THANKS, DOOR

Actual Door

We have a door in the hallway that turns half of the apartment into a panic room. It’s rated to withstand fire from an AK-47 and when the locking mechanism is triggered, bolts slide and lock at multiple junctures on three sides. It’s solid. And it’s been the center of attention in many of the daydreams I inevitably daydream while I navigate the routine monotony of important yet mundane house husbandry tasks.

There is a certain paranoia that arises from simply having the door. That the door is even there increases the likelihood of a home invasion! And dealing with a home invasion is exactly what all my door daydreams are about. Except that in my daydreams I rise to the challenge like Liam Neeson and fight back!

Typically, there will be instances where I’ll need to retreat behind the door to regroup, but once plans have hatched, the door goes from being the provider of safety to the hinderer of vengeance!

In some daydreams, the neighborhood has been overrun with terrorists going door-to-door wreaking pillage and havocking. But my quick thinking resolves to make sure provisions are retrieved from the kitchen and cupboards. If we’re going to use the panic room, we’d better not need to leave. Of course, while we’re safe and cozy a quick look down to the street from our third-floor window proves not everyone is so lucky and it’s my job to save him…her…them. The door stopping evil from entering must open once again!

When you read all the Lee Child books and watch the entire A-Team television series from the 80’s you’ll understand where I’m coming from on this.

Anyway, door. Thanks.

NARCOTICS SHOULD BE DECRIMINALIZED

It is certainly refreshing that more and more people are taking up the issue of drug policy and the negative effect that the criminalization of narcotic use has had on society.

My personal view is that ‘traditional’ narcotics should be decriminalized and regulated the same way alcohols and tobaccos are. Marijuana is a good start, but I firmly believe that any substance harvested from the natural environment should be decriminalized and regulated. This would include, among others, cocaine, heroin, mescaline, ibogaine, DMT, and psilocybin.

The first and most important reason for this is science. Criminalizing narcotic use and possession provides researchers very little opportunity to study these substances. I don’t have time to get into the importance of these substances throughout human history, so let me just say. Narcotics, especially the ones mentioned above, have been very important throughout human history.

Furthermore, with so little modern research carried out, how can we take seriously the view that these substances hold no scientific significance? Again, throughout human history we have evidence that this notion is ultimately just some shabby rationale for its prohibition. To say that myriad great ideas have zero relationship with various narcotic substances is, quite frankly, wrong… perverse…specious!

But, you ask, what about the social consequences of legal narcotic use? To which I ask you, what are the social consequences of illegal narcotic use? I’m going to wager that the cost, in each and every context of the word, would have a much less detrimental effect on society than it does to keep them illegal. Replacing punishment with education and health care would benefit society. It’s harder, but in the long run, it would. Just look at what education and health awareness has done to cut back on the number of tobacco smokers? There are still smokers, but there are less of them.

Not one individual on this planet is ignorant of the fact that trafficking narcotics is brutal and lucrative. The illegality of this, fundamentally agricultural sector, makes it vastly more lucrative, which in turn fosters the brutality of its day-to-day operation. And since most narcotics wholesalers rely on distributors that are engaged in other criminal activities, an entire agricultural sector has turned millions of subsistence farmers into subsistence criminals and slaves; since many are forced to grow narcotics at the threat of extreme violence and no legal recourse.

By decriminalizing and regulating narcotics you immediately free farmers from a significant amount of exploitation.

II.

When illicit substances are harvested, they are then transported all over the world to be distributed and sold literally everywhere. With these activities currently illegal, criminal groups with zero regulatory oversight and accountability play a cat and mouse game with law enforcement and wage war with rivals. The cat and mouse game with law enforcement is a waste of resources. The constant conflict between rivals destroys communities and is the source of suffering far greater than the individual suffering associated with an addiction. This issue is huge, so I will do my best to be brief. The beds won’t make themselves.

Profit from one thing opens doors to invest in other things. The best example I can think of in this regard is Google. Google’s vast fortune, at least from my understanding, is ad revenue. That ad revenue allows Google to invest in products and services that may not necessarily make money right away. This is exactly what happens in the drug trade. A ‘shrewd businessperson’ involved in the drug trade can use profits to invest in other products and services; for example prostitution, gambling, etc. If you’re already a criminal, expansion into legitimate forms of business is a lot harder than expanding into additional criminality. Simply put, it is much easier to conduct entirely illegal operations than conduct both legal and illegal ones.

More importantly, groups involved in the drug trade are not static, rigid, groups. Successful groups must invest in additional manpower to expand and earn higher profits. Everything a criminal group does, apart from violence, is similar to the practices of legitimate businesses except that when a syndicate brings in new recruits they are taking citizens outside the law and turning them into criminals. Think of how many “criminals” are created this way. The vast majority of people employed by the drug trade have families to feed, get paid a salary the same way everyone one else actively employed does, and do not carry a weapon. Except, they relinquish considerable rights as citizens the instant they accept a job in the drug trade.

By decriminalizing and regulating narcotics you immediately free rank-and-file workers from a significant amount of exploitation.

III.

While raw materials are harvested, processed, and distributed far and wide, a vast infrastructure lurks to enforce the law by prosecuting employers, employees, and customers. Think about that for a second. Employers, employees, and customers…it’s absurd and it represents a gross misallocation of resources.

I recently read that in the UK, one million hours of police time are wasted each year simply policing the ban on smoking cannabis. Just cannabis! Think about how much time is wasted policing the ban on all naturally occurring narcotics. And with the police arresting so many non-violent actors in this game of cat and mouse, how many million hours of courtroom and prison time are wasted because of criminalization? It is an absurdly gross misallocation of resources and contributes greatly to the cultivation of detrimental occupational hazards within the police and correctional services, not to mention ruining the lives of so many essentially innocent people employed in the industry or those who have freely chosen to pay for and/or consume the illicit merchandise.

I want to respect the police. I want to support them. We need the police. They provide an essential service and the community should trust that they will keep them safe and help them in times of need. Current drug policy prevents this in more ways than one. Again, this is a big issue and there just isn’t enough time to get into everything. There is an exploratory group of ants in the dining room I need to annihilate.

IV.

"This special edition of 'COPS' is filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement. The suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."

If you want some great visuals on how policing illegal narcotics negatively impacts not just the community, but also the profession of policing, watch COPS. What a show! In one episode, a team (a team!) of officers spent an entire day (entire day!) selling (selling!) nickel bags (nickel bags!) of pot (pot!) to people and then arresting them. Remember, arresting someone for anything sets in motion an entire process encompassing the time and effort of countless individuals. The police were arresting these people simply because they had decided to take a break and crack open a five dollar bag of pot instead of an eight dollar craft beer or 89 cent 40oz.

I distinctly remember one of those arrested was a single mom and I seem to remember ‘child services’ being notified. This is sad! And it’s these misguided police tactics that turn officers of the peace into PIGS. I know there are other issues at play with regard to the public perception of police, but the criminalization of drugs and the persecution of partakers do not help. Current drug policy encourages the police to arrest and prosecute drug users, thus alienating a large number of people and turning them into adversaries; drastically limiting the amount of police/public cooperation. Indeed, the effectiveness of a police force, in my view, improves if the community is willing to cooperate with them.

Statistics on the negative social effects brought about by the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of individual drug users are really, really depressing. Families are broken up. Jobs are lost. Poverty is exacerbated. That the police are directly responsible for much of this is an injustice and must, without a doubt, weigh heavily on the psyches of individual officers.

By decriminalizing and regulating narcotics you immediately free police officers from a significant amount of (reluctant?) persecution.

V.

So you were arrested for buying a nickel bag of pot. A quick check of your ID in the squad car indicated that this wasn’t the first time you’d been caught so you’re looking at being handed a mandatory minimum sentence. I’m not going to get into minimum mandatory sentences. It’s and entirely different topic and involves a wide spectrum of criminality. However, due to minimum mandatory sentencing, countless drug users are spending more time in prison. I’m also not going to get into how horrible prison has become. Again, this is an entirely different topic and involves a wide spectrum of criminality. However, I will say that it doesn’t feel right placing non-violent drug users in close-quarter proximity with people convicted for violent crime. It. Just. Doesn’t. Make. Any. Sense.

VI.

You’ve successfully completed your prescribed punishment. You are a free person! Slow down. You now have a police record, and depending on where you live, you’ve lost your right to vote. Finding a job that doesn’t give two hoots about your police record is difficult. Prison made you hard. Prison was psychologically taxing. Your family doesn’t understand. Or maybe they do, and that makes it worse. The brochure you were handed on the way out of prison about transitioning back into civilian life was insufficient. “Fuck the police”.

VII.

Have you seen the movie HEAT (1995), with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro? Great movie. Remember when De Niro spots an old prison buddy (Dennis Haysbert) at the Diner and offers him a job driving the car for the bank heist? That character provides a decent portrayal of someone who has gone through the system only to be taken advantage of upon release. Pushed to where committing crimes they wouldn’t have committed before prison have a greater allure. In the movie, Haysbert is trying to make life work. We know this because there is a scene with him and his significant other discussing it.

Just two people, perhaps reunited, who are trying to get their lives back on track. Except one of them is an ex-con. His boss treats him like shit because he’s on probation so any back talk or refusals could mean going back to jail. A shitty boss can lord over ex-cons, especially those on probation, in ways they can’t with workers who have a clean record. Probation can be anywhere between six month upward of ten years. If you piss off that shitty boss, all he has to do to get you sent back to jail is lie to the probation officer. I’m not entirely against a shitty boss lording over someone who’d been convicted of child molestation. But not someone who got caught with a nickel bag of weed.

I’m veering off track and I have a drawer of t-shirts to organize. Basically, Haysbert is miserable at his job and when De Niro offers him the getaway driver position for the bank heist, he takes it, and dies.

VIII.

Criminals should pay a price for their crimes. No doubt. But the farmers, processors, distributors, sellers, and especially users of illegal narcotics are not, in my view, criminals and should not be treated as such. The business of drugs should be legitimized, regulated, and taxed appropriately. The users of drugs should be provided with safe, clean, and consistent means of both procuring and using narcotics. Issues associated with addiction are important and dealing with them would become much easier if illegality wasn’t an issue and the prison system wasn’t expected to deal with it.

IX.

I want to respect taxation. I want to support it. We need taxes. They pay for essential services and the community should trust that they would be spent appropriately. Current drug policy prevents this in more ways than one. Again, this is a big issue and there just isn’t enough time to get into everything. A pan is wicked greasy. It’s going to require a lot of attention.

X.

Sin taxes and regulations restricting the production and sale of alcohol and tobacco have been around for quite some time and I firmly believe that this is the only way forward with regard to drug policy. As I have mentioned a number of times, this is a big issue, but I would like to share a simple model which I think would work. Also remember that for this model, all currently illegal naturally occurring narcotic substances are decriminalized, regulated, and taxed. I am not including synthetic substances like LSD, Meth, etc. I just can’t see capitalism dealing with the guaranteed profits of developing “new and improved” synthetic substances honestly or ethically. So, in order to at least start somewhere, let us simply consider drugs that are farmed.

To begin with, a blanket tax rate for all drugs won’t work, so each and every drug should have it’s own tax rate applied. It is important to treat each drug differently and apply different tax rates on each. It makes sense that the tax on cigarettes is greater than the tax on; for example, wine, since cigarette related illnesses are more expensive to treat than wine related illnesses (I’m guessing!). With that in mind, it is safe to say that the tax rate applied to cannabis should be lower than the tax rate applied to heroin.

Great effort should be made to use money raised through the adoption of sin taxes on education, research, and treatment.

Educating people on the negatives of cigarette smoking has done much to curb tobacco use. If as much effort went into educating people on the effects of drug use similar successes could be achieved.

Drug research can only benefit society. Nothing more needs to be said. It’s just that simple.

Treatment is costly, but its far more humane than throwing someone in prison. The heavy use of some drugs points to potential mental health problems and again, treatment trumps prison. We must, as a society, stop viewing drug abuse as some kind of deviant criminal activity. It is often a cry for help, and never a cry for punishment.

Regulating the drug trade is by far the most important aspect of all of this as it would take thousands out of a life of crime, normalize their lives, and give them the ability to take advantage of the same rights and privileges afforded to the rest of society. Regulations also mean that drugs are manufactured under strict guidelines, just like cigarettes, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals are. This would drastically reduce the number of hot shots, improve the quality of the drug, and ultimately make it safer to use.

When drugs are decriminalized, criminal networks would still be breaking the law since they would be selling a decriminalized product that does not meet standards. What I mean is this. I’m pretty sure car companies can’t just sell a car that does not have seat belts and that did not go through crash testing. The same would be true for criminal networks that sold drugs illegally. Now that drugs are decriminalized and regulated, they would then be required to fulfill requirements similar to the requirements placed on cigarette, alcohol, and pharmaceutical production. Again, requirements would differ between products. Enforcing regulations similar to the way the FDA enforces regulations is way more realistic than simply putting everyone involved in prison for lengthy periods of time and marking them for life with a criminal record. If individuals are guilty of selling a tainted product (any product!), they should serve time for doing so.

Legitimizing the business of drugs will make moving into unrelated criminal activities less appealing, or at least sever their direct relationship, and as I said above, criminal activities are primarily funded by drug sales. Simply put, drugs are the easiest and most popular criminal activity if you want to make big money. Being a drug dealer is easier than being a pimp or setting up an underground gambling house. And if you are a successful drug dealer with aspirations of greatness, the only real avenue available is other criminal activities. Now I don’t honestly believe that, for example, the mafia, will all of a sudden forget about their brothels, gambling houses, racketeering, and the rest of it and dive right into legal drug production. What I do see, is the mafia losing a serious cash cow. And I see law enforcement having more resources at their disposal to go after them for serious crimes like human trafficking and racketeering.

Legitimizing the business of drugs would allow companies involved in the drug industry to do other things with their profits; even eccentric things along the lines of Elon Musk and Richard Branson. There is a lot of money to be made; which means there will be a lot of money that could then be directed at other endeavors; legitimate endeavors inside the law.

XI.

With all this said, I do not believe drugs should be allowed for sale just anywhere. I’m not a fan of the dispensaries approach, and with growing acceptance; I would hate to see the sale of drugs widened to gas stations and supermarkets. What I propose is the model currently in place in Ontario, Canada where beer and alcohol are sold at provincially owned shops (The Beer Store, and the LCBO). There are pros and cons to this model, but I can’t get into them right now. It’s Friday and that means the wife is home early from work and shit I’d put off doing all week need doing. Time is tight. However, a third provincially owned shop would need to be created for the sale of cocaine, opium, heroin, and niche products like mushrooms, DMT, and other psychoactive roots, berries, fungus, etc. Since Ontario also has universal health care, setting this third retail entity up is a much less costly endeavor since retail space could be set up at walk-in clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare related locations. From a public safety point of view this just makes sense.

In the same way that alcohol content information and tar and nicotine levels are required for cigarettes and alcohol products on the market, similar information should be required for all drugs. Cannabis, for example, comes in countless strengths because of breeding and cultivation. Methods for determining the strength of various cannabis compounds (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, tetrahydrocannabivarin, endocannabinoids, etc.) would need to be set up to ensure consistency so that consumers do not unintentionally purchase a product that is significantly stronger than they’re used to. This would be required, to the extent that it is possible, for all drugs and their packaging. Making drugs available to the public through health care related facilities would also put users close to health care professionals; increasing the chance that heavy and problematic users receive information they wouldn’t necessarily receive from private sector sellers.

XII.

It is certainly interesting, in my opinion, that when it comes to drug policy the public has been so accepting of calls for greater spending on things like policing and incarceration and so opposed to calls for greater spending on education and health. It is peculiar, and I lean toward the notion that racism is the root, but I am not going to get into that right now. The recycling situation has reached critical mass. Nevertheless, drug policy that favors policing and incarceration does nothing but bolster public resentment of ‘the system’, fill the coffers of organized crime, and hinder scientific research, among other things. Hard work is required to adjust public perceptions of drug use and promote solutions rooted in education, healthcare, and regulation.

XIII.

I have not covered everything, as I have said many times, but I would like to end with one other opinion. I’ve read if drugs are legalized, crime will skyrocket. To this I say BALDERDASH!

Diamonds, for example, are expensive because they are hoarded by cartels like De Beers, and released to market gradually. Keeping the supply of diamonds limited makes them more valuable. The same sort of thing happens with drugs. The illegality of drugs artificially raises their market value because of the risks associated with their cultivation, production, shipment, and sale/purchase. Following decriminalization, the price of drugs would most certainly follow the same sort of economics that effect the price of other commodities; but no matter what, decriminalizing drugs would most certainly reduce their price, even with heavy taxation. Pricing drugs is a ‘fine line’ sort of problem, but I am confident that solutions are available. And, with drug prices lowered there are fewer incentives to criminals. Even if we consider the petty sorts of crimes that heavy users might find themselves committing in order to get the money they need for their next hit, I firmly believe that with lower prices and safer more consistent products, criminality would decrease.

By treating drug crops the same way other crops are treated, market forces would replace the forces at play now; drastically reducing so much pain, suffering, harassment, death, and violence.

How often do you read about people smuggling tobacco leaves or coffee beans?

At this point I feel like I am preaching to the choir, and besides, I’ve got to clean the rice cooker.

MELANIA

I think it is retarded that people have so negatively portrayed Melania Trumps decision to remain in New York City. She should be celebrated for having the courage to make that decision. And that she could stand up to such a puerile man so guilty of misogyny is even more liberating.

Not once have I heard someone, in the media I read, write anything positive. The issue has always veered off into tabloid territory; questioning their love and trying to figure out how much extra this is costing the taxpayer. You know what else would cost a lot of taxpayer money? Reducing the gender pay gap, but you never see a lot of people portraying gender pay issues negatively, do you?

Hilary Clinton would have been the first female president of the United States. Is Melania Trump the first woman who didn’t drop everything and follow her husband to the white house? Imagine if Michelle Obama hadn’t moved into the white house? It would have been months of nonsense editorials about African American family values with lots of charts and big data.

Seriously. I don’t think that wanting your son to finish up his year at school is a bad excuse for staying where she is. Regardless of whether it is until Baron finishes his semester, grade, or completes that level of education at the school he’s at now, it was her choice to stay behind. In this supposed, ‘day and age’, I think her decision should be, at the very least, accepted.

I probably wouldn’t have come to this realization had I never become an expat househusband and stay-at-home-dad. As an expat, you tend to meet a lot of other expats. That’s just how it works. Most of the male expats I meet who have been stationed here are with their wives and kids. Most of the female expats I meet are single or they are here (with the kids) while their husband has remained ‘home’. I simply do not meet that many househusbands.

That said, I should note that there is a man in my building who is here with his kids while his wife remains ‘home’ for work. When I’d heard it through the nanny-vine I found it quite surprising. The click bait side of my brain suggested he may be divorced and the wife is out of the picture, but god damn it; it’s POSSIBLE that his version is truer. It is difficult to resist the powerful draw of sensationalism.

MID-LIFE CRISIS

I guess some might say that, at 40, what I am going through is a mid-life crisis.

Before embarking, I should point out that I am not without happiness. I have a wife I absolutely adore and a three-year-old daughter whom I love deeply. We travel. We cook. We read. And we genuinely spend a lot of quality time together. So when you read my feelings below, please understand that they are quite possibly just the whimpering’s of a selfish bastard.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think that I have wasted a big part of my life. I realize that if I had made different choices that the abovementioned happiness may never have materialized. I get it. And I get that even if I had made different choices; these forthcoming feelings might still have appeared. However, as a 40-year-old man who has no career and no real employable skillset, the notion that I should have, at some point prior to now, worked harder toward building a career overflowing with skillsets feels like a credible regret. No matter how much it doesn’t make me feel like less of a man, and no matter how much I actually like it, telling others I am a househusband does not fill me with pride. I feel like if I had had a career, I could at least say that I ‘retired to be a stay-at-home-dad’ or something along those lines.

I used to be creative. I used to write, make music, and shoot street photography. Not anymore. Ever since the birth of my daughter things have been different. The creative juices that fueled my hobbies just ceased cold turkey. There are a few reasons this happened, and I am not sure getting into them at length is worth my time so I will simply say that I had had health problems prior to the birth, we’d moved in with my in-laws to save money while my wife was on maternity leave, and I quit smoking. Living in Gwang-ju, Korea without a gal bladder and cigarettes just wasn’t all that inspiring and it stressed me out.

I am mentally lazy and I agree that this is entirely my fault. I still read a fair amount of fiction, non-fiction, and news, but it all feels so much less mentally stimulating. When I was younger I couldn’t understand why older people didn’t give more of a fuck about the world. I totally understand now and regret every mean thing I said about ‘lazy middle-aged fuckers’. It is EASY to burnout mentally by 40. And with how early kids are getting started these days, soon it’ll be people burning out at 30. This isn’t to say that I don’t give more of a fuck about things, but it is to say that that giving a fuck isn’t as mentally stimulating as it was when I was younger. And without that stimulation, getting from phase one of giving a fuck to phase two of giving a fuck is a lot harder. Furthermore, I really should have dinner ready by 6:30pm, and there is a load of laundry on spin cycle. Shit doesn’t hang itself to dry.

SMILES

A group of people was walking through a forest lost. As they walked the image would shift from them in the woods to some buildings along some railroad tracks. The railroad tracks were rusty and hadn’t been used since the cold war ended. The buildings were in shabby condition, though it appeared they were still hooked up to the power grid. From images of the group walking in the woods toward the relic of the past, images of what was inside flashed intermittently.

A young girl walked slowly through one of the buildings. She was carrying a handgun, her face deadpan and sullen. She had hair down just below her shoulders and she followed with her eyes what looked like a blurry balloon. Once and a while she would raise her hand and fire at the blur but it didn’t die, and she cursed at it.

Two Japanese women were crouched over black body bags. The bags were filled with the bodies of unknown men. The two women were giggling at each other. One of them wore a black one-piece dress and the other wore blue jeans and a white blouse. Their hair was short and they had blood red eyes. They heard a sound and walked like crabs onto the ceiling and waited. From where they looked was a maze of black bags, stacked high, in a room that looked as though it went on forever.

The group of people arrived at the buildings and was confused by what they saw. The buildings invited fear and half of the group decided it would be best just to follow the railroad tracks north. The other half; hungry, tired, and curious decided to investigate the buildings. The group that had decided to follow the tracks sat down to rest while the group that decided to enter fanned out.

Screams were heard from every direction. The air had been silent prior to the first scream, but just as the first scream ended, a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and so on occurred in what seemed like only a minute. The group sitting by the tracks were paralyzed with fear and one commented that the screams outnumbered the people who had entered.

They knew they had better leave and find help and they began running north along the tracks.

A man, in his late thirties had entered a building through a side door. He was with two other members of the group that had decided to go into the building. They had not heard the screams. In fact, none of the group that had entered the buildings had heard the screams.

The man and his tagalongs found themselves in an office. One of the tagalongs turned on a soviet era photocopier and pressed the green button. Unlike western photocopiers the entire top half of the contraption swiveled as if the entire bureaucracy of it was working to scan a single image. The image that came out was of them on the floor in a bloody mess. This perplexed them and a tagalong lifted the lid to find it covered in dry blood.

A woman in her forties was walking through a large room. She had her hands in her back pockets and walked slowly scanning in every direction with her head. She was clearly nervous and as she turned a corner she found herself face to face with the young girl with long hair. The girl looked up and smiled. The woman said hello and the girl began to back away and lift her arm. She fired two shots. One bullet screamed past the woman’s right ear as the other screamed past her left. She dropped to the ground but was not hurt, though her hearing was gone. She looked up and saw the girl walking away. She looked behind her to see a blurry object on the floor, blurry blood slowly making a blurry pool.

The three in the office entered an adjoining room. It was large and contained hundreds of copiers in three rows. Each person began walking down a row turning each machine on and pressing the green button as they walked. They reached the end of the room and turned back to collect what each machine had produced. The images collected were frame-by-frame stills telling the story of the photo that showed them on the floor in a bloody mess. Shivers ran down their spines as they witnessed each picture. Each row told the story of their death and one began to panic. “We are just dying! Who is doing this to us? Does yours show who is doing this to us? Who is doing this?” The pictures showed their death but no image of who was inflicting the damage appeared. They just stood there swapping photos.

The woman who had lost her hearing approached the blurry object. There was a ringing in her ear that caused some discomfort. She stepped in the blurry pool of blurry blood and noticed that it was slippery. She crouched down to see what it was. She tried to touch it but her hand could not find anything to touch. She got up and walked in the direction she saw the young girl walk in and found herself in front of a locked door.

A teenage girl with blonde hair had found some empty rail cars behind one of the large buildings and noticed some smoke billowing from a chimney in the last car. She raced toward the car and found the doors wide open. A stove inside was packed full of documents slowly burning. On the table she found an empty can of tuna. Just as she placed the can back on the table boots came down from the ceiling and connected with her jaw and knocked her out. She woke up soon after and noticed that she had been tied to the stove, the heat from it slowly cooking her back. She felt no pain but knew she would die.

Panic came over one of the tagalongs and she began to cry uncontrollably and say she did not deserve to die like that. The others were calm, though they did nothing to quell the woman’s fears. They left her in the room and entered yet another office, this one covered in black dust. They found a refrigerator and noticed that the handle was free from dust and quite shiny. The man grabbed hold of it and pulled the door open. Dead mice began to fall from the space the door made as it opened and he jumped back and the door flung open; hundreds of dead mice piling up on the floor. The stench was overwhelming and they ran to another door and entered another room.

The woman in jeans looked at the locked door. She put her ear against the door to listen for activity but the ringing in her ears made it impossible. She moved away from the door and with a swift movement of her leg kicked at it a few times until it swung open. The room was empty except for a table, chair, and typewriter. There were windows on three of the walls and she looked out each of them to see a garden filled with roses. Looking out the third window she saw the young girl with long hair walking slowly toward another building. She opened the window and called out to her. The young girl kept walking and ignored the cries coming from the window just a few hundred feet away. Tired and scared, the woman sat at the table and looked at the typewriter.

The woman who panicked pulled herself together and ran to the room the other two had entered. The smell of the mice made her eyes water and she ran to the door they had opened. She found herself once again with the two men. They looked at her and motioned her to come to where they were. They were looking cautiously out of a window and the man whispered to her to be quiet. She looked out the window in the direction they were looking and saw a young girl with long hair walking toward some rail cars. The girl stopped and slowly turned her head and looked straight at the three in the window and smiled. She began walking again and disappeared between two of the rail cars. “This place is fucked,” said the man as they spoke softly. “Who is she?” asked the women who had panicked. “Was she in the pictures from the copiers?” the second man questioned. They stood there and looked around wondering what to do next.

The young girl with long hair entered the car where the teenager was bound to the stove. She had passed out but the young girl poked her. She sprang to life to see a young girl with long hair smiling at her. “It’s going to be ok” she said softly. She went to a dresser and opened the top shelf. She took out a knife and cut the teenager down; her back was burnt badly, though she felt no pain. “Who did this to you?” the young girl with long hair asked. The teenager looked down to see the young girl was wearing boots and responded, “it was you?” The young girl laughed and said “yes” softly and began stabbing the teenager in the stomach and arms. She fell back and though she felt no pain, she knew she was dead. The young girl with long hair stepped back and shot the teenager in the face.

The three in the room who were resting stood up at the sound of the shot. The woman at the typewriter heard nothing, though what she read made her entire body tremble.

You can’t hear. But you can see. It would be better if it were the other way around. You should have gone north you stupid bitch.

The three in the room decided it was time to find the others. They began rushing through room after room until they found themselves in a small office. They had come to a dead end and decided to rest before heading back to find another way out. As the man in his thirties sat down at a desk, the other two decided to go into the previous room to look around. As soon as they left, the Japanese woman in jeans came into the room and began sniffing his face. He didn’t know what to do and just sat there motionless. She began softly running her fingers down his face and neck and rubbing his chest. She stood up and as she stepped aside the Japanese woman with the black dress ran in and began to do the same thing though this time she seemed more interested and more passionate about it. The Japanese woman in jeans left the room and the woman in the black dress shouted, “You are a liar!” and began biting at his face. He pushed her off and punched her three times in the face. The power of the punches was too much for her fragile face. With only three punches she was gone; the hair on his fingers covered in blood and brain matter.

He walked into the next room to find the tagalongs in a bloody mess on the floor. The images of the copier had come true for the two of them but he was determined to live. He looked up from the mess to find the young girl with long hair standing in the doorway. She smiled and looked at the mess and said, “Did you do that?” The man said nothing. He stood there and just stared at the girl. “Would you like to…” the Japanese woman in jeans came from behind the young girl with long hair and started biting at her shoulder. The longhaired one let out a bone chilling scream and pistol whipped the Japanese woman in the face and turned and began stomping on the woman. The man ran toward the young girl and bear hugged her. She began to growl and spit. She was wild with rage. The woman at the typewriter entered the room and saw the girl with long hair being held by the man who had been in her party. The man and young girl both looked at her and started screaming, but she could not hear either of them. She looked down to see a woman with a shattered skull on the floor and back up to the man holding the girl in a bear hug. She began to move toward the two, and sensing something wrong the man began to pull the young girl back into the other room. He did not know what to expect from the woman who could not hear. She would not respond to his questions, nor did she respond to the enraged young girl with long hair. Once in the room the woman who could not hear looked to see the two other members of the party laying on the floor in a bloody mess. She looked up at the young girl with long hair and smiled.

THE BEGINNING