My Artwork And What It Means To Me

Hey Guys,

I’m really happy to share my artwork with all of you. I usually make my paintings on my phone, which sometimes can be challenging and although it takes a longtime, I’m finding the process a lot more rewarding and creatively stimulating.

I don’t like to say what my art is about but if anything is about the connection between sex and spirituality. A bit like my poetry and prose. I like to think of it as ‘Sexual Mysticism’ (If that term even exists). As for the eyes, I don’t know why but I’m obsessed in making them.

I wanted to rant a little bit with this post because lately I feel, for some reason, sex has become a taboo subject; although, it’s the single most life affirming thing you can do in your life. This has been frustrating for me lately because I’ve tried promoting my art on other social media platforms but they have rejected my request. It’s really annoying because I’m not posting porn, the nudity is meant to have a message. It’s not meant for instant gratification or objectification, it’s meant to make you think. and in that respect I need your help.

If you like my art, if you understand my message and my true intentions; please, help me in promoting my art and supporting me. If you go onto the links below you can get T-shirts, hoodies, phone cases and stickers with my artwork on it. The links, further down, connected you where you can get my Canvas Paintings. So you can have my paintings in your home, that is if you think there good enough. If you can’t buy, please spread the word to others. Anyway, thank you for all that you’ve done. I appreciate the support.

Shop: https://www.redbubble.com/people/arminhas?ref=more_work_artist_title_name&asc=u

“Girl with flowers

flower Girl full napa

“Nighting Sings”

Nightingale 2 Sings.png

Woman in the Cosmos”

Locust Universe (Close up)

“Simurgh”

Simurgh (A.R. Minhas)

Year of Regret

Raw silk, pure power

I feel the anger of drunk drivers passing by

 

She undresses in that winter moon

I lay naked next to you, and I feel you in heat

“Taste it, spit the seeds”

 

I’m a meat eater, but I’ll promise to drink more cranberry juice

And I promise

I won’t fall in love again

You saw what happened last time?

 

Coughed up a lung in love

Footed the bill

And my thoughts have become more bureaucratic

I know exactly what forms to fill out

 

Replacement heart on the way

Plus shipping and handling

 

 

I promise I don’t need anyone

You can ask my dreams

You can ask my bank account

And my investments are doing well too

 

Painting pictures of zero balances on my credit card

Could you imagine?

If you never made mistakes

 

Protein shake diets

I’m taking care of myself

And I don’t need anyone

 

Even if your touch leads to those special endorphins

It’s ok

 

There’s a new year coming up

And I’m sorry for repeating

But there won’t be any regrets anymore.

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

Our Bodies Betray Us

I’m drinking again

And all I can think of, is her.

It’s cold outside

And the warm melted cheese of my quesadilla

Embraces the foamy amber.

I keep talking about the time I fell in love

And even though I know my friend is tired of me talking about her

Fuck him

I don’t care

I get poetical when I’m drunk,

And I dream of my waitress giving me blowjobs

In that perfect way, she used to

The way she would roll her tongue and sometimes use the sharpness of her teeth…

Nothing like the threat of castration

To get harder

She pulled me closer, and I told her my chemicals were for her.

Only her.

And her skin was meant for me to puncture

And draw monuments to

The way I used the red pen

No one else will know

I remember the swelling of breasts,

Swelling in my mouth.

My mother told me that she never breastfed me,

Maybe that’s why I’m so needy,

So insecure

I excuse myself for a cigarette outside.

I want to be alone.

And if there’s a god, he’s given me the gift of wanting-to-be-alone.

And I exhale smoke in triangular propulsion

Each howl of wind wakes me from sleepiness

And my thoughts race

To the pinkness of her thighs,

Softness of her hair,

Even the slight coarseness of her armpits.

I’m still thinking about her.

The perfect form.

And I’m thinking about her betrayal,

And I’m thinking about forgiving her,

Because

Eventually

Our Bodies betray us

But she will always be perfect in my mind.

© A.R. Minhas 2017

It’s Ok To Be Lonely, Sometimes

“It’s ok if they don’t get your joke.”

            “None of them do…”

            “And humor is such a subjective thing.”

                            “You just have to try a little harder…”

“Maybe, a little more to the right.”

“If you stick the landing then they’ll respect you…”

“Oh! When are you getting published?”

            “You just don’t drink that much.”

 

“Please, please another pint… that’s all I have left.”

“Is the weekend over yet because this egg won’t crack itself,”

            “If there is a movie to masturbate too can we please watch something surreal?”

“If your breasts like mountains bow I would be able to see again!”

“I can paint the world with your freshly stippled legs.”

 

“That pure waterfall is my release, and the cliff is your face changing shape.”

 

“Our evergreens and my heart are rooted in you.”

 

“If there a distance between a star, let me immolate between your thighs.”

 

 “I have lied to you inside a convenience store.” “And I know of the other entity that

                                                                  resides below you.”

 

“If there is flesh, let me have a light…”

“And smoke is blessed and falls on all of us with carcinogenic precision.”

“It’s ok, loneliness comes in small bouts.”

                                                          “It will kill you in small amounts.”

 

“And maybe one day you won’t be so disappointed that you ended up this way.”

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 2

This is an excerpt from the novel “Confessions of an Abortion Addict.” This excerpt might not be sequential and will be subject to additional editing. Thank you!

 

I arrive at the doorstep of Ossington, somehow alive. I hand him the tip and say “thanks,” dripping with sarcasm. The shops are different, displays of nude mannequins and smell of ancient chamomile tea. The streets are narrower but the threat of finding new possibilities is endless. I didn’t realize how much my feet hurt after I had touched the ground again, but as long as I can walk— it means nothing is broken. I hold my purse over my right shoulder, adjusting my blouse at the seams, stretching the flowers, and burying my phone within the confines of my purse; I use my bottom hand to balance it…stepping lightly to get the blood back in my legs.

The bar was having an open-mic spoken word event. I could hear it through the opening and closing of the door.  This was one of my favorite places… serving tapas, food as minimalistic as it can get—which was perfect since I had landed the part and I wasn’t going to let that opportunity slip away by eating too much. Though I’m already very skinny…you never know these things. My agent would’ve agreed if she was here.  I scan around the room, characters miserable around the bar stool. Low-light and the feedback from the mic easily drowning out the music of clinked glasses and drunken laughter. The space was dark, lit only by small candles on the tables… I manage to see Sly, sulking in the corner stirring her fruity drink. She is wearing a beret, brown leather jacket and an eclectic assortment of accessories. I sometimes wonder how can she move around without misplacing parts of herself. The moment she sees me she outstretches her arms as if to escape her sockets. There is a man in the background pouring his soul out talking about his life but I can’t hear him. I walk towards her narrowly avoiding the rude waitress giving me stares reserved for dingleberries.

“You’re finally here!” She said, with a wide-smile which was odd because of the dark shade in her eyes and the new streaks of blue and red in her hair. “I thought I’d be stuck here listening to people drowning in their own self-pity…of all the nights you had to pick this one.” She blows her bangs, resting her small face on her fingerless gloves.

“Hey, let’s swim in it…”

“Stew in it! I’ve already spit it out…pwaah!” She makes a retching noise.

“Too much vodka in your Orange juice?” I asked, giving her a little wink. I had to repeat again because of the feedback.

“Mind you it’s a cocktail…so I’m sure there are some more citrus fruits involved,”

“Right, did you order any food… I’m starving?” I look down on the menu, which was basically an Arial Black font print out, stuck on a clipboard.

“So why do you like this place again?”

“It’s hole in the wall, and it has personality…kind of like you, kind of like me,” I smiled.

“Touché,” She said sipping her drink.

A waitress arrives wearing a tank-top and a vest and blonde ponytail; I think it’s the same one who I narrowly avoided.  She might have one of those faces that can only scowl. I didn’t recognize her; even though, I did come here often I wouldn’t consider myself a regular…I still was surprised that this place was still filled with unfamiliar faces. High turnover is expected in the food service industry.

“Refill?” The waitress asked Sly.

“In a minute, my friend will have a rum and coke though…thanks” Sly said. “O wait she’ll have the Philly cheese steak and tempura shrimps,” The waitress looked at me in confirmation and not wanting to offend her further I nodded.

“Coming right up!” She departed.

“That is your drink right?”

“Yeah, it is now,” I laughed not wanting to break the image of an easy-going gal. “Thank god the portions are almost bite-size.”

“You know you’re not like the other wannabee actresses that I’ve met before,” She says gulping down the remainder of her drink but still keeping the corner of her eye on me.

“How so?”

“You carry yourself with an air of dignity. You know? I see that you are sensitive, but you are confident…quietly confident.”

“That sounds almost like a compliment,” I said looking at the melted wax accumulating in the container.

“Trust me it is…”

The drone in the background stopped and the inconsequential man who was standing in the makeshift platform surrendered the mic to a tall, well-dressed man with slick-back hair and sunglasses. He might’ve been the MC.

“…And give it up for, Mike Anderson,” He said, jutting out his right hand to lukewarm applause. I obliged just due to my closeness to the stage. “And up next it’s umm…Mr. Adrian X.” The small space gave a little courtesy clap.

“Let’s see If he has anything interesting to say” Sly says, she is drinking her refill. I barely noticed that my drink has arrived.

 

“Yeah, let us see,” I take a small sip of my drink. A small spotlight captures his head, a beard contoured with long wavy brown hair. He’s wearing a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up…he looks nervous.

“Hi, I’m Adrian…Adrian X. How are all of you doing, tonight?” He said almost not wanting to hear back.  An echo of whispers. “Well I’ll guess later….anyway; this one’s called ‘Your body is a Dark slip of Road’.” I take a large gulp of my drink.

 

“Oh! Friends she destroyed us

On that Dark slip of Road

With that stare, Her body

In the dark we traverse

On that slip of road

Our memories

Altered by touch

The chemicals spilled

With caution

Oh! Friends how can you resist that?

I’m lost in her tresses

She even put perfume behind her ears

So I can find my way back

To that smell

That smell that guides me

It arrives before her

My nostrils are expecting them

Expecting her…

That smell

That ineffable smell

That ineffable feminine smell

Like roses burning, soothed only by morning dew

Like milk on the verge of being spoiled

That ancient smell draws me to her

Fragrance of mammary glands

Secretion of dopamine

Serotonin and Explosion

Of the nerve endings

That receive her. Interpret her.

The eye that receives those images, link to a permanent form

That existed before I was born

That smell

That Dark feminine

Smell

I smell it always on that dark slip of road.”

I don’t know how but my food was prepared. It was presented and I absent mindedly bit into the breaded shrimps. I couldn’t move my eyes away from the stage.

“That is all, thank you”, He awkwardly dangles the mic, but he’s showered in applause. Even Sly, mouthed the words ‘wow’ out of her face filled with shrimps.

“Amazing—a little short but still… pretty impressive” He said, taking control of the mic and patting him continuously on the back. “That was, Adrian X… give it up for that performance!” He escapes as fast as he could beyond the darkness and gets lost in the small crowd.

“Do you wanna go next, June?” Sly asks.

“I don’t know…maybe after a couple of more drinks,” I said, unfolding the napkins to clean my mouth. I take one more swig.

“You know that drink is a creeper…it’ll get you if you drink too fast.”

“That’s what we’re here for right?” I laughed; I’m feeling it since I haven’t eaten anything today.

“Yup, that’s why we’re here,” She said moving here head and breaking eye contact.

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

Novel: Confessions of an Abortion Addict – Excerpt – Part 1

This is an excerpt from the novel “Confessions of an Abortion Addict.” This excerpt might not be sequential and will be subject to additional editing. Thank you!

 

          It’s been 27 years since I’ve been trapped in my own head. I went to walk on the streets that were familiar, but it’s been too long since I can remember what it was like to transcend. Everything I can remember has been stained by time and memory. Altered by it and ultimately become indifferent too; it was always like that. I look at people as objects in a petri dish. I observe them— the way they laugh, hold conversations, the stares that linger too long and hands that get rebutted ever so softly. I do this because of my craft; I want to be an amazing actress. I’m sitting in a great Hall with other travelers who are waiting for their trains, to go elsewhere, somewhere they were destined to go.

            I see the hug of close friends, lovers and how they are so easily replaced by other people on the waiting bench who too are waiting for the same relationships to enter through that platform. The great Hall has a large dome-shaped ceiling, the lights on the scaffolding provide a mauving effect, smell of recent construction— sawdust floating in the spotlight of the sun… a clanging of metal that has a strange blue ring. Suitcases half the weight of their carriers. Men who look like they have been war torn by life, women who carry themselves with litheness. Shopping bags, hair curled buns and the little wheels making sounds like small locomotives. The voices reverberate, and the pool of conversation gathers into a flood that spills everywhere.

             I go out to smoke. The corner is unlittered with cigarette butts, and I leave one behind with my red lipstick marks, showing that I was there. There are large faces of buildings that look down on me; it’s the feeling of being looked down upon that gets you. Bloated with empathy, my feet yellow-calloused from walking around in these white flats, I hobble around the block, the cars rush by me… Doppler Effect in transit. Pedestrians, jaywalk with deftness that I’ve never possessed and the homeless sit on corners—peripheral curiosities, becoming a part of the city landscape rather than living, breathing organisms. I feel guilty of that thought, but I let myself off with a slap-on-the-wrist. I detach myself walking upwards, and then I catch a glimpse of myself in the green-tinged reflective glass windows of the I-trade building; I can’t help but look. The black flowery blouse, my tight jeans billowing with my body and finally hair untethered in pristine spring weather and the ever so slight curls caressing my face; skin unblemished and proportionately tanned. ‘There were a lot of reasons to smile’ I tell myself to provide excuses for my unearthly grin. As I get closer, the sun dips at that angle which gives life the color of fading polaroid pictures.

“Lady, get some info,” this tall, dark-skinned man said. He was waving flyers with crescent shapes stepping in and out of my path. He was wearing glasses that blind men wear and his scarred white stubble, made him look even more malnourished.

“No, thanks,” I said in my barely audible speaking voice, but my open arm wrist protest along with my head bobble should be more than enough disinterest. I’ve learned to ignore men with flyers. You might think they’re giving you ‘info,’ but they only waste your time. I’m beginning to realize the city, surrounded by a mass of people does make you a little cold and callous but at the same time perceptive of people’s naked interests.

             Getting closer to Dundas, I walk avoiding the subway grates; I might also be avoiding them because I fear falling down further… there is a lingering smell of baked bread floating through the open windows, the steam howls from the belly …the raging of the union southbound line, trembling with unrestrained ferocity. If you look at the pavement closely you can see the small shoot of grass jutting out of the corners. I’m getting a little woozy because I’m also noticing the bubble-gum carcasses and bird-droppings forming small bulbous protrusions infecting the street… like diseased skin. I retrieve a cigarette from my purse, and now it’s dangling on my lips…. I’m going pass the theatre near Wellington Street; I’m not sure if I should do theatre? Nonsense my agent would say and she would berate me about thinking too small. She isn’t with me today; she might’ve finally been satiated by my victory to not show up. Sppt! The lighter fidgets like a fire-dancer near the square, I hear the four toned announcement: ‘Walksignisonforallcrossings’. There was a certain buzz in the ear as if everyone was excited that I was finally meeting, Sly. She was insisting to meet up after our audition and I guess I finally had a reason to celebrate. I wonder now if I were to celebrate my accomplishments, do those accomplishments diminish as I celebrate them, I wonder if everything becomes much of the same. Everything eventually becomes old. I hail a cab.

“90 Ossington”, I say depositing my purse on the other seat. The driver moves with a sense of reckless preciseness; moving his head supernaturally, as if to have an omniscient view of the streets. He was darting across traffic manoeuvring around logjams barely avoiding the cyclists, pedestrians that were unlucky enough to find him in the way of his path— I was sure he had at least grazed many of his would-be victims. In that 30 minute drive I saw my life pass by several times.

Please read the original short story:

Confessions of an Abortion Addict

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

The Otherkinds

 

“I’m not what I seem. I may look human, but I am something completely different. I am gestating in the shell of this body, and I am about to transcend.” I said while staring at the ceiling, my fingers interlocked to make an overlapping fault line.  I see the fork— the entire thing might collapse, but it’s ok.

“Son, please can you tell me when did you start feeling like this cosmic being?” Dr. Childress asks without taking his eyes out of his notepad, there was a hint of concern in his voice which made me realize he was genuine. He seems like he has a talent for making people feel relaxed which allows them to open up about their feelings. It helps that he looks the part with his gray print suit and his ugly argyle sweater underneath.  His hair is messed up, clearly not on purpose and­­­ he has large glasses that cover at least a quarter of his face. He is still scribbling something down, I try to see, but his writing is indecipherable, they look like inked squiggly lines.

“Probably before I was born,” I chuckled. I liked joking with people in authority to see where the boundary of what- can-I-get-away-with lies.

“Knock it off,” he said in a sharp intellectual manner, staring, as his glasses ran down his nose.

“Fine— when my parents started ignoring me, and I thought I would make up a character that had the power to control them. I never had control of my life, and this identity gave me the power to do that.” I said in my usual dry tone.

“Is that truly what you feel or are you just saying what I want to hear?” He said with his laser-like stare.

“No, I was being sarcastic you egghead. Ha-ha. I have a perfectly healthy relationship with my parents. They don’t even know I came here. I’m having visions, I see things, in my dreams; I find myself drifting in the vast expanses of space. I see my reflection in the starlight. I am an otherworldly being, trapped in a human body. I know this on an intuitive level. I feel it in my bones, my nerve endings….every part of my body is telling me that I don’t belong here and in this.” I move my open hands from the top of my forehead to my waist and back again. “I’m Lord Osgoloth, ruler of the realm of Ziggaroot. The others refer to me as such” I say in a relaxed manner, looking at my nails to show my indifference.

“I’m just curious about something…don’t take this the wrong way but why did you come here today?” He had removed his glasses and proceeded to bite the earpiece. “I’m not complaining, but I would like to know what you are trying to achieve?” he said with absolute solemnness and pointing his glasses at me while balancing the notepad.

“Doc— something has happened, that has caused me to turn to you…”

 “And what about the ‘Others’ that you are referring to, you couldn’t turn to them?” he asks, leaning in with a curious look on his face.

“Well, the Otherkinds are a community on the deep, dark web that offers beings, such as myself, a safe place to congregate; we help each other to express ourselves in our true form, you know?  Otherworldly beings trapped in this pink flesh.”  I’m feverishly moving my hands, and my neck is getting a little sore from tilting my head at that awkward angle. “We remember our stories how we got stuck here. I use to be a black plasma being that emanated a purple glow. The Otherkinds, originally, fought amongst each other but then we were besieged by the Elders, an ancient race of beings that cursed our entire race to become… this.” I hold up my hand in front of my face. “We are all working together so we can remember how to transcend ourselves. We used summoning spells, psychic trances, and substances to help us recall. It was all known, and it became unknown. The collective remembrance of the past. But something has happened that has caused me to doubt the other’s intentions.”

“Uhmm-hmm,” Dr. Childress nods in silence as he scribbles down, ‘Active Imagination?’, ‘Dysphoria?’, ‘Schizophrenia?’. “Now, before you tell me what has caused this mistrust, can you elaborate more regarding what you do on the deep, dark web and what kind of relationship you have with the Otherkinds?”    

“Ok… I write my blogs describing my remembered experiences; the transcendent glow of being immortal. The wars between the Otherkinds and the curse of the Elders that placed us here, and now we just message each other as we work together to find our true selves. Shutter’t, Baelog, Turkurk, Xwerf, JuiluP became more than family now; although I’ve never met anyone of them before or know what they look like, we have become very close. We were once adversaries, but now we have a common goal: to transcend ourselves. I thought they were the only ones who understood my struggle. I thought they were helping me through the nightmare.”

“So, what caused you to doubt their trustworthiness? Can you tell me more?” He said, adjusting his posture and leaning a bit more closely. He seemed rather interested now.

“It was a message. We had made contact with another. But it was not an Otherkind. It was an Elder, called himself Aflameem; he private messaged me about a month ago, he said, and I’m paraphrasing here: ‘Who among you is worthy? None of you…You deserve your prison….I know who you are…if you try to remember…your flesh will become your coffin.’ I conferred with the others. They got similar messages. The ‘Elder’ or ‘Elders,’ were real just like us. They were hunting us as we were trying to escape our prison.” I was getting a little nervous describing this to him as I recall how much danger I’m in. “It became a usual occurrence. The threats from the Elders came too frequently. The Otherkinds were getting nervous and in turn were making me nervous. Then the other day I realized that the Elder might be posing as one of the Otherkinds. It has to be one of them right?”

“Well, it could, but knowing the Internet, you might have someone who’s just provoking you. You said that you wrote in your blogs about the lore of your kind. Do you think it’s possible that someone might be doing that out of spite?” Dr. Childress holding my stare.

“It might, but we never put our ‘shell’ identities on the blog. They wouldn’t know who I am.”

“Exactly, they have never messaged you or indicated they know your real identity, right?”  He said in a calm manner.

“Well yeah, but I’m worried you know…”

 “Exactly this person seems very disingenuous to me. I doubt this person even knows which country you live in let alone know of your ‘shell’ identity,” he said. “So you don’t have anything to worry about.” He is writing down: Does the Elder represent a castrating mechanism…Represent a father figure? A Cosmic Super-Ego? Guilt for not following social conventions? “Anyway your session is about to end.  So I just want to recommend a couple of drugs… Basically Serotonin inhibitors. These are all meant to make you relax, reduce your paranoia and reduce your intake of emotions.”

“Thanks, Doc…I will take a look at these…” I take the prescription with hesitance.

“Be careful how you take them. Twice a day. I know they are a heavy dose, but I feel with the problems we’ve discussed today we need an all-encompassing strategy.  They might cause hallucinations, sleep deprivation, loss of flavor and dry mouth…that’s a given… but the moment you have any abnormal physiological reactions I want you to call me ok? I want to do our session at least once a week. So how does next Tuesday sound?”

“No problem, Doc. Will see you then,” I said taking his card and the script with me. I got up and as I was leaving the door, I noticed the walls of degrees. Dr. Xavier W. Childress, University of Waterloo. Platforms of books and I saw right next to the potted plants a small pinhole sized camera. I smiled at it. “We will see you soon.”

“Good day to you, son.”

 

***

 

                How did he find me? How did he know? Was it wrong for me not to reveal myself to him? What if he knows? Wait! There is no possible way he could. I took precautions, my avatar:  has no personal trace to me. I made sure of that. I am a professional, and this would ruin me. I’m wheezing, recounting ever step.

 I realize why I am a psychiatrist; because, I want to find out what’s wrong with me, among all the therapy I have undergone I have still not been able to treat it properly. Eventually, I found my purpose on the web. I found the Otherkinds as a safe alternative. They were the missing link to my constant alienation. Finally, I had peace with like-minded individuals. 

 But now this Elder threat is getting to me. They are the antithesis of my existence. My tongue feels like a dry lizard. It was so hard for me to act indifferent. I tried to look if he knew I was one of us, but my professional career was at stake. Why do the Elders threaten us so much? I have so many thoughts running through my head as I stay in my office and I watch the video of the session again. I’m replaying it again and again to see his facial tics, idiosyncrasies. I want to know how a fellow Otherkind reacted.  I watch the video over and over, and there were no giveaways. Then I saw it.  He was leaving my office, and then I saw him… looking. He was looking at the small camera as if he knew that it was there. He winked— this was enough for me to close the footage.  Lord Osgoloth, the all-seeing he surely was.

  I open the browser now going into the deeper recesses of the web. There are no messages from Lord Osgoloth neither the others. Strange. We usually have our chats around this time. I’m waiting for someone to respond. Then a private message pops up. I’m filled with fear as I scroll up the message, and I click it. It’s my image. Dr. Xavier W. Childrecess. He knows… it’s from the Elder. He knows. How did he? The message continues: ‘Subject exhibits signs of Mental trauma, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), possible latent Cosmic Dysmorphia and Dysphoria, Abandonment Issues, Sexual Repression, and Social Anxiety.’

Who was the person I saw today?

Appointment calendar. An illegible signature and the address… 1304 Terran Avenue.  Oh god! The address, he put my address!

Another ring. The message from Lord Osgoloth this time. An Image. A dead body on a couch… but it wasn’t….him. SEEYOUSOONDOC.  The person I saw today. I look through the video again, this one was someone else. I look through it again. I start panicking, the drawer opens; I fumble through the drugs I pull out. I’m fumbling on the floor. The pills go underneath the table. I try to take it out. I feel the loose nature of folded paper. It’s the script I gave today. It didn’t have any of the medication I had listed: COME OUT, OF YOUR SHELL, WE WANT TO PLAY.

 

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Void” (Flash Fiction)

* This is an even more edited version of my short story and believe or not this was written before the movie “Gravity.” This was inspired by the Marilyn Manson song “Disassociative,” and was one of the first stories I wrote, I hope you can enjoy. *

 

I am drifting in space, moving in disassociation.  The radio screeches:

—BzzZZZzt—EEEEEE—TNN NN NN—

Distortion, like the crackle of a fire licking: Slurp! Slurp! Feedback of the self-contained cacophony, growling louder and louder, penetrating ear drums, shrill as chalkboard claws and meaningless as a whisper of devotion. The emptiness of nerve anarchy; I engage in deeper levels of conversations within the spiraling platforms of thoughts: illuminated, only by the intervals of shining stars, whose light is trapped within the body of its flatulent, gaseous structures and the thermo-nuclear blaze, shimmers: a parody of unrequited astronauts sentenced to death. Those poor, helpless moths drifting in space-time. Meteorites float in the periphery of my vision colliding with each other to form new shapes and distances; the sun immolates itself spewing out radiation.

‘I-I don’t belong here’ said someone beyond the mezzanine, blurted, drowning in the tidal wave of darkness and boredom; expectorating saliva and watching gravity ignore it, suspended within the fishbowl container, it forms an amorphous blob.

“M-May-day… R-R-R-Respond… I-I repeat! May-day! T-t-the radio-command of Odysseus 762  R-r-respond…G-Gawd-Dammit!!”

The radio dies alone because it could not communicate with other radios. The stomach just underwent massive seismic activity. I lurched forward holding myself back (trying not to hurl) to recollect shattered thoughts with the pretense of patience.

“An astronaut is drifting alone in space,” said an abstraction of someone from below the deck.

I was inspecting the perimeters of the shuttle. I had to report any damage to the shaft, the result of our ships encounter with Earth’s rings of garbage that had attained an orbit of sorts around the planet. Travelling further, debris had punctured the outer layer of shields. Tethered to the ship through an umbilical, I made my way to inspect.  I floated perilously into the void, I saw the Earth for the first time, from a distance; stepping out into the vacuum, disoriented by space.

I made my way along the streamlined body of the ship.  The frame of Odysseus was severely damaged; the junk had deformed its shape— bruised purple coursing through its thick cut of veins, sickened by the poison that had transformed its appearance. The wingspan had clusters of it; only a moment later, that it was whizzing past me like crashing bullets.  It was here; and it froze around Earth, forming its circumnavigation. The debris was raw sewage, yellowbrown balls of ice hurtling through space; some in perfect harmony, others flung like rocks dopplering into black water … creating ripples; we were briefed that the junk would have attained high velocities and would be the biggest obstacle to the mission, other than of course the unique isolation that is presented by space.

As I dived beneath the wingspan to avoid being pummelled by what I would assume to be foul smelling snow-balls — Skktsh!…I imagined that it sounded like that: the snapping of the umbilical cord, I laughed a little, after all, the years of gestating and shuttle-worship… and now it snaps… severing the connection. The thing that held me close to being real is gone, and now I’m all out of oxygen, drowning and ejected out of uterus once again. Although I had managed to turn on my imaginary lungs, I am in that hexagonal room again; where my eyes aren’t used to this new vision.

***

I had a rescue mission planned, in desolation, I conjured up fantasies of hope – or how my new life would turn out like, unfortunately, I awoke to a universe, alone and stained with piss and shit.  They must have something in the manual for this…something…anything.  On the other hand, I do have a gigantic death wish, and it was getting harder to ignore.

I lose count; my fingers seem dislocated yet multiplied at the same time… the numbers in my head slip through the cracks of my skull.  I roam no longer in Earth’s orbit or within the radius of Odysseus— emptiness— a disembodied entity sucked into a vacuum cleaner, “let the verses of the alien gods penetrate cerebrum, planting their seeds of electric activity; radioactive thoughts do that to you— they induce doubt in everything.”

The reserve tank of lungs had a puncture, with its last breath of oxygen kissing my lips. I would repeat the arithmetic try not to expect because both despair and hope are pointless. All I ever once was: darkness, and now just an unspectacular end to be accomplished by mediocrity.

My lips are caked. I feel every drop of sweat eroding the features of my face.  I also have a severe itch on my nose, but I can’t scratch it. The stillness mixed with the dispersion of oxygen has rendered me deaf, adding stress on my breathing patterns. Oh my God! Can someone scratch my fucking nose!

In my last conscious moments, I remember the sun gazing upon my feet; although the suit was there to protect me from the UV-beams, it still insulated with bulky armor because of the cold, space is bi-polar with vast stretches of it freezing… but with any proximity to the sun, it gets much warmer. By now it was almost certain that radiation had crept into my body. I could feel my skin burning.

Roaming in the infinite, a vagrant among the cosmos. I was a dead body through which life can still exist; while, Earth and all its occupants will wither away. The fact that my body can have a culture of life, maybe,  the thought of existing in some way allowed me to accept this fate and eventually gave me some peace and calmness.  Formless. Naked. Peaceful. I accept death as much as I accept life and all its consequences. The oxygen runs out with the stars shining on the fish-bowl. Who knows if those stars are dead or merely resurrected?  Maybe I will be reborn again, as I lull myself to sleep:

“At my feet

I see hands approach

Little aphorisms always hold true

Because as you embrace despair

That is when the bright lights appear.”

 

© A.R. Minhas 2017

 

THE END

 

 

 

There is a Blackhole at the Center of Everything

In this profession, as in his real life, Stephen Travers, calculates his words for maximum effect.

“You all know we weren’t born to be miserable, right?” microphone in one hand, Stephen Travers blasts his rhetorical question. “We are put on this earth to do more than just be miserable. We are put here to achieve happiness…and how do we achieve happiness?” The crowd in rapt silence, hanging on to his every word.

“Now I can give you the politically correct answer. Happiness is family, happiness is all that bullshit. There is only one thing that dictates our happiness. Success…success informs everything you do— your relationships, your health, your confidence. Success is everything… and I promise that with my program, you will see the results.”

He is met with bombastic applause.  They can’t get enough of this… a sea of puppets.

“I want you to look in the mirror, and visualize your success. Imagine yourself staring at your goal— it’s at arm’s length from you, all you have to do is reach out and grab it. Envision yourself with new eyes and picture your success just a stone’s throw away.”  On the stage, around the auditorium, the banners proclaim: ‘THE STEPHEN TRAVERS METHOD: CONCEIVE, BELIEVE, EXECUTE, AND ACHIEVE.’ His picture blown-up, bright-eyed, blue-eyed, painted brows and well-manicured hair and a photoshop grin. A small group of security guards is hidden in the corner, keeping an eye out on the squeezed crowd.

“I was born in a small mining town near Sudbury. My father was a miner, my grandfather was a miner and although miners get paid a lot these days,” He pauses, letting the audience chuckle a bit. “Back in those days, they didn’t, and they didn’t have a luxury of a ‘safe’ working environment.” He said, following a chorus of nods. This session was in a small town, he usually recounted his past strategically to grab at the heart strings of a similar sentiment. “I didn’t want to follow the family business. So I took off and never looked back; but, what they said about the mines stays with me to this day.  Hard hats with a thin trail of light, toiling away in the dark… full of arsenic, lead, and cadmium. They persevered through for a better life in those Nickel mines. Both my father and grandfather toiled through for a better life. It’s not easy to stumble in the dark… But I know now what it takes… and why my method works.” He said in a more thoughtful way.

“Now I know there are some non-members here too, so please if you liked today’s seminar, there are some signup sheets near the tables and will be disseminating soon. Sign up if you want to be a regular. It’s just $9.99 every month, for only being a silver member, for which you will receive your very own handheld mirror and our regular web sessions.” He holds the small mirror, up high, hand extending towards the heavens and the light reflects into the crowd, some in the first-row wince. “The Gold members, who pay $15.99, get some additional things as well; this will include: webinars, daily motivational quotes, and exclusive speaking engagements…which reminds me— I will be talking to our gold members, exclusively, today”, he said. “Please, join us back after a 15-minute interval.”

Ravenous applause. There are flashbulbs of electricity: the crowd is feeling it tonight. Donation baskets passing through palms of people who are in need of constant self-validation.  He sees on the right-side of the stage— Garry, the web guy, giving him the thumbs up, his scrawny face peering through the laptop, glowing. The internet donations are coming in thick and fast. He fixes his silk tie, adjusting his royal blue tailored suit turning towards the side as he walks off stage. Handing the mic to a stage presenter, who entertains the crowd in his absence. He sees Roselle as he walks to the exit, wearing her silvery-white dress, sunglasses precariously positioned in her utter indifference. When he saw her, he let go of the mirror breaking into a thousand reflective edges. Faces disjointed. He and Roselle were going their separate ways.  It didn’t help that she was still his manager. They decided to keep their relationship with each other as professional as possible, but it was hard to do that. She wasn’t thrilled about the idea of helping him organizing these ‘self-help’ seminars but wanted to help his career, however, after seeing the method that he had employed, she started hating the idea. She finally had enough of it; this would be her last show.

His stare lingered on her for a couple of seconds. He liked unquestioned loyalty— anything less was a betrayal. Though their ties were about to end, Roselle was still trying to make sure that they left on amicable terms even if she didn’t agree with Stephen’s methods.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to do the ‘mass hypnosis’ thing today?” She says in a calm tone. “You haven’t perfected it with such a large group.” Both of them start walking towards the dressing room.

“I do this because that is what people pay me to do.  We need each other to survive, if it’s not me, it would be someone else.”

“Well, that’s fine, and all but do you think it will help them?”

“If I can raise someone’s self-esteem enough…I deserve a little bit of their money…you realize how much a shrink costs?” he said taking off his suit and handing it to an unnamed assistant signaling her to iron it a little bit more.

“You know what forget about it…sometimes …I can’t even…” she says, both of them standing on the threshold of the door.

“Can’t even what…? Tell me?” he says.

“Never mind.” She enters and seats herself on the couch.

“If you have a problem with the way I do things here, you can leave… oh, wait! you’re already doing that”. He struts in sitting on the opposite chair to her. She doesn’t move, silently staring at him…he has never talked to her like this before. “Yeah, exactly, you are leaving. You said we could separate our personal relationship from our professional one, and you couldn’t so don’t guilt trip me about any of my dealings now, ok?” She acquiesced; she realized that this was harder than she thought. The door knocks.

“Can I come in?” Garry asks.

“We’re busy” Roselle shouts.

“It’s ok you can come in” Stephen replies. Roselle gets up, crossing her arms and shaking her head with frustration.

“I just wanted to ask what music you wanted us to queue when you do the hypnosis? The Sufi ‘call to the sea’ or the sound of a waterfall.” Garry asks in a hushed tone.

“Whatever, you feel like.”

“Call to the sea, it is…”

“And could you please escort Roselle out of the building?” he says with contempt.

“Uhmm…” Garry said, unsettled by the situation.

“I’ll show myself out, don’t worry. I tried my best to be civil with you, but you made it impossible. I just want you to remember that if you ever realize how wrong you were don’t bother calling me back, ok? I will not feel sorry for you.” she walked with a brisk pace and he caught the whiff of her scent. She pulls the door with force, as Garry stumbles a little forward. Footsteps of angry heels.

“Is there anything else, Garry?” Stephen asks.

“No, everything else is swell…”

“Ok, then, get lost. Thanks.”

Stephen started out as a hypnotist. Making people do silly faces, funny noises, and slapstick dances. Realizing early that he had gone as far as he could, he cleaned up his act and changed his name to Stephen Travers and started holding self-help seminars. Now he was doing something which would have a greater impact on his audience; imprinting their lives with his motivational speeches, and now mixing hypnosis with his presentations. The quest for total self-actualization, he called it.

“If you can conceive. If you can believe. If you can execute then, you can achieve.” He bellowed to a round of hoots and hollers as he returned to entertain the gold members. “And that’s what I have been able to do from the lessons I’ve learned in my life.”

The seminar is a convenient construct that helps with his promotion. It’s a story that helps him to be more relatable to his audience, which to be honest is a lower income segment of the population (typically, the people who have chosen the gold membership are a bit higher up on the lower income segment). The audience wants a narrative to cling onto; the truth is that he despised his family. He saw them as lumps of wasteful space, lumbering through the horrible mines all their lives—for nothing. He had never met his grandfather because he had died in the mines; the cable snapping as the rust accumulated, falling 10 meters below in complete darkness of the elevator shaft. The fall had crushed his legs, and it didn’t help that there were no rescue crews at the time, he’s embedded somewhere below. His father was a drunkard, he did what all miserable drunkards do…neglecting everyone around him. His mother left soon getting out of an unhappy situation. For a majority of his life, it was only him and his father.

His father was slowly becoming a shell. Finding relief only at the bottom of that bottle. Showing up after work, drunken, covered in soot, and an emotional mess. He threatened to be the local barfly but luckily for him he faced stiff competition from a lot of the townsfolk. It’s not pleasant to live in a mining town— people are miserable, and everyone’s lungs are infected with chemical agents. On the odd day that he was sober, he was very distant and didn’t care much about, Stephen. He never beat him, but he wasn’t there for him either. Indifference was always worse than hatred.

Eventually, he drank himself to death and Stephen was all by himself. But even when he was alive, Stephen felt a profound sense of loneliness and no self-worth. He knew what he had to do to become somebody. The world had ‘nickel and dimed’ him (he laughs at his joke), and he wanted to pay it back. On his many lonely journeys, he would go into the shadowy depths of the forest to a dark opening on a hill. This fissure in the Earth represented, to him the Nickel Mines, which to him represented the black hole of his despair. The mine had taken everything from him and was threatening to envelop the rest of his life as well. He would stare into the mines, chucking his emotional baggage below, as well as any spare quarters he had… he liked to hear the silver chink as they hit the surface below, unburdening himself of the mental torment he felt as well as acting as an act of catharsis. Depositing his physical and psychological anguish, returning it to its source.

Lately, he had been dreaming about that mine a lot. But the place in the dreams was much different. The opening of the mine was much wider: a dark fall with no bottom. The quarter dropped made no noise. In his dreams, he felt that a monster lived below the surface. A darkened passageway to nihilistic horrors. Sometimes, he could see the monster rear its head. It was so dark below that even a speck of light was made visible. The eyes of Green copper and the tongue of yellow plumbum were like distant stars. He heard the snarls, the sulfurous breath coming closer. The pulleys were squealing, upwards, he’s coming closer. He comes closer, gripping with unending terror and relief of freedom. An elevator platform ascending at a steady pace.

“Now I want you all to close your eyes and listen to the music as we all go into a trance. I am going to be accessing our entire collective subconscious. What we want to do today is to learn a technique called: auto-suggestion—this will be our trigger. If you have read my book: ‘SUCCESS IS WITHIN YOU:  THE STEPHEN TRAVERS METHOD’, you’ll understand …if not, what we’re simply trying to do is to visualize success to be our single motivation becoming embedded in all of us, as mentioned in my book, being single-minded is the key to achieving success; and all of you can do this by following my plan. Now everyone in this room is a gold member, which means that you have the opportunity to get access to my personal hypnosis sessions, motivational videos, newsletters and also one-on-one consultation once a year. So this is what you all are paying me for Ok?  So is everyone ready?!” He roared.

“YES!!!” they all replied.

“Ok, Garry you know what to do, hit it up!” he said. Stephen started his chanting as an indescribable language reverberated around the auditorium. Everyone had closed their eyes. The trance was perfect. The track had soft sitar music, with subliminal audio of phrases like, ‘visualize,’ ‘execution,’ and ‘self-realization.’

“I open up my eye, and I see all of you. We’re going to be visualizing success.” He murmurs, he is starting to remember himself looking down the mine, which was darker than the refuge of his eyelids.

“Breathe with me, Speak to me, and Sing with me,” he said, the possessed crowd obliged:

“HMMMMMM-HMMMMMM-HMMMMMM-HMMMMMM!” they chanted, swaying their hands back and forth.

There was something wrong. Stephen felt uneasy as he couldn’t hold onto his solid body. He was trying to hold onto his method. Conceiving, believing, execution and finally achieving transcendence.

Everyone mutters in gibberish. Psycho-babble, tongue twisters, loosens the mind and stretches out the will. Flashes of light, the spotlight peaks through. The cult leader, Stephen Travers, is trapped in his dream now. He is staring now at the mouth of the black hole.

“I’m here for you, Stephen.” the monster from below the mines. “I think that’s what they call you these days…right? Stephen…ha-ha…. I’m here for you, I’ll make it all better…ha-ha” it said.

He opened his eyes, and he saw the audience zapped in their unawareness. They were paused— caught in the trance; even the security guards were gone. The music was skipping.

“What happened, Stephen?” Garry yelled from behind the stage.

“Yeah, what the hell went wrong?” Roselle came running to him on stage.

“The hypnosis… they’re stuck in there.” He said in a panicked state. He jumps off the stage frantically running down the aisle snapping his fingers, but the audience isn’t coming out of it. A mass state of catatonia.

“They might want refunds,” Roselle says. “Think quickly.”

“Garry, can you please put on the music again? I have to find them. I have to get them back…” he comes back up to the stage.

“Got it…I’ll try again.” He said, frantically trying to restart the music.

“I hope you can find them…somehow…huh?” Roselle said and then out of nowhere a black hole forms beneath her feet.

“Roselle!” he quickly tries to grab her, and she falls into the mouth of the mine. He barely can touch her fingernails, and she keeps going down.

“AHHHH!” she screams.

“Roselle!” He yells and jumps into the black hole following her.

He isn’t awake. He’s not on the stage anymore; he’s  in a field of poisonous flowers that line the lips of the mouth. He’s in the forest again looking at the dark opening. Colorful flowers combine to look like the neon sludge left after the waste materials are taken out. He’s peering into the abyss. Behind him, the audience is moving autonomously. However, they look like miners, complete with hard hats, flannel shirts, and steel toed shoes— a sprinkle of them are also carrying pick axes. Faces smudged with charcoal and eyesight bad as moles.

“How did we get here?” An older gentleman asked.

“I feel woozy…”

“The last thing I remember was that was attending a self-help seminar…”

“Look above that hill…”

“That’s…”

“It’s him.”

They all converge to Stephen. He’s getting nervous, how are all of them in a dream of his? He shudders a little. The tiny pulleys working upwards, the elevator is coming up. He’s getting nervous. They approach him.

“Hello! my friends. I’m here to bring you back…”

“Shut up, Travers—if that’s even your real name—we were all waiting for you,” A woman from the crowd yelled.

“You ever been down the mines, boy?” the old miner screamed.

“No, I don’t want to…please, I escaped this town. I don’t want to be in this town. I couldn’t be like those miners. The sickness, oh god the sickness.”

“The mine was always yours” they all speak at the same time. “It’s where you came from, it’s where you’ll end up at.”

He is standing now, waiting for them to push him over. They all walk closer to him. Brushing aside the shrubbery, stepping into the colored flowers.  A sign appears as the bushels clear: THE MINE IS CLOSED.

The audience stops, it disperses away their purpose. “Peer into the mine, it’s closed for now…but we’ll come back later.” Retreating now, as they migrate out to the waking world.

He stares deep into the mine. He goes into his pocket to find a quarter like he used to. There were no quarters anymore. The monster below starts laughing. Eyes of chemicals malevolently looking up at him. The squeals of the spoke die, and the elevator is descending. All of a sudden, he falls to his knees. Subliminally, he can hear the words calling him to the real world. He is crying at the foot of the edge.  Staring into the abyss and now it didn’t even bother returning the favor.

 

 

 

© A.R. Minhas 2016

The Chemtrails of Innisfil

 

After a while, the road seems like a known entity. The black sterling rolls with beastly sighs of diesel relief. Motoring along with the silver logo of Sisyphus Inc. reflecting off the small sliver of the sun, “We carry the burden for you.” The snowy single-lanes, speed ramps, and posted signs act as a transition between imagined folk tales and certainty. It dawns on him, while the winter light fades; the strange plumes of white were making a symbol in the sky. Shyam Rafiq observes everything; he knows that single focus can drive a trucker mad. Distractions are important in journeys, and sometimes he gets distracted by thinking of his family. Mariam must be getting the kids by now; she and the kids come to his thoughts often, and they often leave too. Monochromatic images of bills appear in his mind: The evidence of existence. Payroll there or not there, but the trucker’s peripheral concerns are illusory. The only truth is that the road winds, unwinds, and gets narrow or wider. Drifting with a coarse blaze of horns, enflamed yellow headlights, middle finger salutes, slippery exits and a glimpse of that blind spot apparition– hanging on like a suspended dream, the thing seems to be getting closer. Shaking his head with violent denial, and it’s all rear-view mirror now, he thinks to himself. He turns up the radio, tuning into other frequencies.

 

Michael Ballard: “Welcome to KTX2, this is Michael Ballard, and you’ve tuned into ‘Lifting the Veil,’ we have a very special guest on today, world renowned author, Dr. Eliot Wiebe. Dr. Wiebe’s last book ‘Mysteries of the Sky: A closer look at Chemtrails,’ has been garnering a lot of attention and creating a lot of controversies. Dr. Wiebe, thank you for being on the show. ”

Dr. Eliot Wiebe: “Thank you for having me, Michael. I couldn’t have introduced myself better; plus, you pronounced my last name correctly.”

MB: “Weeb. That’s how you say it, right? Ha-ha… anyway, thanks for coming on, Doc. So, I read your book, and I found it very fascinating; stuff like this barely gets any attention in the mainstream media…umm… so, to start off, please just give our listeners a little bit of a background on Chemtrails.”

He’s half-listening and half-drifting to sleep. A car whizzes by him in reckless abandon. No turn signal. Typical highway antics.

EW: “Chemtrails, yes… Michael. So I want to ask your viewers if they have seen the sky, lately?”

MB: “I’m sure they have…not all of them live in their mother’s basement, you know? Ha-ha.”

EW: “Ha-ha. Yes, in the sky you might have noticed there are streaks of lines that run across the sky. Most people look at those trails and think that they are the residue of the smoke left behind by jets in flight. But actually, it’s much more nefarious than that. These streaks of lines aren’t contrails, as some government propagandist put it, these are Chemtrails. Chemicals released in the sky to alter the weather, or even alter us.”

MB: “How does that work?”

EW: “Yes, these are chemicals not only created to change the weather but also affect the health of the populace. Have you seen the cases of cancer that have been reported all across the world? The amount of fluoride in our water— isn’t it obvious? My book explores this in greater detail.”

MB: “This is truly incredible…so you’re telling me the government is poisoning us from the sky? Let me ask you this wouldn’t ‘they’ be affected too?”

EW: “They have the antidote, Michael. The elites have special medication that allows them to negate the effects. The sky has been poisoned; our sky has been poisoned with fly ash, sulfur, and chemicals with unpronounceable names.”

MB: “Wow that was very enlightening, Dr. Wiebe. Please, stay with us we’re going to continue this conversation after this break.”

 

He changes the radio again; for once he would like to hear something good happening in the world. He doesn’t want to worry about why everything isn’t working. For once he’d like to know that authority figures had the common folks best interests at heart. The past wasn’t kind, and the present wasn’t looking all too bright either. Mariam had a miscarriage recently. It was a traumatic experience and had put their marriage under a lot of stress.  This would’ve been his third child, and he didn’t know how to grieve it. The guilt was impenetrable because he wasn’t with her when it happened. Needless to say, he was taking more assignments because he didn’t want to talk to her. He’s not good at saying the right things. Then there was the other feeling, the feeling of divine retribution–for the past, in the old country, for what he had done.  He felt like he deserved this.

He knows that the only constant in his life is the road, and the truck is an extension of himself. Passing under the green billboards, leaving Barrie and his 76 km journey to Concord began. He realizes that if he keeps himself distracted enough, everything makes sense. All the regrets and even the guilt make sense now. The window is slightly cracked open so the smoke from his Belmonts can disappear into the ether. The slight Arctic chill and the flurries sharply bite his dry skin. He barely realizes that it should be spring, but the snowfall is picking up. Humming a tune; adjusting his beanie while yawning, and using his free hand to put the ash in the cup. It’s only a matter of an hour really, but it’s usually the smaller trips that are much harder, he says to himself. The road is somewhere between a mistress and a second wife. The radio now bursts out portents of a heavy collision which will slow down traffic to Vaughn, which was not too bad considering how close it was to his destination but he knows it’s going to be a long wait. But more importantly, he knows that he needs a little bit of rest; this was his fifth assignment this week, clocking in at least 2,000 km. Moving to the right lane, getting closer to the white forested area; the snow-covered, tall-branches-like fingers inviting him in; preparing to take the exit: Innisfil, a small town to the west of Lake Simcoe. The yellow deer crossing— open eyes wide and half-empty coffee cups drained and crushed now. Overhead wires beware. The half-smoked cigarette butts make a hissing noise when it’s thrown into the coffee cup, reacting to the brief residue. His eyes have bags, good’ol Adderall by his side. Trying to stay awake even though he knows, lack of sleep can drive a man insane. He repeatedly blinks to keep his eyes moisturized.

Following the serpentine ramp, he notices the diner, right off the exit, and his stomach gives a loud growl. Darting towards it, nearly overlapping a car that was following too closely. It makes wide turns! He mutters underneath his breath. Sometimes he’s too polite with the idiots he has to share the road with.

He pulls up to the parking lot of the diner, opening the door and welcoming it with a yoga-like stretch. Taking this opportunity, he also fetches the anti-smoking tablets that had wedged themselves between the dashboard and windshield. He doesn’t trust himself when he’s with nature; it’s the waiting-for-something-to-happen, that urges him to smoke. He knows it’s not a good idea to be smoking and taking anti-smoking tablets at the same time, but a reduction is all he needs.  Yawning, he rubs his eyes vigorously; the crust comes off like a mask of insomnia. His beard had attained the height and the streaks of white to indicate the scars of wisdom. He pulls out a heavily-armoured jacket, wrapping it around his slightly round body, rubbing his neck (the snow always finds a way to sneak in at the back of your neck, he thought). He is making his way to the diner. After a few steps, there is a flash of pain on his forehead. Massaging his brow, he accidently bumps into someone.

“Hey, watch where you walk you dope!” the stranger yelled.

“Hey, easy buddy, I’m just—uhmm…” Shyam trailed off with his slight accent. He makes the mistake of looking at him. The man’s face is decaying; flesh hanging between his pale bones and worms were squirming in his eye sockets, blackened teeth as if they were dissolving in warm coke.

“You’re just what?” The man replied and as he spoke globs of blood and flesh fell to the ground. He stared at the piece of the stranger’s face on the ground.

“I’m just tired,” he said, assembling the courage to look up at him now. The man’s face was intact again. “Sorry,” Shyam put up his hands.

The stranger dismissed it and trailed off with harsh words for foreigners. Shyam knew it was happening again. He slapped himself a little. Snap out of it!  He said to himself. He knew he had stopped taking his antidepressants. They made him drowsy on the wheel and made his mouth feel like it was stuffed with cotton. But it seems the hallucinations have returned. He took a deep breath and hoped a hot steaming cup of coffee, and some eggs, with a healthy portion of sausage on the side, would help matters.

He opened the door. Tnnng!  A bell rings from above; the smell of breakfast can do wonders for the soul. The diner itself is an archetypal diner. Dark booths, with the leather, pinched to expose the mustard foam; specials, up above on the chalkboard mantle, sugar cookies encased in a plastic prison right next to the counter and black and white tiles stretched across the horizon. Shyam finds a corner near the window, and the aroma of freshly-made coffee follows him. He slides into the seat unbuttoning himself of his insulated skin. He looks outside: the snow is falling faster now.  The cars are piling on top of each other like bodies on a pyre. Someone has started a riot, and the vehicles start to melt into each other; the flames don’t change their bodies—they return to their natural state of ash and up above there is a streak of poisonous green gas that forms a skull. He can make out the eye sockets and the mouth opens—

“Hi, welcome to Orla’s Inn, how can I help you today?”

Startled, it took him a moment to realize that the waitress was talking to him. “Oh yeah, I’ll just get uh…” he flips the menu quickly, knowing what he wants and pointing to the picture. She grabs the menu, flash of her red nail polish, tucks in the menu between her armpits.

“Eggs over easy that’s how I like them too,” She said, in a bubbly manner.

He took a look at her pink outfit. The blue eyes stood out like blood in the snow, and her dark brown bangs and square glasses made her into an odd figure in this place. “Yeah, and can I have coffee, black, thanks… Denise” he looked at her name tag, she had a heart on her ‘i’.

“Of Course, you can,” she said in a cheery voice. “You expecting the snow to hold you up for a while?”

“I hope it doesn’t… wanna get my delivery in as fast as possible but I know it’s not safe out there” he said, looking down at his hands which had decided to shake on their own and somehow the yellow patterns on his table began to move like a vat of liquid.

“Better safe than sorry that’s what I always say,” She said putting her hand on her hips.  The hand shaking was getting violent; he quickly hides them under the table. “Just listening to the radio makes me cringe… a whole lot of collisions happening outside, whatever they put on the roads makes everything slippery.”

“Yeah,” the patterns on the table were moving and forming an image. Shyam felt the sweat and the feeling of being cold at the same time.

“You ok, sir? Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“You won’t believe me even if I told you,” he said, staring absent-mindedly into the space in front of him, desperately trying to not show any more symptoms of his psychic fragility.

“Ha-ha, you don’t say? Personally, I don’t believe in that stuff. No offense to you, of course, but I think our minds are just so powerful that any suggestion can, you know…” She said, with an air of excitement. “Trigger something.”

“Thanks for that. Can I get my order now?” Shyam said in a frustrated manner. “If you don’t mind, I’m just a little hungry.”

“Oh, Silly me…I’m sorry. I just get excited about these type of conversations…I’ll be right back” She said still in a cheery mood.

His eyes following, Denise as she makes her way to the counter.  He also notices an old woman behind it. The old woman met his gaze and proceeded to give him a very contemptuous look. He doesn’t know what that was about, but he turns away quickly and observes the other patrons: Bikers, truckers, and drifters. Transients in transit. They are all here, but they were meant to be somewhere else. More importantly, he recognizes that his darker complexion makes him stand out. Shyam had been trucking for almost ten years now, ever since he came to live here he had been to several of the small towns. He could always sense his otherworldliness. The distant stares, abrupt end to conversations or just general rudeness, he had developed a keen sense of when he wasn’t welcome; however, the problem is amplified if you are severely paranoid and also suffer from an acute case of social anxiety. He’s trying now to think of the past, but all he can remember is death, suicide and the stench of hospital rooms.  In the old country, there was only that. He needs a distraction. Meditate now on the half empty salt shaker. Napkins are sticking out of the holder. Periphery visions of gaudy paintings hanging of the autumnal orange paths. Posters of local tourism initiatives. The low rumbling of voices, conversations turning into murmurs. The blatant chink of plates and crackling of cutlery. The snarl of the kitchen staff and then for a moment, as it all died down, the bell rings from above.

         Tnnng! The entity walks in. The thing. The thing he saw in his rear-view mirror. He assumed that everyone saw it too because it had physically entered the diner, he had heard the bell ring, but there was no head turns, no staring— It was surprising because the thing wasn’t even human. It was a magnified cancer cell, deformed and mutating, with a plant-like body. It had a thick purple vein throbbing from its forehead, and as it walked towards him using its tendrils, it left a trail of blood and green pus on the floor. At this point, he closed and opened his eyes repeatedly, but the thing wouldn’t disappear.

“Here you go, Hun,” she said, settling the food below his eyesight. He looked up again; it was gone.

“Oh thanks,” he said, relief washes over him. The eggs stare with golden pupils, sausages thinly burnt but he knew if he sliced them their juices would flow.

“And here you go, coffee, dark as sin for you” she pours it with precision. “Let me know when you want dessert, OK?”

“Thanks, I’ll let you know.”

“Oh! Don’t mention it.” She said, waving her hand. “And what can I get for your friend?”

His jaw buckled, and he froze, the thing was sitting right in front of him. There were no eyes, folds of distended musculature and oozing liquid. There was a slit, in the middle of its bulbous face. It pulled up its tendrils to let Denise know it wasn’t hungry.

“Ok, I’ll come back again.” She left. Shyam couldn’t believe that Denise wasn’t appalled by its appearance. Its tendrils are rooting him in that booth. Then the thing spoke, and it spoke a foreign language. It spoke Shyam’s language:

Astrological headlights. Green fingers. Chemtrails are nature’s curse.”

It didn’t move its mouth. It was communicating through some other medium. It was as if Shyam knew what it was going to say. The thing’s appearance. Chemtrails. Synchronicity. Something was unveiling for him.

Then he felt in his pocket. It was the shipping order— Sulfur. Fly ash. They are changing the weather; putting chemicals in the air. Heavy snow in April. That is abnormal.  The trail of condensation has materialized into hands swooping down on the masses. Disease. The government is using the Chemtrails to change the weather, or they are creating diseases. That’s what he’s delivering. The thing tells him. Chemicals above, chemicals below. He knows before it tells him. He looks around the diner, and now everyone looks like a mass of pulp; he could see the effects of the plague. He looked at the Eggs. The yolk fluids, claws scratching; the fetus is trying to get out. In a moment, he lost his appetite.

“Hun, did you not like the eggs?” Denise asked. “You’ve been staring at them for an hour.”

He doesn’t know where these eggs came from; how they came to be made. Chemically induced. Poisons are being introduced into the system. Biochemical warfare. Infection.

“Can I get my cheque, please; I have to get out of here–”

“You’ve been saying that for ages,” She said.

“Please, Denise, I have to get out of here” He screamed looking up at her. It wasn’t Denise anymore. It was the old lady, who he saw behind the counter.

“Where’s Denise?” he cried.

“Hun, I am Denise” she pointed to her name tag. There was a heart on the ‘i’ though it was partially smudged.

He rummaged through his wallet and pulled out colorful wads of cash and threw it on the table and ran past the dropping plates and floating napkins, barely having any time to gather all his thoughts. He heard echoes of the yells as he left the diner behind but as he went outside he was met with gray skies and snow that had attained a force of a torrent. He could barely make out the dark beast as his face was being pummelled by glass daggers. Struggling to find his footing, he made it somehow to his truck, vaulting the door in a superhuman burst. Rummaging his pockets for the keys. He floods the engine with bronchial sounds. There was a figure standing in front of him. The thing covered in carbonic snow. It pointed to him, metastasizing into a smile. He knew what is going to happen. Purple tendrils burst out from the ground. Wrapping the truck, squeezing till it couldn’t breathe. Then he felt the feeling of drowning. A black hole opens up and drags him in.

The radio bursts out in snow:

Reports are coming in of a major crash on the 400. There was a four car pile-up after a truck—no survivors— carrying chemicals which slipped into oncoming traffic and collided with multiple vehicles. This incident comes on the heel of an unusual spring as most of the country has been pounded by heavy snow which has made visibility nearly impossible.  Emergency crews have come up. The chemical fire has everyone baffled.

 

© A.R. Minhas 2016