A science fiction novel about the end of the world, love, zombies, money, online strategy, games, and everything else.
Episode One: The heart of a hero
Episode Two: Love hurts
Episode Three: God speed your love
Episode Four: Two hands ain’t good enough
Episode Five: Part One: Rape of the Sabine Women
Episode Five: Part Two: Rape of the Sabine Women
Episode Six: Everything counts in large amounts
Episodes and/or related writing are published on this blog – most Mondays and Wednesdays. Please subscribe to this blog to get a reminder when the next episode is published.
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Black Eyed Peas, I Got a Feeling
The Book of Carrot
Book One: Principal Virtues
Chapter One: Love is a battlefield
Episode Seven: Love never fails
Necazul nu vine niciodata singur.
Trouble never comes alone.
A Romanian Proverb
Banner ads are as stand out as the faded wall paper in an abandoned farm house. Search is dead. Reach is all about word of mouth AND who knows you.
Hachi will make your message stick.
24+ Million unique visits per month and growing. Average time on site: five minutes and 42 seconds per visit.
9.11 Million paid subscribers; 4.99 Million user profiles with actionable insights on 300 key user behaviors and preferences; 1.02 Million of those users map to your own target demographic.
This is a phenomenal opportunity to create global demand, notice and excitement for the K-9 intelligent eyewear – for pennies on the dollar.
My name is John Dionisius. Some know me as the world’s greatest zombie killer. You can check that out on the Youtubes. 100 Million views or more.
Let’s take this to the next step.
Marian was sleeping in John’s bedroom. John sent the email – one of 100 similar emails. It was 5am, he was dead tired and he was still wearing yesterday’s jeans and t-shirt. Defining the target demographics for each potential sponsor had taken forever.
Cristina hadn’t come home yet. John tried to call her again – her phone was off.
Meanwhile, Hachi had woken up and let John know it was time for the walk. Hachi did a little tail chase and then he have a soft, enthusiastic bark.
“Okay,” John mumbled to Hachi.
Hachi barked louder.
“Shhhh… we’re going already.”
At the Schitu Mugureanu gate to Cismigiu park, an old woman was arguing with the clerk collecting admissions. Next to her was a girl of nine with blonde hair and blue eyes.
“How can you ask for one Euro to enter into a public park, shouted the silver-haired woman as she shook her angry, wrinkled fist. That’s the price of a day-old loaf of bread! It’s extortion!”
“Mister Hachi!” the girl cried out in delight.
Elena, the clerk, told John, good morning, and John returned the greeting.
John fished a 20 Euro note out of his pocket and gave it to Elena.
“Give them a month’s pass, Elena. You don’t need the stress. And, you know, Hachi appreciates his fans,” John said as he gestured to the little girl planting kisses on Hachi’s muzzle.
“Can you give me some money for food – for me and my granddaughter,” asked the grandmother as Elena handed her the one month pass.
“Every good deed must be punished,” commented Elena with a grin.
“Dad, I need your help. I’m sorry that I waited this long to ask. I need a credit line of 12 Million – today. I know it’s a ridiculous last minute thing to ask. Please call me when you wake up.”
John stared at his phone – reviewing recent calls. He stared at the name, Noemi Letizia.
Why the hell did she want to have an affair with him!? He wasn’t the best looking guy in town – not even close. What was the point of an affair – or the blog? It doesn’t add up. It’s nonsense.
“It’s sickly, John. There’s no mayhaps about Noemi’s intentions. They’s sickly and scandalous.”
John recognized the voice of Mother Washington.
She sat next to John – on the same bench.
“You look like something the cat dragged in…” said Mother Washington as she chortled and ran her fingers through his unbrushed, brown hair.
“You haven’t been sleeping much.”
“Working too hard?” Mother Washington asked. “Or you avoiding dream time? Or both?”
“How did you know Noemi’s name?” John asked in surprise.
I’m thinking – I’m knowing – that what you really want to talk about is the dream, John,” Mother Washington replied in a serious but gentle tone.
“What dream?” John asked.
“One of those dreams that you have been having all of your life – ever since your were three.”
John remembered one of the dreams.
He was a young boy – maybe 10 – standing in an intersection. There was a wall of fire and black smoke. The smoke burned his eyes, his skin, and lungs.
A man was kneeling in the center of the intersection – holding a dead woman in his arms. The dead woman had black hair; the distant gaze of her dead blue eyes pierced his soul.
On one side, a barefoot man in a white suit was talking to the young man.
“It didn’t have to go down like a rattrap, John.
We could have been friends. You killed the love of your life, John. You killed Christina.
You know what John Steinbeck said about mice and men, John? Mice and men…”
On the other side of the intersection, a burly man with a skeleton face pumped his shotgun and dismounted from a Harley.
He – the boy – yelled to the man holding the dead woman:
“John, look out…”
He wanted to point out the man on the motorcycle, but his arms moved so slowly.
John hadn’t had that dream for a long time – not until the first night he slept with Cristina in his arms. When he had the dream again, he knew then that the John in his dream was himself. The dead woman was Cristina. When Cristina introduced him to her brother, Marian – John knew then that Marian was the one watching it all happen.
“Yes, that dream, John.” Mother Washington whispered sympathetically- interrupting John’s thoughts.
“That’s why I have to get Cristina and Marian out of Bucharest…” John explained.
“I know, John – you think that’s exactly what you have to do, John,” said Mother Washington.
“And I’m not going to try to argue with you about how things just can’t work out that way.
“But I would like you to ask yourself this one question – who’s going to save everyone else – if it’s not you?”
Mother Washington stroked John’s hair again – then she slowly got up and left John to think and pray.
“We’ll talk again, soon,” Mother Washington said as she went along her way – slowly.
John’s phone rang. It was George’s dad, Zacharias.
“Zach…” John mumbled.
“Something wrong, John? You don’t sound yourself, today.”
“Zach, help me,” John whispered into his phone.
“I don’t see any other way out of a bad situation – except the road that goes through hell.”
“In his first letter to the Corinthians,” Zach answered, “Paul has this to say to us about this.
God doesn’t lay a test on you that you can’t overcome.
You know the saying, Trouble never comes alone. Most people think it means more trouble, but the truth is this: trouble always comes with the most handsome and generous of companions…”
“What’s that, Zach?”
“Love, hope and faith, John.”
“That looks like a point-guard axe,” remarked Noah – an older man with the head of a Roman Senator.
John nodded and took a seat at the round table.
“You didn’t hear about how John took down Sgt. Justice?” asked a woman excitedly.
“It was epic!”
“That must be some uniform,” Noah noted.
“Are you an alien now, John?” the woman asked.
“Now-now, let this meeting come to order,” said Noah in a stern voice.
“I’ve asked the 12 of you to come here because I have tendered an offer to take over the governance of Cismigiu. I’d like the support of your guilds.
“Cismigiu is an NPC camp – it’s not for sale,” said the same woman.
“I’ve raised Twenty Million and the company is ready to accept the offer.”
“Twenty Million Gold!?” asked a man seat on John’s right.
“Twenty Million Euros,” Noah replied.
“20 Million is less than it costs to buy out all of next year’s Superbowl ad time and, I have to say, Cismigiu is worth a dozen Superbowls and then some,” explained Noah.
“But I’m not here to talk advertising, ad spend and the online real estate margins with you people.
I’m here to offer each of you 1000 meters of virtual property in the Cismigiu zone for your guild AND one parkside apartment for you in exchange for your guild’s two year pledge of protection.
I’ll email you the contracts at the conclusion of this meeting – have your lawyers look them over.
As you know, one square meter of virtual Bucharest currently sells for 1,000 Euro. I intend to raise that value by 10 fold in two years or less; what I’m saying is that we’re all going to be multi-milionaires – here and in the real world.
Why do I need you – you might be wondering. Because I need the protection of the guilds to unlock the potential – this real estate has no value if it is not defensible, transferrable, and usable.
“Stirbei Voda 69, 71, 108, 132 and the old DNA are mine, St. Joseph’s Cathedral and attachments, the Vatican Embassy and the Palace on Stirbei Voda go to my guild and we have a deal,” said John as he stood up with a big grin.
“Done,” said Noah and they shook hands.
“I never could have imagined that I would hit the jackpot from playing a game about zombies.”
“I can’t wait to log out and tell my husband. We’re going to be filthy rich!”
John listened to the excited conversations of the guild leaders as they went out to the streets of the zombie apocalypse.
Even the zombies seemed to be affected by the excitement. One zombie woman in a torn up and dirty wedding dress cradled a doll. Not far down the street- a zombie man seemed to be dancing with a mop.
Yes, John had made a deal to die for, but the two year cash out didn’t solve his present problems. John needed a fix right now.
His phone rang; it was Noemi. He clicked “ignore”.
John raised the axe with the top of the axe head level to the head of the zombie cradling a doll.
A pop-up window came up with a zoom view on the target as well as various data about the target, distance, and damage calculations. In this case, it would be an epic overkill with one throw.
Looking at the zoom in, John realized it was the bride he had tried to save. Nausea overcame him – not in the game.
Did she have black hair and blue eyes at the wedding?
John lowered the axe to his side.
A zombie boy stumbled slowly and awkwardly toward the zombie bride. When he reached her, he took her pale hand in his pale hand. Together, they moved down the street in jerks, shudders and foot drags – like a brother and sister zombie would.
John started to sob – not in the game. It seemed hours went by as John watched the zombies come and go.
Another call came in.
John was about to click “ignore” when he realized it was from Intelligent – the last company to which John had sent his last minute proposal.
“John! Lumi here…
Got your email, checked out your situation, and did the Hail Mary to the CEO.
Gotta say that this is your lucky day. We’re both big fans of Hachi!
Yes, John! YES! YES!”
John didn’t know what to say.
“I know I just blew your mind. Mirrored satellite hosting and bandwidth fees – it’s not your problem any more. Everything was settled an hour ago.
You can exhale now…
I’m on my way to the airport right right now. I’ll be in Bucharest in 24 hours with the contracts, K-9s, a huge advance, and champagne.”
“Thank you,” John whispered.
I want to hear a litte more excitement from you, John.
“THANK YOU!” John shouted.
I love you, Lumi! THANK YOU!”
“See you soon, John…”
“Thank you, God,” John whispered.
John got to a hide away and logged out as fast as he could.
He ripped off his headset and rushed to St. Joseph’s Cathedral to give thanks. Hachi waited patiently outside the arched entrance of the neo-gothic structure.
The celebrant priest read from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Love never fails…”
With the Mass finished, John was outside and had turned his phone back on. He had three missed calls. His dad, Zach, and Cristina.
He sent the same message to his dad and Zach:
Love never fails!
Then he called Cristina.
“Don’t be mad! Don’t be mad that I didn’t come home last night.”
“Did you finish the inventory?”
“Yeah,” Christina said with a sigh. “It’s done.”
“Don’t be mad if I don’t come over tonight – dad’s at work and Marian is alone tonight. I’m just going to go home and crash.”
“Why don’t you, Marian and your dad move in with me?”
“Tonight. Whenever. Soon.”
“OK- I’ll come with Marian, tonight. Let’s see how this goes. Ok?”
“Thank you,” John replied.
“Thank you for what, John?”
“I just really want you guys to be with me. That’s all. Think about it…”
“I love you, John! Forever!”
John turned on his music player. The Black Eyed Peas, I got a Feeling, started. John turned it up, bounced, skipped, and danced to the beat.
John felt good, he felt 18 and he felt alive – even if the people walking on General Berthelot (street) thought John exceedingly strange.
Meanwhile, Hachi was panting hard. It was too hot for a chow chow that was more hair than chow chow. He wanted to go home and lay next to the air conditioner.
John turned and headed down the street towards the palace and the palace entrance to the park. Hachi followed him reluctantly.
They crossed Stirbei Voda, John waved to the admissions clerk, and they went down the steps to the duck pond. A ballet of black swans honked at Hachi and flapped their wings. Hachi growled back.
At the bottom of the steps, a long line of people waited to fill used, five liter plastic bottles with spring water. The line stretched from the spring to past La Biblioteca where John had met Cristina. John smiled as he passed the bar and continued across Cismigiu park.
Somewhere along the way, Hachi pooped out and flopped down under the shade of a tree. Minutes later, John reached a bakery on Elizabeta Regina.
There was a crowd outside the bakery – young and old, men and women, children, Romanians and Gypsies. They were waiting for the store to close – so they could buy the day’s unsold bread at a bargain.
John went in the store as the people eyed him with envy. He picked out four loaves of bread, a dozen chocolate filled croissants (Cristina’s favorite), two dozen brownies with walnuts (John and Marian’s favorite), and a dozen fruit tarts. 100 Euros.
“Are you really going to walk out of here with all that stuff- alone?” The girl behind the counter asked John as she packed his bags.
John turned around and looked at the crowd staring at him with angry eyes through the glass windows.
“The security guards are on break, but they’ll be back in 30 minutes. Maybe, you want to wait,” the girl suggested.
“What is the crowd waiting for?” John asked.
“Day-old bread: one Euro per loaf,” she replied.
Usually our fancy customers don’t come here at this hour. Everyone knows, it’s not the best time…”
John started counting how many people were outside.
“How many loaves do they usually buy?”
“Two or three – each. Never more than three.”
“There’s 66, 67, 68 people. Will you sell me 272 loaves of bread for the day-old price?”
“I don’t know if we have that much bread. Usually, we only have 50 or so loaves left over – but I’ll check the back room too.”
“Can we try?”
“It’s your money…”
“It’s your money, John.”
John handed out four loaves to each person that came to the door. When they offered him money, he told them, God bless you. No one insisted to pay for the bread.
Surprisingly, there was enough one- and two-day old bread for 67 of the 68. The girl didn’t understand how they had enough bread in the back room – but she didn’t think too hard about it.
John gave his own four loves to number 68. Ironically, number 68 was a Frenchman and the sixth person to spit in his face and tell John to go fuck himself when he said, God bless you. This time in French.
“What do you think is going to happen tomorrow, genius?”
“It’s not my shift. But I wouldn’t want to be here when the same people don’t get free bread – they’ll prolly tear down the shop. If that happens, I won’t have a job – so thank you very much and, please, go fuck yourself!”
All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna
16 October 2012