Saturday, April 19, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
Professor has taken out a shiny aluminum rod, precision machined and chamfered to 1 inch in diameter, with a white label from the manufacturer. The label gives information on its work function and photonuclear cross section, which cement its status on the bleeding edge of technology. It is a highly advanced material that has obviously been stolen from the national laboratory despite its classified existence. It may be in fact that neutron booster meant to be used in that new-age nuclear device under development at the lab, which was supposed to be used against…
“There’s some good sunlight. Let’s give this baby a try!” Professor says with an old nerdy smile. He fires the engine to his 1980’s red convertible and drives off. The sun shines amazingly bright on the alien-like metal. Very bright. It manipulated the air.
The king of this biblical kingdom, a bronze age Judea, has gathered his soldiers in a spiraled clay temple. I am one of these ancient warriors. He has announced a challenge to test our bravery, selflessness and strength: climbing to top of the tower. The reward will be a shorter haircut. (Our genetic makeup has prescribed curly hair, blonde and light brown, along with dark tan skin as the prominent phenotype.) The highest ranking officers sport the most minimal and mohawk-like hairstyles, and the shortness and shaped quality is like an ancient insignia.
I look upward and see a spiral staircase, at least eight stories high, forming an atrium leading all the way to a circular spot of heavenly light. I decide that to impress the king, I would need to climb to the top by hand: the hard way. I get a fingerhold on the peripheral of the lowest stairs and start climbing upwards, slowly, just using my arms. As I set out on this arduous and dangerous task, the large, able-bodied men begin a savage stampede up the stairs.
Friday, March 28, 2014
The machine shop supervisor begins to instruct me on how to manufacture a friction-fitted piston, but has to leave intermittently to speak to a visitor. “I’ll be right back,” he says. Suddenly, everything in the warehouse begins to shake. Everyone scrambles for low-lying shelter from the many precarious pallets stacked high on the shelves, but I am late to the chase. Eyes looking cautiously upward, I eventually stumble upon a few plastic containers on the ground. In confusion, I choose one that barely covers my whole body. The ground is still moving; I move over to a larger container. In a true sign of the times, I subconsciously want to publish an “EARTHQUAKE!” reporting using my smartphone.
The earthquake halts with no apparent damage. Several unknown graduate students, from other departments and mostly female, are planning drinking games. Upstairs, they set up one of those foldable white tables and create a game board of sorts. This consists of red solo cups arranged in a crescent in the middle and arcs of seven shots on opposing sides of the table. The shot glasses are multicolored and the solo cups are obstacles of sorts. To my left, I see K. wearing welder’s clothing on the chair next to the table; she is obviously more experienced as a shop worker than I am. Also, there is a mild feeling of being uninvited.
The game begins and after an unobserved toss of a quarter, a girl on my side of the table is already compelled to take all seven shots of vodka. (Like many games with quarters, this turns out to be a game of stupidity.) Due to excessive inebriation, I never get to engage in substantial conversation with these girls, particularly the petite Indian girl I was attracted to. I do however make drunken, unfortunate comments about her to one of the non-participants, who blushes in embarrassment in the pale blue light.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
The resistance movement has cut power to all of the mini mall, leaving the stores and restaurants vacant at an otherwise prime hour for consumption. The grocery store has also been liquidated, leaving only an array of fluorescent ceiling lights and empty shelves.
My dogs have a newly emerged intelligence, demonstrated by their use of an improvised lavatory in the backyard. I miss them greatly, and when they are done with their business, I try to pick up my eldest pet. He yells at me to go away and runs towards the pool. My youngest dog has changed color to brown instead of black. I pick him up and he makes a clownish expression, telling me to get the catch the other dog before he drowns.
I go over to the pool and see him swimming, but he is asking for help, unable to find the steps out of the pool. I try to pull him out, but he swims downwards, like a submarine. He eventually morphs into a submarine plush toy, kicking four stubby legs in a mechanical rhythm but moving in erratic swoops. My parents and grandmother are on the periphery of the pool, watching the events nonchalantly. We talk about a new habit that has emerged in the blood line.
The Orwellian elementary school has waiting lanes on its perimeter for the buses and buses of students that have just been unloaded in regular intervals. I have been dropped off with my sister in a black SUV, not a bus, which was driven by unknown persons. I lead her to her teacher’s line, and then fight my way to the parking lot through a sea of students flowing through the parallel bars. The schoolhouse is a massive light grey brutalist concrete sarcophagus with no windows, and is surrounded by an array of flagpoles.
Later at my house, I hear my sister having an awkward conversation with unknown male voices outside. Holding up the blinds, I look outside the window and see B. and S. They have taken a road trip all the way to my house and hopped the fence into my swimming pool. I come outside to greet them, fully expecting to be pulled into the water. I make sure to check my pockets for pricey electronics. I evade being pulled into the water using soap.
R. is also here and comments on how my former labmate—his suspected romance—did not meet his fitness criteria.
Monday, March 24, 2014
My cousin’s birthday party has been chosen to be held at the supermarket this year after closing. I see a flood of shoppers leave and stock boys finish their rounds while my friends and family enter.
We’re each assigned cooking jobs throughout the vacant market. I’m on bacon duty. Using one single pan and one slab of industrial bacon, I cook the greasy mess and bring over the finished product to the main eating area by the pork and chicken products. Hungry and needing to avoid the impending long line, I prepare one of my friend’s burgers and bite into cold gelatinous meat. I toss the bitten patty back onto the fire and try my best to spit out the uncooked granular mess.
My aunt is preparing the birthday cake in the frozen foods aisle. It is a large 36”x48” cake with yellow and blue decorative frosting on a white field . I’m sure it’s a chocolate one. Even better: an ice cream cake, since we are now crushing blue ice to keep it cool. My friend grabs a big chunk of ice and throws it towards the hills in the rear of the building. I see the shard roll down the incline and stop at some weedy protuberance.
I need to tell people the cake is ready so I walk pass the aisles. To my shock, some are taking items off the shelves and opening them. “Guys, don’t touch the things on the shelves, or we’ll have to pay for them!” I look around for security cameras; they are everywhere. Although there are no on-duty guards, there is one aisle sealed off with glass panels by armed paramilitaries in black body armor. They are protecting three scientists in lab coats huddled around a Van de Graaff generator.
Further down, an Irish folk dance is happening by the organic fruits section.
My friend approaches me near the Bunker Hill monument. She is rather drunk and tells me so, with a big smile. Within the adjoining museum, she sits cross-legged on a shelf and continues to admire me coquettishly, defying the laws of topology with such a narrow furnishing.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
The Soviet protesters all look at me like I’m their leader. They carry scythes and AK-47s and man crude truck-mounted artillery pieces. As various debris of nature have coalesced into a powerful, hardened shell on my physique, there is no doubt why I was chosen to head the government resistance. I lead the war call through the dusty haze, and they charge forward.
The Korean government is very particular about its international pagoda offerings. I have been hired as chief architect, and I have made the astounding mistake of implicating the wrong design paradigm. That is, I am now required to build this structure as massive as possible with respect to natural ratios. The government officials cringe; they have already committed themselves to cover all expenses, so they discuss possibly dismantling the structure after its use in the intended ceremony.
I espy leftover roast beef in a blue lidded Tupperware in the refrigerator. It is hard and white: very tough-looking and unappetizing. My friends tell me to abstain.
The menu at this diner is poorly composed, looking like many misaligned and randomly shaped photos and textboxes. To make things more disorienting, the food offerings are strange assortments of sandwiches, made less appetizing through poorly lit photographs. I order the closest thing that looks like a hamburger. The middle-aged, plump blonde waitress asks for clarification of my order. She points a red-polished nail towards a vegetarian pineapple radish coleslaw bulkie roll that wasn’t close to what I requested. I point towards the correct picture.
The amphitheater is filled with students and the lights are turned down low to enhance the film-viewing experience. I am a few minutes late so I quietly lay down my backpack and take a seat on the off-pink carpeted stairs. This is strange; why are there so many people for corrosion? These people are too attractive and numerous to be in such a class. I realize that the classroom has changed and leave the theater as inconspicuously as possible.
Riding my bicycle to the other side of campus, I find the correct building and find parking. Despite being near many lunching undergrads, all of the available racks are empty, which would make my bike stick out like a sore thumb. The only occupied rack is several meters away at an automated locking facility. Oh, this requires a service plan, which requires signatures on papers that take weeks to process. I am fifteen minutes late to corrosion.
I miss corrosion class.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Moving into the luxurious but crowded dining room, I spot one of my acquaintances wearing a floral-patterned white dress, her hair dyed slightly red and flowing down her back, and surrounded by hopeless bow-tied suitors from all corners of the young professional world. Their Vineyard Vines and Hugo Boss match their aged scotch, and they pretend to not be distracted by her womanly strength as part of a ridiculous game of hard-to-get. She smiles, happy just to be here. Not having any romantic intentions, I come up to her and get back in touch. Naturally, I ask her about her current occupation. All of a sudden, the cheery decadence of the restaurant becomes frozen, like a fly doused in hairspray, and only she moves, her face morphing from a glistening visage to one piercingly austere.
"Why are you asking me this? I don't understand."
There are some social cues that come to me quickly, but this one just wasn't clicking right away. "Pardon, what are you up to nowadays?"
The communication gap was widening. A gentleman to my left is giving me a look of incredulity, as if he was mildly embarrassed for me. I just realized her new position is in the advanced military research structure--a post very rare for a person straight out of undergrad--and that she is restricted from giving the most minute details of her job as part of her security clearance.
I am ashamed, and feel even more worthless than when I entered the restaurant in the first place.
"Oh okay. So this is the first preliminary measure?"
After embracing, she disappears. Left alone, I realize I have been duped into being the caretaker for this mansion while the owners are on vacation at a Vegas resort. I am angered, knowing another day of my young and limited life has been taken away for something very insubstantial. The clock ticks with my frustration, and I get lost in a dark stupor. I spot the one dollar waste bin I had just purchased and mistake it for the urinal.
The businessmen in this auditorium are very nervous. Shinzo Abe is sitting askew across the legs of his staff members in the most awkward fashion, although he is otherwise serious and concerned. We are being addressed by security agents, and I can't help but notice the strange activity in the rear set of seats, where some suited gentlemen are given eye exams as if pulled over for a DUI.
To the left, I see a group of three or four villainous people I would imagine to appear in a Quentin Tarantino space thriller. (Yup, that's Lucy Liu right there.) A flamboyant member of this crüe wearing the garb of an ancient pharaoh uses a plasma umbrella to effortlessly bypass the electronics controlling the lock, all while grinning treacherously. They gather at the front below the stage and unveil a strange alien-like creature. This golden, furry monstrosity consists of wings, claws, eight tiny spider-like eyes and a vacuuming siphon of a mouth. It begins flying and in my horror, I see it attach itself to the eye of a man with surgical precision. The man screams as his eye is systematically gouged and removed, where bionic mechanisms in the animal's head removes the optic nerve and solders seven pins in an ordered pattern. The eye is moved to the animal's blue gut for storage, and the monster moves on to its next victim.
I somehow escape outside, where I see a black woman crying next to her grey sedan. There is an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Some time later, I see a horrible machine of Wicker-man-like gruesomeness, consisting of all the harvested eyes arranged on a vehicle in a hexagonal array like a mobile radar. I feel the displaced organs contain the trapped souls of those who knew a little too much.
On my way home from the fundraiser, walking through Boston, I reach a crosswalk near the Common. I am aware of the roving marauders that have been terrorizing the city the past few weeks, so I make sure to watch my surroundings.
What? I am at another restaurant. My sister has regressed in age and is riding a lone kiddie carnival ride installed on the western end of the facility, accompanied by a mysterious young woman. Apart from this odd furnishing, the place appears to be scarcely decorated and the three islands of booths are illuminated with brutal fluorescent light. After my sister is done with the ride, I lead her to my family's table, where the restaurant has garnished the seats with dried yellow kelp for good luck. The waitress lays down four empty, ovular plates and hands us menus.
"Some of these will require a microwave," she says, "but we don't have one."
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
"Lorie!" Dad yells as we run the red light. She awakens. Miraculously, there were no cars.
We continue driving and the same thing happens again at Rancho. I don't understand why she is so tired, or why Dad isn't driving.
There is a grey car in the U-turn lane and I see a police car pass by in the opposite direction. He turns his lights on, and although it would make sense he'd be after our truck, he turns around and starts following the car. That car in turn follows us, as the car chase s underway.
The road suddenly becomes very reminiscent of one in New Hampshire, like the one going to Friendly's in Dover. In the rear window I notice the grey car stop and the driver get out, holding a pistol. He is blonde and wears blue jeans, a black shirt, and a beige jacket. The policeman does likewise and begins a foot pursuit, with the suspect firing shots from behind at close quarters.
I can see the bullets fly in midair. There is no real way to position my body in the truck so as to miss them, and I believe wholeheartedly that I will soon be shot. I feel like a condemned prisoner in his last minutes of life. However, I hear no panic from my parents; they are transfixed on the road, still like statues.
In the periphery another officer, capped and mustachioed, comes out of a cafe firing a shotgun at the fleeing man as he gets closer and closer to our truck.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
“Alex, you’ve won the lottery!” my friend tells me and points to an image of the insect on a poster from the Victorian era.
The virus-shaped plantoid has no eyes but an extensive set of needle-like teeth and other menacing insect-like mouth-parts and tentacles. The wicked nihilist has bred this creature to unless horrific suffering on humanity. He lets go of it onto a blindfolded man strapped to a bed, and it intelligently locates the man’s screaming mouth and inserts appendages inside of it. Soon, I hear loud inhuman noises from the man’s insides, and suddenly the screaming man’s stomach erupts with slimy tentacles reaching into the air. He is very much alive, as the plantoid relies on a living human to replicate itself, using the organic substrate to build the alien material until it is depleted. That’s when the screaming stops, I presume.
I see a plump woman, strapped to a surgery table, missing layers of skin all over her body, her face spared the last portion of the ordeal. She looks at me helplessly, expressing her desire to die with her eyes. The torturer, wearing thick goggles and a surgeon’s mask, dressed in a black robe and Puritan hat, says no words but is very deliberate and unbending in his actions.
Being led out of the torturer’s cabin, I walk through the foggy London streets, but soon become weary. Instead, I flap my arms, slowly increasing my drag until I rise into the cold crisp air. I am imbrued with a feeling of ecstasy and I hop up and down to amazing heights over this foreign city.
Monday, January 6, 2014
This dive bar, modeled roughly on Cambridge’s Middle East and the ordering desk at the old Nickelodeon, is home to a night out with my friends. It is my turn to order drinks, so I go up to the bar.
“Hi, what will it be tonight?” say the barista.
I look back at my “friends” for their advice (none of the faces are familiar; in fact, I have never seen them in my life). “We’ll have two pitchers of Blue Moon.”
“We only have Blue Moon Seasonal: Red Rocket. Is that okay?”
While waiting for the drinks to arrive, I notice myself getting shorter and shorter, having increasing difficulty at looking above the bar counter. I am forced to awkwardly stand on the bar railing like a child! The pitchers arrive along with a Styrofoam cup.
She rings me up. “That’ll be 206 dollars and 43 cents.”
“What? What is in this cup?”
“Ten shots of whiskey for your table.” (Really? No shot glasses for this bar’s family-style whiskey drinking, I guess)
“I didn’t order that. Also, your cash register clearly says $63.” (For some reason, this price also doesn’t astound me.) She looks at the outdated green digital readout, making a silly face. This barista is rather attractive but I really just want to return to my table with the unacceptably foamy pitchers.
I think my “friends” have already left.
I’m in the backyard of this modest white house with a red-tiled roof in the mountains. To the right I see a heap of dead tree branches arranged in no particular order and a large chicken crate filled with white rabbits. The rabbits appear to multiply on the basis of minutes, and soon enough, the crate is broken. The newly-freed captives now casually walk around the backyard. I run after them in hopes of catching one, scaring most of them away quickly but almost getting ahold of a straggler.
Peeved, I grab one of the branches and take out my knife to begin whittling a sharp edge for a booby trap, regardless of my lack of knowledge on the actual mechanics of such a device. To my left on the northern side of the house, I notice my friend with her best buddy looking at rose bushes. She sees me, smiling, but we only make eye contact momentarily, since I am so determined to make the sharpest point ever. Next thing I know, she comes over and drops a load of thick pumpkin carvings onto my table, saying in an annoyed monotone: “Thanks a lot, I hope to see you again soon.”
Saturday, December 28, 2013
The supplies need to be taken to the top floor of the building, which was not designed for elevator access. I plan to take the bulk of the bagged items while the majority of the dinner guests are enjoying the last course. They have rented a lavish hall with Victorian décor, candlelight and an astonishing chandelier, but attire is mostly casual. I can’t put my finger on the exact occasion but it must be momentous. I espy my advisor near the head of the table talking to the department head, but he is making poor eye contact and bearing the dark-eyed visage of disappointment. I think it’s because he saw me.
I get about six white kitchen bags into the stairwell, all containing various belongings including my wallet and cell phone for some reason. I am adamant on finding an elevator and search around the periphery of the building. This happens to be a palatial version of Etcheverry Hall, and I see a series of foreign graduate students smoking cigarettes and not in a mood fitting for the banquet.
Unable to find the freight elevator, I return to the stairwell and see a mess made out of all of my packages. In a stupor, a mental inability—as if I were heavily drunk—I briefly rummage through the mess and miraculously find a few of my belongings, but cannot remember if I’ve recovered my wallet (of all things). I feel like an infant assembling a tower of blocks.
The next thing I know, I’m at a dive bar with a few of my friends; we are illuminated with red light. My friend J. asks me how I’m doing after the incidents last night. I tell him I cannot remember such incidents and inquire some details. Laughing, he shakes his head and sips his drink. Apparently, I have a serious drinking problem and have been blacking out frequently. Others try hard not to look at me, knowing I should be ashamed. Thinking hard, I remember walking through an apartment complex, and….
Instantaneously I am in another place: my old high school economics classroom. People are handing in term papers to my philosophy professor from MIT, who is currently in the middle of a virulent speech to wrap up all that we have learned this semester (all embellished with his English accent). I ask my classmate E. next to me about the topic, as I had completely forgotten. He shows me pages and pages of handwritten notes from his month of pre-writing.
“Fractal geometry,” he tells me as I glance at the ornate patterns drawn on some pages. I realize how large of a mistake I have made, and how horrible of a student I am. How could I forget a whole term paper? Everything around me starts spinning. I become part of a painting.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Two men in beanies and parkas meet in my backyard near the Jacuzzi. One has come to avenge the mutilation of his beloved SNL cast member, and wields a large kitchen knife. Being a heavyset gentleman, he immediately gains the advantage over his enemy and drives the kitchen knife through his right eye socket. I see the eye become split in two like any lemon on a cutting board, with the viscera dry and gelatinous like congealed tomato paste, formed perfectly around the stainless steel wedge. The man is very much dead.
My sister and I are being confined by a demonic wraith to the inside of a decrepit building. I see her trying to escape the hallway, but an evil spirit pulls her back in, like a magnet. To my left, small demons with yellow skin scream at me with mouths agape. We have to get out of here, but I don't know the way. The wallpaper is green with yellow floral prints: Fleur-de-lises.
The villain has commandeered the god-like power source behind the compromised chocolate factory, and he has assumed the form of ether that flows through the walls. I bravely journey into the internals of the compound, arriving finally at a hallway filled with shallow water and lined with blue tiled walls. The end of the hallway has a semicircular window looking out upon a shadowy glade, and below it is a wall of gold bars with the word "chocolate" or "Charley" on them. All of a sudden, the gold melts into the form of a human head with the bald and blindfolded likeness of the villain: an obviously mocking demonstration of his newfound power. He insults me, challenging me to surpass his ubiquity and strength.
I don a pair of spectacles that enhance my senses, and images come to life that can only be seen with them. For example, the glade visible from the window now becomes filled with dead trees and mammalian bones, but not with the bleak greyness one would expect with such a scene. Rather, there is a psychedelic mix of greys, reds, yellows and violets that mix like metallic grain boundaries, speckled like some sort of harlequin poster print. I walk through the glade looking for my comrades, but I feel many have met unfortunate fates. I become upset by the victory of evil in this situation.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
I am on the Boston side of the Harvard Bridge and I am filled with heavenly joy to see Cambridge and the frozen Charles river. The sidewalk is covered with snow but I do not slip, and both cities are deserted. The trees have lingering brown leaves and the dome is much larger with a utopian-like grandeur amidst a crisp blue sky. I’m not bundled as much as I should be for this time of the year (apparently an early winter) but I do not feel cold the nearest bit. I’m walking by myself but I do not feel alone.
Halfway across the bridge I pass by a man wearing shorts and a t-shirt wielding a chain saw. I turn around and tell him to watch out with that weapon, although I say this jestfully and I do not feel fear. He nods in my direction laughing.
Although my roommates have went on their run together, I go on one of my own, passing by the Boston aquarium. I’m wearing my cold weather running outfit. Wow, this part of the city has become heavily gentrified and modernized, as far as I can tell at this time of night. A school bus is being loaded with students who visited the aquarium on a field trip.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
A blonde girl near the bar is wearing my red Patagonia jacket. It’s not entirely certain whether this is a Halloween party or not, but I interpret the girl’s gesture as a sign of romantic interest. She promises she’ll return it to me personally. I end up leaving the party without getting back to her although I know there is still a possibility of seeing her again. (I figured she probably went a university nearby.)
I find my old friend from high school and I tell her of the oracle hidden at the end of the street. We hop into a convertible Datsun immediately and she begins driving, albeit in the direction I didn’t intend for her to take. Our conversation seems limited to a dubious character in the neighborhood who she’s been having problems with (I barely pay attention). The road is very much like a bike path made of packed dirt, and I see a cheap bicycle chained to a post nearby.
In the rearview mirror, we notice a husky man-child wandering around aimlessly in this residential area. He senses our attention and begins speaking in tongues loudly while clomping towards our car. I see him smiling as we speed away.
Entering a wood-paneled living room, I see another girl wearing my red jacket but cannot distinguish whether she is the same person as before. She comes and hugs me, and tells me she’s been waiting all this time…
Saturday, October 26, 2013
On his departure to the Green Berets, there is a solemn slide show for my friend in the Harry Reid auditorium, displaying portraits from his childhood in an adorable scrapbook style. The slides become riveting as we enter his later years, and I make a boisterous comment with the least tasteful four letter words. His father rebukes me harshly. Not withstanding the intimidation of a man his size, I am sure he can kill me with his bear hands if he wanted to, given his skill set. “There is no cursing in this house!” I apologize in a cowering manner, although this barely rectifies the situation. I can’t fathom the childhood my buddy could have experienced, but he grew into a great person…
I am cooking dinner at the apartment with my small family. Having run out of pots and water, I resort to cooking the rice and soy sauce directly in the gallon of milk. (This is a plastic with a high melting temperature). I leave the stove for a while to cancel out the superfluous terms in the thermal expansion problem—or is the internal conversion probabilities? Why do they have the same symbol? The terms end up canceling but I forget that my approach was much different than the free-body approach suggested by the professor. Oh well.
The milk is starting to boil inside the jug. The soy sauce has formed a layer on top. I stop the flame and unscrew the cap of the jug. Boiling fluid begins to flow outward, but it doesn’t burn me. Wow, I have just wasted a ton of milk. I need to go buy some more so they can eat cereal.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
He is very cold from this swim and is now assuming a fetal position, an image unimaginable from his glory days in high school. On the verge of hypothermia, the bread crumbs from the rafters fall on his imploding body, with sharp bones poking out from a shrinking skin, while his classmates enjoy the Smart-&-Final barbecue products. No one is helping him dry. This is quite the alumni reunion!