it.”

It does sound silly, Brandon admitted as he recounted these conversations to me. But at the time, with this… being just… standing over him, looking somehow frustrated and patient and not patronizing all at the same time—it didn’t take long for him to start taking it seriously.

“Can you at least bring Al with us?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I basically have a plus one thing going on here, alpha dawg. I’m your angel, not his.”

I was unaware until this conversation that Dan had nicknames for my brother. Should I be creeped out? Flattered? Indifferent? Brandon refused to breach the subject.

Dan did occasionally have these confrontations with him in dream form. It was the only way, Brandon informed me, that he could come close to showing him what he was missing out on. It was in the middle of one of these that Dan finally decided to make Brandon talk to me about it. It’s when he showed him one of our childhood hideouts, a classic form of manipulation if I ever heard of one.

“Technically, all forms of social interactions are manipulations,” Brandon pointed out.

“This was deliberate and you know it,” I argued.

Deliberate or not, it worked. Brandon got in the car and started off just around the time that I did. He talked to Dan at the cliff. When he became aware of my presence, his resolve broke. “I couldn’t leave you alone,” he told me. “We’re young. You’re… you. Who knows what might have happened?”

“Gee, thanks.”

“I guess what really jarred me was that it was exactly like the last time.”

“Last time?”

“On his third anniversary.”

Brandon stood at the edge of the building, ready to leave this world behind. He’d been thinking about it all year. It was his fault. He had killed six people, one of which he would have happily died for.

It wasn’t his fault, of course. I tried to tell him, but he was convinced.

He’d tried to end it two times before, both on the same day of the year. Both times without letting any of us know. Neither time had been particularly creative; but this time, he stood at the top of the very building it happened in, on a very cold day, in a very sour state. It was symbolic. It made it less uncertain.

He took a deep breath, then blew out the steam, imagining it as cigarette smoke drifting away from his unhealthy lungs. There was no one around. It was just the wind and his thoughts, and the sounds of distant traffic. “Oh,” he murmured to himself. “D’you need help with that?”

Right foot.

“It’s no problem. I’m just waiting for a friend.”

Left foot.

“Careful, Miss, don’t trip.”

Brandon pushed the toes of his right foot over the edge. He could feel the updraft tickling his nose, rustling his unkempt hair. It had always been unkempt. He just never cared for looking presentable, ever since he could understand why mom told him to brush his hair every day, and not to wear his bright blue shorts with his bright red shirt. He thought it was silly to care what other people might think of his appearance on a casual, day-to-day basis.

“Hey, Mr. Markus. Yeah, I know I’m a good kid.” He closed his eyes. “Shut up.”

Left leg up.

Left foot down.

Left foot up.

Head backwards.

Brandon opened his eyes as he stumbled. He yanked his arms away from whoever had just pulled him back and swung around with an angry fist. “What the f—”

“Hey.”

Olive knuckles froze within inches of their mark. Dan smiled. “You almost fell. Good thing I was here, huh?”

Brandon’s hand shook. “No…” he breathed. “N-no, this isn’t real. I’m hallucinating. I-it’s just my brain’s survival instincts… k-kicking in…”

He closed his eyes and counted to three in his head, backing up as much as he dared, then opened them. Before him stood his closest friend in all his leather jacketed, old jean-wearing, curly-haired… winged glory. As he watched, eyes glued to the soft, white hump over Dan’s left shoulder, Brandon could’ve sworn it had always been there, shifting as naturally as a man’s right bicep. He had always glowed, Brandon reasoned. This was… normal.

Dan laughed briefly. “H-yeah, angels really have wings. You can, uh, stop staring now.”

Brandon slowly allowed his gaze to slide back over to Dan’s face. “You’re an angel.” It sounded like a statement, but no one listening could have mistaken it for anything other than a dazed question.

“Yep.”

“No.”

“Uh huh.”

“Nooo…” Brandon turned, dragging his hands over his face as he devolved into groans and sat down on the ledge. “Uugghh no.”

He heard Dan sit down next to him, felt something soft brush his arms. “It’s real, buddy. It’s real.”

Brandon hadn’t taken Dan’s accident too well. The guy had been his foil—the hare to his tortoise, the nurse to his Juliet, the Phineas to his Ferb. They didn’t hang out quite as much as you’d think that would entail, but Brandon didn’t really hang out with anybody.

That’s why we left him alone after the fire. It’s why we didn’t wonder when he didn’t come to the funeral, and why, when I did finally come check in on him, I didn’t ask him any questions. That’s the sort of relationship we’ve always had, me and him. We loved each other, but only as much as introverted brothers are wont to do. I respected his solitude, and he respected my occasional emotional breakdown.

As it turned out, Brandon was there when it happened. He blamed himself for it, in fact. He was smoking outside the university, waiting for Dan to be done giving the “newbies” a tour. An old woman walked by carrying a heavy load—a stack of boxes full of what looked like tye-tied shirts—and Brandon, being just the nicest guy, offered to help.

He admits he was bored, but maybe that’s just an excuse for what happened next. On the way in, he tripped briefly and dropped his lit cigarette right into the open box. It seemed to go out upon hitting the fabric, but he couldn’t be sure… He was about to set the box down and check when some official-looking guy walked over and took it from him.

“What—hey! I was helping with that!”

The man chuckled. “It’s a nice thought, kid, but Angella doesn’t need any help from you.” He gave the woman a knowing smirk that Brandon didn’t understand… and didn’t want to understand. The man and Angela started throwing sly comments back and forth, but Brandon didn’t pay enough attention to care to remember.

He was about to cut in and ask for his cigarette back when he remembered that he wasn’t actually supposed to be smoking indoors… and this guy was a dean. He recognized him now: Rick Markus, a big stickler for rules. Not wanting to get in trouble—especially not when he was supposed to be at home already—Brandon laughed off the situation and went back outside.

The fire alarm went off ten minutes later.

He waited outside while students and faculty evacuated, anxiously watching for his friend. When Dan didn’t appear for two minutes, Brandon took out his phone and called him.

No answer.

He waited another five minutes. He could see flames in the uppermost windows. Sirens everywhere. He called again.

Ring, ring

click.

“Brandon! Are you outside?”

Brandon practically choked on relief. “Dan! Where are you? Are you outside? Please tell me you’re nearby. I’m still out here, I—”

“H-hold on—” Dan went into a brief coughing fit before shouting something unintelligible with the phone away from his face. When he came back, his voice was hoarse. “I’m in the library with—” He was cut off by another bout of violent coughing.

“Dan!”

“I need you to tell me—Felix, get away from—”

Beep.

Brandon dropped his phone and ran into the building. Someone tried to stop him, but it barely registered. The library. He’s in the library. I gotta find a safe path to the library.

Needless to say, he didn’t get there in time to save Dan. He met up with Dan’s tour group halfway there, and they told him Dan had been crushed under a falling support beam. He was panicking during the whole event, so he couldn’t give me details. Suffice to say, he ended up saving the rest of Dan’s extra credit kids.

By the time the group was out, the building was practically decimated. Policemen and firefighters were gathered outside. Friends and presumably family stood by, crying or hugging or begging an officer to do something. All the freshmen to-be gave Brandon their condolences, or a sad look; or they burst into tears and ran for someone in the growing crowd to the sound of their name.

No one payed any attention to my brother after that. No one knew, or would ever know, what had started the fire. No one noticed my brother as he walked away from the wreckage. No one cared enough to ask if he was going to be all right.


A Letter From The Author
      My Brother’s Angel was a short story written in response to a prompt (to tell a story in reverse) in my most recent creative writing class. It was my only fully completed work at the time that I was proud of. It is, in fact, the largest project I’ve ever felt is of publishable quality.
Sad, right?
I’ve been hoarding it on my laptop with the vague feeling that putting it out anywhere would mean I’d “lost” it. In truth, though, it’s pretty much worthless if it never sees the light of day.

Felixuish – Page 1

The door made a sound between a creak and a squeak. The floor harmonized with its own version of an echo. My hand, sliding off the wood, seemed off-color amidst the overgrown scrapes and thunks inside the tavern. I sniffed. Pine. Nice.

The three men not hunched over their drinks at the bar gave me a wary glance as I passed. My modest cloak disturbed the air just so that the scent of blue forest following me from without permeated the stale, wooden odor within. This earned me a glare from the bartender.

I sat in front of the woman. “The usual,” I said, fatigued. When she raised an eyebrow, I returned the look and then turned my attention to the object in my left hand. It was a knife with a golden hilt, the blade more reflective than your average mirror.

The woman behind the counter took this as a threat and went to serve me a random drink; really, I was studying the pattern etched into the steel. It looped and curved and dotted itself like a conscious fragment sentence, and yet the longer I stared, the less like language it appeared.

The woman set a proper beer mug in front of me. Its glass was fogged with condensation, a contrast to the metal surface I’d been observing. I tucked the knife away and took a sip. Gross. I licked my lips and put it back on the counter.

Everyone in the tavern was watching me now. Their indiscreet glances weighed heavily on my back and neck. Heat radiated from my skull to my tailbone through the spine, leaving nothing but ice behind.

I couldn’t stay here. Knowing this, I took another sip of the dubious drink and went back to my treasure. Its reflective properties made it all the more difficult to look at; as I tried to focus on the silver patterns, intense blue eyes stared back into me. I turned the knife so I was seeing the ceiling now. Something dripped from the floor above, washing away the letters I’d almost begun to read. Damn it.

The familiar creak and squeak of the door with that harmonious sound of a food on the edge of the floorboards struck the room again. I tilted the blade so I could see the newcomer and suppressed a curse at the sight of them.

They sat down next to me, and I caught a whiff of the forest air outside. “The usual,” they said, sounding fatigued. The woman behind the counter saw them and looked at me. I met her eyes. No.

She seemed to understand. She leaned across the bar, eyes on the newcomer. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I haven’t seen you here before. Perhaps I’m the new one… What is ‘the usual’?”

I tucked the knife away and left the tavern. Not today.


Felixuish (a small series I came up with on a whim) is a part of a two-step program I’m using to keep myself on my mental toes:

  • Step one: Every goddamn day, grace the internet with single piece of writing, written that day, in protest of the sense of unmotivated despair hanging over the creative corner of my mind.
  • Step two: Keep doing that.

I first heard of this method referred to as “Don’t Break the Chain” in this random YouTube video. Thank you, reader, for being a small part of this, and to chance that brought me to it. ❤

Along The Way

Heaven is eternal and forever. It must have room for every person and every animal that ever lived and ever will live. It must be perfect, therefore one has the option to quickly travel from one place to another that may otherwise be farther away than you could travel in an entire lifetime. You start out where your loved ones are or family is. You begin where you will want to satellite for all of eternity.

At least, that is what I once thought. That’s what I thought until I was met with a newcomer, one I’d never met before, one who lacked the stink of the Earth. He had certainly been here for a time. He wore the skin of a bear, paws and all, with its head behind his neck like a hood, and he carried a stereotypical bindle that could not have held more than two or three sandwiches. He stood at an impressive height, and yet his face, framed by light brown locks bowled around his head, was youthful and fair. He smiled always, as though he held a happy thought in his mind — not unlike the state of all who knew this place.

I welcomed him kindly and asked from whence he came. He could not have been alone if he’d traveled far, yet I’d never seen him. Did he live, introverted, away with his family? Perhaps in a nearby town, or the Hemphisters’ farm? Had the man been a bear, only now taking human form? If so, I was happy to welcome him into my house and share my clothes. I had plenty to wear.

He shook his head at each question and continued to smile, staying quiet until I was done. I finally asked, “So from where do you hail?”

“From Earth, of course, just like you.” He smiled. I laughed and asked again, knowing this joke and presuming I’d been right about him living apart from the rest of us. His next answer was less common. “After that, however, I come from God’s castle. I had the seven billion and fifty-third room.”

I gaped at the man. “It… it can’t be. I’d heard of the rumors, but… Is his castle still there?”

“Why wouldn’t it be?” the man chuckled. “I haven’t seen it in ages, but I’m sure it still stands. I just got bored of it.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “What’s boring about God? Isn’t he glorious? Isn’t he wonderful? Isn’t it amazing to be near him always?” We had all seen Him of course, but we had to live our lives. It had been millennia since anyone stayed in His House.

“Eh.” The man shrugged. “I guess I just like to wander. No one else has left there, as far as my knowledge extends.”

“Wander? This far? Do you never go back?”

“I prefer not to see the same place twice. I’ve been on this path in Earthly time since before Jesus was born.” The man winked at me. “I’ll continue until I reach the edge of life. That’s my goal.”

I frowned at the man, an expression now rare. “But… there are new souls all the time. Moving that slow, you’ll never reach it. Why have such a goal? Why have any goal?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” said the man. “I’ll go on forever. I don’t plan to reach any thing of an ‘end’.”

I glanced around. “Are you really alone?”

The man nodded and turned. “I had better get going if I want to reach the end of town by sunset.”

My expression deepened. “Why in Heaven would you want to do that? Stay awhile. Meet my wife. We have food and a pool and — ”

“I’m sorry, but no.” Still smiling that pleasant smile of his, the man took his bindle and untied the knot. He peeled the piece of cloth from the outside of a bindle of another color, shook the wrinkles from it, and handed it to me. “To remember me by.”

He winked again and started off, bear head swinging in rhythm to his footsteps. I heard him hum a familiar tune as he went, unsure as to whether I should call out or offer dinner again. Then I looked down at the cloth he had handed to me…


Along The Way is a part of a two-step program I’m using to keep myself on my mental toes:

  • Step one: Every goddamn day, grace the internet with a single piece of writing, written that day, in protest of the sense of unmotivated despair hanging over the creative corner of my mind.
  • Step two: Keep doing that.

I first heard of this method referred to as “Don’t Break the Chain” in this random YouTube video. Thank you, reader, for being a small part of this, and to chance that brought me to it. ❤