Waiting on the Good Times
rating: +16+x

Waiting on the Good Times

by DarkStuff

1: In the Beginning…

I have known Ed for a long time. I mean, a long time. We met back when we both lived in Placer County, which had a good decade between now and then. I was a socially awkward 4th Grader hitting adolescence early, and he was a green eyed kid who had all the signs of growing up to be a sociopath. We made a wonderful pair. He did all the dirty work, I reaped all the rewards, we got in trouble a lot, we toughed everything out with each other. It was quite a time to be a 10 year old boy climbing trees and spying on girls with a 9 year old crazed blonde haired tornado. Sure, we were creepy kids, but with the childish innocence that came with the age. In short, it was a blast. Almost blowing up old abandoned houses, kicking dodgeballs at Jai’s house and accidentally breaking windows, doing so again and intentionally breaking his windows — it was just such a reckless fantasy.

However, like most people end up doing, we grew and matured. I always played with the ladies, Ed found a peace staring at dudes’ abs. He always got good grades, I always skated by with C’s. I always walked a fairly straight edge, he was caught for selling cocaine. As we grew up, our dynamics changed, but it remained that we were quite a team. When I found myself bicurious — and later bisexual — we had our romantic fling, but it fucked with our normal routines and after a couple dates and a drug fueled bedroom adventure we went fairly fluidly back to our chummy ass slapping insult slinging nature. I went back to my cheerleaders, he went back to his football players, and we called it even.

When graduation finally came, it was an awkward time for both of us. Life as we knew it hadn’t existed without each other in close reach, and so after a very short discussion following a couple drinks at a celebratory party we found each other to be roommates. Due to his perfect academic record (the recommendations of a couple teachers got him through in spite of his drug dealing incident), Ed got accepted into Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and so we were off to Massachusetts. Of course, I wasn’t certain what I was gonna do there, but hey, I could figure that out along the way. First priority was sticking with my emotional rock and extra best friend Ed Dilber. I could get a minimum wage job working at some fast food chain in the meantime, it honestly didn’t matter to me. If I could continue chasing tail and Ed could continue to serenade me with his newest genre idea, I was all shaped up to be a happy man.

After four years — six relationships for me, just one for him — of Ed making it through college and me just trying (and succeeding) to get promotions at Subway, he made it into Vanderbilt University. At this point we were living with his boyfriend Jai (different Jai), hiking on weekends, biking on weekdays, drinking and being stupid young adults. We infiltrated fraternities (sometimes not even at Vanderbilt) and messed with all the big burly dudes and all the skinny unreal perfect babes. Trashed our fair share of parties, made a couple friends — some dudes named Jacob and Richard, their pals Kailash, Jessica, and Gyana, and a freak named Rachael — and had an overall good young adult experience. Barely spent a night in our apartment because we were avid couch surfers and partiers. Not sure how Ed even managed to get good grades with how little time we spent at home, at Vanderbilt no less.

While Ed was cutting open bodies (or so I imagined) and I was getting intimate with his boyfriend, times were good. Very good. In fact, I’d say I’ve just had a good life, really. Enough money, fantastic friends, great sex life, good health and fun adventures. It was really all I could hope for. A good life, yeah. A very good life. But alas, all good things must come to an end. I didn’t say that with the intent of implying I died, though I get what it sounds like. However, it’s not that crazy a conclusion to make. In a kind of weird, roundabout, stupid metaphorical way, we all sorta died a little in the process. Worked very close with it, too — oh I’ll stop my rambling and just cut to the chase. This is how it went down:

I was making out with Jai because we had nothing better to do, and Ed practically kicks down the door. Seeing his crazy red eyes and wide sprint ready stance, I took my tongue outta Jai’s mouth and he took his hand outta my pants.

“What’s —”

“Fucking pack it. Alex, Jai, pack everything,” he made an exasperated smile, “we’re on the fucking run so take your precious items and get in the car and we are fucking booking it okay?”

There wasn’t a question about it. No other words had to be shared. Despite the immediate confusion, the three of us had a sort of pavlovian response to situations like this. Trust ran thick through our veins, and we began to fucking pack it. Pictures of my old dog Roxie, Ed’s bong, and my laptop were all in a bag in seconds. In the remaining time I had while Jai and Ed were taking care of their own shit, I grabbed some snacks from the mini fridge and stuffed them in a sack.

We all made eye contact for a meaningful second, and rushed out the door and down the stairwell. Emptying into the parking lot, we rushed for the Toyota — the parking job was clearly rushed — and practically crashed into the seats. Ed bumped his head on the car door. He then got the car into gear like it meant his life. Jai and I shared a glance that said “we probably shouldn’t initiate conversation”. Ed looked behind him, backed up and out, and sped onto the road. We took a turn here and there, going a little too fast, and ended up on the interstate. Finally, after about a minute of silence and finally obeying the speed limit, Ed spoke up.

“Okay, so, Jai, take over driving.”

“The fucking, how?”

“Just figure it out, okay? Here,” Ed started climbing into the back seats.

Dude! Are you fucking high? What the — get back to the wheel, this is — !”

Ed ended up in the back seat, and Jai clambered from the passenger seat to get to the wheel continuing to scream well justified profanities at Ed and getting them back on course for not careening into woodland.

“Sorry about that. No, I’m not high, except on adrenaline. Look, we’re gonna have to go to Rachael’s house.”

“Rachael’s house? Why?”

“Well well well, uh, you see… This is all pretty impulsive, but like, see… I want you to meet a friend.”

Ed patted the back seats, and a head poked up from behind them. There was a… slimy looking man, with a couple noticeable incisions on him, and he was wearing only a white gown.

“Holy fucking sharktits man, who the hell is this?”

“Who the hell is who?”

“Ask him! He can speak, you idiot!”

“Is there someone in the trunk?!”

“And who might you be?”

“I don’t really know.”

“What does he mean he doesn’t fucking know?”

“It means he doesn’t know, shut up and let him talk!”

“‘Let him talk?’, no, no no no, you have more explaining to do than he does.”

“Babe, please, who is this man and what is he doing in our car?”

“Why doesn’t he do the explaining? here, everybody shut up, okay? Shut up.”

“Uh, I don’t, like, I don’t know anything.”

“Tell them what you told me.”

“I have some vague memories — more like images, but that’s it.”

“Oooh, soooo helpful. We picked up an amnesiac. Did you just hijack him from a hospital bed, I mean, what’s wrong with him?!”

“Dudes, dude dude dooders, okay? Listen up here, ya cunts, we’re doing this…”

Jai and I paused in uncomfortable angry silence.

“…Because I owe Rachael Davidson.”

“Babe, we’re breaking up.”

“No no no, okay okay, look! She’s the whole reason that I even got into this university! She got the cocaine dealing overlooked, it was all her, and now I owe her a favor no questions asked. I would have done this alone but she seemed panicked as shit. Thus, I panicked, and needed backup.”

“Bullshi —”

“Okay fuck off, look! We need to meet her at her house, deliver her an amnesiac named Jerry Gardner, and then we’re done! We’re done, okay? It’s gonna all be good. Just trust me.”

“Bullshit. We’re going home.”

“I’m behind the wheel, and I agree.”

Ed Dilber glanced between me and the strange naked Jerry sitting in our trunk.

“Guys, I’m scared of Rachael. I don’t think that any fate we would suffer at the hands of the law could be worse than what Rachael will do to us —”

“Do to you.

“— if we don’t go along with this.”

“You are pulling us along in this adventure —”

“This task.

“— this extremely illegal adventure because you owe Rachael?”

“How how how how do you know it’s illegal? We’re just transporting a dude who doesn’t remember nothin’ to her house. She could be helping him — you know what, let’s work under the assumption that she’s helping this dude, okay?”

The silence in the car was tense and unbreakable. Jai continued to drive angrily, and Ed looked with eyebrows raised at the rest of us (excluding Jerry). I glanced, concerned, between Ed and the slick, slimy naked man in the trunk of our car. Jerry looked utterly confused and out of it. I figured maybe he was just… really high? Who knew, honestly. He was freaked out, and I was freaked out in turn. Ferrying a naked man to someone’s house wouldn’t even be that weird a thing to do in my world if it weren’t for the panic from Ed and the fact that it came from an owe to Rachael.

As far as I could tell, Rachael consisted off of people owing her. When she first met someone, she would make sure to do something huge for them. As big as she could get. In return, she’d tell them they owed her one favor, no questions asked. Using this system, Rachael would make a safety net of debtors so that whenever she fell she would take begrudging people and make them do things for her. It was her substitute for friendship; instead of getting people to help her out of the goodness of their heart and their undying companionship between them, she would lure people in with a feeling of debt and guilt. It made her a particularly unlikable personality.

Jai came up on the left turn that eventually led to Rachael’s house, and he stopped at the stop sign. Grunting in disapproval, and continuing to not look at his boyfriend Ed, he turned on the turn signal and began to hang a left. After making the turn, he tilted his head back.

“You know what? You owe me.”

2: Breaking & Entering

It was a very small house — one floor with maybe three or four rooms not including the bathroom — with a luscious colorful garden in front. We stayed in the car while we ushered Jai out to knock on the door. Due to the situation, what would normally have been an awkward campaign to cover Jerry enough to get to the door turned into a covert mission to reach Rachael and transfer some classified good. Jai approached the building, looking nervously back at us, and then rang the doorbell. No response. He looked back at us again, and we wordlessly egged him on. He rang the doorbell again, looked in one of the windows, and then came back.

“Nobody’s home.”

“Bullshit.”

“Bullshit? You saw!”

“No no no, I’m taking a shot —”

“No you’re not, you idiot! You look after Jerry. I’ll go. Me.”

I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. I knew Jai and Ed were looking at me disapprovingly, but I wasn’t going to look at them. I rang the doorbell again. No response. I turned back, they had the look I expected them to have, and then I just sorta… opened the door. Jai hadn’t checked if the door was unlocked yet. Jai and Ed mouthed at me such sayings like “what are you doing?”, “close the door!”, “no no no no no!”, but I just shrugged at them and walked in.

The house was pretty clean. Looked really nice. The most prominent colors were purple and dark blue. She definitely had themed her house. I searched around, finding everything extremely tidy and well organized. It practically looked like nobody lived here, like it was a model home. After walking around for a bit, and finding nothing, I saw that her desktop computer… was on. She must have left it like that. It was on the desktop, and currently open was a .txt file called “For Housesitter”. I walked up, and read it to myself…

“Dear Ms. Housesitter,

I have entrusted you with my house this week, and I hope you take good care of it. My cats need to be fed and watered every morning and every evening, my plants need to be watered every night (use three full watering cans), and on your last day here it would be wonderful of you to vacuum and dust the house. Take all that you want from the fridge for food and such, and clean any dishes you dirty. If you have any questions, you can *open Chrome on this computer and email me from my own email* — I’m already logged in, and if I get an email from myself then I would know it’s you.

Sincerely,
Rachael Davidson”

I opened her email, and composed… something. I mean, that part was emphasised with asterisks. It seems like something you’d need to do, right? I wrote to her. Er, well, it looked digitally like she wrote to herself. But anyways, it went like this…

“Dear Ms. Davidson,

Well, I have some questions and I think better in person. How do I meet you?

Please,
Ms. Housesitter.”

I, uh… Well, I didn’t know what else to do. She was going to respond to herself, and I didn’t know her email’s password, so this is the only place I could have gone to see if she responded, and guys were waiting for me, and — oh! There it was. An email. That was fast.

“Dear Ms. Housesitter,

Where Alex got kicked in the nuts by Sofia that one time. Tomorrow.

Sincerely,
Rachael Davidson

P.S. Smooth.”

I admittedly didn’t know where I got kicked in the nuts by Sofia. That might have been one of my blackout drunk nights — of which I have only had a few! Stop your judgement. Stop it. Anyways, I sprinted back to the car, and delivered the news.

“Was she there? What did you do?”

“Ra— wait shit!”

I sprinted back in, and logged out of her email. Didn’t want anyone else coming and seeing the conversation, she couldn’t have had that house without having roommates as well. I sprinted back out, and slid into the car.

“Rachael’s being really fucking secretive. She had a text file open that told me, in very vague terms, to open her email and send her and email through her own email. I did that, and she responded telling me to meet her at the place I got kicked in the nuts by Sofia. Tomorrow, she specified. Oh, and she called me smooth”

“Oh yeah, that place. Okay. So I guess we’re going home and meeting her —”

“No, no no no, no, we aren’t going home. This is too weird to go home. We’re camping.”

“Camping? Are you crazy?”

“I’m not — come on, it could even be fun! We have snacks, we have some blankets for Jerry, we can just go out and light some things — ‘cause we have lights for blunts — and hang out and get high and have a good time.”

“Just drive out into the woods and we’ll set things up, we’ll get to know Jerry better, c’mon!”

“Fine. Fine. Here we go. As per Ed’s request. Again.”

And away we went.

3: Camping w/ Friends

Our makeshift campfire threatened the underbrush, and made me very nervous. Ed had assured me we were fine, and that the leaves weren’t even dry yet so the forest was fine too. I wasn’t so sure, but the ground was really wet, so I ignored my pyrophobic instinct. We had thrown some blankets over Jerry, who sat in the trunk of the car. None of our clothes really fit him — as if we had any to spare. The campfire was uncomfortably silent, but we did have some pretty great marshmallows.

We talked at length about what Jerry might be. We grew grand conspiracy theories surrounding his origins, and we studied him up and down to see if we might have known him from somewhere. Perhaps he was an alien abductee, and Rachael was a government spy. Perhaps he was the world’s first clone, and Rachael is saving him from the labs so he can have rights. Maybe he was just some guy Rachael found on the side of the road and now she was going to exploit him… somehow.

“Well I didn’t say I knew how, just that it’s possible. It’s more likely than him being the result of an experiment involving switching minds with a pond duck.”

“I’d like some clothes.”

“You’re not getting clothes.”

“I feel naked.”

“That’s ‘cause you are.”

“I don’t like this.”

“Neither do we.”

“Glad that people enjoy my presence.”

“I thought you were shy.”

“No, just disoriented.”

“That makes four of us.”

Soon, we had set up a makeshift tent by flattening all the seats in the back of the Toyota minivan and laying out some blankets and tablecloths. The cuddle puddle — which excluded Jerry, who decided to take the whole night watch (we were feeling paranoid) because he wasn’t tired — was not as affectionate as usual. Probably due to everyone sitting deep in their own mixed feelings.

“I’m gonna miss class tomorrow.”

“Babe babe babe, this is so so so much more important.”

“Really?”

“Really really really. Now shut up so I can sleep.”

“Guys?”

“Yeah?”

“What do I do if I see people?”

“Can you drive?”

“I have not a single clue.”

I took the keys out of Ed’s pocket and threw them at him.

“Learn.”

“Oh wonderful.”

“That’s all, folks. Goodnight.”

The silence was sweet. Crickets chirped in the background, and the stars were actually quite pretty. This place wasn’t devoid of artificial light, but it was pretty nice. It made me think that I should spend more time in the woods. I also thought I should spend more time at the beach, but I couldn’t spend more time in both places. Also, beach was pretty far. Soon enough, I had remembered that Ed had taken the reigns on how I “chose” to spend my time.

“This sucks.”

“For god’s sakes, just sleep.”

I grumbled, turned over, and fell asleep to the wind in the leaves. This was insane. Very, very insane and not cool. It took me awhile to get comfortable, but I was certainly exhausted from the day. to In my final moments of consciousness, I caught Jai mumbling “not in the mood”.

4: The Meeting

“Sofia kicked me in the nuts here…?”

“Yeah, it was pretty funny.”

This was out by Robert’s abode. A supposedly haunted house in the suburbs, Robert and some of his pals got it dirt cheap. I know I had been out here for a party or two, but it had been a long time, and I most certainly did not remember being kicked in the nuts by Sofia. We were in a little area just above the house on a hill, partially hiding ourselves behind the car.

At this point, we were sure something illegal was going on, but we had committed too much. Jerry most certainly wasn’t just some dude, and we started giving him fearful looks and he started making uncomfortable faces back at us. Whatever this was, it had warranted Rachael not coming back to her house and instead leaving us a cryptic note as to how to find her. This was beyond just some weird favor.

“What did I do?”

“Not entirely sure. You two were making out up against a tree over… there, both pretty drunk at the time, and you musta done something, because she just went ‘augh!’, reeled back and kicked you hard in the nuts. You sorta crumpled in pain, hugged the tree, and you let out a loud moaning ‘ooooOOOOooooohhhh noooOOOOOOoooo’. It was hilarious.”

“Huh. Musta blacked out.”

“Yeah. Musta. HEY!”

“WHAT?”

“SEE ANYBODY YET?”

“NOPE NOPE NOPE, NO RACHAEL OR NOBODY.”

“ALRIGHT, KEEP LOOKING BABE.”

“I WILL I WILL I WILL, LOVE YA.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t be yelling.”

“We need Rachael to know where we are somehow.

“But, like, that could alert anyone.”

“Hey, guys…”

“Well how else would you like us to do it? Should I just whisper in her direction?”

“Don’t talk at all! She said she’d be here, we said we’d be here, that’s it.”

“Guys?”

“COULD YOU TWO SHUT UP?”

“Don’t you —”

“SURE THING, BABE!”

“WHAT DID I JUST TELL YOU?!”

“Guys!”

“WHAT?”

“Rachael’s here.”

“WHAT?” He scurried back to us. “Where?”

“Here, you dumbasses.”

We all turned around and checked our blind spot. Rachael tossed down two license plates and a sander of all things.

Anyone could have snuck up on you. You’re all dumbasses. Let’s get in the car.”

“Now wait, we need answers. What is all of this? Who is Jerry? Why’d you ditch us at your house? What the everliving fuck is going on?”

“Your first goal after everything went down was to find me. I have every right to just not give you answers. Right now, if you want to continue your goal of figuring out what the hell is going on, you will listen to me. Understood? I didn’t ask you to bring your little posse, so I am willing to overlook some common human decency.”

“Hey, wait a minute —”

“I brought a man back from the dead, and yet you are continuing to challenge me.”

She pointed at Jerry, looked impatiently at us, and then sat there waiting for a response. We all just looked at each other. She did what? The wind blew threw our hair, and Jerry just sort of stared at Rachael.

“You did what?

“Did you not figure it out? Jerry was one of the bodies that professor whatever the hell was going to dissect in front of the class today or tomorrow or the next day or it doesn’t matter. He wasn’t embalmed yet, perfect for rejuvenation. I stole his corpse and brought him back into this world from wherever you go after you die.”

Everybody was just about to yell and scream at her, calling her a liar and a fraud and then probably cussing Ed out for bringing us on such a stupid mission, but Jerry made sure we didn’t have time to get anything out.

“I woke up on a table in one of the rooms at the… University? And she showed me a sheet of paper with my name on it and my picture. I looked in the mirror, and it was definitely me.”

Rachael, as if on cue, pulled said paper out of her back pocket and unfolded it. She handed it to us, and it was all what they both said it was. It wasn’t proof enough, because she could have plagiarized it, but it was certainly a step above what we were expecting. Before we could object, Rachael was the one to cut us off.

“I can prove it, even more than this does. Because, you know, bringing someone back to life isn’t something a paper can prove. If you saw aliens on live television you might still be skeptic because you weren’t there in person and it challenges your views too harshly. This is the same way. So, let me give you a little taste of what I am capable of doing.”

The car came on, honked three times, and turned its brights on and off. This, of course, startled the daylights out of everyone there except maybe Jerry. Looking back at Rachael, she showed that she had nothing in her hands.

“Give me a beat.”

“A what?”

“A beat, like — oh, the Mario Bros. theme.”

Hon-hon-honk hon-honk honk, honk. It continued to play the Mario Bros. theme (without a tune, just the beats of the song), as Rachael seemed to conduct it with her hands. She even encorporated the sound of the brights clicking on and off sometimes.

“It’s not like I believe you, but holy shit, this is weird.”

“So we can get in the car?”

“Uh… well… wait, no! Answers, damn it! And I am the leader of my posse, it’s not like you can just waltz in here and take over! What the hell is happening?”

“I said no questions asked, where was I unclear on that?”

“I dunno, everything became slightly muddled when you claimed to have fucking BROUGHT someone BACK from the DEAD.”

“I’m not going to lie, man, I am scared of her, I think —”

Scared of her?! You never admit that in front of someone! I was team leader, I am continuing to be team fucking leader!

“For a day, babe. You have been ‘team leader’ for a day. She revived a dude. Supposedly. She can tell us what’s going on. Maybe. So get off your high horse, come live with us peasants and let Rachael take the reigns.”

“You just blindly believe her?!”

The car revved its own engine.

“…Yes.”

Ed sat in his seething, clenching his fists and furrowing his brow at Rachael. His eye twitched a couple times, he glanced at Jerry in the car, and then he let out a deep, angry sigh.

“Fine fine fine, Rachael take the reigns, fucking fine.”

“Okay, good! Now, I need you all to discard your IDs.”

“What?”

“Oh come on. It’s common knowledge that IDs are trackable, the government has trace radioactive elements on IDs so that they can track you wherever you go if the situation calls for it. Slight differences in isotopes can tell them things about the person they’re tracking, up to and including the true identity. Everyone knows that."

“They do…?”

“Of fucking ‘course they do, what do you think —? Oh, fucking whatever. We’re in too deep already, okay? Look, think of it this way: you are involved in possibly the first time in history that a man has come back from the dead — like, the absolutely irrefutably dead. Is that just something you take credit for?”

We all glanced at each other. Was it? Why wouldn’t it be?

“No! If you came back from space and proved that you had traveled faster than the speed of light, then cool, but the public’s not getting to know that right away. That’s getting hushed up and you’re getting taken in and interviewed and locked up. Maybe you get to work with the big names, but maybe not. There is so much fucking risk involved, do you get that? You are in too deep to not tread carefully! All of us are in this now, if anyone leaves it is a liability to everyone else. I was not expecting to be met with such stupid resistance, but you have made me feel the need to ask: are you in or aren’t you?

We all looked at each other nervously. Jerry didn’t really have a choice, so he just sat huddled up in his blankets. It was our, what, fifth uncomfortable silence? It sucked a lot. I was getting quite tired of this routine. Rachael pulled a heap of cut up ID out of her pocket and threw it on the ground. She motioned emphatically to us, and we all just looked at her. After a bit, Jai threw his ID onto the plastic remains, and stomped it. He looked up to Ed and I and pursed his lips.

Reluctantly, I pulled out my ID, tried to snap it in half, was embarrassed when I wasn’t able to, and then did the same as Jai. Now Jai and I were both looking at Ed. He looked so angry and distasteful… He glanced between me, Rachael and Jai. Then, he took out his whole wallet, pulled out the money to keep, and then lit it aflame with a lighter (his wallet was hemp). He threw the flame onto the pile, and sneered at all of us.

“Fine. I was having fun, too.”

“Looks like I’m in for quite a ride.”

“Certainly looks like it.”

5: Philosophical Car Ride

After she showed us to her abandoned car that she took the plates off of and retrieved cans of baby barf green paint out of, we were on the road again. Rachael had argued over how well we had done the paint job, and we kept telling her that it didn’t have to look good it just had to make the car unrecognizable. She had told us very clearly that when we got out to the cabin her parents own and she had the keys for that we needed to teach Jerry how to drive. That was to ensure that we didn’t get recognised while on the road. She was really quite glad that we were out of the city, because that meant that there weren’t cameras at every intersection. Still, we were all nervous. We decided that Jai was the designated driver until Jerry could do it. Jai made sure that he had a hood on the whole time. He (and everybody else) just prayed that it didn’t impact his driving ability.

We had large swaths of silence on our drive out to the cabin. After the first two hours of heated debate on what to do, we had decided to first be secluded. Some way to give ourselves time to think. Rachael assured us that by this point they would have figured out a body was missing and that we were missing too, and a search warrant would have been put out. Looking out into the wooded wilderness was, at the very least, calming. We all knew we weren’t going back to school ever — or, in my case, that I was going back to Subway. As weird as it was, I really did enjoy being the manager of a Subway. Made me feel powerful. Paid enough for me to have hobbies. It was a damn shame to see it go. Now we were on the run, and man, that was interesting. Life as we knew it had already thrown itself off the top of a ten story building, but it seemed like change was going to just keep coming. I vouched that we learned wilderness survival skills and just sat up in the cabin, but Rachael assured us that as the search grows bigger the cabin would be checked — and even if not, her parents would come up there eventually. I said that we should just camp forever and be cavemen then. She told me to shut up. I rebutted that it was possible she had a stick up her butt. She rebutted by being right and it sucked.

Rachael was adamant about not spilling any more beans until we were safe and sound in the cabin. It was annoying, and left everyone in a bad mood. Jai lamented about not getting to see his dog again. Ed lamented about not getting to go to parties anymore. Jai lamented that we didn’t bring any weed. Ed lamented that we didn’t bring any beer. I lamented that we didn’t bring any water, to which Rachael responded by pulling a water bottle out of her pack. That was nice. The last four hours of the ride were spent testing out each other’s music tastes. Rachael said she didn’t have any sort of music collection, which felt odd. I could have sworn I had seen her with ear buds before. Otherwise, Jai put on some weird geek rock, Ed put on some hip hop, and I played a bunch of pop songs turned Jazz. We all respectfully disagreed and also agreed to just go to a classic rock radio station and let it play itself out.

I began to wonder how many times this must have happened before. I mean, humans have existed for, what, hundreds of thousands of years? Did it reach a million years? I had forgotten. I just knew it was a crazy long time, and many, many, many humans had existed. I mean, it can’t have taken until 1995 for someone to end up with powers if it was a possibility, right? How many other crazy unimaginable things had not only been imagined but had come to fruition? How many other humans had made the trek back from the afterlife and into the world again? If I thought about it too hard, this whole situation could do more than just change my life forever, it could change my philosophies and experiences. I wasn’t ready for that, so I shushed up my thoughts. Started paying more attention to the music, and let it envelop me. It wasn’t good, to be certain, but music had a strange effect on me. I tranced out, and the landscape absorbed me.

6: Cabin in the Woods

“Okay. Fine, here we go.”

Jerry, Jai, Ed and I all sat on a log outside the house and eagerly awaited an explanation. Our little fire was starting to really get going just as the sun was setting, which was nice. It was very cold up here. I suddenly felt very sorry for Jerry. He refused to be held, but Jai had offered.

“I’m still not entirely sure myself. Don’t! Don’t, okay? Sit back down, shut your trap, let me talk. Good? Good. Okay, so, you know how the human body is run by the brain, and the human brain is all electricity? Well, I just, uh… I just… fiddled with electricity. I am not even sure what I did. It was like some otherworldly intuition. I’ve been having some really odd experiences with electricity since I was little, and I made some friends over the internet that seemed to sorta get it. Not, like, not that they had experienced the same things, per se, but that they got that weird shit just happened sometimes. I told them what was going on, and they told me how to revive someone. It’s not anything I can explain, okay? I can just… do it. The parameters are that the body has to be fresh enough that all the organs would function if they came back online. Jerry just was. I don’t really know how I knew that either, but Jerry was a guarantee. That’s it.”

“Well that was the most unhelpful explanation.”

“Well sorry for trying. Regardless, the goal — my goal, which I needed to make sure you were 100% in before telling you about — is to reveal this to the public.”

“I thought the whole point was to stay out of the public eye.”

“And it is, until we can get it out to the public in a way that can not be hushed up. Something irrefutable. Something irrefutable that gets out to the entire country before anything can be done about it. That’s what we are looking for.”

“This is suicide.”

“Well, too late now, isn’t it?”

The sun was fully below the horizon by this point. We were only lit by the fire, and my toes felt like they were freezing. I pulled up a camping chair that no one was using and set it by the fire, then using it as a foot rest heated up my feet. We all sipped on hot chocolate and sat in contemplative silence. I don’t think any of us were really used to silence, except maybe Jerry since he was just sorta born two days before. I mean, out of all the weird things that had happened — camping out and painting the car, finding a naked man in the trunk, stealing a license plate, picking up Rachael, the realisation that life as we knew it was gone, and we had all swallowed the pill and there was no going back at this point — this was what solidified it. The fact that all the time I might normally be spending talking to people, or getting drunk, or fucking, or working, I had spent quietly waiting. Everything felt so hectic, it was interesting that this chaos had come with so much stillness. Next time I looked over, Jerry was leaning on Jai and Jai had an arm around him. You couldn’t even hear the highway up here. It was peaceful. A part of me wished we didn’t have to leave. The sky was beautiful with minimal light pollution. I could faintly make out the milky way, and caught a shooting star. I never believed in it, but I never believed in people coming back from the dead either, so I thought I might give it a try: I wished that this was all a dream, and that I would wake up soon. That life might go back to normal, and that I could have my bed and my job and my friends back. Jacob and Richard and the like. I wished that everything was just as normal as I had thought it was before, or that there was an explanation in sight. Though, taking other people into account, I finally settled upon wishing that we were all gonna get away with this scott free. That would have been a nice fate. I closed my eyes, and thought I might sleep out under the stars tonight.

“So when do I get to drive?”

7: Jerry Saves Us From Ourselves

Well, I’m getting tired of telling this story. I mean, sure, I have fond and not fond memories of the next few days, but I am going to cut to the chase. I can see your impatient looks, thought we might as well get to what you brought me here for. So we were trying to come up with ways to get it out, you know — the secret to human revival. We figure, you know, that we’d have to revive a celebrity. Someone everybody would notice if they were gone. Of course, the immediate idea was to kill someone, you know? Dirty business — Jai was not on board for moral reasons, Ed because it sounded difficult. I agreed with Ed. Rachael thought we were being weak. It had to be someone famous, someone that everybody would know was irrefutably dead, so that bringing them back would be irrefutable too. We thought long and hard, and of all of us Jerry — who was a natural at driving — piped up.

“Why don’t you guys just wait for someone to die?”

We brushed it off at first, you know? There were way too many variables… firstly, when was someone famous gonna die? We had to be incognito until something like that happened, and being incognito is difficult. I mean, I’m sure you would know. Anyways, there was also the problem of where it would happen. Even if someone famous died, we would have to be there when it happened. That and for it to be a famous person identified as dead it would have to be kind of under… wraps? That’s the wrong word, but you know. Lots of media coverage, people around the body, that stuff. It felt like the wrong idea… until. Right up until our artsy fartsy friend Jai informed us of something very interesting.

As soon as we could, we packed up and headed out. Jerry gave us… more than a couple scares, but we were otherwise a weirdly happy bunch. Never had we ever been so excited to know of someone dying from lymphoma.

Now we were on the road to Florida, ready to kidnap the corpse of Bob Ross.

8: Getting the Hotel Hots

New Smyrna Beach was thankfully pretty small, as far as cities go. Only about 25,000 inhabitants. Sending Jerry in to a couple of stores to do our bidding, we cobbled together money and rented a motel room. It was very small, because Jerry was the only person expected to be in there, but we made it work. Messing with the cushioned chair we made a bed for somebody on the floor. We took one of the blankets off of the bed and gave it to the floor dwellers, who were (at this time) Rachael and Jerry. A couple of us thought we spotted cockroaches, there was a clear draft, and the lights flickered in an obnoxious fashion where you couldn’t quite make out what was going on but all your movements looked sort of holographic (but the place was cheap, and we weren’t really in a position to be choosers). We just knew this place wasn’t rich enough to have security cameras, and that was comforting enough for us to settle down and forget all its issues.

While Rachael was using the shower of questionable cleanliness (we could swear that the water was not as transparent as it was supposed to be), us guys got to talking about stuff. You know, normal everyday guy stuff.

“So like, how long are we going to let Rachael get away with saying she has powers of electricity before we actually test her on it? She hasn’t done anything to prove it to us, except some car tricks. I could see that being faked.”

Thank you! We’re getting near to the big Bob Ross do-or-die day, and we don’t even know if she can do it —”

“Oh fuck you.”

“What?”

“Just fuck you! You would have believed her in a heartbeat as long as you were still the group leader, you've never been a skeptic. You're the ghosts and goblins guy! You would jump at proof of this shit as long as it didn't threaten your bullshit power regime!”

“He’s kind of exactly right, and I concur in the ‘fuck you’ sentiment.”

“Well. Alright. Fuck me, I guess.”

“Honestly don’t feel like it.”

“Oh ha ha.”

“Me neither.”

“Oh come on — that’s not even what we’re talking about!”

“You guys have sex with each other?”

“Shut your stupid judgemental trap you upstanding ‘too good for gay orgies’ heterosexual piece of shit.”

Woah.

There was a short pause as Ed, red in the face and standing up, looked around the room. For a little bit, the only noises were Rachael’s shower going and the TV playing some mindless reality show on low volume. Ed looked between Jerry on the floor, Jai on the stripped chair, and myself lounging on the bed.

“That was uncalled for.”

“Agreed.”

“Thirded.”

“Fourthed. Sorry.”

“It’s alright.”

“Still sorry.”

“You’re right though. She needs to prove herself.”

Doopity doopity doopity”

“What the fuck.

“Woah was that the TV going ‘doopity doopity doopity’?”

What. I mean, yeah, it was.”

“Woah that’s weird, I bet it will never say ‘I have powers shut it’.”

“I have powers shut it.

Ed wasn’t even surprised. Just annoyed. He gave Rachael no recognition, and collapsed on top of me, releasing a guuuuuuufff as he went. His weight kept me from breathing how I wanted to, but I just dealt with it and tried to distract myself with the new channel on (it was some sort of Spanish news network). This was fine. All of this was fine.

“Hey Rachael?”

The sound of running water stopped.

“Yes?”

“Could you get the flickering to stop?”

“Actually, I’ve already tried. I can direct electricity however I want, but without the wires getting fixed I’d have to focus on it the whole time. It’s not like a brain that’ll keep itself going once started.”

“Augh. It’s really annoying.”

The door opened, and Rachael came out in the same attire we’d been wearing for days.

“I know.”

“You take quick showers.”

“No, I’ve just given up on being clean. These are the same clothes I have been wearing for days.”

“Yeah. Is everyone cool with me getting naked for that very reason?”

“I would feel —”

“Sure. What’s this?”

“Some kind of Spanish news channel. You speak Spanish?”

“Well I was adopted from Honduras, but no. I took French for my second language.”

“Huh. Can you reverse entropy?”

“Kinda.”

“Sweet.”

“Oh my this feels better.”

“I retract my previous statement, babe.”

“Which uh, which uh, which one?”

“Something about how gruff you’re starting to look is doing something for me.”

“Oh?”

Jerry hid himself under a blanket.

Please no.”

“Agreed.”

“Oh come on. I have been dry for two days.”

“And it shall stay that way.”

Ed groaned and fell on me again.

“Fucking stop falling on me! This is the second time! Get off!”

“Nnngggg no…”

“We can go out in the car, you know?”

“Yeah okay you guys can go out in the car if you must.”

“Don’t use any heat. We can’t afford to waste gas.”

“Yay yay yay! Let’s go!”

Ed didn’t bother to cover himself as he lunged out the door, and a half embarrassed (and fully clothed) Jai followed him out into the night. As they closed the door, Rachael half laid half sat on the other side of the bed — as far away from me as she possibly could be — and started switching the channels without using the remote. Jerry stared, confused, at the door, and then turned to me.

“You’re not going to go join them?”

“Unlike Ed, my end goals aren’t always sex, drugs, and power. They are fun sometimes, but I am more layback. Lower energy.”

“Except that you work at — er, sorry, worked at a Subway and had dropped out of school.”

“Uh, yeah. As I said, more layback. He’s much higher energy. He has to be doing something. I am content sitting around and enjoying myself.”

“Huh.”

“What?”

“You’d think that someone with the goals of sex, power and drugs would be more inclined to drop out of school than someone who liked a more stable life.”

“Huh. I guess.”

We settled on some mindless cartoons, and the three of us sat and watched for an hour or so. I waved my hands in front of the light, and saw my movements look unreal and odd. After a while of Rachael looking a little irked at my childish fidgeting, the light suddenly went off and the TV was the only glow. Although I couldn’t see Jerry from my position anymore, I imagined that he had fallen asleep on his makeshift mattress. Soon after I had taken off my shirt — it was pretty hot, you know? — and rolled over, falling asleep.

Once in the night I woke up, and the TV was off. Apparently I had turned over in my sleep, because I could see Rachael, still sitting up, silhouetted by the moonlight swimming from the window.

9: Shit Goes Down

Bob Ross was dead.

Holy shit, Bob Ross was dead. I mean, we could tell. Jai had always wanted to meet the great star that he was, but him being dead was a bit odd. Poking and prodding at Bob Ross was not the intended first interaction, but for absolute certain, he was dead. Oh, right, how did we acquire the body? Well, Rachael said not to worry about it, but that the place really wasn’t well guarded. After he was dead, getting the body out of the coffin really wasn’t hard. The hard part was making sure we did this before anybody realized the body was gone, which might have already happened, so really the time span was from now until they found out we were the ones responsible. It was stressful, because Bob Ross couldn’t just… be revived. A body had to be possible to live in for Rachael to do her magic, and our dear old Bob was riddled with tumors. It wasn’t a pretty sight, poor old Bob was pretty indisputably dead, and he was trying his damnedest to remain so.

Rachael was panicked. Well, we were all panicked. To save you the details, there was a lot of yelling, many slurs were said — and I mean, you couldn’t really blame any of us. This was the moment, this was supposed to be the big break. The big next step. We had gotten to the point where we could try and do what we set out to do, which was get Bob Ross back alive and well, and if we didn’t… Well, best case scenario was jail. We didn’t even know what worst case scenario would be. Point is, one thing in a high stakes situation led to another, and uh, Rachael killed Jerry.

I mean, he just… he just had a heart attack, then and there. Reeled over, and died. Ed went mad. He lunged at Rachael, and she reminded him and the rest of us that she could do the same to us. I guess we were all just realizing how much Rachael was to be feared. Sure, we had hailed her as the leader for her reasons of being leader, but we never truly felt that she had absolute control until that point. It was terrifying. You know what it feels like to have someone be angry at you who can kill you in — literally — a heart beat? Not something dodgeable, you can even react to a gun being pulled, no, she could just make you keel over and die. Sitting behind that gas station at midnight and having this sudden realization of the power she possessed was, and continues to be, the most frightening experience of my entire life. For what it felt like, Rachael could have made the stars go out and that would have been indicative of nothing we didn’t already think.

“Just shut your god damn mouths for two seconds and let me explain to you how this is going to work. Jerry is dead, but Jerry is dead for a fucking reason and you won’t even let me spit it out! Jerry is dead because we need a host. Bob Ross ain’t coming back, I can tell you that. We may be medical students, but we can’t just make him not a cancerous wreck. He’s dead. For certain.”

The sound of sirens in the distance fucked with us. It could have been coming for us, it could not have. If there ever needed to be another thing to induce stress, the sirens were ready to fill that role. Bob Ross’s corpse lay across the back seats of the car, and Jerry lay slumped against the wall. Jai held Ed back, and I just stood in awe at what I perceived to be a god of our world standing before us. The angrier she got, the more the lights flickered and threatened to burst. Ed was threatening to burst a vein, but Jai was right with me. All sense of anger at Jerry’s death was replaced with paralyzing fear.

“Jerry died for a reason, okay? He’s a host. Bob Ross can’t come back, but we can imitate him.”

“What do you mean we can imitate him?”

“I mean just what I say. I can revive Bob for a hot second before he goes under again, and read his brain waves. I can try and restart Jerry’s brain with those brainwaves. It’s not going to be Bob Ross, because the way that neurons are connected in the brain choose how you think and what not, but I can get Jerry to act like Bob Ross on a surface level.”

“…What? You fucking mad man, you killed Jerry so he can be your puppet? What good will this do us? How does this prove anything? How can you fucking stand there and be okay with all of this?! How does this prove anything to anyone!!

“I thought you wanted Bob Ross back, I’m giving you what you wanted!”

“Not at the expense of Jerry! I know, I know what you are, you’re a fucking fucking fucking psychopath.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM CAPABLE OF, CLONING? Want me to just POOF another Bob Ross into existence? What closed off little world are you living in?! We’re fucked, okay? We’ve gone too far, and we’re fucked! There’s no two ways about it, at this point they’ve reviewed the footage and found me sneaking in and there’s already a price on your guys’ heads I’m sure. We’re fucked. We might as well wait here and get fucked together. Deal?”

“Then bring Jerry back.”

“He’ll have forgotten us.”

“I don’t give two fucks. Bring Jerry back or else.”

“Oh man, you really got me there. ‘Or else’. I’m spooked, to be honest. Really shaken to my core.”

“I’LL KILL YOU YOU MURDEROUS SON OF A BI—”

And Ed just fell to the ground, just like that. Jai screamed in terror, and I took two steps back, a second from sprinting.

“Oh calm down. He’s just knocked out. Oh, and Jerry’s back. I just didn’t want to give Ed the satisfaction. We’re all one big happy family now, aren’t we?”

“You monster! You’re playing God, you’re fucking toying with us like you’re some wannabe ruler of this realm!”

“I couldn’t revive Bob Ross, now could I? Some things I just can’t do, it’s not all under my control! Do you want to see his corpse sputter and call out for help before dying again?”

“Just stop it, for god’s sakes just make it stop!

Bob Ross came to life only to give shell shocked looks, spit and gargle, and fall limp once more.

Stop it, dear god stop it now!

The same pattern repeated, of Bob Ross going through his death throes all over again, staring helplessly at his surroundings and releasing painful moans of anguish.

“You freak, leave him alone!

And again.

“LEAVE HIM ALONE!”

And again.

YOU FREAK, LEAVE HIM ALONE! LEAVE BOB ALONE!

“G… guys? Rachael?”

“Oh, hey, he does remember us.”

“I don’t think we are alone.”

As he said that, two cop cars pulled around the corner. Sirens going off, bright disorienting red and blue lights going off. Of course, they didn’t for long. Policemen came out of the two cars and pointed guns, yelling Freeze! as you see them do in movies. Rachael, of course, took none of it. I mean, she put her hands up, but she kept her haughty in control type vibe.

“I know I have the right to remain silent, but do I have to? Don’t answer that, there’s something I need to show you guys. Bob Ross is alive.”

And again. The officers hadn’t even taken notice yet, instead beginning to radio for backup and hold us down with guns. Jai was still weeping over Ed, and they were screaming at him. Jerry laid against the wall and held up his arms, I held up my arms, Rachael held up hers. The officers closed in and confirmed that we had Bob Ross’s body, and just as they had a visual on it, Rachael made it happen again.

“Holy fuck, he’s alive!”

“He’s not, wait a second.”

Bob Ross died for the (n+1)th time that night (at this point it was hard to keep track). The officers were wordlessly dumbfounded.

“Check his pulse.”

It took a good twenty seconds, but an officer complied while the other one made sure to survey us with the end of his pistol. He made absolutely certain that Bob Ross was without a doubt clearly most certainly dead. Just as soon as he was done, Rachael made him gasp alive again.

And, uh. You know the rest. I mean, you knew up to some parts in there, but now we are all caught up, right? We tried to revive Bob Ross, we weren’t able to, and then the police detained us and then you said “hey police we got this”. Don’t tell me you’re police. I know you’re not. I’m probably… I’m probably a couple hours from disappearing off the face of the earth, aren’t I? In the whole process of hushing this up. I don’t know how in the world you got Rachael to comply. I thought she’d just start a murderin’ and escape and see where that took her, but she seemed oddly… happy, when I last saw her. Like this was all part of some unseen plan. I guess it’s too much to ask that I say some kind words to my family, or leave some sort of suicide note?

What? Where are you going? Hey! Come back here!

What’s that taste? Kinda like an acidic… peppermint…

10: Rachael Wins

“And that’s how it went down.”

“If you lied even once, we will know within the next 24 hours.”

“I am counting on it.”

Soon they would find it in her attic. The Hume reader that she made out of spare parts in her garage and from the hardware store. They’d read Bob Ross’s body as anomalous, and they’d read her as perfectly normal. Why? Well, because Hume readers ran on electricity, that’s why. If those people on the internet had taught her a single thing, it was that when you have a power you use and abuse it. You don’t let it become a weird quirk, you don’t let it become a party trick. If you want to live without the constant fear of being found and abducted, you let it become a part of you and you use that shit. Figure out its ins and outs, its ups and downs. Figure out how to use it without anyone knowing, figure out how to use it to find ways away from people, spend nights upon nights in your garage editing videos and audio and time in the backyard altering the memory of your dog. Then, when they come, and oh they will come, you have the will and power to fight back. Usually, of course, this took multiple people. Teams of artists, circles of support groups you found on chatrooms, an organization of people who read way too many books, you name it. However, the rules were different for Rachael. Sure, she disliked phrasing it this way, but it was true: she was playing God. Power over electricity covered an amazingly broad range of things, up to and including biology. For this, she just had to pass off as a genius, and that wasn’t going to be hard, seeing as she was.

Bob Ross would be an anomaly she found. Him and Jerry, of course. She would have read them with her own Hume counter that she had made. They were found to be anomalous. How did she know that Bob Ross would have been anomalous? Simple. She was finding a pattern. A pattern in people who would be revived. First a boy in China, another in India, and another somewhere else and another somewhere else. The weirdest thing was that the anomaly followed names only, and Bob Ross was next on the list. She would be hailed as a prophet of the anomalous scientific field. She’d be the youngest of their most esteemed scientists. Jerry was easily… "fixed" into going along with her story. The footage was going to look exactly how she wanted it to look, and say exactly what she wanted it to say. Oh, and that guy that just interviewed Alex and the others? Well, Rachael made sure that he was going to remember it her way.

11: Epilogue

Junior Researcher Dorer and Senior Researcher Hillenburg moseyed down the hallway and into the humanoid containment wing. There was a problem that needed attending to: as far as they could be certain, they had two completely non-anomalous humans that they had ended up with in custody. They had both come from interesting backgrounds, but ultimately they were normal average people who were being kept from the rest of the world in a big covert research site. This was a problem, and they had just come out of a committee meeting to decide what to do with them (the same committee were the ones who had decided letting a man die and revive and die all over again was just a terrible thing to let happen), and they had landed on a fairly simple solution.

Dorer and Hillenburg stepped into the room, where Bob Ross and Jerry Gardner sat playing cards. Looked like Speed, based on the set up.

“How are you?”

“Hey guys.”

“Hey,” Dorer replied, sitting down in a plain white chair and letting his elbows rest on the table, “we’ve got a proposition for you two. I mean, it varies between you two, but it applies to both of you. Sort of, like —”

“We’re thinking of giving you Level 0 clearance around the facility. It’s a spot we reserve for guests and janitorial staff. You would still be unallowed to leave the facility, and you would be given menial tasks from time to time. This would still be your room, but we are considering furnishing it and improving upon your living conditions if you keep on good behavior. You would be able to eat with the rest of us at breakfast, lunch and dinner in the cafeteria. You would work on a two strike system: at the discrepancy of higher members of staff, you will be given strikes. One strike and you lose most privileges until said otherwise. Second strike and you are sent back to your chamber and life resumes like it continues now. However, good behavior will not only make your living space better but get you more privileges and access to the facility and more trust. If you agree to all of this…”

Hillenburg motioned to Dorer, and he slid a sheaf of papers forwards.

“There’s more details in the packet, but we aren’t fibbing you or anything. You guys would just need to,” he pulled out a pen and handed it to Jerry, “sign right here.”

“Hey, it’s like we’re people again.”

“We were never not people, just treated differently.”

“Thanks, Bob. You’re right. We’ve been people for as long as I can remember.”

They read it over, and they both enjoyed its contents. Jerry went on to work as janitorial staff (and often an errand boy), while Bob got to return to his love of painting. Site-31 was well adorned with never before seen Bob Ross paintings from that moment on, and they were the proud hosts of The Joy of Painting, Season 34.


« Sometimes I Wish...|Waiting on the Good Times|Forever Young »

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License