an anthology of short stories: Apparitions and Premonitions.
An Ontological Discussion with Matt
by Joel Nickel
“Every person is actually the same being experiencing reality subjectively,” Matt pulled the cup to his mouth. His words were spoken as though they were mundane and ordinary; some trivial conversation about some idle piece of gossip.
They sat down in the café after both had ordered drinks.
Lillith was so shaken by the enormity of Matt’s words that her body convulsed as though her whole body was doing a comically exaggerated double take for some hammy vaudevillian act.
“Holy fuck? What?” She immediately covered her mouth. “Sorry,” she looked down, embarrassed. “I meant, to say . . .”
“I think you meant to say ‘holy fuck’,” Matt grinned.
She chuckled shyly and then tried to sit up straight. “Okay, I’m going to think about this critically. Convince me.”
“I think humans are identical pieces of the same being, but are represented in the physical world separately by each person’s consciousness. And only in that way are we differentiated. If we went back to the spiritual world we’d just be part of that same being. All consciousness is supplied by one being hosting separate bodies; a meta-subjective view of reality.”
“Hmmm, so that thing is everybody?” she swirled the coffee around with her brown plastic stir stick.
“Yes, but I think it’s a single being from a duality. There is good essence and evil essence inside us. When one of the essences controls another being more than the other that person becomes good or bad.”
“That would explain why so many religions are built around the idea that the world started by God for humans. Maybe consciousness developed when this entity was able to harness the body of the homo sapiens and insert it’s consciousness onto it,” she took a drink from her coffee.
“I believe that the first modern man and woman were given consciousness by just such an entity. So the Bible’s Adam and Eve were actually just the first two homo sapiens that had consciousness. And that explains how there were other homo sapiens for Cain and Able to mate with. They were just mating with homo sapiens who hadn’t attained consciousness. Maybe the first consciousness was only in Adam and Eve, but then through birth it separated from Adam and Eve into Cain and Able. And then was transferred to the rest of humanity through Cain. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a metaphor for homo sapiens attaining consciousness. Both good and evil energies existed together as one in both Adam and Eve, but when they had children the energies were split apart. Cain contained more evil than good and Able contained more good than evil. But then Cain killed Able and the majority of goodness was lost from the timeline and the rest of humanity is filled with the evil energy that Cain propagated through the generations.”
“What if Adam and Eve have a good son that was hidden away?”
“Woah. What if he wasn’t written about again until Mary, but rather than the virgin birth, Mary was actually part of the biological line of the good son of Adam and Eve had hidden away from Cain’s evil lineage. What if in that isolation from Cain the good energy lineage exercised a kind of sexual selection where only those with a high amount of goodness were allowed to procreate until we reach Jesus who was almost entirely good energy. When Jesus became aware of the way that the Jewish religion had been distorted as a system of control over the people through the influence of an elite few, he decided to expose humanity to the real message. Everyone is a subjective piece of God’s consciousness.”
“What if the context of what Jesus said was altered by the people who reprinted the Bible? The original Hebrew was changed to Greek and then from Greek to Old English, right? I’m pretty sure that’s right,” it had been a long time since she was ever in Sunday School and she really didn’t know that much about religion so she decided to stop herself and Matt continued.
She looked down at the floor.
“There are single words in certain languages that represent whole concepts. Since word is a whole concept, it can only be translated as a sentence when there is no equivalent word in the language it’s being translated into. Although, actually I can’t think of an example in English,” he paused, scrunching his face together and looking up as though he were trying to peer inside his brain with his eyes and that somehow that would help him remember. “Well, the French have a word ennui. And ennui, means . . . actually,” Matt pulled out his smartphone and entered the word into the search engine on his browser. After an unbelievably short time, which wasn’t appreciated or even acknowledged as being as miraculous as it was, the smartphone gave him the knowledge he was desiring. “Ennui is the feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction. That one word actually means an entire concept. And the word petrichor! That is the scent of rain on dry earth. Both are concepts condensed into one word. What words in original Hebrew were like ennui and petrichor? Maybe the meaning conveyed in those original words were mistranslated when the scriptures were transferred over to Greek. And then again when the Bible was translated into English? I always wondered if when Jesus said ‘we should love another as yourself,’ he wasn’t meaning you should love one another as separate, disconnected individuals. Maybe he was saying you actually ARE the other person. Only you are subjectively viewing existence and have a different individual past that we have named as our self to which we tether recollections of events as having happened to that self. But it’s only because we’ve had different experiences from one another that shape our behaviour and the way we interact and perceive the world. There’s that atheistic argument that religion is dependant on where you are born. If you’re born in the US you’re probably going to be a Christian. If you’re born in China you’ll be a Confucian or a Buddhist and if you’re Japanese you’ll probably be Shinto. Those cultural designations and expectations will colour your experience of reality.”
Lillith remained silent. Staring, unblinking, contemplating.
Matt continued: “rather than being separate and antagonistic we should recognize that while we are only experiencing the world subjectively, our consciousness is the same consciousness as any and every other person experiencing reality subjectively through their body. That’s a pretty intense idea for the whole of humanity to posses if a certain amount of subjective experiencers want to retain their individuality and their control and power over others. So what did the Pharisees do? Well they killed Jesus and then made it seem like he was a heretic. He was going up against the control, the influence, the power, and the evil that Cain’s lineage stood for. Cain’s influence as the evil force even ended up usurping the spiritual message that Jesus true followers were trying to get out. The church instead used Christianity the religion to control the masses. Not to free them with knowledge. In the Dark Ages only the clergy and noblemen could really read. Why? ‘Cause knowledge. That’s why! Those who possess knowledge possess the power to shape the perception of those who do not have that knowledge. Have you ever told a lie and you knew it was a lie but the other person you told trust you so much that they believe that you are telling them the truth. In that moment you have altered their experience of objective reality. With words, you have changed that person’s awareness of truth. You have made an illusory film that obscures the other person’s awareness of the true, objective reality. So yah, if most people can’t read, they can’t verify whether what the bishop at the front of the church is actually reading is written on the pages of the book in front of him, or whether the speech and its meaning are simply propaganda that aims to control the thoughts and actions of others for the benefit of the elite. That’s why whenever I hear something I also put the information through a prism of critical observation. Who is telling me this information? Why are they telling me this information? Could the messenger have a motive or a bias?”
Lillith continued to stare at him. She was aware now that he was emitting a subtle light that danced in the air around him. She felt a recognition of understanding in his eyes and then she felt an odd sense of deja-vu. She remembered this experience. She remembered this conversation but she remembered it through the subjective experience of Matt.
A.R.C.H. – Applied Research and Controlled Habitat
He couldn’t figure out how it could’ve happened, and how it could’ve happened to the ARCH’s armory and a select few cryo-pods. The ship’s Security Officer, Greg Scott, figured it was sabotage. There was no one on board except those on the ship’s manifest and EVE1 would’ve told them if there had been any stowaways though that idea in itself was ludicrous. They were in cryo-suspension for the last twenty years and only a skeleton crew had been removed from the cryo-pods to manually land the ARCH. They’d only just started waking the others.
Brenin Klihp was the Chief Engineer in charge of the Hyperspace Tunnel and with Arty North, the Systems Analyst for EVE1, occupying one of those cryo-pods destroyed, Brenin found himself in charge of far more than he’d agreed to. The landing was dicey but EVE1 helped a lot. When they woke SO Scott, Brenin wished they hadn’t. He could still hear Scott’s acerbic voice ringing behind his temples.
“Am I expected to have sexual intercourse with all the men on this ship?”
A flat, expressionless voice inquired from behind him. The content of the words and the fact that his fourteen year old daughter was saying them made him whip his whole body around to face her.
“I’ve menstruated and am capable of becoming pregnant. Am I supposed to repopulate this planet if the humans from Earth . . . “ his daughter paused, tapped her fingers three times on the nearest flat surface and clacked her teeth down in one decisive jolt. Brenin always worried that she would damage her teeth doing that. He thought she’d stopped doing that but it was a tense time, and her nervous ticks would present themselves whenever she was, “. . . for some reason can’t make it here?”
“Oh Jesus.” In all the frantic rushing around he’d forgotten how anxious this whole situation must be for Kitty.
Kit Klihp just stared at her father, waiting for the rest of his response.
“Where’d you get an idea like that, Kitty?”
“I’m 14,” she said, somberly. “I know about human sexual reproduction.”
“Well, no! God, no! Kitty. Don’t. And you don’t have to! And if anyone tries to,” he paused in disbelief that he was about to utter the words to his fourteen-year-old daughter, “engage in sexual relations with any of the men on this ship. And if they do try anything, please tell me. You’re 14!”
“But biologically, I’m capable of-“
“But Jesus! You’re 14!”
“I never thought you were so religious, Father,” she stared at him. In the silence she sniffled, and then immediately touched her nose three times; another one of her ticks. “Because you keep mentioning God and Jesus.”
“No, I . . . I just . . . Kitty, this is making me really uncomfortable.”
“Just, just got back to reading, sweetie. And no sex talk until you’re . . . 25,” he started to swivel back in his chair but his daughter’s voice stopped him.
“Why 11 years?” She furrowed her brow and looked off to a space beyond her father, through the flight deck and into the wilderness of Gliese 581g. “That seems arbitrary. Is there something about human anatomy that I missed in my research that presents itself at 25?”
“Go read, honey,” Brenin said softly. “Or go see Victoria and ask her.”
“Does she know something more about sexual intercourse that you don’t, Father?”
“Well . . . she’s a woman,” Brenin said, hoping that’d be the end.
“Good point,” she said flatly and turned on her heels to exit the room.
“See you at supper,” he called after her.
She stopped at the door, “I’m glad I don’t have to be sexually intimate with any of the men. I find the whole idea disagreeable.”
“Remember, it’s always your choice,” he looked at her to make sure she was focused on his voice. “Kitty, don’t ever do something you don’t want to do. Always do what you think is right!”
She nodded silently and stepped into the hallway. The automatic door hissed closed behind her.
I didn’t immediately start the journal documenting the nightly visits; but it wouldn’t have done any good anyway. At first, I was confident that the visitor was a character in a dream. Though, after an entire week of nightly visits, I had to accept that I was either completely insane or the visitor really was materializing at the foot of my bed to converse with me. Eventually I did start the journal, but despite my meticulous written accounts of our nightly discourse (I’m a journalist by trade) the evidence would always be expunged the next morning before I could show anyone. I know, I mean, I know that I’d documented my interactions with the visitor. Of this I am completely and unfalteringly confident. Why? Because I, and my editors, know how pedantic my first drafts can be and how frustratingly (for them) meticulous I am at finding the most apt and efficiently articulate words to express the brutish barking of raw thought that screams about the inside of my head. I read somewhere that they’re working on a machine that will decode and download the electrical sparks of pure thought to an external interface. It would be like if you found a song online that you really loved but then, before others could listen, you had to notate the piece onto sheet music by hand and then suddenly having the ability to bypass all of that effort and just plug in your mp3 player and directly downloading the song for playback instead. But anyway, we don’t yet have that tech for brains but it would be very helpful if I did. The way it is now, I have to personally write down my experiences with my nightly visitor. And like I said earlier, I KNOW that I’ve been writing them down but every morning I found the minutes, if you will, of the previous night are erased from the pages of my journal. Even the pen marks on latter pages from the frenzied pressure of my writing are mysteriously smoothed away as though I’d just bought the journal that day. I tried sneakily writing other non-visitor related journal entries into the journal alongside but those stay. They are still intact and unaltered save for the new spacing between entries. And this I find extremely uncomfortable, there are no spaces between entries where the redacted portions should lie. I did start writing them on note pads at work and then hiding them around the apartment, but when I would go back to check, they too were blank. It wasn’t like they were torn or burnt or stolen, they were still there, but all my writing had been dissolved from existence. I started dictating into my voice recorder a few nights ago but when I uploaded them to my laptop the files consisted of lengthy swells of the hiss and crackle of angry static. The visitor doesn’t appear when my girlfriend spends the night. For awhile, she stayed regularly but after three consecutive nights of silence, well relative silence, it made me anxious that I was possibly squandering an incredible opportunity. Even if it was only to discover that I am in fact completely fucking bat shit, off my rocker, straight jacket donned, mouth guard drooling, padded room destined, tinfoil headed insane! I really hope that’s not the case. He, well, I think it’s a he. He looks like a he but I don’t know, maybe he’s a shape shifter and this form is least traumatic for me like that being from Carl Sagan’s book Contact. But yah, he had never told me his name before last night and I’d written it down but this morning, of course, it no longer existed. I think it was something like Ananna or Naner or something. I remember picturing a Banana when he said it but he did say that the name he gave me was his true name but that others have called him many different things over the years. And from what he’s been telling me in his visits it been a pretty significant span of years over which he’s been visiting. < that sounded wrong. I would go back and reword that but fuck it, it’s going to be erased by tomorrow morning anyways, right? Why should I believe that tonight would be any different? So yah, fuck editing. About a week ago he told me that “the Gods are Returning” but that I shouldn’t be afraid. Most of the first visits were spent in terrified silence just staring at the figure in my dark bedroom and listening to him speak to me in an accent unlike anything I could ever articulately describe. Gradually and with timid apprehension, I began to shift the visitors monologue to dialogue. But some of the stuff he told me, Jesus. I mean, I totally understand, if it’s true, why he would erase all the pages. It was this Gods returning business that kinda freaked me out. Tonight I asked him about it again and he kept asking me questions instead. We watched another episode of Full House together. He shares my fascination (arguably a fixation) with the 90s. We actually watched most of the series together already. Has he been visiting me that long? Anyway, last night he actually brought two others and I wasn’t at all prepared for that. The one friend was also male, I guess, and looked like he could’ve been the visitor’s brother. But the other friend was breathtakingly gorgeous. I mean, how can I express this without sounding incredibly clichéd or superficial or whatever. People have been trying to describe the traits of the most “beautiful woman in the world” since there have been women in the world, but this . . . she can’t even be described in words. The three of them told me that this was the last night before the “Return of the Gods”. The beautiful woman expressed to me through a silent exchange that I could feel inside my head that I shouldn’t be afraid. They’re not coming for us. No citizens would be harmed. Their kind had been the former rulers of Earth after they’d colonized the planet, a sort of Planetary Mining operation, looking for mono-nucleic gold that their civilization used partly as a power source and as an ingredient for their secret to longevity. They were the builders of all the Pyramids and the other great Ancient Wonders attributed to early humans. Actually, and the deadpan way the other male visitor explained this to me still chills me even as I’m writing, he said that human beings were actually genetically created cheap labour by mixing their DNA with the an earlier hominid primate. The humans though vastly outnumbered their visiting rulers and an opportunistic ruler betrayed his fellow . . . oh fuck, they never told me what they were just that they were who created us I guess. Maybe I should’ve asked. But I was still reeling from the second male’s nonchalant reaction to having utterly destroyed my entire framework of reality. So yah, this opportunistic . . . one of them . . . decided to incite a human revolt against the visitors and offered them assistance under the condition that he and those visitors of his choosing would stay around the rule in their stead. The betrayer destroyed the hyperspace tunnel connecting Earth to their Home World and so his race was marooned on Earth after the Evil . . . FUCK I should’ve asked what they were called, anyway they were stranded here after the revolt. Outnumbered they hid themselves and their knowledge of the true history of Earth, for centuries popping up here and there when they’re needed and then promptly murdered by those in power. Who according to the three strangers were actually still the betrayer and those of his kind that had aligned themselves with him. All the leaders and the influential people are human beings, yes, but they are all in those positions because they have sworn an allegiance to the Betrayer. That part made a lot of sense in the moment but I don’t know. That’s a lot of people to keep quiet if you’ve conscripted people to appear like they’re controlling things but are actually the middle men. I feel like someone would’ve talked at some point . . . unless they don’t know any of this information and are just “following orders”. I don’t know. But there was more. They said that the Gods are almost here and that they are benevolent and will treat us with kindness and respect. I brought up that slave labour thing and they said it wasn’t slave labour, it was cheap labour. And apparently not the cheap labour we’re used to when the mental image pops into our heads. Apparently the continent of Africa is very different then we’re being led to believe and that if we looked more closely there we’d find more answers but we’re constantly being fed terrifying reasons why we should steer clear of a lot of Africa. But anyway, just before they left they explained the reason it took so long for the Gods to return. Since the hyperspace tunnel was destroyed they had to once again make the journey to Earth the conventional way before they could construct a new hyperspace tunnel to once again reconnect Earth with their home world. Kinda Star Gate-y and at the time I was accepting that as a confirmation that I was actually insane and in a Mental Institution day room somewhere watching an edited for TV version of Star Gate while the other patients around me drooled into straight jackets.
OH HOLY FUCK! Today’s early morning entry was not erased when I came to check! But, I also awoke to fins every piece of electronic equipment in the entire apartment inert and silent. I wonder … if the last journal entry is still here then that means that maybe this one won’t disappear either. I remember something else! I remember the names they gave me before they left. The visitor finally told me his name. He said most people called him Thoth but that his real name was Nannar. Kinda like Banana I guess. Not quite. The guy he came with was named Utu and the [I’m not even going to try and describe how beautiful she was] woman was named Inanna. Holy Fuck!! It didn’t get erased. Now I just have to remember all the other crazy shit he told me during our visits.
research source for my Short Story idea:
So I can add one more (potential) novel to my list of writing credits. I finished the rough draft of “Twelve”- the prequel to “Ouroboros” – which currently has a word count of 58, 435 words. It’s by no means finished, but the skeleton is there so now I can begin fleshing it out and streamlining things I’ve already written. This year’s NaNoWriMo is by far the most intense I’ve ever taken part in, and it’s 100% because I was doing while still trying to keep up on my Creative Communications work load. I very much enjoyed it though. The novel was my bowl of coffee beans in a fragrance store, it helped me cleanse by palate when I thought I was going to go insane from school work.
One part of my journey as an author is finished but now I have to get onto revision and then submitting it for possible publication somewhere. I found this on StumbleUpon and it gives me hope. Here are eleven famous writers who were rejected before making it big!
via Bubble Cow
Rejection and writing go hand-in-hand, but sometimes it feels that those pesky publishers simply don’t know what they are talking about.
Here’s eleven reasons writers might just be right after all…
- Madeline L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, was turned down 29 times before she found a publisher.
- C.S. Lewis received over 800 rejections before he sold a single piece of writing.
- Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected by 25 publishers.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times.
- Johathan Livingston Seagull was rejected 40 times.
- Louis L’Amour was rejected over 200 times before he sold any of his writing.
- The San Francisco Examiner turned down Rudyard Kipling’s submission in 1889 with the note, “I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language.”
- An editor once told F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby Character.”
- The Dr. Seuss book, And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected for being “too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant selling.”
- George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected with the comment, “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
- The manuscript for The Diary of Anne Frank received the editorial comment, “This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.”
So we’re 7 days into National Novel Writer’s Month and I have 15,884 words as on 3:26pm today! I’ve decided to revisit some characters that I feel very comfortable with and am adding some new twists and new characters around the existing cast.
The novel, “Twelve” is the prequel to “Ouroboros” set 3 years before the events of the latter. You learn more of the back-story of Alex Sunderland, Seth Brock, and Nathan Levy – plus you’re introduced to a host of other enigmatic characters including an assassin who is being stalked after killing someone he shouldn’t have, a recently fired talk radio host who has intense dreams about being a non-verbal quadriplegic whose respite worker abuses and humiliates him, and a mysterious woman who seems to appear and disappear at will.
Here’s an excerpt:
He felt the wind rip past his face. He wondered how many skin follicles the wind had taken with it and how many cells from other beings were floating along side them. His spine tightened. The skin made him think of those little mites that live on your eyelashes. What were they called? They have a specific name he wasn’t really . . . Google! <<———————————>> oh, they’re called eyelash mites. How much time had passed? He had to think, he looked down at his iPhone to see what the time was. It was 12:09 … wait, he couldn’t be sure at what time he’d zoned out so knowing the time wasn’t at all helpful. He exited back to the main screen and saw the app for weighing his marijuana. He smirked. He probably shouldn’t have that on his main screen. There was a lock on his iPhone though. 0312. So he guessed it didn’t really matter what was on his main screen. The phone vibrated and his whole body tensed.
Answer? Don’t Answer. Answer? Don’t answer!
“Edward?” A calm baritone voice filtered out from the speaker and squirmed its way into his ear and to his eardrums. The information was converted into electricity and fired off to the brain.
“Listen, I . . . I have it. I just I don’t have it with me, okay?” He yelped worriedly.
“That’s disappointing, Edward,” the voice turned decidedly sinister and Edward’s throat tightened.
“You have to just wait, I mean, I’ll even fucking take you there. Just give me a little time.”
“You’ve had long enough.”
The same voice was suddenly much louder, and much nearer, and much clearer.
This was the last thing Edward ever wanted. He’d been so careful. How did they know where he was? The man Edward knew only as Carter stepped forward from the darkness of the alley and into the harsh yellow light flooding down from the street lights above.
“Listen, it’s really a funny story-“
Someone in the darkness knocked over a metal garbage can that rung with dull clunks whose sound waves echoed back at him.
Oh my god! He sent two.
Demetrios, the other man’s other man, shot Carter a confused look. “Why are you letting him talk?”
“You don’t think I should hear him out?”
“No,” Demetrios scoffed. “We’re here to kill him so lets kill him.”
“Jesus,” Edward jumped. “Holy fuck, just, just listen . . . okay! Just fuckin’ listen. I have information that might help you guys.”
“I doubt it,” Carter smirked.
“Hey, fucking shoot him!” Demetrios stared at Carter like he’d just taken a shit on his foot.
I’ve had an insanely productive week! I finished writing Cycle 2,3, and 4 of the “Ouroboros” novel and I’m almost done the final cycle. 94 pages and 38,457 words later; I’m estimating another 20 pages or 15,000 words until the first draft is completed! 🙂 So stoked!
This is an excerpt from Cycle 3. Each cycle is from a different characters point of view. The focal point character in this cycle is Miss Ambrosia Skye, a fortune teller who has a business out of her apartment.
The sign outside her apartment door read:
MISS AMBROSIA SKYE – TAROT READINGS – PALMISTRY – ASTROLOGY
The superintendant hadn’t told her to take it down, but it had only been up a month or so. The interior of the apartment was decked out in New Age décor. She had numerous books on Tarot, spiritual healing, angels, the afterlife, and communicating with departed souls; to name a few. She was sitting at her kitchen table with a spread of Tarot cards in between her and her immediate clients, Mr. and Mrs. Everett. Mrs. Everett was really engaged and interested in the reading, but it was overtly obvious that Mr. Everett was only there because she was.
Miss Ambrosia Skye drew a card from the deck and put it down on the table.
She stared at it, intently. “Hmm,” She bit her lower lip for added effect.
“What?” Mrs. Everett straightened in her seat, coming closer Skye and her cards.
“I just drew the Tower card,” Skye said in a purposely ambiguous tone.
“Is that a bad thing?”
“Well,” Skye paused, taking in how alertly Mrs. Everett was drinking in her every word and gesture, and how disinterested Mr. Everett looked, slumped back in his chair. “The Tower card is very similar to the Death Card–“
Mrs. Everett gasped.
Skye continued: “–In that it’s a card of destructive and creative power. Just like a building that is condemned and must be torn down to make way for something new, so too is the purpose of the Tower card. Is there something old, something that you’re holding onto that you need to let go of before you can move on?”
“That’s funny, isn’t it, David! The kitchen.”
Trying to hide her surprise, Skye inquired: “Your kitchen?”
“Yes. I’ve wanted to knock out the kitchen wall for years and make it open to the living room so that it’s more of an open concept thing. David always thought it was too expensive, but if the cards are telling you . . .”
“The cards speak of change, and renewal. It’s a fair bet that once you deal with the obstacle represented by the Tower card that emotional and financial wellbeing will flood back into your home.”
“See, David?” Mrs. Everett started in a condescending tone. “I told you it was the kitchen. Didn’t I tell you?”
Mr. Everett just rolled his eyes.