lost time incident 25
Here in the United States, we just had our 4th of July holiday. In theory, it’s intended for demonstrations of patriotism, but we’ve so quickly followed it with horrifying acts of violence that we’re left with a nationalist hangover.
So instead of thinking about that, let’s spend a little bit of time thinking about ghosts and spies, eh? Won’t that be nice? For a little while?
shaking my head
Ever thought about what it might be like to be a ghost yourself? Unfinished business? Can’t pick stuff up? Just kinda hoping someone comes along that you can communicate with? And when it does happen, it’s just some reality TV pricks measuring cold spots and pretending to see stuff in corners? All the while, you’re doing your best to appear to them, screaming noiselessly in their stupid meat ears?
Maybe there’s no such thing as ghosts. Maybe no one ever comes back with a message because when you die, that’s when you figure out that this place kinda sucks compared to the alternative. No matter how nice a life you’ve got going here, how many people you’re fond of, there’s just no contest. The next phase is a delight, time isn’t real, so everyone you love is going to be along behind you before you know it.
Or maybe what we think are ghosts aren’t former people. Maybe they’re advertisements. Sent from the next phase of existence with a message: “Look at me, a spooky thing that looks like you, but with out-of-date clothes. I look miserable, right? That’s you. I’m what you look like. This is the life you’re leading. Stuck in this building like I am. Wanting things. So hurry up and get life over with!”
We don’t see ghosts because they’re banner ads for suicide and the beyond and we’ve learned to tune them out, as with any advertising.
super double top secret
Agent Lucero reloaded his wrist-mounted crossbow as his pursuer’s body slipped off the roof of the train car. The enemy agent’s body bounced along the tracks briefly before careening into the pine forest that blurred alongside the passenger train. “I suppose that puts all my ducks in… arrow. No, that’s awful. Glad that’s over, as I was starting to get cross— bow. Ugh, even worse.”
He patted the courier bag slung over his shoulder and crept up towards the lead cars. Inside one of them, he knew he’d find his new identity, a roll of the local currency, and an experimental personal bubble-shaped crash-negating device. With the latter, he’d be able to throw himself off the train as soon as the train reached the border crossing. It would inflate around him, and protect him as he bounced his way to a safe stop.
Under the ocean, Lucero listened with the submarine crew to the groaning of the metal around them all. Their ears strained to hear any warning of coming depth charges. Lucero patted his courier bag and leaned to whisper into the oil-blackened ear of a sailor.
“Anyway, so even with the wind on top the the train, I managed to get this guy in the neck with a crossbow bolt from about half a train’s length away—”
“Shh!” hissed the sailor.
“No, yeah, I get it,” said Lucero. “But this is the best part. As he grabbed the bolt and it really sunk in that I got him, I said: ‘Well, Bathsworth, since you were determined to be a pain in my neck, it’s only fair I return the favor!'”
The sailor’s eyes darted along the rivets above. In his hands, a fire extinguisher at the ready.
“Did I mention his name was Bathsworth? Doesn’t matter.”
The soft pinging of radar.
“I guess I could have made a bath-based pun, now that I think of it.”
“Agent Lucero, you’ve made it back.” The chief, a heavy-set man with a flat-top and rumpled suit, rose as Lucero entered the room.
“I have indeed, Chief Apelbaum. It took some doing, but I got away from Bathsworth cleanly.” Lucero unslung his courier bag and sat down with the chief.
“Who’s Bathsworth?” asked Apelbaum.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Lucero.
“I never worry,” said Apelbaum. He leaned forward. “So. What have you learned?”
Lucero smiled. “So, so much.” From out of his pocket, he produced a roll of microfilm.
“You really got it,” said Apelbaum.
“I did,” said Lucero. “Photos of ladies’ underpants. A whole drawer full of them. ”
“You’re the best agent we’ve got, Lucero. Dismissed.”
Other things Agent Lucero has learned on previous missions:
- The Prime Minister of Belarus has a crooked dick. Three people have confirmed on three separate occasions.
- The Queen Regent’s new wallpaper features ducks. Rows of ducks.
- Senator Quiggs got stood up on a blind date. A bartender says the woman came in, saw him, turned right back around.
- Doktor Nacht, inventor of the Hand-Held Face-Melt-o, can’t fall asleep unless there’s a Pixar movie playing.
- Wellesley had a member of her secret service kidnap a kid’s rare dwarf lop rabbit during the kid’s birthday party. She’s renamed it Ruffles.
- Agent Faszchlo wears tour t-shirts for the band Chicago under his tuxes at state functions. Including from the Peter Cetera era.
looking & listening
watching – A Very Secret Service – A French television series, a comedy set in the 60s, that follows a young agent entering a Kafka-esque new job surrounded by Mad Men-era fashions as special agents try to keep France’s colonies intact, hunt former Nazis, and be sure to wrap things up in time to turn the office into a dance party with drinks and dangling cigarettes by mid-afternoon. (Netflix)
listening – Hello From the Magic Tavern – An American podcast that follows Arnie, an average citizen of Chicago who fell through a dimension rift into the magical land of Foon. Having little else to do, he’s set up camp at The Vermilion Minotaur tavern to interview inhabitants and send his weekly podcast back to us via the wifi signal from a Burger King.
reading – Mostly the news. Not recommended.
playing – The Big Book of Madness – Up to 5 players join forces in this cooperative card game. You all play young student wizards who have opened a spellbook you shouldn’t have. Players pool their spells and resources to defeat the monsters unleashed by the book while fending of the accumulation of madness. Great fun, even with only 2 players.
ending theme song
We’re finished early! It’s not yet noon! Great, well, uh… I quit!
See you next week at the half year mark of this project.
–Michael Van Vleet