Spirit in the Sky

At school, bullies were never welcome in our presence, and all the students knew it. We were always chasing bad kids. But now that I think about it, we were probably the bullies.

If we were doing sixty the train was probably doing fifty-five. The highway was parallel to the tracks but we were gaining speed because we needed to reach the curve up ahead to cross to the other side before the long train arrived at the crossing. It seemed like we were going to beat it. We were getting closer. At that point, we had a better chance if I accelerated than if I’d try to use the brakes or chicken out. I pushed the pedal, but the engine took a second to receive the gas. That second could be critical.

My brother Ralph was always daring me to do stuff like that and I was stupid enough to listen to him. On the other hand, Anthony was always eager for a chance to reach another adrenaline high. Their screams and cheers increased as if trying to neutralize the infernal engine noise. But nothing could eliminate the extremely loud train whistle.

We were just three teens trying to have some fun. I was the youngest at sixteen.

*****

I was sleeping on the couch when I heard someone knocking at the door. I didn’t want to get up, but whoever was at the door was annoyingly persistent. I managed to force myself from the couch. When I opened nobody was on the other side. I was pissed but happy at the same time because I could go back to sleep. The moment I sat down they knocked again. This time I hurried to the door but again, nobody was there. Then, I stood alert and ready to jump and catch the funny guy who was interrupting my dreams. Even if it was one of my brothers, I would kick his sorry ass.

That’s when I noticed they were knocking on another door. The closet door in front of the couch across the room. What the hell

I wasn’t mad anymore. That was a cool joke after all. I bet it was my younger brother Anthony. Ralph wasn’t so inventive as to pull such a smart prank. But I still wanted to kick somebody’s ass.

I was smiling when I opened the closet door, but nobody was there either. What the hell? I clearly heard someone knocking from the inside. How could they do that? Then I noticed a note taped to the shelf. It said, “You need to go to the cemetery. We’ll meet you there.” it was signed by Ralph and Anthony. 

My brothers and I had always been close. We rarely spent an entire day apart.

At school, bullies were never welcome in our presence, and all the students knew it. We were always chasing bad kids. But now that I think about it, we were probably the bullies.

My brothers knew how much I loved cemeteries. When we were kids, I begged them to join me to the cemetery every year on the Day of the Dead, even though we didn’t have anyone to visit. The first time we smoked weed, we were there. I remember it was a foggy night and just before midnight Ralph said, “Shh, did you guys hear that?” We turned around and a second later we fled like mad ghosts, laughing hysterically.

When Grandma died, at the end of the funeral ceremony Anthony secretly gave Ralph and me a thumbs-up sign. We knew what he meant, from then on we would have a valid excuse to go to the cemetery. We could now visit Grandma more often than when she was alive. 

It was almost dark when I arrived at the cemetery. We always liked the mausoleum with the black marble surface. It had four thick Roman columns and a statue of a child angel. I went straight to that tomb, but they weren’t there. I kept looking for them until I found two mounds of fresh dirt, obviously belonging to two recent arrivals. My brothers were there, but they looked transparent and foggy. That’s when I remembered what had happened. We didn’t make it to the other side of the railroad crossing. 

The shock and pain had been so great, it blocked my memory and erased the reality of the accident. 

At least temporarily.

“I miss you brother,” Anthony said to me right away. “We were supposed to be together all our lives. We said we’ll never be apart. We even made a pact remember? We said, ‘we’ll kill the first one who dies’. But now, we can’t be with you anymore. Hey, but you can come with us. You have to brother, we can’t leave without you.”

Ralph was sobbing softly. “We didn’t make it bro. Well, you did, but not us. We don’t know what’s going on, but I think we’ll soon have to leave this place. I’m sure we’re not in limbo, not even in purgatory.”

“What’s the solution, how can I join you, do I have to commit . . . ?” I replied, but I had to stop before I pronounced that ominous word.

I knew my life would be miserable without them. I also knew that if I miss this chance I would regret it for the rest of my life.

“I think we should dig another hole for you, next to our graves. Then, you can lie down at the bottom while we fill it back,” said Anthony. Ralph got on his knees and started digging with both hands. Soon, finding no better solution, we were all on our knees digging the soft dirt.

I wasn’t so sure that was a bright idea, but I didn’t complain because I felt responsible for their deaths, and I knew I couldn’t continue living with so much guilt.

As we kept digging, Ralph started to tell a story. 

“I had been waiting for that moment for a long time. I have had that condom for at least three weeks. When she finally said yes, I felt so lucky. Most of my friends had done it months before I did. I was about to lose my virginity, and I had never been so nervous in my life. She didn’t want me to see her naked, so the room was completely dark. When I was trying to put the condom on, I dropped it and I couldn’t find it. I looked for it in the dark, under the bed and all around. When I started to panic, I noticed I had it on one of my fingers.” 

All three of us laughed until we had tears in our eyes, even though we had heard that story many times before.

Then, Anthony told a story I had never heard before.

“When I saw that heart pendant at the mall, I knew that was the perfect gift for Mom. I took Dad’s wristwatch the day before Mother’s Day and sold it to buy Mom’s pendant. I remember the following night I couldn’t sleep at all, thinking about what to steal to buy Dad’s watch back.”

Just before I began my tale, the silhouette of a man appeared. He had a flashlight in one hand and a shovel in the other. He said, “What the hell are you doing? You grave robbers, sons of bitches!”

Not even a second had passed when I felt the shovel hitting the side of my head. I fell on my back semiconscious, but I could see the gravedigger trying to hit my brothers too. Swinging the shovel left and right in vain and saying, “What the hell?” Until he realized that my brothers were the spirits of the two young men he had recently buried. And he ran away faster than the train that killed my brothers.

The following day there were three mounds of fresh dirt next to each other.

But we weren’t there anymore.

Edmundo Barraza

Visalia, CA. Nov-14-2012

Part-Time Actor

Filming the hit-man and his driver planning their next assignment was a little complicated. But shooting the crew was fun.

Read the short story  and watch the 4min. short film at the end. #ShortStory #ShortFilm #PartTimeActor

They began shooting at ten in the morning. The entire crew was ready when the Director gave the first instructions of the day:

“Camera, action!”

The first scene of the day was between two actors, John the hit-man and Sharon his driver. They sat in the living room across from each other.

John cleans a gun.

“Man, this gun looks real,”  John says.

“Cut!” The director yells. “What the hell, John, that’s not in the script,”

“Sorry, sorry, my bad, but you know what, the gun looks real,” John apologizes.

“Yes, I know. It is real, and it’s mine. But, trust me it’s not loaded. We didn’t find the fake one in the prop room. Now, shall we continue?”

“Yes, of course, Mr. Director,” John responds sarcastically.

“Camera! Action!”

“Okay, Sharon you’re going to be waiting for me in the car with the engine running. I’ll be coming out of the apartment as if I’m going to the park,”

“Don’t worry John, I’ll be waiting for you, cool as a cat,”

“And if you hear a few shots, don’t panic. But please don’t leave without me. And, and . . .  damn! I forgot my next line. Sorry, (pause) as you know my wife is pregnant, and she’s due anytime, I can’t concentrate, and . . .”

“Don’t worry John, I understand,” says the director.

“Let’s take it from ‘but please don’t leave without me’. Ready?  . . .   Camera, action!”

“ . . .  and don’t forget to fill out the gas tank. Remember last time? when we ran out of gas just a block away,”

“Yeah, but that was your fault, you didn’t give me any money that week,”

“No excuses this time, I don’t want to push the car again. Especially after, after . . .

“Shit! Can I have a copy of the script?”

“Come on John, did you really study your lines?”

“Yes, Sharon, but like I said the wife is pregnant and . . .”

“Yeah, yeah, last year your wife was not pregnant and it was the same thing. You should go back to your old barista job.”

“You know what? I’m not getting paid enough for this shit.” John says as he turns to the director.

“Is he getting paid for this? Sharon looks at the director behind the camera.

“Well, his wife is pregnant and  . . .” the director answers.

“You know what? I’m two weeks behind my rent.” Sharon says.

“Okay, okay, I’ll pay you for this month’s rent. Now, can we continue? Jees!”

“No, we can’t continue until she admits I’m a good actor. Come on, everybody in this room knows that, right?” says John.

The room suddenly turns more silent than a funeral parlor.

“I can’t believe you guys, well, in that case, I’m gonna have to show you how it’s done . . .  one second, let me check my lines.” Looks at the camera and says:  “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

“Okay everybody, we’re losing precious time here. Let’s do it. Let’s take it from ‘ . . . especially after’.  Camera, action!”

“ . . . specially after I shot that crooked politician in front of his wife,” John says.

“Oh, and don’t forget the gun this time,” says Sharon.

“Of course not, big dummy, I never repeat the same mistake.” 

He tries to put the gun in his holster, but the gun goes off and John falls back on the couch, with blood coming from his mouth.

Everybody screams and panics. Chaos fills the room. Somebody yells: “Call an ambulance! He’s still breathing, hurry up!”

 In the middle of the confusion and mayhem, John gets up.

“So, you fools still think I’m a bad actor? You didn’t find the fake gun because I had it with me all the time,” 

As he begins to shoot everyone, cast and crew included, John says in a very Darth Vader voice . . . “I’m going to be a father”.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. Oct-11-2017

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCOrinlL1EY

VIMEO Channel: https://vimeo.com/accomplishedignorant

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9216447/?ref_=pro_nm_visitcons

Levitating

I bet you’ll die with a smile on your face and I wish I could see it. 

But I know I’ll die first, because seeing what you’ve been through your whole life you must be immortal and indestructible. 

Your guitar is an instrument that connects your brain to your heart and to your soul. 

Or is it all the way around?

And you transmit all your feelings with your fingers.

And if you add the right lyrics you’ll incite a riot. 

And your lyrics and riffs will echo in my bones.

Love gone bad, cheating, mistrust, lies and suffering, and also double crossings, deception and abandonment. 

We can find all devastating adjectives in your lyrics. And yet we believe you because we know you’re an expert. You have been the cause and the effect of all those feelings.

You’re an authentic soulful blues man. You borrow alien sentiments and affections. 

You instigate young and old minds with messages of rebellion and mutiny. 

You twist and wring love and devotion and turn them into evil provocations. 

Inspired by a black sound that had been ignored by the masses for decades. 

Exporting it back to the blind ears of America. Transformed into ‘devil’s music’. 

Your image is a symbol of revolt and anarchy affecting generations. 

And for decades you fooled us because you really were a humble and sincere human being. 

A man so gentle that without a doubt could be called a gentleman.

Like all good brothers, like all great artists, like all great bands, whose members had contrasting egos you fought with your own.

But now, we know it’s all good. 

I was convinced that all blues and sad music had to come from misery, anguish and desolation. But you really never suffered; you were having a great time all the time. So you convinced me I was wrong. 

Devastation can be created for no reason then.

You had to scrape the shit right off your shoes with your overloaded acoustics to create a devil full of sympathy. 

You were always trouble, it seemed. A Houdini in reverse, never wanting to disappear. 

A consummate monkey reaching for coconuts can also fall from a palm tree and end up like a pirate with a broken skull. 

Never a dull moment indeed.

Lines inspired after watching “Under The Influence”. About the life of Keith Richards.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. Dec-19-2015 

Method Actor

The main actor was a little precocious, even for a three-year-old kid. He required naps in between takes. He also demanded milk and cookies during breaks. His real name was Lucius Night, which was perfect for the role. There was no need to change it.

We started shooting on Halloween Day. It was his first movie. The title was a little bit grandiose: “Apocalyptic Moons”. The film was supposed to be one-location-two actors-no budget kind of deal, nevertheless, the aspirations were high. 

The main actor was a little precocious, even for a three-year-old kid. He required naps in between takes. He also demanded milk and cookies during breaks. His real name was Lucius Night, which was perfect for the role. There was no need to change it.

The post-apocalyptical barren land mentioned in the script couldn’t be found in the area, even though we were in the middle of the desert. The absence of adequate transportation for the cast and crew was an impediment. 

Lucius’ mom offered her house, and the front yard was used instead. The post-production team, along with the special effects department would be working overtime. —and for free also— Luckily, the old camera from the 90s came with a zoom. Now, we could turn the miniature Godzilla into a monster bigger than the Statue of Liberty. The trick was to experiment with new tricks. Sometimes, dumb ideas look good on film (or digital.)

Halloween decorations were set. A huge inflatable menacing cat was the main attraction. It moved its head sideways. The dark pessimistic story also mentioned humongous spiders devouring humans. If only we could find a little spider.

The scene called for Lucius’ immense abilities as a ninja warrior to save Katana Luna —his one-year-old little sister— from the ferocious cat and its deadly claws. The director told Lucius to ignore previous instructions. Instead, this time he should look at the camera. He had to imagine the camera was the enemy and that he was attacking a powerful enemy. The camera was placed on top of a two-step ladder. No funds were available for a tripod.

Katana Luna was at the mercy of the monstrous feline only a few feet away. The cat seemed to be enjoying the moment. It took its time in an intentional way, knowing that its future meal had no escape. The cat prolonged the suffering by moving in slow motion towards the victim. Inch by inch, the cat approached Katana. At that precise instant, nobody had any idea how Katana could be saved. 

Out of the blue, Lucius Night appeared in a close-up with a sword in hand attacking . . . the camera?

Brando had never been this good.

Of course, the movie was never finished.

The budget was so low; we couldn’t get a replacement camera.

*Especial thanks to my grand kids Lucius Night and Katana Luna for volunteering their talents.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca.

Jan-30-2018

The Psychic

“Wow, at this point you could be one of my worse clients ever. You almost stepped over the line. You were disrespectful, not just blunt. If you leave now I wouldn’t feel offended; instead, I would be pleased. Tell me, why would you go to church if you have no faith?” she replied.

A skeptical and rude person consults a psychic after losing his wife. *Read the short story and watch the short film at the end. #ShortFilm #ShortStory #ThePsychic

Never before in my life did I consider visiting a psychic or a palm reader. Even though I’ve seen that place in the corner over a hundred times. I never had a reason to go. I wasn’t even curious, not even if I got a free consultation.

I knew I was a rational person. Believing in ghosts or the afterlife was not my thing. But after the real-life nightmare that occurred to me and my family I began to consider paying her a visit. I’ve seen that lady many times parking her fancy car in the driveway. She never wore long flowery dresses like old hippies used to wear. She didn’t look like a gypsy either. She often had a smile on her face. 

After the accident, I became a widower. I was convinced there was no reason to continue living. Life was completely meaningless. Suicide was often on my mind, but life had always been a precious treasure to me, so I hung on. I even thought that maybe with the passage of time, and if the pain (ever) faded away I could form another family, but to consider that would be betraying their sweet memory. 

No, without my family I could never find happiness again. I needed to communicate with my wife or else I couldn’t go on living.

One day, curiosity won over pride. 

I waited for her arrival and followed her from the parking lot to the front of her office. The psychic unlocked the door and held it open for me. 

“Good morning,” she said with a friendly smile. “How can I help you?”

“I don’t know if you can, I sincerely doubt it, but I need to at least give it a try. First, I need to clarify my posture. I have to say that I’m suspicious about your abilities to connect people from different dimensions. In my mind, I always related your profession to frauds, scams, and charlatans. And I also find hard to imagine ghosts dancing around your desk. I’m sorry I’m being so blunt, but I needed to get it out of the way. Are you still willing to help me?”

“Wow, at this point you could be one of my worse clients ever. You almost stepped over the line. You were disrespectful, not just blunt. If you leave now I wouldn’t feel offended; instead, I would be pleased. Tell me, why would you go to church if you have no faith?” she replied.


“Yes, I understand what you’re saying,” I answered with some regret.


“Oh, and more thing, I haven’t seen any ghosts dancing around my desk either, but I’ve seen spirits sitting on the same chair you’re sitting on.” she said.

“I’m sorry, you’re absolutely right, for a moment I forgot that I came to ask for a favor. The words I chose were a little rough, I’m sorry. The main thing is that I wanted to be honest and clear. Can you really see spirits or ghosts?”

“I can feel their presence, and yes, I can see them sometimes. I don’t mind if you don’t believe me, that doesn’t change the fact that I can see them. But let’s change the subject. I don’t have to convince you to believe.”

“Is business good?”

“Yes, lately, spirits have been running rampant and unrestrained. If you trust me, you’ll soon find out what I mean. Why do you ask if business is good?”

“Well, good psychics should always be busy.” 

“Why don’t we get to the point, what brings you here?” 

“I need to communicate with my wife. We were involved in a car accident. My wife and my daughter died. It was my fault. I don’t want to be on this Earth anymore, not without them. My guilt is so big it’s eating my soul. You see, I was driving the car and at the same time I was trying to give the bottle of milk to my daughter, but I couldn’t reach, so I removed my seat belt for a second. The vehicle went off the road and I was ejected and passed out, the car overturned several times and I never saw them alive again. I need to ask my wife for her forgiveness. I also want to join them wherever they are.”

“Do you believe in God?” she asked.

“Not really, but I used to be a believer. I guess, little by little I became a cynic. Now, I regret it because if I pray, I would feel like a complete hypocrite.”

“Some things are easier to believe if you’re a spiritual person. But let me explain what I know. The nonphysical part of a person sometimes manifests as an apparition after their death. A spirit can be able of surviving physical death or separation of body and spirit. Sometimes, when the body ceases to exist and there’s nothing that can hold the soul and character of a person, the spirit wanders aimlessly seeking a body that doesn’t exist anymore. Another thing I know is that your family is alive and well.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry, our session is over, you can leave now, there’s no need to open the door. You can just walk through it.”

And as the man crossed the door with his head down, a couple of tears fell from the psychic’s eyes.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. 12-27-2016

An Accidental Dream

I must have lost a million brain cells when I hit my head. I hope I still have some left.I don’t remember my age either. This so absurd and confusing.

I’m not sure why I ended up in the hospital. I was riding my bike either going down a straight steep road or standing up on the main horizontal frame of the bike or maybe I was doing my most daring trick: speeding straight as an arrow and ignoring a stop sign to cross the widest boulevard in my small town. I only perform this trick at night when there’s not a lot of traffic. I have fun taking risks, but I’m not stupid.

My entire body hurts. According to the level of pain I’m feeling I was probably run over by an eighteen-wheeler. I can’t move. My body feels numb including my brain. My body’s in shock. My thoughts are not clear at all. I can’t even remember my name but that doesn’t worry me a great deal. I’m alive and complete, I think.

I wonder how many people have died in this bed. I don’t have any experience with this, but I hope it’s not my turn yet. I can barely move but I have enough energy to bend my head and see if I still have my four extremities. I just found out another thing a hospital is a good place to start believing in God because I want to make sure I end up in a peaceful place when I die.

The room is cool and clean but not very comfy. 

I must have lost a million brain cells when hit my head. I hope I still have some left. I don’t remember my age either. This is so absurd and confusing.

The nurse hasn’t noticed that I’m back. My guess is that she’s Hispanic. She’s young and cute. She’s checking some plastic bags hanging from a metal stand next to the bed. I was going to say “next to my bed”, but it isn’t mine. Then, a person wearing a white robe opens the door. I guess he’s the doctor. He begins to talk to the nurse and tries to convince her to give him a kiss. He now chases the nurse around the bed. Typical. But they ignore the most important person in the room, which is me, the patient. I don’t have the time to watch a silly romantic soap opera. My mind decides to leave the room and I fall asleep.

My confusion increases when I find myself in another world. I guess this is the real world, but I don’t like it either. Somebody is chasing me. It feels unreal like I’m part of a story inside a book, or like I’m in somebody’s dream. It could be my own dream.

After the fall from my bike the asphalt road turned into a jungle. And someone who seems to be a Spanish conqueror is chasing me. He doesn’t seem to have good intentions. It appears that for some reason he’s trying to kill me, and if he’s a Spanish conqueror I might be an Aztec warrior. I decide to call him Cortez. And if he’s Cortez I might be Moctezuma. And I like the idea. As soon as I decide to be Moctezuma my fears disappear. Cortez, despite his name, is not polite and also despite his cannons, his soldiers, and guns, he will not conquer me because this is my jungle, my Empire, and my dream.

Back in the hospital, the doctor, who by the way has a nice red beard, asks me to tell him, from one to ten, what level of pain I’m feeling. I say seven because I prefer to be sedated and remain here instead of being chased by Cortez and his horses. Then, the doctor increases the painkiller dosage or whatever it is that keeps me unconscious and sends me to dreamland. The liquid runs straight from the plastic bag to my weak and vulnerable brain and immediately gives me more hallucinating images.

Then, as if somebody pressed the pause button I got transferred to la-la land and found Cortez behind my tail.

If I remember the story right according to the Spanish conquerors Moctezuma was killed. Stoned by his own people on a balcony in his palace. On the other hand, the indigenous accounts claim that he was killed by the Spanish soldiers, but not by Cortez. Now that I remembered that, I feel less worried but just in case I pick some coca leaves and place them in my mouth and keep running to put more distance between Cortez and me. If I’m carrying the effects of the morphine or hallucinatory drugs from the hospital bed to my dream I might be also able to carry the effects of the coca leaves from the jungle to my hospital room. I wish I could remember the whole thing and be able to write it all down when this is over.

I only hear growling, howling, cooing, and other animal noises in the jungle. I think I lost Cortez. The chase was in my favor from the beginning. Cortez didn’t have any advantage riding his mighty horse in this thick vegetation. I don’t know why Cortez is so persistent in his desire to kill me. We already gave him most of our gold, which is useless to us. In exchange, they gave us some cheap trinkets and mirrors, which are also useless to us. But I wish I could keep this beautiful medallion hanging from my neck. It feels good bouncing on my chest. It seems that my heart and the medallion are having a conversation while I try to escape from the villain in my dream.

I wonder if my temporarily demented mind is confounding the reality with the dream. Could it be that the jungle is real and the hospital bed is my dream? But it can’t be because if I’m Moctezuma, I can’t have any knowledge about hospitals and hallucinatory drugs. But I’ve read the Aztecs did have these two things too. Can you hallucinate about things that don’t exist? I guess you can. But can you imagine an Aztec warrior riding a bike? I need to discard these absurd thoughts. They’re too bizarre, even for a nightmare.

Within my confusion, I thought my mind was more alert than my body. Even though it was working overtime and on drugs.

I must thank Grandma for giving me all those books about Aztecs and conquistadors. Searching for information in the back of my mind I try to refresh my memory about Cortez and Moctezuma, when another character shows up, “La Malinche”. I think that by thinking about my dreams when I’m not dreaming I’m feeding more material to my brain to continue dreaming. If I’m not wrong, La Malinche was an indigenous native who acted as an interpreter, advisor, and lover to Cortez. She was also known as Doña Marina.

The chase ended abruptly when I reached the end of the Jungle at the shore of the lake. I wasn’t so afraid because I knew that wasn’t the place where I would die. But I wished that nobody would change the history. Because Cortez died before Moctezuma.

Conquerors and villains are never alone. Cortez had many men with him and I was alone. But I knew that if the fight would be between him and me, I would destroy him.

The Empire had prospered for centuries mainly because of the advice of the high priests and wise war strategists, which the Spanish invaders killed as soon as they arrived. For a foreigner sailing from a strange land, Cortez displayed some master evil trickery.

He brought me back to Tenochtitlan, to my palace and my people. Along the way I kept hearing voices from the hospital, mixing the dream with the reality, unable to concentrate on either of them. I could hear the doctor and the nurse, while at the same time, I was listening to Cortez leading me to my palace. Cortez was trying to persuade me to talk to my people and convince them to give up our arms to avoid more bloodshed. While on the other scene the doctor was on his knees offering a ring to the nurse. She finally accepted a kiss from him.  

It was hard to concentrate. I was fighting for my life on two fronts at the same time. Without knowing which one was my real life. If I had a choice, I would have chosen to be left alone.

Having the ability to jump from one place to the other was out of this world. Even though it was hard to distinguish between fiction and reality, both situations gave me a huge amount of anxiety. If I was in pain I could medicate myself and go back to the jungle. If the drug wore off, I could return for more. I didn’t have any idea how long I had been there. I had no notion of time or space.

I returned chained and ashamed to my palace and my people. I was ashamed because I was captured without a fight. La Malinche bowed to Cortez and ignored me. That made me feel miserable and abandoned. When Cortez pushed me to the main balcony of my palace, I knew the end was getting near. The pain was too painful.

I felt the sharp point of a knife on my left side. On my right side, La Malinche secretly slid a knife in my hand.

Cortez kept putting pressure on his knife. I remained static and unafraid. I knew I would never surrender to his demands. I would never, for any reason betray my people. I’d rather die.

Back in the hospital, Dr. Cortez was lying and bleeding to death over my body. Our blood getting mixed on the bed sheets.

Marina, the nurse, was in shock, crying and in profound pain.

Before my last breath, I thought how good it was to be able to change history in my dreams.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. 01-14-2015

Apocalyptic Moons

God had never intervened since Adam and Eve, and Lucius and Katana were not expecting His help. God had probably left already, after all, there was nothing to supervise anymore.

For decades, scientists had predicted that humans would be the main cause of their own extinction. They also said that global warming would trigger other tragedies. Skeptical politicians ignored all warnings and did nothing to prevent the fast-approaching Armageddon.

Wrong decisions of inept world leaders had increased the madness with devastating consequences for Mother Nature. Nuclear wars were not destructive enough to exterminate humans. 

We didn’t need alien invasions or galactic wars after all. But many agreed that Armageddon would have been much more beautiful with a space invasion. Or more exciting. Or more entertaining.

Sadly for humans, but gladly for other animal species, only humans were disappearing from Planet Earth. 

The animal kingdom realized that humans were the culprit of such devastation. Therefore, they turned against humans. Mankind had always underestimated animals, but the equilibrium of nature invariably succeeds. Sometimes, certain species had to perish in order for others to survive.

All animals in the world began to grow in size, and their brain capacity increased too. Rats grew to double their size every hundred years. Human flesh became part of the animal diet. Animals had found a logical solution: Kill and feed. Get rid of the enemy by consuming it.

The total eradication of humans from the face of the Earth appeared impossible at first. 

We knew that if unattended, a house could be devoured by an infestation of rats, cockroaches, and termites in less than fifty years. Humans not only had left their houses unattended but the entire world. They had complete knowledge of that possibility centuries before. Powerful nations were blaming each other and kept generating new wars that accelerated their deserving fate. 

Finally, they had reached their somber destiny. They fused the past with the present and canceled the future.

The results were catastrophic. Nearly eight billion people perished in those five centuries.

*****

When population began to decline, life expectancy for humans had been a hundred and fifty. Many illnesses had been eradicated. Alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and animal fat were rarely consumed. That period had been the peak of human excellence. Body and mind at their best. Then things rapidly deteriorated. 

Lucius Night and Katana Luna were the last survivors —they were the last vestige of humankind. And there was no one left to cheer for their success. Adam and Eve didn’t have such an impossible task.

Lucius Night had a far superior mind than most scientists from the twentieth-first century. Katana Luna had a JCN chip implanted before she was born. They were human computers. They were taller and stronger than their human counterparts from five centuries before. But they were still vulnerable to the rest of the animal kingdom, where a rat was as big as a cat. From year to year the size increase could not be noticeable but in five hundred years the difference was humongous.

Having a common enemy, animals had become allies among themselves to fight against humans. The animal kingdom had significantly reduced killing each other; half of them had adopted a semi-vegetarian diet. The other half was consuming human flesh, which seemed to be addicting, judging from the amounts they were ingesting. And the supply seemed unlimited.  


Lucius and Katana didn’t know they were the only humans left. They had not seen other people for a long time. The last time Lucius saw his parents was soon after his mom had delivered Katana. Many months had passed since their parents had left the cave. There was no need to pretend they were still alive. 

Lucius knew there was a slim chance for him and her sister to survive. He had promised himself to never give up, for Katana’s sake. The main purpose in Lucius’ life was to protect his little sister.

It was hard to guess Lucius Night’s age due to the change in human life expectancy. Whatever his age was he was far more intelligent and stronger than he appeared. 


Every single day was going to be a struggle to remain alive.

Adam and Eve did their best, but they did not succeed. From the story of the Tree of Knowledge, it all went down in a disastrous decline. But their decline had lasted thousands of years. If Lucius and Katana wished to avoid the complete eradication of human life, first and foremost they had to implant one thing into the minds of future generations: They had to respect their home. Humankind was one People. Planet Earth was their only home. They had to take care of it constantly, mainly by leaving it alone.

God had never intervened since Adam and Eve, and Lucius and Katana were not expecting His help. 

God had probably left already. After all, there was nothing to supervise anymore.

If there was anything certain in the Bible, it had to be Armageddon. The end of times scenario had been worse than anyone could have imagined. But since humans began to disappear, the planet’s landscape had improved greatly. The apocalyptic images had been erased. Earth’s heart was beating at a lower speed. Nature didn’t need men. The world had no use for mankind.

The big metropolises like New York, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro became beautiful jungles, and deserts had begun to shrink as soon as humans started to vanish. The same way humans had underestimated animals, they had also underestimated Mother Nature’s healing powers. All damage done by humans had started to reverse after the first signs of human extinction. Nature was finally getting rid of a grave illness: humanoid overcrowding.

Lucius and Katana had only two weapons to defend themselves. Katana Luna had the paralyzing waver, a handgun designed to send airwaves in all directions, capable of paralyzing all animals in a radius of a hundred feet; the effect could last from two to six hours, depending on the animal size. It was a non-lethal weapon. Lucius had the invisible laser-blazer, an accurate ray-seeking weapon powerful enough to disintegrate a whale in a fraction of a second.

Most of their knowledge had been implanted during their twelve-month gestational period. Knowledge especially prepared by their parents, knowing in advance that a human extinction was approaching. They had specific training in survival skills. Their food source was contained mainly in pills rich in artificial nutrients and proteins, including water. Each pill had a slow energy release that lasted a week. They had a supply to last approximately ten years. 

Katana rarely spoke. Perhaps there was nothing nice to talk about. Instead, she used signs and signals. She enjoyed stories about mom and dad, and Lucius was more than happy to tell them. After all, he knew one day those stories would fade from his memory.

Sometimes they would sit on the rocks at the entrance of the cave and watch the world go by. Sunsets were always sad.

On one of those sad afternoons, Lucius grabbed a small bucket, and with an old sponge, he started washing Katana’s face, with soft strokes as if she was his most precious treasure. And she was.

“Does it bother you?” asked Lucius, lightly touching the spot on Katana’s arm where the scar from her implant was still visible.

“Sometimes.” her answers were always laconic. “Tell me a story about our mom.”

Lucius replied, “On hot days, after cooking dinner, she would lie down to rest on the cool cement, and she would ask you to blow air on her sweaty face. You would blow until you fell asleep on her chest.”

Katana loved to hear a song that reminded of her mom, and every time she wanted Lucius to sing it, she would tap her right temple with her right hand and then Lucius would begin to sing.  

“Katana Luna, Katana Luna, my sweet moon

Brighter than the sun

Stronger than a monsoon

Katana Luna, Katana Luna, 

I’d go insane without you . . .”

And every time Lucius finished singing, Katana would end up with a big smile on her face, and Lucius with tears in his eyes, for that was the song her mom used to sing to help her fall asleep.

The last two humans on Earth were sustained by love, just like the first two humans in the Bible.

*****

The place chosen by Lucius’ parents for a shelter was a cave on a mountain range less than a mile from the ocean. Lucius was glad  the cave was always dark, that way, intruders would be blind in the dark too. The cave’s mouth was hidden between cracks in the rocky mountain. The cave could be a kingdom, but it could become a grave too.

The animal invasion to the cities was an amazing collaborative operation in which several animal species had participated. With no apparent leader, the animals had to be communicating telepathically or in another mysterious way.

House pests could only be controlled by professional exterminators. Weapons were created especially to get rid of these pests. At night, another kind of animals emerged: Bats, wolves, and coyotes. But it was insanely dangerous, day and night.

The military force began to help, but soon, they were ordered to withdraw because they were causing more damage instead of helping. Besides, American people were well armed, but they were overwhelmed by the enormous amount of attackers.

Due to the constant contact with such horrific carnage, people began to lose their sensitivity at the sight of human loss. Even whenever their own children were devoured in front of their eyes they had to continue the struggle to take care of themselves, there was no time for crying.

Other tragedies began to occur, with toxic waste new viruses appeared, causing pandemics of such virulence and infectiousness that decimated human population even furthermore. To fight for their survival, they had to abandon their jobs and famine followed. It was unmerciful. 

Communities were evolving in isolated tribes, people fled in search of natural shelters, caves in mountains, open fields and deserts, forests, and underground tunnels. But there was no escape and no solution; animals were bigger and more dangerous outside of city limits. You could be eaten by a thousand ants, or by a single bear.

One morning, while coming out from the cave, Lucius and Katana witnessed a terrifying sight. Like a locusts swarm, a thick, dark cloud of birds and flying bugs were approaching the cave, along with thousands of terrestrial pests, mice, spiders, ants, cockroaches and other unidentifiable creatures. Like a plague, they were devouring everything in their path.

Katana let out a cry that was muted by the collective noise made by the swarm. They immediately got their guns out, but even with their powerful weapons, it took several seconds to control the impressive invasion.

The line where the animals had been stopped was an amazing contrast in comparison to the rest of the land. Like two different worlds. 

Later, while they recovered from the shock Lucius said: “I remember when my dad killed our dog, Kepler, because he suspected the dog tried to eat you, that’s when all this thing started.”

“Why was the dog named Kepler?” Katana asked.

“That’s the name of the planet humans had been trying to colonize for centuries,” he answered.

When Lucius ventured outside to hunt for food, he struggled with the choice of what to do with Katana, he could take her or he could leave her, but he always found that hard to decide. There was no safe place anywhere anymore.

He would often return with fish or birds, the only kind of animals that Lucius considered safe for human consumption. The problem was their size. They could eat you too.

Dates and seasons had no meaning. Nothing mattered anymore, only survival. Child play had turned into adult supervision.

Lucius remembered that the last time they laughed was the last time it rained, when they went outside the cave to sing and dance in complete joy, ignoring the desolation around them for a minute. He also remembered they couldn’t drink the rain anymore. It tasted like iron, like acid, foul, impure.

At night, Lucius would reach out to touch Katana sleeping beside him. At times like that Lucius would notice that Katana couldn’t hide her innocent beauty, regardless of any absence of hygiene.

One day when Lucius returned from hunting, he found two paralyzed wolves in the cave. After he took them outside and shot them with the DD (disintegrating device) gun, he decided never to leave Katana alone again. If she had been asleep, there wouldn’t be any traces of her left. That night, he was convinced that if that would have been the case; he’d kill himself for sure.

Lucius found Katana crying at the far end of the cave.

“What’s the use, Lucius?” she said.

“We cannot lose hope Katana, mom and dad wouldn’t approve. They did not bring us to this world to quit so easily, we must never surrender.” Lucius answered, but even he looked defeated.

They embraced with warmth and affection. Orphans like them could only find comfort in each other.

The reason Katana had chosen the paralyzing gun was that she was against any animal killings unless it was done for human consumption. An extreme stance, considering the current situation, Lucius thought these were not times for a pacifist, but never said a thing.

*****

From the beginning, one of Katana’s dearest passions had been contemplating lunar eclipses. Only two things were important in her life, Lucius was definitely the number one. Lunar eclipses would have to be second place for sure. If it was up to her, she would never miss any of those celestial events. She would sit for hours, ignoring all risks and hazards. She would remain captivated in delight, hypnotized by the phenomenon in complete oblivion.

In remarked contrast, during those moments, Lucius had to remain on constant alert, ready to defuse any dangers that might appear. Moments like that would have made God reconsider His hope for mankind. Brotherly love of such high purity could not be ignored by any god in any Universe. 

The first lunar eclipse Katana had experienced was in the peaceful darkness of the backyard in their humble house, while mother sang her favorite lullaby and rocked her in her arms.

“Katana Luna, Katana Luna, my sweet moon

Brighter than the sun

Stronger than a monsoon

Katana Luna, Katana Luna, 

I’d go insane without you . . .”

Lucius had had bad days in his life, but one of the worst had to be when Katana was attacked by a cat twice her weight. She was able to shoot her gun while the cat was mid-flight aiming in her direction, but couldn’t avoid the cat from badly scratching her leg as it landed on her.

That day was the second time Lucius has seen her cry. The day he found the two wolves inside the cave was the first. 

Several nights later, Lucius had a dream with his dad in which dad advised him to search for the “crystal wall”, and to be ready for departure, he also said, “all in time, all planets must align.” Once in a while, he would dream with Dad, and invariably he would give him some kind of guidance. He would always recount all those dreams to his sister, and their happiness would last for days. 

Lucius found the dream hard to interpret. Nevertheless, the following day they would begin the search for that mysterious crystal wall.

The last few days he had noticed a little change in the sky. The clouds were not clear, they had a blurry look, wavy and foggy. As if they had entered a new realm.

The following day, Lucius took Katana along and began to search for the crystal wall. For the first time, he was dubious about the purpose of his dream. He had never doubted his dad’s advice. Still, he was uncertain about the “wall” or what to do if he’d find it. Lucius also couldn’t figure out what his dad meant by “departure.” He felt excited, but he knew they would encounter high risks and unwanted danger.


Early in the morning, they began to climb the mountain’s peak above the cave. Katana’s injured leg had not completely healed yet, her leg was still bandaged, but Lucius knew she was strong enough for the task. With weapons in hand, they began the trek. Climbing the mountain was not an easy task, but Lucius was glad they were well-rested and full of energy. Katana was hiking a few feet ahead of Lucius, that way; Lucius thought, he could catch her if she slipped. 

And she did when a menacing yellow spider crossed her path. The spider was half her size; it seemed that the arachnid could be able to not just kill her but to eat her. The hairy beast looked eye-to-eye with Katana with its hypnotic eyes while gnashing its ten-inch mandibles. Swift and hostile, the spider stunned Katana and made her lose her balance. Lucius leaped between the two-foot-tall monster and fearless and ferocious shot the spider while catching Katana in his arms.

After that, Lucius decided to carry Katana on his shoulders. He thought it couldn’t be a safer place than that. But he was wrong.

The next time they encountered danger, the sun gave them a signal. Lucius saw a shadow on the ground coming in their direction. It gave him a fraction of a second to anticipate an attack coming from above. He had his gun ready when Katana was snatched by a bird so large, it appeared to come from prehistorical times. With precise aim, Lucius shot the bird and caught Katana in the air again.

Death was capricious, it could show up anytime.

They kept going for weeks. They began to doubt their objective when they literally crashed into the wall, a few yards past of what appeared to be the end of the luscious vegetation and thick forest. They never thought the world could have an edge or an end. 

Beyond the glass wall, Lucius could see the sky all around him, even below his feet. It seemed so odd and enigmatic. 

His inquisitive mind couldn’t find a logical explanation. And as he tried to find the purpose of the wall, he hit it with a rock as hard as he could, but he couldn’t even scratch it. He wondered whether the wall was enclosing the space outside, or if they were in some kind of a cage. Seeing the enormous void of space in the exterior, he guessed the second part was right.

They kept exploring what appeared to be a new world within the old world. It seemed like a dream. The place could definitively be described as utopian . . . or dystopian. 

Changes in the surroundings included the animals. He thought they looked smaller. Or was it that he and Katana were growing bigger? In the end, he concluded that all animals were returning back to their normal size. They seemed less ferocious too. They also began to appear in pairs. It was probably the mating season. But it couldn’t be mating season for all species at the same time. Lucius had also noticed that lately the animals had gone back to their herbivorous diet. But since humans had disappeared there was no other choice. He figured.

And when they ventured into the ocean waters, they noticed that the water tasted less salty. Things were surely changing. He then recalled the time he saw a pod of gigantic whales that caused a huge tsunami and pushed the sea water close to their cave, almost a mile away and a hundred feet above sea level. But that was a long time ago. The ocean now looked more like a lake. It was serene and placid, and as beautiful as ever.

For the next three days, he carried Katana on his shoulders along the glass wall. One night, something strange happened; the night seemed longer, way too long. It seemed that their internal clock malfunctioned because they woke up and it was still dark. Katana and Lucius went back to sleep three times before the sun reappeared. 


Then, something even stranger occurred; two moons appeared on the horizon. It was a beautiful moonrise. It was peculiar and freakish, but extremely beautiful.

Unbeknownst to them, they had arrived at their destination . . .  “The New World”. A world so big, it would take seven days to go around its own axis. A day on this planet was equal to seven days on Earth. And the crystal walls surrounding Katana and Lucius’ world was, in fact, a spaceship created by their father. It also functioned as an ark to transport animals to the new world, an empty world . . . until now.

“Look Katana, look!” Lucius screamed in excitement. “Look Katana, two moons! Katana Luna Luna!” and he repeated ‘Luna’ for he knew ‘Luna’ meant ‘moon’.

And he proclaimed, “This is the real beginning of Eternity. This is our new home Katana.”

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. Nov-28-2015