I just moved in with my boyfriend and we have this lovely rooftop patio I like to read and write on - and take the occasional selfie on.
We live in Silicon Valley. He’s a techie at a big company and I’m a writer. We live happily with our (my) corgi.
But this isn’t a biography. It’s a picture, of me. And I’m happy. Happy to be here in sunny ol’ California.
As unhappy as my writing is, I’d like to say that I’m this picture, I’m beaming.
It was the night before my son’s graduation from college. His fraternity, the second oldest at the university, had invited the parents to their house for an evening of merriment and revelry. My husband, my mother and I all ventured into the lovely old house with a bit of trepidation. He had lived there for two and a half years. We knew what to expect inside.
I mean, the house was well over one hundred years old and had housed some 25 young men every year for at least 100 of them. A house in such disrepair, they were in the midst of raising money to do a massive renovation. (They were successful!) A house that had a party every Saturday and a thorough cleaning before house meetings every Wednesday. (I never understood that delay...)
And we were going to spend time in the basement. A basement on which one fraternity brother had done an experiment earlier that year. Taking a sample of basement sludge after a normal Saturday night, he brought it to his professor’s lab. Some two weeks later, the professor said don't tell me where you got that from, but it is hazardous.
A basement that smelled like Clorox with a hint of I am going to be ill.
I guess all of that was in my mind as we entered the house and walked down the rickety stairs. My mother stayed on the stairs (in her mind, a little fresh air could be felt there, ha, and she still had a perfect view of the main room.) There were several offshoots from the main, and every room had a ping pong table.
All of those thoughts evaporated when I was persuaded to play ping pong.Or, rather, beer pong.
For the first time in my life.
It was a tournament: mother and son against mother and son. My son was the reining champion in the house. I, as I mentioned, had never played.
I got a crash course and the rules were slightly modified: I was allowed to not drink the beer on a missed shot (not a fan) and the boys were allowed to make us mothers feel better by not drinking the beer in the cups in which balls that had bounced on the wet floor were hit. (Vomit.) They kept cups on the side for the drinking. Lol.
Something you should know about me: I laugh a lot. Loudly. Also, when it comes to sports, I can be very competitive. And, when I play (or watch) sports, I scream alot. :-)
By the end of our match, all the players from other rooms had stopped their games to watch ours.
This picture was taken by another parent. An amateur photographer, that night, he took some of the best action shots I’ve ever seen. This is my favorite.
As you may be able to tell from my expression, my son and I won. And then he and my husband went on to also win in the dad/son tournament. And my husband and I both had the same winning shot. :-)
If I were to guess, I would say my thoughts then were very similar to the ones evoked every time I look at the picture: I have never had so much fun.
Things That I might Say
Damn It, Jim! I'm a Doctor, not a physicist!
Whatever floats your boat.
Whatever is clever.
Do you think penguins taste like chicken or fish?
Hey, slut bag!
I love your face!
Oh my god! This character in my book just said “insert quote”
Tomatoes are an abomination!
I just want to cry.... and go to sleep.
Can I quit my job yet?
I felt the cylinder slide into my hands. Hard, cold, dense. It was small, too small, but I’d have to make do. I paid good money for this.
“That’ll be six double-A’s,” says the hooded man.
I fork over the batteries. The last of my stash. If this flashlight ran out of light, I’d have no way to replace it. No way to replace the batteries, no way to buy another one.
Our economy used to be powered by money. That’s why most of us leaped at the change when Zenith began.
Zenith, a nonprofit electricity company. Providing free energy to everyone, everywhere. It took a while for us to accept it, too afraid of a catch.
But there was no catch.
Or so we thought, until that Halloween when all the lights went out.
At first, we thought it was a joke. We wondered why none of the houses in our neighborhood had lights. Why no one was giving us candy.
Yes, 16 is a little old for Halloween. At least, some people think so. In my opinion, you’re never too old for free candy and gory costumes.
It was the first nice Halloween we’d had since 2029. Most of our Halloweens here are brutally cold. Rain, snow, sleet, hail. The whole shabang. One year, we even had graupel. That was the year I learned what the world “graupel” meant.
Four years of horrible weather. So in 2033, when sun and mild temperatures came together to create the perfect day, I figured everyone would be out on Halloween.
But all the lights were off. No one sat on their porches. And I didn’t know why until me and my brother John got home, discouraged and annoyed.
That’s when Mom told us what happened.
“Luke, John, come into the living room.”
For the first time in my life, the TV wasn’t running. My mom always had the TV running in the background; she said it helped her focus. I think she just liked watching General Hospital reruns and Family Feud.
But today, it was off; as were all the lights.
Not just here. Everywhere. Even from countries like China, electricity was out. The company of Zenith, which powered our world, had simply vanished overnight, leaving us in darkness.
My brother John was afraid of the dark. At 15, he constantly got made fun of for it. Once the power went out...
He couldn’t handle it. Three days after the blackout, he committed suicide.
It only took a week for the monopoly to begin.
Day 1: The panic. We waited for government officials to respond, to find a solution, to help us.
Day 2: The death: almost everything with a battery died. Phones, computers, even flashlights. Everything, in total sync. Almost as if it were planned.
But that’s crazy talk. I can’t afford to think like that. I have to keep living. Keep surviving.
I have to stay sane.
Day 3: The riots: People rose up, angry and scared. Libraries were raided, books were stolen. But with no lights, it was hard to read.
Most of the books ended up burned in the streets, bathing everything in a hazy red glow.
That’s how every tragedy starts, right?
Day 4: The crash: It’s a miracle it took this long, but finally, the stock market crashes. Money loses all value. And we desperately search for an alternative currency. Something with value. Something real.
Day 5: The adaptation: Took us long enough, but finally, life settles into a post-apocalyptic rhythm. Still violence, still no word from the big guys in Washington (or from anyone, in any part of the world). That much hasn’t changed, and probably won’t for a while. But we have a routine. We wake up. We scavenge for batteries. We buy flashlights, conserve them, hoard them...
We have a routine, but we have no purpose.
Some people have a purpose. I heard there are people working to reinvent electricity. Build it up from scratch.
But a single spark isn’t enough to relight the fire.
Day 6: Yesterday, we heard the news.
The White House still had power.
They glowed like a light of salvation.
But there was one problem: the big guys don’t want to share their toys.
Just kidding. It’s not a matter of authority anymore. The White House has power, but there’s no one to use it. Washington is empty.
Above my paygrade. Everything is above my paygrade. I don’t get paid. And I haven’t found enough batteries to buy information. Not my problem.
I don’t care what happened to Washington. I’m too busy worrying about me.
Selfish? Old me would have thought so. Old me would have called me a selfish dick.
Old me died with the power. Old me died with my brother. There’s no trace of him left.
That brings us to today.
Today, I bought a flashlight.
And just in time.
Because today, the birds came.
Although I suppose they aren’t really birds. They look like birds.
But they flock to darkness.
As I sat in my dark house, trying to ignore the smell, I see the birds begin to run into my windows. Battering them down. Maybe they smell it too. The smell that comes from the kitchen.
The smell of death.
John died early enough that we could get him a proper burial.
Mom set the house on fire. When I doused the flames, using water from the melted ice in the fridge, she was a charred corpse. And that was only two days ago. Right as everyone else settled into a routine, Mom decided to end it.
And by then, it was too late to give anyone a proper anything. So I left her there. What choice did I have?
So I told myself that the birds were coming towards the smell, hoping for food. I couldn’t see them— it was too dark for that— but I could hear them, flapping their black wings and shrieking their black cries.
That’s how I knew they couldn’t be real birds. That sound, that horrible, horrible sound... it was less of a sound, even, more of a feeling. It was so loud that it became an overwhelming black, an all-consuming darkness.
I turned on my flashlight, hoping to catch a glimpse of their vile, twisted faces.
But as soon as the lights came on, the shrieks stopped. They stopped using their bodies as battering rams. They were nowhere in sight.
They were gone, vanquished by the light.
But I couldn’t keep the light on forever. I didn’t have the energy. I was out of batteries. But I’d keep it on. For now. At least keep it on at night. At night, when nightmares become real. At night, when darkness is everywhere.
Now I know why John was so afraid of the dark.
Maybe he knew. Maybe all along, he knew what was coming. He knew about the outage, he knew about the apocalypse, he knew about the birds. He always knew.
I should have listened to him. I should have been there.
I should have...
I woke up to a faint clicking sound.
It was the sound of my flashlight flickering.
“No,” I whisper. “No, no-no-no.” I grabbed the flashlight and shook it.
How long was I asleep? I don’t even remember nodding off? How could it be out of batteries? It’s only been a day! It’s too soon! Too soon!
With a final “churk” sound, the light is off, and the birds are back.
No... I can’t accept this. I won’t be torn apart by these monsters. These aliens. These demons. I can’t do it. I can already feel it, their beaks pushing into my stomach, shredding my entrails, gobbling up my lungs.
their wings beat in a steady rhythm. flap. flapflapfwap. over and over again please make it stop.
its only a matter of time before they get in here. i don’t even know if anyone can read this anymore. my handwriting is shaking and looping and scrabbling just like my mind. i guess that’s what i get for turning my suicide note into a memoir. its too long. i need to cut it short. there’s more i need to say, but there’s no time. no time at all.
it’s too late.
the birds are only moments from breaking in.
This past week of my life has been one suicide after another. Bit by bit.
Now, I’m making sure that chain ends. Ends with me.
This will be the last suicide I ever have to witness.
I pick up the match and sigh.
Electricity and fire are so different, yet so similar. Both make light. Both can burn you.
And both start with a single spark.
Project Verity, the original cut. Housekeeping page.
First, New tag list. If you want to follow but not take part, let me know and I’ll add you. If you want to take part, ditto. I haven’t heard from Chacko, yet, in the call to arms thread, so, jump in if you missed it. bold names are those just observing.
@CalebPinnow @GLD @VerityMonet @MeeJong @AJAY9979 @Chacko_Stephen @Rob_Lee @Carissa @Buck_Ripper @spike1 @Roses311Sublime @WhiteWolfe32
Let’s things off on the first, eh? And give everyone a couple of weeks after that. If the dates clash with anything, let me know and I’ll rearrange.
Chapter 22: 28/06/22 @WhiteWolfe32
Chapter 23: 05/07/22 @spike1
Chapter 21: 12/07/22 @Roses311Sublime
I’ve tried to be fair with this, putting the people who haven’t added to it yet, first. I’ll add more dates later. We might have more, and if that happens and they haven’t contributed, Carissa onwards, in my opinion, should be bumped down to later dates.
Let me know if I missed you out or you want in but haven’t said yet.
Let’s start with the chapters that have been written so far:
And now the “side posts”, where all the discussions outside the story have taken place. (If you can think of a term better than “side posts”, feel free to let me know.)
Eloise Parker: https://theprose.com/post/431154/character-profile-eloise
Dr Eleanora Saavedra: https://theprose.com/post/431150/character-profile-dr-eleanora-saavedra
Muntasher dwivedi: https://theprose.com/post/431156/character-profile-muntasher-dwivedi
Olban and Gareth: https://theprose.com/post/438629/character-profiles-olban-and-gareth
Where do I begin and end?
My brain has been bouncing around in an uncontrolable ball of squiggly feelings.
Why am I so sad?
Why can't I be happy?
Why does my brain chemistry have to be so much different from everyone else?
I hate the overwhelming feeling that squiggles bring. However, they have become the only and oldest friend I have. I can't remember a time when the tidal wave of thoughts and feelings didn't ravish my emotional body.
Letting everyone down is all I have ever done. I remember my mom telling me my senior year of highschool, after my second suicide attempt that she "would just thank God if I could graduate". Hell, "second suicide attempt" says it all. I couldn't even kill myself correctly. The squiggles make sure to remind me of that.
In a never ending loop of one. Two. Three. Four. After the fourth time I just gave up.
Those moments of clarity that jump rope between my bipolar mind reminds me that I miss them. I never understood why. I guess when you have major depression, and tend to swing that way on the bipolar teeter totter, when those feelings aren't there it makes you nervous.
When my squiggles are gone, I constantly feel like i'm walking on egg shells. waiting for the pin to drop. Things are going too good. something has to go wrong...It has to be one of the most parasitic one sided relationship I have ever been in...
As far back as I can remember, I've loved writing. I suppose I was an avid reader first, and that ability for authors to bring worlds and people alive through their pen, became a fascinating ability to me. I've always wanted to write that book that draws you in, that becomes a reality to you for those hours lost in its pages. To create the characters that feel like a part of your world, the ones that can make you laugh or cry or even scream in frustration. But, too often when I sit down to write, my head becomes a jumbled mess of thoughts, bouncing from one idea to another, unable to form a cohesive idea to put down on paper. Perhaps that's all my writing will ever amount to, a bunch of rambling snapshots of my head at that date and time. I suppose only time will tell.
You know the moment, that one crazy euphoric moment, when you think, this is it, you’ve been waiting for this, this is the start of the rest of your life.
It could have happened anywhere, anytime, doing something absurdly insignificant, like eating chinese food straight from the carton, chuckling along a laugh track of a sitcom rerun, ratty pajamas and strewn socks on the floor. It didn’t matter. The moment came because it was with that one person, the one girl that changed everything, that changed you.
Suddenly you knew that nothing could be the same anymore.
Her name was Lena.
Raven haired with big brown doe eyes that felt like a warm cozy blanket on a rainy day. She was brilliant, too, and kind. You could barely keep up with her. Because of her you turned into a different man, a better man. All of a sudden you were seeing independently released movies literally only five people have heard of and reading Sartre and volunteering at the animal shelter.
You were the best version of yourself around her. You couldn’t remember the last time you pulled out a seat for another person in your life, and yet, with Lena, it came naturally, like a primal instinct almost forgotten. You had this insatiable need to be her provider and protector, and there was nothing wrong with that, was there?
In short order she became your everything, and you tried your best to be everything for her. You should have seen the signs, but you were too busy loving her. Nobody ever warned you about that kind of love. The dangerous kind. The stuff of tragedies, recorded for posterity, an omen for future lovers and naive dreamers.
You couldn’t believe it when she stopped answering your calls, your number blocked, her friends stonewalling you, a girl army of sharp tongues and quick wits, preventing you from even talking to her.
You just needed a few minutes, that’s all. A few minutes to explain. After all, eventually she would see that you were the only man for her, the only one who understands her, who will love and protect her no matter what.
You were prepared for this, you were prepared to fight for her. You weren't the type of man who quit when the going gets tough.
That restraining order really was a bit overboard on her part, though.
she met a man who held open doors.
she had no idea
that he could open any door
shattering the false notion
she met a man who knelt and kissed hands.
she had no idea
that he would make her kneel
and force kisses upon her lips.
she met a man who showered her with compliments
but she had no idea
that he would destroy
any sense of self worth she had.
she met a man who was full of chivalry,
but only until
he got what he wanted.
then he was gone.
I’m new to the Prose and am just trying to see if my post is working. I am just excited to write stories, and to read other’s work.