Someone Else Will Do It

The doorbell rings. Again. I know who it is. There is a group home across the street. One of the new guests at the home is a tiny little woman with some kind of learning disability. Before I knew she had a learning disability I had threatened her off my property with a blunt object after she rang the doorbell seven different times in one day. Now that I know she can’t help herself, I have resigned myself to the hell of living next to a profit-making group home that doesn’t understand its obligations to it’s paying guests.

I try ignoring the doorbell, even though it grates on my nerves. The Wife says “come smell the bread. It’ll make you happy.” She’s baking bread again. It’s a good sign. We’ve just gotten back from a walk in Bartholomew park, a walk where I spent quality time and energy moving shopping carts up out of the park and onto the road shoulder where the local HEB would be able see it’s errant carts and come get them. I wasn’t able to do more than move them up to the street because I can’t leave the Wife unsupervised for long in her current drugged post-surgery state. She was looking for me as it was and was almost in tears when I got back to her.

That is me not leaving to others what I can do myself. Internalizing the work that needs doing and getting it done because someone needs to do it. This is me taking the overworked staff of the nearby HEB into account, people whose jobs I once did as well, and doing my part to help them out. One of the kids biking through the park was mystified by my behavior. “Are you working?” he asked me.

“No,” I said. “I’m doing what somebody else should have done a month ago.” The grass had grown up around some of these carts. I knew they had been there for weeks at least. Like most people these days, this child had no idea of the meaning of civic service, of maintaining public spaces for the benefit of all. Most people understand that externalized costs; in this case, leaving the carts for someone else to pick up and move, will profit them with more time and energy. They don’t understand that the costs come out of everyone’s enjoyment in using the public space, out of our pockets in increased prices at the stores that have to replace the lost carts.

There were more carts in the park than I could move, and the Wife cajoled me back into the car rather than let me wear myself out doing the work that other’s wouldn’t do. Got me back in the car to drive back home, only for us to be confronted with even more work being left undone. Work that others were actually being paid to do. Paid to do, and shirking in their paid duties. The doorbell rings twice more.

Knowing my state of mind and fearing a further tirade on my part, the Wife mercifully answered the door for me and shoed the poor woman off with encouragement to do whatever it was she felt she needed to tell us about before doing. She’s bothered neighbors up and down the street now by ringing their doorbells. She’s pestered the school across the street to near distraction with her insistence she needed to go visit the children in the school.

However, she isn’t the problem. The group home is the problem. There has been another guest over here recently, someone has been stealing water out of our front hose bib. I’ve caught him in the act more than once. It’s not that I mind the occasional bottle filling, what I do mind is these intruders leaving the valve open and letting water run out all over the yard for days, costing me hundreds of dollars in wasted water because I don’t know someone else left the tap on.

The more recent visitor has complained that the water isn’t available to the residents of the group home. I don’t know how true that is, but it would explain the visits to fill bottles before setting out on a daily meander. A daily meander that probably shouldn’t be carried on unsupervised if the individual in question is just going to wander onto private property and take things.

The management of the group home is being paid by the caretakers (family or state, whoever they are) of the residents to keep staff in residence to assist these people with their daily needs. They are being paid and then they let their charges roam freely about the neighborhood. Let them annoy neighbors with their demands which remain unsatisfied by the people who are being paid to take care of them. Externalize costs, internalize profits.

What do they care? They’re making money. So what if the lives of the neighbors are impacted by their dereliction of duty?

The original owner of the house, a man I knew, had his own problems that impacted the neighborhood. He ran an automotive shop out of his garage, and this aggravated a lot of neighbors. The difference here is, if one of us wanted to talk to him, we knew where he lived and could take up our complaints with him or have the city intercede on our behalf.

After he lost/sold the house it has passed through several hands, none of them good hands. We’ve joked over the years about the quality of the neighbors gradually becoming more hellish. First it was a migrant workers home, packed full of dozens of people. Then it was a gang den, a drug dealer’s delivery center, and now it is the cannibal’s house. They should be exhuming body parts out of the backyard any day now unless the final form of derelict property owner, a flame-enshrouded pitchfork wielder, turns the property into a gateway to Hell itself and swallows it and the neighborhood whole. How I miss the days when it was just broken down cars sitting in the driveway across the street.

Now there is the weekly visit from police/EMS/HHS, lights flashing, sirens blaring at all hours of the day and night. All because the management of the group home, Grace & Mercy Supervised Living, doesn’t have a presence in the neighborhood that can be held to account for their dereliction. The owners of the venture fled with the the proceeds, the company now in arrears. Just another Trump, just another Kushner, just another slumlord profiting off the misery of others, leaving the real work for other people to do.

No wonder that child in the park couldn’t understand what I was doing. None of the people who are held up as behavioral examples for him to model would ever stoop to doing real work in public, especially if they weren’t being paid to do it.

Brainworm

The last song you heard stays in your head just like the taste of the last cigarette you smoked. When it won’t go away, we call that a brainworm. The stale riff stays in your head till you replace it with a new riff. That one gets stale if you don’t listen to another song. Music is a habit forming drug.

One man’s brain worm is another man’s favorite song. The difference lies in the answer to the question “do I want to hear that song again?” If the answer is no, then what you’ve got is a brainworm.

spotifyNPR: Shortwave – Why music sticks in our brains – October 7, 2021

They call it an earworm in one of the ads for the episode. They don’t, however, tell you about how earworms persist or how to get rid of them. Any song that doesn’t stick in your head can serve as a brainworm killer. The Wife uses Mandy by Barry Manilow. I hate Barry Manilow, but I have developed a grudging respect for the song. Especially if you sing it with over-dramatic zeal:

…make it broader, with tons of shoulder. Remember, you’re a drag queen!

Victor/Victoria
Victor Victoria (1982)

Is Mandy a man or a woman? Does it matter? No it doesn’t. What matters is that you consciously force your mind to mingle the worm with the new lyrics and melody, in much the same way that you get rid of the hiccups by breathing and drinking water in a deliberate pattern, training the ticking muscles to adapt to the new pattern. You will it gone with a heavy bludgeon of Barry if that is what works.

spotify

Why Worry?

Baby, when I get down I turn to you
And you make sense of what I do
And though it isn’t hard to say

But baby, just when this world seems mean and cold
Our love comes shining red and gold
And all the rest is by the way

Why worry
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now

Dire Straits
spotify

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums. It’s nice to be able to hear these songs again. This is all thanks to Aftershokz headphones. I have several pairs now. It’s been a musical desert for me until just recently. I was a serious audiophile once. Now nothing sounds right if it isn’t coming to me through these headphones.

Meniere’s Severity?

Someone over on Reddit/Meniere’s asked the question:

Does severity increase over time?

Since people are getting a diagnosis earlier these days, the symptoms will continue to manifest in greater severity until you reach whatever plateau your symptoms will top out at; unless you find a treatment that sends Meniere’s into remission. Makes it seem to disappear, like a cancer sometimes does.

Had I been diagnosed back in the 1980’s when my symptoms first appeared, I would have had a diagnosis for a disease that slowly got worse over the next twenty years until it turned me into a couch dweller that suffered vertigo near-constantly, for years. So, yes, the severity can increase over time. That doesn’t mean that it will increase.

As it is, I kick myself for not being honest with the doctors and demanding some kind of a diagnosis sooner. Had I started betahistine back in the eighties (the treatment that seems to work for me now) I might have been able to continue working far longer. The symptoms probably wouldn’t have been as severe. The plateau could have been much lower.

With remission, the symptoms disappear for years at a time. The people lucky enough to experience that bliss would tell you Meniere’s doesn’t get more severe. I would have liked to have had their experience, rather than mine. Newly diagnosed people may well have that experience. I hope that they do.

Chemically Dependent

These feelings come from chemicals, I remind myself. It is fitting that this is true. How did the complex carbon chains that started this process we call life feel? Obviously they were attracted to each other, not pressured into existence like the elements themselves were.

Was there more than attraction? Was there a drive to reverse entropy, if only on a tiny local level? A desire to return to the simpler, hotter times of a young universe? A time when galaxies could pop into existence in the blink of a geologically-tuned eye? A time when anything could happen, matter itself barely even a concept yet?

After three or four transitions through supernova, were the carbon atoms ready for a change? Let’s try something different? Was life a kink that carbon engaged in on a lark, just because it was bored? Or was it something that carbon felt it was suited for, it’s many connection points needing attention all at the same time?

NBC App Wants Feedback?

I’ve been catching The Rachel Maddow Show via her audio podcast for years now. I occasionally watch the partial video podcast too, but only on days when I want to see what she’s talking about. Wednesday was one of those days.

There was some bit or other that was visual later in the show on September 2nd, and so consequently not in the video podcast which is generally the first thirty minutes of the show or the first story, whichever comes out to about half of her airtime, and I thought I would try to catch that bit on MSNBC’s website. While looking around on MSNBC.com I noticed that there was an NBC app that they said I could watch the show on, so I downloaded and installed the app.

The Rachel Maddow Show is indeed on the app, but the ability to search for clips from that or any show is almost non- existent, the same problem that I run into on the website. The content is almost always more easily found on YouTube than it is on MSNBC.com or NBC.com, even when NBC puts the video on YouTube themselves.

I couldn’t find the current episode of Rachel’s show that day. So I gave up and finished listening to the audio podcast. The next day it was the same problem when I thought I would start with the NBC app instead of heading straight to the podcast. I could find yesterday’s show (now I had forgotten what it was I had wanted to see in that show) but not that day’s episode. Back to my podcast app then.

What good is yesterday’s news? It is of little use unless you are constructing a narrative that spans the subject in question, as Rachel did when digging up what the news was on the day that Roe versus Wade was decided by the supreme court. I don’t need to see yesterday’s news if I’ve already heard that news. I had heard it. I heard it elsewhere.

Today I opened the app to watch Rachel Maddow for September 3rd, 2021. It isn’t available on the app yet. The feed helpfully says “finish watching” on the episode I’ve already seen elsewhere and queued previously. When I scroll through to the end of the episode, the app queued all the ads from the episode for me to watch just to finish the show. If I wanted to check that I’ve seen the end of the days news from her, I have to watch five thirty second ads.

I’m not going to watch five ads, not even five ten second ads. I won’t remember what the first two ads were about by the time I get to the fifth one. No, I’m going to close the app and do something else. Everyone would close the app and so something else.

When I exit the video stream, the NBC programmers incautiously ask me for for feedback on my dissatisfaction. My feedback? You might want to change the way that scrolling feature works. You won’t retain too many watchers if you don’t. You might want to rethink not putting the latest news show on the feed. Everyone will have seen the episode elsewhere before they will see it in the app, making including all of your news programming in the app pointless, those viewers permanently lost.

Also? The feedback page errored out when I went to send this novel to you. You might want to fix that issue as well. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Postscript

The reality of the situation is even more ridiculous than I described. I have to have a cable subscription to be able to access MSNBC content on my phone. Never mind that the content comes with ads embedded, ads that they pretend to everyone actually pay for the content (clearly the ads do not pay for anything. So why must I watch them?) I have to pay the middleman, the cable company or some similarly set up other middleman, in order to watch content that is available on the web for free if I simply wait a few hours and then go to a pirate site to download it.

I don’t mind paying for entertainment, I do that all the time. I do mind being charged for access to information that is necessary for the proper functioning of a self-representational governmental system. Access to current news is essential, unless we are all going to just bow to the man and let him make our decisions for us.

Reinventing the Game

I was relating the story of the Cleveland Indians trying to change their name to the Guardians to The Wife the other day. She didn’t believe that they could have been so stupid as to not determine that there was a team named Guardians in Cleveland before changing their name:

Cleveland Indians changing name to Cleveland Guardians: Tom Hanks narrates announcement

That’s shaping the two teams up for a fight. The Guardians roller derby team has filed a trademark application for the rights to the name. The MLB team did the same four days prior, but trademarks often go to the first entity to use the name, rather than the first to file for it.

fortune.com

This apparently put her in the mood to watch one of her favorite standby movies:

Major League (1989)

I don’t know why someone who hates watching sports as much as she and I do can sit down and repeatedly watch movies about the business of sports over and over again like she does. But she does, and this movie is just one among many that she has rewatched repeatedly over the years including movies like Draft Day, Field of Dreams, Tin Cup, Jerry Maguire and several others. Major League is a film that I also like. I like it for the comedy and the comeback spirit that is the theme of the movie. What I was reminded of when I wandered through and watched a few scenes of the film with her, was the similarity of that movie’s theme to the theme of:

Moneyball (2011)

Moneyball (2011) Movie Trailer

There is very little comedy in Moneyball. But that line from Brad Pitt “There are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there is us.” It is the theme of Major League, but Moneyball is a movie about events that actually took place in baseball history and not a comedy spoof about underdogs who beat the system. The manager of the Oakland A’s at the time, Billy Beane, and a character named Peter Brand, an amalgamation of several people who worked with Beane to implement the Moneyball algorithms into the selection process for new players, changed the way baseball has been run ever since the season that is documented in the movie. It is truly a movie about the underdogs taking what has been given to them, and making something better out of it.

Major League is a funny, heartwarming movie. Moneyball is a down to brass tacks gritty-assed film about the choices that go into putting together a winning team. Both movies tell a similar story. Don’t blame me if I like the story of a real underdog succeeding over the fiction. It took me forever to even get the Wife to watch Moneyball. The fact that math was somehow involved in the movie was enough to leave her cold. After having watched it once, she’s now put that movie into rotation, too.

Here’s hoping the Cleveland Indians get to change their name. I doubt a name change will be enough to change their baseball future, but anything is possible. Any move away from using native Americans as sports mascots is a move in the right direction. Time to leave that past behind us.

Bone Conduction?

I have been relying on Aftershokz headphones for nearly everything that I hear for almost a decade now. The Titanium series was reliable even if the pads fell off of the conduction ends of the headset pretty routinely. If you held your mouth the right way you could sometimes get the pads to stick back on, or you could try your hand at gluing them back on yourself. I wore each set until the speakers quit working one way or the other, and I was thankful to be able to enjoy music again for the first time in over a decade since I started suffering from hearing loss due to Meniere’s.

The new Open Move design doesn’t have pads that can fall off, so they get higher marks from me than the old Titanium’s did.

I couldn’t figure out how to get the headsets to work with the PlayStation 3 or 4 though. I also couldn’t get the Bluetooth connection to work properly with my laptop and the various games and chat software that I have used over all these years. I bought a wired set of Aftershokz Sports for that purpose. Even though the first generation of Sportz didn’t have a mic, they worked like a charm for what I needed them to do. They worked like a charm until I accidentally pulled the wire out of the in-line battery pack a few days ago.

when I went online to try to get a new set of Sportz I discovered that Aftershokz has discontinued them. Now that is a problem. The Wife had noticed that they had been discontinued earlier in the year (before her trip to the hospital) and so she had bought an alternative headset that advertised itself as being bone conduction; bought them prophylactically in the eventuality that I destroyed the set I was relying on for gameplay and late-night movie watching. She likes not being woken up by the deaf guy trying to hear his movies and games at night.

Now there is bone conduction, and then there is bone conduction. On a totally different level there is the fraud that calls itself bone conduction, the trendy thing people are paying for in headsets these days. On Amazon I ran across four different stores all selling the exact same headset: LBCW, LBFXQ, LBCD and GZCRDZ. Who knows how many more there are if I were to go looking further down the search results list. All of these stores are selling the exact same headset and all of them are not bone conduction. How do I know this? First off, the images are identical on all the store pages, as are the color offerings for the device. The wiring harness is the same as is the microphone embedded in the wiring.

I know they aren’t bone conduction because the headset the wife bought from a fifth store on Amazon has proven it isn’t bone conduction through rigorous testing. I’ve used bone conduction headphones for years and they don’t work if you stick them in your ears. If you stick these headphones in your ears (as uncomfortable as that is to do) you can hear them better than if you place them correctly just above the jawbone. They are not bone conduction, and they aren’t even worth the extremely cheap price charged for them. Do yourself a favor, pay the extra money and get a real bone conduction headset.

As I said though, I can’t get the Sportz that I like unless I buy a used pair off of eBay, and there aren’t a lot of those either. Not having a wired headset will put a crimp in my late-night movie watching and Red Dead Redemption II playing at 4 am, but I think I have solved the Bluetooth issue on my laptop.

After some sleuthing, I have discovered a work-around to get the headset to work for both gaming and chatting. In the Windows sound panel, set headphones as default. Then in your chat software set it to use the default output and you should be able to get sound from both channels simultaneously. If your laptop doesn’t have a built-in mic this work-around might be a problem for you. In the meantime I will be looking for a suitable wired headset replacement to connect to the PS-4 at least. I’ll let you know if I find anything.

Don’t Deny You Watch Me

Concord HPL 115 – 1979

I bought Tom Petty’s forth album when it released in 1981. It was just another cassette in a very long string of cassettes that I bought at the Hastings next to the Safeway where I worked in downtown Sweetwater that year. But it was one of the first cassettes (Much like RX5) I played on my prized new stereo that I bought to put in the first car that I paid for by myself, a burnt orange ’72 Chevelle with an all-black interior. I spent countless hours cruising the drag and the blacktop highways surrounding Sweetwater, Texas in that car. Hard Promises was one of my mainstays, an album I came back to time and again.

I never bothered to read the track list. I had a purist’s sense of album-oriented music. The tracks were irrelevant back then, the album was what I listened to. I know what the track names are now, of course. The Waiting was one of my all-time go-to songs. Eighteen and still chained to my mother and my siblings, waiting is what I was doing back then. It was the hardest part. A Woman in Love was also achingly true at the time. My fiancée betrayed me for another man, another boy-child with better prospects, not too long after I picked this album up. On replaying it after the breakup the song could make me weep almost uncontrollably.

The third song was a puzzle. I never could figure out the words of the chorus. No matter how many times I replayed the album, the best I could make it out to be was Don’t Deny You Watch Me:

Spotify – Nightwatchman

Don’t deny you watch me never made sense when coupled to the verses, and I felt like an idiot a few years later when I finally thought to read the track list. It might have helped me to understand what the title was and why if I had known that Tom Petty had a job as a security guard/groundskeeper through the years he was putting the Heartbreakers together and writing the songs that would eventually make him world-famous. The story of talking to the security guard that he credits as the inspiration for the song seems apocryphal to me. It’s a nice story to explain away the presence of the song on the forth album. It doesn’t explain the emotion of wasting your time away at minimum wage as a Nightwatchman.

I woke up with those lyrics in my head today. I’m trialing Spotify right now, so I queued up the song and let Spotify create a playlist based on that song. After a couple of false starts, it did pretty good at serving me up songs I wanted to hear as I was preparing breakfast. Then I hear the familiar funky bassline of My City Was Gone and I started to pass the song over:

Spotify – My City Was Gone

Then I stopped myself. The intro music that Rush Limbaugh pilfered and abused for more than a decade is free from his taint now, I said to myself. I will allow myself to enjoy the song as if I was hearing it for the first time again. I never knew of the song before I first heard it being used as intro music for the Rush Limbaugh show (Much as I had never heard AC/DC’s Gone Shootin’ before hearing it used as an intro for Jeff Ward’s talk show) I made a dedicated effort to understand what the show was about and why people thought it was funny back in the day, after I first dismissed the show because it replaced the talk show host I had been listening to on 590 AM in 1988. The previous show had been about Austin and subjects around Austin and it was relevant if not actually always interesting.

The Rush Limbaugh Show was propaganda crafted for a particular audience and worldview, and try as a might I could not enjoy the show or the callous bastard that was the host of the show. I did catch glimpses of his humor, briefly. It never stuck and never stood up to later analysis in the harsh light of reality. His television show was completely laughable and deserved to be cancelled. Few people even remember his abortive attempt to take over television, but it was one of the first real setbacks the man encountered. I wish he had encountered more of them, he might have become a better person.

For years, the bassline that began My City Was Gone was my personal warning to change stations, and it was the only part of Limbaugh’s show that I really ever paid attention to. I lamented his use of the song because it destroyed my enjoyment of it. As usual, with conservative politicians, the songs they pick are selected for the tones they set, and not for the actual messages that the songs contain.

Born in the USA is a lament, not a celebration. That didn’t stop Ronald Reagan from using it incessantly to promote his presidency. My City was Gone is also a lament. A denouncement of all things corporate and consumerist and new:

Hynde’s particular stolen mental property is Akron, Ohio. And granted, this is no Norman Rockwell painting small town: it’s a big city. Even so, the parts of Akron Hynde loved best had been altered beyond repair during her time away. “South Howard had disappeared,” she sadly notes. South Howard Street is the historic center of Akron. When she continues with “reduced to parking spaces,” she’s referring to how this city center was leveled to make room for an urban plaza highlighted by a trio of skyscrapers and a couple parking decks.

songfacts.com

The picture the song paints is not the picture that Rush Limbaugh or his fans would embrace. It is bleak and cold and heartless, like their beliefs are, but they fail to recognize. If they understood this fact they would change their beliefs. That they remain unchanged is more of a testament to their lack of understanding than anything else they might say or do.

I played the song through no less than a dozen times today, and I’ve enjoyed it more each time. Nightwatchman lead me to this song again, I can’t deny it. I do watch you, conservatives. I do watch you, and I condemn you. You can never have real music with the ideals you profess. Real music has soul, and your hollow capitalist ideal knows no soul.

Featured image is a capture from the live performance of My City Was Gone linked in this article about the song.

Eternity vs. Finality

“Join us in undeath” she said, in a quavering voice. It was definitely a female voice. I was just as sure that I had misheard her.

“Beg pardon?” I asked.

“Give in to the truth.” she whispered. “Join us in undeath.”

“I’m afraid I can’t understand you. Are you saying you are not alive? Then how are you speaking?”

“Many things speak that have not life.” The voice replied. “Do the rocks not shout their permanence at you? Does the water not speak of eternal motion? Is it so hard to believe in undeath?”

“Well, since you put it that way” I said “why don’t the things that speak as you suggest not use words that I can understand?”

“Can you not understand permanence? Can you not comprehend endless motion?”

“I began and I will end.” I said. “That is the truth that I know. What can I really know of permanence? What temporary being can comprehend eternity? I can grasp the concepts. I can’t really know the meaning.”

“Then join us.” The voice repeated. “Join us in undeath.”

“Let’s say I believe you are undead.” I replied. “What does that mean? Do you have substance? I can’t see you.”

“We are all around you. You cannot see us because your impermanence will not let you see. You have but to speak assent, and you will be one of us.”

“I will assume then that you do have substance. Are you confined within that substance forever? Or can you change what you are?”

“We are not water and we are not rocks. We are neither permanence nor fluidity. We are undeath.”

“Ah. So you are defined by what you are not. You are the alternative to death?”

“We are undeath”

“Yes. I think we’ve established that fact.”

“Do not mock that which you cannot understand.”

“No offense intended. I beg your pardon ma’am. I just want to know why this choice is being offered to me now?”

“All who face death are offered this choice at their moment of transition.”

“You mean my time is up then?” I hadn’t thought about where or when I was until this very moment. Where was I? It wasn’t home, wherever this place was. It was too… fuzzy. Worse than my usual myopia. Were those my bookshelves? No. No, mine were not that large. Or were they smaller than mine? Were they even shelves? Bars, maybe? It was so damn hard to see. Where were my glasses? I started to reach out and realized that I had no arms. I didn’t have legs either, now that I tried to move those. They were simply not present. I started to panic. “What has happened to my body? Where am I?”

“Your people have many names for this place. The place of transition? Translation? Perhaps you wait for the ferryman? Purgatory? It is hard to say what concept that you would find meaningful in its description. It is the place of gathering. It is the place of weighing and judging. All come here before taking their place in the universe.”

“My wife and children? Are they here too?”

“All come here before taking their place.”

“Are they here now?”

“All come here before taking their place.”

“Can I see them? Can I talk to them?”

“This is your time and place. Yours and yours alone. Choose now.”

“All right then. What are my choices?”

“Ending or remaining are your choices. Choose.”

I contemplated existence. It had been a good life. She was beautiful, my wife. Maybe not beautiful to other people, but beautiful to me. She showed up just when I needed her in life, and stayed with me through all the ups and downs. We had beautiful children. They grew and moved on and had their own children.

I had work that had been rewarding. I had made the world a better place, I hoped anyway. It had been a good life. “What is there here that would make me want to stay here?” I asked.

“There is continued existence.” The voice said. It sounded impatient now. Demanding. “You will not cease to be and will continue on as you are now. Choose.”

I surveyed my existence. I couldn’t really see. There was little to hear other than the voice. What feeling there was was vague, but not unpleasant. It was a feeling like the edge of sleep. I could go on dreaming like this forever if I wanted. Surveying the landscape of my past life, possibly glancing other times and worlds. “Is this all that there is here?” I asked.

“Choose.” said the voice. It was definitely impatient now.

I wanted to see Terry again. I wanted to see her and Susan and Bill. To see them and their kids. I wanted to see mom and dad again, though they have been dead for years now. Now? What is now anyway? Eternal presence? I wanted to see my grandparents again, lost to me so long ago that their faces are blurred by time itself. I wanted to live, but living was over. Living was not a choice that I had now.

“Let me go,” I said.

“The choice has been made.” said the voice.

There was a blinding light. I blinked my eyes. There was a field in front of me. In the distance I could see Terry and the kids, and their kids in front of them. Behind them was mom and dad and their parents and their parents, parents waiting. Waiting in a field of flowers.

I had made the right choice. I ran to them with open arms and they opened their arms for me in anticipation. “I’m free,” I thought. “I’m fr…”

Afterword

This is the kind of thing that sprouts up in your head after you’ve spent a solid 36 hours straight turning other players and non-player characters into zombies during the pre-patch event for Shadowlands. Featured image is a screencap from the Shadowlands cinematic trailer.