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Occupy Reality

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The Green Glass (Original Horror Story)

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Trotsky

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There are two pertinent things about me which you must understand: I have a photographic memory, and I am a criminal. My memory means you can trust that my tale is accurate; my criminality does not indicate any deception or fabrication – it is much easier to omit rather than to lie. It is your prerogative to doubt me, for in the interest of my own anonymity I cannot provide any tangible proof of my encounter with the malevolent object (or whatever compels or creates this object) which I have named, for the sake of convenience, the Green Glass.

A photographic memory is certainly an interesting trait, but wasn’t for me a particularly useful one. This trait never got me a high-paying job, hell, it never even helped in getting me laid. I worked at a call center for a major department store taking inbound calls and processing orders for merchandise. As you could guess, I see hundreds of credit card numbers every week, complete with the expiration date, security code, and the full name of the cardholder. Sometimes I even came across social security numbers. If one were to engage in an unsavory crime involving customers’ credit card numbers, there are two ways that person would be caught. The first would be if they were spotted taking a photograph or writing down the number, and the second would be if they were stupid enough to use that number to buy something for themselves. I was more clever than that. I stored that information inside my memory and wrote it down later in the safety of my own home – even my memory has limits. Then I would wait a full year, letting the cardholder make purchases in all sorts of places so that when I sold the numbers on the dark web, there would be hundreds of suspects other than myself that investigators would look for when the cardholder reported fraudulent purchases.

It was a regular work day, and another act of future identity theft I was committing, when I first saw the Green Glass. Then, it had no such name; it was merely a centerpiece for a dining room table being sold on my company’s website. A very expensive, finely crafted centerpiece going for $3,099.99. Who spends that much money on a thing that has no other purpose but to sit on a table and impress dinner guests? This lady whom I was talking to who wanted to order it, who we’ll call “Kristin.” I’ve changed all the names here, of course, so as to not implicate myself in whatever began that day.

“Sixteen” said Kristin, “that’s the item number.” The item numbers on the company’s website are always 7 digits. I seriously doubted my customer knew what the hell she was talking about, but that’s nothing new. The site was never very user friendly, customers tended to mistake all kinds of things for the item number and then I had to find it for them. I was going to politely correct her, but by muscle memory I typed “16” into the search bar and pressed enter. And to my mild surprise, an item actually appeared. It was this centerpiece, which the site’s description told me was “crafted by the most highly skilled glass artisans in North America.” A ridiculously overpriced centerpiece. The only other thing worth noting, apart from the price, is that I saw in the image that the centerpiece had a very faint, very subtle shade of green despite the object also being described as “flawlessly clear.” But that was probably nothing more than bad lighting when the photograph was taken, and if Kristin didn’t mention it, there was no way I would and risk losing the sale.

My employer sold a few luxury items but for the most part, the department store chain catered to middle-class people, and the vast majority of callers were not the wealthy, but instead those looking for $50 items marked down to $10 on a fire sale. Still, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary at the time, and I was honestly excited – exceed a sales quota and I would earn some bonus cash. This would bring me right over the benchmark. As I half-listened to Kristin’s boring blabbering about her dinner plans and gave her intermittent acknowledgment, I thought of what I might treat myself to with my extra earnings. I explained to her that the one-day shipping she chose actually meant two days but that she would undoubtedly receive it time, and then the call was finished.

Later that night, I was at a friend’s apartment drinking beer, smoking weed, and playing Rocket League. Many of my weeknights went this way. I could stay up until dawn killing time like this because I worked afternoons and evenings. When we took a break from the PS4, I felt inclined to whine to my buddy Eric about the shallowness of my customers. He bitched about his shitty job all the time, so naturally I returned the favor. “This woman bought like, a fucking piece of glass, like a fancy fucking piece of glass, for $3100. Just to sit on a table. For one night. I wanted to tell her she wouldn’t be able to return it so I wouldn’t have to deal with that, but I mean I didn’t want her to get insulted, obviously. I earn that much in 4 months. If I had that much money, I’d buy...” but the weed was kicking in and I forgot what I would have bought. “I wanna see it” Eric said. My other friend, Jason, nodded in agreement. I pulled up the company’s website on my phone and entered 16 into the search bar. But no results came up. I don’t remember anything incorrectly, but anyone can remember 16 regardless. I tried the name of it instead. Nothing. I stubbornly went to the fine china tab and chose the price range, and still I couldn’t bring up the damn thing. “The site is being shitty, never mind” I said. For all I knew, it was just that the site was being shitty. It didn’t matter then.

Kristin called back two weeks later, and that is when things started to get strange. “Hey, I remember you!” she said in a chipper voice. “Do you remember me?” “Yes ma’am, of course” I said. “Did your dinner party go well? Did you get compliments on the centerpiece?” Kristin spared no detail in answering me.

“Oh, everything was perfect. All my colleagues were envious! The reason I’m calling though… last week I was the victim of a home invasion.” I was going to give a courteous “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that” sort of interjection. But Kristin kept talking. “I wasn’t home at the time. But my husband and Elizabeth, my 6 year old, they were both there. These thugs broke my husband’s jaw, he’s still in the hospital, Elizabeth is sleeping with the lights on. They took most of my jewelry, the cash. But that’s not what’s important.”

“Of course” I thought, but didn’t say. I kept listening. Kristin continued. “You think they stole the centerpiece, right? No, they just broke it. My wonderful centerpiece was in a million pieces on the floor. So heartbreaking. Obviously, I want another. I know you can’t do anything on your end and that’s fine, maybe my homeowners’ insurance will reimburse me, but I want to buy another today. The house looks so empty without it! Can you help me?”

Husband in the hospital, traumatized daughter, and she wants another one. I hated her in that moment. Even more shallow than I thought possible! I hesitated for a moment, but not long. I do my job, and I don’t lecture customers. Normally, I would express sympathy for her family. But she didn’t seem like she would care.

“Are you still there?” Kristin asked. “Yes ma’am. I just need a moment to pull it up.” 16. But the centerpiece still was missing. I searched in every possible way, distracted as Kristin continued to impatiently ask if I had located the item yet. I put her on hold and called my supervisor over. Since it was a valuable sale and she was a high roller as far as customers go, the matter warranted some extra effort. But 10 minutes later, we were at a dead end. My supervisor suggested that I put her on a waiting list so the first centerpiece back in stock is held for her. That usually placated the more persistent customers. Not this time. “Ma’am” I said “I am sorry to inform you that we are out of stock on this item nationwide, but I have added your name to our waiting list and you will receive a call immediately from myself or another associate as soon as we can ship this centerpiece to you again.”

“No!” Kristin protested. “I need it NOW! NOW! Don’t you get it? The house is worthless without it, I can’t stand to be in my own dining room knowing it’s gone! They broke it and I need another one! PLEASE.” I could hear her sob. This was unbelievable. “I’m so sorry” I apologized again, not sorry in the least for this woman. “I’d be happy to offer you a special discount coupon that would be valid for any other item in our fine china selection.” She screamed. Shrieked. Directly into my headset. I tore it off my head and slammed it down on the desk, and I could still hear her frantic pleas. “I WANT IT BACK!! I WANT IT BACK!! HELP ME!! WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY?!” After that, I couldn’t take it anymore. I hung up. That wasn’t allowed at my workplace, but I didn’t care.

After my shift came another night drinking and smoking with Eric and Jason, who laughed as I told them about this, as they weren’t the ones who had the weaponized sound of this awful woman’s voice assaulting their ears. Both of them speculated on what could have been going on. Eric offered that it was “probably PMS” while Jason mused on his ex-girlfriend with borderline personality disorder. No theories on Kristin’s mental state satisfied me, this was just too much. But with no other choice, I stored this incident in the back of my mind and moved on with my life. Up to this point, I was sure there was a rational, albeit terrible explanation for all this, and I didn’t think the centerpiece itself had anything to do with it. Three weeks later, this belief of mine was challenged.

Back at work, I received a transfer call from an employee in another state who sold furniture. “We’re having some sort of problem with our computers. I have a customer looking to buy a mirror, could you take this, please?” she asked. I accepted the transfer and introduced myself to the customer. “Well howdy” a man with a Texas accent greeted me. “I found a great bargain on a mirror. My family and I just moved into a new house, it’s still pretty bare bones, but I think this mirror would really add some character.” I was too exasperated with work to extol the quality of my company’s items. I apathetically asked for the item number. “That would be 19, my friend” the man answered. In that moment, I did feel uneasy. This was the second time I was given a number that shouldn’t correspond to anything on the website, and the second time it yielded a result nevertheless. It was a mirror, nothing special by my reckoning. When I examined it more closely, I felt a bit more worried. I could see the faint, green hue again on glass that shouldn’t be green.

Like most customers, this man – Greg, talked on while I filled out his order and took a mental snapshot of his credit card information. “It’s kind of new age, or modern, or whatever they call it – I’m a man, I don’t know the terminology” Greg said, laughing to himself. I wasn’t sure what he meant. Then Greg said “I mean, it’s so green, I’ve never seen a green mirror before. But my wife is into that kind of stuff. It’s a birthday present for her, a way of giving her something nice and showing her that I have good taste, you hear?” “It’s a very good choice” I said, not wanting to say anything more.

Some time passed, and one night off from work with not much interesting to do, I felt compelled to pull up the mirror on the company website and take another look. Like before, the merchandise was missing. Then I googled Kristin’s full name, and found her on a local news site for Sacremento. I read the article, and what I read made me seriously consider quitting my job for the first time. “Authorities have ruled that the death of a local business owner and her six-year-old daughter was the result of a murder-suicide.” I read on. “Last July, the Sacremento Police Department were on the scene in response to a strong-arm home invasion. One of the deputies there told reporters that Kristin Ross exhibited strange behavior at the time, apparently ignoring her injured husband and daughter while complaining about some of her valuables being destroyed by the home invaders. ‘She said “They ruined it, they ruined it and I don’t know what to do”, and she refused to answer my questions because she was gathering these pieces of broken glass. She asked me if I had superglue. I thought she was just a bit shaken by what happened, and now I’m very upset to think I might have missed some warning signs of paranoid schizophrenia, or some other condition.’ Matthew Ross, Kristin’s husband, passed away in August from a hospital-acquired infection while undergoing treatment for his injuries. Investigators have speculated that this loss may have caused Kristin’s mental state to deteriorate. Elizabeth Ross’ death was ruled the result of drowning by the county coroner. Kristin allegedly took her own life after drowning her daughter in the bathtub.”

The thought crossed my mind to call Greg. The 10 digits of his phone number were not something I had forgotten. But I didn’t call him. What would I even say? I didn’t even have any idea what was going on. But as it turned out, Greg found me a week later, on national news. An anchorman read from his teleprompter as images of a scorched house and a picture of a middle-aged man were displayed on screen. “Law enforcement officials and first responders in Dallas arrived at a house ablaze after receiving a chilling 911 call. Gregory Farnsworth called 911 on Thursday, stating his intention to commit suicide. We now know that Mr. Farnsworth was under investigation for insider trading, a factor which may have contributed to his tragic decision to end the life of himself and another person. Although police were immediately dispatched to the address the call was placed from, they found the home of Mr. Farnsworth on fire, apparently set deliberately. The bodies of Mr. Farnsworth and a currently unidentified woman were recovered from the scene. The audio and transcript of the 911 call has been withheld.”

I burned my credit card numbers in the sink that night, every last one. As far as I could tell, this thing, this Green Glass, might be something that punishes greed. Although there were many numbers I couldn’t forget, I swore to myself that I would never sell another one again. I locked myself out of my Bitcoin account by randomly generating a new password and copypasting it in to change it. Then I put in my two weeks notice at my call center job. Every day until my last day there, I dreaded every incoming call, expecting a customer to order another glass object that would now be listed under the number “21” - probably the number of victims claimed so far. That didn’t happen. I gratefully took a new job as a pizza delivery driver soon after, and I tried to forget about the Green Glass despite all of my unanswered questions. Why did Kristin kill her daughter? Why did Greg apparently see the glass as a vibrant green when I only saw a pale, barely discernible hue? Does it punish greed, or does it just want to kill as many as it can? I was most haunted by the most obvious question: Why me? Why did it appear for me to sell both times? I regret to inform you I have no answers to this day, and all I can give you now is the story of my last – hopefully, please God last encounter with this fucking thing.

It was a year and change after I found out what happened to Kristin and Greg. I had gotten in Eric’s car on a Saturday night, with Jason there too. Our group, still getting drunk, still getting high, just trying to find some joy in our disappointing lives. We planned to blaze up in a nearby park and then hit a bar or two. We stopped first at a headshop so Jason could buy a new pipe. So we perused the display case, and one pipe caught Jason’s eye. “Check it, guys. That looks gangsta as fuck, look at how bright that green is!” My chest tightened and my heart raced, but I was in for one more surprise: It didn’t look green at all to me; it didn’t even have the slightest hint of green. It was nothing more than transparent glass. “I’ll take it!” Jason declared. The guy behind the desk said “Fifteen dollars.” Maybe I was wrong. Before, I saw the green, and the item was always expensive. But then Jason paid and had it in his hands, and as he showed it to Eric and I, I saw the number 44 on the side of the bowl. I was done.

“I feel sick” I lied. “We’re still close to my place, so I’m just going to walk back. You guys have fun.” Neither of them seemed to believe me. I never told them. I still couldn’t bring myself to warn them. It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I didn’t want to be a part of this. “We’ll drive you back” Eric offered, but I declined. Jason looked me over skeptically and asked “What’s your deal, man? You’re not sick. Come on, don’t be a pussy.” All I said back to him was “I don’t really give a fuck what you think” and I stormed out the door.

Eric called me later that night. Jason was dead. He got into a bar fight. According to Eric, Jason was very high and very drunk, and ended up starting a fight with a stranger over some petty insult. A fistfight broke out, and the man pulled a gun and shot Jason point blank in the chest. I didn’t talk to Eric after that night, I didn’t go to Jason’s funeral. I packed my shit and took a Greyhound to the other side of the country. Again, in vain, I’ve tried to forget about all this. The reason I’m telling my story now is because I think I finally understand what the Green Glass does. That 911 call from Greg was finally released. He was saying: “I’m gonna end it all now, you sons of bitches think I’m a criminal and I won’t ever change your minds. Miranda didn’t even like my mirror, that bitch. I’m lighting it all up now.”

Miranda was the unidentified woman who died in the fire, who I believe was probably Greg’s “other woman.” I think Kristin lied about the home invasion. I think her daughter Elizabeth accidentally broke that centerpiece, and her husband tried to stop Kristin from hurting her. Jason always felt threatened, had problems with self-confidence. Always liked to show off. I don’t think the Green Glass punishes greed. I believe the Green Glass hurts those who worry too much what others think about them. It changes them, talks to them, makes them believe that it is the best thing about them. And anyone who doesn’t appreciate the owner of the Green Glass dies for it in the end, too. That would explain why I no longer saw the color when Jason bought the pipe, because I just wanted out and didn’t care what he thought about me for leaving. That’s my theory, and you can take it or leave it. I don’t give a shit what you think about me, and that might be my only defense.


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