Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I want to kill them all.
        Every one of them, but especially Mr. Hodgkins, Mr. ‘Nice to see you in class, Jake.’ ‘I hope you studied for this test, Jake’ Hodgkins. Physics? I could give him physics: I could show him FTL drives, write down equations that would break down all his certainties. I almost tried, once, but I’d need to invent forms of math just to translate it so he could understand it at all.
        It wasn’t worth my time. The last time I tried translating something, he thought I was doodling.
        The rest of the class is quiet, writing down answers and cheating in half the cases. It’s not hard to notice; human body language is their Braille, to my eyes. It’s terribly easy to read, unlike their words.
        Twelve light years away the Hole has begun devouring a star system. I am writing a test.
        “I need to go to the bathroom,” I say, raising my hand.
        Mr. Hodgkins frowns. I hand him the finished test before he can say no, walking out.
        He sends out a hall monitor before I reach the bathroom, to make sure I return ‘this time’.
        We aren’t allowed cell phones; I call my family anyway. I explain.
        My mother explains that just because an alien intelligence has become part of me doesn’t mean I can avoid tests worth thirty percent of my final grade.
        I explain about the Hole. I tell her it’s a living black hole. Billions are dying. I could probably make it there, negate it. An hour, at best.
        She says she doesn’t have time to home school; I’d lose my chance to finish the year, because I wouldn’t graduate.
        I accidentally destroy the stall door leaving the bathroom, letting a hint of energy leak into my eyes as I stare at the hall monitor. Jenny doesn’t ask questions, but she doesn’t leave. She knew her duty.
        I spend the rest of the class listening to screams. Eventually someone else arrives, but by them too many have died.
        Mr. Sexton in biology asks if I plan to pay attention. I say no, and walk outside. People are following, saying words. They’re probably angry.
        My phone rings; my mother always knows when I’ve done something wrong. I sometimes wonder if she has a power, or if all others do.
        I answer. “Seven billion people.”
        She says nothing.
        I drop the phone and stare up at the stars, then back at the people looking at me.
        I do not say goodbye.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A journal, before the flames.

(June 2007)
Josh MacLeod

He told me last night, came clean. I’d called his school found out about the missing days, the forged notes, the lies. A lot of people were confused, because they’d heard my voice on the phone. Making up illnesses, aches, deaths in the family. But his marks went down, and he hedged as to why, so I called.
        The school couldn’t give me straight answers. I’m not sure what they’re going to make of it. I don’t know how he’s going to fix it. But that’s his job, what the little bastard does. Only he’s not one: he’s my son. I know it, even if he can fly, and do strange things with energy he has a hard trouble explaining.
        He’s been putting on a costume, since the accident. He almost died; we never sued, because Lisa hated people who did, and he lived. But he was changed. Four years, and he never told me. Not even when Lisa died.
        I looked back on the net. The asteroid belt had a lot of meteors explode that night. She smoked, Lisa did. You can’t save people from that. But he never talked to me, never said a thing. Did use it, to justify leaving more school, saving more lives. Faked visits to a psychiatrist. Wouldn’t look at me, admitting that.
        But I’d told him to come clean or not at all. To tell me - hell, I don’t know what. I’d expected sane things, like drugs. A girlfriend. A boyfriend, even. Not this. He has a costume, though no name. He tries to not get seen; he assured me of that part.
        He was scared. God, but I was scared of him too. Of these things he can do. Parents don’t really want exceptional children: do that, and you’re left with knowing they’re what you could have been, what you never had the courage to be. You end up hating them, a little. You give them all you never had, and they don’t thank you.
        Not that kids should thank parents for being parents, but even so.
        Even so.

I didn’t talk much. I’m still trying to take it in, to find a way to understand this. He’s saving lives, being what he is, doing it. I’d like to thank he’s taking after me, but he’s not. I’ve never saved anyone.

He came home from school. Even went there and didn’t leave. It’s costing him. Maybe costing him me, really. No one really loves a jailer. He was talking about his secret identity, about wondering why he had his powers.
        I told him mine.
        Not my powers, I don’t have those. No more than anyone else. Not being exceptional could be one, but it’s not. I told him about my secret identity.
        We all have them, after all. Parts of ourselves we never share. Things we keep private, to have anything to call our own. Mysteries and little secrets we keep from family, lovers: even pets, because there has to be some mystery, new things to learn about each other.
        This wasn’t like those. I told him about the heroin. I didn’t think me using had any bearing on what he became, I just wanted him to understand he wasn’t unique, not as much as he thought. That we all had secret selves.
        Maybe so that I could hurt him, even now. I don’t like to think that, but I'm trying to be honest, writing in a notebook. Before I destroy it. Keeping this private. Secret.
        I told him how his mother saved me, got me into rehab, eventually - well, he knew the eventually. I told him again anyway, even when he tried to make an excuse about some semi trailer on the highway. I think he understood us better now; certainly his mother.
        I told him he has to pass his courses, at least. And decide to do things after, more than just saving people. He suggested joining a newspaper as a journalist-photographer and I almost choked on my coffee. Which he’d intended, the brat.
        Sometimes he’s still my son. Still a kid, even now.
        I offered to help, with the school. Offered a GED, home schooling. If it comes to that. But I made sure he knows he’s as important as other people, that he shouldn’t sacrifice is well-being for them. I tried, I least. I’m not sure I got through, but at least I’m someone he can talk to now, about anything.

        It’s harder, this morning. I keep resisting turning on the TV, guessing, worrying. I tell myself he’s fine. He’s done this for four years. He knows what he’s doing.
        I tell myself he’d say if he was worried, because we don’t have important secrets anymore, just mysteries between us.

        He still won’t admit to dating.


Cold and shivering in this life
    beneath a leaden sky
Holding to the wish that is
    more to do before I die

I wondered at the heroes who
    bound world to will & love
and if a courage like my own
    could ever partake of

And in our dreams so fragile
    of words that never were
I cling to shores but not to ships
    or passions dreamers stir

The world you see so beautiful
    is one I do not know
unlike you with eyes so wide
    I know the world is woe

I know the terrible darkness in
    every heart that ever be
and that what I see is only
    a reflection of me

But that doesn’t mean I hide inside
    from winds that storm and blow
there’s hate and love and all beside
    in each for me to know

The only faith I hold is that
    the world is built on chance
and hand in hand we move as one
    to make or break the dance

Sunday, June 03, 2007

"How I learned to love my addiction"

My Entry for Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover's Soul.

(Yes, this is a real collection it seems, according to their site)

"How I learned to love my addiction"

My friend Bob told me to write in for this, to submit a story. He tried, but his attempt to 'open the heart and rekindle the spirit' was unfortunately rather literal and he was caught soon after with his scalpel and the lighter fluid. He is, however, getting many ideas towards Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul, many of which are scatological in nature and probably won't see print.

But this story isn't about Bob. It's about my wife Jennifer and the day I sold her to a man living in Columbia. Now, this might seem silly, but it makes perfect sense in the context of coffee. You see, she'd kept trying to sneak me decaf, or even some non-caffeinated drinks, thinking that coffee was bad for you. I told her the sun was, along with the air, milk, and believing you know The Truth, but that never changed her mind.

She kept saying that the coffee was making me jumpy and never took into account our having three kids and a mortgage and the stress of working at the office every day. No, somehow all the problems in my life could be traced to coffee. She even called it the devil's blood and said I should drink tea instead, which has a higher caffeine content.

That is, really, all you need to know about Jennifer. I still don't understand why I married her. I was probably drunk at the time, and she's never advocated that I don't drink. Probably because any sober man would run away screaming from this life of mine.

But the final straw was her complaints about my switching to free trade coffee, when she was the one who advocated not using Nike shoes because they involved sweat lodges or something and child labour. This from a woman who insisted the kids do the dishes and housework.

I explained that it was fairer to the workers and all the ethical arguments that she ignored and finally promised her a vacation and shipped her down their to work on a coffee plantation that isn't free trade. I think this will open her heart, or at least make her understand that it's not coffee that's evil, it's how people make it.

And, with luck, when she gets back I'll be able to never get her a diamond ring just by mentioning blood diamonds and offering her another vacation.

I'd add more, about how the kids are forcing me to add more sugar to keep up with them, but the pot just finished brewing so I need to go. Ciao.

(Which is both goodbye and the Columbian International Affairs Online. Please keep it in for the joke maybe one reader will get.)