Simon Says

Jason was facing a tree in his backyard, jumping up and down, seemingly alone. His mother watched him from the kitchen window, finishing up the dishes from last night, and smiled. She used to worry about him being an only child, but she didn’t anymore.  He knew how to entertain himself and never seemed lonely.  The six-year-old suddenly stopped jumping and clapping his hands before suddenly freezing in place.  He stood motionless as if waiting then laughed and spun around three times. Dishes finished Jason’s mother made him lunch as she watched him play, putting his hands on his head, then on his knees, before launching into some jumping jacks.  Jason started running in place but stopped, laughing and stomping his feet in frustration before falling onto the grass in exhaustion.  Apparently, his game was over.

His mother came outside with a tray holding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a glass of milk, and a peeled apple (Jason didn’t like the skins).  She heard Jason talking to himself but he stopped as she drew close. He looked at her with a wide smile, “Wow, I was getting hungry.  It’s like you KNEW!”

She smiled, “Moms know everything. You’re all sweaty.  What was all that jumping around you were doing?”

“I was playing Simon says.” The boy said as he got up from the grass and took a quick drink from the glass of milk.

She chuckled, “Don’t you need two people for that.”

“I was playing with my friend but I can’t tell you about him. It’s a secret.”

“Then you’re not very good at keeping secrets because you just told me you had one.”

Jason looked worried but his mother pushed her hand through his sweaty brow and over his scalp. “Don’t worry; you’re not supposed to have secrets from your mommy. So, is your friend a boy or a girl?”

“No, he isn’t a boy or a girl. He’s more like a thing… I still think of him as a boy but he’s not one really. He said most things can only be one thing or another but he could be everything at once and nothing at once.”

His mother smiled at her son’s imagination, “You have a very special mind, Jason.”

Her son smiled, “That’s what he said too.”

“So,” his mother said, “Will he be joining us for lunch?”

Jason looked back towards the tree, then back at her, and said, “No, he said he doesn’t need to eat.”

“What’s his name?”

“He said I should call him Simon but I don’t think that’s his real name.” 

His mother’s smile faded a bit and then she remembered the lunch tray,” We should go inside to eat. There’s a nest of yellow jackets over by the table. Until Uncle Ryan comes to get rid of it we can’t go on that side of the yard, remember?”  

Jason took his mother’s hand and started leading her toward the picnic table. “it’s okay momma, they’re gone.”

“Gone?  They don’t just go away Jason; they have a nest there. They’ll be back. I told you not to go over there. It’s not safe.”

“It’s safe now momma. They are gone, the nest too. I fixed it. Simon showed me how but he said I shouldn’t talk about it. “

Jason led his now concerned mother to the table and pointed to the side of the shed where she’d seen the yellow jacket nest. She was looking about for wasps’ insects when she noticed the scent of burned paper and charred popcorn. There, on the ground, was a pile of charred dark paper-like material, ashes, and bits of burst yellow jackets.  On the side of the shed was a scorch mark under the eaves of the roof, where the nest had been firmly secured seven feet up yesterday.

  Jason sat down and smiled up at his mother. “See momma, we can eat here now.”

She asked, “Jason, did you burn the nest?”

He replied, “Yes. Simon and me. I did it but Simon showed me how.”

Her brows knit and she asked in a harsher tone, “Simon told you to play with matches?”

“We didn’t use matches momma. You said I couldn’t. Simon showed me how to make the fire without matches…” Jason looked behind her and wrinkled his forehead as if listening.  His excitement faded, and he frowned and lowered his dark brown eyes to his food. “I’m going to eat my lunch now. I don’t want to talk about Simon anymore.”

His mother checked over the shed’s door, where both matches and lighter fluid were kept but found it securely locked. She walked around the shed but couldn’t find any other way inside.  She then checked Jason over, smelling his hands for the scent of anything flammable, and searched his pockets for matches or a lighter. She found nothing. 

“Jason, we need to talk about this. You could have been hurt or burned. Where are the matches?”

“I didn’t use matches. I’m not lying” he replied.

She grabbed her son’s upper arm, giving him a shake. “Jason, I am not kidding around now. I know you wanted to help but…”

Her son interrupted, “I didn’t. I wouldn’t play with matches.”

“But you said you burned the nest… how?  How did you even reach it?”

Jason said nothing but glanced over at empty space.

“JASON!  Look at me! Did Simon tell you to burn the nest? What else does he tell you?”

Jason looked over at her, tears welling in his eyes. “Right now he’s telling me I told you so. He said you’d be mad that I told you about him. He said you wouldn’t understand. Now you’re mad at me.”

She took a deep breath before continuing, “I’m not mad at you, I love you, but you HAVE to tell me the truth.  How did you burn the nest…?”

Jason said nothing as the tears slowly ran down his cheeks. 

His mother took a deep breath, “This isn’t a good thing Jason. These wasps were living creatures. You shouldn’t have killed them.”

Jason replied, “But Uncle Ryan was going to kill them, I heard you say so on the phone. Now we don’t need to wait until the weekend. I was just trying to make you proud of me.”

His mother sat down and looked at her son, as it was for the first time.

“Simon says it is okay to kill because life and death are the same things. It’s like a story in a book, having a beginning and an end, already written. I just skipped ahead to the end of the wasp’s book. He said they were always going to die and in a way, they were already dead. Simon said that’s the ultimate truth.”

His mother put her hand over her mouth for a moment, and then whispered, “I don’t want you talking to Simon anymore.”

Jason began to cry, “He’s my best friend momma… We didn’t do anything wrong…”

“I MEAN it!  You don’t need friends who tell you to kill. You are not to talk about this to anybody!”

Jason sobbed, “He says I shouldn’t have told you in the first place.”

“JASON!”  She took a deep breath to calm herself, “If anyone asks, I burned the nest, but ONLY if someone asks. No more talk about Simon. We’ll figure all this out. Momma’s not going to let anything happen to you.”

She hugged her son, thinking of her brother… who’d died when she was only fourteen. He’d seen things, heard things, too…  Nobody knew he’d stopped taking his medication before it was too late. It was two days after his twentieth birthday when he hung himself.

He hugged back. Jason looked over her shoulder towards what most perceive as empty space. But Jason was special; a boy whose senses pierced the veil of reality to view things that were both there and not there at the same moment.  He could nearly always hear Simon but only saw him when upset… or asleep.  

Simon was there, watching him and his mother. He looked like a twenty-foot-long snake made of shadows and roiling tar. Its mouth was toothless, an opening in its body with a pair of long black mandibles like an ant.  Its single eye was made up of a hundred smaller eyes and twisted like a kaleidoscope in the sun.  

Simon then “spoke” to Jason and the child heard the message within his receptive mind. “Don’t worry Jason; we always knew this was going to happen. Everyone will tell you that you’re crazy, but you’re not. You are special, my special friend, and we are going to do great things together.  If you listen to them, if you try to fight against this truth, that struggle WILL make you crazy. They will break what isn’t broken trying to fix something they don’t understand. Have faith Jason, in yourself, and in me. We’ll get through this. Your mother is right about two things.  You shouldn’t talk to anyone about me… and you are not very good at keeping secrets.”

Jason muttered, “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”

His mother and Simon replied, in nearly one voice, “It’s okay… everything is going to be okay…”

Part Two – Ten Years Later

There were okay days and bad days. Jason knew today was going to be a bad day. 

He’d spent most of the night cramming for midterms, going to sleep only when remaining awake any longer would have left him too exhausted to function the following day. Jason wasn’t a great student and maintaining his pitiful C average had been a struggle since the first grade. His life was a battle to maintain mediocrity, to hide behind a mask of who he needed the outside world to see and something else lurking within. 

Living with mental illness wasn’t easy but therapy and drugs help a lot. However, the person the medications created wasn’t really him. Jason didn’t think or feel the same when he was medicated but he told himself it was better that way. Without his anti-psychotics, Jason constantly zoned out, heard voices, and sometimes saw things. While his doctor never settled on a formal diagnosis his treatments gave Jason something coming close to a normal life. Normal that is if you considered struggling to maintain a C average, being unable to relate to people, and never dreaming as being normal. 

Jason hated his life and often thought of ending it. He’d never tell anyone that as it would only earn him additional therapy and a stronger prescription. He spent weeks nauseously adjusting to the new medications and end up struggling just to string thoughts together, and further isolated from other human beings. Sometimes he wondered what life off his meds would be like. But he would never dare to try it. Mental illness ran in his family; he had an uncle lose his battle with it. It scared him and Jason hadn’t missed a dosage in three years.  

He thought of life as a book with an ending already written. He just had to wait to see how the next chapter turned out. His future had to be better than this. The universe couldn’t be that cruel.  He wanted a girlfriend. He wanted to be happy. Hell, he’d settle for a friend to go bowl with. 

Jason grabbed breakfast, kissed his mom goodbye, and just made it onto the bus for school. It was wet outside, cold and grey, the trees barren and bare. But as Jason looked at them he could almost see the spring leaves on them, and then the orange and yellow leaves of autumn, before the bare branches of next October, cycling before his eyes. He rubbed his forehead and struggled to control his breathing. Focus, he thought, you’re tired and stressed. Jason looked around and saw everyone on the bus was ignoring him as usual. Even riding in the bus with them Jason was like a hermit living on the edge of civilization. Then the doubt hit him, did I forget to take my meds…?

“You took them Jason but it doesn’t matter. You’re older now and your body chemistry is changing. That’s reshuffled the deck. Now all bets are off…”

Jason heard the voice clearly and recognized it instantly although he hadn’t perceived it since he was ten.  He thought, “This is just in my head. I must have missed my dosage. I’ll go to the nurse when I get to school and ask her for my emergency prescription. I just need to keep it together…

“It won’t help to ignore me Jason because I am here, and you are here, and you’re not crazy.   They made you think that you are.  It was so much easier for them to decide an innocent little boy was crazy, wasn’t it?  They don’t want to help you, Jason, they just want you silenced or locked away.  What to know why? Because if they understood what was happening they’d be terrified. They’d probably hang you, burn you, or cover you with a board and pile rocks on top of it until your chest collapsed. I’ve seen it happen, plenty of times. They’ve already filled your body with poisons, a chemical prison for a specially gifted child who never did anyone any harm. All this is true Jason. We both know it. Everyone on this bus, who thinks you’re a freak, knows it too… “

Jason closed his eyes, out of fear over possibly seeing something that was and wasn’t there. He thought over and over, “I’m not hearing this. I’m having an episode. This is the brain chemistry giving my subconscious mind a voice, but there is no voice.” 

But the voice in his mind continued, “In your whole life only one being understood you, befriended you. Only one cared about the real you and never tried to turn you into something else. That’s me, Jason, and how did you repay me? You tried to shut me out. You ran to your jailors and told them you needed help. I could have helped you, Jason. You could have had a wonderful childhood with me but that time is past. Now you need to ask yourself what sort of adolescence you want to have. With my guidance, you can have a normal life, one filled with friends, girlfriends, good grades… I can show you a path to perfect health, wealth, power, centuries of life in that body, and then again in a new body when that one finally fails you. It’s all an illusion Jason, life, death, existence, and you’re one of the few who can see it. You were born with a rare gift, the ability to understand the truth.”

Jason asked, “If you really cared about me Simon you’d leave me alone. You’re not my friend and you’re not real.”

Although he didn’t realize it Jason was drooling, twitching, and moaning loudly on the bus. The other students took notice and moved further away from him than normal. One concerned girl informed the bus driver something was wrong with one of the students onboard. She didn’t know his name.

“So you DO remember my name. I’m glad. We used to play games in our dreams all night long. I kept you company when no other kids were around. I showed you things, taught you things… Remember the wasps and the fire coming from your fingertips? Do you remember how good that felt, to have the power of the universe channeling through you?  That funny feeling you have when you know that everything, all of reality was a lie, a joke, a cheap toupee that only you could tell wasn’t real hair. That was nest was only the beginning, the first step in a long and wondrous journey.”

“I’m not six years old anymore Simon. I know that nothing comes without a price. Why would you teach me these things?”

Jason was now yelling incoherently on the bus, thrashing his arms and kicking his feet. The bus driver told everyone to get away from the boy having a fit and sped towards the school.  He would have stopped by he was only three blocks away. He needed to get the other children to safety and get the school nurse in there as soon as they arrived.

“First of all Jason, you need to calm down. You’re fighting me and causing a scene. Nobody wants that. You’re right, I haven’t been completely honest with you or treated you with the respect you are due. I suppose I was hurt that you chose them over me but I’ll be the bigger entity and let that go. So here’s the truth, remember that show on cable where the drug lord was in prison but still controlled his empire? He had a contraband cell phone to call his people on the outside and direct things until he got out.  It’s sort of like that, I’m locked away. I can see everything going on but can’t do anything about it. Some of what’s going on are troubling. People poking around in my business, taking my things, hurting those I care about, ruining the plans I’ve put in place for when I get out. Burning, always freaking burning, my property. It’s quite annoying.” 

Jason was screaming now, strange words in a language no one seemed to understand. The bus pulled up to school and the children ran off, some using the rear emergency door.  The school nurse was already rushing towards the bus and the blaring siren of an ambulance could be heard approaching. People were yelling that one of the students was having some sort of seizure.

“You see Jason, I didn’t lie. You’re special and important to me.  You’re my cell phone. You’re who picks up when I dial out. Do you know how rare that is? It could be a thousand years before someone else like you are born. So yes, I need you but I think you need me a lot more.  I’ll direct you on how best to look after certain interests of mine and in return provide you will a wonderful, fulfilled, and happy life.”

Jason screamed, “Go away, Simon! You’re not real! Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP! Leave me alone.” On the bus Jason punched the school nurse in the face when she touched him, dislocating her jaw and breaking several bones in his hand. The paramedics rushed in and tackled him, but he bit down into the forearm of one.  

In his mind, Simon continued, “So you need to ask yourself something: What sort of life do you want?  One where you’re provided for and you help me out from time to time… or the sort of life they are going to force onto you? Medicated, institutionalized, and studied like a lab animal.  One where you’re ultimately locked away to be either forgotten or destroyed? You need to ask yourself who your real friends are.”

Jason was restrained, sedated, pulled off the bus, and taken away in the ambulance. He missed midterms and the rest of that school year; he never returned to high school. The time in his life when there were okay days and bad days was over. The time of bad days and worse days was just about to begin. 

Part Three – Ten Years Later

For what seemed like ages Jason had been having a nightmare. It was the sort of surreal dream where nothing made sense yet everything was so vivid that you could feel the cold, the grime on your skin, the pain of physical blows, and the twisting pangs of hunger. It seemed to go on and on, this dream of watching his mom die of bone cancer and end up living on the streets. The dream of shooting heroin from shared needles, stealing to survive, and always being afraid. It was a haze of confusion, wandering friendless and aimless, through dark streets and abandoned buildings.  

At one point in the dream, Jason couldn’t escape from one of his many attackers and the beating went on and on. He knew that this time the person pummeling him wouldn’t stop until they killed him, no matter how he begged or pretended to be unconscious. In the dream, Jason put his hand on the attacker’s temple and thought of the symbols someone had shown him when he was just a little kid…  There was screaming, fire, and boiling eyes popping outwards in a spray of blood…  Jason tried to escape the fire the man’s burning corpse had caused but then someone was yelling at him… He didn’t understand…  He staggered forward, was stung by a bee, and hit by lightning… Then the dream ended and there was nothing for a long, long time. His universe was a void of inky black and silence, wandering within his thoughts and floating weightless in space. Jason was sure that he was dead.

Then one amazing day he woke up and was home. He went downstairs, had breakfast, and went to school. He watched T.V., played computer games, and got good grades. He got a few part-time jobs, went to the movies, made a few friends, and went to prom. Jason grew up, his mom passed away suddenly in her sleep. He graduated college; traveled, and lived in several cities. He found love, and lost it, three times. It wasn’t a bad life but he knew soon he’d have to make a choice. He was nearly thirty years old and it was time to set a concrete direction. What did he want to do with himself?  What sort of life did he want?

He needed a career, a steady and secure job he could retire in. Jason remembered that someone had offered him such a job once, an executive assistant position. Not really an errand boy or a secretary, but something more meaningful that provided a generous salary, security, and… power? What was his name? This was a childhood friend but he couldn’t remember his name.  Jason walked around his apartment looking for a business card. He checked his email and address book, trying to find something that he remembered. He needed the man’s contact information. Was it a man? No, not a man or a woman, but something else… everything at once… 

Jason went outside and found himself in the backyard of his childhood home. The neighborhood was quiet and empty. There was no sound of cars on the road, no planes in the sky, no birds singing or dogs barking. But there was a buzzing as an insect flew by his head.  His eyes followed the shape of the bug… a bee? No, it was a yellow jacket that flew to a nest and went inside. Then the nest was gone in a burst of flames and the insects were dead, but they were still alive and had already been dead, all at once. Time and reality were an illusion. Jason saw a little boy, like a ghost, and a dark shape playing in the corner of the yard. The child was jumping up and down, spinning around, and doing jumping jacks. The shadow was like mist and no matter how hard he tried Jason couldn’t focus his eyes to see it better.

I’m dreaming… I’m going crazy… he thought, and then angrily screamed, “NO MORE!  I’m NOT crazy! Something has to be real… something has to be the truth…”  Then it hit him, it was all a lie and all the truth. Everything was one all at once. It was all moving and standing still at the same time. All the life forms on the planet were living a million lives all at once and an equal number of deaths. Jason understood it now. He saw it so clearly and wondered why he had never been able to figure this out before. This was the truth. The man who had a job for him had tried to teach him this, to show it to him, but he wasn’t ready to see it. Jason knew and saw and understood. This insight changed everything and he calmed. He remembered the man’s name.

“Simon… I’m ready to talk to you now. I understand.”

The shadow moved away from the ghost of the boy and the child’s apparition vanished. Jason was alone with the shadow.  It whispered to him, “Hello Jason, I’m happy you found your way back here.”

“I can hardly see or hear you now.” the shadow answered. “You are older now, the reception is better with children. Also, you’re still medicated. Your new doctor changed your meds trying to “reach” you. We only have a small window with which to work if you’re interested in getting out of here.”

“That nightmare about being homeless and a drug addict… murdering someone… that was real?”

“Yeah-Boy it was…”

“The bee sting and lightning…”

The shadow answered, “A policeman with a Taser. That was five years ago and you’ve been here ever since.” 

Simon was remembering it now… pills, a cup of pills, every day. He’d swallow them and then look out a window, for hours on end. They made him thoughtless, and mindless, like a candy dispenser in reverse. 

“That other life… then one I’ve been leading… that’s the dream?”

Simon seemed to shrug, “A possible reality that I allowed you to experience. I thought you should have some context in your life. You won’t be able to function out there if all you know is the life of an addict and a mental patient. So I allowed you lived an alternative decade in your dreams. It’s the last gift I’ll be able to give you until we reach an accord.”

Jason smiled.  “Okay boss, I’m your man. Tell me what you need me to do.”

The shadow drifted closer and whispered into his ear. “Listen well. Open your mind and remember what I show you.  When you awaken, truly and fully awaken, for the first time in this life, you will know what to do.”

Part Four – The Next Day

It was a day like any other at the McNamara State Hospital (for the Criminally Insane). Jason was given his medications as soon as he woke up and was led to the third floor. The orderly sat him in the solarium to watch the birds below in the rear yards until lunch before having a session with his new doctor. However, today Jason was coherent enough to not swallow the pills but hide them between his lip and teeth. He felt physically stronger and mentally clear-headed but still shuffled about, straining into space with a drooling, slack-jawed expression to keep up appearances. No one noticed anything different about him.

He sat in the chair, watched the birds, and waited. After lunch, his new doctor arrived with an orderly to take him to a private room for therapy. Jason looked at his new psychiatrist for the first time with a clear, non-medicated mind, and recognized him. His master had filled Jason’s mind with information about this man, his accomplishments, his sins, and his fears.  

Doctor Robert Monahan had dedicated his life to finding, treating, and in some cases killing people just like Jason. They were the special ones, the ones who could “hear.” The ones whose minds had the ability to comprehend “the truth.” Dr. Monahan knew just enough to realize these people weren’t insane and that the voices they heard were more than just the 

product of an unbalanced mind or damaged subconscious. The psychiatrist knew that these people were experiencing something real, connecting to something beyond scientific comprehension. From his years of research and interview with these people, he’d learned enough to be very afraid of what they represented. He suspected they were the most dangerous people on Earth. 

Jason knew that this doctor would try to cure him. This man viewed Jason as a land mine, a deadly object to be either defused or destroyed. The psychiatrist would end his “madness” once and for all, one way or another. Jason knew that Dr. Monahan had killed nearly as many patients as he’d “saved”, in ways always appearing to be accidental. This doctor was an equal-measure healer and serial killer, a misguided crusader thinking he was protecting mankind.

But Jason saw the truth, a truth this physician would never understand. Mankind was not the master of anything and Robert Monahan was a cowardly bully. He was a thug stomping out shoots before they could blossom into something more… something wonderful… a new phase of human evolution where man lives in truth.  An age where humanity accepted their true place at the feet of the Great Old Ones; an alien god-like being who’d reached an understanding of that truth billions of years ago. Jason knew one more thing about Dr. Robert Monahan, the man had nearly drowned in a pool when he was seven and held a nearly crippling fear of the water.

“Hello there Jason, it’s me, doctor Bob. Do you remember me? Are you ready for another talk?”

The patient looked up, closed his mouth, and smiled. The doctor looked surprised as Jason’s eyes showed clarity and intelligence that shouldn’t be there, the medications should have ensured that.  Suddenly the security cameras covering the western solarium stopped working and the batteries of everyone’s cell phone in that hospital wing suddenly drained of power.

“I remember you, Doctor Monahan. More than that, I know you. I see you; my master sees you, a cruel child with a magnifying glass burning ants and calling it science. He has a message for you… Do you want to play Marco Polo?”

The psychiatrist’s eyes grew wide with fear and he reached into his medical bag. Within was a syringe filled with a powerful antipsychotic sedative. He looked over at the orderly, “Restrain him!” 

Jason raised his hand, muttered a phrase, and pictured the symbols in his mind. Suddenly Robert Monahan’s lungs began filling with water. Horror gripped him as he gasped for breath, and fell to his knees, sputtering and retching in a futile attempt to void the fluid from his body. The orderly bent down trying to help the doctor as Jason stood up and lifted and picked up his chair.  Jason channeled power into his arms and swung the chair at the window, knocking a three-foot-wide hole through the shatterproof glass as if it were made of rice paper.

The psychiatrist was somehow drowning, helplessly thrashing about in panic. People were screaming and the orderly turned towards Jason in disbelief. The large, burly man grabbed the slender mental patient by the shoulder, trying to pull him into a submission hold. Jason said a single strange word, the sound of which hurt the ears of every one hearing it, and the orderly burst into flames.   

The burning, screaming man rushed about the room, flailing wildly and causing bits of his flaming flesh to go flying off of him. These burning clumps of flesh stuck to everything and everyone around him like globs of jellied gasoline. Within seconds the room and everyone in it were on fire except for Jason, who paused to watch the spectacle for a moment. It was beautiful. This was the truth, the will of his master, finally realized. He snapped his fingers and every door to the McNamara State Hospital (for the Criminally Insane) locked. Rescuers tried to enter and victims tried to escape to no avail. Jason then leaped through the hole in the window.  

No one saw him jump out of the window and his body was never located among the charred remains of the victims of the fire. No one witnessed the solitary raven flying away from the burning mental hospital, riding the hot thermals of the raging fire. It soared into the sky like a phoenix rising from the ashes of its own pyre. Like the phoenix, it departed one life and began another, reborn. 

Part Five – The First Day

The raven landed on the roof of the SUV, parked on a bridge over a swiftly running river, many miles from the hospital. It was a lonely place, a deserted one, without another living soul about for miles. An old man stood beside the car in the growing shadows of twilight. He held a revolver in one hand and an overnight bag in another. The raven cawed at the man. The man smiled.  

“It’s all here, a change of clothing and IDs, the keys are inside. The bank accounts are all set up too, just like he told me to do. Is that okay? I’ve done as he’s asked, to the best of my abilities. Can I be done now?” The man tossed the bag forward and stepped away from the SUV and the raven. He moved to stand with his back to the edge of the bridge.

The raven preened itself as if to add dramatic tension, before cawing once more as if in answer.

The man smiled and sighed in deepest relief before saying, “I am complete. This is the truth and my tribute to thee oh master. Ia!”  He placed the barrel of the pistol under his chin and fired, the single shot instantly ending his physical life. His corpse fell backward still clutching the revolver, tumbling through space and into the freezing waters below. His body would never be found.

Jason resumed his human form and then to the bag. He put on the suit and shoes carefully laid out within, all of which fit him perfectly. Beneath the clothing was $25,000 dollars.  This was just to get started on. Jason knew there was more than fifty times that amount in the accounts linked to his new, fictional identity. He got into the SUV and saw a brown paper bag. He opened it and found a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, and a bottle of ice-cold milk. Jason smiled and started eating as he drove west. 

There was no real destination in mind; he knew those details would come later in other dreams. Jason would go where his master instructed him to go, and do what his master asked him to do. He knew he’d live a good life, one filled with truth, understanding, and power, from this moment forward. But best of all, Jason knew he would never be afraid or alone again.

The End

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