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Outside Order

Philip Gerwer lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with his wife and son. He writes what he can when he can, a technique that has served him surprisingly well.

"Hey there, hope you don't mind if I take this seat. Thanks." A woman you've never met pulls out the chair opposite you and sits down like she's going to talk to an old friend. "Fancy restaurant, huh? Good for you. Oh, don't worry 'bout the dress, I know it's a little torn up but I didn't have time to change. Name's Shirley." The woman extends her hand. Her eyes are mystery and grin mischief. Her brown hair traces her collarbone and sashays above her breasts as she reclines back into the chair.
"Listen, I gotta be honest with you, I didn't sit down here 'cause I like the way you look. Well, not just because of that. I wanted to let you know something."
"See, there are these myths and religious stories talked about all around the world, places out of time and space, and moments that last forever. You see, these myths came from somewhere. In one way or another, they are real, they happened. If you don't believe me, think about it. It'd be crazy to have so many of the same ideas by chance. I know 'cause I lived it." She turns and looks about motioning to a waiter. He brings her a glass, she sips from it and turns back to you.
"I couldn't tell you how it works, I'm nowhere near whatever it takes to figure that sort of thing out, but there's probably a couple of hundred different things that cause what I'm trying to tell you," She pauses and looks frustrated, as her words defy her. Then her smile returns.
"Ok, the best way for me to explain it is like this; people think the universe is run by a constant set of rules, but that ain't true. It is most of the time, sure, but not always. The rules stray from solid to runny for a moment, just a second, and something crawls out. The air shimmers or whistles or screams and the impossible is birthed out of a never-womb. It's an angry newborn baby, screaming and confused, wanting to lash out."
"What's that? Yes, I'll tell you why I let you know why I told you all that." Her bright blue eyes lose a bit of their sheen and begin to look heavy and vulnerable for the first time. And guilty. "I have to start by saying I'm sorry. Real sorry. I shouldn't have told you anything. Honestly, I shouldn't have talked to you at all, but I'm getting tired, see? The universe doesn't like anyone who knows it's got a leaky faucet. It points the things with sharp teeth and pointy bits at us. And you know that old saying about outrunning bears, right?"
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Author Comments

The inspiration for this story was simply wanting to experiment with the idea of reader as character instead of character as a stand in for the reader, but I also want to address the publishing of this story. I had never submitted any of my stories to any publication to be reviewed for publication, and I had grown weary of that fact. I didn't have a single story I thought was developed enough for it, but I had to begin the process to feel authentic as a writer. There was no hope for anything but a kind rejection letter. As you can see, that never arrived. If you write and are afraid of rejection, send out your work, and continue writing, anyway. Nothing is static about writing other than your status as a writer as long as you choose it to be. No one can take that from you, and as long as you try, you will always be getting better.

- Philip Gerwer
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