Karmic Pinball

seven homunculi

The morning traffic snaked through Midtown, choking at various points around Grand Central. Alli moved down the street, partially carried by the crowd. It was late spring, an uncommonly warm day. Alli had put a sweater on over a button-up shirt, instead of wearing a coat. Holding a messenger bag, Alli pulled into Starbucks.

Alli ordered a macchiato and sat at the bar in front of the window. The people passed by on their way to work, school, somewhere.

Alli pulled her laptop out of her messenger bag and went to work on the budget worksheets. She did not realize Aspen had sat down beside her.

“Busy, aren’t you?” Aspen said, with a tall flat white in her hand.

Alli looked up, distracted, “Oh, I didn’t see you there.”

“Sometimes, I wander in here, on the weekends.”

“I can’t believe I have never seen you,” Alli laughed.

“Well, with that kind of focus, you probably would not have,” Aspen joked in return.

Alli smiled and closed the Dell, “There – now you have my undivided attention.”

The two watched the constant tableau outside the window for a moment. The light changed, the taxi cabs raced Downtown. People in pea coats, also holding coffees, strode determinedly to unknown locations.

“Are you and Jan still together?” Aspen asked.

“No,” Alli said, “We decided our relationship couldn’t handle the distance.”

“She’s still back in Florida?”

Alli nodded and took a sip of her coffee.

“What about this new woman you are with?” Aspen said.

“Dallas?” “Yeah.”

Alli tamped down her enthusiasm, ” She’s a powerful psychic – and a great dancer.”

Aspen grinned in return, “Do you think she is the one?”

“She definitely knows what she’s doing,” Alli said, “She’s confident and has a way with money.”

“Where do you see yourselves going?”

Alli thought for a moment, “First, we’ll take care of the psychical experiment. Then we will move toward readying our research for Nature.”

“It sounds like, ‘full speed ahead.'” Aspen said.

“I think it could really work,” Alli nodded.

“Let me know if you need anything,” Aspen offered, ” A Tarot deck blessed by my guru. Anything.”

“You’re very kind. I have been practicing with my Zener deck every day.” Alli said.

“I should get going,” Aspen said, “Kaan is coming in; I need to open up the bookstore.”

“How is Kaan?” Alli wondered.

“Rambunctious as always. Can’t stop getting into trouble on that bike.”

“Are you sure about this one?”

“I take things as they come,” Aspen said, “I am just amazed by her energy.”

“How did you two meet?” Alli asked.

Aspen walked down the street. Chain link fence. Bills posted on brick walls. She passed an alley, full of black garbage bags. A figure lay tangled in the mess. Alli was afraid to get closer – and then the person, a woman, groaned.

“Online,” Aspen said.

Alli knew she had lied, but didn’t press the issue. “Stop by my house next weekend,” she said.

“Sounds like a plan,” Aspen smiled, “Will do!”

Aspen pulled on her camel skin coat and sauntered out of the store in her black heels.

***

At home, in the high rise, Alli sat on the couch, in her sweater and buttoned-up shirt, waiting for Dallas to get home from NYU’s lab, so they could go to a social function at the Yale Club.

Alli stared at the TV. It was off. Herself, in khakis and Sperry Top-Siders, sat, reflected at her. She got up and looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows. An insect under a glass.

Jan and Alli used to catch grasshoppers in the fields and frogs in the creek. Alli remembered staring up at the ceiling, at night, Jan lying beside her.

The front door opened, and Dallas came in, tossing her keys on the foyer table. “Are you ready, honey?” she called out.

Alli spun around, “Yes!” she said from the living room.

“Order the Uber; I’m going to take a quick shower,” Dallas said, moving toward the master bedroom.

Alli pulled her phone out of her pants pocket and opened the app, but her mind was out in the Keys, white sand, Daiquiris. Jan lying on a striped beach towel. “Have I made a mistake?” she thought.

The last alumni get-together on the rooftop terrace had left Alli with a great deal of anxiety. She was the introverted one, and internally squirmed at being introduced to that faculty member and this research adviser. The elevator ride back down had not been pleasant. “Staring at the skyline, with a drink in your hand, is not socializing!” Dallas had said. Alli briefly considered saying she had a stomach flu.

Dallas came out of the bathroom in a robe, still toweling her long, blond hair. She caught Alli staring a hole in the wall and said, “If you don’t want to go, I can go and be right back. You don’t have to go, if you don’t want to.”

insomnia sleep deprivation mask

Songs and Albums:

U2, “Mysterious Ways”

Cosmastly, “Back from the Dead Vol. I” (album)

SEITHEN, “PO$$E (Intro)”

feeneyyy feat. absolute-terror, “LADO OSCURO”

Psychic Thunder

best mini boss ever

The fog rolled down off the mountains. The streets were full of mist. Kaan walked through the night, past two-story flats. The buildings were shorter here, preserving the historic skyline. All the shops were closed, their storefronts covered by metal shutters. Sidewalks were slippery; puddles, from the rain earlier this evening, opened into gaping vistas of the sky above.

Clouds chased the moon. Kaan found the building she was looking for in this quiet, crumbling part of town. Everything was bathed in orange streetlight. Kaan pulled out the keys from her black jeans and unlocked the grate. Shutting the door behind her, she followed the stairs down into the musty basement.

The room was dark except for an urn, with a small blue flame in it. Aspen came into view, her platinum hair illuminated by the frozen light.

“You showed up,” she said.

“Yes, it has been a while,” Kaan said. She pulled her ring out of the breast pocket of her black, buttoned-down shirt, and handed the band to Aspen.

“She probably missed you,” Aspen said, receiving the titanium ring. She removed a piece of white chalk from her dress pocket and began drawing a circle around Kaan and the urn. Then she entered the protective circle herself and dropped the ring in the fire.

Inside the circle, the flame arced up, almost licking the ceiling. In the flames, Aro materialized, sitting in the lotus position, levitating over the mouth of the urn.

“You’re like a djinn in a bottle,” Kaan said, grinning.

“You disappear for months and then you awaken me while I am meditating,” Aro said.

“A whole bunch of our old friends have disappeared into the woods,” Kaan replied, “There are very few left to hold the old band together.”

Aro had been a philosophy professor at Kaan’s college. Years later, Aro had also been the strongest psychic at the lab, with the highest levels of ESP ever recorded. There was nothing left of her body. Not even organs in glass jars remained.

“Too many espers are hooked on Heladon,” Aspen added.

Aro shifted in her asana and turned to Kaan, “Come here, let me look at you.”

Kaan came closer. The ghost, made of blue flame, ran her hands over Kaan’s head, her high and tight haircut. Kaan felt Aro’s hands as a movement of warm air. “You’re different from when I last saw you,” Aro said, “More scars.”

Kaan’s body felt heavy and slack, like she had lived double the amount of years in her life, “I missed you.”

“What can we do to hold our people together?” Aspen said.

Aro let her hands drop from Kaan’s face, “You need to find the blockage in the flow. You need to sit in a dry well.”

Channeler - Medium

Songs:

Cosmastly, “$KELINGTON CIGZ”

Cosmastly, “NOWHERE TO HIDE”

Cosmastly, “NO CONTE$T”

Health, “Tears”

Related: Ghost Flavor Lost Xanadu and Something that Happened