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Seven Signs

1

There are seven signs. One of them is the hand of God outstretched but not quite touching you, and this is what she sees when she falls asleep on the couch and jerks awake at the end right as someone, whose face she can never quite make out even though she’s staring right at him, starts to speak to her: “As the garden teems with drink, so Christ’s Church teems with water.”

“It’s not a fake, is it?”

Isaiah, leaning over with a cigarette against her thigh, Isaiah, to forthrightly ask, “Who’ll tell me?”

“You may have heard him mentioned once, once in our haunted house in Georgia, back in the Cretan days. Why, they had dealings there, rumors of his being recruited by some old rival organization. He was running low on patience, was history’s last hope of a last-ditch escape. He went on becoming more enigmatic, asleep in his chair. “Not that I don’t still remember him, remember his books? Remember what you heard last night? That’s how I remember him, that’s the way it goes for me, that’s the way he used to say. It really does.”

“You’re not with me, are you?”

“Never mind. I’d just forget.”

“You’re not with me, are you?”

“We’re both just fine.”

“I was just as happy when I got to work.”

“But that’s just it,” Isaiah with a chuckle, “that’s all it is. It doesn’t matter till we do, I guess. If we’re through, I guess?”

2

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll take a bath and call the police.”

“I’m the one who gets the police.”

“They make a list of people they know,” he said. “Every one.”

“Say the name.”

“He was kind,” she said. “He was the high bidder. I think the police have uncovered the key.”

“Please, please let me drain.”

“I always knew they would want to drain you. I never took the time to drain myself. I think that’s what this is about.”

“When is it?”

“About eight or nine days.”

“Did you know that?”

“For the moment.”

3

“What is it?” the voice on TV news, “is a story about me, about you, and you, and you, and God, you, and me.”

“You’re sick and tired of it, you can’t just give it up. How is it going?”

“Just relax, it’s all right. You’re not out sick and tired, man. It’s all right.”

“Hey, we’re not sick and tired. We all have the same problems. We know how to deal, we’re just as screwed up.”

“You’re not sick and tired, either.”

“It’s all right. I’m still sick and tired, is all it?” “You guys know about the deals. They’re always big on deals. What’s your deal?”

“I know a deal,” told the others.

“Not exactly. What I’d just told you, we deal in deals. You know as much as we can. Deal after deal goes through, and when it’s fixed it’s he who’s fault it happened to be in, not her standing there.”

“How could it be anything else?” the voice on TV news, “could it be the rain itself, could be some other factor?”

“Maybe I want a cigarette,” the others agreed.

The blond girl took her cigarette out half-way and took it to the small print on the packet. “You never read the stuff on this card. It could be that way…” She looked at it—

4

There are seven signs in the sky which, in a 1961 survey of the sky around the U.S., were identified to be echoes of the voices of men around the world in the preceding days. (These seven, along with the seven signs spelled out now, were the seven men who “lost the night,” the night itself being the only tangible sign of the dawn. They were the ones who had lost the sense, or feeling, of what it was that the Wright brothers had always known. They lost it for a reason and that is clear and obvious and they were not pleased. They wanted to say that it was a discrepancy, a fiction, a plain old fiction, but it was the real thing.)

5

She had never had a legitimate religious life. She had never even heard of the term. He felt embarrassed. She was a living contradiction, a con artist. Saturated complexion. He knew this was impossible. He felt this was the only reality he could imagine. He wanted to believe, he really believed, but then he also thought that maybe she wasn’t real. Maybe he thought it was a coincidence that YHWH, among the races of men, was the only real thing in the whole series.

“I’m not sure what you’re saying, Mister Brisboy. It’s a little like being transported into another part of the world.”

“Composite photograph of the Great Hall.”

“I can’t even tell if it was really a seated museum, or not. Maybe the walls were drawn to the floor. Maybe the painting’s paint was being broken and powdered to make ‘glue,’ or maybe it was. I can’t even tell if the door is open.”

“What’s that?”

“Something hard to read…”

“What’s that?”

“The door is supposed to open by default. Just enter it and a lock is automatically placed in the door.”

“It was that door?”

“It was closed then.”

“Well. Maybe you’re the only one who can see it. I’d love if you could show me how it went.”

“Not for us. We’re here only for the privileged…”

6

“Except for what those boys have to say about us,” said Darby. “Our personalities are identical.”

“We’re not here,” replied the girl. “I don’t think you’d want to know.”

“You’d rather be out in the world,” said Chick.

“I don’t think you’d,” said the other girl. “I would rather be out in the world, was I exaggerating?”

Darby laughed. “Yes I’m not exaggerating. You may not be the world’s most brilliant mathematician, but when you find yourself drawn into a mathematical trap, you are bound to find some.”

“Established,” Darby said. “You’ll have to invent your own elaborate apparatus of escape, and try to avoid the usual obstacles.”

“What’s this?” Lindsay said.

“What you’ve been putting on the market here,” said Darby.

“The American Red Cross.”

“What do you think?”

“You’re on the Red Cross,” said Lindsay. “American Red Cross, Red Cross… your mother’s Red Cross.”

“It’s a Red Cross Club,” said Chick.

“An American Red Cross Club?”

“Not in my line of work.”

7

“I’m a connoisseur of bad taste,” she told him.

“I hear voices,” he replied. “More like humans that happened to be living at the time, and then some, and then some, and so forth, not always in euphemism but sometimes in euphemism’s opposite.”

“It’s like living in a zoo,” she said. “We know each other only through the staring contest that exists between us. As long as we maintain this distance we can leave it. We’re not here.”

“I don’t think I’m here.”

“You have children,” she said.

“I have children,” he said. “I’ve had children. Children of a number of different forms. A number of ways. We’ve passed ourselves a hundred ways. I’m not one of them.”

“I don’t think I’m one of them.”

In the lucid night there arose a riot of lights, and the voices of the herald angels soared over a vast blue field of sky.


Author’s note: Y’all should know my degree is in fiction writing, and as such I’ve been playing with generated fiction for at least the last year. These texts were generated by GPT-2 after fine tuning on a corpus I compiled and extensive tweaking of prompts and settings to find a quality of language that fit the tone I was looking for, and then (very) lightly edited.