Brian could not feel time, and his mother made him sit in front of a metronome for two hours every day. Think about that. His brain was made of failure. Brian. Really, the signals in there were bad lightning. He always invited me to go to the movies, but I really didn’t like them. In secret one night the lake where he lived got drained. At the bottom of it were childhood toys that his mom had claimed she’d given to poor children. That made me sorry, so we went to the movies.

It was one of those movies where the main character talks to the audience. His name was Hunk. Hunk comes home to find his wife in bed with a priest. He says, “I should be mad at the priest, but my friend at work is demon possessed, so I will make a deal with this priest.” Turns out the friend was not possessed at all, only he had been eating too much spicy food. At the end of the movie, the man says to the audience, “I’m not really Hunk. In real life I am an actor who is very rich with money and sex. All of you in the audience are pathetic. I’m not a mean person, but you are all limited by a disease called failure.”

We all booed. We threw things and shoes at the screen.

Brian and I left the theater feeling badly, stumbling, afraid.

Everything smelled burned. The trees were quieter than night. In a field where we lay, the sky had protruded, then righted. We were beginning to forget the movie. We were honestly forgetting everything that had been louder than the clicking in our jaws.

Brian told me that his brain was so nasty he had to remember to breathe. It took so much out of him. The grass was wet. The night was thick, smart, intelligent. I asked if the metronome really helped him. He said it did, then pointed to the sky where a light was blinking red, as if Mars had become a turn signal.

What is it? I asked.

Just watch, he said.

The blinking soon morphed into a smooth, slower pulsing of light. It turned purple and then blue. He said that if you yelled at the light it would do something.

What will it do?

It will divide into jagged lines and make promises it never means to keep.

Andrew Rhodes is a fiction writer from Mississippi. His stories have appeared in publications such as The Laurel Review, upstreet, Gravel, and Crime Factory.