The Garden (Episode 2)

The music started softly – barely perceptible at first.  Edward could sense it, but couldn’t hear it yet.  Then it progressed in volume until he could hear rhythmic pulse of different tones, moving in scales or intervals – sometimes chordal structures.

The music had a soothing effect.  He supposed that’s why they used it.  It did relax his mind, but he didn’t always allow it to overwhelm him.  Sometimes, like now, he watched the melody move.  The gaps in the tonal phrase- the rests and pauses -were openings.  The notes’ sounds were somehow bent,  but smooth and level .  He could almost “walk” on them like pave stones.

He learned some time ago that if he wedged his thoughts into the gaps between notes of the melody he could move with the sound.  Better yet, he found that he could travel upstream of the sound.  And in doing so, his mind traveled into places that no one dreamed of visiting.  He became part of the infrastructure delivering the music:  the wiring, the junctions, anything connected.

Edward’s body lay there immobile, almost lifeless, yet his mind was over twenty yards away in the circuitry of the facility sound system.  He could feel himself smile.

Traveling into the realm of sound and light was exhilarating.  Exploring was all he had at the moment.  He had been part of this study for several years, since the accident that left him paralyzed and unable to speak.  He had once been on staff at the Institute in the laboratory maintenance department.  His “gift” was largely unknown.  He listened to music all the time, and constantly had headphones or earbuds with him to tune out interferences.  He lost himself in music, but that was all contained within himself.  This was different.  He must have always had this ability, but never exerted it in this way.

The different scenarios that the team had presented taught him something different about his ability.  In his downtime, his exploration of the building infrastructure was also educational.  He learned where the relays were.  He found the power grid.  He discovered the communications portals, the phones, the computers, the printers.

The printers.

He sought a specific junction and wedged his weight into the signal.  In his mind he said it, and it must have been spoken.  Two words:

The Garden.

In his subconscious mind, Edward must have known why he said those two words, but his logical thought process questioned it immediately.  His memory of the previous afternoon’s scenario certainly was still fresh, but he could have said anything.  He recalled his vision of the garden adjacent to the square that he explored.  It appeared to be endless.  The programmers had obviously made it look endless, as the visual  would make the world of his scenario more realistic.  The depth of the graphic was ingrained in his mind.

He spoke again.

I want to see the garden.


Copyright 2017 John R. Shaw

Episode 1 is here.

Please visit my other blog TapsandRatamacues,


The Garden (Episode 2)

The Garden (Episode 1)

Edward stood in the center of a plaza, unsure of how he got there.  People were quickly moving to his left and right, and music blared from a nearby loudspeaker.  He could smell cooking onions and garlic. Looking around, he noticed a number of tents and kiosks; all of them were dedicated to a different food presentation.  He began to listen intently to the voices around him, mostly talking in low murmurs.  Conversations about the spiciness of the curry chicken, a woman needed to return home to let out her dog, two men discussing the results of a basketball tournament.

Edward immersed his senses in the scene and slowly stepped ahead.  Two steps into his stroll, a woman’s voice interrupted the music –

“Edward, I want to turn about and walk twenty paces to the path at the edge of the square.”

He looked around, immediately noticing that no one else in the crowded plaza appeared to hear the voice. Edward looked up at the sky.

“Twenty paces,” the woman repeated.

He stepped off the twenty paces, counting to himself.  Finding himself at the edge of the plaza, there was a pathway that led into a courtyard.  Past the courtyard was a glass building.  People were still milling about the plaza, but none seemed to notice him pass by.

He turned to a man wearing a blue cap and asked him about the building just beyond the courtyard.  The man smiled and then walked past to greet a woman and child moving towards them.  The man hadn’t heard, or even seen Edward there.

Suddenly, everything went dark.  Edward blinked his eyes and when he opened them, he was lying on a table.  He focused on the ceiling above him. He thought about moving, but remembered that he could not. The same woman’s voice spoke again -but not to him.

“That was a good proof of concept.  Tomorrow, we’ll need to insert him into a interactive simulation.  Something that will offer choices for him to make.  Have the scenario outline on my desk before the end of the day.”

“Yes, Doctor Woodrow,” came the reply.

Edward listened as others moved around him.  No one spoke directly to him.  There were sounds of activity and electronic beeps.  A few minutes passed, then his gurney moved on its own, out of the room. Gliding along some rail system, Edward moved through quiet, well-lit hallways and finally ended his journey under a clear plastic dome.

The music started, first quietly in his mind, then it washed over his entire body.  Edward did what he had always done – at least all he remembered- he fell asleep.

Dr. Eve Woodrow walked quickly to her office from the study suite.  In her mind, she was going over the details from the last session.  The subject had already shown great independence in the simulation scenario, as if there was already a familiarity with the power of the mind.  This likely meant that they would have to accelerate the testing to phase II, which would involve interaction and influence through more direct means within the simulation.

She opened the door to her office and removed her headset.

Someone with that kind of psychic awareness is rare.  The pre-study team recognized this ability in the test subject, but had no indication that he possessed such comfort -and skill- in the use of mental projection.

She sat at her desk, then quickly turned to pull her study notebook from stack of books on the credenza behind her.  The printer beside her whirred to life.  Opening her notes, she skipped to the next available page, and began entering her observations from the morning session.

The subject was highly engaged in the marketplace scenario.  He was most interested in questioning presented avatars about the location and their presence there.  The boundaries of the scenario were not sufficient to contain his conscious presence, as he quickly noticed and probed the edge of the marketplace framework.

The printer beeped.  She glanced over and noticed a sheet in the output bin.  She was expecting notes from the laboratory team, and reached over to grab the sheet.  Finishing her thoughts in the notebook, Eve looked at the printer output page.

It contained only two words.  The Garden.

Eve looked at both sides of the sheet of paper, confused over the words “The Garden”, but nothing else on the page.  She switched off the printer, then powered it up again.  Turning her attention to other files on her desk, she examined the project milestones summary.  The funding for phase II was contingent on a successful demonstration to the Sponsor and they were due to visit next week.

The printer whirred again, then spit out another batch of papers.  The papers consisted of the familiar cover page of the Wilkes Institute and the scenario criteria she had requested from the study team.  She skimmed over each page, then stopped on the last page.

Printed in the center of the page was a request.

I want to see the garden.


copyright John R. Shaw 2017

Visit my (mostly) poetry blog over at



The Garden (Episode 1)


Mari sat in the passenger seat, waiting for Mark’s return. They had come to the Marina for the Independence Day fireworks and been there most of the evening.

It was just before 10pm, and the fireworks display would be starting any second. Mark had a crush on Mari since high school, but was never brave enough to ask her on a date. Even she could see it and she encouraged his attention, but events conspired to keep a relationship from developing.

First there was Brian, her “dud” ex-boyfriend, who was the perfect rebellion relationship to inflict on her parents. But like the firecrackers in the distance, he was all noise with none of the flare. She was glad when he finally left town and that ended their relationship.

Whistle….pop! A bottle rocket exploded nearby.

Then, Mark left to go to college across the state. They exchanged a few emails and texts, but it had been two years since Mari had seen him in person. Mark called her up and invited her to the display at the Marina. Her curiosity compelled her to accept.

Crackle-crack-crack-crack. More firecrackers.

Mari looked up to see Mark standing at the front of the car with a sheepish grin. He held two cups of cherry slush.


The first firework went off behind him. The impact of the sound rattled the car window. Mari smiled and got out the car. They climbed on the hood and watched the perfectly timed and placed explosions, filled with color and sound.

Sometimes events conspire to make perfect moments, too.

Written in response to writing prompt on Poets&Writers, to write a short story that takes place at fireworks display. This is more of a character study, or maybe flash fiction, but the prompt definitely helped me.



“Why I can’t get something on paper,” Bill thought to himself.

He tapped his fingers intently on the table in a rolling rhythm of four beats– from ring finger to thumb. Rapping over and over.  That motion always seemed to calm him, though it irritated Allyson.  He always did that when he was trying to think, sometimes too hard.  His wife only heard the noise and didn’t understand the coping strategy.

Bill stared at the white screen of his laptop…tapping his fingers.

His writer’s block had worsened in the last several days.  He had a submission deadline looming for a set of four stories, and was struggling to get the final one written.  To help alleviate the stress, Allyson had suggested they come to her family’s cabin for a four day weekend.

Normally, he could type out ideas with little effort – they would roll from his thought process through his fingers to the screen.  Editing was always more difficult. He couldn’t bear to chop up his work.  His short story drafts were legendary in his writing group for their superfluous detail and he always plead ‘stream of consciousness’ writing.

Bill ran his fingers through his hair, and stood up from the table.  The laundry buzzer sounded off four repeating beats. After switching the load of the spare bed comforter to the dryer, he returned to kitchen table to continue his writing.

He sat for a moment, then he began to type some random sentences about the idyllic scenery at the cabin. It was situated on the edge of ridge with a stream running beneath it, in ravine about 50 feet down a steep grade. There was a spectacular view from the porch, where you could look across the ravine to rolling hills and watch the morning mist burn away.

His thoughts were interrupted by a thumping sound from the laundry closet. Thump, bump bump, thump.  The dryer rumbled, but the noise continued.  Bill rose from the table and went to investigate.

Opening the dryer door revealed a bloody smear inside the drum, and resting on the partially damp comforter was a severed left hand.  He stepped back, startled and confused.  Then he noticed the dried blood on his shirt.

It all unraveled in his mind as he stumbled backward.

“Hon…why don’t you take a break and go outside to clear your head?” Allyson called from the bedroom. Bill looked around in disbelief, the sound of the dryer was still humming in the laundry closet.

Bill poured a cup of coffee, and stepped outside on the front porch. The morning mist was rising away from the hills, revealing the undulating landscape. In the distance, there was the sound of a woodpecker.

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Bill smiled, then drank a gulp of coffee.


Day 30: Not yet

Some say that the poetry is dead
That it doesn’t reach the minds, they said.
Yet, the wily part resides with ease
In the underpinnings of its devotees.
Goverse when you pedestal the stars
Noverse, in the metastable dark.
Candles burning, wicketized and bright
Little ball of omnicating light.
Wordornate the comical, amuse
By parasailed and floated words you use.
Poetry’s not dead, as vilers say
It simply waits to sing another day.

Day 30: Not yet

Day 29: Catchy

In Ketchikan, the totems watch
In all directions, there and such.
The rain falls nonstop through the day
Then stops enough to start again.
The settlers were brave pioneers
Who built their homes and commandeered
The land, the Tlingit called their home.
Ketchikan, it’s far from Nome.

A bit of a throwaway verse I’m afraid. Today’s NaPoWriMo.Net prompt was to write a review-like poem. Maybe it will lead to something.

Day 29: Catchy

Day 28: a cross stick

Trebuchet a stone, a weight
In duplicate ways
Triplet if you try.
Another absolute attempt that
Never needs triumph.
If cast away over land
Underneath the vaulted sky.
More so,
Trebuchet the burden
Equally far, throwing
Sunlight to the end of the day.
Tomorrow gives back
Everything that yesterday

A challenge to use the words “titanium testes” in a poem…I supposed an acrostic might work, but not sure. 😉

Day 28: a cross stick