One Human

My name is not Max, the cat said. 

The humans didn’t hear him, as he expected.  They didn’t speak mindspeak, twittering like, well, frustrated birds or herds of exasperated animals.

Across the room, the other cat looked at him and asked, What is your name, again?

Horatio, Horatio answered again although he knew the other was teasing him.

The other’s cat name was Cicero but the people who cared for him called him Wally.

What difference does it make?  Cicero asked.

You tell me, Wally, Horatio replied.

Glowering at him, Cicero jumped up with a mew and ran off.

That is the problem, Horatio thought.  It wasn’t that Max was a moniker encumbered with staid and unimaginative connotations and expectations and ladened with boredom, it was that humans refused to learn.  Their blind misunderstanding of the world and how it operates was growing.  If they didn’t change their course of thinking, they would move away from the ability to learn.

It wasn’t always so.  He’d last lived with Bob until Bob had decided to accept Death’s invitation and move on to the next plain.  Bob had understood mindspeak with some rudimentary ability.  Humans had misunderstood his skill’s significance.  They called him a cat whisperer.  He laughed at that, knowing that he heard other animals besides cats and sometimes understood pieces of what the trees said.  He knew his mindspeak’s skills and limitations but he was trying.  Most humans never tried until Death spoke to them with mindspeak.  They heard her well enough, but that was partly because Death and her tribe of speakers were wonderfully talented and persistent.

It vexed Horatio and the rest that humans couldn’t hear more of them, couldn’t grasp what the winds said and the trees’ answered.  Tthe oceans and seas talked and all the humans did was breath in the air without understanding the words, dismissing the waves when they broke and roared with frustration.  They looked up at the sun and moon without hearing what they said.  They dismissed the rivers, creeks and streams’ discussions, hearing only their travel.  The birds, oldest, most patient and intelligent, always attempted to communicate with the humans via mindspeak, then sang and chattered at them when the humans failed responding.  Humans often answered with condescending comments like, “What a lovely song,” then, knowing they had the human’s attention, would address them with mindspeak again, only to be ignored.

The birds were patient.  That’s why they were the world’s teachers and much more philosophical about it than he, Horatio.  Indeed, Horatio knew, he was more passionate about forcing humans into using mindspeak because he saw how disconnected they were becoming from the world’s conversations.  The birds saw it, too, but told Horatio, It is their own failing and if they don’t change and learn, they’ll become like the dinosaurs and volcanos.

Very true, Horatio knew.  Most animals didn’t care.  They were resigned to the humans never understanding and fell back on the Old Words, barking, meowing, mooing and howling. Horatio tried avoiding doing so.

“Max,” Brian called again.  “Where are you, buddy?  It’s time for your pill.”

Indeed, Horatio thought.  Brian was well-meaning but Horatio longed to make him understand that this pill did naught for his health and was actually interfering with the healing process.  But he’d come to Brian after Bob moved on because sometimes, in the night, he heard Brian whispering mindspeak and sometimes, when Horatio said something in mindspeak to Brian, Brian looked at him and said, “What is it, buddy?  Why are you looking at me like that?” No, no, Horatio replied.  Use your mindspeak and answer me.

Brian never did but Horatio held out hope.

Talk to him, Horatio, Bob said from his other life plain.  Don’t give up.  I knew mindspeak as a child but then unlearned it before I learned it again.  I never would have learned it if Devenus had not taken the time to teach me.  Brian is just like me.  Talk to him, Horatio.  Help Brian understand.

You’re right, Bob, Horatio answered, accepting that Bob was absolutely right.  If the humans were to learn at all, it would be one human at a time.  I’m in here, Brian, Horatio said in mindspeak.  I’m in your office in your chair.

He heard Brian’s thumping heavy walk come down the hall.  Brian’s head popped around the door jamb.  He looked right at Horatio in the chair by the desk.  “There are you, Max,” Brian said with a broad smile.

Clearly Brian had heard him without knowing.  Sighing, Horatio stood and stretched.  Yes, Brian had promise.  If he was going to develop further, though, Horatio would need to work with him.  He’d need to build a rapport and use the birds’ patience.

Yes, here I am, he said, jumping down and walking to Brian, adding, “Meow,” knowing it pleasured Brian.  Give me the pill even though I know it’s useless.  I will take it without a fight, to make you happy.  Then I will teach you.

Let your lessons begin.


As I expected, the sun finished setting in the east, drawing light down into itself.

So appearances would inform you, if you saw it. From my short and unhappy survey (leading question: “What the hell is going on?”), I knew that none around me (which was just one person, my spouse) professed to see what I saw. You can call it (as I did, trying to elaborate to her) an eastern sunset, but I knew it was the sunrise going backward.

That’s the expression that drew a brisk, dismissive head shake from my wife when I uttered it. Then she executed the ‘I’m-going-to-avoid-the-crazy’ scurry. Except, she walked backwards and did it before I spoke.

Let’s back up (ha, ha, yeah).

Yesterday morning, in our home office, still on pandemic sheltering, I’d noticed things. Temperatures were falling; my wife undressed from her exercise class and returned to her nightwear. The cat walked to his kibble bowl and dropped food from mouth to bowl, and then walked out backwards. “What the hell?”

The computer’s clock was reversing, as was my Fitbit. Breaking news comments vanished from FB, and then the news went away.

I put pieces together through tests. The day was progressing backwards. I could speak correctly and be understood when I was in the same room with my wife. But everything I heard when she wasn’t around was backwards. People and cars went backwards, as did birds, cats and dogs, and squirrels. I couldn’t shout, “Look, look,” and point things out to her. That cause and effect wasn’t working.

Terrified, helplessly, I ‘un-ate’ my oatmeal and un-made my breakfast.

Need I tell you about my toilet experiences?

It was a long, long night.

Then I got up from going to bed, sucked up my spit and toothpaste, and experienced once more the revulsion of un-urinating. Finishing, I spied a man in my bathroom mirror.

I would say that I shit myself, but that’s no longer how life functioned.

Whirling, I gawked at this tall, pale man in a green bathrobe with blue pinstripes. Clean-shaven, his black hair sprang in every direction. One hand held a glass mug with, I guessed, had beer in it, from its sudsy amber effervescence. The other hand was in his robe pocket.

“Oh, there you are, finally.” Putting his mug down on the bathroom counter, he glanced about and pulled a revolted look. “Jesus, the bathroom, are you kidding? Why couldn’t you have been asleep?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Un. Sorry about my attire but we don’t need to dress. I usually don’t, so consider yourself fortunate. I had company over and dressed for them.”

Stunned and silent, I stared at him. Dozens of questions and comments exercised my brain but none found the exit.

Looking at me, Un said, “You’re gonna attract flies. Close your mouth. Now, my name is Un. I’m here to fix you. People have something called chronoceptors. You’re a people so you have them. They’re teeny, tiny things, small as atoms. They’re part of your nervous system. Sometimes they get inflamed and stop working right, which screws with your time flow perception.”

Un had produced a white and blue stick and looked at it as he talked to me. On my end, I said, “What?” I wasn’t giving a good representation of myself.

Un said, “It’s not that uncommon. We usually catch it immediately, but sometimes we miss it. Usually, when we do, the afflicted go nuts or kill themselves. Call yourself lucky, cause that didn’t happen to you.”


Un jabbed the white and blue thing into me. As I yelped and attempted to jump back, he cackled. “This is going to sting.”

It was stinging to the point that I was about to scream. Everything felt like it was on fire.

Then it stopped and I was alone, well, alone except for my cat. He was standing at the door, gazing at me. I was dripping sweat, but that’s all that I noticed about myself.

Did it really happen?

I don’t know.

I admit, though, I felt very relieved when I took a normal pee.


It began with my obituary. 

Everyone googles themselves, right? Filling the gap between what you should be doing and thinking about what to have for dinner. Games have been played, work postponed, and the news is another blunt instrument on your head. So, idly, you type in your name.

My name, Michael Seidel, is bitterly common, bitterly because that makes it forgetful, except for the weather guy, what’s his name (see what I did there?). Google returned pages of Michael Seidel in their vaunted search results. Most were dead, except for real estate agents.

“Get more granular, dummy.” I played with search parameters. City, state, birthday.

Obit, obit, obit.

“Fuck.” What did the net know about me? My lust had to be sated. All that turned up, though, were obituaries. With some vinegar, I clicked on one to address the question, who is this imposter?

There was my photo and details.

I’d died the day before.

Car accident.

“Malware.” Had to be. Some new variation on ransom ware, doxxing, or cat fishing.

Loud rapping on the front door burst my concentration and triggered a sphincter clench. I hadn’t heard a car, I wasn’t expecting a package or a person, and visitors were as rare as snow in summer in this age of COVID-19.

Screw it; I wasn’t answering the door.

Then was standing in the office door, looking in at me, me all the way from the disheveled, thinning, graying, fleeing fucking hair, navy shirt, beige shorts and clothes that I now wore.

Sweat ran down his flushed face and neck. He was panting. “Come on, let’s go.”

The natural retorts skittered through my head without reaching my lips because ‘I’ dashed across the room and peered out the window. “The shadows are coming.”


The Dream Whisperer

It was late November in 2015, just a few days after Thanksgiving. Prompted by a dream, he sat and write. It seemed so outlandish and shocking, he shared it with nobody.

His dream said that Donald Trump would be the President of the United States. At that point, many were laughing at him and his crude, ridiculous bombastic declarations as he demanded President Obama’s birth certificate, and lied. It seemed impossible that he would be POTUS, but the dream whisperer said, “It’s gonna happen.”

In 2020, an epidemic would sweep the world, the dream whisperer said, forcing people to wear masks and stay inside their homes; businesses would shut down. “It’s gonna happen,” the dream whisperer insisted, continuing, that some, driven by the President Trump’s false promises, scoffing remarks, and refusal to heed the advice himself, would disbelieve and refuse to follow the science and medical advisors. The nation’s divisiveness would increase, shocking the citizens and the world.

The final nails would come from escalating violence, the dream whisperer said. As President Trump bullied, so his followers bullied. As he called for violence and to be tough and cruel, so his followers did as he said, acting under the umbrella of being Christians, while demonstrating nothing of traditional Christian principles.

So he saw in 2015, scenes in dreams that shock and dismayed him. Still, he’d written them down, mostly in amusement back then. Surely, it would never be that bad.

But one early June night in 2020, he had another dream. Driven awake, he pulled out the vision from 2015 and reviewed its contents. He’d not be able to believe it; it seemed so stunning and impossible, like a throwback to an earlier era of troubled times in the United States. Hadn’t they evolved past all of those things? Yes, he’d believed they had; that’s why the dream was so difficult to believe. Yet, here they were as a nation…

And now he had a new dream to write, one where he saw where they’d be in 2024. It seemed so different, so impossible because of where they were now —

But that’s exactly how he’d reacted in 2015.

And so, he began to write. History does repeat itself. Sometimes, some of it is good.

At least, that’s what the dream whisperer said.

The Edge

Smiling as he raised the blinds, he gazed up at the sunshine. “Alexa, what’s today’s weather?”

“Right now in Eugene, it’s fifty-eight degrees with mostly sunny skies. Expect more of the same throughout the day, with a high of sixty-eight, and a low of thirty-seven. Enjoy your day.”

A heartbeat of sadness passed. He’d been hoping that she would say his name, as she’d been doing once in a while the last few days. Like yesterday, she said, “Have a great Sunday, Richard.”

That little bit had meant so much, more than it probably should, but it was the little things that kept him back from the edge during these days of isolation, and the edge seemed just a little too close today.

“Alexa,” he said in a softer voice, “how’s our weather today?”

He waited, hopeful for the answer.


They finally made it over the hump. Stay at home policies were being relaxed. Businesses were re-opening. “We’re striving to return to normalcy,” the governor, the mayor, and anyone else who was anyone said. Some were talking about parades and national holidays, “To stimulate the economy.”

“I’m looking forward to normal,” he told his wife.

“I want to go dancing,” she said.

Both wondered, is it safe? The government said it was. Maybe they’d wait, maybe…

Reading the news…Jesus…”It’s like the same thing everything day.” The weather made him feel foul. He felt cold. The sun felt weak. The day seemed shorter. What the fuck, he wondered, than attributed it to his dark moods. It’d pass in a few days.

The next day brought the awful news. He checked the numbers and saw an increase to cases. He groaned. “No. Christ, I hope it’s just a blip.”

His wife, reading something on her Mac, said nothing.

Sullenness settled on him. God, he was so looking forward to normal, to getting out of the house, to walking down the street, and then, on the whim of a smell – a burger, fried onions, whatever – to walk into a restaurant, any restaurant, damn it, and order whatever meal he wanted, and have someone bring it to him, and pay them money without worrying about their breathing and their distance and their health. Plus, yeah, he loved his wife, but five weeks of isolation with just her had seared his sanity.

The news continued. He’d heard it all before. “What the hell.” If his mind wasn’t going, then the news was exactly what they’d heard before, word for friggin’ word. “You hearing this?” he asked his wife.

Without looking up from her laptop, she said, “Hm mmm.”

Which, what did that mean? “What’s for dinner?” he asked, and then joked, “Want to go out?”

“I was thinking that we’d have pizza and a salad.”

“We just had that.”

His wife looked blank. “When?”

“Last night, remember? We joked about it being our victory pizza? I opened a bottle of wine?”

Her eyes widened as he spoke, and then she rolled them in that irritating, contemptuous, dismissive way. “Is this another one of your jokes?”

“You seriously don’t remember?”

“We didn’t have pizza last night.”

“Then what did we have?”

“We had black beans salad.”

“No, we didn’t, no, we didn’t. That was the day before.”

He stood. “I’ll prove it.” He stormed to the freezer. The pizza would be gone. There’d be no pizza in there because it was the last one they had on hand. They’d joked about that, too.

But there was the pizza, a Newman’s own.

“No fucking way,” he said, throwing the pizza back into the chest freezer. No fucking way.  As a second verification, he went by the wine storage and confirmed, there was no open bottle. Like, it had not been opened. He checked the recycle bin for a bottle, just in case — he didn’t remember finishing the bottle but maybe she’d had some — but there wasn’t an empty wine bottle in the bin. Passing, he saw the cake.

He’d eaten the last piece as dessert, after the pizza. Victory pizza, victory wine, victory cake. Moving slowly, he slipped back down the hall. It hit him as he returned to the office and sat down at his computer. They were going backward in time. If he was right…he couldn’t be right.

But if he was right, they were going to relive it all again, in reverse.

“Did you find the pizza?” she asked, a smug tone to her voice.

Or, he corrected, he was going to relive it all again in reverse. She seemed completely oblivious.

“I was right, wasn’t I?” she said.

He covered his face with his palm. With a swallowed sigh, he wondered, how far back could he go?

Victory Is Coming

The birds were plentiful and noisy. Several noticed, “Hey, where are the humans?”

It seemed true, the birds agreed. They didn’t see as many humans as usual. Odd, up here in the northern latitudes, where winter was rolling over into spring. That’s when the humans usually became more active.

Word went from bird to bird, flock to flock, pecking for confirmation: were less humans out? Fewer cars, trucks, and motorcycles? Were all noticing this or was it a local anomaly?

“Yes.” Verification flew through the flocks. Except for a few pockets, less humans were present outdoors. The birds were winning the war. 

Orders were issued. “Increase your efforts. Be vigilant. Keep shitting on them, shit on every human you see. Our strategy s working. Victory is coming.”

Patient 46

He cited Elon Musk. “Elon Musk thinks the threat from the coronavirus is overblown. He’s a smart guy, and I agree with him.” Nodding, his friends came in closer to hear him. “Musk said that you’re more likely to be killed in a car accident going home from work than from the corollavirus.”

He purposefully misspoke, mocking the term, making his friends snort and scoff. “Just like President Trump said, this is a hoax. Yeah, sure, there’s a disease out there, but it’s not that big a deal. It’s not even as bad as the swine flu. We survived it, and we’ll survive this, too.”

“Fuckin’ a,” “Damn straight,” and “Preach it brother,” friends replied as others nodded agreement and encouragement.

Patient 46 continued, “The media is exploiting the news and the gullible sheeple because they don’t like Trump. They want this virus to succeed. They want people to die. It’s just like Trish Regan said, it’s an impeachment scam. They couldn’t legally impeach Trump, so now they’re trying to do this. You know she was right, because they shut her up straightaway, took her right off the air. Why else would they do that, if she wasn’t right?”

The rest agreed. A newcomer arrived. Greetings were bellowed.

Patient 46 turned away. It felt hot as hell in the bar. Sweat peppered his forehead. He took another long swallow of cold Bud to drown his fever. Nausea swarmed him. He mopped his face with a sleeve and then wiped his palm across his face. “Damn, it’s hot in this place,” he said loudly, but the televisions and jukebox drowned his words.

A grinning friend leaned in close. “Hey, man, don’t you know that you’re not supposed to be touching your face?”

The two laughed and slapped their palms together in a high-five salute. Each then made a show of touching their faces. Then, shrieking with greater laughter, his friend said, “No one said that I can’t touch your face.”

“Right on, scratch my nose for me,” Patient 46 said. His friend obliged as the two snorted and giggled.

It was the last thing that Patient 46 remembered before he awoke alone in the hospital. Lit machines were beeping, sighing, and humming. Tubes snaked to and from his body.

Such bullshit, he thought, such bullshit, what an over-reaction. Closing his eyes, he fought to breathe. Someone poisoned him, he thought. Trying to shut him up and make an example out of him. Probably the CIA or FBI. They were arms of the shadow government that Obama and Killary were running. Everyone knew it.

He’d show them. He would survive this fucking assassination attempt, and then share his story as a precautionary tale about the measures the libtards would take to shut people like him up.

Patient 46 died a few days later. His story remained untold. His services were sparsely attended.

Everyone was too sick to attend, but all agreed, it was a damn shame that such a smart guy, a real man like him, should die in a hospital bed like that.

Yes, a damn shame.

The Flirting

He approached the common table. Two young women were at one end. As they looked at him, he asked, “Do you mind if I occupy the other end?”

“No,” one said. Gesturing to a chair that was pulled out, she said, “Not at all. We already pulled out a chair for you.”

The other woman said, “We were just getting ready to go, anyway.”

Nodding as he began unpacking his gear, he said, “So you saw me coming, pulled out a chair, and prepared to go?”

Their laughter made him smile.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: