Nine Nine Eight Four

It's 2 am, and your phone falls behind the bed. You have work in the morning, and it's already difficult enough to wake up when the phone's blaring right beside your head so it'll be nigh impossible for you to either hear or care when the alarm sounds in five hours.

You're already quite comfortable with your pillow just right and your legs are in that hard-to-find arrangement that leads to perfect sleep so you try moving as little as possible and stick your hand down the back. Unfortunately your bed is too close to the wall, and the only thing your accomplish is the slight risk of being stuck there forever. So you begrudgingly get out of bed, knowing that never in your life will you ever be as relaxed as you were then, and go hunting for the curved, black rectangle.

Your hand blindingly stumbles upon said rectangle and you pull your arm out. Out of habit, you check your notifications and...

This isn't your phone. That's not your background picture, and you have no idea who 256-549-9984 is. Or why seven minutes ago they had texted "Be there in a few".

You feel an arm around your neck.

That Time Guy Fieri Destroyed Iowa

An episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives where Guy reveals he's an extraterrestrial sent to evaluate Earth. He notifies us, simultaneously in every human language, that we've failed. And as a warning, he destroys Iowa.

We are speechless and terrified when we discover how thorough he is. For where Iowa was, there isn't a huge desolate wasteland or an empty crater. There is nothing. Illinois is suddenly bordering Nebraska. Every United States flag in existence instantly contains only 49 stars.

Books and databases containing population counts are now 3 million smaller. People who were traveling from Iowa never booked the 7th floor room overlooking the Potomac. People born in Iowa, whose birth certificates were from the "State of Iowa" now said Missouri. Or Kansas.

We were ready to go to war. Special forces from across the world, from allies and enemies alike, came to the US to help eliminate the threat of Guy Fieri.

But no one could find him. Friends and coworkers couldn't tell anyone anything of substance. His wife, in shock, realized she knew nothing about his life before their first meeting.

Guy Fieri was a ghost. We continued to search, but he was never found in time.

It was foolish though to think it was over, to think that a man who was so thorough in his destruction of a place's existence to leave the minds of his victims alone.

Soon we, too, began to forget. We watched as one by one the people around us forgot. And we wondered when someone would watch us forget. About Iowa. About our loved ones. About our existential anger.

About our fear of a single man.

I write this now hoping that this account will be spared. It is a small hope, but it's all I have. I know I'm due. The anger is no longer there. I struggle to spell Iooa correctly. More than once I've woken up to a note reminding me of Iooa, thinking it was just a drunken scrawl.

If you're reading this, heed my, no, our warning. This happened. If we don't change it's possible it will happen again. It might have already happened.

...But would it be so bad to forget? Ignorance is bliss, they say, and it's been so long since I've been happy. So long...

How I Believe The Fault in Our Stars Should End

Nota bene: I wrote this after John read the first chapter of his great book live for everyone. Now that it has come out and I've read the ending, this seems quite silly. However, it's just going to stay here out for posterity. You should buy the book if you haven't already. It's grand.

I feel exhausted.

Augustus is standing now, looking over this mess of tubes and cords that is me. He's reaching for my hand. I try to grab it but am too tired to do anything but pick up a few fingers. He doesn't seem to notice. Isaac's next to Augustus. He still has on those ugly black shades we made fun of him about. That seems so long ago, really.

Mom is here, too. I can barely glance at her before I have to look away. I never knew someone could cry so much, but I've never been dying before either. A parent shouldn't have to bury her own child.

Augustus squeezes my hand, and it takes all I can to look in his eyes. He opens his mouth to say something then closes it, completely unlike the man I've fallen in love with over the past six months. I want to comfort him. I want him to know that I'm okay, that we all must end. But even if I could come up with anything, I would take them to the grave. It's kind of hard to talk with a tube down your throat making sure you get to breathe a few more times.

He seems to have given up on saying anything because he just shakes his head and squeezes my hand more firmly. I attempt to smile at him and must have succeeded because he smiles back. The moment costs me as a new fit of gagging washes over me. A nurse walks in and tries to help me calm down enough to stop me from choking on my own lifeline. Finally, my throat relaxes enough and it subsides for now. Susan, as her name tag says, looks at mom and gives a small nod before whispering to Augustus and Isaac. It must be almost time.

Augustus turns away from the nurse and gives a sad smile. He leans over and whispers "I love you" and then gives me the gentlest of kisses on my forehead. As he pulls up, I feel the soft drop of a tear right next to it. I wish I could kiss those lips one more time.

Isaac feels his way up next and gives me the best hug he can manage without ripping anything out. "I'll see you later, Hazel," he chokes out before grabbing his walking stick and heading for the door. Augustus gives my hand one final squeeze, looks into my eyes one last time and then heads for the door too. The nurse follows them and closes the door for me and mom.

Mom has stopped crying; I guess she has used all the tears she can right now. She smooths out my sheets and asks if I'm warm and comfortable. I give her a small nod. She nods as well. "Good."

My eyelids are starting to get heavier, and it's harder to keep looking at mom. I try though for her sake. I hope she doesn't remember me as the bald girl in the hospital. I hope she doesn't think about all the tubes and the chemo and the grave news from doctors. I want her to remember me as being strong. I hope she remembers me as her daughter who loved watching "America's Next Top Model". But most of all, I hope she knows I love her because I can't tell her anymore.

Finally, I just can't take it anymore; I have to sleep. I close my eyes and hear mom start crying again. Hopefully death will soon stop for me.

Kappa Kappa Kappa

Green forest with fog on the ground

"Tui Filii Dartmuthensi Tuoque Honori Fidelis." ~Kappa Kappa Kappa Motto

I'm pleased to say that I have finally gotten word back and have been officially accepted into a fraternity. I'm now a Greek! Who knew you changed your nationality when you were accepted into one of these things.

I don't know too much about the organization. One of the more negative is part of its history: it was one of the last Greek societies to have an African American brother, which is disappointing. But times have changed, and I've been told that it's better. In all reality, I really haven't had a lot of time to find out about it what with school and life in general. They sent a pamphlet with my acceptance letter, but it's mostly just pictures of men playing dress-up with bedsheets and having bonfires. Maybe they do controlled burns of the forest? I'm pleased to be with a group so environmentally friendly. You don't see many groups, Greek or not, that's like that.

I should know more about it after initiation tonight. They said in the letter to bring a white pillowcase with me. All I have are green, so I'll need to go buy some. Sigh, more money spent. And to add insult to injury, I've gotta dance and chant some kind of nonsense while there. I can't dance; ask Lexi. Totally not looking forward to that bit.

But overall I'm excited, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous. This is something new to me, being in a fraternity. Plus I'm following in the footsteps of some of the arguably greatest men in America's history. I'm now part of something bigger than myself (I'm glad for that bit because Mom won't let me join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Boy Scouts). I hope I don't let them down nor get asthma from all the smoke; my insurance doesn't cover that.

"KKK: Benefiting America starting in New Hampshire since 1842!"

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The Disease

I remember that day, that day long ago when I learned the thing that vexes all men. Not the sea, not the dichotomy of good and evil, not even a woman. See, Jack, that which vexes all men is this idea, this way of thinking that once he becomes taught, follows him for the rest of his life, haunting, taunting him daily. Some days are better than others. He'll be lucky for a while, going weeks without thinking about it. But then he'll see, hear, smell, feel something that will bring that memory roaring back to the top, and he will curse the day he learned it.

"Vengeance is mine!" he'll cry, as he infects every soul willing to spare a moment to listen to his mad ramblings. Those who are, themselves, already tortured with this hidden knowledge will shake their heads in pity, both for themselves and the man who cries out. The man's words prick the minds of the innocent ones, the blessed ignorant ones who will now have to carry that burden all their days. A teenage girl as she makes her way to the mall. A businessman on the subway heading home to his wife and child. A waiter serving coffee in an outdoor cafe. The lucky ones are those that forget it as soon as it's heard. The unfortunate ones, the ones that hears those words in their heads repeatedly, try to ignore it. Then a week goes by, and they're still thinking about what they heard. They do a little research and discover the meaning of the phrase. They laugh it off at first, calling it stupid before curiousity gets the better of them, and they repeat what they heard in front of their friends. “What a fun new game”, they think.

Months go by. Their thoughts are still revolving around their new knowledge. It's no longer funny. It's no longer cute. It's maddening. It's torture. Eventually they live a life of not caring, reaching the same stage as the first man. They'll tell anybody and everybody about their predicament, hoping to find a sympathetic ear.

This is how they live their lives. This is what they go through each and every day. Do they regret it? No, they can't. That knowledge has become woven into their being; removing that knowledge removes who they really are, and at this stage they can't afford to lose that, too.

So to those who have remained naive, stay that way. Ignorance is bliss, at least in this case. Remain that way. Run from this cancer; avoid it like the plague. We, the infected, are counting on you. Godspeed.

To everyone else:

You just lost The Game.

"Ho, ho, help me!"

This is a bell ringer I did in my Personal Development class. The topic was: "Ho, ho, help me!" came the voice from the chimney.

"Ha ha, help me!" came the voice from the chimney. Of course, I didn't hear it. I had my iPod playing rather loudly, listening to Bing Crosby. The guy can sing, let me tell you. Anyways, the voice in the chimney tried again to get my attention, but it was futile. Ole Bing wouldn't let him. So the voice took a different approach and started singing "Here Comes Santa Clause". He sounded not entirely unlike Bing. I took out my earbuds and listened again. That definitely was not Bing. So I looked up in my chimney and saw him. He was a big guy, but he wasn't wearing a red coat. It was black though that was probably from all the soot in my chimney. So I yelled at him.


The large, black object moved and wriggled and said in a deep jolly voice, "Yeah, kid, it's me, Santa." So I jumped up and down with glee; Santa finally showed up!

I went to get a rope and then lassoed his foot. After several tugs, he finally came loose, plopping down in the hearth. After the soot and dust cleared there he was, just as I had imagined him: large round man, red coat covered in soot, and a black tobaggon. Many might be surprised by the tobaggon, but I knew it was because that red cap of his was no use in keeping him warm when flying around 80 mph. I helped him up and went to get his cookies and milk. He ate and drank, then set the plate and glass aside. He pulled out a cigarette and lit up.

"Now, to business", he said.

I showed him where my parent's keep their jewelery, and he put that in his bag. He pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to me (The last few years they had been counterfeit but this year he promised it wasn't). After the exchange he walked out the front door but not before joining me in a duet of "Silent Night". I heard his car rev up and then he was gone for another year. Me and Santa do this every year. It's sort of our Christmas tradition. I heard another voice from the chimney: "Ho, Ho, Ho. Jacob, help me!" But I knew it wasn't Santa; I just saw him leave. A red cap fell. Santa must have left it in the chimney for me. I picked it up and put it on. Then I sat back down on the couch with my new hat and my $100 bill and listened to Bing wish me a merry little Christmas.