Category: Fiction

lost inside

There I was, half nude, standing in a pile of dried black beans. Completely unaware of what was going on, until she asked me that perfectly reasonable question – “What in the hell are you doing?”

Those words shook me from my apparent dementia, and I couldn’t help but stare at the beans beneath me. Truth was, I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to tell her that, but when I looked up she was gone. That didn’t bother me so much as the fact that when I looked back down the beans weren’t black, they were pinto beans. What a ridiculous mistake – to think a pinto bean was a black bean.

I was mentally reprimanding myself for the error, when it came to my attention that rain was forecast and I had never closed the windows.

The room was hemispherical, so I can’t claim to have searched every corner of the room – but wherever I did look, I could find no windows. Which was a bit unsettling, since I remembered having built the house myself. That, and it was against the building code to have no windows. But, they really weren’t there. Not a single pane of glass to look through to the outside.

I went to fetch the broom, as I needed to sweep up the black beans, but I couldn’t find that either. I recalled having left it under my bed, but the only things under there were my alligator head and a pair of shoes.

I needed some fresh air – I put on my shoes, put the leash on the alligator head, and proceeded to the door. Which, actually I should have guessed, was locked. I went for the key, but realized it would do no good. The deadbolt was on the other side, it had always been on the other side. I was going to have to kick my way out.

For almost an hour I kicked – at one point, I even broke the alligator head when I threw it rather forcefully into the door.

It finally opened – it always did eventually. I remembered that opening the door was probably a bad idea, but it was too late.

The last thing I remember was a man in a white suite with a little needle. It pinched, burned for a minute, and then he turned out the lights, I guess.

When the lights came back on, there were still no beans, still no windows, and the door was shut again. My alligator head was gone, my shoes were on the wrong feet, and I was terribly disoriented. Thank god the floor was soft, because I fell down half a  dozen times.

I set about finding that misplaced window. I just wanted to know what it was like out there, outside. To see if it was any different from inside.

[audio:http://www.andrewdanderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/lost-inside.mp3|titles=lost inside]

chasing rainbows

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I must tell someone… and before I forget, too. My mind isn’t quite what it used to be… memories aren’t safe there anymore. Too many years of wandering and second guessing myself have taken a toll upon me. So listen, and tame your disbelief when it first rears its ugly head. What I say here is truth.

It was a damp spring day and I was on my north-facing porch admiring the fog between the trees. Amidst the familiar sounds of nature, I heard a kind of muffled chuckle. It startled me enough to grab the spotlight and grant the direction of the auditory intrusion a closer look.

I only had to step a few yards into the wood to see what was so unnatural for the forest: a group of little green men, a golden horse, and the end of a rainbow. It was as colorful as it was unusual, and it must have been the gasp that gave me away. Forthwith, I was spotted by the little green men and immobilized by their expressions of astonishment directed towards me.

I began to wonder if I had not disturbed some ritual or intruded upon some important holiday… for their disgust was as clear as their surprise. As a matter of fact, I began to feel a little ashamed of myself and turned around so that I could get back inside my cabin.

My first step in that direction, however, set off a terrible cacophony amongst the green men. I was disturbed… not quite sure what to do. So I stood, looking back and forth between my familiar cabin and the strange congregation of little green men. I stood for quite some time.

Eventually, apparently aggravated with my incompetence on how to handle the situation, two of the men walked up to me, took me by the hand rather forcefully, and shuffled me over to the golden horse. I stood there, rather perplexed on the significance of the gesture… and curious, too, about the horse before me.

I reached out to feel it, but was halted by gasps from the strange men. I was at a loss for how to act, or what to do. I wondered why I was brought before the horse if not to touch it. A green man walked in front of me, emitted some vocal gibberish, and then grabbed a stick.

He took the stick to the horse. As quickly and with as much force as he could seemingly muster, he swung right at the horse’s belly, releasing the stick just before it hit. The horse hardly flinched, and the stick fell to the ground, but it was different now… the man picked it up and handed it to me.

I immediately noticed what a terrible mistake I had almost made moments ago. The stick was no longer organic… it had been transformed into a golden rod! I was delighted, sick, relieved, and terrified all at the same time.

How was this possible? What should I do with the situation that was before me? The little green men, as though they could read my mind, pointed to the rainbow, then to each other, and lastly to the golden horse.

My interpretation of their charade came from child-hood stories of gold and leprechauns. I was filled with a nostalgic awe, and thought it quite ironic that I had never believed in leprechauns my entire life. Now, here they had practically sought me out to certify all the lore I once dismissed.

I threw a pebble at the horse, and watched a golden nugget fall amongst the trees. It was perfectly intoxicating, and I began to feel utterly avaricious. I hurled more stones, sticks, leaves, and flowers upon the horse… until, in a moment of apparent insanity I tossed a little green man at the golden beast. He was a horrific statue of gold in an instant.

The others moaned, cried, and screamed with rage and fear… they all fled to the woods. For the first time, the horse began to move… he trotted slowly, and the rainbow moved after him as though bound by some invisible chain.

Frantically, I tried to calm the horse, but it began to pick up speed. I pursued it steadfastly for about a quarter of a mile, when I was struck on the back of the head… and the world went dark.

When I came to it was almost dusk, and I was terribly sore. I peered into the murky sky for any sign of the rainbow that might reveal the whereabouts of my lost opportunity. There was no such band of light.

I ran back to the place where I had transformed pieces of the world into a fortune, but all was lost. Nothing sparkled there, but for a tiny golden nugget. I was certain that the damn green men had stolen my gold as retribution for my greed-fueled act against them.

I sobbed like a child. I was embarrassed because of my stupidity and my poverty. Before the sun set, I packed my bags and set about finding the potential for unlimited gold at the end of a rainbow.

[audio:http://www.andrewdanderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/chase-rainbows.mp3|titles=chase rainbows]

box dwelling

“Box shopping?” she queried the little fat man.

“Indeed,” he replied. “One size fits most,” he went on.

The fat little man was the proprietor of the only box shop in America. A cousin of that notoriously lanky and clean-cut Sam. In fact, the fat little man used his cousin extensively for advertising. “In a box!” He would hand write on the front of those iconic pointy posters. It was a sleazy marketing scheme, but the proprietor certainly had no qualms with being sleazy.

His shop was littered with boxes, some of them hardly extracted from their packaging. The boxes came in a standardized shape that vaguely resembled a coffin, but sported myriad accessories and customizations. Some were gold and silver plated, others had diamond-studded seams, sun roofs were optional, and the color was completely customizable. Many people opted to have their names engraved on the inside, apparently fearful that they may forget themselves once inside. Special requests were permissible, even encouraged…. anything to get you into a box.

Box shopping, you see, had become a kind of adolescent right-of-passage. You’d go alone, but when you left, you were part of a worldwide community of box-dwellers. It was an important time for all young people. A potentially life-long commitment to a certain way of life. It was expected, most often desired, and generally acknowledged as something to be content with.

Now, amidst all this discussion of form, I’d not like you to believe, even for an instant, that the boxes merely served as some consumerist fad. Quite the opposite, in fact, these boxes were timeless classics, remnants of antiquity. History stood as some makeshift testament to the fact that it was wise to dwell within a box.

Besides, the boxes always had real functions… important functions. They were basically required for networking, coming standard with the necessary fibers that comprised the world’s networks. the boxes were also required for high-rise apartments and skyscraper offices. Indeed, many were required… the ones at top needed something to rest upon.

Boxes always offered potential; the possibility to take advantage of reorganizations and move up in the world. They were the building blocks for society’s most admired landscapes. You needed one before you could even consider taking part.

So, it was mildly startling to the fat little conformity-peddler when the young lady asked about box shopping. She was supposed to know all about it at her age.

“Well, now, tell me what you’re looking for in a box,” he squealed.

“One with infinite volume, limitless area, and invisible walls,” the girl said as she stared into space.

“I’ve got a spacious enclosure right here, it sports an all-glass construction with four slide-out sections and all the latest technology,” he said as he pointed to the shimmering box. “It’s probably as close as your going to get to you dream-box,” the man said rather sternly.

“Unless, of course, I just leave,” the girl quickly replied.

“Take a look at this government brochure, or this corporate statement,” the man yelled, “only a fool would deny the benefits of a box!”

It was then that the little lady walked right out on the chubby fellow.

The next youngster eagerly walked right on in. Box sales were steady. The advertising and brochures remained the same. There is no doubt that the shareholders, the box endorsers, and the fat little man went on with their routines… albeit with one fewer box beneath each of their own.

And the girl? Well, it’s always harder to know exactly what becomes of those that choose to live outside of a box.

[audio:http://www.andrewdanderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/boxed.mp3|titles=boxed]