Tag Archives: fear

An Error in Judgement

 

Underneath an azure blue sky the trees swayed in a gentle dance with the wind in attendance. It was a bright beautiful autumn day. It was the kind of day where children want to play outside and adults secretly want to join them. Except no one in that boardroom was paying attention to the beauty outside the window.

Twelve men sat to attention. Twelve men carefully watched the only individual who was standing in the room. To say you could have heard a pin drop would be an understatement. Lives were about to be changed, perhaps permanently.

”Is that your answer Stevens?” The question was asked gently, almost friendly. But those in the room knew the dangerous undercurrent that resided in those few words.

The man known as Stevens visibly blanched. He knew he’d made an error in judgment and he also knew that it could be the end of him.

He tried to sit a little straighter.

“Well, um sir . . . I thought . . . you always say . . . um . . .”

“Do you know why I chose you for this job Stevens?”

The proverbial pin hit the floor. The man who had just moments ago spoken with such compassion in such dulcet tones, erupted.

‘WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE! YOU’RE A IDIOT! YOUR JOB IS TO CONVINCE THEM TO SIGN NOT DISSUADE THEM!”

“But I thought the good will generated by . . .

Stevens stopped speaking. Perhaps he had gone too far but he was trying to help a young family. And they really didn’t need what he was selling. There was plenty of time to make decisions like that down the road.

The room was quiet, too quiet. Stevens raised his head and looked around the room. No one would meet his gaze.

“They didn’t sign the contract did they Stevens?”

A very small voice replied, “No, sir.”

“Then you will.”

Eleven men stood up from the table and stepped back. Eleven men did their best to distance themselves from the man known as Stevens. They didn’t want anything to tarnish them. They knew the job and they knew the consequences of failure. The Boss wanted signatures.

Matthew Stevens remembered. He remembered coming to the big city for work. He met and married a beautiful woman, the love of his life. It was hard to find work for a newly minted lawyer who was pretty much run-of-the-mill. He hadn’t passed the bar with honours, he had actually just scraped by on his third try. But he had a little piece of paper that said he was a lawyer. That’s what he thought he should be doing. So he found work in small low paying law offices. He was a paper pusher. Nothing seemed to fit. Until . . .

He had received a letter in the mailbox, hand delivered. It offered him a lucrative job in a mid level Corporate Law office. He jumped. His wife was pregnant with their second child. He needed this job. So Matthew accepted the position and proceeded to push more paper. He wanted to go out in the field to sign people up for their policies. He was impatient. In just a few months he got exactly what he asked for. This was his first assignment. It was also the first time he actually read the policy.

His job was to get the head of the family to sign the contract. Simple actually. The policy would give the family security and insurance over the lifetime of the policyholder.

 

Insurance for life

                             This policy entitles the signatory Health, Wealth and Good Fortune for the length of his/her life. Upon termination of said existence, payment for the above contract will be collected:

One (1) Soul.

 

 

                             _________________________________________

                                           Policy Holder

 

 

 

Thank you for your business!

Mr. S. Atan. Esq.

 

WiFi is Free!

 

Ben was paralyzed. He couldn’t move, couldn’t react. He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of four very official looking men. Four, there were five!

“You can say nothing about what you think you just heard.”

The warning was issued by a quiet, almost friendly voice. But as Ben raised his head to look at the speaker, a chill ran down his back. The man almost seemed to smile. He reached out his hand and picked up the thumb drive that Stan had dropped on the table. Snap, it was gone.

And with a slight tilt of his head, so was the fifth man. Ben inhaled deeply. He felt as if he had been holding his breath for far too long. He started to hear the regular sounds of the bar seeping back into his awareness. It felt as if time was reasserting itself and Ben was out of sorts. It had happened, here, with a room full of witness who had seen nothing. They didn’t understand. He had to tell them. But what Stan had said . . . Could it be true?

Ben reached for his laptop. A good reporter never went anywhere with out it. As he opened the screen and prepared to log on, Ben wondered . . . what if . . . He put his laptop away and reached for a pen and a pad of paper. Old school it is.

The day had stared routinely. Check correspondence, do a little cleaning, a little writing and then down to the pub for lunch. Saturday was Ben’s day to unwind, read the paper, watch a little sports on the big screen. Everyone knew it. So he was surprised when Stan burst into his reverie.

“Ben, Thank God you’re here! You have to help me! People need to be warned!” As he spoke, Stan threw himself into a chair across from Ben and dropped his head into his hands. He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. He was obviously agitated and Ben got over being surprised enough to reach out to his friend.

“It’s okay, we’ll fix what ever is broken. Just try to calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”

The man that raised his head looked haunted. He reached out his hand and dropped a thumb drive on the table.

“He figured it out.” He whispered, “Then he got proof. He trusted me.”

Ben waited. He knew his friend. He knew he needed to tell his story in his time. But Ben felt a gentle unquiet seep into his mind. This was not one of Stan’s pranks, he was scared, terrified.

Stan slowly looked around the room. Only well known regulars were in attendance. He heaved a sigh.

“I don’t know how much time I have before they get here but you have to get the word out. The WiFi is free.”

Ben chuckled, “Well, yeah! That’s what we all wanted. Free WiFi for everyone!”

Stan shook his head. “Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand? They are listening!”

Ben lifted his glass of ale. “Okay, I’ll bite, who’s listening.”

“The computers.”

His glass stopped, mid air.   “What computers?”

Stan sat back in his chair.

“Have you ever wondered how Police can get to a bank robbery so quickly when the silent alarm isn’t triggered? Or how a traveller who jokes about a high-jacking can be so accurately pinpointed? How about those calls you get where no one speaks. It’s the WiFi. It’s everywhere. The computers are primed to react to certain word combinations in certain areas.”

Ben heard the words but it was what was not spoken that had him concerned. It wasn’t Big Brother watching, it was Big Computer listening!

Stan seemed to deflate. “I have a computer hacker friend who figured it out awhile back. He collected all his data, his proof. He wanted to take it to a reporter and I suggested you. He gave me a copy.”

Both men looked at the thumb drive. “Where’s your friend?” Asked Ben.

Stan never raised his head. “Dead.” He whispered.

An oppressive silence seemed to hang in the air. Patrons laughed and ate and drank. The big screen droned on about sports and the world continued to rotate. But something intangible had just happened and it was sobering.

Ben opened his mouth to ask a question when five large, official looking men appeared beside their table. Stan started to speak as he tried to stand up but a very forceful hand stopped him. Ben started to protest until a badge was place in front of his eyes. He tried to lean back to read it but it was snapped shut.

Ben was paralyzed. He couldn’t move, couldn’t react. He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of very official looking men.

The message was clear:

The WiFi is listening . . .

To Plan or Not To Plan

A friend of mine made a comment the other day that I have been pondering ever since I heard it. He said that ‘a bad plan was better than no plan’. Now he is a military man so perhaps in that context it might be true.   An intelligent person can always modify a plan on the fly. Thereby changing a bad plan into a good plan. But using the same rationale: couldn’t one create a plan, on the move, to suit the circumstances of the moment?

My first reaction was that I don’t have a plan. Or rather I make things up as I go along. I like spontaneity and the titillation of not knowing what’s coming next. But then isn’t that idea just a very loose plan? I’ve been talking myself in circles. On one hand having no plan can leave one floundering with no idea, no concept of how to move forward. On the other hand having no plan could mean that you’re open to create the circumstances you wish while not being constrained by any artificial restraints of your ‘plan’. Are you confused yet? I am.

Some people enjoy the regimentation of everything being planned to the minutia. Others, myself included, love the instability and challenges that can creep up when you’re not too tightly organized. When I was traveling I made sure I had a plan for getting to my destination and I was aware of my options once I was there but I liked to make any decisions when I opened my eyes in the morning. I liked to be able to change my plans at a second’s notice. I liked the challenge of not knowing what’s around the corner and then reacting to it.

Now isn’t that what life is all about? I am sure my parents had plans for me as a child and worked towards my being a competent adult. I think they did their job well. I of course may be biased in that! But I am a thinking adult. I make my own decisions and I’m capable of reacting to the world around me. I enjoy that aspect. Someone once said that everyone should do one thing a day that terrifies them. I like that idea. I might not do it everyday but I do not shy away from that which frightens me. Except for snakes. Oh my good heavens I am so shying away!!!

Whatever kind of person you are, planner, non-planner or a combination of the two I think we all have the same goal: to enjoy life, you’ve only got one!

 

The World Of ‘1s’ and ‘0s’

 

 

Humankind has spent its collective existence in fomenting revolutions. From the first tool in the hand of early man 2.6 million years ago to Bluetooth peaking out from the ears of our children, we have evolved.

We have rid the world of some diseases and created others. We have learned how to feed everyone and how to kill without being nearby. We have woken the beasts of hatred and avarice and we feed them well.

We had the Agriculture Revolution, the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Sexual Revolution and the Computer Revolution. I am sure there is more to come in the not too distant future.

We crow about how much better our lives are and shiver in fear at what we have created. People all over the world go hungry and die of diseases we have cured simply because it costs too much to get current medicines and food to those in need and those in greed want more.

We have gone from living hand to mouth and growing what we needed to a society that is a gluttonous example of excess. So much of the world is hungry but there’re those who have more than enough to eat but do not seem able to share. And that New World? It is controlled by a chip. Ironic isn’t it?

In the first world countries we are surrounded by computers. There are computers in our toasters, our cars, our prosthesis.   We are not alone, ever. That chip is listening and watching everything. And the language that chip, that computer speaks? It’s the ones and zeros. It’s a language that very few of us can speak fluently. That should frighten us.

 

Unnoticed

 

Alone on the street

In the cold and the rain

A gentle soul lay hidden

Scurrying shoppers

Intent on a sale

Worry about their lives

Busy at work

Deadlines to meet

Focused on the job

A moment in time

Is all that it takes

To notice what is there

We are never alone

If we believe

To Him we are not

unnoticed.

“He’s Dead!”

In honour of the day, here’s a little something for your palette:

Two young men stared at each other, mouths open.  The erudite individuals in question were loitering outside the home of an elderly man who had recently died. Perhaps they were remembering the life so recently passed. Or perhaps . . .

“Cool! What the fu. ., .sh . Aw man, I promised my girlfriend I’d stop swearing!”

“Wait, Boondog, you got a girlfriend? When? You didn’t have none yesterday!”

“Yeah, man. We’re in looove. She just ain’t met me yet.”

The two erupted in gales of laughter.

Boondog was actually Alfonse. He was a high school drop out who fervently believed that he would one day be a multi millionaire. He just needed the rest of the world to recognize his genius.

His companion was Edgeley. No one knew his real name, probably not even Edgeley himself. He didn’t seem to live anywhere in particular. He just kept showing up.

The two young men gravitated to this spot most days. Each day they would spend time smoking a particular illegal substance. This was the perfect spot. They were hidden from the road but were still quite close to the house. Ah, yes, the house. It had been built in the early 1900’s. It was three stories tall and had a veranda that encircled the main floor. It was an imposing abode that had seen better days. More than a hundred years had wandered through the rooms of that house. What had been said and done on those solid wood floors?

Our intrepid adventurers were deep in a metaphysical discussion.

“This Burrito is the bomb!’

“Hey, you got burritos? I like Mexican food!”

“No, man, the Ganga is good!”

“Huh?”

“Dope, weed, pot, grass! Boondog, don’t you know noth’n?

“Aw.”

For the next few moments they said nothing. The smoke whirled above the heads as they inhaled the noxious weed. Oblivious to the medical consequences of the drug on their brains, they breathed in even deeper.

Time seemed to stop.

Edgeley was the first to speak.

“Do you think his cats ate him?”

“Did he have cats?” asked Boondog with something akin to excitement on his face.

“I dunno.”

Silence. Time barely seemed to pass.

“They said he was rich. I bet he’s got cash stashed all over.”

“Cool.”

Our two geniuses continued to stare at the once opulent house. After some time they both managed to stand (after a few mishaps). Then came the giggles. Two grown men trying to keep each other from falling and fumbling up the decrepit steps might have been funny to watch but no one saw them enter the house. Almost no one.

As Boondog reached for the front door knob, the door opened. He didn’t seem to notice.

“Hello . . “ He shouted, as if he had just returned from a long day at work.

Edgeley slapped the back of his head. “Shhh! You wanna wake the dead?”

“Is he here?” Boondog’s panic was very apparent.

“Nah, man. I’m just messing with ya.”

The front door opened into a huge foyer with an even larger room off to one side. They headed there. The two men started to wander around the room. Edgeley immediately started to open drawers in the cabinets, methodically working his way from one side of the room to the other. Boondog couldn’t take his eyes off a painting of an old woman. There was a name at the bottom, his lips moved as he read what was there: Daniela Winslow, died 1893.

As he stepped back, he looked directly into the eyes of Daniela Winslow . . . . . only to see Daniela looking back. Boondog gasped!

The front door closed, violently, the bolts thrown. The shutters on the windows slammed shut. Within seconds the air became cold, too cold. Edgeley stopped what he was doing and looked up. A mist started to rise from the floorboards. It seemed to caress Boondog, who seemed to be frozen in place. It then moved on. Gently, oh so gently it touched the furniture, stroking the wood of the cabinets.

Edgeley looked at Boondog. All the effects at the previously smoked marijuana were gone. Neither man was at all unaware of their predicament. Any thoughts of looking for stray cash had gone. All they wanted now was to leave, quickly.

Almost as if it was choreographed, both moved as one towards the front door. Grasping the handle Boondog tried desperately to open it. The door wouldn’t budge.

“Hello boys. . . “

The voice was low, soft and ominous. They couldn’t tell if it was a man’s voice or a woman’s. Or even where it had come from. The two boys turned back from the door, fear emanating from every pore. Boondog started towards the steps to the second floor. He just wanted to get away from the voice. Before he could reach them, the mist descended and formed a barrier. There was no going upstairs. He returned to stand beside his friend. This couldn’t be happening!

Edgeley hadn’t moved. Sweat started to soak through his clothes. The sweat of fear has an acrid, pungent smell, it smelled of death.

A fireplace they hadn’t noticed before, burst into flame. The cackling sound of the flames seemed to break the spell and they moved.

They huddled next to the fireplace as if for comfort. There was no warmth from the flames. They seem to mock them, rising and dancing as if to music. There was no music, then, no sounds. It became oppressive, the silence. The men, so brave and bold mere minutes ago, reverted to their childhood fears. They were terrified. And then . . . she screamed.

“I am hungry!”

Edgley started to whimper. “I’m sorry . . . I’m so sorry . . .

Alfonse started to mutter unintelligibly. He raised his head. His eyes had changed. He grew larger. Then he smiled. “No one will miss you Edgley. And we will all feed!”

The end

(image via Pinterest)