a cure for the common block

Peeper Two

Loc was an engineer who had joined a team to build a better camera. Their intentions were to use a specially designed crystal for the lens, as well as a meticulously coded algorithm in an attempt to create a camera that could see like a human eye, not just capture a picture but capture an “image” the way the eye sees the image. It was a spectacular failure. Most images looked fine (although not as perfect as they hoped), but any animate object appeared blurry and foggy. They assumed the motion detection in the code was too sensitive, but even after an all-night session of plastic cup debugging no errors were found, and the problem persisted even with normal lenses. It was abandoned with none them ever realizing that there was an unintentional side-effect in the code that allowed it to photograph souls.

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A Pound of Flesh

While the coffee brewed and she waited for the bread to finish toasting, George neatly arranged her preparations: plate, butter with knife ready, mug for the coffee, glass of tap water, and a single, sunny-side up egg. The toast popped up with a “clank” and the coffee finished brewing as she finished buttering the slightly burned toast. Set neatly on a tray she took the humble breakfast downstairs to her guest, making polite conversation while he ate, clearing everything away after he finished and returning to the basement for their daily ritual; shackled to a wall he would insist she was mistaken, she would ask why he did it, and the denials and questions would persist until the two were exhausted. At the end of the week George devised a new strategy, she didn’t bring him breakfast she calmly walked down the stairs and stared at him for a few minutes, making eye contact so he could see there was absolutely nothing behind her eyes: no fear, no hate, nothing, as if she was looking at a tree. She kept him cuffed but released him from the wall and walked him up the stairs, still having never said a word and ignoring his pleas for an explanation, ignoring the shaking fear in his voice. She walked him to a bedroom and forced him to his knees, kneeling forward and gazing at the floor. She said that if he told her where her sister was buried she would let him free, but if not she told him that she would do to him what he did to her sister as he felt the sharp point of a knife on the back of his neck.

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A Day in the Life

While the other children around him dashed to their lockers stuffing books and folders into their backpacks, chattering and gossiping on the way to their buses, Tony took his time with such decisions. He wondered whether or not he really needed his two-and-a-half pound biology textbook for his homework assignment, and if he needed the full two days of use from his equally heavy math textbook. These were important questions because he walked a straight road home everyday rather than take a circuitous route full of noisy kids, most of whom he didn’t really know. Assured of his selections he made his way home making awkwardly short and long steps to avoid cracks in the sidewalk, and kicking the occasional pebble or rock, seeing how far he could keep it going before it darted off into the street, but mostly just daydreaming about things he wished would happen: in school, after school, at school dances, during breaks from school. As he arrived home for the first time he realized how many of his thoughts revolved around school, but this minor epiphany vanished when he lifted the doormat and saw a missing key, his eyes slowly rolling up to notice the door slightly ajar.

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Some of My Best Friends Are…

It was suggested as just a friendly outing, but the midnight picnic Birdie planned felt romantic which didn’t upset Ophelia, somewhat surprisingly. They sat on a blanket in Birdie’s backyard stargazing and chatting as they nibbled on the delicious spread Ophelia had provided, growing closer and more relaxed as the night wore on. A few hours before dawn they were laid on their backs with their fingers intertwined, neither remembered when it happened their fingers just found each other and laced together, but the lovely moment was interrupted by the clatter of trash cans knocked over by a creature that slipped while spying on them. The short round alien wasn’t afraid of them, it could sense the intentions of other beings and it found them because it could sense not only that they wouldn’t harm it, but their nature would drive them to help the abandoned outsider.

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I Want to Be Alone

Dex had always run hotter than other people and it always gave him a laugh when a doctor went into a panic upon examining him for the first time. He felt it was for a reason and ignored education, a career, even love in pursuit of his purpose imagining that one day he would hit critical mass, his heat bursting into a full superpower he could use to help people, help the world. He came up with superhero names and drew pictures as a child, created costumes as he got older, and justified his lack of intimate connections as protection for when he’d have to protect a secret identity. Dex was meant to help people but he never did, he wasted his life chasing a dream rather than opening a science textbook and discovering the power his mind had for understanding and unraveling complex theorems that could have advanced technologies for turning barren wastelands into nutrient-rich soil by decades.

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One for the Book

Ransom let his guitarist step into the light for his solo and looked out into the audience, his eyes landing upon a man in a blue suit standing in the balcony next to the spotlight booth smiling and clapping with everyone else, sending a chill down Ransom’s spine. He sensed it would happen soon, his third album just went platinum and everyone was paying attention to him; after the show security guards told him of a man– he interrupted and instructed them to let the man backstage. As he waited he remembered the day he first saw him, taking a break from garage practice pleading in his bathroom mirror for one small break offering anything to anyone, and upon exit bumping into the blue-suited man who told him through his Cheshire smile that he had “a good feeling” about him before walking off. The building tension was agonizing until it was broken by a groupie’s piercing scream, Ransom bolted out of his room pushing through the huddling masses, a thousand thoughts scrambling his brain until everything froze as he looked through the doorway and saw his guitarist, dead on the floor of his dressing room. His head quickly snapped up and down the hall, glimpsing a figure in blue before it vanished.

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By The Way… You’re Fired

Ava knew she only had one chance to locate the sniper and take him out, but it required risking her own life. She barely passed her entrance exams and finished in the middle of her class, but Ava Cooper never performed well in hypothetical scenarios even when on the field she knew there was no real threat; her body was so finely-tuned that adrenaline only flowed when necessary, but when it flowed it gave her super-human performance levels that quickly made her one of the governments most valuable assets. Under the cover of night she placed a cigarette between her lips and within two seconds of lighting it, before the cherry could glow from her deep drag, a bullet sped toward her head shattering the mirror reflecting her image and giving her enough time to rise from her blind, pinpoint the shooter, and land one square between his eyes.

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The Purple Testament

The impeccably dressed man strolled into the bank and assured everyone that he was there to rob it, but only the bank and not a single one of the customers. Wren lacked the capacity to care about the consequences of his actions, but while others like him found joy in inflicting pain due to a dearth of empathy, Wren had an intense sense of empathy which steered him down a radically different path. He had an ulterior motive for the bank heist, he wanted to send a message and for their cooperation the patrons making deposits and withdrawals that day would be rewarded, many of whom would join Wren’s cause after he shared his message with them.

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A Penny for Your Thoughts

While Dorian lead the verbal interrogation Bruce was at his keyboard in another room combing through Quire’s data, attempting to bypass his security protocols. Quire was caught impersonating a citizen while voting, a crime for techflesh – people who had upgraded their minds without authorization, a privilege affordable only to the elite. Years after he was released from incarceration, he was performing maintenance on a wonky binary search tree when he found the problem was caused by a misplaced file; moving the file and restoring its data he discovered all of the family and friends he hid from the interrogators, loved ones who thought they would never see him after his arrest, loved ones he could return to safely under the new government which had released him and restored his full rights as a citizen.

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Night of the Meek

Rather than the sense of pride he expected from his act of retribution, Rian felt intense pain in his knuckles after his fist made contact with Derek’s face. Also unexpected were the flurry of blows to his head and stomach as Derek jumped back to his feet, checking if Rian had managed to cause a nose bleed – he hadn’t. The two stood still for a minute breathing hard and glaring at each other, waiting for the other to make the next move or walk away. Derek did neither, instead apologizing to Rian for the names he had called him and his girlfriend, and apologizing for the punches admitting that he deserved to get hit before finally raising his arms in a gesture inviting one last free strike. Rian declined, requesting instead for Derek to pay for the blouse he tore.

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