Category: stress leave

Keith Ross Episode Nine by Ken David Stewart


Episode Nine

Keith and Brenda watched as the police car drove away with Tamara. As soon as the car turned a corner and was out of sight, Brenda sighed and looked desperately up at Keith.

“Keith, I need a hug,” Brenda said, as tears starting to run down her face. He hugged her and the two neighbors stayed in a tight embrace for over a minute.

 

When Brenda finally let go of Keith she asked, “Keith, can you come over to my house for coffee and maybe some pie or cookies?”

“I’m not working this afternoon. I’d be glad to come over. I think you need someone to talk to, my dear lady,” he answered.

“You couldn’t be more right about that,” Brenda said while letting out a huge sigh of relief.

Brenda owned a beautiful house in the Norwood Flats area of Winnipeg. She was now the sole owner of Brenda’s Cleaning Service. She had contracts with many major business offices in the city as well as having a solid base of residential clients. Brenda ran a successful janitorial service business that was known for its efficiency, reliability and charging reasonable and affordable prices for services rendered.

Before she set up her own janitorial company, Brenda had been a very successful and respected grade six teacher up until her last teaching assignment. During this time, Brenda was hit with a bombardment of both personal and professional crises. Her father had recently passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer and shortly after, the brother that Brenda felt the closest to was killed in a car accident by an impaired driver. That year the school that she worked at underwent a change of administration. Brenda now had to adjust to two administrators who had both decided that Brenda’s performance as a teacher was now below the minimum standards.

This series of crises, all coming together around the same time period, eventually pushed Brenda over the edge.

Things came to head on the day that one of Brenda’s colleagues found her in the staff shower room trying to hang yourself. A one -month compulsory hospitalization in a psychiatric ward, followed by two years of staying at home collecting long-term disability benefits effectively ended Brenda Cameo’s teaching career.047

Infinite Realities Excerpt Seventeen


Episode Seventeen of Infinite Realities:

“I can’t okay you for spending the next two years as a writer Rick. My supervisor, the plan administrator would never go for it. In your rehabilitation plan he will want to see some kind of a conventional job. There’s too little money to be made in writing. Not every writer is going to have the success of a Stephen King. Most writers don’t even make enough money to cover their writing expenses,” Michael said.

“I figured you’d say that, but that’s all right. I have a Plan B,” Rick said.

“Will it provide you with a liveable income?”

“Yeah, it should.”

“Okay, tell me all about your alternate gig.”

“I’ll be a substitute teacher by day and a writer at night.”

“Now there’s a plan that’s feasible. I can work with that and I think I can sell it to the plan administrator.”

“I have another appointment to get to Rick. I’ll have to close off our meeting now. I’ll phone you to set up another appointment as soon as I get a chance to talk to my supervisor about your proposal,” Michael said as he was closing the cover on his metal briefcase.

“I’ll be looking forward to your call. It was a pleasure meeting you Michael. I’m sorry about giving you a hard time.”

“Don’t worry about it Rick. This was mild compared to the grief I get from some of my clients.”

As soon as Michael Reeves left David retrieved his tablet and was looking forward to getting back to reading The Devil’s Knot. When he picket the tablet up he heard a sound alert notifying him that he had an incoming text message. David selected the text message and began to read it.

“Hi, David. I must apologize for not introducing myself. My name is Darren Ross and I work for Infinite Realities Incorporated. I have been assigned to be your personal coach, mentor and advocate. In short, I am available twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, including holidays, to assist you with the operation of your amazing new piece of technology. In essence I am your customer support. What are you planning to do next with your tablet, David?”

David texted back:

I am going to continue reading The Devil’s Knot without any further disturbance.

Darren texted back:

That’s wonderful David. A man who loves to read. I want to greatly enhance your reading experience. I don’t want you to read about Damien Echols. I want you to be in the courtroom with Damien as he hears the judge tell him that he has been found guilty and will be sentenced to death by lethal injection. You will feel every emotion that Damien is feeling.
 

 

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Infinite Realities Episode Sixteen


Episode Sixteen of Infinite Realities:

“What are your books about?” asked the industrial psychologist.

“Nothing- and everything,” Rick said.

“That doesn’t make sense. What do you mean by nothing and everything?”

“That’s a good question,” Rick began. “I’m not sure that I completely understand the writing process. Especially mine. I guess it could be described as some form of stream of consciousness writing like James Joyce used in The Portrait of a the Artist as a Young Man.

I find it very difficult to envision or to plan out my books before I write them. I suppose I use the fly by the seat of my pants approach. I am definitely not a plotter nor a planner. On most days I have a burning desire to write something. I have a great need to spill out the ideas that are in my head on any given day. I like to get up early in the morning around four or five AM. I have my Frosted Flakes and coffee for breakfast and then I sit down at my word processor and begin to write. I usually find it to be a very enjoyable experience. I find it to be more efficacious for my mental health than talking to my therapist. No offense to my psychiatrist. I believe that she sincerely wants to help me put my fragmented psyche back together and to get me back to work.

In my opinion writing is much like talking to yourself. The writer pulls down to earth some of the fascinating ideas that are buzzing around in the universe and transfers them to paper as best as he can. The hard work comes when you get near the end of the first draft. That’s when I try to find some organic unity in what I have written. I look for a unifying theme and start the painful process of deciding what to keep and what to throw out. Sometimes I have to give up the whole novel if I find that there isn’t anything that I can do to save it.”

“That sounds like hard work,” said Michael who at one time had aspirations of writing his own novel.

 

 

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Infinite Realities Episodes One to Fourteen Inclusive


Infinite Realities Main Draft

Rick Chandler was a few feet from the door to his apartment. He was in a hurry to find his key as he could hear the phone in his apartment ringing. His son was probably calling him to see if his dad could take him to the next WWE live wrestling show. As Rick fumbled for his keys he was startled by an odd looking man that had come up behind him. The man looked very old with his long white hair and beard. He was very short and his face was deeply etched with the wrinkles left by living the hard life and his clothes looked like they were obtained from the Salvation Army or a thrift store. Maybe this strange little man had found his wardrobe in a dumpster.

Rick turned towards the man and said,” Look old man. I’m kind of in a hurry. The phone is ringing in my apartment and I need to answer the call.”

“I understand sir. This will only take a couple of seconds. I’m giving you a present, a new piece of technology that you will never wish to part with.”

Rick grabbed the object from the strange man’s hand and unlocked the door to his apartment.

When he got inside his apartment his phone had stopped ringing. All his attention was now focused on what he was holding in his left hand. The object appeared to be an eight inch Android tablet that did not have any logo or brand name. The borders of the tablet were florescent and changed color every two seconds. The colors were bold and beautiful. Rick was sure that he did not recognize some of the colors. He watched in amazement when the borders of the tablet turned translucent. The touch screen contained many apps with icons preinstalled. Rick was startled when he heard his phone start to ring again. He stumbled over a pile of books on the orange, threadbare carpet as he attempted to find his red mobile phone on his old, well- worn coffee table. The mobile phone was buried under a haphazard pile of magazines.

 

Rick figured that it was probably his stepson Blake calling. Since his recent separation from Blake’s mother, Rick made it a high priority to visit his stepson on a regular basis. He and Blake had formed a strong bond while Rick and his mother were together. This bond had remained intact with the now thirty-two year old Blake. Rick didn’t like living alone in his apartment and he missed his family.

As he was very curious about discovering more about his unusual tablet, he had to force himself to place it on the coffee table while he answered the phone.

As he punched the talk button and said ‘hello’ Rick could hear the excitement in his step-son’s voice.

“Hey, Dad. Did you hear about the next wrestling card on August third? It’s going to be at The MTS Center.”

“No, I didn’t hear about it until you told me. Who’s in the main event?”

“Roman Reigns against Brock Lesnar for the WWE heavyweight championship.”

“That should be a great match,” Rick said. “Do you want to go?”

“You bet Dad. Can you take me?”

“Absolutely. I like wrestling as much as you do, son.”

Rick Chandler loved professional wrestling, truth be told. He was actually continuing a family tradition. Rick’s father took him to watch wrestling matches. He still had fond memories of seeing wrestling legends like The Undertaker and Ric Flair.

Rick walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was a very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the touch screen. Rick wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Rick, a total stranger?

Rick decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Rick would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

“I understand sir. This will only take a couple of seconds. I’m giving you a present, a new piece of technology with which you will never want to part.

Rick hurriedly grabbed the object from the strange man’s hand and unlocked the door to his apartment.

Rick walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was a very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the tablet. Rick wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Rick, a total stranger?

Rick decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Rick would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

Rick looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek, but he was very interested in technology. Rick owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Rick was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.

Rick Chandler was sixty-two years old. He was five feet ten inches tall and weighed approximately three hundred ten pounds. He kept himself in tip top physical condition up until his early forties. At age forty-three Rick stopped smoking cigarettes and started to take medication for his depression. Despite working out with weights and going for daily rides on his beloved Giant mountain bike Rick continued to gain weight often at a rate of ten pounds per month. Although he still looked powerful and physically intimidating, Rick was now obese and no longer took pride in his appearance.

Rick was on long term disability. His estranged wife Janine had dumped him about the same time that Rick encountered the most difficult class of his thirty year teaching career. Like a perfect storm, Rick’s’ life and mental health began to fall apart. His principal was aware that Bill was struggling with his new class of grade eights. He called Rick into his office. Worried about Rick’s health he told him that he should go on stress leave.

The first thing that Rick noticed on his new tablet was an orange and red icon that was noticeably larger than the others and was flashing off and on. The icon read ‘Press Here First’ and Rick complied. A rather soothing male voice began to speak.

“Hello Rick. You are one of the lucky individuals selected by our corporation to try out this amazing advanced technology that has come into your possession. We have only manufactured five models so far. We have selected four other people and yourself to give our amazing product a test run. After a predetermined period of time we will bring all five of you to a top secret location in which you will all provide us with valuable feedback on the efficacy of our product. All of the tablets are somewhat different. We are trying to ascertain which of the tablets will be chosen as the elite model for our first run of production targeted for release to the general public. We want to make sure that we have worked out all the bugs by this time based on the group’s feedback.

You are probably asking yourself, ‘what’s in it for me?’ As you get more familiar with your tablet the answer will become obvious. Also at the end of our experiment everyone in the focus group will get to keep their devices. The corporation estimates that these tablets will initially have a retail price of ten to fifteen thousand dollars. I know that by now your innate curiosity is sufficiently peaked to give your tablet a test run. I will not be providing you with any instructions or direction as to how to use it. You will have to find this out yourself through the process of trial and error.”

As soon as the audio message was over the touch screen changed. The background color changed to black and a new set of apps and icons appeared. Rick briefly scanned the touch screen determined to figure out how this unusual tablet worked. The first app that caught his eye was one called Time Traveller. After Rick touched this app a menu screen appeared that displayed a series of options. The first option that appeared was Select the Date. The next option was Select a Location in Your Universe. The app then asked whether or not Rick wanted to be part of the experience. The next question asked if Rick wanted an historically accurate experience or if he wished to alter it using his own imagination and input. Rick picked the option of using his own mind to alter and rearrange the experience. Rick typed in a message that indicated that he wanted to be at the Altamont Speedway in December of 1969 the day of The Rolling Stones free concert

Rick noticed another option on the drop down menu of the app that he had selected. It said, “What age would you like to be?” He typed in ‘twenty-two on the virtual keyboard.

As if no time had passed Rick was on the grounds of the Altamont Speedway a few feet away from the stage. Standing to his right was a short girl with medium length blond hair. Rick guessed that she was a few years younger than him. He was not immediately attracted to her.

On stage The Jefferson Airplane were playing ‘The Other Side of This Life’. Rick found it strange that the main stage appeared to be only about three feet above the ground. A scuffle broke out among people close to the stage. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and a few punches were thrown. The short blond haired girl was pushed into Rick’s chest. She wrapped her arms around Rick and held on for dear life. He could feel her trembling with fear. Rick’s tablet had fallen to the ground in front of him. He quickly picked it up and stuck it into one of the pocket of his jean jacket.

Rick dragged his new female acquaintance to a small open space in the crowd. For the first time she spoke to him.

“Hi, my name is Athena. I don’t know you, man, but I’m scared. Something’s wrong with this crowd. They’re not peaceful at all and I heard some freaks saying that some people are selling bad acid. I want to get out of here but I can’t see a way out of this crowd.”

Rick immediately thought of his tablet and pulled it out. He typed, ‘Can I take this girl with me if I choose a different time and location?” The tablet began to type an answer, ’Yes, you may take Athena with you. Where would you like to go next?’

Rick typed in, ‘Memorial Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada July 10, 1969.’

As if no time had passed Rick found himself in Memorial Park in Winnipeg with Athena beside him.

“What just happened, man? Where are we?” Athena asked as she looked around the park. She could see a band she did not recognize on a stage at the west side of the park. An audience of close to two hundred people were there to watch the concert. The vibe that she got was that this was a very mellow crowd that were probably stoned on the ample supply of joints that were being passed around the audience.

“Oh, by the way, I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself when we were at Altamont. My name is Rick Chandler.

Episode Eight of Infinite Realities:

“Please to meet you Rick. What the hell just happened? This isn’t Altamont. That isn’t Jefferson Airplane on stage.

“We’re in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, my home town. That’s The Guess Who performing on the stage.”

“I know. They’re playing ‘American Woman’, my favorite song. But how did we get here? This is really freaking me out Rick. Am I just having a bad dream or am I tripping?”

“I suspect it isn’t a dream because I’m having the same one as you are. As for the drugs I don’t know what you’re on.”

“Mescaline,”

“I don’t think that our experience has anything to do with dreams or drugs. An app on my tablet created this experience,” Rick said.

“What’s an app and what’s a tablet?” Athena asked.

 

“A tablet is a technological device that can scan the internet and the individual apps on it do all sorts of cool things.”

“Now I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. It’s like we come from two different planets.”

“That’s closer to the truth than you think. In this dimension I’m twenty-two years old. I’ve travelled through time to the year 1969. In my real life I’m sixty-two years old and live in the year 2015. There’s an app on my tablet that allows me to travel through time. I can’t show you my tablet here because if some people in the crowd saw it they would all want to play with it and that would put both us and them in danger.”

“Okay Rick. I give up. I think you’ve gone mad but I’m coming along for the ride. I may as well enjoy it. Let’s meet some people. They look and dress like my friends in San Francisco. They must be freaks.”

“Good idea. These people are very friendly. I used to hang out with a crowd like this when I was in my early twenties.”

Rick and Athena walked over to a group of five people sitting in a circle. The Guess Who were closing their set with their first hit single, ‘Shakin’ All Over’. The audience applauded and thanked the band  to show their appreciation for the free concert. I figure that The Guess Who were just curious to see the freaks at Memorial Park.

Episode Nine of Infinite Realities:

“Come join us,” a freak said. He appeared to be about fifty. He had long grey streaked hair tied back in a ponytail. His beard was salt and pepper. He blew out a smoke ring from his Sweet Caporal cigarette. He wore a black tank top that displayed his protruding pot belly. This guy must weigh close to three hundred pounds. “Can I offer you guys a cigarette?”

Rick Chandler thought that if this guy was living in 2015 he wouldn’t be offering people free cigarettes. Certainly not at today’s outrageous prices. But this was 1969 and a pack of cigarettes sold for only sixty-five cents.

A space was made in the circle where Rick and Athena could sit down on the freshly cut grass.

“Greetings my friends. My name is Hog. You guys must be wondering what an old bugger like me is doing in Memorial Park hanging out with a bunch of young people?”

“Thank you for the warm welcome. My name is Rick and my friend is Athena. I was kind of wondering about that to tell you the truth.”

Hog let out a loud belly laugh. “I thought so. Most people do think it’s odd that I don’t mix with my own demographic. The fact is that I find most people my age to be kind of boring. I’m a history professor at The University of Manitoba so I get to meet young people every day. This generation is so much more interesting than mine. All my peers talk about is new renovations that they’re having done to their immaculate houses in the suburbs. Sometimes they’ll get real daring and will talk about the cottages they own or the next dream car they want to buy. They are all in debt up to their eyebrows but they have lots of stuff. Frankly, they all bore me to tears. Now, this group of young people here they’ve always got some interesting topics to talk about.”

“Thanks Hog,” said an attractive girl wearing a tie dyed tee shirt. Athena noticed that part of her pinky finger had been amputated. She was looking at a copy of Rolling Stone magazine. Rick looked at it enviously. This was 1969 when Rolling Stone looked like an underground, anti-establishment newspaper. Rick had long given up on the corporate piece of trash that the magazine had morphed into in 2015.

“Hi guys. My name is Tinkerbell. Did you hear about what happened in Altamont in December?”

Episode Ten of Infinite Realities:

“We were there,” Rick said. “We only stayed for part of Jefferson Airplane’s set.”

“Yeah the crowd was very uncool. There were people scuffling hear the front of the stage. The Hells Angels jumped into the fray and then things really got hairy. Marty Balin jumped off the stage and tried to break up a fight. He ended up getting knocked unconscious.”

Hog took some marijuana out of a black leather pouch and rolled up a huge joint. He took a deep drag and then passed it to the guy sitting to his left.

“Some people are already saying that it’s the end of the sixties and that the party is over,” said a young guy wearing Army Surplus battle fatigues.

“I hope not,” said the girl wearing the tie die tee shirt. This summer’s been too much fun. I love hanging out at the park with you guys.”

“I can’t argue with you there,” said Hog. The communal joint had made its way back to him. Hog sucked up as much of the smoke as he could hold in his lungs. “But I always wondered if Woodstock was too good to last.”

Rick thought about how things had turned out. The freaks, hippies and The Summer of Love had indeed died and young people turned to materialism and consumerism. The revolution never came and the dream had died out.

“You want to come with me Athena? I’ll buy you a hot dog and a Coke from the street vendor,” Rick said, getting up and wiping the loose grass from the seat of his pants.

“Are you guys coming back?” Hog asked.

“No. It’s getting late. I think Athena and I will hit the road after we eat,” Rick answered. “Thanks for the company and for sharing your dope with us,”

“No problem my friend,” Hog said as he waved goodbye.

As both Rick and Athena were very hungry they finished their food and drink quickly. Rick beckoned Athena away from the refreshment stand. He pulled out his tablet and said, “I wonder what the other apps on this thing can do. Do want to stay here or do you want to go forward in time with me to 2015?”

“I really like you Rick, but I don’t think that I want to hang out with a guy that’s sixty-two in 2015. I have my whole life ahead of me.”

“I see what you mean, I’m going to miss you though.” Rick gave Athena a hug and a kiss and touched the app that would bring him back to 2015.

Episode Eleven of Infinite Realities:

When Rick swiped the touch screen a new message appeared. It was displayed with a background collage of a beautiful blue and gold collage that was centered by a football helmet with the letter W on it. The message read:

Where do want go next and what do you want to do? Remember the possibilities are virtually limitless. Pun intended. Oh by the way Rick, I should have told you this before. I can read your mind. In fact I know more about you than you do. I can tell what kind of mood you are in. I know all about your past. I know what grieves you. I know that you wish you could go back and change things in your life and I can help you do that. You don’t give yourself enough credit Rick. You have a brilliant and imaginative mind. Just type in where you want to go next. Or maybe this time let me choose a time and place for you just to give you a demonstration.

Rick stood there in shock. He had moved to a grey and gloomy back lane, shaded from the sun, not far from Memorial Park. He did not want anyone to see his tablet and start asking him questions.

Rick had experienced a great deal of pain in his past. When he was a young child he liked to spend most of his time alone living in his own fantasy worlds. He would pretend that he was the rookie quarterback for The Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The local football team’s star quarterback had just gone down with a separated shoulder and would now be out for the rest of the game and possibly the rest of the season. Rick would play the role of the rookie quarterback who would have to save the day for his team. If he failed his team would not get into the playoffs.

Episode Twelve of Infinite Realities:

In his daydream Rick would become Dick Thornton the Blue Bombers punter and back -up quarterback. As soon as coach Bud Grant gave him the signal Dick  put on his helmet and ran onto the field to form a huddle with his teammates. The Bombers were on the Hamilton Tiger Cats forty yard line. This was going to be the last play of the game. Dick’s team needed a touchdown to win the game. If they didn’t score six points or more they would lose the game and be eliminated from next week’s Western Conference playoff game against The Edmonton Eskimos.

In the huddle Dick Thornton called for a Hail Mary pass to any eligible receivers. As he broke up the huddle and took his position directly behind the center the rookie quarterback felt both fear and excitement. If his play succeeded, Dick would be the star of the game. If his play failed he would have let down the noisy home field crowd.

Dick dropped back to the slot. He deftly evaded two of Hamilton’s linebackers who broke into the backfield. Out of the corner of his eye Dick could see a receiver a few feet over the goal line that was a few steps ahead of the defensive back covering him. Dick threw a long accurate spiral that was easily caught by the open receiver. The crowd erupted in joy and Dick was mobbed by not only his own team but also by Bomber fans that had run onto the field. Rick was startled out of his delightful reverie to see his tablet flash a brilliant gold color and to hear the voice from the tablet talking to him.

Do you remember how easy that was when you were a kid, Rick? Do you remember how good you felt at that time? For a few moments you were no longer the fattest kid in your class who was regularly humiliated by the other students and teachers. You were now Dick Thornton, the unlikely hero of a crucial football game. Didn’t the applause feel better than the shame?

Now you have that same kind of power to change unpleasant experiences and circumstances into how you would like them to be. You are holding that power in your hands. It resides within this marvelous tablet. The emotions you feel will be the same. Your subconscious mind does not know the difference. You have the same imagination now as you did as a young child. I take that back. You now have a much more developed imagination than you did as a kid. Press on another application and see what happens.

 Episode Thirteen of Infinite Realities:

 

Rick had certainly enjoyed the new adventures that he was having with his new tablet, but it was time that he got back to the real world or his life as he used to know it. He poured himself a cup of Folger’s coffee topped up with his favourite brand and flavor of coffee creamer. Rick added a generous amount of International Delight Southern Pecan along with two Sugar Twin packets to his coffee. He liked his coffee sweet and chuckled to himself. That’s part of the reason you are so big Rick. You can never stick to a diet. You like your creature comforts too much.

 

Rick picked up his tablet and to his delight found that all his favorite Kindle book downloads were on his new tablet. At present Rick could choose among about fifty different titles. He scrolled down his collection to see what he would like to read now. The Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt caught his attention. This book is a true crime story about three young men who were found guilty of murdering three little boys. The accused were believed to belong to some kind of satanic cult. Rick had just started reading the first chapter of the book. Only a few books could entirely grab Rick’s attention but this was one of them. Just as he found the page that he had last read his phone began to ring. Rick put his tablet down and said, “Damn. What now? It should be illegal to disturb someone while they are reading.”

 

Rick reluctantly picked up the phone.

 

“Is this Rick Chandler?” asked the caller.

 

“Yes, speaking.” Rick was now trying to hide his annoyance about being taken away from the book that he was reading.

 

“Hi Rick. This is Michael Reeves. I’m an industrial psychologist and your insurance provider, Canada Life, assigned you to my case load. Are you free to see me this morning?”

 

“Yes, I’m free. Where do you want to meet?”

 

“I could come to your place. What time would be good for you?”

 

“You can come right now if you’re in the area.”

 

“That sounds great. I should be at your place in about twenty minutes.”

 

“I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you.”

 

Episode Fourteen of Infinite Realities:

Michael Reeves was very accurate in estimating his time of arrival at Rick’s apartment. It took him exactly nineteen minutes to get there. Rick’s apartment block was located on a side street just off one of the busier streets in St. Boniface. It was a smaller block that contained only six units. Rick’s apartment was fairly modest and came with a reasonable monthly rent. On his generous disability cheques Rick could have chosen more expensive lodgings but he couldn’t see the point. His one bedroom apartment suited his needs very well. He didn’t have any plans to have a permanent roommate and he actually liked living alone once he got used to it.

Rick opened the door to let his new caseworker inside his home. Michael Reeves was a relatively young man. Rick estimated that the industrial psychologist was about twenty-eight to thirty years old. Michael had an athletic build and was very handsome. If he was still single Rick guessed that Michael didn’t have any problem attracting the opposite sex. Michael wore a light blue sports jacket and an expensive looking dark blue dress shirt with a gold patterned tie. He was carrying a rather outdated metal briefcase that was trendy in the nineties.

“How much for the briefcase?” Rick asked.

Looking a little thrown off by the question Michael answered in a crackly voice, “Close to two hundred dollars including tax.”

‘How about if I offer you 150 for it?”  Rick asked.

“Well,” said Michael. “I didn’t stop by to sell you my briefcase. I’m flattered that you like it though.”

“I do like it very much. I wished I would have bought one while they were in style. The metal cases were really designed for executive types not school teachers. I have a genuine leather black attaché case. Well, enough talk about briefcases. Find a seat in my living room and I’ll bring you a freshly brewed coffee. What do you take in yours?”

Michael found a spot on Rick’s old fashioned peach colored couch. “Have you got any liquid coffee creamer and an artificial sweetener?”

“I sure do. That’s exactly the way I take my coffee. I think we’re going to get along just fine, Michael.”

“I hope so. I get along with most people very easily. Although most of my clients aren’t as relaxed as you are, especially when it’s the first time they’ve met me.”

“That’s because I’m big and tough and look like a biker. Plus I’ve been around this block a few times  so I pretty much know what to expect,” Rick said.

 

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Infinite Realities Episode Thirteen


Episode Thirteen of Infinite Realities:

Rick had certainly enjoyed the new adventures that he was having with his new tablet, but it was time that he got back to the real world or his life as he used to know it. He poured himself a cup of Folger’s coffee topped up with his favourite brand and flavor of coffee creamer. Rick added a generous amount of International Delight Southern Pecan along with two Sugar Twin packets to his coffee. He liked his coffee sweet and chuckled to himself. That’s part of the reason you are so big Rick. You can never stick to a diet. You like your creature comforts too much.

Rick picked up his tablet and to his delight found that all his favorite Kindle book downloads were on his new tablet. At present Rick could choose among about fifty different titles. He scrolled down his collection to see what he would like to read now. The Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt caught his attention. This book is a true crime story about three young men who were found guilty of murdering three little boys. The accused were believed to belong to some kind of satanic cult. Rick had just started reading the first chapter of the book. Only a few books could entirely grab Rick’s attention but this was one of them. Just as he found the page that he had last read his phone began to ring. Rick put his tablet down and said, “Damn. What now? It should be illegal to disturb someone while they are reading.”

Rick reluctantly picked up the phone.

“Is this Rick Chandler?” asked the caller.

“Yes, speaking.” Rick was now trying to hide his annoyance about being taken away from the book that he was reading.

“Hi Rick. This is Michael Reeves. I’m an industrial psychologist and your insurance provider, Canada Life, assigned you to my case load. Are you free to see me this morning?”

“Yes, I’m free. Where do you want to meet?”

“I could come to your place. What time would be good for you?”

“You can come right now if you’re in the area.”

“That sounds great. I should be at your place in about twenty minutes.”

“I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you.”

 

 

 

 

 fantasy 13

Episodes One to Seven of Infinite Realities by Ken David Stewart


Infinite Realities Main Draft

Rick Chandler was a few feet from the door to his apartment. He was in a hurry to find his key as he could hear the phone in his apartment ringing. His son was probably calling him to see if his dad could take him to the next WWE live wrestling show. As Rick fumbled for his keys he was startled by an odd looking man that had come up behind him. The man looked very old with his long white hair and beard. He was very short and his face was deeply etched with the wrinkles left by living the hard life and his clothes looked like they were obtained from the Salvation Army or a thrift store. Maybe this strange little man had found his wardrobe in a dumpster.

Rick turned towards the man and said,” Look old man. I’m kind of in a hurry. The phone is ringing in my apartment and I need to answer the call.”

“I understand sir. This will only take a couple of seconds. I’m giving you a present, a new piece of technology that you will never wish to part with.”

Rick grabbed the object from the strange man’s hand and unlocked the door to his apartment.

When he got inside his apartment his phone had stopped ringing. All his attention was now focused on what he was holding in his left hand. The object appeared to be an eight inch Android tablet that did not have any logo or brand name. The borders of the tablet were florescent and changed color every two seconds. The colors were bold and beautiful. Rick was sure that he did not recognize some of the colors. He watched in amazement when the borders of the tablet turned translucent. The touch screen contained many apps with icons preinstalled. Rick was startled when he heard his phone start to ring again. He stumbled over a pile of books on the orange, threadbare carpet as he attempted to find his red mobile phone on his old, well- worn coffee table. The mobile phone was buried under a haphazard pile of magazines.

 

Rick figured that it was probably his stepson Blake calling. Since his recent separation from Blake’s mother, Rick made it a high priority to visit his stepson on a regular basis. He and Blake had formed a strong bond while Rick and his mother were together. This bond had remained intact with the now thirty-two year old Blake. Rick didn’t like living alone in his apartment and he missed his family.

As he was very curious about discovering more about his unusual tablet, he had to force himself to place it on the coffee table while he answered the phone.

As he punched the talk button and said ‘hello’ Rick could hear the excitement in his step-son’s voice.

“Hey, Dad. Did you hear about the next wrestling card on August third? It’s going to be at The MTS Center.”

“No, I didn’t hear about it until you told me. Who’s in the main event?”

“Roman Reigns against Brock Lesnar for the WWE heavyweight championship.”

“That should be a great match,” Rick said. “Do you want to go?”

“You bet Dad. Can you take me?”

“Absolutely. I like wrestling as much as you do, son.”

Rick Chandler loved professional wrestling, truth be told. He was actually continuing a family tradition. Rick’s father took him to watch wrestling matches. He still had fond memories of seeing wrestling legends like The Undertaker and Ric Flair.

Rick walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was a very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the touch screen. Rick wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Rick, a total stranger?

Rick decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Rick would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

Rick looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek but he was very interested in technology. Rick owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Rick was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.

“I understand sir. This will only take a couple of seconds. I’m giving you a present, a new piece of technology with which you will never want to part.

Rick hurriedly grabbed the object from the strange man’s hand and unlocked the door to his apartment.

Rick walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was a very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the tablet. Rick wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Rick, a total stranger?

Rick decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Bill would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

Rick looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek, but he was very interested in technology. Rick owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Rick was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.

Rick Chandler was sixty-two years old. He was five feet ten inches tall and weighed approximately three hundred ten pounds. He kept himself in tip top physical condition up until his early forties. At age forty-three Rick stopped smoking cigarettes and started to take medication for his depression. Despite working out with weights and going for daily rides on his beloved Giant mountain bike Rick continued to gain weight often at a rate of ten pounds per month. Although he still looked powerful and physically intimidating Rick was now obese and no longer took pride in his appearance.

Rick was on long term disability. His estranged wife Janine had dumped him about the same time that Rick encountered the most difficult class of his thirty year teaching career. Like a perfect storm, Rick’s’ life and mental health began to fall apart. His principal was aware that Bill was struggling with his new class of grade eights. He called Rick into his office. Worried about Rick’s health he told him that he should go on stress leave.

The first thing that Rick noticed on his new tablet was an orange and red icon that was noticeably larger than the others and was flashing off and on. The icon read ‘Press Here First’ and Rick complied. A rather soothing male voice began to speak.

“Hello Rick. You are one of the lucky individuals selected by our corporation to try out this amazing advanced technology that has come into your possession. We have only manufactured five models so far. We have selected four other people and yourself to give our amazing product a test run. After a predetermined period of time we will bring all five of you to a top secret location in which you will all provide us with valuable feedback on the efficacy of our product. All of the tablets are somewhat different. We are trying to ascertain which of the tablets will be chosen as the elite model for our first run of production targeted for release to the general public. We want to make sure that we have worked out all the bugs by this time based on the group’s feedback.

You are probably asking yourself, ‘what’s in it for me?’ As you get more familiar with your tablet the answer will become obvious. Also at the end of our experiment everyone in the focus group will get to keep their devices. The corporation estimates that these tablets will initially have a retail price of ten to fifteen thousand dollars. I know that by now your innate curiosity is sufficiently peaked to give your tablet a test run. I will not be providing you with any instructions or direction as to how to use it. You will have to find this out yourself through the process of trial and error.”

As soon as the audio message was over the touch screen changed. The background color changed to black and a new set of apps and icons appeared. Rick briefly scanned the touch screen determined to figure out how this unusual tablet worked. The first app that caught his eye was one called Time Traveller. After Rick touched this app a menu screen appeared that displayed a series of options. The first option that appeared was Select the Date. The next option was Select a Location in Your Universe. The app then asked whether or not Rick wanted to be part of the experience. The next question asked if Rick wanted an historically accurate experience or if he wished to alter it using his own imagination and input. Rick picked the option of using his own mind to alter and rearrange the experience. Rick typed in a message that indicated that he wanted to be at the Altamont Speedway in December of 1969 the day of The Rolling Stones free concert

Rick noticed another option on the drop down menu of the app that he had selected. It said, “What age would you like to be?” He typed in ‘twenty-two; on the virtual keyboard.

As if no time had passed Rick was on the grounds of the Altamont Speedway a few feet away from the stage. Standing to his right was a short girl with medium length blond hair. Rick guessed that she was a few years younger than him. He was not immediately attracted to her.

On stage The Jefferson Airplane were playing ‘The Other Side of This Life’. Rick found it strange that the main stage appeared to be only about three feet above the ground. A scuffle broke out among people close to the stage. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and a few punches were thrown. The short blond haired girl was pushed into Rick’s chest. She wrapped her arms around Rick and held on for dear life. He could feel her trembling with fear. Rick’s tablet had fallen to the ground in front of him. He quickly picked it up and stuck into one of the pocket of his jean jacket.

Rick dragged his new female acquaintance to a small open space in the crowd. For the first time she spoke to him.

“Hi, my name is Athena. I don’t know you, man, but I’m scared. Something’s wrong with this crowd. They’re not peaceful at all and I heard some freaks saying that some people are selling bad acid. I want to get out of here but I can’t see a way out of this crowd.”

Rick immediately thought of his tablet and pulled it out. He typed, ‘Can I take this girl with me if I choose a different time and location?” The tablet began to type an answer, ’Yes, you may take Athena with you. Where would you like to go next?’

Rick typed in, ‘Memorial Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada July 10, 1969.’

As if no time had passed Rick found himself in Memorial Park in Winnipeg with Athena beside him.

“What just happened, man? Where are we?” Athena asked as she looked around the park. She could see a band she did not recognize on a stage at the west side of the park. An audience of close to two hundred people were there to watch the concert. The vibe that she got was that this was a very mellow crowd that were probably stoned on the ample supply of joints that were being passed around the audience.

“Oh, by the way, I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself when we were at Altamont. My name is Rick Chandler.Picture 51

Infinite Realities Excerpt Four by Ken David Stewart


Episode Three

Bill walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the tablet. Bill wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Bill, a total stranger?

Bill decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Bill would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

Bill looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek, but he was very interested in technology. Bill owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Bill was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.

Bill Hainsey was forty-four years old. He was five feet ten inches tall and weighed approximately two hundred ten pounds. He was in the best shape of his life due to his extreme dedication to his self- created physical training program. He did resistance training and worked a different body part every day. Bill took every Sunday off to rest. This was also his cheat day in which he would eat anything he wanted. He usually treated himself to a hamburger or a pizza. During the rest of the week he ate only healthy foods. During the rest of the week he ate only healthy foods. This was known as ‘eating clean’. Bill also loved riding his Giant mountain bike through a local park. It usually took forty-five minutes for Bill to complete his route.

Bill was on long term disability. His wife Janine had dumped him about the same time that Bill encountered the most difficult class of his twenty-year teaching career. Like a perfect storm of stress, Bill’s life and mental health began to fall apart. His principal was aware that Bill was struggling with his new class of grade eights called Bill into his office. Worried about Bill’s health he told him that he should definitely go on stress leave.fantasy 7