I hate hiking. I hate the outdoors. I hate being sweaty, dirty, bored, and nowhere near a good WiFi signal. Yet there we were. Hiking. And I was sweaty, dirty, bored, and nowhere near a good Wifi signal. Life was unpleasant.
Dad said it would be good for us to get out of the city for a while. He didn’t say why. It was obvious work was getting to him; stress always makes him want to run away from the situation until he can figure a way to manage it. I figured that’s what we were doing out in the woods. Running away – one sweaty step at a time. Continue reading “Far Too Many Legs”
I’m a geologist working at Death Valley National Park in Nevada. Over the last few months, we’ve been studying the geological formation dubbed “Devil’s Hole.” Here’s what it looks like, for those interested.
Anyway, I’ve always found this place somewhat disconcerting. We have a vague idea of how it came to be and what makes it do what it does, but there’s something else. Something…off.
The other day, we sent a little submarine drone into the water to see if it could map out the labyrinthine cave system we know is there, but has been completely inaccessible for decades. Also, we wanted to find out how deep it goes. The fact an earthquake in China could cause the water to rise so substantially at this spot in Nevada makes us think it goes way deeper than preliminary estimates.
I didn’t understand. I had those floaty things. My teacher said everyone did. An artifact of our eyes developing, or something like that. I guess he’d been told the same thing, but it did him little good. His parents were concerned, of course, and they brought him to ophthalmologists who were all in agreement: his eyes were fine. When he denied the experts’ claims and doubled down on his insistence that something was wrong, his worried parents got him into therapy.
I guess the therapist helped him a little bit. Malcolm’s paranoia seemed to diminish somewhat and his anxious habits like twitching and blinking weren’t as pronounced. That was good – a lot of kids made fun of the way he blinked. He told me it helped push the things out of sight for a couple seconds.
This city is on no one’s map. If it had ever been, those people have long since died. As have their children. And grandchildren. And great grandchildren. And great-great grandchildren. And so on.
Nonetheless, here the city stands. My source was right. My money was well spent. These ancient structures are black tombs. We’ve set up our camp on the outskirts. The city is far too cold.
September 10th, 2016
Charles kept watch while I slept. He claimed to see no signs of life, but sounds kept him constantly alert. Soft sounds. Soft, wet, and unimposing. Sounds which drifted in and out at the limits of audibility, as if they were whispers, but windblown and damp – redolent of dying breaths and last words.
I heard nothing. My sleep was as black as the structures ahead of us. No sounds penetrated the dreamless morass. For a brief moment upon waking, I believed to have been dead.
Don’t pretend this is anything other than a suicide note. You are reading the words of a dead man whose body may still be warm.
For the last 40 years, I’ve been terrorized by the squirming man. At this moment, his name means nothing to you. If you wish for that to continue, stop reading now.
The squirming man first visited when I was six. I was in the shower. When I’d finished and pulled back the curtain, he was standing there. Waiting. Before I could scream, my mouth was filled.
To describe the squirming man is to revisit decades of trauma. Regardless, I need to be strong and write about him. I don’t want him to be a mysterious figure. I want my knowledge of him to be out there. I want people to know he exists. People should be ready if he visits them; I have no doubt he will once I’m gone.
Recalling the sensation of my eyes bursting before they turned to ash is the only feeling of comfort I can extract from that moment last year.
I was walking my dog on the beach near my home. The beach had been closed for the season because of a toxic algae bloom. The woods in my backyard let out to the beach, though, and I knew enough to stay away from the water.
Parker and I were finishing up when I heard splashing near the shore. I glanced over and saw what appeared to be a school of fish trapped under the thick, algal sludge. I was surprised; the water was supposedly hypoxic from the algae. I assumed the fish would stay away.
The splashing persisted as we walked by. Parker growled. I was concerned, since he never showed any aggression of any sort since we’d gotten him neutered. But as the splashing grew louder and the water grew increasingly turbid, Parker’s growls became ferocious and he started to bark and pull at his leash.
When you work in an Alzheimer’s ward, it’s difficult to determine whether or not a patient is telling the truth. Obviously there’s no malice intended if they’re lying; it’s likely they believe what they’re saying to be true. It’s the unfortunate nature of the disease.
A few nights ago, Madge Daniels started to complain about abdominal discomfort. We believed her. There’d been a nasty stomach virus going around for the last couple weeks. Madge’s overall lucidity was pretty good, too, so we did our best to make her comfortable and ensure she was getting a lot of fluids and adequate rest.
The next morning, Lou Franks, Ray Davis, Melinda Renz, and Veronica Auster-Coates were complaining about their own stomach pain. We gave them a once-over. They seemed fine. We figured they’d heard about Madge’s problem and believed they were experiencing it, too.