He glanced up when a women entered the coffee shop and strode with long legs to the counter. Then he caught himself from shouting and leaping out of his chair.

The woman looked just like his little sister. If his sister had not been dead for forty years — if he’d not seen her die (God, stop that thought) and hadn’t gone to her services, consoling Mom and his other sisters — he would have been sure it was Sammy, the name she chose when she was little, telling everyone, “My name is not Debby. It’s Sammy.” Asked why she’d changed her name, Sammy thrust out a hip, removed sunglasses from her nine-year-old face and replied, “Look at me. I’m not a Debby.” It was delivered with such precocious contempt.

Carmichael couldn’t stop himself from watching her. Like Sammy, this woman was stunning, brunette with thick hair and sunlight delivered highlights, long-legged, athletic in stance and motion, like she’s waiting for play to resume. All his sisters were the same, except Sharon, who seemed to be from a completely different set of genes, except she shared their grandmother’s hips, face, and neck — well, all of it as she aged, almost becoming Grandma’s spitting image. The other problem was that the woman looked as Sammy had when she’d died, so she couldn’t be Sammy. Sammy would now be sixty-two. So, that was impossible. Also, what would bring Sammy to Corvalis? Sammy wouldn’t be this far north. She wanted warm sunshine. He’d always thought she’d end up in southern California. That’s where she always declared she was going to live, and Sammy had the will to make it so.

The woman turned, strolling from the counter, sunglasses in hand, as Sammy always did. She glanced his way. He met it with a small smile and slight nod. God, the resemblance to his sister was shocking. He should take a photo, maybe explain why, then —

Her eyes widening, she walked toward him. “Carm? Oh my God, is it you?”

Carmichael sat back and held off answering for seconds. Then, “Do I know you?”

The woman stopped six feet away, sunglasses pointed to her chest, long hair held back by the other hand. “It’s me, Sammy.”

“Sammy?” Carmichael dumbly nodded. He refrained from adding, you can’t be Sammy because Sammy is dead. Didn’t seem like a polite thing to say. “Sammy…Sammy who?”

“But — I’m sorry. You — but it can’t — ” Sammy shook her head with small and precise movements. “I’m sorry, but you can’t be Carmichael.” A smile charmed him. “I thought you were my brother. You look just like him. But you can’t be.”

“Why?” Carmichael asked.

“Well, he died almost forty years ago,” Sammy replied with a small sigh. “Car accident, along with my mother and sister.”


Sammy froze for two seconds. Her brown eyes narrowed. “What’s going on? How did you know that?”

“Because my sister is Sharon. She was with us when you died.”

The Shimmering

When the shimmering began, he took no notice. Half an ear heard of it, a quarter of his brain gave it a few seconds of attention, but that was mostly because he was a dirty old man. He was a dirty old man, couldn’t help himself, though he tried to be woke or whatever the right expression was, so the three young women caught his attention.

They were right beside him, so young, healthy, and energetic, drinking some kind of holiday coffee drink loaded with whip cream and sipped up with straws. He could even smell whatever perfume of shampoo or lotion they wore. Their behavior kindled a universe of remembered thoughts about what being young meant. One, the brunette, a tall person with wide dark eyes, maybe endowed with some Korean heritage, gasped and said more loudly than anything said previously, “Marcus has the shimmering.”

Voices dropping, heads moving toward a center point, the conversation’s tone was a serious counterpart to their previous merriment. Such behavior just sucked him in.

“He does?” said one blonde. As she continued with rising concern, “When,” and “Who told you,” the other blonde said, “Oh my God, when did he get it?”

Their voices dropped lower. Coffee house adult contemporary rock and mild tinnitus kept him from hearing though he pushed his mind to deeper levels of concentration. Nothing came of it.

They left five minutes later, texting on phones, drinks in hand, moving in a line to the exit and out. The shimmering was such an unusual expression, hours later, at home while watching The Kominsky Method again and eating a piece of Marie Callender apple pie which he’d baked, he remembered it and asked his dog if she’d ever heard of it. Although the dog’s intelligent face perked up, she said nothing.

“Fine help you are,” he said, the expression the two shared often, especially when he thought he heard someone creeping around outside at night. The shimmering still gnawed at him like an earworm which wouldn’t let go, so he turned to his ancient laptop and brought up Google. He hated Google almost as much as Twitter and Facebook, but Google unfortunately delivered the best results.

The shimmering, he typed in, figuring that it was probably using a traditional spelling, chuckling to himself at his droll wit. The computer screen went black as soon as he pressed enter.

“What the — .” He stared at the screen. What now? Damn technology. Stupid computer. He pressed enter a few times, hoping that would stir the screen back to life, and the did alt-ctrl-delete. Ah, yes, the old three-fingered salute. Remember the BSOD, he told himself, and laughed.

Grimacing, he acknowledged, he probably needed to do a hard reboot and pray to the tech gods that the stupid machine worked. Well, it was old. He couldn’t remember when he’d bought it. Seemed like it’d been at least ten years. Could that be right?

The screen lit up as he reached for the power button. It was kind of lavender-ish and blue, but also white and almost bright as looking at the full sun on a clear day. Pulling back with a hard wince, he closed his eyes, said, “Damn,” loudly, and leaned back.

Shelby said beside him, “That is bright.”

Eyebrows jumping, he peered at the black and white dog. Did she speak or was he imagining that? “What?” he finally asked.

The dog turned her brown and amber eyes on him. “I said that it’s bright.”

He gawked at her.

“I mean the screen,” Shelby said. “At least it’s bright to me.” The dog pointed her nose at the screen. “Hey, there are words.”

“You can read?” he asked. “You can talk and you read?”

“Look,” the dog answered, backing away. “Your skin.”

“What?” He looked down in almost the same second. A gasp rode out of him. His hands were shimmering like white sequins under hot spotlights.

Then a voice from the computer said, “You have been given the shimmering.”

“What?” he replied, because his neurons had abandoned their posts and nothing made sense to him. He might even be having a stroke. He’d always feared having a stroke.

The computer said, “Initiation beginning.” The light flowed out of the screen and embraced him.

An unexpected life was about to begin.

Thursday’s Wandering Thought

He and his friends met for beers and conversation. As they raised glasses and clinked them against one another, he said, “I just learned that the reason people originally clinked glasses like that was because the sound was supposed to drive evil spirits away.”

“Really?” Another asked.

“Yes, apparently the Gods didn’t like people to have fun outside of celebrations of Gods, and would send evil spirits and demons or minions or something after them to stop them from having fun.”

“Huh,” several said.

“Yes,” he continued, “and I just learned that when I made it up.”

Sunday’s Theme Music

Late log in on this August 14, a Sunday in the common era human year of 2022. That’s the date according to the instruments. Looks like a decent world. I’ve already sampled the drink which they call coffee and sent a glowing report back to headquarters. Feel like I can fly back there without a ship after drinking that coffee!

Greetings from Earth! I made it. As expected, the situation for humanity is swiftly deteriorating. Few of them should remain in another five hundred of their years, making our conquest very easy. I am looking forward to it.

The data specifies that I’ve landed in a small town in the Rogue River valley in Oregon in the United States on North America – their terms. Sol, their local sun – they only have one – passed the eastern horizon as the world turned at 6:17 this morning, using their time reference, shortly after I touched down. Air samples revealed the fresh, oxygen-rich atmosphere that we’d anticipated and a temperature of 22 Gluck, cool for us but a comfortable temperature for humans and most other life firms of this small rock. I’ll stay here, where the temperature will reach 30 G until the sun sets. I want to see a Terran setting sun. I heard that pollution makes them very pretty. That sunset will take place at 8:13. Then I’ll take off and continue to my final destination, Mars. It’ll be interesting to see how Mars as changed since I’ve last been.

Meanwhile, I’ll drink coffee and listen to human music. Influences of others who’ve been to Earth are felt. Although a large spectrum of music is available, the genres and its offspring known as rock and roll most please my neurons. There seems to be a mental musical stream which this music has ignited. I have one particular song, which I’ve learned is called “Crossfade” by Cold, playing in this stream. (Sorry, I have that backwards. I don’t understand this aspect of their terminology, and why Crossfade is the band’s name and “Cold” is the song title. Perhaps I’ll study it while I’m here.) I find myself inexplicably humming this song, “Cold”, off and on as I do other things. The song came out about one hundred years after I hatched, which would make it 2005 on Earth. I do not know why it continues to play in me in this way. I’m not the first to experience this, of course. Elvis warned us about it in his report, for example.

I am going to drink more coffee now. As always, my Lygers, stay positive and test negative. Hope to be home again in a mersoon. Meanwhile, please enjoy this song which is trapped in my head. See what you make of it.

A small orange striped creature which humans call a cat is approaching. It seems to know our language! I will provide an update later.


Frieday’s Wandering Thought

He enjoyed people walking. Regulars were given backstories as their habits and details were observed and conversations they had with others were overhead.

One twentyish woman always wore a jean jacket lined with wool. An ordinary jacket except she wore it every day. This was during summer, during the day, during times when the temperature tiptoed up through ninety to one hundred degrees F. Yes, she was inside, where air conditioning sometimes made it feel like we huddled in shacks as we went ice fishing. But she never removed it, always wore it.

Imagination began fabricating reasons for her jacket. It could be fashion commitment. Perhaps a medical condition? Maybe the jacket provided her with extraordinary powers or protected her. There was also the possibility that the jacket gave her form. Removing the jacket would reveal that she had no body beneath it, exposing her as a neck with two hands and a lower body.

It was hard to say why she wore the jacket, but many possibilities existed.

A Short Tale

The end of the world was coming in fourteen minutes, according to the news reports on television.

He checked his phone. Still no bars. The news said that the phone system was overloaded and several satellites had already been lost. Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, and MSNBC were all saying the same thing. He couldn’t check the net because it was still down, probably so they could control the information. Control information, and you control the mind.

Yeah, it was all fake news and bullshit. Bleating to control the masses. Opening a beer, he turned the channel, searching for a ball game or some kind of sports distraction. Weird, but no baseball or basketball games were in progress anywhere. ESPN was off the air. So were the cable sports networks. He slammed his beer down, spilling some. Such fucking bullshit! This was a bigger hoax than the goddamn moon landing.

He turned on the oven and prepared to bake a frozen pizza. Better than nothing, because going out would require human contact and most humans that he encountered were idiots.

Glancing outside, he realized that he was hearing a growing roar. Well, what the hell is going on out there, he wondered. Picking up his gun, he went to the door and stepped out.

His last words were, “What the – “

Then the fake news slammed into him, disintegrating his body, gun, and home.

A Floof Toast

Here’s to the players

The goofs

Zoomin’ through the rooms

The ones in a tug of war

Stalking others

And evening the score

Here’s to the eaters

The watchers

The ones who sleep and snore

The ones who entertain us daily

Slayin’ life’s dull bore

Here’s to the chubby ones

The chow hounds

The ones who always want a treat

The tall ones

The little ones

Still growing to their feet

Here’s to those with stubby legs

Wagging tails

Swishing tails

And tails that they chase

Here’s to the ones who smile at us

Nibble toes

Bite our nose

And take a tongue to our face

If I

If I had to drink some wine

You know I think I could find the time

And if you want to make me dance

I would probably be willing to take that chance

If I had to work today

I’d ask if maybe there’s not another way

And if I were asked to write a song

You know it wouldn’t last too long

If you told me I need to find joy

I’d laugh and sing, oh boy, oh boy

But if you tried to start a war

I’d walk away

Because war’s a bore

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