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Analog

*ANALOG

*D. Compton Ambrose

*Based on a true story.


“The universe consists entirely of waves of motion which spring from stillness and return to stillness.” – Walter Russell

---


Imagine there was a number so profound and purposeful that the natural world and spacetime itself would bend to it.

It was called the Fibonacci sequence.

In a pattern that can be extended all the way to infinity, the knowledge of its existence has pervaded civilizations for thousands of years, dating back to the early Buddhism and Indian Hinduism.

As the knowledge began to spread to the West, we soon realized the importance of this string of digits, and today we apply this knowledge in all manner of practical ways; search algorithms, stock trading, gambling odds – all make use of the Fibonacci sequence.

It appears in flowers, nautilus and snail shells, waves breaking on a shore.

Hurricanes.

From DNA to the spiral galaxies thousands of lightyears across – the Golden Ratio’s existence implies intelligent design of nature and eternity itself.

***

Elliot Green, father of Edward, knew that it had all started with a girl. A broken heart. But, all of that seemed to pale in the face of what had come next. Nobody should be asked to endure what Ed did, or himself, for that matter. When his son had told him about the girl he’d met – Scarlet Powers – naturally, he was happy and excited for his son. But, he was also concerned. Not because of the website, no, that had come later. But, Elliot still had a bad feeling about her.

When Ed realized Scarlet did not feel the same way about him that he did her, he did not initially notice his son’s deterioration. His mood manifested the way any teenager would do so when faced with rejection. But the days turned into months, the months into years. And three years later, after his son had graduated, and had more time alone, that is when he discovered the website himself.

***

Elliot and Ed Green moved into 1027 Valley View CRT on August 14th, 2009. An unincorporated community of no more than a few hundred, Peninsula sat in a valley between Oak Ridge and Knoxville, Tennessee. Needless to say, after the bullying and incompatible teachers at Knoxville High, Peninsula High was already promising for him by the time the school year was already two months in. For his sixteenth birthday, Elliot decided to throw him a party in the property’s barn. It was when his friend Marjorie invited her friend Scarlet Powers from work over that Elliot cataloged the beginning of these unfortunate events.

Elliot had known Marjorie since his own high school years, but he did not know the younger group she had brought with her; Morgan and her boyfriend Mack, and this Scarlet Powers. Meeting new people wasn’t anything new at parties like this – it had been the third one since they moved-in three months ago. So, Elliot didn’t think anything of it when Ed decided to mingle with these people. But, Marjorie was known for her addictive personality, having a long history with drug and substance abuse.

Ed introduced himself exuberantly and drunkenly, not quite remembering what he said the next day beyond the exchange he had with Mack the very second he was alone and had a guy moment.

“You’re quite the playboy,” Ed said in a feigned Sean Connery accent.

Mack burst out laughing. “Nah man, I appreciate it, but nah…”

“Oh, pfft… modesty. Tell me, how long you two… you know…”

Mack took a swig from his beer. “Two weeks.”

Ed didn’t remember much after that, he remembered the girl though. Scarlet. She was serene. Besides that brief exchange with Ed, and throwing up in the toilet before passing out, she was the shining light of the black-out drunkenness. Her last words seared through his mind like a blade, “Me too. I love Mr. Townsend, that is so awesome you have him, too! I have him right before you, I will totally come hang out some time and chat. I’d love it!”

Or, rather, her next to last words; “Analog.com is what I use. Myspace is so overrated.”

And that is how Ed Green got sucked into the Analog.

***

“So, I’m doing a paper on Nature v. Nurture for Mr. Townsend,” she began as Ed's class dismissed. Nobody, save Mr. Townsend himself, seemed to notice he’d stayed behind.

“I thought you had that other guy,” he said to a snicker.

Both of them laughed, and Scarlet said, “We all know you’re the only science teacher here.”

“So, what do you think it is, Scarlet?” inquired Ed.

“Well,” she began, “I haven’t entirely leaned on it, but I think it goes strongly for nurture.”

“Oh yeah,” said Ed, biting his lip and nodding. “I think society and the role it plays in one’s life is of the utmost importance. Humanity is a social creature by nature…”

This is when Ed held up a finger. “So, this would mean it is nature, actually. And that the natural inclination of humans to be social would circumvent the nurture aspect of society, creating a conundrum.”

She cocked her head. “I don’t think I fully agree or understand.”

“This conundrum would mean the inevitable presence of an alternate form of communication besides language. How this evolutionary step would evolve is anyone’s guess.”

After that conversation, the remembrance and connection it presented overshadowed all others. Later that month, Ed took to social media to get some answers regarding the website, “Analog”, that Scarlet was wanting him to join. It already had over five-hundred-thousand users, and at least a third of the people he knew used it.

Ed didn’t like the answers he got; users complaining of surveillance, and viruses. Ed ignored these answers – he didn’t even know why he’d sought them in the first place – and continued his pursuit of the woman of his dreams.

And eventually, he found her.

Scarlet Joanne Powers.

“You found me,” she declared in her first message to him upon his friend request.

But he also found something else about her, besides her Analog profile. An unsettling connection she had with Ed's father – Elliot – also existed, through Marjorie.

Ed dreamed about the website. It perpetrated his wildest dreams… and nightmares. It infested every avenue of his social life. Every other conversation was about what one of his peers had shared or posted on it. Eventually, he began talking to people at school even less than he did normally.

His prime social directive had become impressing Scarlet. He posted and interacted as much as he could on The Analog. When he knew his father and Marjorie were throwing another party, he would advertise it on the website. He had gotten well over half of his Sophomore class to join in under a month, and after spending it all hanging out and sitting with the Seniors and Scarlet’s friends – who really didn’t care all that much for him – Ed Green had rapidly become one of the most popular names in Peninsula High.

So, too, did Analog.

***

"Dad," Ed asked in the car on a ride to town one day, Scarlet on his mind as usual. "How do you know if you're in love?"

Elliot chuckled a little, "well, son, its something you just sort of know. As a rule, if you have to ask if you are or not, you're probably not... but-"

He trailed off into thought, probably of his own first love.

Ed decided to draw a picture of her, emulating the biomechanical design of H.R. Giger, his favorite artist and her second favorite after Alex Grey. She was flattered, and every day after that, he tried to bring her things. He tried to talk to her as much and as often as possible, but seeing how she always sat with her friends at the seniors' table it was almost an exercise in futility, due to him clamming up around large groups - particularly ones that knew each other.

Eventually her friends started to get annoyed with him always sitting in silence, despite his best efforts to say something here and there, and his rampant social anxiety.

More and more, their conversations were restricted to Analog, until one day, he rarely spoke to her at all outside of it.

***

When the next party came about, Elliot was on a business trip and had left Ed in charge of the house (and party). Ed had overheard his father’s friends advising against letting his teenage son host a party in his house whilst he was gone, but Elliot had seemed determined to ensure his son had a good learning experience.

Ed had been getting rides to Oak Ridge and hanging out with his friend Jordan Ziglar since they first moved-in. Ziglar was a mysterious, “gangster”-type individual who mostly kept to himself, but Ed was one of the few he associated with. When Ed let him know ahead of time that he was throwing a party, Ziglar was one of the first there.

“This place is sick!” Ziglar looked over the barn where the party was being held.

“Yeah, and we got it all to ourselves.”

The second person to show up was Joey, a Senior who liked to drink moonshine. Naturally, he brought a case of six jars of White Lightening.

“So, who’s thirsty?”

The peeps continued to pour in over the next half-hour. An hour-and-a-half Ed spent peering out the second-floor window in search of Mack’s Volkswagen.

Finally, the trio showed up, right as Ed was finishing his fourth beer. And then, he saw her. The brilliant red mane and curls billowed from the back seat, and ardently pursued the raven-black tops of Mack and Morgan.

“Got a crowd here,” said Mack. Ed agreed, nodding eagerly. He offered them a beer, and they each took one.

After an awkward silence, Ed added, “We’re expecting some more here in about an hour.”

After another round of beer swigs and awkward silence, Ed decided he wasn’t drunk enough. He took his biggest chug of the night and shook his head excitedly, sighing with excitement. They shared a cheers. “Here’s to good times.”

“To good times.”

And with that, Ed finished off his beer. Right as he was about to pop another one, Scarlet chimed in with, “My sister – Christie – should be coming. She’s your age, Ed,” she added. Ed blushed with embarrassment, suddenly remembering he was the youngest of the group. Before he could respond, Scarlet’s phone rang. “Hold up, gotta take this.”

She stepped outside and talked with whom Ed assumed to be her sister. While it was just himself, Mack and Morgan in the downstairs studio of the barn, Ed decided to play some Richard James for the couple. “This one’s one of my favorites,” he announced, putting on the intense electro-metal instrumental track.

Finally, at long last, they were getting into the party mood and the awkwardness had begun to subside. Morgan began to bob her head exuberantly, and managed to coax the shy, standoffish Mack into a dance. It was about this time that Scarlet reentered with a small teen girl, another young lady and the tall, thin form of Joey.

“Who’s up for shine?!” he exclaimed more as an announcement than a request. They danced, the guys performing something akin to odd spasms than actual dance moves. Finally, Ed gave up and collapsed into a chair where he sat and continued to intoxicate himself. About five minutes later in between songs Scarlet brought over the girl, whom she introduced as her younger sister Christie.

“I’m Ed,” he slurred. “I’m not good at the whole talking thing, but its nice to meet you.” He wasn’t sure if it is what he said or how he said it that elicited laughter, but Christie burst out in giggles after he said this.

They talked for a few minutes, until Ed remembered what he wanted to say to Scarlet while he had the courage. However, right as he managed to pry himself away from Christie, and get Scarlet’s attention, her phone interrupted them once again.

She sighed. “Ugh. Okay, I’m sorry. Look, I promise I’ll get back to you on that but I might have to go. Just… give me five minutes.”

Ed nodded. “Sure.”

After about ten minutes, Ed inquired as to what was wrong to Morgan. She waved her hand. “Oh, just this guy she’s been stalking. Probably just him getting annoyed.”

Ed laughed. “Oh, yeah! She told me about that one in passing at lunch few days ago,” he said.

After another minute, Ed decided to go check on her outside.

He descended the ramp out into the driveway where he found Scarlet crying. She was gripping the phone tightly, and sobbing uncontrollably. “Scarlet?”

She barely acknowledged him. Despite having several beers, he offered to drive her home. She denied, saying she was best equipped to drive.

They went inside to tell the others they were leaving, Ed had agreed to accompany her home and keep an eye out.

As the duo pulled out and began to travel, Scarlet began to sob once again. “What’s wrong? You can talk to me, you know,” Ed coaxed.

But this only made her cry harder as they approached the main road. “He said he loved me,” she bawled.

“Are you sure you’re okay to drive?” he inquired but was ignored as she pulled onto the street. She began to cry harder, to the point of hysteria, as they progressed faster. He grabbed the steering wheel and her shoulder to beckon her to pull over as she descended into nonsense.

“Please, stop… STOP!”

He pled.

“Pull. Over.”

She cried harder, hiccuping and gasping through her hysterical melodrama. “Please… stop…”

But she persisted, “He said he LOVED me!”

“STOP!”

She rested her head on his shoulder, sobbing and gasping for breath as she calmed herself. “Please… shh… stop, please.”

“I am… so… sorry…”

“I don’t know what you’re sorry about.”

After a moment of silence, Scarlet managed to roll over and put the seat back. "I think I'm gonna take a nap, you should, too."

Ed sighed, his hopes diminishing rapidly, as well as his energy.

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea." He gave her a kiss on the cheek, something he immediately regretted but drew no protest from her. Being someone who respected personal space, his own being of paramount importance to him, he got out of the car and walked home.

***

The next day was a Sunday, and a usual day to sleep in. He awoke to find everyone gone, and the house an utter wreck.

"Hello," his voice echoed.

No response.

He decided to check Analog to see if Scarlet had made it home safely.

She had, and there was a message waiting for him in his inbox.

Ed moved the cursor over to open the drop-down widget, and hesitated.

Something told him that it was a message concerning what she'd said last night, he was almost certain of it. But what disturbed him almost as much if not more so was the way his mouse had stuck and drifted in an almost spiral pattern around the screen and down to the blue rectangle.

He opened the message. It read,

"Hey, sorry about last night. Look, I'm going to be blunt. I know you like me," his heart sank. "And I know you tried to make out with me last night," and it sank lower. "I shouldn't have led you on, I should've told you there was someone else I met at that party that I was trying to see the moment I knew you had eyes for me. Its hard to reject someone. Its even more difficult to say that it was because I liked someone else. I hope we can still be friends."

He was about to respond when he noticed the green circle next to her name materialize.

Ed hesitated as she began to type, the little grey circles bouncing up and down indicating finger movements.

The next message popped up faster than he'd anticipated, and it read simply, "Would you like to know who he is?"

But then a voice inside his head screamed, "It's your father!"

He wrote, "it's my dad isn't it?"

"How did you know?"

Ed closed the window and collapsed into his seat, unable to cry, unable to feel anything. He knew he was going to need alcohol. Ed marched straight over to Joey's, who he found - naturally - sipping a jar of shine and smoking a joint.

"Sup," he nodded. "You okay," Joe asked, noticing his pained expression.

"I'm fine, just... ready for round two," he said with a smile.

Joey returned the favor and thrusted the jar into his hands. "My man!"

After this he went home, passed out, and never dreamed of her again.

***

The next several months involved Ed deteriorating. Elliot didn’t notice at first, nor did his new girlfriend. That is until Ed had carved ‘FUCK HUMANITY’ into his left forearm. His father grounded him, but that didn’t stop him from lashing out into controversial coping mechanisms in his later life.

"You've gotta talk to him about pot," Marjorie blurted out with startling abruptness.

Elliot frowned. "Why, you know Ed's never been into any of that stuff. I mean-"

"Just talk to him about it," she suggested. "I mean, you'd trust a flower before you trusted any kind of chemical some doctor is going to push at him, right?"

Elliot sighed as he finished his beer. "Yeah, I guess you are right."

But when Elliot sat him down to talk to him, he found out he'd already tried it with his friend Joey next door.

"Well," Elliot began, patting his son on this back. "This is awkward."

They had a laugh together, but Ed still felt weird about it. When Ed got off the bus the next day, he was removed to find Marjorie waiting on him.

"How was school?"

Ed shrugged, a bit uncomfortable.

"Elliot told me you've been smoking pot without telling him," she said, but not with anger. "Come here, I wanna show you something."

***

She pulled out a clear plastic bag containing the most stomach-turning, shriveled, revolting mushrooms he'd ever seen in his life. He wouldn't have ever thought of putting them anywhere near his mouth at first, and assumed they were some form of homeopathic remedy.

"What's that," he asked.

"These, are magic mushrooms. They contain psilocybin, a psychoactive material that interacts with the brain and opens doorways into other worlds," she explained.

Ed narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean, like crazy tripping?"

Marjorie didn't react.

"When I was with your father, we would use these for depression and anxiety. But not only are they medicinal, they carry a power, a key - if you will - to other worlds. An alien dimension that surrounds everything." After a moment, she said, "tomorrow's Friday."

She tapped the bag and left.

"Take one after you get home from school, and make sure you're well hydrated and you eat a big meal first."

***

For the first thirty minutes nothing happened. Ed was about to take more, when he noticed something strange about the lights in his living room... they had begun to leave tails.

Every which way he moved his head the lights would shoot off in the opposite direction, like blazing orbs of fire and heat. This is when he noticed his hands and other objects around him were beginning to do this as well. As Ed continued his search for the bag of shrooms, which eventually moved to a Plan B of finding a cigarette, this effect became more pronounced and intensified. His hands eventually left perfect replicas of themselves, along with everything else around him.

Eventually, the light, the furniture, the appliances (his hands) all coalesced into a grand mandala of form.

Ed awoke the next day feeling like a new being.

***

At the age of 18 during his Senior Year, he had already befriended not only Ziglar but also a few of his other friends in Oak Ridge and Knoxville.

They had a tendency toward pills, due to his inability to find mushrooms for himself. Ed tried them once and liked the way they tasted, notwithstanding the way they made him feel energized and everything else around him in that moment feeling trivial and not important. He became addicted throughout his senior year and into his early twenties. He did a good job hiding from his father his newfound coping mechanism, but it did not last long.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to distract him,” Elliot suggested to Catherine, his girlfriend. After a conversation, she came up with an idea.

“A friend of mine from high school, Sherry, she has a friend – Juliet Donner – she knows from Chicago.”

Elliot’s brow perked up. “Oh yeah, can we invite her over?”

“Maybe not Juliet,” she concluded, her bangs appearing to wave in excitement, “BUT, we could totally let Sherry stay for a while, yeah?”

Elliot nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah… YEAH!” He raised a finger. “Yes, this may be the perfect way to get him to forget about her.”

“Just to be clear…” Cathy stated, leaning forward. “You were never into that teenager girl, right?”

“Who? SCARLET!?” He laughed hysterically. “No, no… haha, no. She called ME. On multiple occasions. I was never into her the way my son was. No. Not even worth discussing, mind you.”

Cathy nodded inquiringly.

Eventually, Ed was made aware of his ‘Aunt Sherry’ coming to visit. Catherine Heiler was close to his age.

Then again, she had a habit of getting heavily intoxicated and overestimating her attractiveness. “Hey, I wouldn’t be surprised,” she began, after he confirmed ad-nausea he wasn’t interested in her, “I’m hot shit.”

He went to go get his father, to announce his girlfriend was sprawled on the sofa making controversial statements. Soon after, Ed was sent a friend request on Analog by one Juliet Annalee Donner. They talked a little at first.

Then they talked a lot.

They had both been through the same thing: unrequited love.

After hours upon hours, days upon days, of unending deep and emotional conversations, intimate of the utmost nature, before he knew it, he was on a plane to Bucktown in Chicago – ready to meet the Love of His Life.

They cooed to one another how deep and intuitive their conversations into the inner workings of government were, Ed himself spending the last two years studying Hitler’s rise to power for a book project… with Juliet herself describing some of her own conspiracy theories.

When Ed arrived at the bus station she said he’d see her at, it took roughly a half hour before she showed. When she did, her features were obscured by thick black sunglasses and a large brimmed hat.

But she stood out, as she was all in black. Juliet waved to him enthusiastically. He looked down both sides of the road and then at the green light.

She waved him over, a local no less. “It’s fine, just come on over!”

Ed looked both ways, and took a deep breath, crossing during a lull of traffic. Although he was fine, the cars racing past behind him was something to get used to – as was virtually everything about the big metropolitan environment.

Back at her apartment on the third floor of a building squeezed between two larger buildings, he remembered waiting on her to unlock the door. “There, sorry, sometimes it’s a fucking asshole.” She continued bantering on about the door well after they had entered the room.

“Wow, this is something,” he gushed, drinking in the shiny, futuristic design of the expensive complex.

“Yeah, my dad – Frank Donner – is one of the most prestige fashion designers in Chicago. Kind of a rich prick, you know…,” she stated, tossing her purse and leather coat onto a couch.

“You know…” he began, half-chuckling, but wholly nervous. “I’m just going to get this out of the way, because I don’t know how else to…” he started to trail off, getting more nervous. “I… the main reason I came up here, is because I thought you… were hot.”

He started to laugh but then got deadly quiet. She sighed, sitting quietly on the wrap-around couch before getting up. “You silly teenagers.”

They didn’t do anything the first night besides make-out a lot. Ed was in an altered state of awareness from how elated he was. He was utterly euphoric, that he almost forgot he was in Chicago, Illinois.

“I don’t go out a lot,” she began during one conversation they had. “I get weird around people looking at me, I guess they’ve just never seen someone with so much surgery,” she’d explained.

“I didn’t notice – I mean, I just don’t think its that… weird. It’s just an enhancement, I mean. Nothing wrong with it,” he added in a save. “And, who cares what they think,” he shrugged, taking a swig of gin. “Fuck ‘em.” They ordered crepes and watched the gothic horror soap opera ‘Dark Shadows’. Ed honestly wasn’t that interested in it, but about half way through the second episode the situation began to get interesting.

The make-out session led to heavy petting, which led to other things.

“Are you sure you want this?”

“Yes,” said Ed, breathing heavily. Yes, he wanted it. There wasn’t much he was sure about, but this was one thing that he was. She let him take control, despite her initially dominant personality. His first thrusts were clumsy, but he eventually found his rhythm.

Two years ago, he would have never thought he would be here – in Chicago – losing his virginity to a woman over a decade older and more experienced than he. But, somehow, it came naturally, despite his social awkwardness and inability to talk to women. She liked him. A lot. And he could tell.

They began to get louder, and Juliet hissed at them – half to him, half to herself – that they were ‘watching’. She grabbed his hand and put it over her mouth so her moans wouldn’t wake the upstairs tenants, he presumed.

Eventually, she decided it was her turn to be dominant. She took him with her legs, and spun around on top, and he felt things he’d never imagined possible.

About three hours later, she stopped in a moment of shock and slammed the laptop shut, putting her hand over his mouth, clasping his fingers tightly over her own. He wasn’t sure about how dominant and aggressive she was, but it certainly didn’t bother him after awhile.

Another three hours went by and the pale twilight began to leak into the apartment, and they both passed into unconsciousness in the guest bedroom.

He’d only intended to stay for a few days, but those few days turned into a week. Every day of the week was virtually the same, glorious, solitary ecstasy. It wasn’t until he was to go back to Tennessee the following night that he met a few of her friends and decided to go see the city.

“Jimmy,” he’d introduced himself. Jimmy Jae, a young man only a few years older than he of Korean descent.

“You bring him back here in one piece, you hear me,” she demanded softly.

“Oh, don’t you worry, we’re gonna wreck this town.”

Ed smiled. “I like this guy.”

Jimmy introduced Ed to Ted, a hair band rock-n-roller that lived across the street in a studio apartment. “Try some of this,” he said, offering him a handle of Chicago-brewed rum.

Its proof didn’t take long to get Ed blackout drunk. He vaguely remembered stumbling back to Juliet’s apartment, and practically collapsing inside. Juliet had been awake, but noticeably intoxicated on a different substance than alcohol.

“I don’t know if you’re functional, but I’m ready if you are,” she seduced, after an hour-long phone conversation chewing Jimmy out. Ed drunkenly shrugged, but then nodded vociferously. Juliet rolled her eyes and made her way down the hall. “Yup!”

She whirled around and shoved an index finger onto his lips. She then mouthed, pointing up with her other, ‘They are listening.’

‘How?’ he mouthed with another shrug. She held up her cell phone, and then pointed at her laptop.

“They hear everything.”

Ed assumed she was talking about neighbors, but over the flight home, and as he was getting off the bus, he wasn’t so sure.

But this wasn’t what he was thinking about the day before he left. What he was worried about that followed him home the most was what he saw that night.

***

Ed woke up to the water running in a haze of hangover. It didn’t hit him at first how long he’d been out, or what happened. But it all came back to him slowly as he stood up to find out he was still half drunk.

He came to with his hand on the wall, remembering the water was running. Ed then stumbled out into the hall and his feet promptly shot out from underneath him. He landed on his back in a pool of water, and he looked over to see it coming from the bathroom.

Ed quickly regained his footing and shot into the bathroom, slipping but catching himself the second time on the sink.

Juliet had fallen asleep, submerged in the bathtub. He screamed her name and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her violently. “JULES!”

He slapped her twice and hit her in the chest. She then rolled over and water burst from her throat, sliding out of the tub she hacked up more bath water, before coughing voraciously, sobbing, shivering, and out of breath. He got her a towel and brought her into the bedroom, covering her up with blankets. This night wouldn’t be a night of horseplay and fun, but a night that would horrify him for the rest of his life.

***

Ed had graduated a week before he went to Chicago, and had lined up a deal to rent a place in Oak Ridge a week after. He’d met the guy, a weird older man with a bunch of cats, through Ziglar and the job he’d gotten him at the pizza joint. His name was Tony - Tony Israel.

"Its dirty, dirty, I know, I know," the man rambled aimlessly as he shuffled from counter to appliance, from room to room. He seemed to like repeating certain things, perhaps once to the other person, and once to himself. Perhaps he just couldn't help it. Who knows. "But its good, its good. I like it, reminds me of New York - the Big Apple." He'd always add on the nickname whenever he talked about his home town, which was a lot.

"Just remember always keep the door shut so you don't let the cat out," he'd always refer to his legion of furry predators in the singular for some reason. His neighbors were even weirder than he was. Bob was a weaselly man with a shock of white beard and always wore a hat to hide his bald-spot. He very rarely spoke, except for greeting and goodbyes, wherein he would retreat to his paintings. Jeff was a large, overweight man who was un-apologetically perverted and loud. And Paul was always angry or irritable, and couldn't seem to stop talking about how much he hated tourists.

Tony usually didn't get home until midnight - with Ed's shifts varying but always ending at least two hours before Tony's did. This night he'd had to work a little bit late, but as he was clocking out, Ed got a text from Ziglar.

"Yoooo... been talkin to marj and scarlet. they said hi. Hang out?"

Ed didn't noticed her name in message field at first, and was about to respond when it hit him.

Scarlet.

He hadn't heard of that name in three years.

When Ziglar came over, one of the first things they did was smoke a joint and sit on the porch talking about 'Tool'.

"I never knew how good they were man," he exclaimed. "Scarlet was right about it, she was right about everything."

Ed got caught up in a memory he had with her, before he found out.

They were sitting on the hill outside of the school, waiting on the buses.

"Art is resistance," she said, looking thoughtfully out at the baseball field. "The Man wants to put his boot in your face and keep you down, and he might." She shrugged.

"But art is how we say, 'I don't give a shit'," she took a drink from her covert alcohol. "And laugh. Maynard once said, 'The idea is, if one can't heal from their art, then how can you heal?'"

He began researching their belief-system, the science of the Third Eye and the Fibonacci sequence.

He still kept in touch with Jules, but it wasn’t the same as it was before. He’d learned from Cathy that Juliet was in a dark place, and had a problem with heroin. Ed had done a little more research on pills, too – and was glad he did because he didn’t realize how close he was to getting addicted. Ed wasn’t the type of person to judge people or patronize them for their bad decisions; his rule of thumb was to live and let live, a philosophy his father held closely.

One night in 2012, after researching the alleged ‘2012 phenomenon’, when Ziglar and Joey – who’d met at his party – were planning a night of hanging out, drinking beer and eating mushrooms, Ed's power happened to go out from the wind storms. Ed decided to light some candles and use the data on his phone to download the Analog app. It was designed to download while his phone was off, so he decided to take a nap and let it download – whilst saving his battery.

A few minutes after he lied down, headlights poured in through his bedroom blinds. He went outside to find Joey and Ziglar hanging out the left-side windows of Christie’s Ford Focus.

“Wanna come get shitfaced with us? Happy Friday!” Joey shouted in his usual-incoherent drunk way. Ed didn’t think twice and hopped in. As soon as they pulled out, Ziglar shoved a handful of papers in his direction. “Take one. It isn’t strong on visuals, even closed-eyes, but it will give you a powerful fucking body buzz,” he said. Ed took one and looked at it. “You’ll feel like you’re in a fucking rocket ship, dude.”

“Straight to da moon!” shouted Joey. Christie popped out a laugh.

Ed was his usual awkward self, tripping out on acid and cringing on uppers and weed. Ziglar dominated every conversation, with Ed even one time noting sarcastically, “It’s Zeeg’s world, we all just live in it.”

It was as he interacted that he realized just how far away from reality he had become. The time that elapsed between these interactions was a frequency, a rhythm. Like it was programmed. Like HE was programmed. These transactions were ultimately unnecessary, despite their implication.

And, as he would find out, trivial.

He asked to use the computer, to check his Analog account. And that is when he remembered his phone, which began to vibrate.

The lights and colors coalesced with the rhythm. The visuals he was beginning to see were far beyond anything he had experienced before.

And then the unthinkable happened. His trip merged into his vision, and his vision… merged into the Analog.

It was at this point, his phone’s vibrations began to consume …everything.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

He saw Scarlet was online. But she wasn’t just online. She was in his mind. His DNA. Every cell of his body. Then, all of the people in his life, in the Analog, were part of him.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Christie was the first one to notice Ed was acting strangely.

Ed was sitting at the laptop, rocking back and forth. He appeared to be reading something online, perhaps concentrating intently on a particular story. But then she noticed something wasn't quite right.

His eyes weren't moving much, if at all. And he appeared to be mumbling something.

"Ed, you okay?"

He didn't respond, instead he kept his attention firmly on the screen.

Mumbling.

"Ed?"

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

She then noticed he was drawing something with his free hand. The guy was reading something online, talking to himself, and drawing a picture - all at the same time.

"Zeeg," she yelled. He inquired, making a loud stomp and running from the back room and down the hall to where she was at the threshold between the dining room and the living room.

"What's up," he asked as he spotted Ed. "What the fuck?"

That's when she saw what he was drawing.

Over.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

And over...

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

And over again.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Spirals.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Dozens of pages littered the desk around the laptop, each culminating in an "X" emanating from their center.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

"What the fuck, dude. Holy shit," she blurted, a bit too loudly.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

The line between Ed's thoughts and reality was completely erased. It was at that moment, that Ed was imagining that Timewave Zero - the 2012 singularity - was the realization that past and present do not exist. That everyone that everyone will ever know is merely a reflection of oneself - a form of psychological construct, along with all of spacetime, which was itself an illusion. That all beings shared the same mind, and that all without was in fact within. Through technology humankind had managed to expand our minds into the physical realm, and through Analog - all had united their thoughts and fears and dreams into one constant stream of pure consciousness - masquerading as graphics in cyberspace.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

And now, through the knowledge of the Fibonacci sequence, humanity had managed to bring form to the formless.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Explanation to the abstract.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

And now Ed saw the underlying secret structure to reality. The underlying source-code of the universe itself.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Everything was made of spirals. No matter where he looked or sought, everything was spirals. And everyone recoiled in terror their realization of his own:

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

That they were just constructs of his mind.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Thoughts in and of themselves.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Nothing more.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

"WHAT THE FUCK DUDE, HOLY SHIT!"

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

They were all already inside the Analog.

1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…

Then, he snapped out of it. He ripped the laptop from its outlet, and began screaming, “ANALOG IS THE END OF THE FUCKING WOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRLLLLLDDDD!!!!”

The laptop went hurtling across the lawn and landed, surprisingly, unharmed, just beyond the porch landing. Joey and his mom fought to restrain him, while Ziglar sat unnervingly in the car, waiting for Ed who had been – just moments ago – begging to go home.

The next day, Ed awoke to find out from his father that their house had burned to the ground.

***

Two Weeks Later

Edward, his father, and Cathy had been put up in a bunkhouse by their Uncle John. Elliot had the funds set aside to get the property he’d been aiming for for the past few weeks for a few months now, nearly. He just needed to work a few more to be able to have the funds needed to move them in.

Unfortunately, that would be just enough time for Ed's mental state to collapse into the perfect storm of insanity warranted for hospitalization.

At one point, Elliot had to apprehend him because he was beating their laptop into oblivion because he was solely convinced humanity was trapped within a massive hologram indicative of the laptop itself. He kept going on about Analog and Scarlet, although never directly related.

By the time it had come time to move-in, and Ed had filled up two full drawing pads of the spirals with the “X” emanating from their centers, Elliot realized it was time Ed paid a visit to Lakeshore.

The day before, he had been ranting and singing nonsensicalities about ‘killing bugs’ and ‘aliens coming to get him’, but what Elliot didn’t know, was what Ed saw in one of his filled-up drawing pads as Marjorie, Cathy, and his other friends were over detailing their crazy experiences at his age.

As they rambled on, Ed opened his book to see; written – not by him...

‘She crushed you into the Analog’.

He knew for a FACT he had not written that in there.

Because all he had put in there were the ‘X’d-out spirals...

***

It became clear to Elliot that he had no other choice, he had to take Ed to the Emergency Room. They took him into a room with a thick door, where a doctor who resembled Peter Griffin took his blood. He was then left alone as he screamed for his father, not understanding what was happening to him. He was joined by a television set with a robotic camera that tracked his movements and displayed his face on the television set before him.

Eventually, Edward Green passed out, but it was not the end. Although the demonically-ticking clocks lining the center of the ceiling beyond his cell had vanished, his insanity had not. He was still very much a prisoner of his own mind.

And as the police cruiser pulled up to Lakeshore with himself in hand cuffs, and the police officer with the reptilian eyes gazed at him as if he were over one-hundred-pounds of fresh meat, Ed knew there was something off about Lakeshore.

***

“So, we have you on this unit, Unit D,” the nurse explained.

“What?”

“We have you on this unit, we are going to be keeping a close eye on you, do you understand?”

But of fucking goddamned course he did not fucking understand what this fucking imbecile was spewing to him in his goddamned lab coat and his goddamned badge. He didn’t fucking understand anything that was going on. And it got worse.

He was stuck in Lakeshore for a month, before he was allowed to leave. They had to put him on constant observation, and give him drugs. He would find himself vulnerable once again, and it would intrude upon his reality in the most unexpected and simple method – hijacking his perception of activities of daily living; cleaning up a mess, anxiety unfolding during a social situation, his misgivings about the conundrum he had seen that night. This conundrum seemed to be attempting to manifest itself in his reality via said conundrum, through this ‘thing’ that no human being alive had ever before experienced.

Then something happened, Ed began to fight back. He identified the sequence, saying it aloud; “1… 1… 2… 5… 8… 13… 21… 34… 55… 89… 144…” with each thing he sat his eyes upon.

He started to see the sequence - the golden spiral - appearing everywhere.

People on the radio would stutter, and then say two words, to draw a response of five, and so on and so forth.

This then began to occur in conversations people had around him in real life.

The pattern would show up on his way to one of his case worker meetings, on buildings and passing vehicles. Sometimes they would group together, and he'd see 112, followed by 58, followed by 13.

It began to appear in the news. One day there were 11 people shot to death in a shooting rampage.

And the following day the DOW Jones Industrial average rose by 25 points.

He'd notice the patterns in words and paragraphs in articles he read online.

And he, of course, began to see the pattern in the arrangement of furnishing, objects on a table, and geometry in general.

Ed had to be committed again in 2017, this time he felt the hostile mathematical entities attacking him full force, this time with rasping growls and hissing ‘voices,’ while furiously researching the connection between mental illness.

And voices disguised as thoughts of being dead and in hell.

He then began to feel his thoughts as though they had become the edge of existence itself, and was unable to think and act outside of the mathematical sequence within which his individuality had been imprisoned. “I can’t tell the difference between my brain and my mind. My thoughts and my imagination are at war,” were what the voices said, hissing to him as he told the first men he ran into in the hospital. The man merely reacted with protestations of confusion and contempt.

The man in the room next to him had PTSD and had been a U.S. Marine. He’d been committed due to losing his nerve and proceeding to punch the walls of his house until his hands bled. His knuckles were swollen and purple and he seemed despondent, and Ed kept thinking that the man was going to kill him.

As he begged to speak to his father, the staff sent a man back to talk him down out of his hysteria, but it only made him worse. He kept thinking he was dead and going to a hell-prison, unknowing what came next. Eventually, they gave up and fed him an Adavan. But as he drifted into unconsciousness, the presence of the Analog sequence became more aggressive.

Another world of shadow and nightmares began to peak through into this world via Ed's malfunctioning thoughts, revealing itself in the sequence.

The smaller powers of the sequence revealed small creatures of shadow that peaked over the edge of his bed, and he turned toward the escalating integers, noticing the arrangement of the chair, the wall-mounted television and his bed were in that of a spiral face.

He pulled the covers up as the face gleamed menacingly back at him.

Humanoid shadows crept along the wall, threatening to yank him kicking and screaming down into his consciousness and into a hell-world where he would be flayed alive.

"I want to go home," he tried to utter, coming out in a timid and petrified whimper.

Down to his very consciousness itself, the voices coalesced into a bellowing growl speaking of the end of the world and him ceasing to exist as the aspects of his being were spread across an infinite number of psychopathic universes and dimensions of terror unlimited.

He then mustered, with the last of his strength, "I want to go HOOOOOME!!!!!!"

That's around the time the voices began commanding him to kill himself.

***

While Edward was away, Elliot had been doing research into Lakeshore. The establishment was a front for a secret weapons project to create militarized artificial intelligence for the defense department. The DOD had been attempting to monopolize cyberspace, and in effect, use the media to control minds. What they did not know was that they had accidentally unleashed a primordial entity that has striven to conquer Earth since its birth, for Earth was foretold as the birth place of The Nameless One. Elliot was a mathematical philosopher who had studied the Golden Spiral, which was the underlying source code of organic life on Earth.

Elliot knew that the way to defeat Analog, the Reaper and the final of the Four Horsemen, was through the Golden Spiral. He had to tell Edward everything.

About how Ed was an orphan, about how Ed was an empath. “Analog is the Reaper, son,” he began.

Ed was stupefied. “What?”

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

He shook his head. "I-I still don't understand."

His father then leaned in, his eyes wild and teary, and quietly stated...

"She crushed you into the Analog."

Edward Green was no longer Edward Green, yanked back through the visions he had experienced sitting at that computer desk.

The entirety of the room around him merged with him, merged with the grass the house sat upon, merged with the mountain and the sky. All at once Ed, or what used to be Ed, became not just one - but many.

All at once, he had not one face, but seven billion.

Within the blink of an eye, he had trillions.

The breath of a sigh, hundreds of trillions.

Everything that had ever before existed and will ever exist, become one instant.

The entirety of everything followed, turning inside out as the machine before him encircled him. Caressed him.

Grabbed him.

Erased him.

Consumed him.

***

The one thing he remembered from that night in the hospital was the label on the security mainframe panel on the ceiling of his room, reading, “ED GREEN”.

He screamed, but when he opened his eyes the next morning, he noticed it instead read “IAN DAVIS,” but most of all, the monsters were gone.

And Ian was himself again.

***

Ian Davis awoke with no memory of how he had gotten on that beach, in Jacksonville, Florida. He blinked and felt the water lapping against his skin and waterlogged clothing. He felt himself pushed further and further inland, until he immediately stood upright, bolted into wakefulness by the explosion.

But something told him that he wasn’t who he really was. He felt different.

The onlookers were distracted by the boat billowing black smoke in the distance upon the horizon, and Ian used this opportunity to get himself someplace where he would never be found – because he felt like he was in danger. But once he did so, he made sure nobody could find him, and he could relax and focus on what to do next. Ian sat his bag down and went into the bathroom to splash his face in cold water.

If you have read this far, I want you to know that the person looking back at you in that mirror, is winking at you because he really doesn't want to be the one to tell you what you're already doing.

You're lying to yourself.

You're already inside the Analog.



Written by D. Compton Ambrose
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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