The Dreamer: Vision

The Dreamer:


by John Andreula

Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on


Dreams come and go.

Yet sometimes, dreams linger long after the dreamer awakens.

Some people think dreams send messages the conscious mind will not otherwise see.

Others believe the dream itself is the message, in its entirety.

The message communicated through these types of dreams is considered prophetic.

It’s vision most people cannot see.

A subtle breeze swept across the makeshift campsite. The embers of the dying fire flickered and popped.

Ty peered through his drowsy eyelids. The light from the modest campfire had begun to fizzle and fade. Night was about to give way to the oncoming day.

A few times throughout the night Ty considered letting the fire die and giving in to his ever-escalating exhaustion. But he didn’t want to sleep.

Each time, the drifter instead threw another log or two onto the fire.

Ty was many things, but he was not unrealistic. He would succumb and fall asleep for a couple hours tomorrow night or the next, but not tonight. He would sleep eventually, but sleep meant dreams.

Ty’s dreams weren’t pleasant. A brother shot in the face, silently judging him, a murder committed a lifetime ago, and many other miscellaneous losses of innocence from throughout his life all turned up eventually; whenever the young traveler decided to let the impulsive need to recharge through unconscious rest win over.

The young vagrant stirred while he lay on his side. As always, this night had been a long one. Yet, this past evening was incredibly peaceful. It seemed different from many of the others on the road. It was near time to get up and move on.

The moment Ty arrived at his decision to break camp an ethereal wind passed through the meadow, hiding deep within this rural forest. A charred log crackled, reinvigorating the moribund fire. The gust was just strong enough to stoke the flames back to life. The blaze rose far too high, considering just the one blackened log was all that fueled it.

Ty’s consciousness snapped back into his body. He rose lazily into a sitting position.

The orange-red flame coiled and twisted in the air. Ty wondered whether he was actually awake, or if he was just having a rare dream that didn’t involve the details from the worst memories of his life.

The fire seemed to stretch and fold over upon itself. Lengths of it fell and settled on the ground below. Each section layered on top of the one before, forming a stack. The longest strands of flame lay on the bottom, each above shorter than the last, until a pyramid formed inside the ashen fire-pit.

The tip of the newly constructed pyramid of blaze rose from its coiled base below. It rounded into an oblong shape and stretched upward. The lengthy inferno began to sway somewhat. Then it folded over into a point and unmistakably faced Ty, who sat cross-legged in the dirt and weeds.

The swaying tip of the flame formed into a serpent’s head. The snake had midnight black eyes. Only the reflection of the flame body below showed.

The flame-beast pivoted its ophidian head slightly as if it were stretching its neck. The snake yawned, revealing four fangs the same black as its eyes. A yellow-orange bifurcated tongue rose from the gaping depth that was the back of its throat.

It closed its mouth as if the fire animal had been corporeal the entire time. The tongue exited and reentered the mouth as if in some unheard rhythm. The tip of the flame-snake’s tail rose from behind itself. A moment later it appeared to Ty to be a rattle, the next second the form blurred in the inferno.

The snake stared into Ty’s cold brown eyes, and Ty stared back, unflinching and unafraid.


The young man shifted in his seat. He was uneasy around snakes. It was obvious to him that this snake was either a figment of his imagination, or an odd dream.

The flame-snake emitted a low, but deep, echoing hiss. As if it were momentarily a normal fire, the flames of its body shook as the next breeze rolled through it.

Then, as if inhaling while forming its words, the snake spoke to Ty. “You…” It struggled, as though it were learning to use its serpent mouth to make human sounds.

“Sssshe will need you…” the snake hissed on. “You mussst go to her…Find her…You will need her asssss well…”

The snake’s voice echoed off into the distant edge of the woods. Ty processed what he was seeing, and what he had just heard. He continued to stare unblinking, and non-emotive. The flames flickered. For a moment it was more fire than snake.

After a few seconds passed Ty finally replied to the fire snake, “Is this real?..Are you…real?”

“I am,” the echo-hiss acknowledged.

“Am I dreaming?”

“You are…” it went on, “Thisss isss a true dream, and at once-ssss, no dream.”

The snake hesitated. It’s head glanced some point in the distance. Ty continued listening, and watching.

“Heed thessse words, traveler…The girl needsss you…You mussst ssssave her…Sssshe issss in danger…Only sssshe can ssssave you…Only sssshe can ssssave ussss.”

The flame snake looked off in the distance again, and then, instantaneously, the charred log burst apart. The blaze petered off into sparks and smoke.


The flame snake was no more. The remains of the fire spread into a final choking gasp of oxygen. Only dim orange embers remained in the pale of the breaking daylight.

“I don’t understand.” Ty spoke impatiently into the gray-white smoke that remained. The snake had been there just a moment before.

Ty stood up and peered off through the trees. The sun’s fingernail edge was rising in the east. “Leave me be, dreams.” Ty spoke into the sunrise. “Go bother someone else.”

Vision is part of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.

If you haven’t read it from the whole story from the beginning, check it out here.

Look out for more of The Dreamer coming very soon!


John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:


Mining For Meaning

Mining for Meaning

by John Andreula

edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on

glitch pixels

It happened a few days ago…

My daughter wanted to play MINECRAFT, so she powered on our XBOX 360.

The console’s old, but it frequently gets use for viewing movies and television shows. Seldom does it get used these days for its primary intended purpose of playing video games.

There we were. My daughter was attempting to use the device for what it was initially coded for, but her efforts were curtailed. The game required a software update. Why wouldn’t it? It was only released in 2011, so why wouldn’t it need one now, in 2019?

Unfortunately, my fully expanded expandable memory was at too full capacity for the system to accept the download. We’ve all been there, right?


I had to come to the rescue. Who wants to see their lone precocious daughter disappointed?

Plus, it was my own fault. I’m the reason the hard drive was at max capacity in the first place. I am a data hoarder. I never seem to say no to the offers of free downloadable games, despite my increasingly less frequent gaming sessions.

I pulled up the system’s on-board memory and deleted one of the first games listed, ASSASSIN’S CREED ROGUE.

ASSASSIN’S CREED is a series that I have experience playing extensively. Each time I have tried out a new one I end up being disappointed. The stories are consistently hollow and they seem to go nowhere. This is only exacerbated by the awful endings that are awaiting those who wade through the entirety of the games.

assassins creed

Yet for some reason (because it was free, and I’m a sucker for free stuff) I downloaded this one.

After the file deletion we were in good shape. That piece of crap game accounted for over 6 GB. We now had enough free space to import the necessary data to get back on the MINECRAFT-craft.

Either the file was large, or my internet connection is slower than I realize, because the download took quite some time. I wisely moved on to some yard work while my daughter opted on watching the pot sluggishly boil.

It was somewhere in the midst of this nerdy sequence of events that I came to an unsettling realization: I probably should have my geek card revoked.

I haven’t purchased a video game or an anime in over a year, including digital downloads or expansion packs…

I haven’t made it to any cons or nerd culture gatherings in quite some time either…

And possibly most egregious of all, I still haven’t seen AVENGERS ENDGAME!


I couldn’t help but wonder What’s wrong with me? The same guy who writes columns about video games and pop culture is as out of touch and out of date as this? I am in such proverbially poor condition when it comes to my geek content consumption. How can I claim representation and the expertise required of such a role within the community?

My daughter stared patiently at the glacially-paced download status bar for a bit longer. Eventually, she was rewarded with the MINECRAFT title screen.

She immediately selected “Creative” mode. She’s a blossoming gamer, and this was a change from our past spins of the game. The previous handful of times we played in “Survival” mode. That version’s inevitable night-times and their resulting aggressive creatures intimidate her. She would end up not enjoying the game as much as she should have, and in turn was unwilling to attempt to play it without me.

I sidled up next to her and sat down at my girl’s side in front of the couch. What I witnessed tickled my nerd-senses.

“Creative” allowed my daughter a menu of unlimited resources, building materials, and in-game items. This mode was a built in cheat! It was incredible!

My daughter donned a full set of gold armor and a matching gilded ax. She proceeded to build a house out of diamond, gold, and emerald immediately afterwards. I was beaming with geeky, fatherly pride.

pink controller

Then, as any true video game enthusiast should, I asked for the controller. Previously we had witnessed some of my friends’ kids and daughter’s friends play the game. I knew there was a way to float around and build and destroy like a virtual god.

I opened the menu and uncovered a pair of “Elytra” wings. I didn’t know what they did, but they were cool. I put them on. I figured they may help us achieve my goal of her becoming a near-deity. I mashed various combinations of buttons to get our—her—character to fly, but nothing worked.

My girl grabbed the controller back from my hands. In a perfect modern world moment, she accidentally stumbled upon the command that allowed her character to float. Her avatar flew around the screen for a bit before I suggested she float up as high as the game would allow.

I had recently seen a Quora thread that spoke about kids who were addicted to MINECRAFT. Ironically, the parents and the children who were engaging in the thread, were primarily complaining about how each was treating the other in regards to time spent gaming online. A central theme was the struggles in detaching from a gaming session when real world responsibilities beckoned.

What piqued my gamer interest, however, was one troll’s passing reference to kids being able to travel to multiple dimensions within the game. I figured my daughter and I may as well take our first shot at it.

minecraft portal

The female avatar rose into the sky. She floated above the clouds. The ground slowly shrank away, and then disappeared completely from our viewpoint. We directed the character straight at the pixelated sun above her head.

We took turns rising, but never seemed to close the distance. After a few more minutes I got the feeling that our character may have been stuck in some sort of glitch.

We attempted to reverse our trajectory and head back down to the cold calculated familiarity of terra below. The return journey was very disorienting. Without being able to see the ground we couldn’t be sure we were even heading in the right direction. We had climbed so far into the virtual sky that we couldn’t be certain we were going anywhere at all.

Then, by a stroke of similarly dumb luck and accidental key inputs, our character ceased floating and plummeted back down to the comfortable familiarity of the ground.

My daughter and I both recognized what our discovery implied in terms of what we should be able to accomplish within the coded reality of the game. Unfortunately, we were unable to duplicate the condition of floating again, despite several failed attempts.

minecraft city

Next I did what any impatient borderline-millennial does in this position. I reached out to the internets. After a brief search, the spoiler and instant gratification production community provided me with exactly what I was looking for. I discovered how to reestablish our floating ability through simply double-tapping the jump button.

I also found out how to engage the Elytra wings I had equipped. They would allow us to glide around our icy, rocky mountains at a much higher, but significantly less controlled, speed.

We equipped a blank map and zoomed off. I watched as the map slowly filled itself in. We journey around and through the various locations within the game and barely made an impression on the map’s face.

It came time to bring our session to a close and disconnect for a while. That afternoon, we had spent double the standard amount of time my wife and I usually allot for our daughter to have in one sitting of screen-time.

tv off

It was a struggle to get her to turn it off.

I don’t have as much trouble as my daughter in compartmentalizing these urges. I have big people responsibilities like chores, work, and writing columns for constantly pulling at my attention and energy.

However, the following day I did feel that all-too-familiar pull to play some more MINECRAFT. I have to admit, our marathon session left me feeling that old itch as well. I’ve been thinking about sneaking in more game-play after she goes to bed, so I can build a castle in the sky.

Don’t worry, though. I’ll make sure she has ample opportunities to get her turns in as well.

The course of events, and the connection with my daughter, reminded me that I am still justified in pontificating on gaming. I still know what a quarter’s worth…

minecraft sunset

John Andreula is a geek & gamer residing in Westminster, Colorado.

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:


Dreams of the Past

Dreams of the Past

Part 2

by John Andreula

edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on

(If you haven’t read Part 1 check it out here)

wooden bridge.jpg

Dreams can offer strange and unique perspective of reality.

Oftentimes, what appears in a dream as one thing may, in actuality, signify another entirely.

The contents of dreams can offer understanding that, while awake, the dreamer may miss.

Dreams make people aware of life stresses, situations that need addressed, and many other signals that something is awry.

But it’s not really about the dream, is it? The real story is in what the dreamer does to address the information that those dreams are attempting to communicate to them.

The miner’s boys returned that afternoon after school let out; this time Ty was on E.J.’s shoulders. E.J. was nine years old back then. Ty was six. Ginny was the same age as E.J. and James was a year and a half older than them.

Those days the farmer’s children required a lot of attention and energy. Despite his many financial blessings, those were both things he did not have in excess.

If it weren’t for that fact, he would have been more reticent to let the miner’s sons around his children as much. However, due to his heavy work demands, the miner’s boys turned out to be quite the blessing. Ty and E.J. kept his children occupied, so he was able to work the land uninterrupted.

While he worked the four kids played. They ran in the fields. They played around the house, and they climbed trees in the orchard. The farm was substantial. There was no shortage of things for the children to do as long as they had each other to keep them company.

The kids also played down by the brook, near where the horses were stabled and watered. Down the path from the farm-house there was a small wooden bridge that crossed the brook to the where the steeds and mares rested at the end of long days working the fields.

Charity was always last to leave at the end of the day, as the boys stayed and relished in their kinship with the farmer’s two children, Ginny and James. On most evenings, E.J. would lead the faithful horse to the miner’s humble home with Ty on her back.

A handful of years passed by in what seemed a blink. The older three children were now teenagers; Ty would soon be one as well. The four kids grew up close friends. They knew each other as well as they knew their own sibling. It was almost as if all four were in fact siblings.

While the quiet country mining town slowly welcomed the future, not much changed in the farmer’s or miner’s families’ lives.

The miner still worked below ground. He had since been promoted to foreman. Even so, the improvement in status and title only modestly improved his pay. The meager additional money he earned would be squandered much the same as any other he had previously received. Unfortunately for the miner and his sons, that was just his way.

The farmer still ran his vast farm. He had acquired some extra land and hired on more employees, and he still continued his business dealing with the miner for the use of Charity, his horse.

The farmer never truly cared for the miner’s sons, or even liked them much, but he tolerated them. He enjoyed the cheap labor Charity provided him. The farmer was as shrewd a businessman as the miner was not. The farmer knew the miner was spending as much or more as he consigned the horse for to feed and board her at home.

The farmer never made any attempts to hide his subtle condescension of the miner or his boys when he spoke to E.J. or Ty. He spoke more overtly when he speaking about them to his own brood.

In the ensuing years, a wealthy out of state family purchased the land up the road from the farmer’s estate. They didn’t buy their land to run a farm, as the farmer did. To them it was just a symbol of their prosperity and status. They just wanted to own the land. There was a lot of this societal transition happening in these parts. Whether or not the town and the men resisted, the future was approaching.

The new family up the road had twin boys. They were a few months younger than the farmer’s son, James. The twins were not nice to the poorer miner’s sons. They felt E.J. and Ty were beneath them, a fact they were not shy in sharing with James, Ginny, and the miner’s sons themselves.

The twins attempted to exclude E.J. and Ty from play. They teased them about their financial situation, as well as the fact that their mother had walked out on them. Occasionally, they even threw stones and brandished sticks at them in imperious games of their own creation.

Ginny resisted the twins’ consistent pushes to pick on E.J. and Ty. She regularly defended her close friends. Countless times in the past they had proven themselves to the girl, so she stood up against the twins’ incursions. She would suggest that she and the miner’s sons abandon play with James and his two bully friends.

James, however, took to the twins immediately. They were speaking his language. He had grown bored of babysitting his younger sister and the miner’s boys, as he put it. The twins were shiny and new, and that was the way the world was becoming off the farm, away from the children’s time together. The twins gave James glimpses of a life outside of his own on the farm through their lavish material possessions and constant reminders of their elevated status.

James grew apart from his sister and the miner’s boys after the twins came on the scene. He and the twins would go off to shoot pellet guns and .22’s at the wildlife around the estate. Sometimes they even shot the pellet guns at each other. Yelps could be heard from a distance as one or the other would get a BB to his buttocks or some other random limb.

On occasion the three would turn their barrels toward the miner’s boys. Again they pretended it was in jest, but it was obvious the behavior was derived out of maliciousness. They mocked it as just another game, but the twins and James were the only ones enjoying the action.

James continued to grow increasingly distant and callous as the kids all grew older together. He seemed to take his father’s apathy and disregard of the poor boys as permission to treat them cruelly. Be that as it may, James was much worse than his father, especially when no one but the kids were around. His treatment was only exacerbated and encouraged in the presence of his newer friends.

E.J. and Ty would have abandoned the farmstead long ago, had it not been for their their affinity towards Ginny, and their attachment to the horse their mother had loved so dearly.

An ever-increasing fondness grew between E.J. and the girl he had known and grown up with for so long. The two were no longer seeing each other as brother and sister. Their friendship had grown into something else entirely. Their connections had become more flirtatious and much less platonic, although their feelings toward each other were never vocalized.

James inevitably became irritated and angry at his sister choosing the side of the poor boys. But he would always stop just short of becoming physical towards her, or in her presence. He cared about his sister. Plus, if he ever laid hands on her, he would feel his father’s wrath, as he had many times prior for far smaller infractions.

School let out one muggy afternoon and the six adolescents returned to the farm as usual. James and the twins walked ahead, snickering amongst themselves. Ginny, E.J., and Ty ambled behind, enjoying each others’ company and the fall day.

When back to the farm, the farmer’s daughter and the miner’s sons decided on throwing stones into the brook from the farmhouse-side. James and twins loaded their .22 rifles, deciding to hunt some rabbits that had been eating the fruit crop. James’ father had recently been complaining about losing some of the fruit to the vermin. The boys brought their guns to the top of the hill between the brook and the farm-house.

At first the twins and James kept to themselves. One would point to something out of view and the three would proceed to pull triggers and hoot and laugh until they had struck or missed whatever it was they had struck or missed.

One of the twins grew bored. He stared off in the direction of the rented horses that were resting on the other side of the stream down the hill. He raised the barrel of his gun in the direction he had been looking and pulled his trigger. The bullet clipped the roof of the open-air stable and ricocheted off in some random direction. His brother and James guffawed encouragingly.

Ty, E.J., and Ginny’s eyes shot up in the direction of the stable, where the sound had emanated. Then they glanced up the hill to the three other boys, malicious smirks on each of their face. The twin who fired the shot stared directly at them, unapologetic. His eyes dared them to say something to him.

Ty was first to react. “Hey!” he yelled, “What you trying to do?”

The young man raised his gun again and settled into his aim a bit more than before. Ty sensed he was going to hurt one of the horses and took off at a sprint across the small bridge toward the stable.

E.J. concurrently took aim with the rock he was holding in his hand. He pulled his hand behind his head and pitched the stone in the twin’s direction. Seconds later the rock struck the side of the offending twin’s neck and his gun flew from his hands just as he pulled the trigger. The small caliber bullet fired into nothing in the distance.

The boy let out a yelp. He grabbed his neck where the rock had struck and howled again. He let out a stream of cuss-words that were not uncommon within his vernacular.  However, they were pronounced in a much different tone this time.

James decided to act in defense of his buddy. He lifted his own rifle in the direction of the stable as well. He gun aimed directly at Charity.

Ty was just reaching the pen, and he stopped in front of his horse. The youngest boy threw out his arms and legs wide to block any further incoming shots at his treasured mare. “Don’t shoot her!” he called out. His face was furious, but tears were filling the bottoms of his eyes. “She’s all we have of our ma,” He continued, much quieter than before.

“I don’t even have a memory of her anymore…” his voice got even lower at this. Salty-water ran down both his cheeks at his thoughts and the rush of emotions.

James pointed his gun lower slightly. The barrel was pointed lazily at the ground in between them. He and the second twin guffawed at the youngest boy and his foolish heroism. James raised the gun again in the direction of boy and the horse. Ty held his ground, and his rage.

E.J. and Ginny ran up the hill toward the three boys. E.J. didn’t think, and he didn’t hesitate. He ran full-out up to the boys on the hillside. When he reached them he cocked his arm back and punched the second twin in the side of his face. This caused him to drop his lowered rifle to the ground.

James attempted to round his barrel in E.J.’s direction, but the miner’s son was too fast. E.J. grabbed the rifle with one hand by the end of the barrel. He yanked it with ease from the farmer’s son’s relaxed grip. James attempted to resist and hang on to it, but his footing slipped. He then fell forward face-first into the grass.

E.J. repositioned the rifle in his hands as the twins each went after their expelled guns. E.J. pointed his sight at one and then the other and said, “Don’t even,” thoroughly menacingly.

As James was getting up to his knees, E.J. booted him cleanly in the center of his chest. He fell over backwards, this time with significantly more force.

“Ty, c’mere!” E.J. hollered down to his brother by the stables. He was now moving the barrel of the rifle from one to the others of each of the three boys’ heads.

“Step away from those, you two.” he said coolly to the twins. The twins backed away from the guns on the ground slowly, one held his hands high above his head.

“Git!” E.J. bellowed as he sent a warning shot into the sky above the boys’ heads. The twin who fired the first shot at the stable took off toward the road without looking back. The other hesitated for a brief moment, considering the situation. He looked down at James before running off in the direction of the farmhouse.

“E.J.!” Ginny cried out to her friend, taking in the gravity of the moment, “they were just playing. Don’t shoot him!”

Ty arrived up on the hillside. Struggling between short breaths he said, “Thanks, E.”

“Grab those rifles there,” E.J. nodded towards the guns on the grass. His concentration and gun stayed steadily on James. “You were going to shoot,” he stated to his ex-friend. It wasn’t a question. It was a conclusive statement.

For once, Ginny was forced to her brother’s aid and defense. “E.J., let him go. Please.”

Ty got to E.J.’s side after retrieving the guns. He held the rifles awkwardly across his chest. “Here,” E.J. said as he placed the last rifle on the top of the others. Ty had to adjust the arm over the top. “Go stash these.”

Ty ran off back down the hill and across the bridge towards the stable. James, Ginny, and E.J. were all alone on the hillside. James felt emboldened now that he didn’t have a loaded gun pointed in his face. “You think I don’t know about you and her. You’re not worthy of her. You and your brother are nothing!” he continued, but turned his head toward Ginny. “She’s slumming…the slut.”

Ginny’s face went beet red. All the sisterly defensive emotion of just seconds ago escaped her. She walked up to her brother, who was still clutching a hand over his chest where he had been kicked. Ginny raised a hand to her side and swung it into a cracking slap across her brother’s face.

James didn’t flinch. He had hardened against the strike. Despite the obvious force and hatred within it, he pretended not to feel the blow. He immediately raised his own hand and swung a backhand across the face of his younger sister. His strike was louder and much more violent than Ginny’s. The girl let out a whimper and fell to the ground. Silent tears followed for the girl.

Enraged further, E.J. dove at James. He wrapped his arms around the older boy’s midsection. The two tumbled to the ground. E.J.’s eyes went blank as he mounted James and proceeded to pound the farmer’s son. He clobbered the boy’s face with alternating fists. One after another of E.J.’s punches landed. A few went wild and missed James, merely grazing his face, but the majority were on their mark.

After a few strikes James was dazed, recognition had fled from his eyes. A few more punches and his face was bloodied and battered. The farmer’s son went unconscious.

Ginny got to her feet and regained her senses. She was witnessing the boy she had such deep affection towards pummeling her older brother. She called out to E.J. to cease his assault, but he could not hear her through his frenzied fury.

Ginny attempted to restrain E.J. from behind before he could harm her brother any further. She got hit in the face by his arm as it cocked back to rain down more blows. She ignored the new pain in her face from the punch as she wrapped her arms around her friend.

“It’s okay. I’m okay. You can stop now.” The girl’s voice was low, defeated, beaten, but her closest friend in the world inside of this berserk young man had heard her as his left hand rose for yet another hammer-fist.

E.J. held his hand in the air for a moment before dropping it limply to his side. He sighed, exhaling deeply. Blood had covered the face of the unconscious James below. Ginny’s arms stayed wrapped around E.J.

Tears were in the miner’s son’s eyes as well. Regret and guilt settled into the home inside him where the rage had just left. E.J. went still.

Ginny attempted to send love into her friend, but the gesture was as empty as the emotions now inside of the young man. She was too worried about James’s state. She left go of E.J. and they just sat there for another moment.

Acceptance arose to replace the regret inside E.J. He rose to his feet and used his blood-covered forearm to wipe the tears from his eyes. James’ residual blood burned more than the tears had moments ago.

“Ty!” E.J. called out without looking in the direction of his brother. He knew his younger brother had been watching from behind the hay stacks near the horses. “Grab Charity. We’re leaving.”

Ginny exhaled then and began to sob. She tried inhale deeply, but her breath was choked by her anguish. Acceptance of the situation entered her body with the weight of the humid late spring air. The two knew their relationship would never again be the same.

With fists sore from the beating he had just doled out, E.J. slowly rose to his feet. “I won’t be coming back, Gin. I can’t…not after this. Come with me, please?”

“I can’t,” the girl replied between sobs. “They need me here.”

“Please…,” the miner’s elder son pleaded again, but this time much more weakly. He already knew her answer. “We care way more about you than they ever will.” His last words were spoken with a dried blood covered finger pointing down towards the red and swollen face of the girl’s brother below.

“They’re…they’re all I’ve got…”

“You’ve got me…You’ve got us, me and Ty.”

“No…I can’t…I won’t.”

James knew the girl didn’t see things as he did in this moment. They were no longer on the same page, as they had been for so long before.

He turned his back on his old friends and clambered slowly down the hill in the direction of the bridge, his brother and horse on the other side. E.J. was confused, and lost in his thoughts. His mind had become a jumbled mess. He didn’t hear the farmer running down the hill from his house to where his son now layed. His daughter was kneeling over his boy, a few steps away.

The grizzled man paused briefly, appraising the situation. The twin who had run toward the house had informed the farmer of the altercation. He was arriving much slower, walking simpering behind him.

The farmer looked down upon his bloodied son on the ground, and his daughter with her swollen, bruised face. Rage boiled in his veins and his face went red. He went to go after the miner’s son who was just arriving at the small wooden bridge below. Ginny grabbed his arm. “Let him go, pa. James and them started this.”

The farmer yanked his arm free of his daughter’s weak grip. “And I’m here to finish it.”

E.J. had just reached the bridge when he realized the old man was coming down the hill behind him with a larger rifle of his own in his hands. “Ty, go hide yourself.” The miner’s son turned toward the farmer and put his hands out in front of him.

Ty did as his brother bid for a fourth time that afternoon. He returned to hide behind the stacked up hay, a mere twenty-five yards past the bridge.

“You!” the farmer yelled after him, “Look what ya did to my boy!” E.J. backed slowly onto the bridge’s old weather-beaten planks.

The farmer stopped and raised his barrel to the sky and fired a shot into the air. It made the sound of thunder that wasn’t thunder as it blast overhead. Some black birds yelped in protest. They batted their wings and scattered from the treetops. E.J. ceased his backpedaling. He lacked the energy to fight anymore. He was completely drained

The farmer lowered his barrel and pointed it directly at the boy’s head. Anger still covered his visage. “Sir, I meant no quarrel. Yer boy hit…” The thunder that wasn’t thunder interrupted the boy mid-sentence, as the farmer pulled the trigger of his shotgun again.

The back of James head blast apart. Brain, skull, and blood shot out in all directions behind him. E.J.’s body sank to its knees before falling over sideways. It slumped lifeless off the bridge and into the brook.

Ty was peering out from around the side of the stacked up hay, barely hidden. He witnessed his brother’s murder and couldn’t contain himself. He let out a yelp. He had caught himself by putting a fist into his mouth, but it was too late. The farmer heard him. Now the man was looking right at the spot where Ty’s head was just a moment ago, peeking out from behind the stacked hay.

“Hey you, boy! C’mere.” the farmer called, attempting to sound calm.

Ty stayed put. His eyes refilled with salty water. He quickly reviewed the previous moment in his head. The boy knew his brother was dead.

The man crossed the bridge, stepping past E.J.’s face-down floating body. The back of his head no longer resembled anything like a human head after the close-range buckshot impact. The old man proceeded towards the hay bales.

As the farmer rounded the corner of the stacks another loud crack pierced the air of the farm. The farmer dropped his shotgun to the ground. He lifted his hand to the hole that had just appeared in his sternum.  Blood immediately spurted out of it.

Ty had grabbed one of the boys’ guns that he had stashed earlier between in the hay as the man was coming after him. A look of surprise came across the farmer’s face briefly before he dropped to his knees. The surprise was immediately followed by the look of grief as the farmer recognized he was dying.

The farmer opened his mouth to say something, but no words escaped his mouth, only a stream of blood. It cascaded down the side of his face and into the collar of his plaid shirt. He fell against the hay stacks just before his life exited his body abruptly.

Despite his young age, Ty was aware he needed to act quickly. He picked up the farmer’s shotgun and one of the .22’s, and placed them in the bag already slung behind his horse’s saddle. The horse had been spooked by the gunshots, but the boy’s presence had calmed her just enough to not run off.

Ty ran over to the fence gate, unlatched it, and flung it open. He ran back to Charity, grabbed the reigns and slung himself over the old mare’s side and onto the saddle. It was the first time he done so without the assistance of his brother or his father. The boy rode out of the farm and away from the town.

Ty rode for two whole days before stopping. He didn’t break to eat, or drink, or even piss. On the night of the second day he finally stopped; partly due to his falling asleep from exhaustion while riding, and partly because he knew Charity was spent as well. She had been such an amazing, obedient, and good horse to him.

Ty saw to Charity getting some water. He nicked some carrots from a farm they had just passed. He gave a couple to Charity before sitting against the fence with the last carrot, uninterested in eating it. For the first time since he watched E.J. get shot, he cried again.

Ty’s crotch was sore from riding for so long. It had become red and raw. However, it didn’t hurt him near as much as his recollection of losing his brother. Nothing would ever hurt him as much seeing E.J.’s head blown apart.

After their rest, Ty and Charity traveled on some more. They survived off the food Ty dug out of trash cans, as well as what he could steal without getting caught. The two rode for another year. The horse had already lived for many years, and had become weak and weary from the many miles. She couldn’t travel with him any further.

Ty buried the last remnant of his family, and his past, and continued on. No matter how far the young man traveled to escape his memories, he could never evade his recurring dreams of that day. The nighttime recollections of that scene from the farm played out over and over again when he drifted to sleep.

Ty wouldn’t sleep much after that day. He knew he would never escape those dreams of his past.


Dreams of the Past is part of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.

If you haven’t read it from the whole story from the beginning, check it out here.

Look out for more of The Dreamer coming very soon!

John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:

Dreams of the Past


Dreams of the Past

Part 1

by John Andreula

edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on


A dream can be repetitive and monotonous.

Sometimes the same dream may occur night, after night, after night.

Oftentimes dreams like these involve repetitive, menial tasks, like standing in front of a copy machine watching the flashing lights of the scanner passing from left to right, over and over and over again…

Some time ago there was a iron miner. The miner had two sons; Ty, and E.J., the elder of the two.

To say the miner worked a considerable amount would be a considerable understatement of how much he actually labored. His working hours had him leaving before sunrise everyday, often keeping him at the mine until supper or later.

The miner had a propensity for acquiring debt. The only thing that matched his ability to accrue debt was his insatiable thirst for alcohol. The more money he came to owe, the more he would drink to push his cares away.

The miner wasn’t a violent drunk. Imbibing was just his preferred method of numbing the world and his responsibilities. It was both a way to detach himself from his world’s harsh realities, as well as being his chosen form of decompression after long shifts of toil, sweat, & soot.

Luckily for his sons, the alcohol never made him abusive to the boys. Unfortunately, his mounting interest payments on his loans, along with his alcohol consumption habits, didn’t make him very pleasant to be around much of the time.

This was felt utmost by the boys’ mother, the miner’s wife. On many nights she would have to abide his complaints and attitude, but to her even this wasn’t as bad as what she felt she was missing out on with such a loser for a husband. Despite the long hours the miner worked, the family didn’t have money for extras or luxuries such as dining out, fine clothing, or vacation trips. The miner’s wife felt these were her due.

When E.J. and Ty were quite young, the impoverished miner’s wife spent many nights yelling at her husband. She frequently and vehemently reminded him how much of a loser he was. She informed him time and again that they were never going to have the proper means she deserved and expected.

Doors got slammed regularly. This would often be followed by more raised voices shouting back and forth across the small house. E.J. and Ty would stay in their shared bedroom, the older holding and comforting the younger until the noises ceased and sleep could finally come.

At the end of an evening of these familiar circumstances, the front door slammed with more heft and impact than usual. Most nights when the front door slammed and the boys’ mother stormed off into the night, the next morning would follow with her home asleep in bed, or up early, preparing the boys’ breakfast and lunches for their day.

This night had a different feel. At least that’s how E.J. remembered it. Their cramped home seemed more silent than the boy had been accustomed to. Whether his memory painted a different picture than the night’s actual events, this night and the following morning were indeed distinctive.

The empty silence that was felt throughout the modest dwelling that evening would be repeated the following morning as well, and for much of the next couple years. When the boys’ mother left that night, she never returned.

The miner’s wife had finally had enough. She was through with her life of poverty and their shared, pitiful, empty future. She was finished with being expected to do everything for the boys. It truly wasn’t their fault, but life isn’t fair most of the time. They never saw or heard from her again.

What happened to the miner’s wife out in the world is unknown and irrelevant, but the boys’ mother did leave behind one valuable possession: her beloved draft horse, Charity. The miner never cared for or about the horse. To him, it just was. He never held any emotional attachment to the animal whatsoever.

After his wife had been gone for a few weeks the man had decided she wouldn’t be returning. As it were, despite all his working hours, the miner continued to stay broke. The mare had always cost loads of money to feed and care for. That was money he no longer saw fit to spend on her.

The miner concluded he would sell the horse. Charity was a strong and well-behaved mare. She would probably fetch quite a sum from some local farmer or rancher.

One rare sober evening the man informed the boys of his plan to part with the mare. E.J. and Ty expressed their extreme displeasure at the idea. They were well-aware how much their mother had cared for the horse. They did not wish to disappoint her upon her expected eventual return. The boys lacked the man’s realism towards the situation. They had not quite comprehended or accepted that their mother wouldn’t be returning.

The boys fought with their father. E.J. yelled in anger while Ty cried in hysterics. That horse was all they had left of their mother now, besides their memories. They would not accept their father’s plan.

Despite the continual animosity and resentment between the man and his wife over the years, the children never caused him trouble. They didn’t argue or tussle much. The miner was well aware that his sons were good boys.

The man knew it was his fault that his wife had left them, so he eventually agreed to keeping the horse. Somewhere deep inside the miner had hoped to make up for his lack of physical and emotional presence through yet another financial sabotage of his family.

Like most of his prior poor financial decisions, he came to this conclusion before thoroughly considering his options. How would he make enough money to continue owning the horse? Horses cost an abundant amount of money to own. That was money he didn’t have, and he never seemed to have an easy time coming by more.

He didn’t want to disappoint his boys further, so he determined to figure out some way to make owning Charity work. When she was still around, his wife had worked at a local restaurant waiting tables and tending bar to afford her own luxuries. These included her clothing, jewelry, and most especially her horse. This wasn’t an option for him. Working more wouldn’t work. His current load had his body and his mind long past healthy capacity. The man’s income was all already spoken for in terms of bills, food, and out-standing debt. He would have to find another way.

Through a coworker at the mine, the miner heard about a local farmer on the outskirts of the town that leased horses to pull hay and carts, and work the land. The miner contacted the farmer and the two planned to meet. The horse would need to be inspected and terms of the lease would have to be agreed upon.

The miner figured he could negotiate a rate that would cover the horse’s normal expenses and even put a couple extra dollars in the his pocket. Unfortunately for him, this wouldn’t be the case. The farmer was a shrewd businessman. He understood money and horses far better than the uneducated miner.

Had the poor man truly understood the actual costs of owning and feeding a horse, he would have immediately recognized that the amount the farmer and he had agreed upon would barely cover his base ownership costs. There would be no extra income, and he would struggle tremendously if the horse took ill, or needed any surprise maintenance he wasn’t planning for.

Still, the man was satisfied with his deal. Being able to keep the horse and please his boys felt like a victory. After such a long run of poor decisions and bad news, he finally felt like he was doing something right by his family and himself.

The miner told his boys the news that very evening. They were ecstatic with the knowledge that they would be keeping their mother’s beloved horse.

The following day the man set out earlier than usual to deliver Charity to the farmer. The boys rode on the brown mare’s back. E.J. held the reigns in his hands, with his arms around his younger brother. The three walked the horse down the quiet dirt county roads, under the dark sky before the sunrise. Finally they approached the farmer’s property just outside of their sleeping mining town.

The group reached the farmer’s house just as the sky was turning orange and pink. It was a beautiful sky that felt ominous of many better memories to come.

Once down the gravel driveway, the miner walked up to the wooden porch, leaving his boys and the horse behind him. The man climbed the three gray steps and proceeded to knock on the door frame to the right of the red door.

A thick grizzled man wearing overalls and a trucker’s hat came to the door and pulled the curtains back to see who was there. He looked at the miner in his jacket and hat, and then down to the horse with the two young boys mounted on her saddle. His expression didn’t change. He let the curtains back down and opened the door.

The two men shook hands and spoke for a bit. The miner’s boys waited patiently, quietly. Their eyes scanned the vast farm property. A young  boy and girl came to the window of the farmhouse, just to the side of the front door where the two men conversed. The girl knocked on the glass in an attempt to get the miner’s sons’ attention.

The boys looked up at the sound of the rapping on the glass. Eight pairs of eyes met. E.J. and Ty smiled at the kids at the window. The boy at the window scrunched up his face, and then proceeded to stick his tongue out at them.

The little girl laughed. The two boys hesitated for a moment, but then began chuckling as well. Finally, the boy at the window transformed his frown to a large smile. Then the girl and the boy left the window and headed in the direction of the front door.

The farmer’s kids ran past their father’s leg, down to the horse and boys at the end of the walkway. The little girl put her hand out for Charity to smell, before petting her nose gently. The farmer paused in mid-sentence. He sighed, and then went back to his discussion with the miner.

The farmer’s kids greeted the boys on the horse with hey’s. E.J. climbed down Charity’s side before helping his brother down as well. All four introduced themselves in turn. The girl immediately suggested that they all play chase.

The four children commenced running around the grass lawn in between the house and barn. They laughed and hooted at one another. Instantly hitting it off, they had all become friends.

The miner and the farmer concluded their discussion and shook hands once more. The farmer then called to his kids, “James & Ginny, come inside and get ready for school.”

He turned to face the miner, “They haven’t had many friends since their ma passed on…” he trailed off for a moment, lost in thought, and then proceeded, “It’s nice to see them smiling again. Listen, Gene, please bring the boys by anytime. They’re welcome here to play whenever it suits them. I reckon it will be best to have them kids laughing again, me being so tied up with the farm all the time.”

The miner nodded his head, “Alright.” He hollered out to the boys, “Let’s get you two off to school as well.” The boys knew that meant E.J. would see to Ty while the man went off to the mine for the day.

The boys returned that afternoon after school to play with their new friends . And so they did many, many more afternoons, and Saturdays and Sundays as well, after that.

farm house

Check out the conclusion of this arc in Part 2, out now.

Dreams of the Past is part of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.

If you haven’t read the rest of The Dreamer check it out here.

John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:


I Am Still A Geek

I Am Still A Geek

Rediscovering Myself In The Middle Ages

by John Andreula

edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on


I used to be a geek.

At least that’s what I used to tell myself.

My girlfriend and I used to wait after hip hop shows to meet the performers. On many nights we would linger as the venue cleared out at length to get our tickets or CDs autographed by the headliner. Occasionally we would even invite an artist to party with us after the concert. Sometimes they accepted and hung with us. Those are some fantastic memories.


In my younger days I used to play MAGIC: THE GATHERING, a collectible card game. I customized countless decks to battle my nerd friends in games of summoning and spells. I spent so many hours organizing cards into binders and boxes. I would be ecstatic when I completed a entire set, and I completed quite a few. It only cost a boat-load of money and time trading my cards with the other dorks.

Once I even made my own MAGIC card by cutting up a MARVEL trading card of Carnage and taping it over a quintuple I had of Benalish Hero from 1994’s Revised set. I wrote in my own abilities, as well as power and toughness on the custom card. My friends never approved of me using a 18/18 flying, first-strike creature that only costs one mana to cast in actual game-play though.

magic card.jpg

I remember the peak of my geekdom from the years in my high school’s band. The percussion section was my home away from home. My bandmates were my second family of dweebs.

One time I played four bass drums at Giants Stadium for our state’s marching band tournament. Later I would be in the concert band pit for President Clinton’s second inauguration festivities, where I drummed again. It was all even dorkier than it sounds.

John youngedit

I reminisce fondly on those moments and memories. Disappointment wells up inside as I consider I am no longer the epic geek I once was. It saddens me to think about maturity and responsibility in terms of having to adjust for life’s constantly evolving priorities.

Then, inevitably, I remind myself that I am still a geek. I am just an evolved one. Obviously, I’m considerably older now. My tastes have changed dramatically. The value placed on time and money has flipped on its axis from that person I was back then.

The time I used to spend with my lady going to shows and nerding out over music is now spent differently. My girlfriend went on to become my wife and editor, and now we have a plus one. My family and I visit national parks and complete scavenger hunts to earn junior ranger badges. We flies kites and go to local festivals. In a lot of ways, it’s not so different from the memories we collected at the hip hop concerts.


Readers who have been following my weekly column over at know from THE CUT that I’m selling off my old collectibles. In modern times, this aspect of my life is the one that I get most nerdy about. Valuation and online selling is my favorite present hobby. I enjoy it as much as the younger me enjoyed MAGIC.

A few years ago I sold my complete set of the previously mentioned Revised Edition for over one thousand dollars to a fellow in Singapore.  That was one of my best sales online to date. It was an awesome way to connect the ghost of my geek past with the modern 2.0 version of him.


Finally, the hours I used to spend fooling around in the school band room pretending to play drums are now spent working out. I run, bike, snowboard, and participate in high interval interval training instead. One of my largest time commitments in exercise happens at a traditional Chinese Kung Fu school. I totally geek out learning self-defense and discipline.

Strangely, I even play the cymbals during my school’s many Lion Dance performances around the state. And ironically, I have developed more coordination from my martial art than I ever did in all those years of banging away on percussive instruments.


As Jean-Baptise Alphonse Karr so eloquently stated, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The friends I waited on line with to see STAR WARS EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE or the Harry Potter films at the various movie theaters on opening night will tell you, I used to be a geek. And even though I haven’t seen AVENGERS ENDGAME or any GAME OF THRONES yet, I still am. I’m just a different geek. Considering that, I cannot help but wonder about the geek I’ll transform into in my twilight years.


John Andreula is a geek residing in Westminster, Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:


The Cut III: Gone Before I’m Gone




Written by John Andreula

Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk

Originally published on

As I gaze across the vast landscape of collected media in my house, one of two ponderances typically pop into my mind:

“Man, that’s a great (insert movie, book, video game, toy, comics, etc.)!”


“Why the hell am I keeping this?”

I clearly understand the implications of each.

If it’s the first, then I’m looking at an item I cherish. It brings joy to my life. If it’s the second, the solution is simple. Get rid of the junk. It is only clutter in my limited physical and mental space.

But, sometimes the line between the two isn’t obvious.


Nostalgia and emotional attachment can play tricks on us. People become bewitched by the things they own.

I have a friend who’s parents both passed away. She is reminded of all the heartache and toil that were required of her in dealing with the affairs of their passing. There were so many material possessions that she had to deal with when they were gone. She was tasked with the enormous job of deciding what to keep, what to get rid of, and how to get rid of it.

I can feel the sadness in her words. She has attachment to some of the items, but not many. For the most part she feels true detachment from all of it. Her parents had no idea the additional stress and work they were leaving behind for her in all their accumulated possessions. This story is all too common today.

I constantly consider of my own daughter in these moments. I don’t want to leave her in a similar predicament. I know it is an inevitability that I will die one day. As of this moment, she and my wife will have an abundance of my stuff to deal with when I’m gone. This thought disappoints me.

When I go, my family will have to make the same choices my friend, and so many others facing similar dilemmas in our modern consumeristic world, was forced to. It sounds terrible. I truly do not wish that on them or anyone else.


Alas, I do enjoy having my things. Yet I am becoming increasingly discerning and considerate at my advanced and crankier age about what I feel is truly worth buying, owning, or keeping. Hence, another purge of my possessions must occur.

So why not have fun with it? I’ve created a game out of of the process of reducing the many material excesses found in my life. It makes the overwhelming nature of the task far more palatable.

This game is called “THE CUT.”

Each time I play I collect some items and decide what to keep or get rid of. Then, for giggles, I determine what the value is of each on the secondhand retail market.

So, without further adieu, here’s the newest installment of THE CUT.

Item #1:

The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll

by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson),photograph,2 June 1857

This book is the complete collection of Lewis Carroll penned works, as the title implies. Carroll wrote all his books, letters, and stories in the 1800s. This was quite a dated read and it was obvious in these collected works and through the author’s voice.

Lewis Carroll was the man who wrote Alice in Wonderland, and Alice Through the Looking Glass. These are two of the most celebrated youth fiction stories of all time.

I have a new perspective on Alice and Wonderland, after finally reading the original text. Most people believe mental health, or Alice’s lack thereof, is a central theme in the stories. Conceptually, this theme factors into all of the modern adaptations. Strangely, none of it is in the author’s material.

There is a frenetic, disjointed, schizophrenic/borderline personality disorder to the stories themselves, but honestly the worst thing that happens to Alice is that she was in the stories.

There have been so many movies, cartoons, and comic book adaptations on Carroll’s Alice works over the years. My personal favorite was the video game American McGee’s Alice for the PC, which was released in the early 2000’s. It was one dark and twisted game. It stands out as one of the best and most unique action platformers I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.


The Verdict:

The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll doesn’t make THE CUT.

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I made a commitment in my New Year Geek Resolutions to stop myself from consuming bad content. I’m still struggling with the old habit of continuing down the rabbit hole—pun-intended—even after accepting that what I’m consuming is bad, or worse.

I finally stopped reading The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll shortly after the two Alice stories. The book was extremely long and painfully dull. In brief, it sucked.

I’m probably going to hear dissent from anyone who grew up on the Alice stories, but thankfully most of them died in the last millennia. After attempting to read this tome I have come to the conclusion that Lewis Carroll is grossly overrated.

Even while I read the two Alice tales, I kept falling asleep. It’s possible that was because I read the book before bed, but I digress. The stories lacked linear structure, and they didn’t go anywhere.

This book just wasn’t good. It might be good if I needed to prop up a leg on a very uneven table, but even then I would probably choose a book I kind of liked.

The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll was quite possibly the worst book I ever attempted to read. I am so pleased with myself that I tapped out when I did.


Nobody is selling it on eBay. This typically means that I can attempt to sell it, if I so choose. It might also mean it just sits on a different shelf in my house while I trick myself into believing someone may actually want this terrible book. I will waste even more time and energy on something that is not only monetarily worthless, but I that kind of hate as well. In the end I’ll be no better off than if I get rid of it now.

I’ll just tear out some pages and toss them into my compost. I’ll burn the rest. Problem solved.

Item #2:

THE 4-HOUR WORK WEEK by Timothy Ferriss

4 hour ww.png

Increasing efficiency and productivity while cutting time wasting out of life, that’s what THE 4-HOUR WORK WEEK is about.

This book was a primary catalyst in allowing me to question my old status-quo last year. Since then, I’ve stepped outside of my stupid workaholism, and started to enjoy my time on my own terms and begin becoming truly happy. At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I can say the 4HWW changed my life.

I didn’t even have to wait until I was finished reading the book to start making changes in my life and working habits. After completing Tim Ferriss’s first best seller, I felt empowered to take control of my work-life balance. I also found it simpler to set actionable goals that allowed me to achieve some of my dreams.

I feel like a dork or possibly even a sucker rereading what I just wrote, but as they say, there’s one born every minute.


The Verdict:


thumb up

Here I am ridding myself of a bunch of popcorn and bubblegum media in my collection and I decide to keep a personal development book. I do feel a bit silly. Smurf or someone might even pull my Geek card, so don’t tell them.

There were a lot of concepts inside THE 4-HOUR WORK WEEK that I believe I will want to revisit in the future. Much of the book’s contents spoke to me. However, I’m not ready to commit to all the challenges within, so I’ll hold onto 4HWW for a yet undetermined time.

already am ready to only work four hours per week though. I hope by keeping this paperback I will achieve that lofty goal through osmosis someday.


As of the time of writing this, a copy of the 2007 paperback edition can be found on eBay for $1.99 with free shipping. I recommend spending the extra money on the 2014 edition, as much of the recommendations and referrals within the book are technical and web-based. We all know how much has changed in the worlds of technology and the internet since the first printing in 2007.

Item #3:



Who can forget ARMY of DARKNESS, or the Tobey Maguire’s SPIDER-MAN movies? Those films were both dope visual experiences and fun stories.

Those and THE QUICK AND THE DEAD are all birthed from the directorial mind of the legendary director Sam Raimi.

I can recall THE QUICK AND THE DEAD from the time of its release in 1995. It had early performances from Russell Crowe, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Additionally it featured an ornery Gene Hackman, and a bunch of other actors I now recognize, but didn’t know their names then; Tobin Bell, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, and Mark Boone Junior, just to name a few. Best of all, it had a sexy Sharon Stone at the top of her game.

Back then I was a young adolescent. I had just discovered girls and the joy of boobies. I used to stay up late watching movies on HBO and SHOWTIME that notified me the film would have “N” (nudity) or “BN” (brief nudity) before the opening credits. I wasn’t into westerns, but for the chance to see Sharon Stone’s not-so-elusive-at-the-time nipple, I stayed for what was an entertaining, modern cowboy flick.

I enjoyed the unique characters, and the concept of an entire frontier town that shut down their business-as-usual to host a week-long gunfight tournament. The variety of story lines and the graphic maulings lent to make this a memorable film to the impressionable young man I was at the time.

The performances were fun, albeit a bit over the top, but overall THE QUICK AND THE DEAD was, and still is, a very fun and entertaining movie.


The Verdict:


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Keeping in line with the dark theme of death that started this piece, I inherited this movie from a family member who passed away a few years ago. I kept it because of my nostalgic connection to both the film and my deceased loved one.

I didn’t get around to watching the movie until my wife recently pulled it off the shelf and proceeded to pull a “me.” She inquired, “Can we get rid of this?” I replied, “Well, we have to watch it for me to be able to make that determination.”

We did watch it, and it was still enjoyable, but it was no DONNIE DARKO or 12 MONKEYS. The graphics of the gunshot wounds seem very dated today. This made the movie come off a bit hokey. It made me wonder how I’ll feel when I revisit ARMY of DARKNESS in the future.

Sharon’s Stone’s 1995 nipple is still nice, as is the beautifully detailed cinematography. However, neither of these necessitated retention. I don’t see myself choosing to watch THE QUICK AND THE DEAD again anytime in the near future. There wasn’t enough substance to warrant more than that one final viewing.


Minimal. It’s going to 2ND & CHARLES for trade credit on my next trip.

Item #4:



Continuing with a Sam Raimi theme for the movies in today’s THE CUT

Raimi sure knows how to tell a story. Start watching OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, and it kind of looks like a Tim Burton film. It features vivid imaginative colors and the story-telling style that is reminiscent of Burton, the creative genius behind 9 and Edward SCISSORHANDS. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is a bit more slapstick and contrived than the typical Burton film. I’m not certain that Raimi did not do this with some tongue-in-cheek intentionality.

There are some fun comedic moments, as well as striking visuals and special effects in this prequel to the 1939 classic WIZARD OF OZ, but the script writing was subpar. The movie made a handful of good actors look not so great and powerful by proxy.

There were aggressive flying baboons, so the movie had that going for it, but it was definitely no Return to OZ. That one was by far the best L. Frank Baum cinematic adaptation to date. This is a universally recognizable fact. There’s no point in arguing it.


The Verdict:


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Here we run into another situation of “Honey, can I get rid of this?” and my wife responds that I cannot. The love of my life likes it enough to keep it. Plus, it’s her movie. I know what they say about a happy wife, so, on the shelf it goes back. We likely will not watch it again for another five to seven years, if even then. 

There’s no doubt that OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL is a visually beautiful movie. However, much of the acting is over the top. The computer-generated cinematic elements are either too primitive for their bold attempts, or they just weren’t good quality.

I do have a distant cousin, Joey King, that was in the film. She played the girl in the wheelchair and voices the china girl. She was probably the best character in the movie, but that’s not enough for me to keep it. I’ve never met Joey, and frankly I wouldn’t keep a movie even if I was in it at this point in my reductive journey. But alas…


One can acquire this alright film for $3.74 on eBay right now, if they are so inclined.

Item #5:




Rest in peace, Keith Flint.

He and his band THE PRODIGY were a groundbreaking musical act. THE PRODIGY are probably only going to get the credit they deserve from music nerds and dorky bloggers like myself, but unfortunately, and somewhat irrelevantly, that’s the breaks.

At the time of their coming to prominence in the 1990’s there were only two genres of music generally accepted by the ironically-popular counterculture youth. Those were alternative rock and rap music.

THE PRODIGY took the world by storm by doing things differently. They were essentially one of the first modern EDM groups. The band’s crazy and unique look and their shocking music videos set them apart from most of the rest of the scene. Their sound was intense, melodic, and rhythmic, and their music still resonates today.

I personally caught on to THE PRODIGY in 1997, after seeing the music video for their song Firestarter for the first time on MTV . It was outrageous. I felt I was witnessing something exciting and ahead of its time. I went out and bought the CD for the album said song was featured on, called THE FAT OF THE LAND. It was a great disc that well expressed my conformist rebellious nature of the time.

Sometime circa the early 2000s, I parted with that CD for booze or drug money at Second Spin on the Hill in Boulder. I probably banked a whopping $1.50 or $2.

A couple years later my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, joined BMG Music Service. She had selected MUSIC FOR THE JILTED GENERATION as one of her free or near-free plus shipping and handling selections from the now-defunct music club.

JILTED, the group’s sophomore release, was a bit more mellow and melodic than its 1997 follow-up THE FAT. It seemed more in the genre of electronica and less heavy metal than the other one.

It was, and still is, very listenable.


The Verdict:


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The music is good, but I don’t feel any connection to the physical copy of the album. I think I snuck this one past the goalie though. I’m not certain that my wifey remembers it was hers, or more likely, she just doesn’t care about it that much either. JILTED is yet another in a conga line of CDs that I am accepting I don’t need more than a digital copy loaded on to my hard drive. Nostalgia be damned.

As of June of 2009 BMG Music Service ceased their famous 12 CDs for the price of 1 deal. No longer can anyone have a bunch a CDs sent to them that they wouldn’t have bought otherwise. I believe BMG and Columbia House directly resulted in the purchase of 99.3% of all CDs purchased for just one or two songs on the album.


Off to find its orphaned brother at my neighborhood used media store. I’ll gladly accept the $1.50-$2 in store credit for the privilege of further downsizing my CD collection.

Item #6:


by atmosphere


Oh, nostalgia. Just considering the feeling makes me old. No one’s ever really too old for it, though. There are too many fond memories of the now classic stuff discovered back in the day.

For me the most intense recollections I have are from going to shows for presently humongous groups and artists, back when they were still underground. I was at the shows that Macklemore opened up, before he won all of his Grammys. I remember The Roots before they were the house band for Jimmy Fallon. And I definitely remember Atmosphere from the days when tickets to their shows were still fifty or less bucks each.

I am aware that nothing makes me sound older than saying, “They were so much cooler before anyone else knew them.” I’ve said this a handful of times throughout my life, but I’ve never said it about Atmosphere. In terms of their musical quality, in the opinion of this hip-hop snob, I feel that Slug and Ant, the members of Atmosphere, have improved significantly with age. I actually prefer their more modern, less brooding music of the past decade to their music of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when they weren’t selling out every venue they played.

Don’t get me started on my diatribe of the inverse trajectories of their music career and that of the late Mikey Larsen, AKA Eyedea—Rest in peace, Eyedea. That in itself could be a whole other Your Quarters Worth column.

HEADSHOTS: Se7en  is a double album of early Atmosphere material that I purchased back when I used to piss my money away at the many CD stores—anyone else remember Sam Goody? I used to buy anything and everything that had Atmoshere’s name on it. As I said earlier, HEADSHOTS: Se7en was from their young, somewhat whiny, drug-induced and superficial days.

Apparently this year is the twentieth anniversary of the album’s release. Frankly, the album lacks both the production quality and the depth of lyrics that are omnipresent on much of the band’s later releases.


The Verdict:

HEADSHOTS: Se7en doesn’t make THE CUT.

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If MUSIC FOR THE JILTED GENERATION didn’t make THE CUT, I most definitively and conclusively have no need to hang on to this 2CD set.

If I had a time machine I would go back and visit myself sometime between 1997 and 2002. I would slap myself in the face and tell young me to start thinking harder about the tens of thousands of dollars I will squander away on crap I won’t really want over the next several years.

Oh, and P.S., young me, there’s this thing called the internet. You haven’t used it much for more than porn and video games, but it is going to make your stupid hobby of collecting stuff obsolete within the next twelve years.

As a final ode to nostalgia, it’s strange when music from one’s past is now considered oldies in the present. Both Atmosphere and THE PRODIGY fall into this category now; very weird indeed.


As with the many ironies that make up life, this one will probably sell for three to five times what the obviously higher quality THE PRODIGY album does. It seems that the more popular an album was, the more readily available it became. That higher availability led to significant depreciation over time.

One cannot account for taste.


It’s common knowledge to the somewhat tech savvy that CDs can be uploaded to computers and phones as digital files. These zeros and ones don’t take up any physical space. The discs, along with their cases and artwork, are cumbersome. They are rarely put into any disc players, if at all.

Even albums with autographed album liners or some relative nostalgic value have trouble standing up to the always evolving standard of what one actually feels compelled to keep. The necessity of CDs is being further diminished by streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube. DVDs are similarly being replaced by on-demand viewing available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and so on.

Much of what’s not available on those services is available at the local library, and it’s free. One can find almost any book there as well. People can take all of these home to borrow for anywhere from one and twelve weeks, depending if anyone else is waiting for the items after they are returned.


By now you’re probably noticing a theme to this process I call THE CUT. The more I assess and reflect, the more I recognize I can live without. My material possessions are beginning to have less control over my actions and emotions. The progress is creating more progress.

Gone are the days,when we will watch a movie many, or even several times. There’s just too much competition for our limited attention and time. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the abundant amount of content that is available. Replay value itself is significantly lessened or null these days.

Ironically, the process of THE CUT is compelling me to watch, listen, and read the many artifacts I have accumulated over the span of my life. Otherwise, they just collect dust on a shelf in my house. More often than not, I end a viewing or listening session stating, “That was fun, but I don’t think I need to keep it anymore.”

Slowly and steadily I am recovering the space in my house and the sanity in my mind. I expect to dwindle my collection down to a modest fraction of what it once was. Once through my CD and DVD towers, I will tackle my books and action figures. From there, I can progress to my trading cards and comic books.

huge toy collection

Since there is so much to all of this stuff, I fully expect to die before I am done. Hopefully that will be a long time from now. Upon my passing I will know I took care of those I loved in not leaving them a bunch of miscellanea to deal with. I may even recoup a reasonable percentage of what I spent to initially acquire it all. Failing that, I will have provided some awesome philanthropic organizations with items to sell and raise money.

One day I will be able to look around and feel I’ve accomplished enough. Only then will I be able to cut THE CUT out of my life, like the many things I’ve purged and reduced already. Until then the quest for the perfect minimum possessions continues…


To all my fabulous readers in the Boulder or Denver metro areas, I wanted to show my appreciation for you visiting Failing Upwards.

I would like to give you any items that didn’t make THE CUT (especially the Lewis Carroll book). They are yours for FREE!

If you are interested send an email to It’s first come, first served, so don’t wait!

John Andreula is a geek residing in Westminster, Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at:


Bad Dreams Part 1


Bad Dreams

Part 1

by John Andreula

edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
*Originally published on

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Bad dreams happen.

About fifty percent of people experience nightmares. They occur more often in the young than in adults, and more with girls than boys.

These negative dreams have many apparent causes. Bad dreams are commonly a reported side-effect of disrupted sleep patterns and trouble breathing while sleeping. They can also be a result of consuming alcohol, drugs, and even eating too close to bedtime.

Most commonly, nightmares are brought on by stress, anxiety, and experiences of trauma.

The things that happen in the real world can have significant effects on dreams.

Long ago there was a young man named Seth Stanton.

He was an ambitious fellow with limited social skills, but he had an incredible propensity for learning. What he lacked in his ability to connect with others he more than made up for in his meticulous effort, diligence, and thirst for knowledge.

When other boys his age spent their waking hours causing mischief and chasing girls, Stanton spent his days instead in libraries. His nose and eyes were consistently pointed down into books.

At first he learned of humanities and the arts, but he quickly grew bored with those subjects, due to his perceiving them as impractical and unnecessary. He redirected his attention toward the sciences and mathematics.

He was much more fulfilled by the new knowledge he gained therein. These new subjects opened new doors. They provided him abstract thinking and capabilities.

Algebra and biology gave way to calculus, chemistry, and physics. He quickly expanded into engineering, programming, and complex algorithm. Although he was quite savvy with creating and repairing instruments of technology, he always maintained a passion for studies of the human body; specifically the mind.

Naturally, he gravitated toward psychology and the various neurosciences. He always brought forth with him the vast knowledge he had previously acquired. The more Stanton learned, however, the more he realized yearned for that which was still out of his reach.

He pondered questions like, Why does the mind work as it does? and, What are the limits of human potential?

By now he understood the traditionally accepted sciences clearly, but learning from books could only take him so far. Stanton decided it was time to discover what was outside of his books. He felt a new urge to do some practical analysis on people around him. For the time being, he would settle on doing experimentation on himself.

His explorations began in the field of human biohacking; the practice of achieving the largest possible set of results with the least amount of effort within a biological entity. Stanton had not a broad interest in all lifeforms. He was only interested in the gains he could uncover within himself.

He effortlessly mastered speed reading, acquisition of languages, and even developed a variation of photographic memory. He found additional success in the domain of physical capability, but quickly grew bored with these newfound abilities.

Being faster, stronger, and more flexible was amusing at first, but a desire for more profound meaning and results replaced the satisfaction found in such superficial gains. His true desire within his self-improvement resided locked away beyond the limits of his knowledge and understanding.

Stanton consistently asked himself what was next. He would move on to each new subject only to be disappointed with the inevitable pinnacle he would discover just as quickly. What he did learn to be incontrovertibly true was that there was something behind and beyond human beings’ limitations and their ingrained ability to learn and evolve.

Still Stanton continued his quest as he aged. Seasons came and went. Inevitably, the young man was no longer a young man anymore.

Over the course of yet another overnight session scouring the modern marvel that was internet, Seth Stanton unearthed what would become his life’s dream. He was sixty-three pages into one of his countless keyword searches of the term “abilities” when he discovered Dr. Stefani Wilkins and her Effected.

The Effected was the term Stefani Wilkins, PhD, had designated to those special humans who had lucked upon an evolutionary advancement, causing abilities only previously conceived of in comic books and science fiction stories.

The first of these was a school teacher in Canada who discovered she had the ability to create a frequency with her voice that destroyed cancer cells. She used her power freely to diminish the degenerative disease from her community.

Despite her desire to keep her ability discreet, she had people coming to see her from miles around. She retired from her teaching duties to dedicate her life to a different type of service. Many brought gifts of food, clothing, and even money, allowing her to continue her new life’s work of healing others. She became a modern-day Canadian messiah.

Upon some preliminary research, Stanton had determined there was a concerted effort to quiet the doctor, derived from a multitude of angles. Religious leaders claimed the Effected were a media created hoax, conjured in an effort to discredit their God and his teachings by the world’s atheists. The ultra-rich silenced the coverage on their vast multimedia networks. Stanton could only assume this was due to the overwhelming financial and power implications such an ability would provide.

Considering the minimal sources of information Stanton could initially uncover regarding Wilkins and her subjects, there was an exponential flow of alternative viewpoints suggesting that Wilkins was a tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. He certainly saw through the thin veil of disinformation, even if the masses did not. 

From what Stanton could determine, Wilkins located and observed the Effected. She made contact with them, and in turn, transcribed detailed records of her resulting data and discoveries.

What he had found held within the doctor’s research was utterly unbelievable. It was precisely what he had been searching for this entire time. It was literally what he had been dreaming of. Stanton couldn’t help but become obsessed with the idea of elevating his own physical and mental capabilities.

Stanton felt that Wilkins coining the term “Effected” was thoroughly ironic. The doctor obviously had not achieved any true understanding of where or how her subjects’ abilities had derived. Still, he couldn’t help but agree that they were effected by something unexplained by modern science.

Stanton was enamored with her ideology, but he certainly saw things from an alternatively more self-centered perspective. To Wilkins it was all about them, the Effected. To Stanton it was all about him and what he could gain in terms of overcoming his own biological limitations. How would he uncover and master these inherent inner-abilities within himself? And, if failing that, how could he seize these powers for himself?

Although Stanton’s desired outcome was not altruistic like Wilkins’ motive, her research and methods would prove invaluable to his own ambition. Their goals overlapped and intersected. She was essential to him realizing his dream.

He decided he needed to connect with the good Dr. Wilkins. Beyond that, he would need to make himself valuable to her, even necessary, if he was going to gain the exclusive access to the data and information he required.

She held the key to a greater understanding that was not yet contained within books or the internet. If she didn’t hold the key, she may be the doorway itself.

Despite the value it would have presented in establishing any credentials with Wilkins, Stanton was not an accredited doctor or scientist. He had never taken the time to acquire an MD, PhD, or any other certified specializations. She would not see him as a peer, therefore she would not see any reason to share her life’s work with him.

Stanton did indeed have vast knowledge and understanding of the human body, particularly of the mind. All had been gained by his own inherent tenacity and compulsive curiosity. This would not prove enough to penetrate the doctor’s paranoid guard. Wilkins was neither fool, nor personable enough for the the feat to be accomplished with ease, so he began to design an approach to his dilemma creatively.

Like Stanton, Wilkins was enthusiastic about the implications and potential she had discovered through her research. Her discoveries proved beyond any doubt that human DNA had evolved in unique ways. Inexplicable abilities were developing within many people around the globe.

Stanton learned that although the doctor had an incredible knack for finding these evolutionarily advanced subjects, her entire field of study was dedicated to theory. He would use his technological expertise to push her research toward more practical application.

Stanton located and approached the doctor. He attempted to qualify himself with his background and offered his assistance and dedication to be applied toward her work. Additionally, he promised unquestioned service and loyalty. He put on quite the display of humility and reverence, despite his authentic contemptuous demeanor.

Wilkins was a strong, independent person in her own right. She was not impressed. Additionally, she did not trust the man’s precariously conceived reasons for wanting to get involved in her ongoing campaign.

And, frankly, she just didn’t like him, nor his obnoxiously arrogant personality. Stanton was obviously a savant, but he annoyed her. She refused his help and companionship outright.

Like the stubborn would-be acolyte attempting to learn from a reluctant mentor he was, Stanton persisted in his attempts of proving himself indispensable to the doctor’s cause. Despite his gifts of uncovered information and technology of his own invention, he was rebuffed many more times.

This game of cat and mouse continued for several years. When all seemed hopeless, Stanton returned to his home near Boston. He decided to return to doing what he had done best before his obsession with Dr. Stefani Wilkins had consumed him. He would create to further his own potential.

He continued following the doctor’s work with new perspective and fervor. As more and more data reached him via the internet he searched for patterns in the brain-wave activity and vitals of the Effected she was studying.

He compared DNA samples, blood types, and even many details that proved inconsequential such as hair color, race, and age. He spent extensive time sifting through decades of data. Luckily, he had worked diligently increasing his overall efficiency in data processing when he was younger. In a year and a half he accomplished what most would have needed a lifetime for. Despite spending so much time on seemingly arbitrary information processing, he finally found what he was needing.

One cold night, that could have been considered lonely if Stanton ever felt the feeling, he stared blankly at his notes and crowded cork board. The data finally arranged itself correctly in his mind.

His understanding of the Effected and their powers began to make sense. He now had the answer to the how part of the equation; he had long since moved past the question of why.

The image of a device formed within Stanton’s head, one which he would build. He knew how to find these Effected on his own.

He went on to build a machine. It used complex algorithms, and a type of artificial intelligence that was capable of predicting the occurrences of the Effected realizing their powers to a near-perfect degree of accuracy. He called the machine his Postuant.

Stanton still believed he had insights to gain from Dr. Wilkins; either that or he continued to harbor some perverted infatuation toward the woman and her work. Despite his many failed attempts to befriend and partner with her, he would make one final attempt.

Upon multiple successful tests of his Postuant, he brought his prototype to Wilkins as a last ditch effort at a partnership. Of course he built a second version of the machine for himself with some “improvements”, but that was hidden away for when his whims demanded its use.

Wilkins, perturbed by the incessant persistence of Stanton, reluctantly agreed to a demonstration of the Postuant machine. The demonstration was an indubitable success.

This was no surprise to Stanton, after all it was his creation, but Wilkins was ecstatic with the gift and the possibilities of major breakthroughs. She had not realized that Stanton had such technical skill.

In her elation she embraced Stanton. The moment was awkward, but it had sealed a victory within the self-taught scientist’s mind.

They went on to locate five Effected within a twenty mile radius of New York City. It only took a mere fraction of the time it had previously taken her to find even one.

Of course, the determination Stanton had shown Wilkins was grown purely of his selfishness, but to the doctor that no longer mattered. What damage could he possibly do?

Stanton’s goal of getting close to the most preeminent intellectual in the field of psychic and metaphysical activity had been accomplished. Wilkins had let down her previously impenetrable guard. Now harboring a clear understanding of his genius and its necessity to her work, she proceeded to welcome the scientist’s expertise and companionship into her life and research.

Together they located many new Effected throughout the world, most of which had powers Wilkins had already observed and documented. However, a few were quite novel and unusual indeed.

They found a child in Africa capable of communicating with animals. The two made their way to Kenya, to the boy’s home. The tin-walled shanty was surrounded by baboons, bushbabies, a cheetah, among other animals of the night. They were sitting content, as if holding vigil. Inside the shack, the boy was communicating with two crocodiles using only his mind. Wilkins perceived that the boy was commanding the animals, but the boy insisted he just made requests. The animals acted upon their own free will.

A woman in Taiwan could change the temperature of the air surrounding her within approximately a nine yard radius. She could fluctuate the climate hotter and colder by about fifty degrees depending on the moisture in the air.

A construction worker in Boston, Massachusetts found he was able to shape specific metals and minerals with his mind. He was reinventing himself by creating intricate and artistic sculptures, leaving his many followers and customers wondering how he had achieved such unique forms in his medium.

Now, the sharp scientist was the necessary apprentice. The two would spend the next twelve years together. Stanton absorbed, learned, and interpreted Wilkins’ findings efficiently and relentlessly.

Wilkins was pleased to have a companion with whom to share her excitement and findings. Their relationship remained platonic, but they appeared closer than any married couple.

Stanton predicted and met the doctor’s needs well. He made himself indispensable to both her life and her research. As was the course with his manner, he eventually grew bored with the limitations of Wilkins’ style of “wait and watch” research. They were both growing older, and Stanton never forgot his desire to actualize powers within himself. Wilkins’ methods were not moving him towards this goal by any means.

Driven by this realization, the scientist crafted additional tools and technology that allowed the pair to dive deeper into their passions and curiosity for that which resided within the Effected’s minds. To do so, however, these new means required a more invasive nature.

Wilkins was reluctant at first, but by now she had grown to trust her partner and friend. Deep down, she knew he was still the same warily ambitious man he was when she had met him, but her excitement from each revelation after amazing revelation allowed her to push that ingrained knowledge to the side.

Stanton’s creations became more spectacular and intricate. However, many had the potential of causing intense pain and possible permanent damage to the subjects’ bodies and minds. He was as reticent about those aspects as Wilkins had become willing to turn a blind eye.

Stefani had never wanted to compromise her conscience by allowing anything to harm her effected, but slowly Stanton’s ambitions seemed to poison her own.

Stanton consistently cited the greater good and the bigger picture as justifications for a more expedited version of their work. He cited compelling reasons why diving deeper was worthy of the potential costs.

Wilkins recognized the error in her complicity. Their relationship became strained, as they began disagreeing more and more often. The two, who had become as close as any notable partners in history, had developed an irreparable schism between them.

Stanton didn’t dwell long on the negative. He kept himself busy and driven. He was far too dedicated to his purpose to allow such weakness to affect his work and progress thus far. In those brief moments when he was taken aback by anger he swallowed it down, allowing the rage to quietly boil up inside of his body. When Wilkins was no longer in his presence his face would redden and the veins at the side of his neck bulged out as if he were holding his breath. Then the rage expired and seemed to pass. He would move on anew.

Stanton stayed in his lab working while Wilkins continued to visit the Effected out in the field. The two ceased communicating their individual progresses to one another.

Wilkins attempted to travel without informing Stanton of where she was going and who she was visiting, but Stanton’s prowess with technology prevented her from keeping anything secret from him for long. Stanton had successfully accessed everything Wilkins would ever have wished hidden from the scientist’s dark reach.

Stanton continued his charade of obedience to the Doctor’s whims and boundaries, but he too was taking his own trips to visit the Effected surreptitiously.

Always a few days behind Dr. Wilkins, Stanton would visit the subjects and test out his new gear. He would inevitably gain much deeper insights than anything the doctor could ever hope to achieve through his newly devised methods.

Wilkins had instinctually determined that something was awry, as Effected she had recently worked with gradually became unreachable by communication. Many had seemed to disappear.

Wilkins had located and visited a wonderful boy who could fly in the Philippines. After concluding her time with him she purchased an airplane ticket to visit another Effected in Nagasaki, Japan.

There was no Effected to visit in Nagasaki. She never boarded the airplane in Manila for which she had bought the ticket.

Wilkins was waiting for Stanton. She hid in the boy’s village in attempt to see what her partner was planning.

Stanton arrived in the modest farming village with an assistant of his own two days hence. They each pulled behind them large metallic rolling suitcases.

The scientist paid one of the poverty-stricken families of the village fifty US dollars to vacate their farm hut for three days. He conversed in Filipino as if he were a native speaker. The family accepted the money and didn’t ask any questions.

Stanton and his college-aged pug-faced female assistant donned their white lab coats and went to work setting up their makeshift operating room within the hut. Although Wilkins didn’t recognize much of what they unpacked, one particular device the assistant placed at the head of the table was familiar to her.

It was a large domed helmet he had called his Exasberator.. He had shown it to Wilkins once before. She would never forget the resulting interaction.

The helmet required direct input into a patient’s spinal column. It had many functions. Stanton even fitted himself with input plates on his neck and back for testing and observational use.

Regardless of Stanton’s promises of the many benefits of using his “perfectly safe” Exasberator, Wilkins immediately and incontrovertibly understood the risks. Manipulating the spine and nervous system could cause paralyzation and death, whether accidentally or intentionally.

Wilkins had immediately objected to Stanton creating this perverse machine. She demanded he destroy the helmet and never build another one like it. Stanton reluctantly acquiesced and incinerated the device while she was there to witness.

The rift remained even after the helmet did not. That was the moment the doctor had determined to no longer be complicit in her partner’s wanton destructive tendencies. In her eyes, that was the moment their partnership ended.

That memory was from two years prior. She had little doubt that the second suitcase held another near-identical machine. Only he knew how many more there were.

Stanton had no fear of being overheard in this poor village. None of the locals spoke English, so he spoke freely. He informed his assistant that he was going to use a surgical technique to determine the exact location in the cerebral cortex that the flying boy’s ability had derived from. He continued with instructions on what he would require of her during the procedure.

Wilkins deciding she could not sit idly by while Stanton did harm to this beautiful boy. She had just connected with him, and she had earned his trust. She was already too much an accomplice in the scientist’s madness. She had allowed Stanton access to everything she had worked so hard for. Her labors were heart and soul.

Wilkins confronted her partner. She was afraid to ask how many of her Effected he had visited after her, but she had an idea based on her many futile attempts at communication with them recently. She felt ill at the idea of her fault in aiding his exploits.

Dr. Stefani Wilkins has not been seen since that day.

Seth Stanton, on the other hand, went on to partner with several billionaires who created a mega-corporation that would fund more of his research into Wilkins’ Effected.

The company provided him with everything and anything he desired to achieve his ends. He had unlimited funding, guarded laboratories with full staffing, and any other resources Stanton would ever deem necessary.

In their eyes, his ends would justify their means. After all, he would be weaponizing the Effected. He kept up the air of these shared goals with his benefactors, but he still remained covertly self-centric about his exploits. He never forgot his dream.

He fed his partners technology and information that would allow them  to exploit or destroy their competition. They could gain unimaginable riches as well, but that was only half of the story.

No one knew what Seth Stanton, now known as the Controller to his employees and partners, truly desired. He had more than any army or the richest first world nation could ever possibly imagine, but it would never be enough.

More than immortality, legacy, and riches, the Controller still lusted for power for himself. He wanted that power within himself.

The Controller understood from all his exploits with the Effected that there were powers out in the world that were far beyond his wildest imagination. Making those powers his was still his dream.

At least now he was on his way…

window to dream.jpg

Bad Dreams is the second arc of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.

Check out for Part 2 , available now here.

And if you haven’t read the first arc check it out here.

John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.

More of his works of can be found at:

Moving On Upwards Failing Upwards

Reach him for commission work or media requests at: