Maybe I would just call it “Snickerdoodle Vomit”. A light brown, sure—but I hadn’t seen this exact color in such a large area before. I supposed that I’ve seen most colors, but when you define them down to a single number, it was somehow satisfying. I didn’t have the exact Pantone number for it, but it was something like 16-1234. Maybe that wasn’t even a color in Pantone, I don’t know… But were I working for a company and was forced, I would call it Distant Desert Deluge. Honestly, the color didn’t even matter really. The important part was what was happening inside the building. It’s just that I had a thing for color and liked to memorize them. A particular habit, but then again, I was a pretty particular guy. Inside the building was my girlfriend, I just hadn’t met her yet.
“Dude, come on. It’s going to be epic,” Jake had told me. And I had come, even though it was in an older building.
The Big Event had happened around ten years ago, and it was pretty standard for larger buildings to be affected. As was the great fear when I was a kid, I had the chips put into my hands, feet, and behind my ears. “Mark of the beast” the churches had screamed, and some of them didn’t get chipped. They changed their minds when they lost their identity from what the media called Twin Dissociation Syndrome. My parents were rich enough and wise enough to get me and my brother chipped early on.
I remember my brother and I were still going to public school where some people had been chipped and some hadn’t. Kids would show up twice and other kids wouldn’t show up at all. The worst thing was when a twin showed up, and the real kid didn’t. You could always tell, but the twin would insist that they were the kid—The real kid. They would have the memories somewhat down, they would look alright, but you always knew.
Chauncy was my best friend in school and he was killed by his twin. I remember the day that I found out from his parents. My brother Jake and I had been pulled from school that very afternoon and were enrolled at one of the newer schools who only accepted those that had taken the chip.
Later that year when my brother and I came home from school, our mother was in the front lawn covered in blood. My brother’s twin lay before her, full of holes from a kitchen knife. She had lived but would never be the same. We moved soon after. Our mother recovered (with scars), but the mental damage had been worse than the physical. Some days I would catch her looking at my brother before she would burst into tears and would have to leave the room.
I stood outside my parents’ bedroom listening in on her talking to my father.
“I can’t do it. I just can’t make it go away,” she said.
“It wasn’t him. It wasn’t anyone’s child. It was a monster and you did the right thing.” He tried to give her comfort.
“It was someone’s child!,” she screamed. “It was someone’s child!” Over and over again, as we drove her to the hospital.
Was it someone’s child? There were several opinions about them that I knew of. The largest group of people (at least, all the television shows), believed they were just like us, from another place. Another dimension. But that’s not what the State and Federal laws reflected. Not in the least. Lobbyists from every nook and cranny were still trying to get the laws changed, but it was slow in coming.
When my mother killed my brother’s twin, they asked her some questions, filled out some paperwork, but that was it. Animal control came and took away the body.
Animal control. Like it was a raccoon. I mean, it probably had more soul than a raccoon… They could think and everything. Not all the way, I mean, but mostly. Even now, I make it a habit of talking to the safe ones.
“Hi! How are you?” I ask.
A blank stare, a slow blink, “Hungry,” a twin may reply.
“Want some of my sandwich?” I’ll ask.
Another blank stare, then a look at me, then a hesitant and outstretched hand. It’s then that I don’t know what to expect. Usually, I will put the sandwich down and slide it towards them. I don’t like getting too close. Nobody does. Public Bus drivers had some of the first problems, and now most of them recognize how to deal with it. The Transit Authority of Omaha Nebraska were the first ones to figure it out. The twins loved to be around people. Not interacting with them, but just being around them. Staring at them, watching them, just being all-around creepy. So, they naturally will congregate at bus stops. They usually never have any money, and when they do, they usually don’t know how to use it. Paying for the smallest things with wadded up hundred dollar bills, wherever the hell they would get them, who knows?
But anyway, so they get on the buses and cause a commotion, not understanding the tokens or routes, they just stand there and don’t pay, or pay too much, not feeding it into the automated bill collector. Omaha inserted a plexiglass into the back third of their bus, and told the twins to enter and exit by the back door. Well, they technically took off the door, but they did paint the entryway bright yellow and green and the twins get on and get off whenever they feel like it. I watched a selfie the other day about it.
“Oh it’s weird all right,” a large man in his forties was saying. “They just sit there and stare at you for the whole trip.”
A bus driver was interviewed as well. “Yeah—so we just drop em off at the police station at the end of the day. Otherwise some of them would probably still be on the bus all night.”
Worldwide, the Transit Authority of Omaha Nebraska “formula” caught on and tolerance seemed to be the best solution.
But the rest of the world is not Nebraska. It’s a blessing and a curse for some countries. Greece enslaves all they can and puts them to work, even after their collapse, they still managed to figure things out. Russians shoot them on sight. Here, in the United States of America, mostly they are tolerated. India ignores them, I don’t understand how, but in India there are not as many as there are here.
Scientists call them Homo Sapiens Idaltu after the men that were found at Herto, Ethiopia—Man’s closest relative. I didn’t like it. I believed something other than most. That they are not humans… That they are without mothers.
I was a child of the imagination, and therefore given to more fanciful thoughts. Though I’ve read everything I can on them, I still had a thousand questions. Were they from another place? Another dimension? Were they equal to humans? I believed that they weren’t. That everything in them screamed out “ALIEN” to me was beyond doubt. Somehow, these entities were (in my mind) from another planet… But that’s beside the point.
The building, as I was saying, was Snickerdoodle Vomit in color. It wasn’t far from my dorm. I had gotten through school with passing marks and had wound up at Penn State. It was my second year. The world had changed and I guess I had changed along with it. Twins were now “resident aliens”, legally here, and there was even a representative for them in the White House. Doctor Givvens. The real Doctor Givvens was a retired judge from Baltimore and apparently had given his consent to let his twin represent the others at some national level.
Jake called me in the parking lot. I answered. Yes, I was here. Yes, I was coming up. He was so pushy sometimes. I walked up the long porch-way to the front door. “Closed for private event,” it said. I opened the door.
“Here for the party?” A woman entirely in green asked as I walked into the vestibule.
“Yeah I guess.” I told her. I cocked my head, unsure of myself. “What kind of party is this anyhow?” It was supposed to be a “safe” party.
She gave me a quick up and down. “You’ll be fine dear,” and began to talk on her phone. I hadn’t noticed she had it in her hand. She turned away conferring with a friend. The front area of the building had been converted into the party-goers landing zone. A sign-in sheet was there if you wanted to get private referrals, e-mail sign up, a drawing for a fitness club. The kind of things you expected at a big company get-together. That sounded just like my brother.
After high school, Jack had gone straight into a broker’s apprenticeship and I hadn’t heard from him in several years. He sent me cards on my birthday, and one on my graduation from high school. I knew that the birthday cards weren’t signed by him, but the graduation card was. Along with a debit card for four thousand dollars. It made my dad mad but there was nothing he could do about it really. It was in my name… And I needed the money. Mom had been committed to an institution two years before and it was just him and I at the house, never on speaking terms.
I pushed the elevator button and waited. More guests were showing up, better dressed than I was. I had on a polo and chinos and my Rockport Pro Walker 9000’s. This was as dressed up as I came. The elevator dinged and I got on, not bothering to hold the door. They were too busy chatting it up with the hostess anyway. The doors closed and the elevator lit up one button on the grid. The penthouse. I pushed it and it took me up.
I hadn’t been this high in a long time. Around three hundred feet in the air, you really began to feel the effects of the resonation. It’s why no one flew anymore. It’s why radio didn’t work and all signals bounced off of ground relays or better yet, used land and underwater cables. It’s why no one went into tall buildings. But here I was, going to the penthouse. God help me, I’d better not tell my mom about this. She would have an episode and have to be sedated.
Pretty soon I was already experiencing the effects. I hadn’t been this high since I was sixteen on a dare. I had gone into one of the buildings downtown and climbed the stairs. It was the most terrifying thing that I had ever done. I didn’t even make it forty stories up. At floor thirty seven, I had experienced a seizure and my friends had called the fire department. The police were called and my father had almost beat me to death. That was years ago. That was when Mom was institutionalized.
They still didn’t have a name for all the things you experienced when you were this high up. I had read “The official story.” How no one wanted to attempt a rescue at the International Space Station. They had let them all die. There was nothing to do. They said that JAXA had sent up probes in an attempt to capitalize on it, but it was lost. Little by little, NASA and the USAF were dismantled and shared among the Navy and the Army. It didn’t matter, really. Whether NASA went into the Sea like the rumors said or whether they just quit the program completely didn’t affect the common man like me. Right now, I was stuck in an elevator that was humming.
The buttons, the walls and even my jacket, began to become fuzzy. I was almost at the top. I wonder if all the clothes fell off, or were you just blurry. I was having a hard time focusing on everything, how sometimes things become blurry and double-visioned. Like that, but without the mental instability. This is how a crazy person must feel. Trapped inside of a body that is doing things on its own, when the consciousness remains intact. Maybe… It would have to be a specific type of crazy I guess. It was beyond me. I wasn’t a psychoanalyst.
The button dinged at the top floor and the door opened. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, but then again, I had no expectations. Some of the same logos that were at the bottom floor had smeared their signs here and there. When I say smear, I mean it. Ink didn’t work up here like it did on the ground. You could write deep, or into something… Similar to how you could not only impress the news-type into a ball of Silly Putty, but you could impress into it as well with grooves and gouges. The ink from the advertisements floated in mid-air like opulent cotton candy clouds. I walked right through them.
They were there – people I mean, walking around with garments that couldn’t exist in real life. Larger than possible, colors that couldn’t work. Angles that weren’t supported by physics. And some of them were swimming through the air like it was water. I was hallucinating I decided, and dedicated my eyes to the floor and walked until I came to a wall, where I stopped, sat down, turned around and placed my back up against it.
I almost fell out of the building, and I would have if a hand hadn’t grabbed me and pulled me back.
“Woah Nelly!” The voice said. It wasn’t my brother, but a red-head with hair that was on fire. I wasn’t alarmed by it, because it didn’t appear to be real fire, but it was interesting to look at, nonetheless. I wanted to speak to her but all I could get out was a groan.
“Oh honey! Are you alright?” She offered me her hand to stand up. I waved her off and stayed on the floor. Not leaning on the wall, but not moving. I couldn’t look up. The walls were waving like coral in the sea and it was very unnerving to say the least. I didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know me. Where was my brother when I needed him? The woman with the red hair hadn’t left my side, instead she was looking at me with a cocked head. She squatted down and came eye to eye with me.
“Ohmygod, this is your first time, isn’t it?” she asked, wide eyed. She knew it was, everyone knew it was, there was no hiding it. Definitely my first time for whatever this was. Going this high.
My brother never showed up. I eventually did stand up and hung out with Blackstar all night… That’s what she said her name was. We talked, we danced and things got a little crazy when my twin showed up. Either Blackstar had slipped me something in my drink or it was just the way things were up here, but I sort of came to with my hands cuffed to a lamp post in the park. It still looked like we were on the top floor, but I couldn’t be sure of anything anymore.
“No hard feelings man.” he said. “I just wanted to meet you and I didn’t think you’d be too keen on me coming down there. Not after what your mom did to my brother.
“Your broth…” I stammered. For some reason I couldn’t speak.
“Yeah. Who did you think he was?” My twin scrutinized me, then sighed, placed a hand on my shoulder. “Sorry it had to come to this man. Really I am.” I looked into his eyes and saw what I thought might be compassion. At least he looked the way I look when I mean it.
Despite myself, I smiled back. I couldn’t really talk. It seemed I didn’t know how. Things were strange here and the way things worked didn’t work the way I wanted them to. I was aware that we were walking towards the bus station.
“…all like the bus station so much,” my twin was saying with wonder. He was genuinely curious. “It’s as if you really want to be going somewhere but don’t really know where.” he continued. How was there a bus station in the Penthouse I wondered. I also realized that I was incredibly hungry.
“Hungry…” I managed.
“Of course, how silly of me,” my twin said, and handed me the bag he had been carrying. It had two sandwiches in it and a pickle in a Ziploc. I looked down at it blankly and got on the bus as they waved goodbye. I could only think to myself: “What?”
When the Big Event came, they knew all about it. For years the scientists had told us that there were only this many months and this many days to be ready for it. They had warned us of possible outcomes and circumstances that may occur to us when it came. They had told us all the data, and we were all still afraid for our lives. In 2244 when the event flattened the firmament, the impact decimating all life. We were left behind, in the mythosphere, as a remnant. An apology from God for the way things turned out.
The replacement Earth that God had built was much more safe and had every peace of mind ready and available for the humans left behind on the old one. They could feel free to live their lives and do what they needed to do without feeling overwhelmed or burdened, but the sky would be closed to them. Instead, the newer version Earth would be slowly placed down over the old one, until the meld was complete. It would be tricky at first, but He assured us that everything would work out in the end.
The good news is that we all got to ride the bus.