by John Reyer Afamasaga
“Follow the flow”
Johnny Shawshank clenches his jaw as the convertible begins to shudder from the speed at which it travels. Absorbing the vibration, the vehicle shakes fiercely as it reaches inconsolable speeds, which camouflage Johnny’s emotions and his trembling hands that clench the steering wheel. Johnny feels that weightlessness becomes the weary traveller. His memories are a blur and his fear astir as blaring music attempts to drown them while the cut-throat creative aims the vehicle at the horizon. In between moments of sheer belief, followed by solemn bouts of doubt, Shawshank, a gambler, searches for reasons to justify his behavior. He feels the burning from the car’s body begin to melt the pedal he plants his foot on with conviction that entering into the REPRO, or the story in the sky via the screen, will end the misery….
Tears in the second horizon, which flap aimlessly, mark the hole where the convertible had entered. Imogen looks around at the faces in the crowd. The ones who had witnessed the only successful entry into the REPRO, via the front-end, bow their heads at the gaping void, from which clouds of metallic dust mushroom in burst-like gurglings from last gasps for air. Those who hadn’t witnessed John Reyer’s death-defying entry into the REPRO—via the screen some moons ago now to turn the plot which happened seamlessly, sending the driver back into the story without a trace—begin to understand what they see.
Bella walks toward the fissure, which stems from the apex where the three dimensions meet above her to the ground that begins to rumble. One can only imagine the ending to Johnny Shawshank’s life, or someone’s dream in the MMD or the MindMorph Dimension. The grinding of metal and rock is deafening for the inhabitants of the SenFenide Dimension or the dream dimension, but for Bella and Imogen, it can only be another subterfuge, one more obstacle standing in their way of becoming a unit, or family as it were.
By the time the sun is upon their necks, Bella, barely a teenager, and Imogen, still in her wedding gown, manage to say something to each other as they sit, their legs dangling over the side of the dock, the location for the unforeseen end to the REPRO. “Did it really happen?” Imogen’s enquiry of Bella, who is as dumb-stricken as the unlucky bride, sums up what both characters have been asking themselves since Johnny Shawshank crashed the convertible into the horizon at dawn just before Imogen was to marry Clarenta.
And when Bella, who was a child knocking on adolescence’s door when the question was asked, is ready with her response, Imogen’s hair is gray at the temples. The rising tide nips at their toes as the two women look at each other. “Yes, I do believe it happened.” Bella lays her head on the shoulder of the woman whose wedding dress is tattered and torn to console the soul they share, as it would seem. The answer to the question regarding the event that feels like it only happened this morning is neither soothing nor satisfying, but it is the only answer that fits the puzzle.
Eons later, tourists from the MMD or planet earth and entities from the AMD admire the ice-like statues of two women, or Frost Maidens immortalized in their prime when fate lamented their place in the SFD as fate would dictate. The statues, like many scattered around Neon City, commemorate the characters who existed during those lawless times before Johnny Shawshank managed to escape the SenFenide Dimension and dream dimension to the AmalgaMension Dimension (AMD.)
Their tour guide, Little Lazoo, a boy no taller or less charming than Bella was when she first appeared in the dream dimension in the REPRO called *BeautifulDistraction,” takes a moment as he pays his respects to Bella and Imogen and those who came before him, paving the way to congruency. The glass light train from the MMD appears through the horizon, still torn from when Johnny Shawshank appeared to have committed suicide….
In an open field, Metofeaz Litigatti takes off his headphones and tufts the fronts of his leather jacket. In the morning mist, life’s confusions and last night’s errors meld at a comfortable distance for Litigatti, who waits for someone to appear. Some of their mistakes he’s already assigned to his experience that the rising sun somewhere beyond the fog will forgive or put right. While the lighter ones—less of a burden for Metofeaz to carry—will be left in the shade of today at the trunk of a tree at the paddock’s edge where fickle fungi will grow over them by the time the sun sets—Whimsical the operative hopes.
His Ne0—TeleWorld Sliver reminds him of the intrusion JRA insists will work in LMLA-ink’s favor as another post appears on Facebook on John Reyer Afamasaga’s Timeline.
…Love that hurts is one-sided…a lone tear escaping…
The comment sidles under the YouTube link to James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something” like a thought that escaped from under his breath to exasperate someone looking the other way. Luckily, the Poet Soldier’s wall still only receives a handful of posts and comments from a few people who have befriended JRA on Facebook, leaving what John posts on his wall relatively easy to decipher during downtime when JRA is not writing etfiction or the plans that LMLA-ink rely upon for their next moves as operatives.
Metofeaz puts the Sliver, a sleek silver satellite phone, in his pocket and looks around the field of dreams as it were, normally a fantastical place where the sun always shines or the place where “Lilies, Lilac, and Lavender”—etfiction’s own type of wildflowers branded by the author—grow. ’Tis the place where the Tourist or Sharon Smith danced at daybreak with lavender in her hair and lilies in her hand much to Metofeaz’s delight. It is also the field where Rozelle Zofen wandered aimlessly when Jon Pierre, last century’s Poet Soldier, recruited the World War II siren and left her to wonder whether the stories from his diaries and characters, of which she was one, were real or not.
Through the haze of tranquillity and an eerie stillness, but for the moving mist, Litigatti hears music that rouses the followers. The same song is playing on his headphones and must be the accompanying tune for the Twenty-First Poet Soldier’s latest message that utilizes social networking to bring into the fold the latest servant or purveyor of LOVE, TRUST, HONESTY, and RESPECT. Litigatti checks the Sliver in his pocket for the post that the new recruit will respond to in person:
Drift on the beautiful aimless…wading thru lilies, lilac, and lavender in a field of your dreams—JRA <3
Metofeaz takes a step toward the mesmerizing haze. The authenticity of the good feeling vibe emanating from the cloud is unquestionable. The indescribable ambience lifting his spirit continues to draw the hardened soldier of many tours closer to the fountain of truth and love that he’s only ever heard of. The Ne0—Sliver vibrates again as the gifted leader, a new breed of crusader, globally rallies the faithful on the walls of the New Global Realm. The hypnotic and deliberate notation, selected with a simple message for the new generation fighters, swells the fighters’ hearts from finding a new hope tailored to their needs and satisfied with aplomb by another song from the Poet Soldier. The post continues LMLA-ink’s plan as JRA mixes in another hyperlink into the narrative as the online scribe finesses a storyline, each person witnessing its delivery, and therefore, becoming a character in the story-about-the-story-being-told, and its covert creation they will take with them to their grave.
Austere shadows, which line the halls of his memories, appear in the atmospheric spray that covers the scene in the field of dreams. The transposed images are rigid, standing tall so Metofeaz can contend with them and their stories. Fear of the past looms for a moment, overriding the heavenly experience toward which Litigatti believed he was walking. And then it’s as if a DJ mixes the music back in and the scary shadows become enlightened as silhouettes whose heavenly presence transcend the mortal coil and its cumbersome reality. The years of “doing what needs to be done” with little or no regard for consequence, which for Metofeaz, Lazoo, Le Mac, and Afamasaga and associates—ironically a lifestyle LMLA-ink found themselves in, due to the consequence of being born whom they were—had been costly. Nevertheless, the emergence of the new Poet Soldier from down under had forced the Network to take stock and look at its ethics and the way it operates, ensuring there is accountability for each operative’s actions. Years in the wilderness, during Hannibal Ammer and Tone Horroh’s leadership, had saved a part of Metofeaz from their corrupt regime and its illogical means and extreme measures to cover their tracks, which had become habitual, creating a culture marred by dysfunction.
Too frightened to reach out into the mist, Litigatti keeps his hand by his side. All of the figures’ faces Litigatti has seen before—where he can’t recall right now, but he has seen them somewhere in the forbidden past…The former sniper continues his selfish stance with his hands by his sides as the pleading looks on the faces in the mist beckon his touch, which he won’t give up.
In a muddle about what to do, Metofeaz goes over in his head the story thus far, in the seventh chapter of the STORYBOOK, to which he is obviously pivotal. The operative, known as Whimsical for his tendency to go off on a whim, grabs his Sliver from his pocket. He signs onto the portal or application using one of a thousand or so logins for accounts that are dynamically created and deactivated without trace that Metofeaz and the crew use to check the uncut version of the story-about-the-story-being-written. Litigatti signs on to the public domain to fortify any decision for what to do about the faces in the mist that seem to be pleading with Metofeaz to be set free.
Online, Litigatti recognizes from their posts associates of LMLA-ink; they post for and against JRA…their IP addresses are ghosted, sending those on LMLA-ink’s trail on a trip to nowhere. Onscreen, John Reyer appears to be in control and is unperturbed by the fiasco he creates effortlessly in the name of peace, giving the intelligence community something to think about, all the while tuning them and sharpening their processes. The enigmatic character who crafts the new code for the Network to follow even manages a smile for Whimsical, the operative who upheld the ethics (Ethics Jon Pierre Solomon, who raised Litigatti from birth, had instilled in Metofeaz) when the Network had the nerve to install Tone Horroh as John Reyer in its operations in the Americas. Litigatti reads through the raw data as presented by the Poet Soldier….
Metofeaz interprets the metaphor for a new beginning when Johnny Shawshank, in PART 1, drives the convertible into the screen of the REPRO. The seemingly selfish act of suicide—after Shawshank had given up hope when he had lost faith in his role from being sent back into the story again and again, like a recurring dream or nightmare, to right wrongs he in the end conceded that he had no control over—turned out to be the definitive moment thus far in the history of the cross-dimensional universe. The breakout by someone from the SFD or in a dream, breaking through to the AMD, symbolizes understanding of the subconscious layer of the mind, harnessing the dormant power of the unconscious plane, thus syncing the unconscious and the aspirations of the conscious mind in the AMD, thereby creating a pathway to congruency.
Imogen was a detailed profile of an agent in reality, who had infiltrated Network operations in Europe from 2007 to 2011. The Swedish beauty had to be courted and turned into a double agent and made to work for LMLA-ink till such time as her debt to society was repaid.
Litigatti agrees that Bella was pure character in the mold of Polina Rada, an orphan looking for her family, as the fog begins to lift, allowing him to see that the field is full of people. Metofeaz places the Sliver back in his pocket and takes a moment to assess the situation.
Metofeaz Litigatti, who is not one to be startled by anything, chooses to languish in this new vulnerability. The smile he would normally call upon to wipe away any doubt and place an adversary in no man’s land while he expertly executed a plan he was sent to deliver remains hidden. The rendezvous, which was to happen at the darkest time of day, the moment before sunrise, is still a mystery to Litigatti.
The hundreds of faces that stare at the hardest-working operative of them all, waiting for Litigatti to make his move, are the hopefuls for the recruiter to pick from the latest soldiers to take the step up to the next level.
Metofeaz—whose role as recruiter is usually cloaked in a romance with the heartbreaker required to sweep a hopeful off her feet and take the willing candidate on a whirlwind romance securing the recruit’s services for life—thinks of the woman he recruited in the same field twenty years ago and whom he left at home sleeping to come to the rendezvous.
Litigatti shuts his eyes tight in hopes that his conscience will subside…the darkness behind his eyelids is peaceful and not the chaos of fretful faces that previously haunted the selfless servant. He breathes out a sigh of relief and opens his eyes again as he hears murmurs from the field of faces. Limerick upon elegy, from those vying for the coveted spot of the latest recruit, fills the void of envy. The music from the walls of the New Global Realm floats like air in and among the bodies breathing in the new atmos as Litigatti begins to walk among the vessels, ready to commit to the cause, one of whose leaders he was born to be.
The whispers become an axiom consisting of no more than a few select words; Metofeaz can feel the meaning of it in his soul, but in his out-of-body state, he cannot decode it. He reaches for the Ne0—Sliver in his pocket to switch it off, eliminating a further source that may be adding to the confusion—the voices, the music, the comments that attack him. The wave, which rises to a high when he understands the meaning of what the field of faces and voices are saying and then plummets to a pit when Litigatti contemplates action to take matters into his own hands, is as sweet as it is sour.
“…fantasy and fulfilment…” One of the voices is clear enough for Metofeaz to hear what he ascertains to be the end result of what JRA has in mind. Metofeaz strains his eyes to see that each of the entities, for as far as the eye can see, has a Ne0—TeleWorld mobile from which they read, and then they hold the device close as the music and words entwine to create a celestial yet real experience when he is able to touch the bodies without fear….
John Lazoo rolls over in bed, the one someone else had made for him. Genisis Jones, God’s gift to him and his sullen life, lies on her side facing the window, through which Sunday morning shines like the end to a nightmare that has lasted for almost an eternity.
John James Lazoo props up his heavy head with an arm, making a muscle. He quickly finds something to smile about as he imagines Genisis cradling their gift while she lies facing the rays directed through the window from a heaven above that must exist, blessing them and their unborn child.
“Hey! That kid’s already spoiled…share some of that attention, ah….” Lazoo, a self-assured person, laughs as he places a hand on his woman’s shoulder to assure her that he is fine with how quiet she has been following the revelations about her involvement in events of his past, of which John James was not aware.
Lazoo’s Ne0—Black Box flips on the bedside cabinet behind him, alerting him to what could be the LATEST UPLOAD or a post on JRA’s Facebook page. John Reyer’s latest comment for the crew—refocusing the TRUFUNK Soldiers, or more accurately prescribing for them a feeling or mood to approach their given roles in the administration of truth and love in their work—is carried on the wings of a song and prayer as the Poet Soldier posts.
Music from the post fills the room, making Lazoo smile at how some things never change. The Poet Soldier stirs emotions and then lassoes the atmos on the walls of the New Global Realm, a mystical name for the Internet as it’s used by LMLA-ink and the TRUFUNK Soldiers in the Third Millennium to combat evil that has plagued the planet for the entire first decade of the twenty-first century. Genisis’ hand appears over her shoulder for her man to take, a sign that the woman he adores for many reasons is still dedicated to the cause. “Read me the post,” Genisis whispers loud enough for Lazoo to hear.
Lazoo hears the request from Genisis…unsure of the weight she is under right now. Is it guilt from not having made life easier for him since their meeting in ’97, or is it just being part of the operation by the Network to recruit him, Janine Elton’s boy James, who now goes by the name John Lazoo? Either way, Lazoo, equally as forgiving as he is strong, musters courage as he decides to think highly of the woman who caught his eye in Central Park all those years ago.
Lazoo coughs to clear his throat…Genisis turns her head. The way she lies with her torso turned, exposing her enlarged breast, the body’s response to her current state as a woman, makes Lazoo weaker than usual for the one he still believes saved his life. Her eyes, which sparkle endlessly in sunlight, still make his eyes water when she looks at him the way she does when she needs consoling. Lazoo watches as her hand, which Genisis raises to his lips, prevents him from reading what she had asked him to read.
“You don’t have to babe.” Genisis has empathy for her man and what he might be going through, the aftermath of years of playing an illiterate as part of his identity.
“Do you still want to go to the dinner?” Lazoo asks, wondering whether Genisis, who is approaching her fourth trimester, is up to making an appearance at the get-together for Meigon and her daughter Sophie, which Polina has organized for this evening.
Genisis listens to his tone…it’s mellow, and not the terse yet chill sound of the enforcer whose reputation for humbling and then demoralizing those who stand in his way is well known. Lazoo senses that Genisis, who has a doctorate in psychology, is examining his mood and where he’s at today.
“I asked whether you wanted to go, ’cause I do…” Lazoo says as he recalls the morbid mayhem he was responsible for under Tone Horroh’s rule with Hannibal Ammer as their handler; Genisis might be thinking of it as she looks at him, regardless of what he has to say. He looks at his hands stained with the blood of many. And then he unconsciously touches his chest, which reminds him of the number of people he has had to kill in the line of duty; not all of the slayings can be seen as an act for country or for a more just and humane society.
Lazoo looks at his Ne0 Black Box. The feed from the app shows JRA as he describes the changes that LMLA-ink is undergoing in the story-about-the-story-being-written. The scene in the field of dreams is ethereal—it shows where Metofeaz is being tested and required to decipher the meaning of the chapter to show that Litigatti is ready to put the past and the methods he relied on previously to achieve an outcome behind him and trust the new process designed by the cut-throat-creative. For a moment, Lazoo envies Litigatti’s position where all he has to give up is the way he does things, unlike Lazoo, who in his role has taken the lives of many—irreversible and unforgivable.
Genisis Jones, who had suffered her own fair share of agony over the years, but never the humiliation of her man being unfaithful to her, sympathises with Lazoo as he and the rest of LMLA-ink face the music as the Poet Soldier cleans out the closet in the story in front of whole world. Lazoo concedes that the price of congruency can either be affordable or costly, depending on how adaptable or receptive one is to change.
“Share, please baby?” Genisis says as she turns over to face him. Her stomach touching his leg somewhat wakes Lazoo from the despair in which he often drowns himself. “I can tell when you have these moments….” Genisis smiles as she takes John James’ hand and places it on their baby. “Moments of clarity….” Genisis explains herself as she imagines the struggle the man she will marry is facing. “It may be cathartic to him, but for the rest of us it’s asphyxiation….” Lazoo says and she understands that Lazoo’s smile undermines what needs to be purged.
Genisis waits for his response to the baby’s kick, having been patient as John goes through what he needs to go through, after the years as a covert operative—a way of life he was thrown into before adolescence. Since discovering his true identity in 2006, when he read the eBook John Lazoo penned by a novice “who couldn’t string a sentence together to save his life” to quote the writer JRA himself, John James has undergone almost every form of therapy known. Genisis sees the Poet Soldier Jon Pierre Solomon’s diary, the STORYBOOK which John James’ mother Janine had read to James Elton as a child, on the dresser. The heavy hand-bound leather book and its stories, which are most likely responsible for the self-fulfilling prophecy that is their life, is one of the few things, by which John James can remember his mother. The story-about-the-story-being-told by John Reyer Afamasaga, the new Poet Soldier, as a chapter in his STORYBOOK at etfiction, the site where John Lazoo found out about who he really was, continues to roll off the presses online for all to read and not just the select few bound by secrecy.
On his Ne0—Black Box, Lazoo reads the story he is instrumental in and which serves as a metaphor for a demographic looking for its place in a society that seems to have forgotten about it. He feels his power and the gift—physic ability—he had not known about until he read the eBook with his name on the cover. His energy, which was becoming cleaner by day, allowing him to communicate with other nodes as he wishes, is still something Lazoo is unsure of as being real or just a trick by the cut-throat-creative, a former confidence man like John James.
John Lazoo is too emotional to think as he feels his son kick him a second time in as many moments. Next to him is the woman who saved his life by showing him what love is. In his hand, the story about him and Genisis Jones gives people of this new world an illiterate inmate as an inspiring character. And then their child will carry on the saga in a new light as prescribed by the new Poet Soldier.
A pregnant Genisis—whose perfect upbringing in upstate New York is starkly contrasted by John James’ youth spent behind bars from the age of nine—is weepy for more reasons than one. She allows herself to be swept up in the magic of the story being told when she takes the Ne0 mobile from Lazoo to get a first-hand taste of the serum that has become nectar as it transpires on the orator’s page online. The source of its charm is their love, which many a fan relies upon. Something tells Ms. Jones that the future is bright for her, Lazoo, and their baby, in the story JRA carefully crafts, foregoing a life of his own for the sake of his characters who have been torn from normality, and traumatized by plots that twist to keep the flame burning for a cause Genisis believed in as student and still does to this day. But before the new lineage prospers from past endeavours by the collective founded in the ’80s, bringing together four teenagers from across the planet and their friends and the lessons that LMLA-ink had leant, a time of atonement, which is self-managed according to one’s conscience, has to be served. The rightful leader of the gang of talented but wayward youth has finally taken back his position, a feat that took the recognized Poet Soldier a decade to do. The commitment the leader and the author of the manifesto, to which Genisis and the characters cling to, is an example of the devotion required to be a shining light by which followers light the way in their lives in the early parts of the twenty-first century.
John Lazoo sees and acknowledges the attachment and the affinity he and his woman wholeheartedly share for the work, as Genisis holds the Black Box in both hands like she reads a letter she has been waiting on from someone close and dear to them. She begins to read out loud, pausing to look at John James for his affirmation that makes the event even more amazing for Ms. Jones.
Many moments stand out over the years for the two hearts for whom love was made. The summer days in the late ’90s in Central Park back in the beginning when Lazoo stole Genisis’ lunch under false pretenses is a moment Ms. Jones still doesn’t let Lazoo live down. He recalls the nights in New Orleans following John Lazoo’s acquittal of the murder of seven men, and of course when Genisis gave John the ultimatum to leave New York and come home with her to meet her parents instead of going back to Harry Clarenta’s mansion moments after his acquittal. And who can forget the first date in Harlem on an unforgettable Friday night in the Big Apple? All of them finished on a high for Genisis Jones and John Lazoo…in the park, Lazoo wished for a buxom babe with blue eyes in a convertible; instead, he got to talk to Ms. Jones, the love of his life, for the first time...in New Orleans, Genisis confirmed that John James wasn’t using her as an operative, which Lazoo didn’t know she was at that time…When Genisis gave John James the ultimatum to come home with her to her parents’ place, following his trial for murder, which her parents had watched in the media, it was a rebellious act for which she needed his support. His plan was to go to Harry Clarenta’s mansion and execute Clarenta, who was responsible for him being tried for murder. And on that unforgettable first date, looks, charm, and destiny created chemistry which cast John Lazoo and Genisis Jones in a love story history will not forget, albeit that one was an outcast and the other was from the middle class, because it was their destiny to find each other.
Lazoo suddenly becomes swept up in the moment they share with the rest of planet. When their baby kicks his parents, creating another moment the three of them will remember and be remembered for, Lazoo grabs Genisis. The embrace is tight, so it hides tears Lazoo’s mother taught him he must cry when they overwhelm him so he might know his pursuit is of Love and Truth and not one of folly. The portrait of two people holding onto each other for life, their love so true that it paints a perfect picture of an ideal like no other image can promise, is instantly transposed upon the minds of those who read about the scene in which Lazoo comes to terms with vulnerability. Lazoo’s body and mind encompasses his woman’s as the exposure he has allowed himself to be subjected to acts as a torch.
While weeping, the enforcer, known for his magnetism, cries into the arms of his woman the truism that he and his comrades must follow:
“Follow the flow for a flight of fantasy and fulfilment…”—John Lazoo <3
The beep on the Ne0—TeleWorld Mobile somewhere in the sea of blankets reiterates on the walls of the New Global Realm what was just uttered in love across the planet for followers to believe in….
BACK to the STORYBOOK