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What?

Duke started hallucinating about a month before seeing a psychiatrist. At 7pm someone, perhaps himself, went flying off a cliff on a horse, but never landing. That was just the beginning. From that day on, each evening at the same time, he would experience what appeared to be a dream overlaying his reality. The next night while talking to his wife Sally, he suddenly saw someone having sex with movie star Vicky Newsome. The male involved looked to be about forty years old, balding and generally pretty ugly. Sally was talking to Duke, but there was no way he could follow what she was saying. “Duke, you looked like you just went into a trance. Do you have any idea what I was saying?”

Duke tried to pretend that he wasn’t scared sh****** and after a lengthy pause, just said “Sorry, my mind just wandered off for awhile.”

Duke was sure he had gone crazy, but was afraid to tell anyone. He just hoped the problem would go away quickly, but no. Every evening, same time, what appeared to be a waking dream would come to him. Sometimes someone was being chased, sometimes it was sex, sometimes it was something that got lost and couldn’t be found. Except for an occasional celebrity, there wasn’t anyone that he could recognize in his hallucination. There was the one recurring character, the unattractive man who had sex with Ms. Newsome. Rather than admit that he was crazy, he started reading a book at the same time his hallucinations started and just accepted that he wouldn’t make any sense of what he read.

After a couple of weeks Duke started to hear a strange voice in his head. He would pick up things like “Its Miller Time” or “I want to go Coney Island.” Duke was able to cheer himself up a little because the voice never asked him to kill anybody, not even his boss, who certainly deserved killing.

When the voices started, he broke down and told Sally what had been happening. She tried to reassure him “Whatever is happening, your behavior has not changed at all. Well, maybe your 7pm book habit, but after what you have told me, I can’t blame you. Could you have hit your head? I hear that can cause weird brain activity, both hearing and seeing things.”

“No.”

“Any mental trauma – have you had any shocks or losses that you didn’t tell me about?”

“No.”

“Okay, I guess you should see a psychiatrist. Keep in mind as troubling as this seems, we will get to the bottom of it and get you fixed. In case you’re worried, I don’t mean like we had Kitz fixed.”

“That’s a relief.  Finally, some good news.”

Dr. Finley did the standard battery of questions and brain scans, and couldn’t find a thing. In desperation, he asked about Duke’s hearing aids. “Did you get the hearing aids before or after the hallucinations began?”

“I had them for a month before they started.”

“That eliminates my last hope. I can’t find anything wrong with you at all. About all I can do is to start you on a tranquilizer and hope for the best.”

As soon as Duke started using his prescription tranquilizer the various voices and visions muted, but did not disappear. He decided that he would just have to live with his problem. Neither Duke nor Sally told even their friends or family about what was happening.

A year later, Duke was reading “Popular Science” and saw the article “Telepathy – Fact or Fiction?” He scanned the article until he came to:

“Rumors abound that telepathy devices, which look and act like hearing aides were developed at an East Coast lab. Alleged testing began a year ago last August. It is further claimed that a disgruntled employee of the lab smuggled a sample of the devices into a hearing aid store disguised as a regular set of hearing aids. This all seems to be an urban legend, because the recipients of these special telepathy aids would have reported it by now. The unnamed employee has spread the word that testing began first with dreams starting as the telepathy originator slept from 10pm on, and then started testing waking thoughts.”

Duke did some quick calculations. Eastern Time was three hours ahead of his home in Portland. Check. His visual hallucinations started before his verbal hallucinations. Check. The time that the testing started was when he started his visual hallucinations. Check.

Prudently, Duke first saw a lawyer who was entrusted with breaking the news if any harm would come to Duke. After thinking about how much money that he could make writing a book, a little discrete checking around found that it was much easier and a lot more remunerative to sell the telepathy aids quietly back to the lab that lost them. Duke sealed the deal by telling the lab “But wait, there’s more – you get my silence along with the devices.”

Duke had no more hallucinations, but he did begin living the dream with the money he got. Sally said “Given how you suffered, I don’t think that any amount of money would have been too much.”

Previously appeared in “Beechwood Review” (nominated for a pushcart – prolly one of a million) and Short HumourDerived from my ear things that allow me to communicate with the FBI (left ear) and CIA (right ear).Doug Hawley

Categories
Tales

Smart Car 28

People’s Day 2091 

Duke Hanley addressed the cars and people of Lake Oswego Oregon USA on People’s Day September 27, 2091. 

“Hi everyone. Is it a good day?” 

The audience responded “Yes, it’s a good day.” 

“I’m so pleased Mayor Evers asked me to speak about People’s Day. My grandfather Jess was on the “Labor Day Revisions Committee in 2065 and here’s the story of their deliberations. The original impetus for Labor Day was lost. The idea of a working class and bosses was largely passé. Restaurant servers, factory workers and occupations had been replaced by automation. Computer algorithms made most business decisions. Most people alive today have no memory of labor conflicts or strikes. As efficiency improved, the price of things decreased and with population stability scarcity of goods was no longer a problem. The Guaranteed Basic Income was enough to get by on. As a result, many people loafed, but more volunteered or tried various ways to improve themselves. Some became amateur scientists. Joe Samson invented a better wheel for vehicles in his basement.”

“Grandfather Jess and the other committee members saw that a day honoring labor made little sense when so few labored in the accepted sense. There were and are far more creative people now than laborers. Servers in restaurants have been replaced by ordering pads at their tables, but at least in the better restaurants, there are still cooks. Building construction connecting modular pieces from a factory does not employ very many, but some people still want architecturally designed buildings. Sports and athletes are still popular. Much of entertainment is CGI which doesn’t require live actors, but there are still plays and concerts requiring live actors and musicians. The vast majority who weren’t “laborers” thought that the name and celebration of Labor Day should be changed to be more inclusive.”

Deuce the retro Dodge Charger of Duke’s wife Sheila broke in “Didn’t the unions and labor want to keep the status quo?” Deuce is a history buff.

“Good question, Deuce. They did object to change, but Jess called their bluff by suggesting a national referendum. With labor’s share of the US population down under 10% they knew that they would lose against management, sports, entertainment, and other creatives. They decided to go along at that point.”

“That is how People’s Day started, and it has been much the same since 2066 through this year’s celebration. To make a clean break, the date was changed to the last Monday in September. We sing two songs, “It’s A Good Day” originally by Peggy Lee in 1950 and “Hey You”, a reworked version of “Hey Jude”, a Beatles song from 1968. Some people are grouches, but dropping religious, political, gender and ethnic argument for the day is encouraged. Most try to be good people on People’s Day. The highest forms of People’s Day are helping out others, solving local and national problems, or working on an art, music or writing project. The people who do the best projects get on the People’s Day telecast.”

Carl/a, Duke’s nonbinary car, asked “Duke, was there much of a gender difference of opinion about the changes?”

“Another good question. Unlike some of the earlier political and women’s rights questions, there was unanimity in favor of the change by both sexes.”

Sheila asked, “How did all of this affect the cars?”

Duke smiled “Other than making their human comrades happier, it really has not affected the cars. For the cars in the audience, do you like People’s Day?” 

Car honked and woo-hooed, and people laughed and cheered. All slowly left the amphitheater and most went to smaller People’s Day celebrations.

Maybe every day should be “People’s Day”.