The Scarlet Diagnosis

It’s not a letter imprinted on my forehead,

but a permanent brand, nevertheless.

A reason to be ‘written off,’ no matter my patience,

nor my life’s redemptive arc, or stellar record of maintenance,

my clearest, most quiet days are drowned out by the noise

and the fog of others’ uncertainty, no matter my poise.

Difficult – it’s been that. Optimistic – I’m still that.

But just like the label on the back of your clothes –

you’re judged by it, put in a box, and I’ve been trapped.

I don’t mind, though, the territory it comes with;

Exiled to roam this land’s steep peaks, low valleys, and unpredictable weather,

I’ve learned to snowboard and rock climb, and I keep getting better. – RSM

Moon Shot – Part 3

Three weeks before the death of Orlando Jackson…

A breezy early autumn morning sat gently, moving at a near still pace.

A soothing silence blanketed the suburban sprawl of Coven County, giving way only to a hint of a whistle of the winds gusting through the balding trees.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Jackson opened the front door in a tank top, basketball shorts, and a durag on, wrapped in an old black robe that had gradually lightened into a dark grey discoloration. Margot was on the other side wearing a faded, oversized dark grey hoodie, with Jinn City HS Class of 2018 written in all capital varsity font letters on the front. Her hair was in a bun, and half of her face was covered by a pair of oversized sunglasses, the ones that they give you at the the ophthalmologist on your way out after dilating your pupils.

Jackson stared blankly at Margot.

“You know I’m a vampire, right?” Margot asked.

“Like you don’t already live here,” Jackson responded as he pointed his head toward his living room, inviting her in.

Margot took a long, intimate look around the Jacksons’ home. The TV, and most of the furniture and appliances were only a few years old since they remodeled a few years back. The walls, staircase, framed pictures, and an aged shoe rack were a time capsule to their youth. She kept her boxy sunglasses on.

She took her shoes off in the foyer, planting them in their usual spot on the top right of the Jacksons’ shoe rack.

“Ch’been up to?” Margot asked.

“Shit,” Jackson brought down a box of Cocoa Puffs from one of the kitchen cabinets and started pouring cereal into two plastic bowls.

The usual ambient exchange followed – a cereal box closing; milk pouring; a fridge door closing as Jackson put it all together; metal clinking as Margot pulled two spoons out of the silverware drawer.

“Outside?” Jackson prompted Margot.

“Mhm,” Margot was already walking toward the sliding glass door that led to the deck and backyard. She slid it open and was greeted with the rich aromas of incense and cannabis as she walked through.

Jackson carried both bowls of Cocoa Puffs out to the porch.

Margot was already on her favorite deck chair, cutting open a Philly blunt.

“No time wasted, eh?” Jackson was like.

“I just came from the eye doctor,” Margot answered.

Jackson’s smile vanished.

“How long was the uh. . . appointment?”

“Just a couple of days, this time,” Margot said slowly while turning Jackson’s grinder – a small, circular one with a metallic, psychedelic rainbow color gradient.

“Did they treat you alright?”

“Yeah. They know me now. Got the leaf?” she asked.

“Yeah, one sec.” Jackson walked back inside toward the kitchen.

Margot briefly took off her thick, protective sunglasses. She immediately shielded her eyes – the mild autumn sun was far too bright for her. She had small wells of tears in her eyes, which she quickly wiped with the inside of her sleeve.

She slowly directed her gaze further and further up, pushing closer to the sun in an attempt to ween herself off of needing to wear her cartoonishly big, ultra dark shades.

“You good?” Jackson asked Margot as he slid open the glass door. He had come back with what looked like a snack-sized ziploc bag of leathery, brown flakes.

“No.” Margot said. “But it’s okay.”

The mood was mellow as Jackson passed the bag to Margot. She grabbed a small amount of the brown flakes and casually cascaded them into the Philly blunt, mixing them in with the crushed weed.

“I’m sorry,” Margot was like, “It’s just been, like . . .”

“Don’t worry about it.” Jackson reassured her. “I’m chillin’, you’re chillin’. We’re chillin‘.”

Margot started to seal her a perfectly rolled Philly with brief spurts of her lighter’s flame.

“Catch, stupid!” Jackson took a pull of his Elder Wand pen and lobbed it high in the air to Margot. She caught it effortlessly with just two fingers.

Jackson raised his eyebrows and nodded slowly, in low-key astonishment.

“Oh word?! Still got those frisbee sklils, huh?”Jackson asked while he let out a plume of cannabis vapor into the brisk Autumn morning air.

“Comes in handy. It’s a solid T.S.S.,” Margot replied.

She examined her high quality spliff while puffing on the Elder Wand, hands free.

“Huh?”

“T.S.S.? Transferable Stoner Skill. Duh. Like how Snoop Dogg is great at rolling sushi,” Margot explained.

“No way,” Jackson said, swishing around his bowl of Cocoa Puffs.

“Google it. And do the honors, too.” Margot wiggled her freshly rolled blunt between her index and middle finger.

Margot and Jackson stretched out from the beat up deck chairs they were perched in, and just barely met each other in the middle, with enough reach for Margot to pass the blunt.

Wait wait wait wait hold on,” Jackson had an epiphany. “Let me pass it back to you, but we need take a picture of our hands, though.”

“So artsy.” said Margot, in between scoops of Cocoas Puffs and a light pull from the Elder Wand.

“Nah check it out, ‘cuz when we passed the blunt like that it looks like that old painting – “

Margot gasped, “Oh my god! The Sistine Chapel!”

“Yoooooooooooo!” They both exclaimed and harmonized together in sheer awe.

“Hold on,” Jackson nearly jumped out of the deck chair with his phone in one hand and the spliff in the other. The wind turned his old robe into a cape as he opened his phone’s camera app and leaned it against the wall next to the sliding glass doors. He set a a 10 second timer on the front facing camera.

“Let’s do it,” Margot said, more excited than she had been all day.

“Ready? I’m gonna set the timer.” Jackson touched the white circle on the bottom center of the camera app, and flew back into the deck hair. His phone’s screen began a countdown from 10, displaying large numbers with the tick of each second.

10, 9, 8 . . .

Margot tossed him the lighter. Jackson quickly ignited the lighter’s flame and held it up to Margot’s top tier blunt for the inaugural first few puffs –

7, 6, 5 . . .

He reached his hand out to hers like before, just in time for his phone to take the photo.

4, 3, 2, 1. . .

“Hold on one sec, it’s a long exposure!” Jackson was like.

“You’re ridiculous,” Margot was laughing for the first time in weeks as she held her hand in place to complete the scenic shot.

Jackson ran back over just as quickly to his phone.

“Ohhh my goddd bro,” he reacted with wide eyes to their freshly minted work of art.

“Lemme see lemme see!” Margot was like, while taking a pull from the freshly lit Philly.

Jackson showed her his phone’s screen.

Margot’s jaw dropped. She took off her protective shades.

“Yoooooooooooo . . .” They harmonized again, together.

They reveled in their photographic masterpiece – a recreation of the Sistine Chapel’s famous scene of God and Adam nearly touching hands, only it was Jackson’s outstretched hand, passing the Philly blunt to Margot.

“This is fucking magnificent,” Margot slowly, flatly proclaimed.

“This should be like . . . at the MoMA,” Jackson added. He was fighting back a huge smile. He was happy to take such a cool picture, but was thrilled to make Margot feel better.

Margot slowly held out the blunt to Jackson, her eyes still locked on Jackson’s phone’s screen.

“We’re running out of options for you, Ms. Posseduto,” Jackson said.

“Wait, huh? What options? ” Margot looked at Jackson, confused.

She dropped the blunt. Her face went pale with fear.

Jackson was looking directly at Margot with fully blacked out eyes. The left side of his head was battered and bloody. His demeanor and appearance had suddenly changed. Margot was in shock, eyes locked with Jackson, unable to move.

“I know you’re not exactly happy to see me,” Jackson said in what sounded like a mix of several different voices, harmonizing together. Everything went black.

Margot awakened, suddenly – she sat up out of a small hospital bed, surrounded by plain, white walls in a small, brightly lit room.

There was a small surveillance camera in the far corner of the ceiling, opposite her bed. In that same corner was the only door to the room, which looked to be made of heavy, reinforced metal with a long, narrow, rectangular window, fitted with thick glass.

Margot caught her breath while realizing her surroundings.

She was wearing only a hospital gown under the bed’s plain white sheets. She slowed her breathing down and turned to the side, letting her legs hang off the bed. There were several bandages on her face, neck, arms, and legs.

After the first few moments, she looked around a bit more and just sighed. Margot wished she could have gone back into the nightmare she just arose from, just to keep reliving the last time she got to spend a day hanging out with Jackson.

She seemed to be more disappointed rather than afraid. This wasn’t her first trip to this place – ‘the eye doctor’s office,’ as she had grown accustomed to calling it.

“I know you’re listening. And watching.” Margot said. “Why don’t you let yourself in and stop being such a creep?”

The camera in the corner of the room fed a live stream of Margot’s room to a large, wall-mounted monitor in what looked like some kind of war room or command center.

Several people in blue, grey, and black camouflage military uniforms with call center headsets on sat at computer stations with 2-3 monitors each. Satellite imagery of the Jinn City metropolitan area was on display at one of the workstations; another had each screen with a different network news channel on display, covering a breaking news story described as “DEADLY GAS STATION EXPLOSION IN COVEN COUNTY.”

Another large screen in the brightly lit command center had videos from 16 different surveillance cameras displayed on a 4 x 4 grid. The footage appeared to be from a mix of cameras near either Rondspoken Park or the Shell Gas Station. Each video on the grid showed a glimpse of Margot – hitting tennis balls, making Carlos levitate, walking toward the tennis courts. etc.

A tall, burly, bald white man in a black suit stood in the center of the room, slowly sipping on a small, disposable cup of coffee – it was the classic blue and white Greek coffee cup with “WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU” displayed in gold letters.

A thin, tall, middle aged black woman in a grey suit with greying, shoulder length locs walked over to the man and calmly stood by his side, her eyes also fixed on the main surveillance monitor showing Margot in real time.

“She’s right, you know,” she said to the man.

He sighed. “I apologize. I tried reaching out to her again as you had asked -“

“Save it. Go in there and figure this out. Now,” the woman in the grey suit said, firmly.

“Captain, with all due respect, you know she’s not going to like wha-“

“Agent Banks, this is an order, not a discussion. You made this mess. Your team, or what’s left of them, made it even worse, and now you will clean things up. Present Ms. Posseduto with her options. We’re running out of time.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Agent Banks said, without a hint of emotion.

“Yes, who?” the Captain replied, eyebrows raised.

Agent Banks quickly cleared his throat.

“Yes, Captain Baptiste.”

“One more thing,” Captain Baptiste asked, “Did you bring me one of those, too?” she asked, quickly glancing at Agent Banks’ cup of coffee.

“Of course, Captain, one second, please,” Agent Banks walked over to his workstation. There was a single cup of coffee in the same kind of blue, disposable cup under a heat lamp. A post it on his desk was pasted next to the heat lamp that read in black sharpie – “FOR CAPTAIN BAPTISTE – DO NOT TOUCH!!”

Agent Banks brought the cup of coffee over to the Captain. She opened the disposable lid and took a sip. Agent Banks wiped the sweat from his brow as discreetly as he could.

Why thank you, Agent Banks,” Captain Baptiste said, smirking. “You do know how to make the perfect cup of coffee.”

“Thank you, Cap-“

“It’s the only reason I haven’t killed you yet,” Captain Baptiste cut him off with a nonchalant death threat and chuckled a bit to herself.

She took another sip. Agent Banks was about to walk away when she cleared her throat.

“Look at me, Agent Banks,” she ordered.

The Captain’s eyes met Agent Banks’. She blinked once; her eyes turned fully black.

A sudden, cold breeze swept through the command center. The entire room felt the sudden chill come from where Banks and Baptiste were standing and acted accordingly. A wave of fear had washed over the room. No one dared to look in Captain Baptiste’s direction.

Get the job done,” a harsh growl of a voice filled Agent Banks’ mind. The voice harmonized with Captain Baptiste’s regular voice as she spoke the same words to him out loud. “You know why I am in charge here. We are on a mission, and I’ve been more than generous with your failures. I will not ask you again.”

She blinked again, and her eyes returned to their usual elegant greyish blue hue.

“Are we clear?” She asked, no longer in his head.

“Y-yes, Captain Baptiste. Loud and clear,” Banks replied like a new recruit responding to a drill sergeant.

“I’ll buzz you in now. Let’s go,” the Captain said.

Agent Banks nodded, put on a sleek pair of sunglasses from his suit’s inner pocket, and left the command center.

BUZZZZZZ

The loud, industrial noise emitted from the door of Margot’s room. Her head turned quickly. Agent Banks stepped inside and cut to the chase.

“We’re running out of options for you, Ms. Posseduto,” Agent Banks said. “I know you’re not exactly happy to see me.”

Margot instantly recognized these words as the last thing she heard Jackson say in her dream. Hearing them again from Agent Banks hit a nerve.

“You think I’m not happy to see you? I’m thrilled,” she responded, “All of these ‘treatments’ have worked great so far, haven’t they?”

“A new medication will be available shortly.” Agent Banks stated plainly.

“If I could look at the moon right now I’d do it just so I can snap your fucking neck,” Margot said in a vicious monotone.

Agent Banks continued, “You will be in our custody until further notice-“

Margot interjected “And while I’m here I’m going to do what I can to make your life a living hell. Just returning the favor.”

Banks went on, as if reading from a script, “You will have no contact with anyone while in our custody, and will be on strict surveillance if or when you are released. We have a few options I will explain now on how to move forward, you must choose one based on-”

“Eat a dick,” Margot said, flatly.

“Ms. Posseduto, I hope you understand the seriousness-“

“Oh, FUCK OFF!”

Margot jumped off the hospital bed and flipped the mattress over in Agent Banks’ direction.

“You think I don’t ‘understand the SERIOUSNESS’?! It’s been four fucking years now! I just KILLED dozens of people, including my BEST FRIEND because of this stupid disease or whatever you want to call it -“

“Please, calm down-”

Get control of the situation,” Captain Baptiste telepathed to Agent Banks, “Or should I step in for you?”

“Oh yeah, I should just CALM DOWN, not a BIG FUCKING DEAL at all, huh?”

“No, that’s not necessary,” Agent Banks said out loud, in response to Captain Baptiste.

“They said this stupid fucking program would help! They said ‘tHe BeSt aNd BrIgHtEsT’ were going to figure this out! Another medication?! For real?!” Margot had had enough.

I think you need to take a break,” Captain Baptiste telepathed to Agent Banks. “I’ll take it from here.”

“She cannot be reasoned with, Captain!” Agent Banks blurted out.

Margot’s face scrunched in confusion.

“Are you wearing a wire, dude?! Who are you talking to?!” Margot asked.

“Captain, please reconsider!” Agent Banks pleaded, as his head began to twitch involuntary.

“Ohh my god what the fuck is happening. . . can I speak to your manager, Agent Jackass?”

She’ll be right out,” Captain Baptiste responded in a demonic voice, through a possessed Agent Banks. His body levitated a few inches above the floor.

Margot’s face turned stoic.

Agent Banks flew full speed into the industrial strength door.

Margot started screaming.

Agent Banks flew violently into the reinforced door over and over for about 10 seconds.

“STOP IT!” Margot yelled in distress.

His body stayed pressed up against the steel door for a moment, while his mangled, trembling right hand reached for the door handle.

Oops,” Agent Banks said, via Captain Baptiste’s possessed, raspy growl.

Agent Banks’ suspended, battered body pushed the door open and fell forward with a heavy thud, leaving one foot lodged between the door and it’s frame.

Captain Baptiste walked in, stepping over Agent Banks. She nudged his foot out of the way of the door, and let it close behind her.

“Who are you?! What the hell was that?!”

“I’m the Captain,” she replied, coolly.

“I didn’t do that to him. That wasn’t me, I swear!” said Margot. “It happens when I look at the moon, I don’t even know-“

“Relax, baby, I know you didn’t do this,” Captain Baptiste grinned. “I did.”

.

.

.

(To be continued)

Visions, Vol. 3: My’nd’imensional Jumps

All the time, so it goes,

a quick shift lifts my consciousness out the nearest window,

a random round-robin of rare realities rage,

ranging from what’s reasonable to the completely unfeasible,

my mind is a flip phone with T9, sometime in 2002, after 9 –

unlimited. It talks all it wants.

A gust of wind blows me back in,

a nano-second long journey takes me across the universe and snaps me back to my reality.

Then,

through the entropy of imagination, the cosmic jungle of all possibilities seen through my own unique lens,

I’m. Once. Again. pinballing through existence, leaning into this mysterious experience, with no resistance –

And here I am, back in an instant – sliding right into my third eye’s home plate, where it always begins, this,

Infinite, unpredictable winding pathway of pathways, it sounds overh’whelming in writing, but I find it lovely,

My thoughts are on shuffle, my mind jumps into the Google text box, but never hits ‘Search’ cuz I’m always ‘Feeling Lucky,’

My ego’s like Jasmine on the balcony: playing hard to get.

But just like Aladdin my imagination is stationed on his magic carpet,

hand outstretched with a smile, asking her, “Do you trust me?” – RSM

Moon Shot – Part 2

A brisk, foggy morning followed.

A scruffy, tired-looking young man parked his dark blue Prius behind an old, beat up Shell gas station. It was nestled off the side of a lonely road between Jinn City and Rondspoken Park.

He unlocked the front door of the gas station’s small, dusty convenience store and let himself in.

Ding-Dong.

The familiar digital bell sound chimed as the front door opened forward. He put on an aged nametag underneath the cash register that read ‘Carlos – Member since 2018’.

He clocked in on an analog punch card machine that was likely twice his age. He turned on the laptop screen-sized TV at the corner of the cashier’s counter, along with the lights.

The familiar sound of NBC’s morning news filled the background from the TV’s faint, half broken internal speakers. The TV was a boxy, small HD screen that looked at least a decade old, with a few small sections of dead pixels and a digital antenna attached. NBC was the only free channel that had decent reception.

He began brewing the day’s first batch of coffee while listening to the news from a distance.

“The body of a young man was found this morning by the baseball fields in Rondspoken Park. The man was identified as 26 year old Orlando Jackson of Jinn City. He was pronounced dead at the scene, with apparent blunt force trauma wounds to the head.

Coven County Police discovered the body while responding to several calls from nearby residents after dozens of tennis balls had reportedly been hit from the park’s baseball fields, landing on their property . . .”

Carlos loved the smell of coffee in the morning. He poured a cup of extra-thick black coffee into a large to go cup and wrapped his hands around it, letting his digits recover from the sharp, cold winds of the early October morning.

Carlos sat back in the creaky rolling chair behind the counter. He didn’t mind the early morning gig – it was a great time to catch up on his latest manga, or games on his Switch.

He gazed peacefully toward the rising sun, past the weathered roof over the gas pumps. He found it ironic that the ‘S’ in ‘Shell’ was the only letter that didn’t light up anymore.

“I told ’em smokin’ all that reefer was bad news!” said an older woman, distraught, sobbing on TV. The caption underneath read Maria Jackson, Mother of Victim.

“This is the third homicide investigation in Coven County since the beginning of October, all involving young adults as victims. Police are urging the public to come forward with any information regarding this tragedy via the Call Our Police Departments, Give Anonymous Facts national tip hotline, at 1-888-COPDGAF.”

Carlos let out a weak sigh, followed by a much stronger yawn. He sipped on his cup of coffee, indifferent to the cryptic local news as well as the rest of the world around him. He began nodding out in the rolling chair behind the counter.

Carlos was startled awake, finding himself in a completely different place. The chair where he once sat on was now an old, warped bench, between two baseball fields.

He knew where he was – the same area of Rondspoken Park where that murder took place, the one that was just on the news.

There was no one else within sight. Carlos felt his pockets for his phone, keys, and wallet, but found nothing. He felt as if he was gliding more than walking as he he looked around, trying to make sense of his new surroundings.

Ding-Dong.

He heard a faint sound toward the tennis courts nearby – it was a digital door chime, similar to the one on the door to the gas station’s convenience store.

Carlos moved toward the sound at a speed quicker than normal walking or running speed – almost as if he was fast forwarding his surroundings to get to where he wanted to go.

Ding-Dong.

The door chime rang again. Carlos found himself in front of a pair of automatic, floor-to- ceiling glass doors leading into a building. Above the doors read the words Rondspoken Park Tennis Center.

He moved forward into the building’s lobby, a small, but well-kept foyer with marble floors, a trophy case on the left, a vacant reception desk, and a hallway on the right that led further into the building.

Carlos heard the faintest hint of a young woman’s voice coming from down the hallway. He began to move toward wherever the voice was coming from. He found himself suddenly in a janitor’s closet. He moved further toward the voice, and found himself in the men’s locker in an instant. Carlos was shocked at his newfound ability to go through the building’s walls.

“Helloooo?!” He heard the voice again, louder and clearer, and was able to make a beeline toward it, defying physics along the way.

“Anybody?” the young woman’s voice called out again. Carlos found himself in an entirely empty row of tennis courts, except for a young woman who was hyperventilating and holding a black baseball bat.

“Stop!” She said, toward his direction.

“Can you see me?” Carlos said, somehow speaking without moving his mouth.

“Get out of my fucking head!” the young woman yelled.

“Not again! Not a-fucking-gain!” she hollered.

Carlos saw a black cloud-like substance surrounding the young woman.

She didn’t seem to notice Carlos or actually see the shadowy air that surrounded her. She began swinging the bat wildly, as if she were trying to defend herself from someone.

Carlos moved toward, and then into the dark cloud that seemed to be attacking the young woman.

He heard a faint array of whispers, in a language he didn’t understand. The cloud began thinning out as the stranger whispers grew louder.

You will regret thisssss . . . .” this was the last thing whispered by the strange voice, and the only thing Carlos actually understood.

The young woman gasped deeply.

Ding-Dong.

Carlos was jolted awake by the sound of the gas station’s door chime, nearly falling out of his seat.

Still in the rolling chair behind the gas station’s cash register, Carlos looked around, startled.

He hadn’t had a nightmare like that in a long time.

He felt around his pockets for his keys, wallet, and phone, and had them all. He breathed a sigh of relief.

He looked at the time on the bottom right corner of the news on the old TV – 7:07 am.

He had only been asleep for about 15 minutes or so.

Carlos did a quick scan of the tiny convenience store and felt a bit uneasy. He found it odd that he was woken up by the doorbell chime. Throughout the four years he had worked at the Shell gas station, the little shop’s door chime had never rang on its own. It was a motion sensor doorbell – it only rang when someone came in.

Ding-Dong.

It rang again, on its own.

Carlos felt a cold sweat begin to run down his neck. He looked down at the shelf below the cash register, making sure that the store’s old shotgun was still there, within arms reach.

He heard a faint whisper. It sounded just like the one in his dream. He slowly rose from his seat, with the store’s shotgun in hand.

Ding-Dong.

The doorbell chime rang again.

Carlos screamed. Another doorbell chime without another person in sight. He quickly reached for the box of live rounds on the same shelf below the register – loading the double barreled vintage shotgun with two rounds. He hadn’t handled a fire arm with live rounds in years.

Ding-Dong.

This time the chime was triggered by Carlos as he stepped outside, eyes wide, shotgun at the ready.

“Who’s there?!” His voice echoed into the dense fog and woods surrounding the gas station.

There was no answer, apart from the whistling winds that Coven County was known for.

He kept his head on a swivel, then took a moment to catch his breath.

His heartrate fell back into a normal rhythm after a minute or two.

Carlos let out a sigh of relief and went back inside.

Ding-Dong.

He let himself back into the gas station’s convenience store, glad to hear the chime sound when he came back in.

A few uneventful hours went by. Carlos was used to the silence of the secluded gas station.

He stepped outside again toward the late morning, lighting a joint he had clipped in his car. He blew the smoke away toward the woods, away from the gas station.

Carlos leaned against his blue Prius, exhaling a mild indica into the dense fog, shaking off the nerves from a very weird early morning.

As he was walking back around to the front of the gas station he was surprised to see a customer waiting for him – a faded, black Camry, with old, orange-amber-colored headlights was parked at one of the gas pumps.

Carlos found it a bit strange that he didn’t hear a single sound of the car coming off of the road into the station; it was as if the car had appeared out of thin air.

A young woman stepped out of the driver’s seat – the same woman from his nightmare earlier in the day. She looked like she’d been through hell.

Carlos didn’t know what to say to her. Her hair was wild and unkempt. There was a mix of dirt and bloodstains on her clothes.

“A-Are you okay?” Carlos asked her, assuming she might need medical attention.

She locked her fully jet black eyes with his.

“I’m doing just just just just fine fine fine fine…” Carlos heard her say with an echo.

Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Din-

The doorbell chime went berserk.

The young woman’s head began tilting, twitching unnaturally, her eyes blinking faster than Carlos had ever seen.

Carlos felt himself stuck, unable to move at all. His vision and hearing began to fade.

Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Don

The doorbell chime was ringing non-stop, the front door waving back and forth, slamming violently into it’s frame. The lights inside the convenience store flickered in sync with how quickly the young woman’s eyes blinked.

You you you might might want want want want to to get get get that that that door door door door door door fixed fixed fi…..” Carlos heard the young woman’s voice echo with each word as her twitches and blinking intensified.

CRASH. The last thing Carlos heard was the muffled sound of glass shattering.

His vision went completely dark. He stood silently, almost as still as a statue. He shook subtly, as if a faint vibration ran through him.

You’re cute. What a shame.” Carlos heard nothing from the outside world, but had the young woman’s voice permeate his consciousness, like a thought planted into his mind.

LOOK AT ME!” the young woman commanded him, telepathically.

Suddenly, he could see again. He was kneeling in front her, still deaf and paralyzed.

She had a magic wand shaped vape in her mouth. She looked toward the sky. Her mouth began moving. The cryptic whispers from earlier that morning entered his mind.

The young woman’s eyes grew even darker. Small veins surrounding her eye sockets grew dark under her increasingly pale skin. The bags under her eyes turned a faint shade of red.

She took a long pull from the vape, leaned in close, and exhaled slowly, right into Carlos’ face.

You were almost her knight in shining armor . . . oh well . . .” another thought entered Carlos’ mind.

Her eyes looked as if they were bulging out of their sockets. The dark veins surrounding her eyes made it look like she had two huge spiders where her eyes should be.

She gazed into his unmoving eyes. She flicked her gaze downward for second. Carlos’ head immediately followed – his head turned immediately toward the ground.

You got a permit for this thing?” the young woman asked Carlos telepathically.

His head turned back up toward her again – she was holding the shotgun with one hand and the magic wand vape in another.

She lifted the shotgun slowly with one outstretched arm, toward the sky. Carlos’ body moved with her arm, levitating into the air. His face remained parallel to the firearm, keeping the middle of his forehead parallel with the end of the dual barrels.

The shotgun cocked on its own.

The young woman took another pull of the vape and blew it upward toward him. Carlos’ vision was forced downward as he levitated above her, staring directly down the barrels of the shotgun.

“I told you that you would regret this . . . you should have stayed out of my way.”

Strong winds swirled around them. Carlos’ vision went blank again.

BANG!

___________________________________________________________

It was nearly sundown. Margot woke up with a violently deep breath.

She found herself laying on the pavement of a gas station, covered in dirt, gravel, and what looked like bloodstains all over her face, hands and clothes. She had no idea where she was, or how she got there – she last remembered calling and texting her best friend, Jackson, before completely blacking out.

She looked around and saw a complete disaster – broken glass everywhere, a shotgun a few feet away from her; she saw Jackson’s car, but no sign of him anywhere.

A dead man lay not too far from the shotgun, in a pool of blood; his face had been completely decimated.

She began bawling and screaming at the top of her lungs, completely in shock; she had promised herself the last time that this would never happen again.

After a moment or two, Margot heard her phone going off boisterously in Jackson’s car with an emergency alert. She lifted herself up and slowly limped over to the car, wiping dust and gravel off along the way.

She weakly opened the door to the driver’s seat and saw her phone in the center cupholder, vibrating and ringing vigorously with the emergency alert sound. There was a message on her phone – “ANSWER NOW” in all caps.

She touched the OK button on the alert, still breathing heavily, wiping tears and blood off of her face.

She knew the protocol already – once she pressed OK on the alert, her phone’s controls were disabled. A phone call started once she clicked the emergency alert away.

A calm, but authoritative man’s voice began speaking through her phone:

“You can’t keep doing this, Ms. Posseduto,” said the man on the phone, in a parental, matter-of-fact tone.

“It’s not on fucking purpose! You know I can’t stop it, you fucking jackass!”

“We’re sending a car for you now. Stay exactly where you are.” the man replied, just as calmly as before.

“FUHHHCK YOUUU!” Margot said with all of her might.

You know what will happen if you do not comply,” the man politely affirmed.

“GO TO FUCKING HELL!” Margot yelled into the phone, and then threw it straight into the ground. She saw the black baseball bat she had found the other day, laying in the backseat of Jackson’s car. She pulled it out of the car, gripped it with both hands, and pounded her phone into pieces in a fit of rage.

In the distance, she heard sirens and the hum of tires rolling down the road, growing closer and louder by the second. She was out of time.

The sun was nearly set. She looked downward toward the ground, pulling her tattered, bloody hoodie over her face. She threw herself into the driver’s seat of Jackson’s car and turned the keys, still left in the ignition from before.

7:07 PM – The car radio’s digital read out displayed the time.

Several all-black SUVs began pulling in aggressively into the parking lot. They surrounded her as she sat in Jackson’s car while blocking the only entrance and exit onto the only road out.

She heard car doors opening and closing. She had nowhere to run.

“Ya know what….” Margot said to herself. She quickly got back out of the car.

About a dozen men in tactical gear surrounded her, shouting orders:

“DON’T MOVE!”

“FREEZE!”

“GET ON THE FUCKING GROUND RIGHT NOW!”

“HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE ‘EM!”

Margot slowly got onto her knees and held up both hands parallel to her face.

The men moved in quickly, weapons drawn.

In the few seconds of freedom she had left, Margot twisted her hands around, showing her middle fingers to the men in tactical gear, turned her head straight up, and gazed directly at the full moon.

A wicked smile crept up on her face.

Her eyes turned fully black.

.

.

.

The End (for now. . . )

Moon Shot – Part 1

Jackson pulled up in his faded, black 2007 Toyota Camry into the park’s parking lot. The car’s faint amber headlights matched the hue of the streetlamps that lit the park’s pathways.

He slowly left the car with a sigh and started walking down their usual path.

He looked again at his latest iMessage:

Margot

Today 7:06 PM

Come to the park dude… I’m kinda freaking rn. I’ll explain when you get here.

The air was crisp; a cool, strong breeze whistled as it carried a few fallen leaves, breaking through the park’s solemn silence. The sun was on its way down.

He saw her in their usual spot – a patch of unkempt grass nestled between the two baseball diamonds’ high, rusted fences, with a few big rocks and decades old benches warped by the rain. To the west the sun was setting over a set of tennis courts with even higher, shinier, newly renovated steel fences. A blue, interwoven canvas almost completely blocked any lines of sight into the tennis courts.

“Yo.”

“Yo.”

Jackson and Margot greeted each other. Margot was looking down, tossing a tennis ball in one hand and holding a jet black aluminum baseball bat in the other.

Margot had her back turned to Jackson.

“I saw your text, broski.” Jackson said.

“Mhm.”

“Whatcha up to out here?”

“Batting practice,” Margot said.

“But you don’t even play baseball,” Jackson said.

PING!

The tennis ball went flying off of her bat into the dusk.

“I know.”

Jackson felt a troubling energy building within the space between them.

PING!

She carried on with her strange new hobby. Another tennis ball into the twilight abyss.

“Brought the pen?” Margot asked Jackson.

“Always?” Jackson was always stoned. He pulled out his dad’s old weed vape – a 5 inch long miniature replica of the Wizarding World’s Elder Wand.

They puff, puff, passed the vape back and forth for a few minutes. Jackson laid out like a starfish, staring straight up into the night. He enjoyed watching the clouds go by in the night sky, with another bright yellow tennis ball streaking upwards with each swing Margot took.

Jackson was doing his best to ‘hold space’ or whatever – a concept he tried to recall from his recent therapy sessions.

A few more minutes passed. They shared Jackson’s pen and carried on – Jackson laid in the grass, Margot kept hitting tennis balls wherever she felt like.

“It’s been an interesting day, I guess?” Jackson said, finding it oddly difficult to break the ice with his bestie.

“It was a good one,” another short reply.

PING!

“Impossible. It’s Monday, bro,” Jackson was like. “Mondays are wack, everyone knows that.”

“Any day can be a good day, jackass,” Margot was like.

PING!

Margot lobbed another ball a few feet upwards and sent it flying with an effortless swing.

“Nah. I mean, yeah any day can kinda be a good day, that’s what I’m saying, bro.” Jackson replied.

As he inhaled on his dad’s old weed pen he imagined a quick little story for each tennis ball that Margot hit into the brisk autumn sky.

PING!

This one is an escape pod to an exoplanet.

PING!

That one landed in a tree – the birds who live there are shocked. They’re treating it like humans treat UFOs. They sectioned it off from regular birds; they’re letting the Bird CIA deal with it.

“I feel like any day can be a good day but not every day is, though,” Jackson hypothesized.

“You can’t always be positive, or happy, or whatever.. so I feel like it depends,” He went on.

PING!

“I mean, yeah,” Margot conceded. “You’re still a jackass, though,”

“That’s fine,” Jackson mumbled indifferently as he released another plume of vapor into the air.

A smile crept up on Jackson’s face for the first time that night. Margot’s usual sass felt oddly reassuring.

“You’re chiefin,’ guy,” Margot said.

“OK Aaron Judge,” Jackson sat up and passed her the vape.

“Fuck that.” Margot was like in between tokes. “I’m a Mets fan.”

“Where’d you get all these tennis balls?” Jackson was like.

PING!

“I can fit into the hole in the fence behind the tennis courts,” Margot answered.

“Well, then.”

Margot kept turning away from Jackson. He still had barely seen her face. He did at one point, for a split second, and her eyes had a watery shine to them, as if she had either just finished crying or still was.

“What’s going on though? Like, you’re being kinda weird, even for you. No shade, but . . . “

A cold, windy silence filled the air around them.

Margot lobbed another tennis ball in the air.

PING!

Another ball, another swing. Another popup flew into the trees above a neighboring backyard.

“Wooooo! My aim has gotten SO much better!” she exclaimed, sounding more excited usual.

Margot had a wicked smile after her last moon shot. Her honey brown eyes brightly glistened under the old amber streetlights.

“You good?” Jackson asked.

“Very! I mean c’mon, did you see that last one?! I’m a fuckin’ beast!

Margot’s voice broke a little with her last few words.

“You’re being like, really weird right now bro, I’m just kinda confused,” Jackson said.

“. . . and worried.”

“Ugh… bro are you even paying fucking attention!?” Margot snapped.

Jackson sighed. “Uh . . . yeah . . . I am,” Jackson rubbed the center of his forehead.

She threw up another tennis ball and swung at it with a passionate yell.

PING!

Another yellow orb torpedoed into one of the tallest trees in the park. A few leaves rained down from its highest branches.

“NICE!” Margot’s voice echoed as the ball stayed lodged in a huge tree in the distance.

Jackson sighed, sat up and kicked his voice up a notch “Who’s chiefin’ now, bro? Can you at least pass my vape back . . .and lemme know what the fuck’s going on?”

His brow furrowed as he took a better look at Margot – she was visibly shaking. She slowly turned toward Jackson. She finally stopped trying to hide her face.

She was smiling wide, began breathing heavily, and began wiping tears away from her sunken eyes. She had several small, fresh cuts – still bleeding – on the left side of her face and lower lip. She had bruises and abrasions on her neck. She rested the bat on her right shoulder, keeping a firm grip on the handle with both hands.

“Dude. . . what happened to you?” Jackson asked in a slower, softer tone.

Margot’s bright, hazel eyes looked more illuminated than Jackson had ever seen. Time seemed to slow down as their eyes met. The whistling winds and Margot’s deep breaths grew louder while all other noise became inaudible. Her pupils were much wider than usual.

“Yo…. let me take you home. You’re really starting to freak me out out out out out . . . ” Jackson heard an echo to his own voice. Wide eyed, even wider-pupiled Margot stared him down with a menacing grin. She started blinking unnaturally fast while maintaining eye contact with him.

He kept pleading with her to come with her, but he could barely hear his own voice.

Margot’s nearly blacked out pupils were fixated on Jackson, eyes fluttering. Jackson was now unable to speak. He started to lose his balance and began sweating profusely. His vision began fading until it was nearly pitch black.

“I think I’ll stay out here for a little while, bro. Join me.” Margot’s last words sounded like a raspy, unnatural growl.

Jackson went further into a vegetative state with each time that Margot blinked. She pointed the bat at him, Babe Ruth style, and he instantly dropped to his knees.

Jackson’s eyes were covered with a dark grey callouses. He couldn’t move. It was as if something was holding him in place.

Margot slowly trotted over to him. She had the aluminum bat resting on her right shoulder and the Elder Wand vape in her left. She took an incredibly long pull from the vape and let out a frothy vapor cloud from her mouth and nose while looking up at the full moon.

She lined up the sweet spot of the bat to Jackson’s left temple, just barely touching the side of his head.

Margot began to whisper a barely audible incantation; her lips and tongue moving feverishly. Her eyes turned entirely black while repeating a soft, but intense chant in an indecipherable language.

She gasped suddenly, slowly exhaled, and returned her gaze down to the end of the bat, still touching the side of Jackson’s head. She bent her knees and crouched slightly into a batter’s stance, with perfect form. She cocked back, stepped forward, and belted out her hardest swing of the night.

PING!

(to be continued . . .)

h’woooosh

My mind is always spinning.

I’m a fuckin’ whirlwind.

The curved air rolls with the force and speed of the images produced within my consciousness,

Third eye, dizzy –

Hitting all corners at least twice before realizing I’ve been spinning.

A grand, rotating revolution, spinning is the problem – and spinning is the solution!

Just endless spirals, lights of the night go round and round,

Images, viral, reaching right into my retinas as I recall the square frames

as I endlessly scroll down –

S

P

I

N

N

I

N

G

!

A regurgitation of recent memory, trains of thought criss-cross-crashing, flying off the rails,

airplanes flying, shooting my thoughts up high while spilling out white streaks of racing-thought chemtrails

SPINNING around, my point of view’s on ballerina style, just a Whirling Dervish,

morphing, contorting – an 18th century French poem, written in cursive – a lightly used, Hello Kitty themed furnace,

a concerned Greek chorus, singing, trying to warn us – a rebellious sect of spaghetti, bobbing and weaving away from a fork –

it’s, a natural force of the mind, subliminal– it keeps [spinning] it goes so fast, unpredictable,

Mind’s eye like a set of 24-inch Sprewell rims from 2003

a wheel within a wheel, a Mayan calendar of an experience

sPiNnNiNg I change channels in my head

From Tik-Tok clips to Cher’s greatest hits to random scenes from Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’

I’m serious, just kaleido-scope into my third eye view, and see whatever comes to;

Mind you, at times its not intentional, the way it aligns, but,

nevertheless, I’m usually just a happy, little mess;

Rotating revolutions, all mixed with randomness,

Self-entertaining, that’s what my mind’s eye be like, fam;

If you catch me laughing to myself, no te apures I’m doing just fine!

I just paused on something funny I saw on my internal screens, and just had to hit re-wind. . .

Because, you see, my mind is always spinning.

I’m a fuckin’ whirlwind. – RSM

Bad Bitch, Part 2 (About Damn Time!)

It’s Bad Bitch, Part 2, she’s thick, curvy…

our first year’s on lock, wheels still turning…

another week away down on South Beach,

flashy, classy, sassy, she’s a damn Queen,

wearing all her hubbies’ sunglassies,

looking hotter, than the sunset now..

She’s been so down and under pressure

she’s way too fine to be this stressed, yeah

I’m used to her, and now she’s used to me…

So let’s grow together!

Turn up the music…let’s celebrate

It’s been a year now… a lot more on the way

Okay… alright… it’s about damn time!

In a minute, we’ll be chillin’,

tanning, drinking, margaritas, along the coast,

We’ll be grinning, reminiscing, a little kissing,

Beach babe with the matching Coach –

Admiring her nails, laying on the sand,

Gazing at the water with a drink in her hand,

the baddest bitch around, on water, air, land,

got everybody looking at her like ‘oh, damn!’

She’s been so down and under pressure

But she’s a Bad Bitch, there’s no question

She’s looking fine, no glasses needed to see…

It’s about damn time!

Turn up the music…let’s celebrate

You’re very welcome – happy anniversa-ray!

Okay… alright… it’s about damn time! – RSM ❤

Inspired by ‘About Damn Time’ by Lizzo

PLUR x Hydration <3

We’re all friends, and have a collective jump that shakes the tarmac beneath us,

girls on shoulders, kandi traded along sweaty wrists

as the bass permeates our skin, we feel it in our bones –

a wave of loud cheers erupts from stage to stage,

dozens of countries’ flags on display,

makeshift kandi masks donned as hundreds of shufflers scrape the floor with their sneakers,

a pounding of sound calls you from every direction.

Wavy, euphoric vibes, and dilated eyes all around

About 10 giant bananas are running around together

But the most beautiful thing are the water bottles being passed around.

Smiles, glistening bodies of all shapes, sizes, genders, colors, 100,000 faces

And when one falls, there are 10 to catch them,

We check in with our crew and pass the water bottles around –

We all vibe out, some like to smoke, and some won’t,

Some like to jump and scream, and some roll, and some don’t,

but everyone passes the water bottles around.

Some shuffle, some head bang at the front, some crowd surf,

some just sit back and kick back toward the back,

some throw up the peace sign and the duck face,

some are on the ‘gram, while their favorite DJ goes HAM,

taking snaps and videos and selfies with selfie sticks-

Some even start passionately kissing, or give sweaty, glitter-filled hugs

and rave hands, glow sticks, LED gloves dancing in the air,

some make new friends, and some stick to their tribe,

some are wearing next to nothing, some are dressed like batman;

and some are so lost in the music that they’re in their own zone…

and they’re all passing the water bottles around. – RSM

Conveyor Belt Woes

Run, walk, move, the conveyor belt keeps you going,

the travelator pushes us along until we’re pushing daisies;

to conform and put yourself last is to “be strong”

as we trudge along around the black an yellow tarred lines

while looking at our rectangular mind magnets, our attention – occupied,

worrying too much about these crazy times instead of the curvature of our spines.

Factory errors are laughed at, pointed out by the products

because to not be ‘in line’ is to be ‘out of order,’

how free are we if we still have to be like the bees

of a hive that work until our wings no longer flutter?

The puppet masters at the top reference a utopian time and place

that seems long gone, but never actually existed,

and the average Joe from yesteryear

would probably be more appalled than proud of how much

the oligarchs have chipped away from the working class –

basic needs are a privilege, our principles have been twisted.

People locked out of basic shelter are dying,

spikes installed to keep them off polished windows and away from old money limestone walls,

Instead of humans helping humans we have a space race exploding off the blocks,

top 10 money hoarders trying to be like “I’ma head out,” hopping from penthouse to cockpit,

Union-busting tech barons don’t mind leaving the earth sweltering, melted, and barren.

Jump off the conveyor belt – life is more than just numbers and industry –

we’re not just the products, we’re the power that electrifies this grand machine.

Look around, look toward the future, and don’t forget to remember suppressed history. – RSM

Plane-ing through Hindsight

Each moment we find ourselves at another crux – a six-way lane change that cluster bombs out into an infinite range –


Perpetual potential possibilities present powerful plans, possessing mis pensamientos,


Gathering speed while moving forward is the most logical direction, but this multi-dimensional intersection has me sometimes traveling through space-time, second-guessing;


With every new open door is the draft that slams the last one,
Shutting out the doubts and tribulations from yesteryear’s thick fog, and dark clouds.


We don’t look back that much, that’s why the rearview mirror is so small,
But at times we do look back again and see things a little differently, a perspective updated,

With these previous moments’ emotions expired – examining experiences end up expedited, prorated.


Taking off back to the now, elevation is the growth, and the speed is the effort, we’re the pilots of our own narratives –


Journée-ing toward a new day, and as our lives fly upward, forward, we can’t help but check our six
to see the airspace behind and below us where we used to be.


Forward is still the way to go, the brave steps we put our feet towards, even when we feel at a loss for words, we can’t let past what-ifs or regrets have us hesitate to smile with love upon the open skies ahead.


Hindsight is a weeping angel, a stampede that gets closer every time you look back at it, hoping to touch your mind and send you down your own pasts’ never-ending rabbit holes.


The pedestrians on each crux of your life’s choices can overrun your mind if you don’t use your right of way, right away;


Let each quantum intersection be part of the breeze you feel as you fly forward – let hindsight be a record of lessons learned, a pilot’s manual to guide you to a higher plane as you fly on. – RSM

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