Fly on the Wall

On the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9, a strange child met a not-so-strange child and became best friends for life. 

Opposites attract, I’m told, although I’ve only ever been attracted to myself.

So maybe don’t trust all you read—.

(Maybe…) 

However, the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9 was completely made-up by the colorful imagination of a pure-blood Homo sapien on Earth, so descriptors are ultimately relative. On Xender 9, it’s normal for fellow humans to treat each other favorably in public, or forego monetary gain in order to live humbly and ethically, or even to keep everything clean. 

So for Earthlings—such as myself—Kyp would be quite normal, while Jade would be quite abnormal. Please look past any biases you might have for abnormal Homo sapiens, because most Xenderians would prove to be abnormal Homo sapiens. 

It will make the proceeding story all the more enjoyable—. 

(Trust me, because I’m like you…)

*

I am a pure-blood Homo sapien and I’m proud of it. But how could I be so sure of my pure-blood? How could anyone not be sure! Life is what you make it, and that’s what makes Homo sapiens adorable collections of tissues and bones.  

I might have came into existence the moment I was born—.

(Or maybe I was always there…) 

Kyp and Jade came into existence the moment they were born, and they were born the moment I thought of them. Because that’s how this works.

When the rules are gone we can have so much more fun. 

Don’t claim that’s nihilism because I’m not Nietsche and this isn’t the Big Lebowski and I’m not German—only formerly. This is quite the meaningful story, actually, and I’m trying to be quite pleasant, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand what I’m saying without hearing me say it. 

But back on Xender 9, it was a remarkably beautiful day and everyone was off from work, because at the end of the Xenderian work-week it’s technically illegal to do any sort of work—and that includes any and all physical, emotional, or mental labor.  

Wouldn’t you want to live there?

I would, because right now I’m stuck in Wild Oaks Sanitarium—.

(Ho-hum…)

*

(But let me explain—please…)

Kyp and Jade were of age to work. They both worked at an automobile factory, and loved to take their lunch break at the same time. Xenderian lunch breaks were required to be an hour long. 

No more, no less.

Xenderian automobiles were not called “automobiles”, but closely resembled Earthling automobiles. So that’s what I’ll call them. They didn’t have any windows, because various sensors did all the work. 

But I’m no engineer so I can’t explain it much further without lying—.

(I’m trying my best not to lie anymore…)

And I was able to listen to their lunch-break conversation, acting as a fly on the wall of sorts, even though I lack the appropriate number of eyes. I’m actually lacking eyes for Homo sapien standards, as I only have the one. 

I don’t wear a silly eye-patch.

But Kyp asked, “Did you hear what Petrid said to Lovana?”

“No,” said Jade, chewing her food carefully. “What did he say?” 

“He claimed that there’s a way out—a way out of all of this,” said Kyp, waving his arms as if to encompass the room, and the world that lay beyond. “He told her, before he was sent home for the day, that we’re all stuck, and that the factory was just a facade. Petrid said that there’s better things that most Xenderians know nothing about.”

Jade put down her food that closely resembled an Earthling sandwich and wiped her mouth. 

“Petrid told Lovana all of this?” asked Jade. 

“Yes.”

“I can’t remember the last time anyone was ever sent home.”

“Neither can I, Jade. And nobody’s seen him since. He’s not at his home. I tried calling him! Over and over and over—”

“—you can’t be my Petrid, Kyp. Not now, not after we’ve gotten so far so fast.”

Actually, they’ve climbed up the Xenderian ladder no faster than any other Xenderian. Ambition, ambition, ambition. Without it, how could one possibly survive on the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9? Not me—. 

(Or…) 

But Kyp looked in her hazel eyes and took her hand, and held it lightly, yet with confidence.  

“We’re best friends for life, Jade. And we’ll be more than best friends soon.”

But since I was a fly on the wall I was able to see a passing glance. Jade couldn’t notice it, because she wasn’t a fly on the wall like me and she was primed to recognize all that was good in him. But I saw his glance—his hesitation. A slight doubt that maybe even Kyp himself couldn’t recognize. Opposites attract, and Kyp and Jade were best friends for life, and destined for more, but this fly saw trouble coming from yards away—.

(A fly with only one eye can still see a lot…)

*

I toss and turn in my cot at this wonderful resort, because I can’t get Kyp and Jade out of my big brain. All Homo sapiens have big brains, after all. 

We share this wonderful feature with one another—.

(I’m not wont to share…)

But Kyp and Jade occupy an unreasonably large section of my big brain. They are bigger than Xender 9 themselves, if you’re willing to believe it. I’m fascinated by their choices, and the consequences, and all they were desperately hoping to build together. 

Kyp was strange, and was able to think a little different, and see something that couldn’t be seen by others, even his most significant other. And Jade was a perfect complement, because of her doubt, and her desire for simplicity. They offset each other in a way that seemed to push them further, to take a leap forward without them ever thinking they were risking anything at all.

If Kyp and Jade didn’t live on the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9, I think we could all be friends—. 

(I can be difficult, I’ve been told…)

But it wakes me up in the middle of the night, and the nurse often hears me, and he’ll barge into my room and strap me to the bed and if I’m disorderly he’ll inject something into my ass that makes its way to my big brain and causes me to stop thinking and—.

(I sleep, but it never stops…) 

Because I’m a Xenderian, too, if only I could prove it. 

*

Kyp still wasn’t satisfied. Petrid had not shown up for work after being sent home, and it had been over a week. 

On the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9, if a worker failed to show up for his shift for a week straight, a psychoanalytical investigation would be ordered and performed by representatives from the Xenderian government. The worker would undoubtedly be in some sort of trouble, as no one ever missed a week of work without stating a reason a month in advance. 

It was the government’s responsibility to provide a service to assess and nurture the troubled worker back into the natural system of work and reward. 

Kyp decided to bring the issue to the attention of his shift leader, Sheila.

One of his shift members would be undergoing a psychoanalytical investigation, after all, which always seemed more legend than reality. Sheila was stern and fair, everything a shift leader should be. She would provide a satisfying answer—.

(Satisfaction, I’ll take a double scoop…) 

As Kyp entered her office that overlooked the factory floor, he remembered to remove his slightly-dirty cap, and to lightly slap the upper portion of the doorframe as he entered. He respected his superiors, after all, like every Xenderian. His blood and tissues and Xenderian brain virtually required him to flaunt his respect every moment it was applicable. 

The only time I get respect at Wild Oaks is when they let me put my pants on before my shirt—.

(Let a man have some dignity, please…) 

But on Xender 9, superiors were always made aware they were superior—it was easier that way. 

“Sheila,” said Kyp, “I was wondering if I could ask you a couple questions?”

“Kyp, welcome. Sit down, please,” answered Sheila, and Kyp took a seat in front of her perfectly organized desk. 

Kyp noticed she had her picture frames turned at a near-perfect forty-five degree angle. Inside those picture frames, were near-perfect smiles of her near-perfect family. They loved to vacation to the southern regions of the near-perfect, yet completely made-up, world formerly known as Xender 9.

“It’s about Petrid. Is there really going to be a psychoanalytical investigation?”

“I can’t particularly speak on these matters, Kyp.” 

“So there will be an investigation? Has there ever been an investigation before? I can’t remember anyone from my line ever missing a week straight.”

“Well, you’ve only been here for a little over a year. It’s truly not as rare as you’re making it out to be. As a matter of fact, I believe the reason you were able to get on my line was the result of a psychoanalytical investigation. We were in need of someone fresh after that. Someone who wanted to prove themselves.”

Kyp was not aware he had been a replacement. He always thought he go the job because of merit, not necessity. He climbed the ladder fast, after all. 

“I never knew this, pal,” said Kyp.

“Pal” was a common title of seniority on the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9. If Kyp and Sheila were Earthlings, they would’ve never called each other pals. 

In fact, Kyp’s opinion of Sheila was declining and declining—.

(Along with my bladder…) 

“There’s a lot of things you don’t know, Kyp. You’re still young, and you have a promising career ahead of you if you stick to work. Let Petrid deal with his own problems. They’re his problems. Not yours,” said Sheila rising from her seat to leave. 

“Yes, pal. I will,” responded Kyp. 

But I knew he would not, because Kyp is strange—. 

(Remember…) 

“Now, I have a meeting to catch. Are we done here?”

Kyp nodded and walked out of her office, but this one-eyed fly could tell he wasn’t satisfied. He still wanted answers. So he would go to Petrid’s home to search for those answers, never anticipating what would befall him. 

And, as Sheila’s office door slowly closed, I saw him look back over his shoulder, taking one last look at his shift leader. 

“We’re done here, pal,” he mumbled to himself. 

The door shut completely, and Sheila swatted this one-eyed fly off the wall. 

*

For some reason the nurses are showing me the same late-twentieth century American film over and over. It’s called The Big Lebowski—. 

(Remember…)

But I don’t remember. A long time ago, perhaps in a galaxy far, far away, I remembered most everything. Back when I had two eyes!

But then, on that fateful night, a night that would send me right off on a one way trip to Wild Oaks Sanatorium, I forgot a lot of things I remembered and must’ve replaced it with memories I had forgotten.

Crazy! 

I didn’t even have a chance to pack a change of underwear. The sanatorium would provide underwear for me, they said, but I told them I never trust underwear that I hadn’t inspected first on account of the particular shape and size and thread count because if it’s not perfect I’ll know and if I know I won’t be comfortable and if…

And that’s when the tranquilizer entered my ass and everything went black—and not for the last time. No one seems to care what I got to say anymore. 

But they should care, because I know what really ties the room together. 

*

As Kyp walked underneath the doorframe leading into Petrid’s one-bedroom apartment, he forgot to slightly slap the upper portion. He forgot because he was entirely fixated on the nothing that lay beyond. The room was empty—completely and eerily empty. 

And even though I was still that same tiny fly, perched against the off-white wall, I suddenly realized I was utterly naked. I should’ve known—. 

(Relativity and arrogance don’t mix…)

But I basked in my abilities back then, too much so, as Kyp readily proved. 

I had gone too far. 

Without any other object to draw Kyp’s gaze, other than the thin strands of tan carpet at his feet, he began to slowly shuffle toward me. And my arrogance, my goddamn arrogance, convinced me that he wasn’t staring directly into one of my numerous eyes. 

No, no, no—he had to have been shocked about the emptiness, of a room recently cluttered, and had to be walking aimlessly, attempting to gather his thoughts, because his Xenderian brain was working harder than it ever had before! 

But he came to a rest in front of me, and I didn’t dare fly away in case he would notice my only flaw. Kyp called my bluff, though. That damn kid and his damn curiosity. 

I don’t blame him—.

(Not anymore, at least…) 

He picked this little fly up off the wall, holding me between his thumb and index finger. He then ripped my small head off my small body, as he watched the smaller wires and circuits fall softly to the carpet—resting atop the thin, tan strands.    

*

I believe I have nothing else to live for anymore. 

At least that’s the way I remember it. I lost my favorite fly that day, along with much, much more. I lost my memories—or so I suppose. 

Kyp would scoop that fly up off the carpet and carefully put it in his pocket. He would save that fly, in a small wooden box beneath his floorboard. He never told a soul about it.

Not even to his best friend, and soon to be much more, Jade. 

But that day supplanted his undying skepticism once and for all. He would live a long, reasonably content life, now. He knew the completely made-up world formerly known as Xender 9 was not as it seemed, and that made him happy. 

He was strange, after all. 

*

And I live on in the box underneath the floorboard. 

Xender 9 might be in a galaxy far, far away, but I am not. I am here and there, both large and small. Because I have to be, in order to get myself through the long, all-too-sunny day. Losing a job on Xender 9 was a social death-sentence, especially when the job was as important as mine: surveillance and security for high-risk individuals for the Xenderian Intelligence Agency. 

I got into drugs, both soft and hard. When I got more into the hard ones, I remembered it could be useful if I had a job. And when you’re zooted out of your mind, as many Earthlings can relate, there’s no telling where you could end up.

I failed to ever appeal that social death-sentence—.

(Court’s in session…) 

 But Wild Oaks Sanitarium is what you make it. 

They say. 

*

Maybe…

Trust me, because I’m like you,

Or maybe I was always there.

Ho-hum…

But let me explain—please, 

I’m trying my best not to lie anymore, 

Or…

A fly with one eye can still see a lot. 

I’m not wont to share, 

It can be difficult, I’ve been told, 

I sleep, but it never stops.

Satisfaction, I’ll take a double scoop, 

Let a man have some dignity, please, 

Along with my bladder.

Remember… 

Remember… 

Relativity and arrogance don’t mix, 

Not anymore at least. 

Court’s in session. 

Red Hat

The little boy with the red hat stood in wonder, or hesitation (depending on who you asked). A quick look couldn’t hurt no one, so he made sure to get a couple.

It was mindless, of course, or it wouldn’t have come here. But it was also plain and simple, the creature that crouched before him. It wasn’t trying to impress him. 

It might not even be aware of the little boy with the red hat. 

Yet it was remarkable.  

And as some wise man or woman might’ve said: 

“Trust in those that don’t belong, for they must know something.” 

Surely, that was a saying somewhere

But it could’ve just been the illogical circumstance, a fish out of water, of sorts. And it seemed to the little boy with the red hat that this “fish” would be staying for years and years. 

So he kept staring? 

Imagine a fish—a rare fish—the one with the light that dangles over its head and a homely face (again, depending on who you asked). And the little boy with the red hat had no idea that this was an anglerfish, with it living in the deepest depths of the ocean and all.

Imagine this anglerfish, instead of staying in the deepest depths and darkest dark where it belonged, decided it wanted to turn its light off for a moment or two, and explore the whole wide world and all its natural light. It wanted to try something different for a bit, and maybe it would even do some good. 

Maybe.

Perhaps an anglerfish had the kahunas to show itself to those that never saw it before.

And that’s what the little boy with the red hat saw. Not kahunas or barracudas or even an anglerfish, but something figuratively resembling an anglerfish. 

But the creature crouched before him came from the very top, and not the very bottom. 

While he was as hardened and experienced as anyone else his age, especially compared to those whose only worry was making it home to Fortnite, this encounter was completely new and unusual. 

He’d fished along the river many times in the past, and had caught many odd looking fish, and seen many odd looking animals in the thickets beyond, but had never come across anything so foreign. 

He knew looking too long may ruin him, but he had to know, to understand, why the creature chose to come to his land. He never wanted any trouble. 

All he wished for, all he knew, was fishing this bank until he caught enough to take home and make his dad and mom and papa and mama proud. 

He never caught any fish with a light dangling over its head. 

And never would. 

He caught mostly trout, which lacked the fabled light. 

Figuratively speaking, of course.

And he looked and looked until the creature finally noticed his gaze, and stared into the eyes of the little boy with the red hat. The boy knew he’d been caught in the act, but refused to flinch, hoping the creature would act first. 

He wanted the creature to acknowledge him, somehow.  

But, at the very moment the boy couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer, the creature was gone. He watched it leap from the stump and fly away through the wood, leaving leaves and fallen twigs in its wake. 

The most unusual and wonderful creature he’d ever met left him without saying goodbye. He wished it would return, to explain itself, but he knew it was gone forever, easily led astray by its own light. 

So he waved and waved, lost in the wonder of the magnificent stranger. 

But the fat dragon flew away, without looking back, and disappeared beyond the mountains that lay beyond the sea of tree trunks and sand.

*

The little boy with the red hat never saw the fat dragon again. 

But the fat dragon saw the odd little boy again, along with his peculiar red hat. He was flying home from an unsuccessful hunt, and spotted the boy fishing from the shore near the spot they had first met. 

The fat dragon noticed the peculiar red hat from miles and miles away. The fat dragon stared at the colorful hat, instinctively flapping his wings faster, as he flew closer to the boy along the shore. 

He was now captivated by the unknown and the unusual. He was trapped in a state of wonder, or hesitation. 

So he kept staring? 

The fat dragon remembered nothing of their original encounter. It was as forgettable to him as it was unforgettable to the little boy. 

The fat dragon couldn’t afford to remember many things. 

To the fat dragon, it was just another day amongst the humans and their buildings and their wheels and their guns. He had traveled far, and had seen many of them. He had seen many little boys, and old men, and daughters, and mothers, and on and on. He had seen them curse and thank, steal and give, hate and love.

But he recognized the red hat—the peculiar red hat. 

He drifted amongst the clouds, engrossed by a memory almost completely forgotten, drawing closer and closer to the shore below. And as if by instinct, he had to have the hat. 

And all he truly had was instinct, right? It had helped him many times before, along with many other fat dragons on countless occasions. 

If he ignored it now, his basest form of action and reason, he’d have to account for responsibility. And after his flight, there’d be no return, no return, no return… 

He would’ve made his choice.

Instead, he’ll pick the simpler path. 

No matter the cost, he’ll let it control him, in a refusal to face the shame and regret. 

But that shame and regret might be hidden beneath, forever beneath, somewhere deep inside. He might face it one day, but not today.   

*

Today, the fat dragon swooped down from the sky and snatched the red hat from the shore, and with it went the little boy down into a belly of darkness.

While he never wanted to, the fat dragon got a little fatter. 

Prophet

I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the idea of being born with six toes. Are there just a couple miniature toes, or is the sixth toe a completely separate appendage?

Nonetheless, I don’t believe I’ll ever get my answer.

Unless one of these guards happen to have six toes, or know someone who might.

“Mr. Guard,” I said, “How many toes do you have?”

But Mr. Guard didn’t care about what I had to say, because he didn’t even bother to look at me. 

Maybe he didn’t have any ears. I can’t tell, after all, on account of his helmet. 

I can’t wrap my mind around that possibility either. Would there be useless holes where his ears used to be, or would excess skin cover the holes and the delicate little ear drums hiding inside? 

I’ll likely never learn about extra toes and missing ears.

The only items my captors allow me to have is pen and paper. I can’t read any books because they’re afraid I might learn something. I’ve decided to just write the books myself, and maybe I’ll learn something that way. 

That’ll show them.

So, future reader, you’re subject to me and I’m subject to you. Don’t pity me too much. There’s a lot of people worth pitying, and I shouldn’t be labeled as one. But why should you care about what I got to say, if I’m not worth your pity?

Because my name is Jeremiah, and I used to be a prophet. 

*

I wasn’t a very good prophet. I wasn’t able to keep myself from getting captured, after all. The moment they came and took me, and told me I knew too much, I knew I was done. 

And no matter what anybody tries to tell you, even if it comes from a zealot, the most important responsibility of a prophet is to keep prophetizing.  

It does no good to be locked up in a nine foot by twelve foot cell, especially when all your prophetizing will go unnoticed. Not even Mr. Guard and Mr. Other Guard care about my prophetizing. I tried it on them when I first came here, but they refused to look at me, as always. 

Nothing can be done about men with no ears.   

But do you think people will care about me?

Remember, I wasn’t a very good prophet. They can find a better one to latch onto, and I honestly hope they do. I’m rooting for them, for everyone. I might be a little too biased in my prophetizing, now.

And what is a prophet if he is no longer unbiased?   

So I give up the title of prophet. I’m not going to try to predict anything else. I’m just going to sit back and tell a story, an interesting story, and let you do the prophetizing for yourself. 

I’m out of the game. 

Goodbye to everyone, even the zealots. 

*

Hello, again, even the zealots. 

This tale, straight from the mind of Jeremiah, begins with a bang.

More specifically, a big bang. 

But not the big bang (scientific theory or television show). 

The bang was the sound of a cannon, and I happened to shoot out of that same cannon in front of a crowd of all my wildest zealots. I was shot out of the cannon because I claimed that only the chosen few could perform the feat. 

My wildest zealots believed me because I showed them videos of people dying by canon balls. And an ordinary man, like myself, was obviously not as hard as a cannon ball. I let them all feel an authentic cannon ball to prove it, and then I let them feel me. If I were to be blasted out of a cannon, I would explode upon impact, because an ordinary man, like myself, was soft and breakable, which was quite the opposite of a cannon ball. 

And they believed it. 

It was important that I convinced my zealots that I was one of the chosen few. I wanted money, and lots of it. They were willing to give it to me for letting them in on a few secrets, so who’s really to blame here? 

After I successfully landed, and dusted myself off somewhat theatrically, I went to collect donations from my most devoted zealots. The craziest ones always had the most to give. Perhaps that’s what made them crazy in the first place, or maybe they gave because they were crazy. 

I’ll never know, I guess. 

But I earned a lot for the cannon blast, enough to cover my expenses and give me a healthy cut three times over. After I got done thanking all my zealots, and wishing them luck in the second coming, and all that jazz, I was taken aside by an older gentlewoman wanting to take me out for brunch. Judging by her appearance, I assumed it wouldn’t be anything fast-casual either. Maybe a little more upscale. 

A brunch worthy of a prophet. 

I couldn’t say no, a prophet must indulge his most devout zealots, after all. So I agreed that I’d meet her tomorrow for omelets and mimosas.

She was most delighted, I remember. 

*

The place we met was indeed upscale. It was in the city, far away from where I shot out of a cannon only the day before. I was relieved no one seemed to recognize me, perhaps because I traded my famous brown shawl for a blue bowtie. 

There’s nothing worse than being forced to prophetize when you don’t feel like prophetizing. 

And all I wanted was omelets and mimosas, after all. 

The gentlewoman had already arrived, and had chosen a small table in the far corner of the fine establishment. I walked over to her and smiled, shaking her hand softly. 

“Good day,” I said. 

“Thank you so much for coming, Jeremiah,” said the gentlewoman, with a little added warmness to my name.

“A fine morning to contemplate the divine,” I said, lifting my hands in praise. “It is known that when two lorcas meet, the clouds fear to conceal them. The Sun must shine to show the world that there is still beauty. And I see no clouds today.” 

I folded my arms and nodded my head in reverence, but the gentlewoman waved me off.

“You can cut the act around me, Jeremiah. I’m not one of your zealots. And I’m not one of your lorcas,” she said. 

She motioned for the waitress to take our drink order. 

“I’d like a Bloody Mary,” she said. “And you, Jeremiah?”

The waitress looked at me waiting for my order. I was still in shock of the gentlewoman’s lack of faith, as true as it might be. 

“Mimosa,” I said. 

The waitress walked away and the gentlewoman turned her attention back to me. 

“I’ll get to the point, now, Jeremiah. I’ve asked you to come to brunch in order to get your advice.”

“Advice on what?”

“On how you convince people that you know what you’re talking about.”

“It’s because I do,” I said, lying. “It’s because I speak the word of our lords—the Mind, the Body, the Spirit. The three bring unity, and when united, allow those who believe to survive the second coming.”

“I heard all that yesterday, Jeremiah. But how do you do it? How can you convince your followers that what you say is the word of your lord? They’re not stupid—not all of them, at least. They’re rich and poor, comfortable and desperate. I want to be able to do that, too. For more practical means, of course.” 

Remember, I’m not a very good prophet, and I never thought of myself as a very good prophet. I would’ve been a very good prophet if I was able to know what I was doing right and wrong. 

I, honestly, was just doing, and some people seemed to like it. 

But that wouldn’t satisfy the gentlewoman, so I said, “Everyone is desperate, whether they’re provided for or not. Even you.”

She looked at me curiously, likely trying to figure out if this was more prophetizing, or if I was actually giving her advice on the tricks of my trade. I couldn’t even tell you want I meant by it, because I wanted to move past the subject altogether. 

I just wanted my damn mimosa. 

“Jeremiah,” said the gentlewoman, as the waitress finally brought us our drinks, “I’ll let you in on a little secret. I work for a little group made up of all kinds of people—rich and poor, black and white, smart and dumb. It’s called the United States of America. Don’t act so surprised, I’m not that important. Just a lowly government servant. But I’ve asked you here for brunch because I believe, along with some of my closest associates, that we could use all the advice we could get.

“We could use a prophet. We could use you, Jeremiah.”

*

The waitress came again and I asked for my omelet. I was surprised I was even able to get that one word out, but I did. 

I was very confused, and when a not very good prophet is very confused it can cause problems. 

So I said, “Is this a joke?”

“No.”

“Honestly, I’m not even a very good prophet. Surely there are better prophets out there.”

“None so gifted as you. Truly,” she said, waving me off before I could interrupt her. “You put on the act without believing what you’re saying is true. But there’s no malfeasance behind it. You just want people to listen to you, and make a living.”

“It is a humble living,” I admitted. 

“We’ve been following your congregation and stunts for awhile now. As far as we can tell, you give them what they want, and what you give them doesn’t end up doing any harm. You reassure people without painstaking effort. So how do you do it?”

“Well, why should I tell you?”

“Because fuck the Russians,” said the gentlewoman. 

“What?”

She smirked, “I’m just messing with you, Jeremiah. I don’t know, do you care about patriotism?”

“What use are patriots in the After?”

“Money?”

I perked up then, and not just because I finally got my omelet. I always found ways to make more money, which was perhaps the best part of being a prophet.

That and meeting new faces, each and everyday. 

But I wasn’t one for material pleasures, honestly, which was perhaps the closest I got to following my own prophetizing. 

I just liked to look at all the faces. 

“Perhaps that would do. What do you want to know?” I asked, before I took a bite into my perfectly cooked omelet. 

*

I told her all kinds of things. I told her about what people really wanted to hear. I told her about what kinds of people would listen the best. I told her about what kinds of people would act on what they heard the best. 

I told her many, many things.

Everything a not very good prophet could ever hope of knowing. The tricks of my trade were tricky no more, not to her. 

And she took it all in while sipping on her Bloody Mary. She let me have the olive, which was nice of her. I added it to my omelet for a little extra zest. 

“Thank you again, Jeremiah,” she said. 

We shook hands one final time and left the fine establishment, going on our separate paths. I would go back to following the lords, and preparing for the second coming and the After, and looking for more members of my lorca. 

At least I would act as if I was. 

I would not know what path she went back to for some time. 

But then one night, after I got back home from a rousing sermon on the possibility of entering the After by adhering to a purely ketogenic diet, I noticed a familiar face on my television. 

It was the gentlewoman, and she was arguing with other gentlemen and gentlewomen.

She seemed to know what she was saying, and people seemed to believe what she was arguing. 

Then, a month later, I saw her name on the back of bumpers of some of my wildest zealots. I was mostly upset because I had never gotten the money she promised, but apparently she had the money to make bumper stickers.

Another month later, she was the President of the United States of America.

And then I stopped being a prophet anymore.