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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

Daily Wisdomisms: Hermes Trismegistus

Further exploration of the writings of Hermes. This excerpt, on the nature of God, ties in nicely with an earlier tidbit from Philip K. Dick. Coincidence? Enjoy!

Be still, my son, and consider what is God, what is the cosmos, what being is immortal, what is dissolved and consider that the cosmos is made by God, and in God, man is made by the cosmos and in the cosmos, and that God is the source, the boundary and the constitution of everything.The Corpus Hermeticum Book 8. p.42.

Again we find reference to God being a part of His creation and not separate from it. I keep coming across these types of passages in my readings and I think that modern religion may have some things wrong. I grew up being taught that God was this eternal grumpy old man who lorded over us dispensing justice as He saw fit. I thought of Him as a force outside the universe He created. Something apart from it. But I no longer think this to be true. God isn’t some grumpy grandpa declaring jealousy and murder a sin, yet freely inflicting these things upon the peons in the cosmic playground He created. That is a trait of someone that is outside their creation looking in. But as Jesus was so fond of telling us, “God is Love.” And in order to truly love something it has to be a part of you. There can be no distinction or separation.

Daily Wisdomisms: Philip K. Dick (The Empire)

Another excerpt from The Exegesis taken from the appendix to VALIS. This particular excerpt rings true to my soul. Enjoy!

The Empire is the institution, the codification of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence, since its nature is a violent one.

To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox; whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.” PKD VALIS p. 235

What PKD calls “The Empire” I have always dubbed “The Machine”. But my beliefs on it have matched PKD’s even before I read the passages. It’s true though. If we look throughout history at all of the uprisings, revolts and revolutions that started out with such noble and pure intentions, those rebels who came to power afterward soon turned out like the very despots they overthrew. This is part of the Machine. It eats everything around it and turns it into a lifeless extension of itself. This can be very clearly seen in the arts. Every artistic movement that has arisen has been assimilated into the Machine and turned into a mass-produced mockery of itself. The same can be said for social movements. The Beats, the Hippies, the Punks, the Occupy Movement, the Tea Party, etc. The Machine swallowed them all. Infiltrated them, labeled them and neutered their influence. Thus, in order to defeat the Empire we must leave it behind.

 

Daily Wisdomisms: Philip K. Dick

Another excerpt from his Exegesis. In this piece, PKD examines the nature of God and God’s connection with nature. Enjoy!

Space, time and motion are relative…since the universe is infinite, and there cannot be two infinites, the infinite God and the infinite universe must be one…there is no prime mover, there is motion or energy inherent in every part of the whole. “God is not an external intelligence…it is more worthy for him to be the internal principle of motion, which is his own nature, his own soul”. Nature is outside of the divine mine; however, this mind is not in a “heaven above” but in every particle of reality.The Exegesis p. 394.

I like this. PKD is essentially saying that God is not separate from His creation. That God IS His creation.

Daily Wisdom-isms: The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

“They”. “Them”. “The Establishment”. “The Machine.” Whatever it’s called, it’s the same thing: The ultimate force plotting the sinister downfall of humanity.  PKD called it “The Empire”. This force is always illusive and only seems exposed through “glitches” in the system.  Fighting the system is futile, because even if you win, you lose.

 

“The Empire is the institution, the codification, of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence, since its nature is a violent one.

To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox. Whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.” —-Philip K. Dick, “Valis” p. 235

 

Now think back to every movement that has challenged the system in the past 100 years. What’s happened to them? What happened to the hippie movement? To the Tea Party? To the Occupy movement? Each one was infiltrated and co-opted by the “Empire”.  Each one mutated into what it so desperately fought against. And there you have the paradox.

Inspiring Muses

When does that spark return? Do you feel the moment or does it just explode into you like a supernova of revelation? PKD had VALIS. But, we aren’t all fortunate enough to be blessed with PKD’s… idiosyncrasies. What is it then? Where does passion well from? I suppose that’s more a question of inspiration and/or muses.

I think passion-inspiration-muses-whatever are like energies. Flowing tendrils of energy criss-crossing the earth behind the Veil. Passion throughout the ages, is spurned then, by people tapping into these tendrils. Stepping into the flow of the river, as it were. It washes over a person and then BAM!

Inspiration.

Creation.

Art.

Of course I don’t think this concept is limited to the Arts. Passion is universal. There is a passion for everything. The question remains then, how do we tap into these conduits of inspiration?

Obviously a passion for something is helpful. But this is easy. The problem with this is the connection is only temporary. After a while, it dwindles away, though it remains inside you like smoldering embers.

So it makes sense that like embers, you have to stoke your muse from time to time to reignite your connection to inspiration. I call this “Overcoming Writer’s Block”.

Easier said than done. Life gets in the way. Beautiful, distracting, all-important LIFE. Without it, we are dead. But with it, we are chained inside our own limited perceptions. We are contained to the flesh, forced to sustain it. Thus survival supersedes inspiration. This is always the case. The days of pure artists are gone. Now everyone (myself included) is an artist in their free time. Trying to tap into the matrix of inspiration as part of a scheduled routine. But that’s not how inspiration works.

Muses work on their own schedules and if you aren’t ready when they are then forget you. They’ll move along and give that great idea to someone else. And you’ll kick yourself later when you see your idea in a book store or on television.

I’m beginning to realize, I can’t serve two masters. Either give in to my muse’s strict demands or struggle trying to make inspiration work for me. When really, it’s always the other way around.

Daily Dick-isms

Today’s daily Dick-ism continues PKD’s exploration of reality as unreal and also how we (being fleshy machines caught in this unreal reality) perceive time and space within our hologram. I’ve added a few useful links to help clear up some of the background. Enjoy!

“If I were to say to you: ‘The universe which we perceive is a hologram,’ you might think I had said something original until you realized that I had only up-dated Plato’s metaphor of the images flashed on the walls of our cave, images which we take to be real. The universe as a hologram is more arresting as an insight, though, because the hologram is so strikingly like the reality which it refers to–being formed in ersatz cubic volume, for one thing–that we could take this to be more than a mere poetic statement. Also, we can more readily grasp a kind of elaborate mechanism underlying our perceptible universe; i.e. the enormously intricate forces which keep it intact.

I conceive our universe–the hologram–to consist of an infinite number of laminated layers arranged in sequence, but not truly in anything that can be called time or space. ‘Time’ is our perception of our own movement as we are driven, as in the form of a worm or screwdriver, through the successive layers of laminations; instead of the film moving, so to speak, the audience moves. The pressure exerted on us to go through the laminations is time; the sense that there is genuine sequence of encounter arranged somehow is space.”

—-Philip K. Dick Exegesis pp. 80 and 81

Daily PK Dick-isms

PKD became convinced that his experiences during February and March of 1974 were the work of an outside force (which he named Zebra) projecting information to him. He also thought this force had been projecting to him for most of his life. He believed his works were inspired (at least in part) by the information received from Zebra. Enjoy!

Note: Italics are authors.

“No, damn it, it is like Ubik! The outside macrobrain is signaling us to wake up, we are like the characters in Eye, asleep–not on the floor of the bevatron, but while watching for Christ to return. We were made toxic–i.e., put into ‘half life’–as if killed. Fuck! I know it; Ubik is the paradigm. The half-life, the messages, Ubik itself, Runciter–we are in a sort of bubble of irreality: spurious world generated by–the plenary powers, astral determinism, whatever the fuck that is.

I give up. Its hold was broken over me in 3-74–Salvation is real. Paul was right. But technology is involved, a superior technology.”

Philip K. Dick Exegesis. p. 416

Daily PK Dick-isms

Interestingly enough, PKD acknowledged his mental health issues. What I find interesting about this passage is the appearance of the divine feminine at the peak of his psychotic episode. I’ve known people that have had that exact same thing happen during a psychotic break. And they’ve never read PKD. The divine feminine appeared to them in a different guise, of course, but she was there just the same.

Note: all of the italics and parenthetical additions are the authors.

“My psychosis put me in touch with ‘das ewige weiblichkeit‘in me, and for that I will always be grateful; it means I will never really be alone again: whenever I really need her, I will sense her presence and hear her voice (i.e. St. Sophia). At the center of psychosis I encountered her: beautiful and kind and, most of all, wise, and through that wisdom, accompanying and leading me through the underworld, through the Bardo Thodol journey to rebirth–she, the embodiment of intelligence: Pallos Athena herself. So at the core of a shattered mind and life lies this epicenter–omphalos–of harmonie and calm. I love her, and she is my guide: the second comforter and advocate promised by Jesus…as Luther said, ‘For the very desperate‘, here in this world secretly, for their–our–sake.

When I saw her she was beautiful beyond compare–Aphrodite and Pallas Athena both–and someday I’ll see her again. She is inside me–she is my soul.”

–Philip K. Dick Exegesis pp. 372 and 373

Daily PK Dick-isms

Today’s Daily Dick-ism explores the notions of salvation, the illusion of reality and how PKD attacks these issues in his writing.

“Salvation–from what? From the world, which is an iron prison…God did not design such a structure of suffering: he extricates us from it, and restores us as part of him. This is the acosmic view in all my writings: the empirical world is a fraud, counterfeit. I write about reality as an illusion because it is, and I see that it is. Thus my witness is tremendously powerful attack on the world–but I am just now realizing that this view (of world as illusion) is Gnostic. My corpus of writing is an assault on the created universe of matter, highly original and accurate. It (the view) discloses the deceptive nature of empirical reality–now I have had it revealed to me that this world is an impediment between us (man) and God.”

–Philip K. Dick The Exegesis pp.276 and 277

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