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"I’m sure nobody knows. It’s been a long time.”

“What are you talking about? It’s been a little over a month.”

“To us. But to everyone else..,”

“So what the fuck and why do we still know..,”

“I don’t know.., Mandela Effect?”


“Or maybe some sort of residual..,”

“I thought you were supposed to know this shit.”

“I’m not supposed to know this shit; I’m supposed to know how to figure this shit out. And if you’d calm down and let me think.., I’ll figure it out.”

“Sorry.., I’m exhausted. I’m thinking it’s in the dreams.”

“Yeah, and we have to stop calling them dreams.”

“Then what? What do we..,”

“Sounds more like an O-B-E.”

“Obe? What’s an obe?”

“Out of body experience. Describe for me, down to the finest detail, the scene in your dream.”

And so I did, and even exhausted as I was, was able to give a relatively complete description to the smallest detail including the egg foo young and illegal left turn out of the alley.

“That’s not where the cards took me. I found you in the back corner of that strip-mall by Got Goth? .., you know.., that gothic-art-bookstore down by the airport..,"


“You’ve been there.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“That’s where I got that H.P. Lovecraft key-chain.”

“H.P. what?”

“Forget it.”

“Already did..,”

“In any case, there was the ambulance, that’s what brought you, and the three vans. So that could mean..,”

As time rushed through evening and snuck into night Natasha was divining deep into the I-Ching challenge, when my head hit the tarot card table and landed in the alley. And by the time I returned; Natasha had figured, with the help of a friend, Janice; a travel agent who specializes in cruise ship get-aways and astral projection; at least enough to design a remedy.

“Astral travel is growing into a popular alternative for tourists looking to circumvent police-state checkpoints, evade harsh immigration policies.., and avoid being harassed, molested and sexually assaulted by TSA agents.”

“No doubt.., But isn't luggage a bitch?”

“They got you with that DMT-Plus pill that flipped something in your head allowing some sort of access; apparently rather limited. I’m thinking this was just the first part of the process and I interrupted before they could complete the treatment. So the download is corrupt.., It’ll probably fade over time by itself.., or we could force it.”

She began to detail the plus and minus of specific spirited concoctions influenced by planet-aligning concern.., but I faded fast no longer listening by the time she got to the number-friendly caffeine-free enemas.., was more impressed by watching her work – doing her thing. She knew her stuff even if that stuff is founded in fantasy. I’ve never given her beliefs much credibility; we came at things from different directions but would land in the same place at the same time; so we agreed on everything; we just didn’t agree on why we agreed.

So I didn’t care how she got there just as long as she got there. I already knew it had to be traceable to diabolical doctrine framing the pre-meditated lineage of secret societies.., but Natasha prefers the world of mythology and magick..,

“So you’re saying I can just get out of it, escape those dreams?”

“Sure, but first we need to be clear on what you want.”

“I want my brain back, my life.., I want to get.., I want to remember getting laid.”

“You just want to abandon the whole thing?”


“Well you can’t.., not without haunts from the past projecting well into the future.., You know, like with Brother Octavio. Like you said.., That shit, it doesn’t go away.”

“Brother Octavio? What are you talking about? He don’t have anything to do with this.”

“Unresolved issues. Didn’t you learn anything from Tommy Allen?”

“Thought I had put that behind me. Actually it hadn’t surfaced till Tommy Allen’s suicide. You know, I was just a kid and when I saw that look come across Brother Octavio’s face.., with those yellowed teeth.., it just scared the shit out of me. I’d never been that afraid. I was terrorized and ran for my life.

“I got out of their safe and sound and that’s the way I wanted to keep it. So I didn’t say anything to anyone, but maybe if I had, I could have saved other boys, like Tommy Allen..,”

“You can’t be so..,”

“I justified it away, told myself no one would’ve believed me anyway.., if I reported it, I’d probably just get myself in trouble..,

“And I was probably right; that’s what the unofficial word was on Billy Newman when he got expelled; but I should’ve at least, tried.., at least Billy tried.”

“Look, we need to get focused; once again you’ll escape danger; and once again there are others endangered as well. And you may be the only one that can save them. And you now know the consequences to your own well-being if you don’t at least try.”

“Yeah.., I know.., Fuck!

“But what can I do?”

“You’re going to bust those white suits and shut down their operation. Obviously what they are doing won’t survive the light of day. We just need to expose them.., have them rejected by popular consensus. There has to be a limit to patriotic gullibility and blind faith belief, and we’re going to find it.”

“That sounds like a deep hole.”

“That’s why I got Janice; she’s going to train you in some out-of-body techniques..,”

 “Out-of-body what?”

“We know approximately the time; we need place. They’ve obviously moved since that night they took you. I probably spooked them.”

“I don’t understand..,”

“You need to get some control over your trip, enough to discover the closest cross streets.”


The next night, armed with the travel agent’s training, I find myself where I always find myself; but this time I didn’t just hide and observe from the blackened back doorway of Wonton Jon’s. After freeing myself from the stench of forgotten foo-young, by focusing on the smell of processed breakfast burritos; I crept with the rats along the darkened edges of the alley, the no-man’s land hidden forever from the disinfectant rays of sun light. I spied on the white suits from behind the Pray-4-Prey Pawn Shop as they were loading up and securing for the ride; and then after the illegal left turn I was able to force myself to venture even further out into the light of the boulevard and saw the alley was just south of Fifth and Main before everything began to blur and I’m back with Natasha.

“So they went north on Main. So that’s where I’ll be tomorrow night.”

“Yeah, you can follow them in your car..,”

“Cassandra. She has a name.”

“Yeah, Cassandra. You and Cassandra can follow them; see where they’re taking the cigarette smokers.”

“Get to the bottom of this.”

“Be careful, this isn’t kid’s play, we don’t know what they are capable of and you can be.., reality can be.., I don’t know.., I just mean..,”

“I know, but I’ve been getting better.., handled it pretty good last time didn’t I?”

“I guess.., I just worry..,”

“Been watching marathons of Law and Order.., ‘What you mean you won’t waive your rights.., must be guilty.’”




The next night and I’m back in the alley pushing my intent even further than before. I see them make the illegal left turn then I’m out in the light of Fifth and Main and I see Natasha in her yellow VW Bug, Cassandra, following the caravan. And next thing I know I’m riding shotgun and Natasha is saying..,

“Jesus Christ! You scared the shit out of me.”

“You can see me?”

“What you mean can I..,”



“Get over, they’re turning right.”

Barley making the turn on-all-fours Natasha cuts off an old Cadillac lacking direction; long forgotten where it was going.

Natasha was losing it.., the stress was getting to her.., she had to skip a yoga podcast, Serpent Rising, over this..,

“Can’t you just check it out tomorrow?”

“It’s about the Now Steve. What is the matter with these damn drivers.., is everybody stupid!”

“That’s what everybody says.”

“So? They’re probably right.., look at this idiot.”

“Everybody can’t be stupid..,"

“What you mean..,  Everybody knows everybody’s stupid!”

Natasha was pissed; lashing-out with trending yet irrational defiance; and still, I felt compelled to respond..,

“How can everybody be smart enough to know everybody’s stupid?”

No reply.

“Look, if everybody is stupid.., and everybody knows this.., how can everybody be right; you know.., if they’re all stupid.., stupid is at least much more wrong than right.., and who’s going to listen to that..., nobody that’s who.”
“So nobody is stupid?”

I was getting a little tired of the attitude.

“That’s a stupid question.”

“But there are no stupid questions, Steve.., only stupid answers..,”

It was best just to agree at this point.

“Sure you’re right.”

“..,and stupid conversation.”

After a silent series of left and rights; Natasha tunes and tones the radio, desperately punching pre-sets for something, or anything to fill the void; while following, un-detected, until the caravan pulled up to the Johnson Center; the mega-complex on the hill that houses the County Jail and Jose Delgado Psychiatric Hospital. They didn’t, as expected, turn into the semi-circle driveway sweeping the main entrance, but instead, pulled around back to the Psychiatric wing. The caravan passed through gated security where they lost us. We could proceed no further without proper papers. And now the radio pre-sets are getting on my nerves and I wake up at home while Natasha had to drive back by herself.


“Steve.., maybe we should call the cops.”

“Are you kidding, you never want to call the cops.”

“But this is a bad situation..,”

“And you want to make it worse? No thanks.”


“I’m going to have to go all the way. We don’t really know enough to call anyone, anyway.”

“But are you going to be able to handle it.., this isn’t kids play, you could get lost for real.., not be able to find your way back. You have to navigate both time and space.”

“I have to at least try.., Billy Newman tried.., And I have been getting more control.”

“You have?”

“You get control by giving up control. Just got to let go and not fear the abyss.”