Skid McAllister

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10/30/2019 8:09am

Nothing like waking up in a cozy bed on a beautiful fall morning in the dorms at Psyhigh. 

My hands are still pretty dry and cracky, and there's still that funky smell, but I can live with it. It's one of those mornings where you feel like you have a whole new lease on life, you know?

On a random note, I found this flyer slipped under my door:



Thanks for choosing Episcope Reality Estate. Your satisfaction is important to us. Please help us serve you better by completing this quick survey and placing it in any of the distinctive green and white Episcope Reality collection boxes. They're everywhere!


Episcope Reality Estate


No idea what that's about--obviously they have the wrong room. Unless it's for my roommate.

In any case, it's great day to be alive! See you 'round campus!

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10/27/2019 3:11pm

My dorm room bed, a hypersleep pod, the cold hard concrete next to a dumpster... it always takes a bit of sorting out to remember where I am when the Fata-M wears off.

It's not a good feeling.

I sat up and hugged the green army surplus bag around my skinny waist. It was cold, and the person beside me had faded badly. He was giving off that sweet, rotting smell of a person who's been in the hypno-hallucinogenic fugue for too long. And my hand hurt--maybe a bit of frostbite. Probably what broke me out of the drug's deep dream.

I've got one more dose of Fata-M, hidden in a secret fold of the army surplus bag. Pretty soon I'll need to pick myself up and go hunting for a dealer in the wreckage of the city. Skies are gray--just like they've been since the bombs went off--and its getting colder. Maybe winter's on they way? Between my Fata-M trips, I've lost track of what season it even is.

I shove my good hand deep into the army surplus bag, feeling for the little baggie with the Fata-M...

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10/22/2019 8:30am

“I think 100 pods seems fair. Are we in agreement?”

The other Episcope Realtors at the table nod in agreement with Mr. Mann.

“Uh, wait,” I interject. “You mean you’re going to give the aliens 100 of the students currently in hypersleep pods in exchange for the safe passage of the rest?”

“Well, I think it’s rather ethnocentric to call them “aliens” out here in the depths of space, Skid. I mean, we’re all “aliens” now, amirite?”

“Mmmmrrrrlphhhb,” says the head alien from across the negotiating table. The rest of the Realtors chuckle in agreement.

“Alrighty! Then it’s settled. We can start transferring the pods immediately.”

“So, that’s it? Just like that you’re handing over a third of the crew? Which Realtors are going with them? How will you decide?”

“Oh, it’s decided. This ship needs a full contingent of Realtors to to run effectively. You, on the other hand, need to return to hypersleep...”

“Hey! Get your hands off me! Let me go!!!”

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10/17/2019 9:07am

“Just follow me! Don’t mind the breaches, there’s forcefields and everything.”

Hugh G. Mann turned to look at me.

"And I'm not talking about my pants," he winked.

He was talking about the ship. Huge portions of the hull were missing, burned away by some terrific force, revealing the vast emptiness of space outside. And the exterior of the ship—big engines, towers, antenna...

“That's funny, the damage doesn't look as bad from out here."

Hugh G. Mann winked at me again.  

"The ship is auto-regenerative. Self repairing AI, autonomous nurse tractors, fully self sufficient. It's great for the little things."

We climb up a ladder and onto another catwalk.

"But for big things--things outside the AI's scope--there's a protocol. In that case, me and the other Realtors get woken up from hypersleep, and we asses the situation."

Walking out to the edge of the forcefield, I can see the alien fleet. Hundreds of ships, sitting in formation, their pearlescent wasp-shaped bodies glittering in the starlight. Miles and miles of them.

"Our assessment is we'll need to surrender."

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10/12/2019 11:58am

"This ointment will totally help."

Outside the window there's a field of stars.

"Quite a view, huh? You can't actually see them move. Too far away, and we're moving too slow. Relatively."

In reality, Hugh G. Mann wasn't so big. In fact, a little shorter than me. And pudgy. And not so well groomed.

"Your memory issues will clear up. Being asleep for a hundred years still has some side effects!"

Hugh winked.

"Basically, you and about 300 other kids signed up to be pioneers. Populate a new planet, save the human race, etc., etc. But it takes a long time to get there. A very long time."

He's right. The stars don't seem to move.

"And while your body can sleep during the trip, the brain needs to remain active. So we make sure there's a story going on upstairs. Everybody's got their own special dream."


A red light in the wall starts flashing.

"We just didn't expect trouble along the way."

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10/6/2019 5:27pm

"So, let's see... unexplained citrus smells... and now a severe rash on the extremities?"

The school nurse was going though notes on a clipboard, not really looking me in the eye. This was a different school nurse. Much larger than the last one. She barely fit through the door of the tiny examination room. In fact, she seemed a lot like Hugh G. Mann in a bad nurse disguise.

"I'll be honest with you, Skid. I'm Hugh G. Mann, Episcope Reality, and there's been a small accident."


"Yes. There was a fire in the cargo hold where your hibernation pod is located, and it suffered some damage."


"Yes. You'll be fine, but we're going to have to wake you up from hypersleep in order to transfer you to a new container."


"You'll feel a little disoriented, and woozy, but you'll be fine. Just wanted to give you a little heads up first."


Hugh pulled the small black phone thing out of his pocket and flashed the strobe lights at me again.

I choked on the burnt orange smell. And my hands burned.

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10/1/2019 7:30pm

The big guy in the suit might have fixed me for a couple of days. Or he might have just freaked me out enough to forget about it for awhile. But it wasn’t long before the weird smell came back, and worse than before—now instead of sweet lemon cake I’m smelling burnt oranges all the time. And on top of that I’m getting a rash or psoriasis or something because my hands are super dry and cracking and peeling and red. 

Maybe I do have an allergy? I guess it's back to the school nurse.

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9/17/2019 9:44pm

The weird sweet smell hadn't gone away. Till the huge man appeared behind me on the sidewalk outside the Thermo-hypnosis lab.

"Skid McAllister?"

I'd been standing there, smelling the trees and the grass, sorting out the weird sweet smell from the earthy outside smell, trying not to obsess.

"Uh, yeah?"

"Hugh G. Mann, Episcope Reality. We were notified of a malfunction?"

He was gigantic. He was dressed in a blue suit and a boring tie, with a short haircut and trimmed nails. He seemed like a normal business guy, and his proportions were all... proportional. But it was like the world was too small for him. Like a too-big doll in a wrong size dollhouse.

I nodded.

"Can you hold still for a moment? Just like that. Now look at me..."

He pulled a small black object out of his pocket. Like a thick phone. He pointed it at me and it squealed.

"There. That should do it. Here, take my card, and if anything else comes up you just let us know."

I looked down at the card, which was too big. I held it in both hands.

When I looked up he was gone.

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9/3/2019 9:38pm

So the school nurse got in there and started poking around.

“Well I see some pretty gnarly honkers in there, but nothing that really needs to come out.”

A cloud of bats flew out of my nose.

“Just releasing a mild bit of internal pressure.”

The nurse did all the basic spirit invasion tests, thumbing through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Known Exorcism Vectors and pausing here and there to chant a few lines or sprinkle some oils on me.

“I don’t see anything that would be generating a smell like the one you’re describing. Have you changed shampoos recently?”

I could tell this wasn’t going anywhere.

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8/30/2019 5:45pm

Now I’m smelling that weird sweet cakey burnt fish smell other places. Like in the library, or even outside. Is it me? Is it stuck in my nose or something? Maybe I should see the school nurse. It’s been awhile since my last exorcism.

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