Why I am not mad.
November 7th, 2022
The pain woke me. This was not unusual. I must have slept on my side, perhaps even on my belly. It radiated from my core, a throb rooted in my off-kilter spine.
I opened my eyes. Before dawn, the sky growing pale above the peaked roofs. Not too bad, not too early.
I raised my palm, fingers together to block the light. It shone through the gaps between my bony fingers. No respite.
Steady on. Another day. Stand straight, marching orders, outlast the beast. One more day. Out of bed, to the kitchen, one more sacrifice for the coffee god.
Instant. A mediocre brew. But gentle on my raw stomach. I accepted my small addiction for its jolting relief.
I must apologize for this opening. I am not usually so self-centered. Indeed, few people are kinder, gentler, and more giving. I focus only on others and their needs. Usually. But today I cannot. If you read this diary, and I hope you do … at least from this day on … well, please, be understanding. It is a special kind of day.
Let me return to the tale.
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Instant coffee. A store brand. Gentle drug to take my mind away from my companion. I held the yellow mug and wondered, as I often did until that day, whether I was going mad. Whether I was already there.
I stretched my head forward and my neck made a satisfying click. A spasm of relief went through me.
“…there anybody back there? Please respond if you can hear this message. Is there anybody back there? Please respond if you can hear this …”
I yelped and set the mug on my table hard. I didn’t drop it. I’m careful that way, you see, very careful. But I set it down hard, and some of the lukewarm coffee splashed on the stained minimalist wooden table.
The voice was clearly coming from my bones. I could hear it vibrating into my ears from jaw and spine and skull.
The repeating message clicked and hissed and changed.
“Beep, beep, beep, bee-ep.”
I must have been wearing a look of shock, hands up to my ears. The bones in my hands were vibrating, too. Transmitting sound into my ears.
“Huh … halló?” I asked.
“…beep, beep, beep…”
Was this just a new form of my tinnitus, I wondered.
“Hello?” I repeated.
“…beep, bee…click. Hell? Hello? Hello? Is there somebody back there?”
“Mater, Iesu, Christus!” I swore.
“Ah! What? No, no, no. This isn’t … I am not a god.”
“I …” that is not what I meant, I wanted to say.
“By the Revolution, it worked. I can’t … Yes, greetings! We come in peace.”
“Are you aliens?” I blurted out.
“What? Aliens? Why? No.”
“You said you come in peace.”
“Isn’t … that a normal greeting? We have old records.”
“What? Normal? No. Somebody would only say they come in peace if they’re hiding a gun behind their back!” I blabbered.
“Oh. Our knowledge workers must have … misunderstood. You understand, it is hard. Fragments only. Oh, there I go again. Apologies. So … begin again. Greetings! We are communicating with you through a spatio-temporal wormway tunnel from your future!”
“The … future?”
“Eh … no, a future. Your former future, to be precise, now that we have established contact.”
“Well, there’s no easy way to say it, but a terrible disaster is coming, which will kill billions and lock in a traumatic, terrible history ending in the destruction of humanity in the year 2526. You must help us stop it!”
Right that moment I understood, for the first time in many years, that I was absolutely and certainly not mad.
“Hello? Are you still there?”
“Yes, yes I am,” I replied, warm visions of destiny swimming before my eyes.
“Right. Uh, so will you help us?”
“Yes, yes, certainly,” I breathed.
“Great! Uh, is your name Vanya?”
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