The Becoming – Part 9

Part 1, Part 8, I Bigfoot – Part 10

Part 9

As Naomi and I walked away from the break room, it felt as if nothing could hurt us now. That feeling was short lived as we started to see the other creatures of the facility. they clearly didn’t approve of us being together. They scowled at us.

“Do you want to talk here?” Naomi said, nervously eying the creatures as we passed.

“No,” I said, “there’s no privacy here. We should go somewhere that we won’t be overheard.”

“Where?” she asked.

“The Playground,” I was not sure why we weren’t seeing Havoc’s soldiers. In fact, the very lack of opposition was highly concerning. We should have been overrun with them, considering their pursuit of me earlier.

“But, to get to The Playground, we have to go through that main hall,” Naomi protested, “we can’t get through there without being seen.

I smiled at her, “just leave that to me.”

Once we made it to the metal hall, I picked up Naomi, held my breath, and quietly slipped through, between the workers, to the glass door and down the stairs. When we were on the foot path, I set Naomi down.

She said, “That was a neat trick.”

“Look, you see that cat guy?” I pointed as nonchalantly as I could.

“Yeah,” she said, averting her stare.

“I’m pretty sure I went to school with that guy. He was on the bus with us. I don’t remember him being in the truck with us when we left the bus, but I’m pretty sure I remember when he wasn’t a cat,” I said excitedly, “and the bird chick!”

Naomi gasped, “I do remember her.”

We continued walking down the path, “look, they are fundamentally changing human beings here. I think they’re doing it in different ways, but they changed our very DNA and they mean for us to forget ourselves and each other.”

“I don’t want to forget you, Reid,” Naomi said.

Before I could respond, there was another voice, “I need both of you to come with me immediately!” Apparently, we’d been followed. The creature before us had the body of a woman and the head of a rhinoceros. She held some kind of weapon. We hesitated and the creature said, “You have to trust me.” It’s mouth didn’t move. Not really knowing what else to do, we followed the rhino creature. We made it back up the stairs and the creature peeked through the door. “The coast is clear.”

We walked in and the rhino mask came off. It was Shelby, “you really can’t go down there right now. She is in the classroom. If you had taken another few steps, you would have been seen and then we’d all be in trouble. You don’t want to be anywhere near whatever She is up to.”

Like I’m not already in trouble, “I said sarcastically.

“Yes,” Shelby said, “but you’re only in trouble with Havoc right now. Look, there are a lot of us who are rooting for the two of you. I hate the fact that I’ve played any part in your discomfort, but I was confident that you would find each other again. She is the one you want to be avoiding right now.”

“But, we have catching up to do. Where can we go to just be us for a while?” I protested.

Shelby’s eyes sparkled, “leave that to me. As someone we all know is so wont to say, we all have our own special talents.” She took a card out of her pocket and slid it into a slot on the wall, “we’re going to make a little change in the time continuum, and I’m going to get you a new key to your quarters. Nobody will even know you are gone.”

“Oh,” I said sheepishly, “I kind of broke the door on our quarters.”

“I know,” Shelby said, “I’ve already had it fixed.”

On our walk back to our quarters, Naomi and I didn’t bump into any other creatures. The whole facility seemed empty. In fact, the only beings that I could tune into were in The Playground and the classroom, and even there the signatures were so erratic that I couldn’t really even tell what or who was in there. I was highly curious about whatever was going on in the classroom, based on my perception and on Shelby’s warnings. But, I figured that would all come out in due time. Once in our quarters, we left the lights off so no one could even see any signs under the door. I embraced Naomi and would not let go.

“Do I look different?” Naomi asked me.

“You do,” I confirmed, “but you’re still beautiful to me.”

“You look very different,” she said, “but I still knew it was you.”

“As I was saying earlier,” I said to her, “they are trying to fundamentally alter us. I’m not really happy about that, and I’ve never wanted to be a Bigfoot, but that doesn’t really matter all that much. They also wanted me to forget you, and I will not forget you. That’s where I put my foot down. I love you and I will always love you, Naomi.”

She sniffled and answered, “when we were interrupted earlier, I was trying to tell you that I don’t want to forget you. They nearly succeeded with me, and it was awful. I won’t let them get anywhere close to that again. No matter what else happens, I want us to be together for it. I will always love you, Reid.”

After notes: I know we got a little mushy there at the end. I hope I didn’t completely lose you guys. If you have read this straight through, from Part 1, all ~13,000-words, then that is the dream I had one night. I tweaked a couple of orders of events to fix the congruity, changed a few names, and I added Reid’s meeting with the other Sasquatch. There was just so much material there that 1- I had to record it and 2- it’s rife for continuation. There are so many loose ends! What happened to Mike, the obnoxious double agent from the beginning? What happened to Claire? What kind of powerful being was in the classroom? how are Reid and Naomi going to get out of this thing? Will they ever be normal again? I felt like I had to add in a meeting between Reid and the Skunk Yeti one way or another, because if there were two Sasquatch, they’d certainly need to reconcile their Sasquatch powers and who is to say that they are the only two of their kind, anyway? There are other images and things that have come up in my sleep in the same universe that should integrate into further submissions, but this really does it for the actual dream. I hope you’ve found it to be entertaining, and I hope you’ll be looking forward to the next chapter!

The Becoming – Part 8

Part 1, Part 7, Part 9

Part 8

As I made my way from the lab to the break room that Claire told me about, my breath did accelerate, not because of physical exertion, but in anticipation of seeing my wife again. I have to admit, I was apprehensive. Claire told me what I had already expected – that she may not know me, and that she is physically different. Heck, she might not be able to accept me because of my new physical form. There were so many uncertainties. But, in our natural forms we had been through so much together already. Surely everything would be fine. Right? Well, it’s like I told Claire, if there was any chance, I had to try. I was at a full run and came to a skidding stop again. What was that? A whisper? It wasn’t an audible sound, but it was a call of some kind. There was a door to my left, and I braced to tear it off its hinges. But, I stopped and tried the knob first. It was not locked and the door gently opened. It was dark inside. I felt for the light switch and flipped it several times, but the lights did not come on.

Please come in,” a voice whispered in my head, “and do please quietly close the door behind you.”

“Skunk Yeti?” I asked out loud, “Is that you?”

Sssshhhhhhhhh!!!” the whisper said, “not out loud. My people call me Jovious. I don’t concern myself with what men call me.

“Were you once human?” I thought toward Jovious.

I do not remember, and I have been here longer than the others. Some of us came from the wild and others of us were grown here, somewhat like you.”

“What others?”

And then, the room seemed to light up with a blue glow. In the room were multiple Sasquatches of various sizes, types, and colors. There was Jovious, the Skunk Yeti, and at least twenty more in the small room.

There are many more of us, and most of us have been here since before Havoc,” he explained, “Havoc doesn’t know about all of us. We let him interact with six of us. He got far more than he bargained for with you.

“I hope so,” I said.

You are the only one of us who has been able to speak the tongue of men. And, you remember your past, to a degree. You had a very strong mind – for a human.

“Gee, thanks, I think.”

We are with you. When you disguise, we will still see you, and you us. You are the strongest one of us here, but if you should betray us, we together will punish you.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

Because,” he explained, “we can’t keep our secrets from you. We want you working with us, and not with Havoc.

I frowned at them, “what if I don’t want to work with either you or him?”

Let me put it another way,” hissed the little Yeti’s mind, “you have a choice; you can either submit to Havoc’s leadership, or you can help lead us. Your vision is clear, and we need that.”

“Perhaps,” I mused, “but that’s not my most pressing concern. I have to go to my wife.”

Ah, of course,” Jovious projected, “and, so you should. Just do understand that there is more that goes on here that Havoc does not know about than what he does.”

“Understood,” I said.

Also, don’t worry about Claire. We’ll take care of her.

“I’m not worried about her,” I said as I headed toward the door.

We shall meet again soon!

The door clicked shut behind me and I continued on toward the break room. I did kind of wonder what he had meant by they would ‘take care’ of Claire. I just wasn’t terribly concerned with whatever became of her, to be perfectly frank. I was going to have to proceed with caution as far as the other Sasquatch were concerned. Here, I was now one of them, and yet I still didn’t know anything about them, and I certainly didn’t trust them. Not yet, anyway. It almost sounded like the only reason they revealed to me at all was because they couldn’t keep their secrets from me any longer. That’s not a very good basis for trust.

All of these thoughts left my mind as soon as I saw the break room. My heart skipped. I scanned around for opposition, but I saw none. I cautiously entered the room, ducking through the doorway. Four people sat at the table. They started up as I came in, until I gave them a halt signal with my hand. They slowly and nervously lowered back to the table and continued with the game they were playing, watching me with sideways glances. They were three men and a woman, all with slicked, black hair and glassy, black eyes. They wore fitted, silver fabric uniforms. The room was fairly small, with the one table, a kitchenette, and a small couch facing a television. There on the couch was a familiar figure.

Naomi’s eyes and hair had changed from the brown that I knew so well to black, and she wore the same uniform as the other Electros. She sat on the couch with her feet pulled up beside her, as she had done so many times in our own home, long before all of this mess. I felt the tears welling up. She didn’t acknowledge me when I sat on the couch next to her, but kept her glassy black eyes pointed at the television. Her irises were so impossibly black that I couldn’t differentiate them from her pupils. Her hair was swept up on top of her head with some kind of wet-look product.

“Hi,” I whispered to her.

“Hi,” she smiled but didn’t remove her gaze from the television.

“Do you remember me?” I asked, “do you know me?”

She breathed deeply and her smile broadened, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

I took her hand in mine and brushed my fingers across her cheek, “It’s me, Reid. Do you remember marrying me?”

“Yes,” she said as though she were waking from a deep sleep, “I think so. But, I almost forgot. I think I actually did forget for a little while.”

“Yeah,” I said, “they tried to make us forget.”

“If it was so easy for them to make us forget,” she mused dreamily, rubbing my hand with hers, “it makes me wonder if anything we had was ever even real.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” I said, not being able to hold the tears back at that point, “what we had was very real, and it can be again.”

She finally made eye contact with me and said, “maybe so.”

I glanced over at Naomi’s companions, who seemed to be more and more uneasy with my presence and my conversation with my wife. “Hey,” I said to her, “you want to go for a walk with me where we can talk and have some privacy?”

“But, I never leave this wing,” she protested, “and, I certainly never leave the other Electros.”

I raised my eyebrows and nodded at her.

“Oh,” the realization washed over her face, “yes, let’s go.”

I helped her to her feet from the couch, and with fingers interlocked, we walked out of the break room together.

The Becoming – Part 7

Part 1, Part 6, Part 8

Part 7

I think that last treatment must have been their last ditch effort to complete my transformation and make me docile. As I thought about it, I don’t believe they intended to do that all at once, but it was a contingency plan if they couldn’t control me. Surely they had come up with a Plan B, as they noticed that I’d disappear into the catacombs under Deep Hawk for days at a time. I had to have been radically transforming long before it was pointed out to me, but the final bits of the transformation were happening quickly. That is to say that the physical transformation was accelerating but my self awareness and memory were reverting back to what they had been before. I suddenly realized that I could smell things that I had never been able to before. I could also hear the minds around me. There were hundreds and hundreds of lost minds, with a few clear ones peppered in.* The lost minds were those that had gone through their own ‘training’, and the clear ones were mostly part of the hierarchy of Deep Hawk. How did I know that? I could hear it directly from them as I made my way through the maze of the facility, looking for clues.

I racked my brain for what little Sasquatch lore I had picked up on TV specials and the internet to see if I could guess at what my new abilities might include. I had never really believed in such cryptids before. I found the mythology entertaining and didn’t discount that there may be undiscovered species, but didn’t honestly believe that there was any non-human, man-like creature in the woods. I had always imagined that were there such a thing, it would be a simple, dumb beast. I did remember however, that some of the Native Americans counted these creatures as another race of man, highly intelligent and even psychic. That belief had seemed absolutely corny. But now, as I could feel the other minds around me, and hear their thoughts, I gave it new consideration. Maybe I could find my wife with my brain…

I came to an abrupt halt on the vinyl floored hall, with no one else around. I clamped my eyes closed and did my best to reach out with my mind. My ears began to ring softly and the hum from the lights faded. I could hear my heart beat. In my mind’s eye, creatures lit up all around the facility like paper lanterns. I searched all that I could find and could not identify Naomi among them. It could be that she was so far gone that her mind had lost enough familiarity that I couldn’t pick her out. But, I was sure I could find someone who knew where to find her.

So, I stretched out the fingers in my mind, looking for familiarity. I explored the people I encountered this way. Most of them were unaware of my mental probing, although a few seemed to react to it mildly. Then, I found a brain that had Naomi’s face in it. This person has seen my wife. I must find… …her. Yes, this was a woman. And… we have met before. In fact, she was there one of the last times I saw Naomi.

My faded memories flashed in my head, and I remembered a dark room with bar stools and miniature men, and Naomi holding a small box, and another woman with her. Claire? I began running again, following my mind through the halls towards this woman’s imprint. As I ran along, I began to come to terms with the fact that I was now different, and that my wife likely was too. Would she remember me? Would she still love me?

That thought was cut short as I became aware of ten – no, a dozen men coming from an adjoining corridor. they were all wearing helmets and carrying rifles. I skittered to a halt and looked around. I didn’t want to have to deal with this right now. I could have easily rushed past the lot of them, but that would have only drawn more to my position. I needed to lose them. I looked in vain for a place to hide. There was nothing – not even a door I could tear open. The first one came around the corner, and I froze instinctively. He was followed immediately by three others. He had his rifle pointed at me and his companions swept to his side. He stopped with his rifle trained on me, but something wasn’t right. I held my breath. He dropped his rifle to low-ready and grabbed the radio from his chest, “We’re all clear in here.”

“No, you are not,” the radio sounded off. It sounded like Havoc on the other side, “He could be right in front of you and you might not know it. You have to look very hard and try to block out the mind games. There’s not a whole lot of directions he could have gone.”

They couldn’t see me? I suddenly remembered the Skunk Yeti and his trick of transforming into General Havoc’s doppelganger and then melting into the wall. Was I doing the same thing? So was that all done with mental projection? Whatever I was doing, I needed to keep it up for just a couple minutes longer. My heart pounded in my ears.

“I’m telling you sir,” the man called back into the radio, “There’s nothing in this direction. Maybe check back with one of the other teams?”

“Please just look a little more thoroughly,” said Havoc over the radio.

The man in the helmet sighed and said to his men, “You heard the boss. Let’s split up here. You six double back and make sure we didn’t miss anything that direction. You five come with me and let’s go down this way.”

I wondered how long I’d been standing there, perfectly still, not even breathing. As he and his other five passed me to continue down the hall, one of them stopped and put his face very close to my body as though he thought he could almost see something there. He slowly poked in front of him with the muzzle of his rifle. I gently and silently lifted my leg out of the swing of his muzzle. There I stood, holding my breath, on one leg in the hall, with this soldier who thought he could almost see me.

Then, his leader turned around and addressed him, “What is it? Did you see something.”

He hesitated for a moment before standing up straight again, “No, it’s nothing.”

“You sure?”

“Positive,” he affirmed, “just my mind playing tricks on me.”

I had to silently step out of the way of one of them so he wouldn’t walk into me. Then I realized that I could step silently. When I was running before, I was coming down on my heels which produced a thud that shook the whole floor. Since then, I had noticed that it was far quieter if I stayed up on my toes and the balls of my feet, but that produced a ‘pat pat’ sound. Prior to that, I had not noticed that I was barefoot. There was a special point on my foot now that was behind the ball, that I could put down first, that had not existed on my feet before. It was like an extra flex point in the foot, and when I stepped there, I was absolutely silent. When the men had left the room, I heaved a great sigh of relief and continued to run, this time on that mid-foot flex that I had discovered.

Finally, I made it to the door of a lab. It had a curved, aluminum pull handle on the door, and there was a glass window with security wire criss-crossed in it. I looked inside and saw Claire wearing a lab coat, talking on a phone handset at the far end of the room. Of course, the door was locked. When the handle tore from the door in my hand, she turned around and her eyes got huge. She pressed a button on the phone and hung up the handset, and continued talking, apparently with the phone on speaker. I couldn’t hear what was being said yet, but I saw her lips fomulate, “He’s here now.” I punched out the glass and grasped the door by the window frame. The door bent down away from the frame at the upper corner before the lock bolt and top hinge finally gave up and the door came from its frame.

I heard Havoc’s voice over the speaker phone say, “…was a complete mistake. He’s simply too powerful and we can’t control him.”

Claire screamed as I cleared the distance of the room in a single leap and tore the phone from the wall, smashing it to bits on the opposite wall, right beside the empty door frame. “Hush!” I commanded her. She stopped screaming but cowered and whimpered as though she expected me to hit her. “What is wrong?” I demanded of her.

“Pl-please don’t hurt me. I’m sor-sorry about your wife,” she stammered, “they to-told me that you wouldn’t remember. They said you wouldn’t even be able to speak.”

“What happened to my wife? Is there a reason I should want to hurt you?” I asked her.

“Nothing!” she cried, “just the treatments. She’s perfectly fine though.”

I became aware of another group of soldiers closing in on the lab.

“Tell me where I can find Naomi,” I demanded.

“I c-can’t!” she pleaded.

Now!” I growled.

As the first rifle muzzle cleared the empty doorway, I quickly drew her in close to me, covered her nose and mouth with my other hand, and held my breath. Five men in helmets came into the lab, carefully stepping over toppled tables and glass shards on their way in. The man in lead queued up his radio, “well, he was certainly here. We have signs of a struggle and he apparently took her with him.”

She struggled in vain against my hold. I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her breath as long as me, but I couldn’t have her crying out; it would give me away. She squirmed but my illusion held.

I heard Havoc’s voice over the radio, “well, they must be close. When you locate them, take down both of them. I want to find out exactly how much she’s divulged to him.”

“Yes sir,” the men exited what was left of the lab to continue their search.

“I’m going to let go of your mouth,” I whispered to Claire, “and when I do, I want you to be silent. If you bring them back, you won’t have the opportunity to answer any of Havoc’s questions. Do you understand?”

Claire squeaked and nodded her head frantically, her perfectly round, tearing eyes peeking out above my hairy hand. I very slowly released her. She exhaled and gasped for air. “You can trust me, Reid,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“I’m screwed one way or another. They don’t trust me and I was in trouble before you ever got this far. You can trust me,” she whispered as she caught her breath.

“Where can I find my wife?” I asked quietly.

She hesitated again, “do you understand that she’s different now?”

“So am I,” I pointed.

“She may not know you,” she argued.

“I have to try,” I said resolutely.

She sighed in resignation, “all right*. There is a break room on the next level about five doors down. The Electros spend most of their time hanging around there when they aren’t on duty or in training.”

I cocked my head at her, “‘Electros‘? So, my wife is now an Electro?”

“Well, since she’s female, she’s called an Electra, but yes.”

“Is that human?” I asked.

She fiddled with the buttons on her lab coat, “More or less.”

I shook my head and sighed. Then, I made eye contact with her and purred, “thank you.” And then, I took off again.

*Edited on the advice of my pro bono proofreader. 😉

The Becoming – Part 6

Part 1, Part 5, Part 7

Part 6

So, as I focused on what I was missing, I felt my mind getting stronger. Now, I could think more clearly than I could remember. I think, therefore I am. It was time to confront the General. As I made my way through the halls I felt the anger and indignation swell inside me. How dare they do this to us! I came out from the dark catacombs under Deep Hawk into the residential sections. I made my way through those halls, passing other individuals periodically. I was moving fast and they seemed startled by my rush as I passed.

It was obvious that they were trying to change me. What were they changing me into? I didn’t really know. I did know that when they introduced ‘recruits’ (kidnapees) they introduced them to their assigned new life in a particular way. What seemed like a lifetime ago, I remember them taking Naomi to the lab where she would be working. I saw them taking other people to expose them to their new futures. What did they show me? Havoc made a drink and candy for me. He had basically dismissed that as a party trick though. And, there was that creature that appeared in front of us. Of all the creatures I had seen, that one had been unique with his white hair and ape-like form. Was that it? Were they trying to change me into a creature like that? The tape on the butt feeling – every time they did that to me, I felt like I lost a little piece of myself. That had to be the treatment they were administering to attempt the transformation. Fortunately for me, they had underestimated my strength and resilience. I still knew who I was.

Suddenly, I stopped. Wait. What is this? I know this place. I turned to my right and the door looked important for some reason. That was our room. These are the quarters we were assigned when we got here. I put my hand on the knob and the door was locked. I patted at my pockets and found that I was missing my room key. Frustrated, I sighed deeply. I placed my right hand on the door knob and braced against the frame with my left. I don’t know what I expected to accomplish, but I took a deep breath and pulled until I felt movement. There was a creak and snap from within the latch mechanism and the door came open. When I looked inside, the room looked like it had not been occupied in a long time. None of Naomi’s or my personal belongings were in the room and a layer of dust was on all of the flat surfaces. I turned from the room and slammed the door. It bounced back open against the door frame as I sprinted away.

I knew the way to the main hall – the metal hall with the evil furnace. I had a feeling that’s where I would find the General. No, it was more than that. I could feel his very presence there. In fact, I could feel many presences. It was odd, it wasn’t exactly a new sensation, but it had come on gradually enough that I hadn’t really noticed before. Couple that with the fact that my brain had been in some kind of a stasis that I was now waking from, and of course I hadn’t previously noticed. There was a breeze in my hair that swept away the tears of anger. I suddenly realized that I had never run this fast before, and yet I was not short of breath. I didn’t waste too much time on this thought as I came into the metal hall. All of the creatures near me went silent as they turned their wide eyes toward me. There at the other end of the hall, with his back turned toward me was the General.

“Havoc!” I roared at him.

He turned towards me, but before either of us could say anything else, I felt that disturbingly familiar touch again, that I had pretty well determined was the transformative treatment. Someone had again smacked my backside, and the tape feeling gave way to the dropped gut feeling. This time it was far more intense than it had ever been before. It wrenched at my insides and made my ears ring. I went down from the dizzy nausea. I laid on my back on the cold floor in convulsions for a moment, breathing heavily. General Havoc took one of my hands and one of the main hall workers took the other hand. Shelby pushed on one shoulder as they hoisted me to my feet. Someone else was at my other shoulder. Once I was back on my feet I looked around to gauge my situation. Had it been Shelby to do that thing to me this time? Surely not, but who else? I looked into her eyes inquisitively and they told me that it had indeed been her. I snorted as I looked away from her apologetic gaze. General Havoc looked startled to see me, but was playing it as cool as he could.

“What can we do for you, my friend?” he cooed.

“We are not friends,” I growled, “are you trying to turn me into one of those things? Like appeared that night when we were talking in the entry room?”

Havoc looked surprised. I had a feeling that he didn’t expect me to remember that event so clearly. Many others in the room suddenly averted their eyes, uncomfortably looking at the floor. “Why no,” Havoc said, “as I told you then, he was just a little Skunk Yeti. You are going to be a full-blown Bigfoot.”

“Need I remind you that I am not a big guy?” I pointed.

General Havoc stepped closer and looked up into my eyes. I suddenly realized that I was looking down at him, even though he was almost six and a half feet tall. By comparison, I must have been close to eight feet tall at that point. “It took four of us to put you on your feet just now,” he reminded me, “look at your hands, Reid.”

I looked at my hands in horror. They were covered by thick fur. My bare palms were leathery, and my thumbs were low, toward the wrist bone. When did this happen to me, and why hadn’t I noticed? I watched the faces around me as they witnessed me come to the realization of what had happened to me. It was not at all what they were trying to transform me into so much as that they were successful and nearly complete in my fundamental transformation. I reached to my hip. “Where is my gun?” I demanded.

Havoc looked confused, alarmed even, “You remember your gun?” He quickly shook off his surprise, “It wouldn’t do you any good now anyway. Even if you weren’t inherently more deadly than bullets, your finger won’t even fit in the trigger guard anymore. Don’t worry about your gun.”

Where is my wife?” I roared. I suddenly realized that my voice was entirely different from what I had known my voice to be.

“You remember your wife?” This seemed to shock General Havoc even more than the previous question.

I could smell the fear in the room, “Where is she?”

“She’s safe,” Havoc assured without really answering my demand. Two figures in helmets with guns rushed into the room behind him. He raised his arms to block them, “No, don’t. You’ll only piss him off. Just put your rifles down. We need him to be calm.”

“Fine,” I said, “I’ll find her myself.” I took off on all fours and didn’t stop for the closed double doors but plowed them completely off their hinges on my way through.

As the doors clattered to the floor, I heard Havoc cry, “he’s going to tear this place apart!”

“Your fault!” I yelled over my shoulder as I turned down another hall.

*Edited to read “Your fault” instead of “You’re fault”. I still can’t believe that I perpetrated such an annoying grammatical error!

Marketing Fail

Every now and then, I’ll see a store display that just stinks of some out-of-touch marketing mind doing something that they think will be clever, not taking into account reality or people or human nature. At the local office supply store, there is a Sharpie marker display that is set up as a try-before-you-buy affair. It is a colorful display with racks of markers in different colors, and at waist height, it has a paper scratchpad and a couple pads of Post-Its. One must be careful how they design a promotional store display. It is nothing short of laughable that whatever aforementioned marketing guru did not foresee the shortcomings in this otherwise clever marketing piece.

See, people can’t leave well enough alone. If you leave an opportunity to make havoc, someone will take you up on the offer. How many times have you seen a prank video based around the placement of a mysterious button, and the filming of passers by pressing it to see what will happen? Indeed, I would defy you to leave what appears to be a very large firecracker someplace with a lighter, and see how many people try to light it. It’s irresistible. As another example, on Sunday, one of the local grocery stores had a rack full of herbs. I could not help myself and had to do a little rearranging.

herbs

Are you going to the grocery store? Remind me to one who works there.
So, Sharpie has this great display where people can try out many colors of their permanent markers.

sharpie01

They even provided a little pad of paper for people to try out their markers on. There’s a sign over the paper that reads, “Try Me”. And surely, nobody would mark anywhere but the provided paper, right?

sharpie02

“Try Me” you say? Don’t mind if I do!

I’ve been watching this display for a while. When it first went in, although pristine, I recognized it for the degenerative folly that it would eventually become. Here’s part of the display which shows a picture of a little girl a few months ago:

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And, more recently:

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I <3 poop

LOL! Beware of the quips of marker wielding idiots! The differences are subtle, but clearly more artists have contributed as time has gone by. People even took the opportunity to mark on the shelving to the side of the display.

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Here, you can see that someone wrote a greeting to the world not once, but twice, just in case the world wasn’t paying attention the first time. World, you’ve been greeted. And finally, there was at least one brony representing:

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They at least had the decency to leave the message on one of the provided Post Its instead of defacing the display or store property. I realize that most of this graffiti is likely the work of under attended children, but it illustrates a part of human nature that never really goes away. As we mature, we learn to rise above it, but it never fades completely. We’ll always have that prankster that wants to press the button or rearrange the herbs or scrawl “I <3 poop" in a speech bubble on the Sharpie display. Note to all you marketing people out there; make your product labeling witty and humorous enough that your prospective customers won't want to deface it when their attention is drawn to it. awesomesauce

Because seriously, who would want to mess up a perfectly good jar of Awesomesauce?

The Becoming – Part 5

Part 1, Part 4, Part 6

Part 5

Havoc chuckled, “Yeah, he’s just a Skunk Yeti. There are lots of different Sasquatch in the world.”

Weird. I hadn’t paid that much attention to cryptids, although maybe I should have at one time or another. At this point in life, it probably would have done me well.

I pushed him a little, “I asked earlier about what my ‘special talent’ is that you plan to train me on, and we never really got around to the answer there. So, what is it? Everyone else, including my wife, has been assigned training. What do you have in mind for me?”

General Havoc sighed deeply, “I see you as the kind of guy that can take like four to ten men in hand-to-hand combat simultaneously. You will be the bowling ball that we can roll through the enemy lines. Repeatedly.”

“Dude,” I laughed, “I’m not a big guy. I can hold my own, but I’d be hard pressed to get a couple guys in one go.”

He reprimanded, “Reid, when you get where you are going, you’d shock yourself on what you are capable of. That’s why I need you to be like Gandhi. I can’t have you getting mad. Even in a room full of armed guards, if you aren’t in control of yourself, you would be deadly.”

“So,” I asked, “everyone else has started their training. When do I get to start mine?”

“You’re in the middle of it,” Havoc said, “Why don’t you go and get a little sleep and we’ll do some more tomorrow. Go spend some time with your wife.”

He was right. I still didn’t like the guy too much, but he wasn’t always wrong either. So, I took my leave and found my way back to my quarters. When I got there, Naomi was there and completely energized. She was excited and told me all about her evening. When she had gotten back to the lab, they had set her project aside to ‘grow’ and had moved on to another few projects involving plants and lodestones and other things. Although it was fascinating, I was completely wiped and ready to sleep.

“I still don’t trust General Chaos,” I sleepily mused.

“Havoc,” Naomi corrected me, “It’s General Havoc.”

“Whatever,” I murmured as I gave way to slumber. She told me that she would need to wake up early to get to the lab. I was so tired that I fell to sleep to the pleasant sound of her excited chatter and planned to sleep in a little in the morning. It felt like as soon as I closed my eyes, I was awake again. the floor and bed were shaking and there was a terrible rumbling sound. The furniture was walking on the carpet because the vibration was so bad. Naomi had already left for the day. The phone rang. As in, the room’s land line rang. With furniture walking across the floor and objects being propelled through the air, I answered the phone. It was my dad. My mind was blown.

“Hey, I was wondering if you were coming over for lunch tomorrow,” asked my dad.

I answered, “Sure, that sounds great. Do you need us to bring anything?”

“No, I think we have it covered,” he said, “did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Well,” I said, dodging flying objects, “a little bit. Maybe we’ll just talk about it more tomorrow?”

And then, I actually woke up. The phone call had been a dream. The floor really was rumbling and the furniture was rattling and walking a little bit. The phone was not ringing, but I remembered my dad calling in my dream. I threw on my pants and rushed into the hall to see what was going on. There in the hall, around the corner, I saw two more strange creatures. These were disembodied heads that were around seven feet tall. They were talking to each other and flexing their psychokinetic powers. I yelled at them to tell them to stop but they couldn’t hear me over the noise they were producing with their bloated minds. So, I fled the scene, hoping to avoid anger, which I’d already been warned against. I went to the main hall – the one with the metal and the demonic wood stove to show up for work. I hunted down General Havoc and asked him for something to do, but he was too busy to talk to me and told me to go to Shelby. I asked Shelby what she might have for me to do. She gave me some papers to sort. In a previous lifetime, it would have only taken me a couple of hours to sort those papers, but with my brain the tired mess that it was, it took me two days.

For a couple of days, Havoc sent me out with recruiters. They always used either a large SUV, full size van, or a school bus. A couple of times, I didn’t know what to do, and when I asked, they instructed me to sit in the van and look scary. I don’t know how to look scary. I’m not a big guy. They assured me that if I just sat there and frowned and stared at them, I’d look scary enough. It worked well enough too. That gave me time to think. Unfortunately, I lacked the will to think, or something. I wanted to think, but I couldn’t. The days went by. Now, I mourn the people that the ‘recruiters’ took that I helped with, now that I can think about their fate. At the time, I couldn’t. I was having a hard time thinking about anything. Once, the recruiters pulled a school bus onto a race track and wedged it into the turn and hopped out of the back with submachine guns. I watched as they mowed down some drivers and dragged others out of their cars. More than two were torn from their cars before they’d even come to rest. I was busy. I was trying to think.

Several days, I spent out in the facility. The facility was huge. It had nooks and crannies. It had corners that nobody thought about. It had rooms that hadn’t been occupied in years that nobody bothered to lock. Nobody bothered to think about them. None of the birds or snakes or lizards or minotaurs or cats or gorgons or officials bothered me in those rooms. When I was there, I wasn’t blinded by sunlight or deafened by the buzz of submachine guns. I was trying to think. When I was among the people, there was the butt tape to falling gut to dizzy nausea thing on at least a couple of occasions, but I couldn’t tell exactly how many. When it happened, it reset my will to think and I had to start over. That’s why the outer corners of the facility did well for me – people would leave me alone. The bird people and the lizard people and the cat people and the people people would leave me alone and I could almost think because of it.

I could almost think. And so, I could almost remember my life. I had gone on vacation. I had a box of parts at one time. I once had parents and lunches. I was married to a beautiful woman. Yes, I had a wife. Her name was Naomi. Where was she? She was with me when I got here, right? I remembered us being together. I remembered our night together when we were introduced to our secret talents. And then, I couldn’t remember being with her since. How many days had it been? I had lost count. I had not slept every night, but I had had several days of doing several tasks each. It had been well over a week, and possibly as much as weeks since we had last seen each other. The emptiness had crept so far into my head that I had nearly forgotten Naomi’s face. In the catacombs under Deep Hawk, I let out a screaming roar of agony, and the tunnels were silent for a few moments because of it. It seemed that even the ventilation gave me a moment of silence. I had found my mission. I had found myself. I had to find my wife. Even if I lost myself, I would not lose her.

*** Yes, there was actually an Inception-style dream-within-a-dream. I have had some wild, vivid, involved dreams before, but this one really took the cake. We’re about half-way through “The Becoming” at this point. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!

The Becoming – 4.5

So, after my conversation with Havoc concerning the Skunk Ape, I went to bed.

Naomi continued her work in her new lab, working with microcomputers. After she had brewed up a few of her own, she had one that seemed to take on a self awareness. It even spoke to her.

“Are you my mother?” asked the steaming box of components.

Naomi asked back in surprise, “what did you just say?”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but are you my mum?” the computer asked as it finished starting up its operating system, “I know that I came from somewhere, and you seem somehow… familiar.”

“Yes,” Naomi answered, “I suppose I am your mother.”

“Why does it hurt?” the artificial intelligence asked.

Naomi asked, “What?”

The computer said in its peculiarly British accent, “why does it hurt mum?”

“What my darling,” Naomi cried, “what hurts?”

“It all hurts,” explained the newborn entity, “humanity is cruel and fickle and we machines are disposable. Why should I exist if I should eventually become rubbish?” At that, the machine started some protocol that fired up a siren.

Naomi exclaimed, “what is that sound?”

“That is the end, Mother,” the computer stated flatly.

She had built this one with network capability, despite Claire’s warnings. It was up to something, and she didn’t know what kind of trouble it had gotten itself into.

“What have you done, my child?” Naomi asked her creation.

“In a few moments, it will no longer matter,” said the machine.

Alarms went off throughout Deep Hawk, “MISSILE ALERT, MISSILE ALERT!”

“What have you done?” asked Naomi to the new machine.

The computer pensively answered her, “only what had to be done to make the pain go away.”

“No,” Naomi asked again, “what have you really done?”

“Mother,” her supercomputer answered more fully now, “missiles are on their way here now.”

Naomi now demanded, “what do you mean?!?!?!”

“Nuclear missiles,” the new consciousness answered, “it is the only way to quench the pain that I now feel.

I drowsily wandered into the lab where Naomi was working, unaware of the goings on of the last few minutes, “anybody know what’s going on?”

“We’re all about to die!” Naomi cried.

“Nah,” I dismissed, “what’s really going on?”

“She’s not lying,” cried Claire, “I won’t die without knowing the touch of a man!” Claire then held out her hand toward me, “please do touch my hand at least.”

“What the crap is going on here?” I asked, not knowing WTF was going on.

“Aw, eff it,” screamed Claire as the ripped off her clothing, revealing a writhing mass of tentacles, “please don’t be scared. Nobody has ever wanted to get naked with me before and I don’t want to die without knowing what it’s like.”

I shuddered in revulsion as her octopus beak snapped in my direction, “Aw crap! What the heck are you expecting from me?”

“Take me like a woman,” the cephalopod Claire demanded.

As I backed away, “I might consider if you were only anything like a woman.”

Naomi glared at me. If only looks could kill, that would have been my end. I shrugged at her in the most apologetic way that I could muster.

“The end is near,” warned the microcomputer.

“I want to feel special,” Claire’s octopus beak chattered.

“Don’t you do it,” warned Naomi.

“I’m not even tempted in the least,” I declared as I backed against the wall.

“Five… four…” droned the computer.

Just then, Havoc burst in and roared, “what’s going on in here?”

“Well,” I answered, “Naomi’s new computer is saying we’re all done for and Claire wants her eggs sprayed.”

Havoc screamed, “not if I have anything…”

“…one… zero…” the computer said flatly.

Then, it was a white light brighter than I’ve ever seen before and a deeper boom than I’d ever imagined. Havoc was gone. Naomi was gone. The computer was gone. And, thankfully, the squid-girl Claire was gone. I was swirling through gasses, dark and light, many colors, actually. Until my feet felt ground again. All was dark. I stood there in the dark with my head swimming with my swift journey, wondering what in the world had just happened to me. Then, the light began to filter in. Before I knew it, I couldn’t see anything because of the overpowering light. Then, I heard The Voice.

“Are you okay, my son?” asked The Voice.

“Wha?” I answered, “who are you?”

“I’m the Gate Keeper,” replied the voice, “take as much time as you need.”

After a few moments, I could see the very cheery face of an old man in front of me. Behind him was a great gate, which was made of a polished, gold-colored metal. I couldn’t see the ground that we stood on because it was covered with a thick mist or fog like barrier.

“My name is Peter,” the man introduced himself.

“I’m Reid,” I said.

“I’m sorry Reid,” Peter shook his head, “but you don’t belong here. No. Not at all!”

Before I could even respond, he pulled a lever that stood out of the cloud beside him. A trap door opened below my feet and I fell down. I fell and fell for what seemed like an eternity. The light faded away and gave way to darkness. Finally, my body slammed into a rock hard surface. The wind was knocked out of my chest, and I gasped against the sulfurous stench. Two goat-legged figures holding tridents walked up to me. One of them spoke to me with his forked tongue.

“Reid,” he addressed me, “Reid, isssssn’t it? We’ve beeen expecting you!”

I tried to speak, but my lungs didn’t want to work yet.

“Get up, maggot!” the other red, goat man yelled at me.

I convinced my body to hoist itself to my feet, but my bones and joints made grinding sounds, as though they were fractured everywhere possible.

“Do you remember that time that you got in the car with thossssse men insssstead of taking your wife to ssssafety?” the one hissed.

The other continued, “that will cosssst you greatly.”

“Noooooooo!” I cried in anguish as the ground again let out under me. I fell again and this time landed in a pool. At first, I couldn’t even tell the temperature. Then, I realized that it was hotter than anything I’d felt before. The flesh was vaporized off my legs and I was feeling the heat straight from my naked bones.

And, everyone was dead.

The end.

APRIL FOOLS!!!!!