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Excerpt for Parallel Feelings by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Parallel Feelings

Nicola Vallera









Chapter I





1.



Life is weird. One moment you feel like a king, another one you are jobless begging for some cash. What is certain is that nothing is guaranteed in our universe as everything changes and, when the bottom keeps falling out, the anguish takes over.

Among a crowd of ordinary commoners, John Spencer was surviving as he had always done. A menial office job, much stress, and a lot of frustration were parts of his routine. He had spent his life in a tall New Yorker building in a super polluted modern city in which his only amusement was meeting Paul, his only friend, to watch the matches at a bar on weekends and happily drink. No wife, not enough money, and not even a dream. But one night, things changed as, sometimes, the unexpected might suddenly pop out from nowhere. That night, John could not even have imagined that while he was burning his omelet for the umpteenth time, his future was going to show its face to him.

“Oh no! There it is! One more burnt omelet! Damn it! I can’t figure out why I’m not capable of fixing a decent one. Is it just a matter of quantity? Perhaps, I should use more oil or, maybe, just don’t overcook it. As simple as that! Anyways, I’d better remove this uneatable part because I’m too hungry to fix one more omelet now.”

Often, you convince yourself that your present day is not going to be an ordinary one, but just another dreary day that you must add to a long list. Besides its length, that day reminds you how short your life is and, undoubtedly, you don’t want to lose it. Nobody does! Surviving is everything people want. Every action has a purpose that has something to do with either live longer or make your existence more pleasant. When you lose this control, there come the troubles.

The doorbell rang loudly agitating John while he was trying to relax in front of the TV eating his half-burned omelet. He got up, went towards the door expecting some of his neighbors, maybe Lady Janet who lived next door, asking for some salt. But, the person that John saw as he jolted the door was neither one of his neighbors nor friends. That man looked suspicious at first glance. Too elegant in his dark blue suit, too smiling to agree with John’s mood, and unusually odd.

“Mr. Spencer? John Spencer?”

“Yep! How may I help you?”

“My name’s Simon Dick…”

“…Sorry, but I won’t buy anything. So, I suggest you try another apartment as you’re wasting your precious time with me.”

“Actually, I’m here to sell you nothing, Mr. Spencer. I’m here to talk with you.”

“About what?”

“About something I’m sure you’re gonna like.”

“You have a point?”

“May I get in?”

“Let me guess. You’re not selling anything but, strangely, after having stepped into my house, you’re gonna tell me about your special offer and, magically, you’ll pull out a contract to sign out of your suitcase, am I right? Oh, of course, you cannot admit that now because you’d try to hypnotize me first with your skilled speeches that you perform every time you succeed getting in some unaware buddy’s place out there and then…”

“…Mr. Spencer, I understand your worries, but I assure you I’m not after your money and, what I am about to say, if you allow me of course, will shock you positively. Why don’t you give me only five minutes of your time?”

“Okay! Get in! Please, take a seat. I’m hungry, and I’ll be eating my dinner while you’ll be spilling the beans.”

Typically, people love keeping life under control, knowing where they are going when traveling, been surrounded by familiar faces, and applying algebra to every single happening, utterance, and image. If this comfortable condition is challenged, you will get caught by surprise with devastating consequences.

Therefore, the lowly clerk called John Spencer could not minimally imagine that, on his third attempt to swallow his omelet, he almost choked when he heard his host’s words.

“I’m from the future! I know you should think I’m crazy, Mr. Spencer, but this is the sheer truth.”

“What? What is that supposed to mean, Mr…?”

“…Simon. Simon Dick.”

“Whatever! Look, I don’t think you’re crazy. I just think you’re trying to fool me, and I can’t figure out why you’re doing that. However, let me tell you something, Mr. Dick, you’re going to damn fail! You go nowhere! Now, would you excuse me and let me finish my dinner that has been quite bizarre so far?”

“Sure! But, if I leave, you’d never know why I’m here and what I want from you. Please, give me a chance!”

“Yes, but you have two minutes left because you’ve already wasted three of your five minutes.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why I’m here today.”

“Oh, fantastic! So, it has been a pleasure! What is this? A kind of candid camera, perhaps?”

“I can prove that I’m from the future!”

“Oh yes! How?”

“If I am from the future, I should know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, and the day after. Right? So, what I am about to tell you will happen tomorrow at 10 am.”

“Umm, it starts to be interesting. What’s gonna happen tomorrow?”

“A huge Tsunami will hit Long Island south beaches that will be packed with bathers at that time. Many people will die appallingly. 126 innocent human beings to be precise. It'll be a tragedy that will be remembered by the future generations. You’ll hear that piece of news and, at that point, you’ll know that I told you the truth. Come on, Mr. Spencer! How can you guess such precise number of victims? That will be the confirmation that I’m not lying to you. ”

“All right Mr. Soothsayer, I get it! I’d join your kind of sect tomorrow if the Tsunami hits Long Island coast…Oh, come on! Don’t be ridiculous! Give me a break, will you?”

“If what I said turns to be true, please meet me tomorrow at 6 pm in the building parking lot near the entrance of this building. I’ll be waiting for you, Mr. Spencer.”

“What if you work for the forecast and you guys know there might be a Tsunami tomorrow?”

“Mr. Spencer, I told you the exact number of casualties. I repeat, 126 people will die on those coursed beaches tomorrow morning. How can I possibly know that precise number? I can even guess with some luck such a shocking tragedy but, hey, how should I possibly pinpoint the time and number of deaths? Come on, Mr. Spencer!”

“If you say so! If what you’re saying is true, I’ll take more seriously this bullshit of yours, Mr. Simon.”

“See you tomorrow, Mr. Spencer. Enjoy your meal!”

Every day might hold some weird events no matter how unaware and ordinary your life is, but some situations go far beyond.

John restarted chewing his roughly eatable meal while watching his favorite evening programs made of quizzes, chats, and a lot of fun. He had already forgotten that unique visionary individual who, instead of attempting selling hoovers or electronic gadgets, like the majority of door-to-door salespeople would do, had tried to fool him with the most bizarre prevision ever.

“Geez! I forgot I had to handle that pile of documents to Office 2b5. First thing tomorrow morning, then! I’ve to write it down; otherwise, it’s likely I forget it. And, I have to remember Ms. Alexandropulos’ signature on those papers…And…Okay, the remaining stuff is not so urgent. I’ll deal with it later. Damn it! This job is eating me alive! I’m still thinking of it during my free time. This way, I’m gonna lose my mind soon.”





























2.



Some people dream of nature, trees, waterfalls, smiling faces, happy times, and every possible joyful moment you can name. Others are less lucky and continuously tormented during their sleep if they can sleep at all. Nightmares full of monsters, ghosts, vampires, witches, and every evil creature you may name usually characterize these dreamers’ slumber.

That night, John Spencer slept as usual. However, his recurrent nightmares did not dare to show up and, instead, he dreamed about a weird future world. He was in a city surrounded by massive fountains by which a mob made out of particular individuals was hanging out. Then, the alarm clock rang forcing John to wake up.

“What a silly dream of mine? Lazy people were staring at countless fountains in those modern towns. Will it be the way our society is going to evolve in the future? I wonder if that eccentric man who visited me last night believed what he said. I have to tell Paul about that. I bet he’d laugh his head off on hearing such a cinematographic happening.”

Not everybody gets a pleasurable and satisfying job nowadays, and John was not different from the vast number of unhappy workers that, on an everyday basis, take their train, bus, or drive the car and get squeezed one another in massive human jams which have not achieved much after centuries of civilization. Why traveling by super-fast vehicles when your life is that miserable? During the day, John had already forgotten about that unusual visitor and was already struggling to catch up with his tasks, always asphyxiating, nevertheless necessary. Therefore, a series of anxious messages pretending appalling actions to be performed by him struck his eyes as soon as he checked his work email.

“You should have already talked with Mr. Loyd. If you haven’t, do it as soon as possible.”

“Hi, John, here’s Anne from the secretary. There’s a missing file, number 18 to be precise. Ms. Miller wants you to find it first thing in the morning. Please, drop by ASAP!”

“I left a pile of top priority docs on your desk yesterday night. Hope you might take a look at it. Thanks, buddy. Lance.”

“Mr. Lambert will call you at 9 am. He said it’s urgent.”

It is strange how the time passes and clears every sorrow and worry. Well, almost every. A hindrance that seems insurmountable at a given time might become a joke after just a few hours. Everything passes during our lives, and our humanmade, unavoidable, and draining world turns our issues into nothing, not even quarks.

For this reason, John had already solved his morning troubles and was heading to eat his sandwich on a bench in the park in front of his office. There were a pallid sunlight and a cold wind.

“Cheese and spinach, my favorite! Yammy!”

“Hey, John, how’re you doing, dude?”

“Hey Sally, wanna try my super sandwiches?”

“No, thanks! I have to diet properly to catch the eyes of my husband.”

“Well, that’s a good reason to give up delicious meals.”

“Yeah! Anyways, what’s the point of making sacrifices when we live such a fleeting life?”

“Umm, you sound particularly pessimist today, Sally.”

“How would you feel after having heard that terrible piece of news from the TV? Think that I was planning to go there with Alfred tomorrow as we’ll both get the day off.”

“I’m not following you, Sally. What news and what place are you talking about?”

“The Tsunami, John. The one that hit Long Island beaches a couple of hours ago. Didn’t you hear about that? They said it might have killed almost 100 poor people. Such a terrible thing!”

























3.



Frequently, a significant number of workers are joyful and ready to go home when they finish their shift. Some of them look forward to meeting their family; others go jogging or practicing other activities. The most stressed ones might opt for a cozy bar for some shots. What a better place to hang out with a couple of friends, a few beers in front of you, and much gossip. Only a few people have different plans and, among them, there must be at least one person who is probably facing a different kind of life beyond any possible human’s grasp.

John was among these exceptions. He had spent the rest of his working day trying to find a rational explanation for that mysterious man who had popped out in his apartment the day before announcing the tragedy that had just happened. John did not doubt that the man’s uncanny prevision was exact. That foreigner aced the time, and the number of deaths as John watched on his office TV together with his colleagues for a few minutes before restarting their dull routine. As soon as his working day was over, John rushed to the subway station while his anxiety was growing.

“What kind of person foresees such a tragedy? He said he’s from the damn future. So, why on earth did he come here? Did he do that to give me a scoop only? And, why me? Am I so special? He said to meet him at 6 pm at the parking gate. I’ve to be there. If only this subway ran faster…”

It is astonishing how some people’s lives might take strange shades and, from an utterly tedious condition, turn itself into a thrilling adventure second to none. Not everybody, although, get the chance to doubt the logic and what our society has always given for granted. When someone does it, the chances are that they are either mental or at the threshold of the discovery that might change their life forever.

The case of John Spencer was still unsolved as he hadn’t seen the weird man at the park door as expected at 6 pm. Fifteen minutes after six, John started to think that there was something fishy about that deed. However, he was determined to wait until seven at least because the weirdo had told him the truth. At that point, it was dark, and every John’s neighbor had already parked their car and left the parking as usual. John did not know the majority of his neighbors as it often happens in a large city where people do not trust one another. Suddenly, here comes the curious man dressed same as the day before.

“Sorry for letting you wait for me so long, John, but I ran out of food. So, I had to drop by the drug store and buy some. This cold sandwiches would do the job! You guys have such a tasteless food down here, and you stuff yourself with plenty of meat. Disgusting! You’re so primitive compared with us! By the way, are you ready?”

“Ready for what?”

“Oh! I’m afraid I forgot to tell you I’m gonna take you with me to the future.”

“Oh, yes! I’m afraid you did! Are you nut, perhaps?”

“Please, John, don’t tell me you still don’t trust me. You know I told you the truth.”

“Even though what you said is true, why on earth should I go with you?”

“Simple, John, because a nuclear attack will almost exterminate every living thing two days from now. Only a bunch of survivors will repopulate the world but, trust me, you aren’t gonna have too much fun for a long time down here. Hence, if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t refuse my offer.”

“Why have you chosen me?”

“Because a couple of neighbors of yours didn’t open their doors saying they don’t like solicitors and, I almost got punched in another building. The point is that I haven’t chosen you but picked you up randomly. It could have been another person if you hadn’t let me in your burning-food smelling apartment yesterday night.”

“Tell me what your purpose is, then? Just pick up a random stranger from the past to save the person? What for?”

“Actually, in my era, our society has reached the perfect balance. No more wars, no ignorance, nor vulgarity whatsoever. People study all day long and let the machines work as it should be. We speak a better English in the future. A language simplified by our intelligence. Like it or not, your basic language is ludicrous. So many useless terms, complicated structures, feminine and masculine, verbs conjugation, and unreasonable exceptions and irregularities. How can you possibly communicate that way? We have kept your language the way it is but, as you may have noticed when I speak, our language is much cooler.”

“Shut up, you clown! You are speaking the same language of mine. What are you talking about?”

“We study your ridiculous language because we can better understand your primitive mentality.”

“Okay, listen, if you don’t like the way we think, spare me and take home a souvenir instead. Besides, I’m not so sure the world will end in a couple of days. Why should it? We are not even at war.”

“Why are you that stubborn? Alright, let’s do this way. I’ll be waiting for the day after tomorrow until the moment the president of your country will announce the possibility of a nuclear attack. At that point, at about 7 pm, you’d better hurry up because I won’t be waiting for you for too long. The first missile will strike during the night, and I’m positive you’re not that stupid as to insist on staying here. Meet you here on Saturday at 7.30 pm here, then. Until then, have fun, John!”





























4.



When your mind is full of worries, sleeping often becomes a hard task, and unforeseen issues might distress one’s mind a lot. What is worse than knowing that evil deeds are coming, and there is nothing one may do to tame them?

Nevertheless, John’s mind could not find the peace that night. He had tried to sleep but, how can you relax when you know that the chances that humanity is going to be wiped out from the earth in less than two days are quite high?

“That bastard predicted the Tsunami providing details. The eerie man mentioned the time and the number of victims. It can’t be a coincidence! No way! So, the point is that that individual really knows our future. I’m not 100% sure he’s from the future, but he can certainly predict it. Do I really have a choice? Why stay here and die? I don’t have a family anymore. Okay, I have some friends, but what can I do for them? The truth is that this situation is out of my grasp.”

Sometimes, it is particularly hard to make a decision when your knowledge about the object of your decision is limited. In that case, more than a careful choice, it resembles sheer gambling. So, if someone told you that the world was going to end tomorrow, and he or she gave you a chance to escape to another habitable planet, and you got some evidence that that prophecy might be right, you would probably work out on your choice. Afterwards, depending on the odds, your decision might even resemble a bet on the red or black in a real-life-roulette same as at the ones you may find at the many casinos in Atlantic City or Las Vegas.

A tired John woke up at 5.30 am as usual with less than one hour sleep visible in his eyes. He turned the TV on to check whether the world nations were wedging war at one another already, but nothing. Not even a light hint of threatening. At that point, John turned the TV off, laughed his head off like a fool, got dressed for work, and sighed before leaving his ordinary apartment. At that point, John was feeling relieved because he had the feeling that the world was not going to end up so soon and so miserably as that swindler had said.

“Damn dummy come from the future. How could I have been so stupid? There won’t be any nuclear war whatsoever! Bullshit! I get no idea how the hell he knew about the Tsunami, but I think he hasn’t told me the truth. I’ve been a real idiot!”

Time explains everything. Some people say that it is just a matter of time and the chickens come home to roost. Love stories, success, friendships, and lies must obey the king of the kings, its Majesty, Time. Time is great; It cures broken hearts; it turns ignorant students into masters, it reveals the most mysterious secrets on earth but, also, it slowly takes you to a point in which, besides your wisdom, wealth, and happiness, you have to disappear and never come back.

Even though you get relieved after a dire worry, you still get the signs of it. Of course, John could not forget his sleepless night and, although he had almost convinced himself that no one could travel through time, a hidden part of his mind had not found its serenity yet.

“To guess the right number of unfortunate bathers who lost their lives on Long Island beaches, it is against all the odds. Wait a moment! What if that strange man was using me somehow? He might have falsified the media reports. Perhaps, the number of casualties was different. But, why? And, how can a man alone do that? Umm, that’s quite unlikely! A person alone who has that skill? Oh, come on! Not even does the president have that power. It’s out of the question. Maybe, the explanation is out there, and it’s easier than I thought. Anyways, this story has killed me so far. I couldn’t have imagined that that man was going to cause such distress in my ordinary life. Damn it!”



































5.



No matter how hard people try to suffocate their subconscious, it always comes back like a piece of wood does in the sea. It is funny to think how our mind parts fight against each another. Some of these conflicts result in unpleasant reactions that may induce the person to behave oddly. Several severe psychiatric events have been described in the scientific literature along the centuries. Even the famous neurologist Sigmund Freud, the father of the Psychoanalysis, have spent a long time studying human’s subconscious.

In fact, although John had almost convinced himself that that counter-intuitive messenger arrived from who knows where was a fake, he could no longer repress his inner thoughts that boosted out forcing John to take a break. It was too much to bear. He reached the coffee maker and met Margaret, a co-worker who smiled at him. A famous TV channel was broadcasting the news but, except for a serial killer in a near town, a nasty road accident, and the fact that the currency had dropped, there was no sign of nuclear attack.

“Hi, Margaret. Have you heard of any nuclear attack, perhaps?”

“Not at all. Why?”

“Nothing…I…I thought I heard a piece of news before mentioning this topic but, as I was distracted…You know? Never mind! Hopefully, we’re not going to face that yet.”

“Sorry to laugh about, but you asked that with such worried expression that you almost convinced me.”

“Oh, sorry, Margaret. You know, I love acting and, sometimes, I forget I’m not on a stage.”

“Ah, ah, ah! Oh, yeah! By the way, did you hear that Mr. Northon has quit?”

“Not really. Why? What happened?”

“Do you remember Ms. Ashley? His secretary?”

“Oh, yes, I do!”

“Well, it looks like they had an affair, and the senior manager saw them, and you can figure out the consequences.”

“Yes, of course!”

“Besides, Mr. Nothon was such nice person. It looks like his desk is going to be taken by Dorothy Cantwell. That bitch!”

“Are you kidding? I can’t stand her either. She’s so posh! Can’t stand her, really!”

“And, did you know that Anne Rossetti is pregnant?”

“Really? Is she?”

“Oh, yes! But, I’ll tell you about that later. I’ve to go now. My boss is waving at me from his office. See you later, John!”

“See you later, Margaret! Oh dear, she’s always full of stories. However, gossiping, even if you don’t like it, is much better than a nuclear war. I’d better calm myself down and think that there won’t be any war.”

Worries, fears, truths, and lies; why humans bother so much with deeds that are not there? This ability to forecast and anticipate that is typical of humankind is a double-edged sword. While it is true that it helps us to expect some prospective happenings, it also causes anxiety and unreasonable expectations.

John had fallen into a pit full of apprehension which only way out was possible only after 7 pm when, standing on the bird of ill-omen, the president should have announced the unwanted.

He finished his shift and went home a little bit earlier because, luckily, he had caught an early train. His heart was beating fast as the time of the truth was approaching. At a quarter to seven he was watching his favorite program made of funny sketches and difficult questions that, if answered, they would have turned those candidates into millionaires. “What’s the capital of Albania? You get ten seconds to answer the question, one, two, three…” But, John was not paying too much attention to that game that evening. Even though John anxiety had grown exponentially, there was still no sign of any possible conflict. Finally, extraordinarily apprehensive and entirely distressed, he turned the TV off and breathed deeply.

“Is everything really going to happen that way? If so, I need to be strong and face reality. Let’s turn this TV on again.”

We perceive our world as stable and almost immutable, but the reality is different. Everything flows and has no rest in our universe. Stars are always forming and reshaping themselves. Colossal collisions and supernovae explosions are routine in our immense cosmos. Nothing is stable, and even the matter decays one day. We just have to accept it as we are what we are because of these changes. Humanity is just a result of catastrophes, just a mere by-product, a useless leftover whose faith is tossing in the wind.

John had kept his television off for almost five minutes. Then, he lifted his remote control while his hands were trembling to turn the magic box on again but, suddenly, his telephone rang preventing him from clicking on the button. That high-pitched tone of his phone gave him a start. Who could possibly call him at that critical instant? He breathed to regain control of his upset mind, grabbed the iPhone, saw that his friend Paul was calling him, and slowly put the device to his ear.

“Hello, Paul!”

“Is everything okay, dude? Have you heard it?”

“Heard what?”

“It looks like we’re on the edge of a nuclear war!”

“Wh…What?”

“Yeah, buddy! That’s terrible! I can’t believe this’s gonna happen! What the hell can we do now? Find a bomb shelter, perhaps?”

“I have no idea, Paul…No idea!”



















6.



Believing in what our intelligence thinks is impossible and indeed becomes a mind-blowing experience. Bright people need to understand a given happening. The lack of solution is unbearable for smart minds. We merely need to know, to test, to reproduce, to come up with certainties. Our view is that the universe is concrete and testable and, in part, this is true. However, when we move into the subatomic world, all our logic is turned upside down. There is too much we don’t know out there.

John knew that there must be a logical explanation for that story of time-traveling. He was desperately trying to get to a conclusion while watching the thrilling president’s announcement. The chances to be bombarded by the enemies that night were utterly high, and the poor John needed to make a choice.

“People cannot travel through time. Once, I read that if that were possible, you could change the space-time structure irreversibly. There must be a different explanation! Is that man a kind of prophet? Does he get a kind of telepathic powers? I’ve never believed any of these possibilities but, so far, everything’s possible.”

In awkward moments, you need to make your move whatever it is. Some steps might change your life forever and take you to distant places which existence you could not even have imagined to be real. Life is made of choices and, though some options are better than others, there is always a bitter taste on leaving your previous life behind.

Confused and disappointed, John rushed to the place that prophet had asked him to meet. The man was not there, and John felt tremendously tense. He had said he would only have been waiting for John for one hour, but there was no trace of him. Not inside the parking; not on the road; not even inside the parked cars that John had double checked to make sure he had missed nothing.

“Where is he? This’s not the moment to play tricks! Where the hell is he? Tonight everything is going to end for real. I will be pulverized together with this stupid world if Mr. time-traveler doesn’t show up. Where the hell are you, asshole? Oh, here it is! It’s him! Yeah, it’s him!”

“I’m terribly sorry, John, but I stopped at the drugstore to buy some more food.”

“Do you think this is the best moment to stuff your belly instead of saving our asses?”

“I need something to eat before traveling to the future!”

“Why? Don’t you have restaurants in the future?”

“Come, let’s go to your apartment. We still have some hours.”



















7.



Not every strange oddity is a result of some evil thoughts and purposes intended to harm you. Occasionally, they might represent a means in position to be a liaison between an old and useless to a new and promising life.

In a frightened Manhattan, every citizen was in a state of shock due to the latest news. Everybody was praying, crying, and trying to figure out where to go to save their lives. Everybody but two, John and the weird man, both locked in John’s apartment. If you could have seen the city from above, you could not have slightly imagined that in one of those tiny apartments, two people were about to travel far beyond any possible destinations.

“How long does it take to get to wonderland?”

“Oh, not much!”

“How did you manage to live here? Where did you find the money?”

“I printed. Nice and easy!”

“What’s next?”

“Now, you see this sleeping bag? Well, this isn’t exactly a sleeping bag but a “Woosh.” It bends the space and time to make our friend John happy and alive. Yes! That way! Wrap yourself and get ready. You will feel cold for a few seconds.”

Emotions at higher speed might turn out to be good or bad depending on the cost-benefit context.

Some extreme and unique feelings flooded John’s tired mind. The idea he could no longer live in this world made him overwrought.

“Are you ready, John?”

“Ready!”

“Say goodbye to your broken world! Time to go to a much better one! Happiness is coming!”

“Stop speaking, please. Let’s crack on with the show!”

























Chapter II

1.



Every child dreams of magic worlds, fairies, little people or strange animals. No matter how wealthy children are, these daydreams are recurrent across cultures and places. However, nothing compares a real experience turned into magic.

When John reached his destination, and his new acquaintance helped him to come out of from his cocoon, he realized they were inside a sort of train station but, instead of trains, people were popping in and out across different times. A plethora of time traveling sleeping bags of any colors surrounded John. From those weird vehicles, tons of people were hatching like cheeks ready to start their new life in that modern era. They appeared awkward and lost while looking at one another as if they wanted an answer to all that. Luckily for them, their couriers were showing the way and encouraging those lost passengers. Some of them seemed quite primitive. They wore a rough animal skin, while others appeared incredibly well dressed. Some of them were probably from after John’s era. Even so, they were all from the past in that new world.

“Where are all these people from?”

“They’re from the past just like you, John. But, they’re from different eras. Everyone rescued from an imminent tragedy.”

“Wow! So, we’re the lucky ones, aren’t we?”

“It’s a matter of points of view.”

“What do you mean?”

“Never mind, let’s go! I have a surprise for you.”

Hope and trust, what are they after all? Mere convenience to allow us to thrive, say, just a surviving mechanism triggered by needs. That is what life is all about, that is, a mere convenience that induces our mind to make choices.

A significant number of writers have attempted to describe extreme emotions during the centuries, but nobody could ever portray in words a similar thrill that John felt as soon as they got out of the massive space-time station. The exit was on a high floor, and there was a long zigzagged ramp that led to the ground floor. From that high, you could see the massive square below that resembled an arena, a kind of “Corrida” pitch made of sand. It was a scary view. There were an enormous amount of bare torso, tide men and just as many men flogging them with robust whips. The blood on the sand, the noise of those people crying and the sound of lashes seemed the hell.

“Where the hell are we?”

“Okay, John. This is it! It’s just the beginning. No worry, you’ll do fine!”

“What is that supposed to mean? Who are those people? What’s going on?”

“I’ll explain to you but, please, let’s move on.”

Some people control other people who, maybe because naïve, or just because they are not interested in getting the power, let them rule even to the extreme. It happens in the animal world since ages, and it will always be.

The view of that square enclosed by ugly building resembling a medieval scenario, those yells, and the brutality of those floggers, made John sick. The more they descended the ramps, the higher his feeling that something was not right in that world of the future. Finally, they reached the last slope. A bunch of men coming from the square approached John and his guide. They were holding some dodgy laces made of lather. Their faces were ugly and evil.

“Here we are, John. Your trip is over. I have to go now, but I am leaving you in good hands. Your new owner is a kind person and, if you behave properly, you might have a decent life as a slave.”

“Sl…Slave? What the hell is this? You, son of…”

“Guys, he’s all yours! Take him!”

“Aghhhh! Leave me! Don’t touch me! Don’t…Aghhh!”

“I’m terribly sorry, John, but I couldn’t tell you that before. You see, I’m a slave broker. This is my job. What can I do? Have fun, John! Please, guys, take him to his owner as soon as possible.”

“Aghhh!”





2.

Society glorifies freedom as if it is guaranteed. But, freedom is one of the most disappointing delusions that the Homo Sapiens have given for granted. What we call freedom is nothing but relatively free mental and physical actions or, maybe, not free at all if every move has its reaction, in a forced environment that we perceive as unlimited.

When John felt the excruciating pain of the first lash on his bare torso, he yelled like a wounded animal chased by lions in the African land. Worse of all, he had no time to recover as a series of interminable lashes lacerated his pale skin. The cries coming from every hapless guy in the spectral square created a Dantesque atmosphere made of contorted faces and utter horror.

“What is this? Aghhh! Why this? Aghhh! Please, stop! Aghhh!”

Sometimes, it seems that our worst enemies are wild beasts. We fear them, and they often visit us during our worst nightmares but, astonishingly, humans might be as harmful as the fiercest creature in the universe.

John was unable to make sense to all that. He had no clue why all those heartless bastards were flogging hundreds of souls in that shameful square, and the only feeling John got was desperation. He cried as he had never done before and, after his blood drops had created a pond on the soil, he passed out face down. His idea of the future was everything but that wickedness. Then, he woke up in a sort of dark warehouse and found out that his legs had were chained to a gate. He soon realized there were countless people in that place. They also had chains on their limbs. All he could hear in that spooky place were moans and crying. So sad, so unbelievably real that you could hardly believe it.

“Hey! Hey, you! Can you hear me?”

“Non intelligitis!”

“What? What language is that?”

“Non intelligitis!”

“Damn!”

Language is just a matter of interpretation, a mere combination of sounds that we use to define, think, and apply in the case of an emergency. But, what happens when groups of people waste their talents just because of the language they speak is different impeding them to speak out their minds? What a waste of potentiality. The exchange of valuable ideas and thoughts are not feasible in that scenario. Often, people see the language varieties as a positive aspect of cultures, but what if they are mere barriers to a better and more efficient globalized world?

John had tried to communicate with that fellow but, no matter how hard he worked, there was no mutual understanding. Besides the linguistic barrier, the main issue was that that man’s pain was preventing him from thinking. So, John tried to talk with a woman that looked at him pityingly.

“Do you understand me?”

“Yes, I do!”

“Why on earth are we here? What’s this? Who are those people? Are we really in the future?

“Well, it depends on the point of view. My name’s Dora, by the way! Sorry that I cannot treat you to a cup of tea because of these chains.”

“No worry! It’s a rain check, then! What century are you from?”

“I’m from the year 2137. More than a century ago. What about you?”

“2019.”

“Oh, that explains everything. Basically, you’re from the fake nuclear threat year.”

“Well, actually, it was not so unreal. Some crazy countries were about to fire missiles on the day I left.”

“Bullshit! They fooled you…I mean…the people of this century. They have fooled everybody in here. There was no war at all in 2019, and people had feared an attack at some point, but nothing happened after. I studied it at school. It’s History!”

“You mean that I came here for nothing?”

“You came here to be enslaved like everyone else. These people use us for their games. First, they scare us to death flogging us, then they throw us into a huge arena to fight against one another. I haven’t gotten the chance to be there yet. I’m so scared of it! Only the fittest survive. But, it looks like they put some robotic prosthesis on your limbs that don’t allow you to move the way you wish, and that amuses the audience who laugh their heads off. That’s what some survivals told us before returning to the arena soon after and never come back.”

“I can’t believe this is really happening.”

“Well, get used to it. This is real!”





3.



Hours, days and weeks pass no matter if you are enjoying your life dancing in a beautiful wood surrounded by majestic nature, singing birds, and perfumed daisies or if you are locked in a dark cave dying from painful affliction for a penance you find hard to accept. Time does not stop and, sooner or later, everything has a conclusion.

John and his unlucky companions had been fed by scoundrels popping in and out several times during the couple of days that John had spent in that hole. Delicious bitter food for those unlucky souls locked inside a structure that, at traits, remembered a chicken coop. Those prisoners had a long chain tied around their ankles, and it was long enough to allow them to move behind some straw to do their business whenever they needed. A few expressionless robots had cleaned the place up twice a day. On the third day, early in the morning, the strident metallic doors that separate the despicable modern world from that horrific prison opened. Ugly men got in and applied some unwanted prosthesis to every slave’s limbs in the barn. For those unlucky prisoners harnessed with those new-generation equipment escaping was impossible. John got his prosthetic arms and legs as well. The prosthetics forced him to walk even though he did not want to. It was like being someone else, not ruling your body. It was a frightening and frustrating experience for those poor guys that were stepping out blinded by a scorching sun and surrounded by unfriendly guards. A drum music accompanied them as they marched as disciplined soldiers moving towards a clash that they had not chosen. The road was unpaved and dusty. The only people around the marching slaves were the guards.

“I must run away! I was born free, and I want to die free.”

Even when a given situation seems desperate, even then, you may find a way to solve your problems. As a matter of fact, you should analyze possible outcomes and see the most convenient option. Then, you need a proper plan, and there you go. Your hope will follow you no matter what.

The group of slaves was rushing towards a massive stadium. The noise of its crowd was appalling in that vast arena. Nobody had the slightest idea about what to expect once inside. John had tried to understand what type of place was that. It looked like half a city and half a natural park. There were no high buildings and traffic whatsoever. Not even too many people. However, among trees and hills, there were plenty of houses that resembled some wealthy neighborhoods that John was used to seeing in his town outskirts, in his era centuries before. Those homes among vegetation looked like swanky villas. Occasionally, a few people walked past the doomed platoon of marching slaves without even glancing at them. Locals seemed used to those scenes. Standing on their reactions, it looked like they found them healthy, just everyday life. The more the squad got closer to the stadium, the more were the people buzzing around it. There were some happy families whose kids were running, jumping, playing tag and hide and seek. That distant modern crowd dressed not so different from the ancient Romans. Even the terrifying idea of fighting in a stadium made that ludicrous world appear not so different from the Classical world. John felt agitated and angry.

“This is absurd! It looks like these people have learned to live in the middle of nature building their houses among vegetation, use sophisticated technology, speaking several languages, but their humanity has miserably gone backward. They lost it! They behave worse than beasts. Their racism is shocking. What they don’t get is that we aren’t different from them as every slave in this squad could have been their ancestor. They simply don’t get it. What a bunch of silly monkeys is this?”



































4.



There are noises and noises, but the sound of a vast audience such as the one in a stadium, might be either exciting if you join them, or frightful to death if you are the sacrificial lamb.

Before getting into the majestic structure, one of the guard commanders spoke to them in different languages from a podium. After a dozen of unidentified lingos, he started talking John’s tongue. But, there was nothing good coming from that disgusting mouth.

“The reason why you’re here today is that you’re going to watch the games, and do you know why? Because tomorrow you’ll be on the pitch fighting until death, you miserable! However, don’t even think you’re gonna make it by using your strength because these are smart games, not stupid ones like those stupid events you held a long time ago. The clever concept of how snappy our games are is utterly difficult for you guys to grasp due to your primitive, dumb, and useless minds. No matter how strong you are, your prosthesis will always refrain you from making your movements the way you wish resulting in such fun for us, and such frustration for you bastards. Only the smartest one, not even comparable to the silliest modern existing person by any means, can take advantage of the right moment and hit the opponents. Only this blessed piece of shit coming from your hilarious times would get the chance to make it and live for a few more weeks. What is time after all? Some insects die on the very day they are born, and you can consider yourself lucky if you see the end of the games. Do you understand, you useless creatures?”

Human beings are notoriously rational and irrational at the same time. The thin line that separates the two states of mind is precarious and, when you least expect it, you might find yourself behaving in a not so convenient way that you could not even imagine.

So, John whose rage had reached the point of no return felt an unstoppable need to shout at that despicable miscreant loud enough to let him stop that delirium. Finally, he could not refrain his rage and blasted.

“You, bastards! Why are you doing this to us? Damn you! You have no right to enslave us! Damn idiots! If I catch you, I’ll kill you!”

“Guards, take and punish him now!”

There are forces too high to be defeated, while others are weaker if you find their weak point. Effects are everything in nature. They bring life, and they take it. Once you have sized them, you may even control them.

The guards flogged John heavily until he almost fainted. Same excruciating pain in his back as the one felt in that ignoble square. Then, the commander told the guards to stop, and the squad finally got in the stadium. John was nearly unconscious, his legs guided by the prosthetics, his back covered by dribbling blood, his eyes half closed. They walked along the stands until they reached their assigned seats. Each slave sat reluctantly, and the view could have been marvelous if that were an average stadium with a healthy audience, in a safe city, in a bright world. But, unfortunately, that was not the case.

“Escape…I must escape!”





5.



It is funny to observe the crowd gloating, especially at the stadium. In fact, it sounds like supporting a team or another is everything people have always wanted. No other aspirations, no desires, nor ambitions whatsoever for that exulting multitude. Just the irrational joy of a moment in a mortal life. The temporary glow of a star in a vast and meaningless void.

From his position in the audience, those slaves silently observed the flock of prosthetic slaves roaming on the spooky pitch made of sand. That would have been their faith in no time. A loud horn announced the beginning of the games. The mob gloated loudly. Some spectators were shouting their favorite enslaved gladiator’s number using offensive words. “Idiot number 6! He’s gonna be the winner!” “No way! Asshole number 5 is much fitter than the moron you’re betting on!” “I’d say that retarded numbered 2 will destroy that lamebrain you support!” Those poor slaves into the arena were utterly lost. Although far away from John, it was not a hard task to realize they were terrified and, some, weeping like children. Their unwanted robotic limbs dictated their movements like muppets guided by people behind stages. Those victims were going to die but a lucky or better, less unlucky, champion. The hologram was a tag that displayed some information regarding those forced gladiators. For example, over a woman was written that she was African, 27 years old, from the year 2079, and she was number 10. Another one labeled a man from XX century India, and he was number 1, a woman from 3000 BC somewhere in the Middle East was number 11, and so on. A young man numbered 4 was the first one to die. The unfortunate slave came from an ancient Chinese era. He got his throat cut by a blade. Each player had one weapon of a different shape. Some were sabers, others just large knives. Every time a player had reached the other, and he or she was about to strike, a clumsy movement generated by the prosthetics made them back up provoking a loud crackle among the spectators. Between a gloat and another, a man sat in front of John turned around and said something to John who, due to his intense pain in his back, did not grasp. A few seconds after, taking advantage of one more collective guffaw, the men made one more attempt.

“Make them laugh! Do you understand? Make them laugh, and they’ll spare your life.”

When you feel like you have lost every hope, here comes the surprise.

Taking advantage of another roar, the man addresses John again. His eyes were worried. Maybe, he was that cautious because it was illegal to give information to the slaves. Therefore, he spoke as fast as he could.

“People rate the slave that makes the audience laugh the most.”

“Are you willing to help me? Please?”

“I’m not gonna help you, you retarded primitive! I bet some money on you. So that’s why I’m warning you. Don’t let me down, you bastard!”

When some violent movie shows a massacre and much blood, the spectators tend to feel disgusted. This is how everyone should react to such a wild picture. However, not everybody shares the same reaction to cruelty and, when a high number of indifferent beholders packs a stadium crying like chickens demanding blood, you may be sure that in such a creepy society something must have gone terribly wrong.

Surrounded by a hostile audience of men and women dressed in a weird toga resembling ancient Romans at the Coliseum, the remaining two slaves were facing each other moving back and forth like boats sailing an ocean made of blood thanks to the prosthetics parts applied to their bodies. John had already ascertained that that man was right by observing the two survivals. One of them had yelled like a fool while attacking, and the other one had sobbed ridiculously. Finally, the sobbing man’s robotic parts allowed him to approach the yelling man who, unfortunately for him, had his arms stopped. There was nothing he could do. Hence, the sobbing men stuck his sword on his vulnerable chest and ended his life while the merciless audience accompanied the scene with a thunderous applause.

“I cannot act like a clown. How can I do that in such a tragic condition?”

























6.



You may wonder if principles and values are universal or relative to cultures. The human mind is weak and, depending on the context where you were born, it may surprisingly accept utterly controversial points of view. In fact, it is not so uncommon to see individuals aligned with religions, philosophies, and questionable extremisms. Those people were born in a context that brainwashed their weak minds since a young age. Those dangerous ideas have been voluntarily soaked with their culture, so much that both have become indistinguishable. As a result, these people are forced to think in a given way even because they wish to respect their traditions and, every attempt to open their eyes is seen as a threatening to their culture in the first place. Everything is relative in our world. Relativity is not just a physics concept, but it may concern peoples’ everyday life as well.

On the way back, John and his miserable squad marched past a building in front of which stood a vehicle carrying what remained of the slaughtered gladiators. That building looked like a crematorium. But, the creepiest thing of all were the men and women who had surrounded the vehicle. They were amused and excited. There were children as well. It seemed like those parents were more than happy to show that shameful view to their offspring. It was a sort of educative trip, perhaps. A kind of school outing that focused on what happens to the slaves after the games.

“How could society have ended up this way? In my era, there were far too many foolish deeds, but this’s insane! I’d like to go back in time, back to my burned omelets, watching games with Paul at that ordinary bar full of swearing boozers, and get stressed at work. I don’t want to die for the sake of this modern morons’ amusement.”

Neither nature loves us, not hates us. Its indifference is proverbial and, if you want to survive, you cannot refrain from riding this wild horse that, in return, gives us good and bad times.

At night, uncomfortably facing one another in their prison, John and the other slaves knew they were going to fight to the death against one another on the following day. The scene with those corps treated with disrespect at the crematorium was going to be those prisoners’ fate but a stronger one, or better, the funniest one. But, it looked like only John knew that secret and, of course, he was careful about not revealing it to the others. Inasmuch, one man’s loss is another man’s gain. At least, that was what that gambler had told John in the stadium. The only person able to communicate with John was the woman to whom he had spoken with the day before. However, she had become John’s enemy now. On the day after, either that lady or John had to die. That disgusting show must go on.

“I’m not gonna tell her the secret to stay alive. I’m sorry, nice lady, but I must survive!”















7.



It is not easy to fall asleep when you know that you are probably going to die on the next day. The only thing you can undertake is trying to take advantage of every second you get and dive into your memories to cling what still remains of your life from a bunch of recollections. The way a dying person sees the world is undoubtedly different from ordinary unaware people. The former feels how important is to take advantage of every minute of his or her remaining existence. Life is thoroughly enjoyed by those who are about to lose it.

The day after arrived frightfully, and those poor slaves were stunned as expected. The eerie doors screeched allowing a bunch of inhumane humanoid robots to storm inside the filthy barn. They unchained the prosthetic prisoners one by one and, while they were busy applying that unwanted equipment, John realized that one robot was not working the way it should have done. Actually, he had noticed how faulty it was since the first day he had arrived. Often, especially during the barn cleaning, some officers had to stop that robot and shout at it new instructions and, after that, the dead thing had restarted its duty for a while until dying again later.

“These modern people are not so clever after all. Their technology is not that special as you might think.”

When your life is at stake, every detail, every chance, and every solution might be right as you don’t perceive the difference between right and wrong anymore. You just turn yourself into a surviving machine ready to hit to save your life. Everything is accepted when in danger. Your rage and will to survive free you to do what is necessary to stay away from death as there is no time for hesitation; no time for pity; your life must be protected at any cost.

Although John knew that that almost unnoticed defecting robot might have been the key to his freedom, there was nothing he could do at that point because his mechanic limbs started moving his legs towards the unwanted. The noise coming from the already packed stadium reminded John of an immense pride of hungry lions which only desire is blood, blood, and blood.

“I can’t die here today! I must survive! I must remember that spectator’s words. All I need is to act like a silly clown and make these pathetic beasts laugh. Let’s do it!”



























8.



One hundred thousand vocal cords vibrating at the same time emit so many decibels to get anyone gooses bumps. The noise is so intense to agitate even the laziest creature in the place. To do not mention then who is fighting for life in such a terrifying environment.

The scared to death slaves stepped into the pitch guided by their unwanted body extensions. As soon as they occupied their position in the arena equally far away one another, a creepy horn sounded, and its loud noise tasted like a blow. In fact, rather than a sound that looked like a funeral tune. Such macabre music would have shattered anyone of those unfortunate gladiators who neither pay attention to the crying audience, nor to the king that had just arrived announced as a divinity deserves. How to win that appalling fight, then? John had no choice but act like a fool. His prosthetic did not move while one opponent was approaching him swiftly carrying an ax. John had to make that crowd laugh. Hence, he lifted his arm carrying a spear and screamed like an idiot. The result of that ridiculous cry had been followed by the energetic crowd’s laughter. Suddenly, the approaching enemy’s limbs stopped with that slave’s despair and, John’s prosthetics, on the other hand, kept moving towards allowing John running around the immobilized rival and blindsided him. John spear killed the unfortunate prisoner at once. One blow only had ended one life. The fight went on and on accompanied by the discordant sound of the metal clashes. All John had to do was following the same plan. He had acted like an idiot until there was just one more warrior left. She was the woman to whom he had spoken to in the barn; the only person who was able to understand him. The two remaining gladiators had both killed every opponent and had their face and body stained with the other slaves’ miserable blood. They looked at each other with fear and surprise on their faces.


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