Prologue, Chapter 12, 3, 4, 5

FSA Origins Project
from the Diary of “El Unico”
Vol. 1, Recovered 2037.05.23
pp. 221-22

The sedatives usually mean sleep without dreams. Booze works, too, but it takes a lot more and is harder to come by these days.

When it happens, it’s always the same dream.

My youngest daughter’s graduation day…
We’re at the tiny house she and her boyfriend rented while she finished college. It’s May in South Carolina and it’s warm. There’s enough of a breeze to make eating outside the best option. All of my kids are there, even their mother, my ex-wife, is there and everyone is laughing and enjoying themselves. It hasn’t been like this – ever – in the years since the divorce.

My oldest, Candace, is in the kitchen. She’s doing something at the sink. I can hear the water running, but my back is turned because I’m cutting the cake.

I turn around and she stands up straight, her left hand on her back to help lever her belly upright. She’s late in the pregnancy and she turns to look at me, a smile on her face, beatific. She tells me she gave up her teaching job. She’s laughing. They said learn to code, so I did. She looks more beautiful than I’ve ever seen her in her whole life. Alive. Fulfilled. My son-in-law is outside and I can hear him wrestling with their 3-year old, Jonah.

I’m really happy for you, sweetheart, I say. Who’s the job with?
There’s a pause, so I turn around. The water has stopped.
Contract for B-A, she says. AI and machine learning. DoD.
The she tilts her head and frowns.
Why, Daddy?

I know this isn’t how it happened in real life. We had a great day that day. A great day…
I can feel the panic rising.

Why…? Why, Daddy? You knew this would happen. She’s holding her belly, moving towards me, and I’m walking backwards. Somehow the front wall of the house has vanished and I’m on the lawn, everyone’s watching from the porch, and she’s still walking towards me.
Why, Daddy? Bloody tears slide down her face, run off her neck, and down the front of her dress.
My ex-wife is laughing from the table, her nasal chuckle sounding like geese honking.
And what were you doing on the Naughty Web, anyway? She taunts, and then she has a bite of cake, her hand under the fork so she doesn’t drop any.
I want to run, but I can’t. I’m frozen, staring at my daughter while she bleeds.
I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I’m mumbling and crying, but she won’t stop asking, coming forward, bleeding.

Why, Daddy? She’s crying, I’m bawling, there’s blood everywhere, I can feel the warmth of it rising over my feet, my ankles…

I wake up with a start and the bed is drenched.

For a moment, I can’t decide whether or not I should kill myself…. My pistol is on the nightstand.

I can’t go on. I can’t live like this.