My hands won’t stop shaking.

Gordon’s pacing—although honestly, I don’t think it’s fair to call it that, at this point—like he’s trying to formulate a new methodology for setting the carpet on fire with nothing but intricate choreography. His living room is immaculately clean, to the point of sterility. I’m not wearing shoes.

It’s that clean in here.

I drove a hundred and ten miles an hour through the city all the way here.

And my hands won’t stop shaking.

For the last twenty minutes, Gordon has been pacing back and forth in front of the sofa where he kindly insisted I sit, muttering the same two or three words over and over.

“I’m fucked. I. Am. Fucked. I’m fucked!

“Listen, I know it sounds crazy, but—”

“Crazy?” I think he’s trying to smile at me, but honestly, it just looks like showing teeth. “Crazy would be if we walked up to Dr. Soliman’s office, pulled out a gun and said, ‘Good morning, Dr. Soliman, I’m having trouble killing myself today. Would you mind to help me out? Oh, and while you’re at it, I’d like to use your office.'”

He’s right. That would be pretty crazy.

“What you’re talking about doing is completely and totally FUCKED!”

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was going to break out in tears.

Gordon rocks back and forth as he walks, his body hinged at the waist like a stiff doll; the nightmare Christmas Toy creation of an autistic-savant-designer-turned-terminal-crackhead.

“I’ll tell you,” he says, completing his seventy-fourth lap around the coffee table, “but you have to swear to me you won’t try anything stupid. Just get the video from the archive and get out.”

My plan flashes behind my eyes:

  1. Connect remotely to the Praxem SecureBridge packet and download the server keys.
  2. Create a query in the system to allow access to the building after hours, coded to my employee ID.
  3. Tell the security guard I left my wallet in my office the day before, and
  4. Use my security credentials to bypass monitoring in the archive room. That’s where they keep encrypted copies of the video footage from the cameras in the observation rooms.
  5. Use Gordon’s access code (which he is very close to giving me) to get into the observation deck.
  6. Blastoff…


“Gordon, I promise. Listen, man….”



I’ll see you soon, baby.

I love you.


Our car is a little red Audi we got off a Craigslist ad. It’s a piece of shit, but it gets us from A to B.

I’m tearing through lights downtown when Soliman finally picks up.



“Mason. I told you to get some rest. This is highly—”

“Doc, listen. I have to go back. I have to use the chamber. Listen to me please don’t hang up.”

“Mason, I don’t think—”

“Just listen, alright? Weird shit is happening. I keep having these—these dreams—everything is so vivid. It’s like I’m there, ya know? And Amara is always a step ahead of me. I think I know a way in. Into her reality. Are you still there?”








“Yes, Mason. I’m here. Why don’t you come see me at home?”








“At your home?”

“Yes. I’m here now.”


“Mason, today is Saturday. The lab is closed. If you want to use the chamber again, we’ll have to wait until Monday. Otherwise, if you still want to talk, you can come to my house, and we’ll talk. Talk Mason. I’m not promising anything.”

“Look, I don’t think you’re hearing me. I just got this weird fucking call and—”

“Mason, if you want to tell me about your day, you can do it on Monday. I don’t have time for this. Come to my house and talk, or I’ll see you when I get back to the office. Ok?”










Fucking prick.

Who does he think he is?



I have every right. EVERY RIGHT to be there. Six months now. Six months I’ve been waking up, shaving my body until my skin is raw. Six months I’ve been driving this piece of shit across town, out into the fucking mountains. Middle of goddamn nowhere. Six months of sitting in traffic, listening to thugs bumping rap music, kids crying, yuppies honking. I’ve fucking had it.



I need to get into that chamber.

But how?



Soliman said the lab is closed on the weekends. But the techs go in on Saturday nights to prep the Monday samples. Gordon told me about that once. He said he spent the whole night Saturday and most of the morning Sunday prepping the IVs for chamber observations…


I know the startup procedures by heart.


Six months of the same tests, the same protocols, day in and day out.




If I can get in there tonight when the techs open the place up, I could sneak into the observatory and








s s s s s s s s s s s s s

A sound on the line. Not a voice.
Just a hiss.








s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s


“Baby, if you can hear me, please. Say something.”











I can’t do this. Can’t speak. I only curl in the orange glow of morning, face in my hands. The static sings through the speaker on the pillow by my head. Your smile on the screen. Connected.



























I listen. I need to hear. Hear you there. Hear something, in that river of static. Some rumor, some whisper. Something. Anything.

But you say nothing.

My voice is broken. My eyes write verses for you instead, fat wet strokes across my cheeks, dark ellipses stain my pillow.


. . .


without end


poetry I could never fathom,
every beauty I ever failed to utter
right there on the damp fabric,
empty room filling
with static
with poetry
with sunlight anguish static
static doubt anger
static loathing
with rage,
with hurt,
with aloneness, with


with regret with











When I wake again, the river is quiet. Sit up. Grab the phone. Touch the screen. Dead.


Was I dreaming? How far back?


Did I dream you? Could I

have dreamed
the most
p  e  r  f  e  c  t


No. I need to go back. Keep looking. You’re out there. Wandering. Searching.

I need the chamber. I need to talk to Soliman. Convince him to let me back in. Take the goddamn psych test. Whatever it takes.





The sun is setting. Outside my window, cicadas begin their newest symphony.


“See?” You said, ear against the glass. 
“It’s beautiful. They play to no one, and anyone who will listen.”




I’m listening now
for all its worth