The 3 A.M. Epiphany – Exercise 1

Lava Storm

There are flames everywhere. I’m sitting in the window seat of the bookstore, sipping my coffee.

Exactly three people are on fire. Two are dead. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Only six of the people outside are wearing green. One of the dead is clad in all green, but his foot-tall, striped hat was blown off with the wind from the initial impact. His beer mug, however, is still clenched firmly in hand. One wonders if these priorities will carry over to the afterlife?

The people around me are choosing three different methods of panic. Nine of them run screaming to the back of the store, looking for a way out. Four older German ladies run screaming to the bathroom, a solid structure in the middle of the store. That would help in a tornado, but not for this. Who wants to die in a public bathroom? Apparently old German ladies. There are two stalls in the men’s bathroom, but I have no idea how many are in the ladies. I thought about a quick glance once, just to see, but the thought of getting caught was too much. Two people, a loud-speaking, maudlin hipster couple, are behind the coffee counter huddling with the baristas. The woman who has received her double chocolate-chip frappacino has kept hold of it as she dashes behind the safety of the expresso machine. You can have my overpriced caffeine and diuretics, these citizens are saying, when you pry it from our cold dead fingers.

The two people who are on fire are being put out by four men who have come from the bar across the street. They are dragging the limp bodies back through the door of the bar. The stuff that was burning them is like Greek Fire. Their clothes and skin, the men were able to put out, but the amoebic lava that had crawled its way into the flesh, that was still burning them from the inside out.

There are two mopeds, six bicycles, and one motorcycle outside. There are 36 flowers in the median, evenly spaced in a checkered pattern. They are all fake.

The second impact sets everything in the street on fire. The vehicles, the dead people, the plants, and even the asphalt in the road. The sidewalks are not on fire, the curb being the straightline separator. Everything between the two curbs is melting into the river of liquid Sun that was the road. The heat doesn’t penetrate the imaginary line either; a wayward burger wrapper sits a few inches from the volcanic pathway and doesn’t so much as turn black.

The book I’m reading costs twenty eight dollars. It has 320 pages. Why does a piece of cardboard in front of and behind the content of a book raise the price by thirteen dollars? The tax is ten percent here, but a membership card cuts ten percent off of the price.

There are two other people sitting at the window, watching and counting. One is a small boy and the other is a female college student. We will sit here for another thirty two minutes, until the fifth impact. That’s when the culling begins. But we count first. How many of them are left is important. To few and we’ll end up having to take care of this planet ourselves. To many and there’s always insurrection.

There are 346 other planets to resource, but when we’re done, we get to pick any of those for the Longevity. It is 2:31 pm in this time zone. There are twenty-four time zones.

All hail Lord Pox.

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