Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Microstory 463: Floor 23 (Part 2)

Security Guard: Thank you for coming in. And sorry about this whole lockdown thing. I know it’s kind of scary, but don’t worry. Everything’s being taken care of, and I assure you that you are in no danger.
Mick Daniel: That’s fine, I’m not scared. I’m just not sure what I’m doing here at all. I don’t work for Analion anymore.
Security Guard: I understand that. Would you like a glass of water?
Mick Daniel: Thank you, no.
Security Guard: Now, Mister Daniel, I would like to speak to you about your time at the company. You were in the mailroom, right?
Mick Daniel: I was.
Security Guard: And you didn’t work anywhere else? You were always in the mailroom?
Mick Daniel: That’s right. What is this about? It feels like an interrogation.
Security Guard: Oh no, we’re just talkin’. I’m just trying to get some background information so I have some idea of what you know about what happened.
Mick Daniel: I know nothing.
Security Guard: Did you enjoy working here?
Mick Daniel: Not really, that’s why I quit.
Security Guard: Did you feel...unappreciated, underemployed, looked down upon?
Mick Daniel: I was the mail guy. I know I wasn’t the CEO. People treated me fine.
Security: So you didn’t harbor any ill feelings towards Analion, or anyone within it?
Mick Daniel: It sounds like you’re asking if I screwed up the windows or something.
Security Guard: Oh no, of course not, definitely not. That would be ludicrous.
Mick Daniel: Okay, okay.
Security Guard: You may have had something to do with leaking information to the authorities, however.
Mick Daniel: Are you serious?
Security Guard: It’s a simple question.
Mick Daniel: You didn’t ask me a question.
Security Guard: You were a computer science major?
Mick Daniel: I was, yes.
Security Guard: Why didn’t you go into the field? Why did you just get a job in a mailroom?
Mick Daniel: The economy. The market.
Security Guard: The IT industry is booming.
Mick Daniel: Not for the kind of computer work that I wanted to do.
Security Guard: And what might that be?
Mick Daniel: Look, I don’t have to answer your questions. You obviously wanted to be a detective, but here you are with a maroon vest and a can of pepper spray. Sometimes we take jobs when we deserve something better. That’s why I quit, and why you should too.
Security Guard: You sure you didn’t quit because of what you did?
Mick Daniel: I did nothing. And this is over. You have a good day. I’m late for work.
Security Guard [on the radio]: Target is on the move.
Rover Guard [through the radio]: This isn’t a game, Security Guard. Stop questioning the employees.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Microstory 462: Floor 24 (Part 2)

Special Projects Supervisor: Newest Intern, could you gather everyone for me, please?
Newest Intern: Everyone, everyone! Please gather ‘round! Yes, everyone! The supervisor needs to speak!
Supervisor: [...] Thank you, Newest Intern. I would like to start off by saying that you have all done an amazing job, and we’re all very proud of you. I have just received some unsettling news. The rumors have turned out to be true. Well, some of them have. There are those that believe that Analion is being shut down for good, and that may end up happening, to some extent. For now, however, the organization is making smaller changes. You see, you can’t build something all at once—
Random Worker: Get to the point!
Supervisor: Yes, of course, sorry about that. Sometimes I get in my own head and don’t know how to get out.
Random Worker: Again...!
Supervisor: Right. If you want it quick, then you got it. You’re fired. Actually, we’re fired. You get a new job! You get a new job! You get a new job! I get a new job! You don’t have to go home, but you can’t work here. It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. I hope you...remember your bobble heads and computer screen squeegees.  Go sail away, go sail away, go sail
Random Worker: Enough! We get it, asshole!
Supervisor: I want you to know what an honor it’s been working with all of you. It’s touching how quickly you’re dispersing. I’m leaving too, don’t think I’m happy about this either. That was a song, but I’m serious. Clean out your desk, they don’t want any of it. And when I tell you to clean it out, that’s exactly what I mean. Take the office supplies, the computer, hell the desk and chair too, if you want. They’re just gonna donate them anyway.
Newest Intern [quietly]: Um, sir, are they really gonna let us have the computers? That sounds expensive.
Supervisor: It is, very. I imagine someone’s gonna be upset when they find out we all stole from the company.
Newest Intern: What do you mean? That was a lie?
Supervisor: Yeah, but look at ‘em. They’re sad, but they’re happy. It’s like a happysa—well, they’re gonna get a free computer at least. And maybe a stapler. That should be good enough for now.
Newest Intern: Sir. Was this department really laid off?
Supervisor: No, look. Everybody quit. All at once. Should make for an interesting tomorrow.
Newest Intern: Sir?
Supervisor: You’ll be fine. We’ll both find jobs somewhere better. For now, just enjoy the circus. It’s our last...special project.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Microstory 461: Floor 25 (Part 2)

General Counsel: Research Lawyer, could I speak to you for a minute?
Research Lawyer: Yes, sir, coming, sir.
GC: How long have you worked here?
Research Lawyer: Too long to be fired, and not long enough to be fired. Sir.
GC: Cute answer, but I’m serious. I assure you 110% that you are not being fired.
Research Lawyer: Three years, sir.
GC: Do you enjoy working here? Do you like spending all your time reading law books, researching precedents, and preparing reports.
Research Lawyer: I do, sir, yes. I love it. I find it to be phenomenally rewarding. I’m the kind of woman who likes to get to the answer. I like winning, sir.
GC: Quite. But have you ever aspired to do something more? Have you ever wanted to interact with our clients, and the opposition? Have you ever wanted to work upstairs?
Research Lawyer: To be honest, sir, I have thought about it. I’ve never made any attempt to do so, you’ve probably noticed that. I’ve never put in a request, or even tried to drop hints. I would be honored by a promotion, but I can’t say I’ve ever truly considered it. Like I said, I like finding the answer. I cannot say whether I would be 110% happy with moving upstairs, but I can tell you one thing: I would be happy with contributing to this organization in any way you, or it, feels is necessary. If you want me up there, sir, then I promise to give you my 110%. Sir.
GC: A fine answer, I would say, but we would need to work on it. I would require you take some classes. I know you went over this stuff in law school, but I have developed a specific program designed to teach lawyers how to communicate with others. We wouldn’t be teaching you to lie, mind you, but you would learn how to hold back your strategy until it’s time to release it. Am I making myself clear?
Research Lawyer: You are, sir, yes. Very well said, sir.
GC: Good. Well, I’m afraid I’ll have to insist on you moving on up. We’re not firing all our lawyers, but we need some change. This whole window business has gotten us in a bind, worsened by all these deaths. I need a fresh face, Research Lawyer, and I think you’re the perfect one for the job.
Research Lawyer: Thank you, sir! Like I said, I would be honored. I won’t let you down, just tell me what to do.
GC: Just start with packing up your things. Any maybe go to the nursery and buy some houseplants. This place is depressing.
Research Lawyer: Yes, sir!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 18, 2103

Mateo woke up however much longer, and discovered that Xearea had apported him to a seedy motel. She was gone, but Leona was lying next to him. Her eyes were closed, but she appeared to be rather agitated, perhaps due to a bad dream. The Asia song ‘Heat of the Moment’ was already playing on a radio on the nightstand. “Hello?” Mateo called out to nowhere in particular. “Zeferino, are you there? Any hints as to what this tribulation is?”
“It’s not your tribulation,” Leona said with fatigue.
“Hey, you know where we are?”
“I’ve heard of that before. What’s that from?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“You haven’t even opened your eyes yet. How do you know where we are?”
“I’ve opened my eyes hundreds of times by now.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s a Groundhog Day loop. It’s actually based off a rather early episode of Supernatural, though.”
“So we’re stuck here, repeating the same day over and over again? Did you at least get to have fun with it?”
“You die at the end...every time.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Mateo said. Been there, done that. “How do we stop it?”
“I gave up a couple hundred times ago. I don’t even know why I’m explaining this to you. You won’t remember it tomorrow.” She haphazardly raised her arms to form airquotes for the last word.
“Dougnanimous Brintantalus,” Mateo said, trying to be spontaneous to tear her away from the monotony of repetition.
“You said that before.”
“I don’t know how I can alter the timeline with no memory of earlier loops.”
“You say that a lot too.”
“That too.”
“Tell me something that I’ve never said before.”
She took a deep breath and finally sat up in bed. “I’m not gonna play that game anymore.”
He didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t concerned about his impending death, but it was clear that the worst part of all this was doing everything over and over again. If she had gone through this hundreds of times, then just about everything that could happen, would happen. He couldn’t be random, because each thing he tried to do would be something he would have thought to do in some other loop. “You have to take control. You have to force us into an activity that you didn’t try before. You have to make changes, just for the sake of change.”
“I’ve tried it, it doesn’t matter. The Cleanser is going to leave me here for as many times as he likes, and not a single day less. This is my life now.”
“It is your life to watch me die repeatedly.”
“Has that ever not happened?”
“No. But it has happened in a multitude of ways. It’s not different each time, mind you. If I leave things alone, you’ll just be blown away by a shotgun, but the more I try to stop it, the more interesting the death.”
“That is interesting. It does not, however, make any sense. The Cleanser told me that he would leave you out of it from now on.”
“Well, it was a future version of him, but he said he would prevent his younger self from bringing you into the tribulations. These are now supposed to be just for me. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised he went back on his word. He’s not exactly the most stand-up guy.”
“You’ve never told me that before.”
“Well, yeah, I didn’t want you to feel bad about not being part of—wait, you mean I never told you this today?”
“You’ve had to relive this day hundreds of times, and not once have I revealed this secret?”
“You never have. I had no idea. I just thought he didn’t have any tribulation ideas that required two people. I guess I hadn’t given it too much thought, though. All in all, I haven’t done nearly as many of these as you have. I don’t understand what changed, though. We wake up here every single loop, and we’ve had similar conversations before. How were you able to say something original?”
“I couldn’t tell you. I was trying too, but I can’t imagine I wasn’t trying the same for other loops.”
Leona jumped out of the bed and starting pulling on her clothes. “We have to figure this out. And we can’t do that by staying here. We have to go outside. We don’t have a watch or a calendar. The only way to know whether this is 2104, or whether it’s still 2103 is if we check for the constants.”
“What are constants?”
“The mundane things that are happening out there. A dog barking, a child falling out of a tree, the dump truck picking up the trash. These things happen each loop because they’re already in place by the time you wake me up by whispering to the Cleanser.” She struggled with a tangled shoelace before giving up and just opening the door. “Let’s explore,” she said excitedly. And then a piano fell on her.

Mateo woke up in the motel. Leona was lying next to him, just as agitated as before. He reached over and slammed his fist on the radio to stop it from playing that same Asia song again.
“Wait, what!” Leona cried. “What?”
“I remember yesterday.”
“You do?”
“Yes. Is it still 2103?”
“Uhh...I don’t know. We could go outside and check.” Without getting her clothes, she started heading for the door.
“Hold on,” Mateo commanded her.
“What is it?”
“Let me open the door. Tell me what the constants are.” He went over and opened the door himself and checked off a list in his head as Leona listed them.
“Well, you broke the clock radio, but by now, there should be a car abandoned in the parking lot. You should also be able to see a dump truck about a block down to your left. A young boy is throwing rocks into it, and the driver doesn’t care. A teenage girl rolls through a stop sign and is pulled over by a cop on a bike.”
“I thought this was supposed to be the 22nd century.”
“They’re robots, not real people, that’s why they don’t act like they’re from the future. This bloody snowglobe was built just for us. I even think we’re on the same planet as Tribulation Island, but I’ve never been able to get very far. Our plane will always crash, or our boat will sink.”
“I think it’s safe to assume that it’s still 2103. Why I remember the last loop this time I don’t quite understand. Maybe it has something to do with me telling you about the future version of the Cleanser.”
“The who?”
“The Cleanser? He comes back from the future and tells me that he’ll prevent his younger self from making you do the tribulation.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“I did tell you. Yesterday. Or today. In another loop, this last loop.”
“I have no memory of that. In the last loop, we slept in most of the morning, and then you choked on a sausage.”
“Oh my God. I remember our last loop, but you don’t.”
“I remember the last several hundred.”
“And I don’t.”
“What the hell is going on, Mateo?”
“I have no clue.”
She didn’t have anything to say.
“What happens if we just stay in the room?” he continued.
“You get electrocuted, or slip in the shower. Or you’re hit by a stray bullet. Whatever we try, death will find its way to you. We can’t hide from it.”
“Okay, put on your clothes, make sure you get your shoes all the way on. We’re going out, not trying to hide from death. I’m kind of curious to see what happens.”
“As am I. We’ve never done this before. I mean, I’ve often explained to you that I’ve been in a timeloop, and unlike the movies, I don’t have to convince you that I’m not crazy, but never have you been cognizant from the start. This is new territory.”
“Just...again, just make sure you put your shoes on.”
She laughed a bit, not knowing quite what that meant.
Once she was ready to leave, he cautiously stuck his head out of the door and made sure there wasn’t a piano waiting for them. They walked outside with no problems and began heading downtown. She smiled as a little girl fell off her bike and scraped her robot knee with no help from Leona, who would have known that was going to happen. They came across a crowd in the square, watching a man juggle sticks that were on fire while his partner made faces and tried to distract him, much to the pleasure of the audience. “How many times have I caught on fire?” Mateo asked, recognizing it to be a very likely and interesting way for the Cleanser to watch him die.
“I never counted, but any number above zero was too many.”
A young man lost control of his tennis ball and accidentally threw it towards the performance. His dog happily ran through and barreled right into the juggler. A fire stick flew out of his hand and stuck itself into Leona’s neck, killing her frustratingly slowly.

Mateo woke up again in the motel. Leona was lying safely next to him. They went through the whole thing over again and realized that they had somehow switched places. Before, only Leona was remembering the loops, but now, only Mateo was remembering them. They continued to see what they could do; if they could make any positive changes to the day’s timeline. But no matter what they did, Leona would die at some point, and revert them back to the beginning. And Mateo would have to watch her deaths. Several times, they tried separating from each other, but fate would always bring them back together so that he could see her die.
After hundreds more of these loops, the Cleanser jumped into the timestream with a wicked smile. He informed them that, unlike in the movies, the lesson was that there was no lesson. The Cleanser was the single most powerful being they would ever encounter, Meliora included. They could do nothing to stop him, and that surrendering to his will was their only option. The best they could do was hope for him to eventually get bored, and move on. In fact, nothing they did during the loops resulted in finally breaking free of them. The Cleanser stopped it because, when he wanted something done, it was done. No questions. He apported them back to Tribulation Island where they went to sleep in their own beds, and finally woke up on June 19, 2104.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Rogue Possession: Masquerade (Part III)

On the eighth day of the eleventh month of 2016, one of the worst candidates in history was elected president of the United States of America. He and his team had executed one of the most successful and intense campaigns in history as well. With unprecedented technical support from Russia, and an undying need for rural citizens to “change the status quo” Donald Trump managed to secure nearly half of the popular vote. Though he did lose the popular vote, he took the right votes in the right states to gain an advantage in the electoral college. The electoral college is composed of merely hundreds of people who are the only ones whose votes actually matter. Everyone else’s vote, in that time in history, was irrelevant. Fortunately—this only being the latest in a string of presidents elected while losing the popular vote—the country was moved to begin election reform, which ultimately abolished the electoral college system altogether.
Immediately following Trump’s upset win, however, the country faced extreme dissension. The U.S. had not experienced this level of discord since the so-called “Civil War” of the mid-19th century. Trump supporters were angry about the state of affairs, believing their dreams to be systematically crushed by the establishment, and desiring any level of change. Many people voted for him just so that there would be some kind of change to the administration. They did not necessarily agree with everything, or really anything, he said. They just hoped that trusting the devil they didn’t know would, at the very least, result in a paradigm shift enough to give everyone new perspective. What it did, unfortunately, was cause an increase in anger from the other side. Entire groups of states threatened secession; again, at a level not seen since the Civil War. Family members were pitted against each other, and would spend years, sometimes their entire lives, no longer speaking. There was, however, hope.
Donald Trump was not nearly as bad as he made himself out to be during the campaign. He was extraordinarily misogynistic and insensitive. He would make exceptionally unsavory remarks about others. His followers either denied he said these things, as Trump would, or trail off and pretend to get a phone call. Or they would admit that they were either okay, or even happy, with his comments. It was these supporters who at least had balls. Trump, on the other hand, did not believe everything he said about repealing a health initiative that provided insurance to millions of people who could not before afford it. He did not want to ban Muslims, nor build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. What this man lacked were convictions, and consistency. He would regularly contradict himself, but the real problem with that, was that his voters were fine with it.
In the midst of further scandals of trying to get his family members security clearances despite their conflicts of interest, and other transition snafus, he made some interesting statements. He back-pedaled a large number of the campaign promises that he had made over the last year. He agreed to change, but not completely repeal, the aforementioned healthcare program. He changed his tune regarding Muslims and Mexicans. And he just generally began to sound more like a legitimate human being, and not just someone catering to the only people with any chance of voting him into office. As it turned out, much of what he said were simply lies designed to get people on his side. As it turned out, he was a brilliant businessman, who recognized early on the national schism, and used it to his advantage. As it turned out, he was not as hateful and twisted as many people were; he just knew how to exploit their bigotry and stupidity, so that they would think he was just like them.
Throughout all of his loud and outrageous claims, there was one issue he chose to remain quiet on. He didn’t care that people thought he was racist, or complained about recorded conversations of his that had been leaked. He didn’t care that people made fun of his orange skin, or fake hair. He didn’t care that people thought he was unqualified for a political position, or pointed out his business corruption. He didn’t care that people noticed he had received a million dollar loan from his father when he was just starting out, and was actually very much nothing like the working-class voters who wanted one of their own to win. He didn’t care about any of that. He just wanted everyone to look away so that he could win the election, and utilize his power to do the only real thing he truly wanted. Russia. He was an adamant supporter of Russian policies, and believed that the only logical path for the U.S. was to strengthen its bond with Russia. His claims were not completely unwarranted, but they were dangerous. They could result in catastrophe for the entire world. For much of Russian practice was rooted in homophobia and other backwards beliefs. In the end, the United States shouldn’t become more like Russia, but Russia should become more like the United States.
By Michael Vadon, edited by User:Calliopejen1 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Gilbert Boyce, newly created choosing one, possessed the body of a time traveler so that he could check in on the future. He saw Donald Trump win the election, and went back in time to stop it from happening, any way that he could. He found his efforts to be fruitless. He just could not do enough to fix the discriminatory feelings of the country’s populace. There were too many variables, and too much hatred. He was powerless. There was only one man who could stop this, but he was nearly impossible to infiltrate. Before and during the campaign, something was shrouding Donald Trump. Gilbert never quite figured out what it was, but he could not possess Trump’s body. He postulated that the campaign had invigorated Trump’s temporal powers, and protected him from influence from others. That is, Trump was so focused on his goals, that no one was capable of altering them, no matter how powerful they were. The election results changed all that.
Upon finally being declared the winner of the Office of the President, Donald Trump unwittingly relaxed his abilities. It was over, he no longer needed to work so hard to get people to believe in him. He had never intended on being president for any longer than four years, so he no longer needed to worry about what people thought of him. He could finally be himself, and it was that moment that allowed Gilbert Boyce to prevent it from happening. With all his strength still needed, he forced his mind and soul into Donald Trump’s body, and became one of the most divisive people in all of time. He spent weeks, trying his best to change things. He backtracked many of Trump’s original comments, and clarified a few others. He made no attempt to step down from the throne, or kill himself, for that would not effectively change the people’s minds. He could also only do so much, though. Possessing the body of such a strong-willed person proved to be difficult. Much of Trump’s personality remained, and forced its feelings upon the environment. He could never be completely suppressed, like other people could. Trump wasn’t weak enough, and Boyce wasn’t strong enough.
But it was something. It was hope. Things could get better. Gilbert could harness Trump’s powers of passive future manipulation, and turn his presidential term into something not quite as bad as it might have been. And it was possible that he wouldn’t have to do it at all. On December 19, the electoral college would hold the official vote. Though Trump had already been declared the winner, it was still technically possible for him to lose the electoral vote. The college didn’t have to vote him into the position. They could choose to go against their supposed state’s wishes, or they could abstain from voting at all. While Gilbert Boyce was trying to wrangle complete control of Donald Trump’s body, supports of Secretary Hillary Clinton were signing petitions, hoping to change the electoral college’s minds. Gilbert couldn’t actively support their efforts, but he was strong enough to not actively work against them. He could fix this. He could still make things right, as long as enough people were willing to help. But they weren’t, and he couldn’t.