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Swifting Part 3: The Watermelon Mountains

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READ PART TWO

THE WATERMELON MOUNTAINS

How do you know when you’ve crossed the border into insanity? Is there a conscious awareness of that moment? If there were, Kurt couldn’t recall it. But the fact remained that, to him, reality didn’t seem real anymore. There was a definite disassociation with not just ‘society’ but reality altogether.  As far as he was concerned, existence was fake. A sham. A badly written plot to an epic science fiction novel replete with corporate dystopia and inexplicable quantum phenomena. He had become a detached observer from the whole of it. Bemusedly watching his fleshly persona scurry about on a quest with no foreseeable positive outcome. Like Percival on his search for the Holy Grail. Utterly and irrevocably absurd. He was sure there were mental disorders to describe his condition—But hell. Anymore, there were mental disorders to describe every aspect of human nature. Most of them justifications to write people prescriptions for pills they didn’t need. Normal had come to mean a placid complacency in life characterized by a dull stare and inability to see past the latest distraction. What this fake reality was a distraction from, he didn’t have time to consider because Albuquerque was coming into view.

The fading sun painted the Sandia Mountains a pinkish red to the east, giving them their name among the locals of The Watermelon Mountains. To the west he could make out the tips of three dormant volcanoes that characterized the West Mesa. Before him sprawled the town of Albuquerque in all of its chaotic glory. It had a charm to it—a definite enchantment. But Kurt could feel the undercurrent of violence and destruction that ran hot just beneath the surface. He’d seen enough news to know that hot undercurrent bubbled to the surface more frequently than most cared to admit.

He had to get a room and fast. Somewhere out of the way. Not flashy. A place where his comings and goings wouldn’t be monitored. That place was the Borderlands Motel, a seedy joint hovering on the border of civilized Albuquerque and the place where civilization went to die. He spent a fitful night amidst the screaming, yelling and fucking of the motel’s other patrons leaking through his walls. The next morning, he drove to the nearest Mal-Mart and picked up a new burner phone. His first call was to Esme.

“Kurt! Oh my god! Where are you? I’ve been trying to call you for a week!”

“I left my phone at home. Smart phones aren’t safe to carry. I’m in Albuquerque.”

“When are you getting here? Bella keeps asking for you. I’ve been worried sick. My mom’s driving me up the wall. You know how she gets.”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. Look. It’s almost over. I’m gonna get the answers I need here and then I’ll be in Arizona. Two or three days tops. I promise.”

“So what’s going on? Is the government really after you? My mom thinks you’ve gone crazy.”

“Look. I’ll explain everything when I get there.” Hearing her voice was painful. He didn’t want to have to deal with this shit right now too. There was enough crazy going around already. All this did was complicate things for him.  For some reason their first meeting played through his mind. She looked so alone sitting at the coffee bar. He didn’t know if he should approach her. Didn’t know if he could even muster the courage. But there she sat, hand cupping her shapely chin. Honey brown locks tumbling over delicate shoulders. Her face a mixture of intensity and boredom as she struggled to maintain focus on the book in front of her. He loved her instantly. He loved her still. And the last thing he wanted was to bring this weirdness into his family’s life. “I miss you guys so much.”

“Yeah. We miss you too,” she said, concern leaking into her tone. She had been scared since he busted into the house that day and started shoving clothes into a duffel bag. Sure, he was an eclectic guy. Always had been. That was part of his appeal. But this…this was different. The panic and paranoia had reached critical levels. He very well could be having a psychotic break. She kicked herself for not seeing this earlier.  If Kurt was going through that, then the last thing he needed to be doing right now was running across the country off the grid and afraid of every shadow to cross his path. Sure things were difficult between them lately. He was an asshole more often than not and she’d entertained plenty of thoughts of leaving, but it’s not like she didn’t love him. And if he needed her, she would be there for him. “Are you O.K? If you want, I can come meet you out there. We can finish whatever you have to do together.”

“No need to worry. It’ll just be a little while longer. I promise. Tell Bella I love her and will see her soon.”

“Kurt…I really don’t think you should be alone right now.”

“That’s why I love you. I really have to go.”  He hung up the phone and immediately called GRL_BLU. “In town. What now?”

“Meet me at the tram. 3 p.m.”


Albuquerque is home to the world’s longest tramway. A cable car system running from the bottom of the Sandias to the peak where a restaurant greets weary travelers.

Kurt found his way to the tram and waited for GRL_BLU to show. He watched as people came in, purchased tickets and boarded the tram, unsure of who he was looking for until a short Hispanic girl in her 20’s sauntered in. She had hair dyed a sapphire blue and enough piercings to make her look like a walking tackle box.

He approached her awkwardly. “Umm…excuse me. Are you—“

“Not here. Just get on the tram. We’ll talk more later.”

The tram was basically a tiny, metal box suspended by nothing but a wire cable. It swayed and lurched on its journey to the top and Kurt was sure that at any moment he would be plunged to his death on the rocks below. He kept trying to make eye contact with GRL_BLU, but she was ignoring him, gazing out the window, lost in her own thoughts.

What is going on here? What am I doing? Kurt wondered as he studied the woman who was supposed to help him. This isn’t safe. GRL_BLU was cool online but he didn’t know a damn thing about her in real life. Knowing someone online and knowing them in real life are two different things. Everybody is playing a persona online whether they realize it or not. They pretend to be the best versions of themselves in some form or fashion. For all he knew, this strange woman was a shill for the Mind’s agents luring him to his death. He stopped short after that thought and his eyes widened.

GRL_BLU turned to him then and smiled knowingly. “Man, your head must be about to explode from all this shit. Am I right?”

He nodded and leaned in close, hoping no one in the crowded tram would overhear, and whispered, “Are you working for Them?”

She giggled. “Them? No. I’m with They.”

“That’s not funny.”

She laughed anyway. It was always the same with these Swifting types. She would never understand what made them the special ones. What it was that triggered the mutation in them. All of them were basically the same. Timid cowards who were incapable of making any real decisions. They floated through life when their abilities were triggered, adrift in a sea of uncertainty and dread. Never knowing whether they were going to wake up in the world they fell asleep in or another altogether. Maybe it was for the best that she and those like her stepped in.  All the Mind’s cells were suffering from a corrosive insanity. Existence was sick—diseased—and it was up to her and her cohorts to end the suffering once and for all.

“You met Jim in Durango, right?”

“I did. You guys know each other?”

“Yeah. As much as two people can. He’s supposed to meet us at the restaurant and go over some things.”

Kurt mentally kicked himself. He’d managed to himself caught no matter where he turned. Neither GRL_Blue’s mysterious friends nor the Mind’s agents really cared about him. They were only interested in what Kurt, and namely his Swifting, could do for them. He had a feeling this had all been played out before by his online Swifting comrades, like Kid_Kode. And he was fairly certain Kode was dead.

“Relax,” the blue-haired gutter punk assured him as if prying into his thoughts once again, “It’s all going to be O.K.”


The restaurant at the top was an old log cabin style building with a large, wooden deck around it. Jim was nowhere to be found. Nor had anyone matching his description been through there.

“Don’t worry,” GRL_BLU said, “I’m sure he’ll show soon. Let’s go grab a drink.”

They took seats at the bar on the back deck, each trying to ignore the uneasiness building.

GRL_BLU was the first to break the uncomfortable silence. “So I take it Jim filled you in on what’s going on here.”

“Yeah. Are you validating what he said?”

“I am.”

He looked at her quizzically. “Are you sure? It’s pretty insane shit.”

“Jim always says sanity is nothing more than being well-adjusted to your situation. But Truth, well, Truth just is. What you consider sane or insane doesn’t really matter in the face of Truth.”

“Jim is just stuffed to the gills with information, it seems.”

“He is,” GRL_BLU assured him. “He’s literally one of the smartest people I know.”

“Well alright then. Let’s hear it. What’s the next step?”

“That all depends on you.”

“Me?”

“Yes. The Machine is already falling apart. Everything is falling apart—the Mind is infested with insanity—falling headlong into chaos and then…” she shrugged her tiny shoulders, “You feel it, don’t you? Admit it.”

“Yes,” he said, a barely audible whisper that escaped his lips to expose his innermost thoughts.

“I knew it! I knew you would get this. I told Jim you’d be different.” She ordered another round and two shots of Captain Morgan. She handed one to Kurt and raised hers for a toast. “To Kurt. And the sacrifices we make for a little peace and quiet.”

“Uhh…cheers? I guess…”

“So you basically have two choices. Kill yourself and end your insanity or run and hope you can swift far enough ahead of the Mind to start making things interesting.”

“How can I run?” Kurt couldn’t help but recall his visions. “It’ll eventually catch up to me, right?”

GRL_BLU nodded. “Unless we quicken you.”

“What’s that?”

“We…kick you into overdrive. Catapult you into new dimensions altogether.”

“For what? Jim said that was dangerous.”

“Sure it’s dangerous. But think about it. Everything is crumbling into nothingness anyway. You can get a head start on all of that.  Help the get the ball rolling. End the universe’s suffering. You’d be, like, a hero for sure.”

“Actually, that sounds pretty terrifying.”

Before she could retort, her phone chimed for an incoming text. She glanced down at it. “It’s Jim. Said to meet him outside. There’s a shelter up the trail a bit.”


It was much colder on the peak than it was in town and Kurt wished he’d brought a jacket. As they neared the shelter, GRL_BLU called out for Jim. Silence was her response. She sat down at the stone table and Kurt checked out the view. It was breathtaking. The whole city of Albuquerque sprawled out below him like some 3-D map.

“I’m king of the world,” he yelled.

A low chuckle from the underbrush got both of their attention. GRL_BLU waited expectantly and couldn’t contain her shock when the Bald Guy and the Brunette stepped into view holding odd looking weapons.

“Are those credit cards?” Kurt wondered.

“No,” GRL_BLU answered and took a few steps back, “They are definitely not credit cards.” She was desperately searching for a way out. This couldn’t be it. She couldn’t go out like this. Not this way. When she died, she would return to the Void. She had to make her mark on the aberration called Creation while she still could. She had to be remembered. And she wasn’t going to let her footnote in history end like this.

“Don’t even think about it,” the Bald Guy said and chuckled. “I’ve always wanted to say that. But seriously. Don’t.”

“What have you done with Jim?” demanded Kurt.  He had finally had enough. Something changed inside him. He lost fear of anything anyone could ever do to him.

“Who is Jim?” asked the Brunette while cleaning out gunk from underneath her nails. She didn’t seem the least bit worried about Kurt at all. “He a friend of yours?”

Had he shifted again? To a world where Jim didn’t exist? “No. Yes. I don’t know…maybe. He was the guy I ran into in Durango. He told me about everything.”

“Oh. Him,” remarked the Brunette with obvious distaste. “Is that what he told you his name was? He’s no longer a problem. No need to worry.”

“I’m not worried about him. You’re the ones trying to kill me!”

She laughed, a beautiful and haunting sound that resonated in the depths of Kurt’s innermost soul. “Another one of ‘Jim’s’ fairytales, I take it? Make no mistake. Both Jim and his little side kick here want you dead. They just want your death to destroy worlds. We want you to save them.”

“They’re already being destroyed,” said GRL_BLU defiantly. “You assholes are losing. It doesn’t matter what you do. The Mind is coming apart at the seams. Insanity is leaking in. Creation is the abomination. I’m just helping return everything to peace.” And then she made her move.

It all happened so fast Kurt would never be sure what really happened. In one instant GRL_BLU bolted. In the next the Bald Guy zapped her with his credit card gun and she vanished. No blood, no body, not even a neat little pile of ashes, GRL_BLU was gone as if she’d never existed. Kurt snapped and rushed the Bald Guy in a blind rage. They wrestled for control of the strange weapon until the Mind’s agent mysteriously vanished too. After that, the Brunette was on top of him, her weird gun pressing threateningly on his throat.

“What is your problem? We aren’t trying to kill you, you stupid asshole, you’re already dead!”

“What? What do you mean?”

“You. Your specific version of ‘you’ is dead. You died in that train wreck back in 2005. Or you should have died. There was no close call. Something glitched and you ended up swifting. We’ve been trying to catch up to you ever since. To set it right.”

“So it was you who killed all those other versions of me? Is that what setting it right means?”

“No. Those deaths you saw were committed shortly after you’d swift. The Mind was trying to self-correct your little anomaly. You were supposed to be dead, after all. But somehow you always managed to slip through—shift away—and get swapped out for some innocent version of yourself who ended up paying for your mutation. A mutation which can very literally blink universes out of existence.”

She believed what she was saying. She really did. It made sense that this is what the Mind would tell her, that is, if the Mind had actually spoken to her or any of her fellow agents in a very long time. Honestly, she had been shooting from the hip for countless centuries and across an infinite number of universes. All the Mind’s agents had continued on their initial missions like immortal automatons whose creator had passed on and left them alone in a cold and uncertain world. They had purpose—a prime directive, so to speak. And that purpose was to perpetuate existence. To keep nonexistence from creeping in and taking over—to keep the multiverse from becoming static.  She pushed on keeping this mission alive but at times she couldn’t help but wonder if she was following the Mind’s goal or following her own flawed logic. Now was one of those times. But second guessing herself would only get her killed and endanger countless lives. So she steeled herself for what she had to do.

“There is no other way. You can’t be allowed to continue this.” The credit card gun at Kurt’s throat started to glow and hum.

“Wait!” he yelled and a bright light filled his vision.


He awoke the next instant, shaking and sweating; his alarm blaring in the background.

“Daddy! Daddy! It’s morning, daddy. I want waffles,” said a small voice he instinctively knew belonged to his toddler son, Jacob.

He tried to shake off the dream, to accept this newest universe he’d stepped into. He ran his fingers through his hair and managed a smile. “Waffles it is, little man,” he promised and put on his robe. A mental image flashed through his mind—an image of him jumping off Sandia Peak to land in a broken heap on the rocks below. He felt a pang of guilt for Esme and Bella.

“Daddy needs his coffee.”

“Coffee is brewing in the kitchen. Estimated time until completion is one minute twelve seconds,” chimed the robotic female voice of Rosie, his automated housing assistant.

He maneuvered around his apartment, it was unlike any he’d Swifted into before. It had a completely different floor plan. Different furniture. He didn’t recognize the woman in the picture with him, but knew her name was Elise. A television embedded into the wall clicked on as he passed by.

“…partly cloudy and 55 degrees. Light winds and a slight chance for afternoon showers…”

He poured himself a steaming mug of coffee, fixed Jacob breakfast and stepped out onto the balcony. The mug slipped from his numb fingers and crashed to the ground. The geography, the plant life, the sky were all wrong. All unrecognizable as if he wasn’t even on Earth anymore. He was on an island, a vast ocean stretched out before him and dense jungle covered most of the land with unrecognizable plants. He was part of what looked to be a large, walled city that stood in the center of the island like a dark monolith.

“Where am I?”

“Home,” chimed the robotic female voice of Rosie, “This is your residence, Kurt.” Tiny robots swirled around him, cleaning up the broken glass and spilled coffee. “You have lived here with your wife, Elsie and son, Jacob, since your arrival three years ago.”

“But where am I? Am I on Earth?”

“There is no Earth. It died long ago. This is Colony Prime on the moon Arboles, orbiting planet Marduk in the Rigel system. Why are you having memory problems? Should I inform the medical ward of your troubles?”

“No. No, I’m fine. Just had a strange dream is all. I’ll be fine.” He’d done it. He’d broken free of the cell and Swifted into another dimension. “I’m gonna need another cup of coffee though. This is going to be a long day.”


And deep inside the heart of Creation, the Mind stirred.

Swifting Part 1: The Devil You Don’t

Swifting is a short story I wrote about hopping between parallel universes. Always remember: Nothing is impossible in the Realm of Possibility! Enjoy!

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Swifting

“How do I tell her? How can I tell her? There’s no way she’d believe me. Hell, sometimes I don’t even believe me. How can this be real? It can’t be real. Can it?” His knuckles whitened under his grip on the bathroom sink. But he was completely immersed in his thoughts and didn’t notice. Nor did he notice the intense half-insane face staring back at him in the mirror. To be honest, he didn’t know who he was anymore. Every time he looked in the mirror lately, he felt like he was staring at someone else—a different version of himself who was always something of a stranger.

“Forget it. I can’t do it. I can’t tell her,” he announced to his reflection. Then thought better of it. “What am I saying? You don’t fuckin’ care. You’re somewhere else right now. Every version of yourself is simultaneously shifting into a different place. You’re probably shitting yourself right along with me. Well it’s good to know that I’m not going crazy alone.” He laughed softly at his own joke and brushed his teeth. He couldn’t tell her, but he had to tell someone. He was going out.

 


“You can’t tell her shit man. You got that? You can’t utter a fucking word of this crazy shit to her. She’ll see you for the nutjob you are. Don’t. Say. A goddam word. You hear me?”

He had to hand it to Darren. He had a way of being himself no matter where he was. He admired that about him and it was largely the reason he was his best friend. He was a constant. When a person can’t keep their consciousness stable, constants help them cope. Constants offer grounding in a world that changes more than it stays the same. Darren was who he was. Short. Bristly. Built like a tank. Cursed like a sailor. He made no qualms about who he was or what he thought. He could always be trusted to speak truth, no matter what that truth may be. And most importantly, that never changed about him.

“Dude, you don’t understand,” he told Darren, “Shit is getting bad between us. Bad. All our fights end now with her telling me to go find someone else. I’m dying over here. And don’t get me started on our Bella…Fuck, man. I don’t even know which version of her I’m gonna get. Is this a place where we’re together? Or are we at each other’s throats again? It wears on a guy, ya know?”

Sometimes Darren regretted buying into Kurt’s story when he sold him drugs the first time. Time travel or universe hopping or other shit he was sure came straight from science fiction novels was what the guy talked about. Darren didn’t know for sure, he just thought the guy was kooky and amusing. He was pretty convinced that the drugs were only making whatever the fuck was wrong with Kurt worse. He almost felt bad for the guy. He really did. But his money was good. And the story was good at least. Better than most of the junkie insanity he listened to on a daily basis. But really, he put up with Kurt because he bought the drinks. And a person that did that was a friend, as far as Darren was concerned.

“Then fucking leave her already, man. Shit. It’s always coming back to that woman poppin’ off or doing some stupid shit. Man, that’s prolly why you’re going crazy. She’s driving you straight off a cliff. I read an article that talked about how women nagging their men all the time actually kills them quicker. It’s true. Science and shit. But not you, man. You’re over here all, ‘but I think I might possibly love her sometimes when I don’t hate her fucking guts’. It’s bullshit man. Fucking bullshit. And you need to man up and opt out before you end up in a damn nuthouse or worse.”

“Yeah I hear that,” he said morosely. But he wasn’t really paying attention. He’d heard all this before. He knew this narrative by heart because it was whata he should be doing. But he couldn’t. He could never bring himself to ‘opt out’ as Darren put it. So he changed the subject.  “Lately, I’ve been getting this visions. These mental flashes of these other versions of me offing themselves one by one.  In all these different and weird ways. It’s like it’s moving down the line and I’m trying to keep ahead of it.”

“Oh man. You’re back to that freaky multiple universes shit? So tell me this: what happens when one of these other you’s puts one in his skull? Why don’t all of you die then?”

“It’s not how it works. We are connected to our other selves, but they are each an independent clone born of the choices we didn’t make.  I think that movie ‘What the Bleep Do We Know’ explains it best.”

“What movie?”

“What the Bleep Do We Know.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Huh. Probably not a movie here, then,” Kurt said to himself.

“Or you coulda just dreamed it up in that nutty head of yours.”

“Yeah…not likely.”

Darren checked the time on his smart phone. “Well as much as I love our little chat, I’ve got other business.”

Kurt had another beer, musing about his next move when he noticed the woman sitting at the bar. He hadn’t seen her before, he’d been too engrossed in venting to his friend. But damn if she wasn’t staring at him without staring at him; trying to act nonchalant and failing miserably. He normally wasn’t a brazen man—never could find the courage to talk to an attractive woman—and this stranger was definitely attractive. Brunette hair failing over her shoulders and halfway down her shapely back with a face of a movie star and body to match. But this wasn’t a pick up. She was watching him. Had been watching him and he wanted to know why.

He got up and made his way to the restroom where he splashed cold water on his face while trying to muster some grit. Whenever he emerged from the bathroom, she was still there stirring ice in an empty glass. He wasted no time in approaching her lest his grit fizzle out, and said in his best imitation of a macho voice, “Hey there.”

She looked him up and down, making no effort to hide the fact she was studying him before replying, “I need another drink.”

“I don’t work here. You better tell the bartender.”

“I know that,” she snapped smoothly. “I’m asking you to buy me a drink.”

“O.K…Wow. That was really forward.”

“You gonna buy the drink or what?”

“Yeah. Sure. Why not?” Kurt signaled for another round and sat down next to the intriguing brunette. “So what’s your name?”

“No.”

“No? Your name is No? Man your parents were mean.”

She laughed and it sounded like a thousand crystals tinkling together. “I meant, no you can’t get in my pants. You’re with someone.”

“How d’you know that?”

“You’ve got a total dad bod going on. Vain enough to know you should look good but too lazy to give a shit.”

“Oh that’s hilarious,” the sour tone in Kurt’s voice was unmistakable.

The Brunette smiled disarmingly. “Look I get it. Depression can do that to people.”

“So now I’m depressed?”

“Definitely. You failed as a photographer.  You failed as a—what was it you called it?—Oh yeah. Free lance journalist. You’ve failed as a partner to your wife. You’ve failed as a father. And most importantly, you’ve failed to remain rooted in one place for years now. Ever since your ‘accident’ with the train.”

The color fled Kurt’s face and he stumbled out of his chair. The barstool clattered to the floor as he backed away. “Who…who are you?”

“I’m a friend.” Her disarming smile seemed infinitely less so, taking on the qualities of a sinister leer instead.

He backed quickly toward the door. “Who the fuck ARE you? How do you know about me? About my Swifting?” The first few weeks after he realized his universe hopping, Kurt did an internet search and found an online forum dedicated to this very phenomenon, which they called “Swifting”. The forum was a safe, anonymous place full of people like him where stories were shared, theories discussed, lost loves and lives lamented, but most importantly, it offered camaraderie. It didn’t take very long before the forum became a constant and those on it like real friends. Lately though, it had been quiet and Kurt couldn’t help but wonder why.

“Kurt! Don’t you dare split without paying,” growled the bartender. A burly vet Kurt had no intention of pissing off.

“Hey yeah. About that, I’m gonna leave it right here.” He threw a wad of cash on the table nearest him and bolted out the door.

“What the hell was that about?” the bartender asked the Brunette.

“I don’t know. Threatened by beauty, perhaps?”

The bartender grunted and shuffled over to collect the money from the table, “Damn nut jobs. City’s full of em.”

 


SWIFT_K: Any1 on right now?

GRL_BLU: Hey. What’s up K?

SWIFT_K: Just had some crazy shit go down.

GRL_BLU: ???

SWIFT_K: This girl at the bar started talking to me like she knew about me. About my Swifting.

GRL_BLU: …

SWIFT_K: ??

INCOMING PM FROM GRL_BLU

GRL_BLU: I think you should run.

SWIFT_K: WTF?? Y???

GRL_BLU: Look. I don’t know NEthing for sure. OK?

SWIFT_K: OK.

GRL_BLU: I was chatting with Kid_Kode the other day. Said he met some1 at Mal Mart. Some bald               guy, I think.  Said dude knew a lot about him.

SWIFT_K: WTF??? Where is Kode? He on?

GRL_BLU: No. Hasn’t been on in 3 days.

SWIFT_K: Shit. Shit. Shit! We should def not be logging on here anymore.

GRL_BLU: I know. But this place is a constant.

SWIFT_K: Not anymore.

GRL_BLU: I guess… Good luck, K. I’ll email you my info if you ever need to get in touch.

SWIFT_K: Thx

GRL_BLU: Be careful OK?

SWIFT_K: You know me. 😀


 

Kurt shut down the computer and immediately started stuffing clothes into a duffel bag.

“Kurt, what are you doing?” Esme, his wife, stood in the doorway holding their daughter.

“Baby, we gotta go. Get you and Bella packed. Quickly!”

“Where are we going?” she had known Kurt for what seemed like lifetimes. She knew every quirk, every trigger for mood swings. At least she thought she did. Lately, he hadn’t been the same. Almost as if he were a new person every few days. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Baby, we don’t have a lot of time. We aren’t safe…I don’t think…”

“Stop it, Kurt. You’re scaring me.” The baby agreed and started crying, sensing the tense and uncertain energy around her parents.

He briefly explained his encounter at the bar, leaving out the Swifting details.

“So you think this woman is after you to kill you? Why?”

Kurt searched his imagination for a plausible lie to go along with his fantastic truth. “I, uh, have been on these online forums. Umm…grassroots activist type stuff. And people started disappearing off the forums lately. Word is, they got approached by someone with a lot of information about them before they disappear.”

“We gotta call the police!”

“No!” Kurt exploded and then wrangled his control back. “That’s not—I don’t think they can—or will—help us. Please just pack your shit and go to your mother’s.”

“My mother lives in Arizona. You know that.”

“Yeah. Perfect. Get there. Fast. I’ll drop you guys off at the airport. Catch the next flight you can.”

“What’re you gonna do?”

“I’ve got to figure this out. I’ll catch up to you when things have calmed down.”

She stared at him, boring into his soul, trying to decide if he was serious or lying to get her out of town so he could fuck around with whatever little bitch he’d been screwing.  Kurt had been acting weird lately, and she automatically attributed his odd behavior to cheating. She was convinced that was the reason for the deterioration of their relationship. It had to be. Nothing else made sense.

He shifted uncomfortably beneath her gaze. “Esme, please. I’m serious about this. It’s not safe. Please. If not for me then for Bella. Go to your mother’s!”

“O.K.” she finally conceded. “For Bella. I have two weeks I can take. Will you have your government-wants-to-kill-me shit figured out by then?”

“For sure. I’ll see you there in a week. Tops. Now please, pack and let’s go already!”

 

READ PART 2

Day Trippin: Los Lunas Mystery Rock


New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment. It’s where I was born and raised. As a kid and a young adult, I explored much of the beauty of New Mexico. Carlsbad Caverns, Bottomless Lakes, Lincoln, The Sandia Mountains, Jemez Mountains are just a few of the places I’ve adventured. But New Mexico offers so much more. There really is a kind of magic here. An enchantment, if you will, that surrounds and permeates the land and the people that populate it. In an effort to see more of New Mexico’s mysterious and magical places, some friends and I have decided to do one adventure a month to all the magical places we’ve never been. Hence, the trek to the Los Lunas Mystery Rock.


The rock has a wiki site, if you’d like to read the longer history. For those of you in love with brevity, the mystery rock is an 80 ton rock with the 10 commandments carved into it. As if that isn’t a metaphorical feat in itself, in addition the commandments were written in a Semitic language that dates to 1000 B.C.! The enigma has been there for a while and has a history of confusing the native Americans which named the rock and the mountain it rests near, “Mystery Mountain”.

Despite being located near the Los Lunas Landfill, Mystery Mountain is an impressive site. We had to hop two fences (with barbed wire) and trek through an arroyo to get to the mountain, but it wasn’t a bad hike. It only took us about 30 minutes to reach the rock itself. My first impression was that the rock was awe-inspiring and certainly mysterious. It was carved in a remote spot with diligence and expertise. The letters weren’t scratched into the rock like the rest of the graffiti around the place, but were actually chiseled into the stone. There was a lot of graffiti around the stone, places were people have left their own mark. I wondered what it is about places like this that compel people to add to them? I’ve seen several petroglyph sites and all of them have their fair share of recent(ish) graffiti. “J hearts M”, MG was Here, “Sore Foot Gulch 1957” were only a few of the desecrations I saw around the Rock. It occurred to me then that people that stumbled on places of power were always compelled to mark it for its own sake. People mark these places or build structures to commemorate them because of the power that area exudes.

Something compelled not only the Mystery Rock artisans to work here, but native American populations as well. Once we hiked to the top of Mystery Mountain we uncovered many Native American petroglyphs as well as what appeared to be the remains of several structures.

People lived here. I kept getting the impression that this was where old spirits dwelt.

The hike to the top of Mystery Mountain was rough. Loose rock, mud and ice tested our endurance with every step.

The wind was awful, literally trying to blow us off the mountain. We stopped for a rest in an old wind-break.

But even with an angry wind making us suffer for our trespass, the views from atop Mystery Mountain could not be spoiled.

All in all, it was a great adventure. While the mystery of Mystery Rock remains unsolved, the area itself still holds an enchanting power and beckons all adventurers come who wish to uncover her secrets!

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