The Genius’s Handbook
Owen Wolfgang Johnson is that guy in town that everybody knows of, but nobody really knows. A brilliant writer, a resilient worker, and the smartest human being to ever be born, among other things; as far as the consciousness spectrum goes, he’s about as far up as anyone can imagine; farther, even, for his imagination is superior to that of all the other humans in his backwoods little village; that’s why the others never make any attempt to get to know him, because they all suffer from the culty mental plague of groupthink. His days are spent working a manual labor job in a warehouse, slinging carcinogenic chemicals and moving metal barrels, and when he’s not working ten hours of overtime a week he busies himself coming up with ideas for nonfiction books to write. He’s published one so far, a self-help book called Writing: Formulating Your Genius for the Rest of the Idiots to Understand in which the longest chapter – the longest chapter by far – is his life story, but nobody bought it because they don’t understand him. They don’t want to understand him, and that’s just fine. Let his talent go unacknowledged and ignored, it’s just as well. It’s not like they’d be capable of leveling with him anyway, not even if they tried.
The idea for the writing book came from Owen’s journal, or rather his series of journals. They’re titled The Genius’s Handbook, and each new notebook he fills becomes a new volume. He started these when he was ten years old, on the day he got beat up for calling the school’s top jock (an overall friendly guy named Chad Lambert), and I quote, “a rat-faced hooligan who’s mom has a big butt.” That first entry was no less than fifteen pages long, and they’ve only gotten longer since then. Pages are filled every single day of his life, and when his nonfiction books take off – which they surely will, because why would God inspire him to write if nobody’s going to read his incredible nonfiction? – he plans to publish his journals, in full, unedited format, so anybody else who wants to be a genius can read his work and learn the ropes. Not the literal ropes, as in the noose he tried to hang himself by – that got a whole page in the writing book – but the figurative ropes. Owen Wolfgang Johnson has a kind, loving heart; he’s a good human being on the inside, and all he really wants to do is teach the world how to be like him. The world doesn’t want him because they don’t understand him, but he’ll make them understand.
These thoughts are not new, Genius’s Handbook; I’ve had them for a long many years now. It’s all I think about these days, when I allow myself to think at all. In addition to being a brilliant writer, a resilient worker and the smartest being to ever be born, not just on Earth but in the entire Milky Way Galaxy, I am a meditation master. I sit and close my eyes for ten minutes each day – five in the morning and five in the evening, as I’ve told you before – and I have to imagine I’m getting close to opening my third eye. I’ve been practicing for almost two full weeks now, after all; for the lesser beings it takes years, even full lifetimes to awaken the pineal gland, but not for me. I’m better than them. I’m expecting it to happen any day now.
Neither new is my writing about myself as though I was someone else. Some may call it pretentious, but I am a subject of great wonder and conversational potential; yet, for some awful reason, nobody else talks about me. Nobody else writes about me. If not I scribe symbols dedicated to Owen Wolfgang Johnson, then who will? Chad Lambert? Please, he’s wasting his life playing pathetic football in college. He wasn’t even smart enough to get an academic scholarship, he had to rely on his physical abilities like some ape, like a literal metaphorical baboon with a fat blue ass, just like his mother. I was joking when I called him an overall friendly guy earlier, if you could not tell, Genius’s Handbook, but how could you? I may put words into you, but you are not as smart as me, you are not even conscious. You are a notebook, the forty-second volume of my journal, a neverending log of the thoughts which cruise through my brain like a snail from a dimension in which snails crawl faster than cheetahs can run. Do not worry, my unconscious journal, I forgive you for not being conscious. Even if you were, you wouldn’t understand me. Nobody does. Nobody can. It’s lonely at the top, Genius’s Handbook Volume Forty-Two, but somebody’s got to be there.
I believe that’s enough for today. A short entry, I know, but I really must get going – I’m expecting a package in the mail today, and I must get home from work to get it. During the day I shall speed up the flow of time simply by thinking about it as I work, because I dare to believe my mind is powerful enough to do so, and so it shall be. Now, I never took French classes in high school but I’m smart, I’m enlightened enough to not only be able to write in italics, but also to intuitively know how to speak French, and so I say, adew~
Owen sets his mechanical pencil down in the long groove in his desk he carved with a hatchet on the day Chad Lambert kicked the crap out of him for reasons that needn’t be stated again. He bends low to his desk so his eyes can focus on the script and takes a long inhale, the fumes from the freshly laid ink bringing an uncontrollable twitch to his left eye. With a slight buzz on – the only buzz he’ll allow himself, for what better drug is there than his own writing? – Owen puts on his glasses and rises from his desk to fetch some clothes to wear. Journaling naked is how Owen Wolfgang Johnson always starts his day; after, that is, he stares at his form in the mirror for twenty minutes after his meditation session.
Dressed in paint-splattered blue jeans and a blue tee-shirt flecked with bleach stains from all the times his boss had him repaint the warehouse walls, Owen doubles back to his desk with passion in his eyes. He grabs his journal and passionately kisses it in the style of the French, tongue and all, and then throws it to the carpeted floor he refuses to vacuum because such remedial chores are not worthy of his energy. The dust settles long after he’s shut and locked his bedroom door.
“Goodmorning, Mother!” Owen shouts as he tromps down the stairs, getting his spine nice and compressed so he can complain about his back pain when he gets home later. “I need to go to work now, have you packed my lunch yet?”
No answer – she must have left for work already. Owen forgives her for her solecism and walks into the kitchen to find that nobody has packed his lunch for him – he considers this wholly unacceptable. Today he will perform a hunger strike and tell his mother all about how starving and weak he feels when he gets home from his hard manual labor job so she’s forced to endure another sleepless night. That will set things right, yes, indubitably so. He slams the front door of his parents’ house, not giving the wooden slab a chance to hit him on the ass on the way out like his father so jovially, so juveniley jests when Owen goes off on one of his rants about feeling trapped like a rat in a cage in this dreadful house where everything is provided for him free of charge.
The roadways are clear so Owen’s not held up by the abysmal daily doings of the bumbling townsfolk. He pulls into his spot in the parking lot, the same one he parks in every day, and kills the ignition. Nobody else is here yet, as per usual. Owen is the first one to work every day; he knows the sooner he gets there, the sooner it will be over, especially when he gets there before his shift starts. It’s actually a function of quantum mechanics, a hidden quirk in the Universe which Owen single-handedly discovered himself. When he works, his brain goes into overdrive and time speeds up around him – the more he loses himself in his daily duties, the less aware he is of his performing the duties, and thereby the time flows faster.
By the time his manager shows up it’s twenty minutes before opening and Owen’s already raked all the leaves which blew into the loading bay overnight. At the present moment, he’s cleaning the windows with the cleaner and paper towels he keeps in his car at all times.
Owen’s boss puts him at ease and opens the warehouse, allowing Owen to finally get to work. The other employees start showing up about ten minutes before their shift starts, like the unprofessional slobs they are, and Owen doesn’t allow them so much as a moment of eye contact before lunch. The first half of the day is spent humping barrels off of pallets and slinging chemicals like a drug dealer: one kilo at a time. One time his co-worker Smitty referred to kilos as keys as a joke. Owen chewed him out for seven uninterrupted minutes; they sell products here, this is not a drug-smuggling business. If you’ve no respect for your job, what are you even doing working it?
Lunch comes and Owen waits for everyone else to take their breaks before he takes his. He sits alone in the break room, the hum of the mini fridge providing a perfect soundtrack for his hunger strike: monotonous and droning. Owen hates to take lunch breaks, he’d rather work straight through the day like a real man instead of taking a break in the middle, but the assistant manager won’t allow it. The assistant manager thinks he has actual pull here and he always gives Owen a hard time, especially when Owen tries to tell him about the extraterrestrials. Humanity is not alone on this planet, it never has been and it never will be, but nobody wants to listen when he talks about it. Nobody wants to believe the moon was pulled here from a different star system, nobody wants to hear the truth of the manipulated evolution of mankind, nobody wants to accept that Owen is so smart and superior because he is the living incarnation of an actual extraterrestrial sent here to observe the world, but that’s fine. Let them be ignorant. When Owen’s human form passes away and he awakes on a spaceship and the others ask him if Earth is worth saving, he’ll say it is not. And Earth will be destroyed. And all will be right.
Owen’s lunchless lunch break ends and he storms out of the break room, steam fuming out of his ears. ‘Let them mock me, let them ignore me. They’ll all pay for it one day.’
None of Owen’s co-workers try to make conversation with him for the rest of the day, which is actually what he prefers, thank you very much. How is he supposed to consciously speed up the flow of time with all the idiots distracting him?! He’s not, that’s how, and they should break off their conversations when he walks past them. He’s proud that his very presence dissuades their lollygagging, that his aura stifles conversations like a rag in an exhaust pipe. They’re all children anyway, and so they should act like it. Very good. They’ll all be sorry one day.
As with every day, Owen is the last one to leave the warehouse. He purposefully waits in the back, dusting the shelves and sweeping the floors like a good little boy until the head floorman shuts off the radio and closes the overhead door. A few minutes of clutching his sunken stomach later, he hobbles to the front and pokes his head into the office, wishing his manager a good night and blatantly ignoring the assistant manager’s presence. Then, he hops in his car and cruises home.
Owen parks his car in front of the driveway and throws on the emergency break, block all the other cars in. As he gets out of his car he catches his foot in the door’s cup holder and falls to the pavement, scraping his elbows upon landing. He gets up too fast and not enough blood flows to his head in time, sending Owen spinning through clouds of darkness and down to the pavement once more. When he comes to, he starts screaming expletives at the top of his lungs, rousing his dad from the couch in the living room.
“Owen!” shouts Owen’s dad from the front steps, his face expressing nothing but concern. “Are you okay, son? What happened?”
Grinding his teeth, Owen screams, “Shut up, father! My name is Owen Wolfgang and you will address me as such!”
“You don’t have a middle name son, I’m not calling you that! Are you okay?”
“I’m fucking fine, father!” As he continues to scream, his voice raises in pitch and only gets more nasally. “Just go back inside and watch your snooze news like the sheep you are, you capitalist pig!”
Owen’s father shakes his head and closes the front door, debating locking it. But that would just cause more trouble, so he returns to the couch and continues going through the papers he has to have graded before next week rolls around.
When his circulatory system finally rebalances itself, Owen opens the mailbox. His eyes light up at the sight of the package – it’s come, it’s finally come! The Unacknowledged DVD and companion hardcover book, the ultimate exposé on the extraterrestrial presence on Earth and how the terrible, tyrannical United States government has covered it up for so long. Owen’s already seen the film – when he saw the shipping would take a whole three days he promptly purchased a digital copy on the internet so he wouldn’t have to wait to see it – but he paid a whole paycheck’s worth of money for the DVD/book bundle. He’ll be damned if he doesn’t watch it again. Maybe he’ll even read the book as he watches the film, so he can get twice the immersion. Yes, that sounds very good… but he can’t watch it yet. He’s too angry, his father has enraged him past the point of no return, he can’t possibly be expected to concentrate on the truth of the Universe now.
Closing the mailbox (with the rest of today’s mail left inside), Owen gets back in his car and rips open his package. He gives the hardcover book a lick hello and places it, along with the unopened DVD, into the glovebox, which he then locks so nobody will steal his treasures when he’s gone. He parks the car in the driveway and then gets out and sprints as hard as he can into his back yard, and then crosses over into the forest for some smash therapy. On days like today, when everyone else in the world is a total asshole to Owen for no reason other than the fact that he is better than all of them, our genius likes to go in the woods and smash fallen branches against trees until his hands are bleeding from the splinters. Owen travels deep into the forest, miles from civilization, and he doesn’t stop running until his vision cuts out completely from the exertion and he runs face-first into a tree, knocking himself out cold.
The beings watching all this from the cloaked spacecraft which happens to be hovering above the forest today share a look. Then, they flip on the tractor beam and lift the unconscious Owen into their spaceship.
The Chosen One
Owen gasps artificial Earth air when he wakes up. He’s laid out naked on a cold metal table in a dark room. All he can see is a blaring white spotlight above him; he can even see it when he closes his eyes, the shape of the elliptical bulb is burned into his corneas like the pattern of a branding iron in a cow’s hide.
“Hello?!” he calls out into the darkness.
“What is this, where am I?”
A hiss erupts behind him. Owen tries to sit up and turn around so he can see what made the noise, but he seems to be strapped to the table by his ankles, wrists, torso and neck. No matter how much he struggles the metal bindings don’t budge, and the hunger pangs in his stomach only get worse as the anxiety sets in.
“Somebody answer me, I demand it! What the fuck have you done to me?!”
‘Calm now, child, all is as it should be.’
The voice came from inside of Owen’s head, but it wasn’t his voice. Human beings are not capable of telepathy – well, Owen is, although usually it’s different than this. Usually it’s just a knowing, usually he can tell that other humans are thinking terrible things about him just by looking at them, but this time it’s a foreign voice in his head. A wise, calm voice… a voice which couldn’t possibly belong to a human being.
The gears click: Owen died in the forest, and he’s now waking up in the spacecraft. The extraterrestrials will unstrap him from this device which obviously throws his consciousness into a human’s body and they’ll ask him to pass his highest judgment on the planet Earth. And he’ll tell them they’re not worth saving, and he’ll get to watch as the lasers decimate the planet and all the sniveling little rodents living on–
‘Something’s not right, why am I still in my human body?’ Owen thinks privately to himself. Beads of sweat form on his brow.
‘Everything is as it should be, young one. You’ve no reason to fret.’
The beings come into view on either side of Owen. They’re tall and completely hairless. Humungous black eyes take up the majority of their heads. No nose, no mouth, no ears, just swollen craniums perched atop long, slender necks which extend down below Owen’s field of vision, necks which seem to be leaking a viscous slimy material which reeks of spoiled fruit. The fumes are potent enough to overrule the stench of Owen’s soiled behind and intoxicating enough to make him immediately forget that he’s soiled himself. He tries to shout but the beings just stare down at him with their cold, soulless eyes, unable to hear his pleas.
Then he tries speaking in his mind again.
‘That was a private thought, you had no business reading it.’
The replying voice is cool and serene. ‘All is as it should be, star child. You have been chosen.’
‘I’ve been chosen?’ Owen thinks as his anxiety begins to subside.
‘Yes, you have been chosen to represent your species in our ever-expanding compendium of biological lifeforms. It will all be over soon.’
Owen is taken aback – he’s the chosen one after all! His parents are going to eat their words in a double serving when he gets out of all of this, they’re going to… they’re… it will all be over soon?
‘What do you mean it will all be over soon?’
A girthy appendage rises from below the far end of the table. It bears a single tentacle which is wrapped around a motorized device sporting more blades than a pair of scissors. The beings stare down at Owen like he’s nothing but a piece of meat, their eyes unblinking, their necks dribbling their viscous slime.
‘All is as it should be. It will all be over soon.’
‘No, NO, NNNOOOO!” Owen thinks, then begins to scream when the surgical device makes its first cut, entering his stomach just below his belly button. They slice him up the middle, stopping at the neck to peel back his skin like moss off a rock, and then they start on his arms. Then, his legs. Then, his junk, and that’s when Owen blacks out.
The vivisection is complete when all the human’s innards are placed into jars. The beings keep a square of his skin for research and consume the rest, as it’s rich in nutrients which are required to keep their cyberbiological spacefaring bodies ticking, then leave the operating room. One being primes the ship’s self-cleaning mechanism and then joins the other in the stasis chamber. As they fall into a deep hibernation, the craft rises up through the clouds and leaves Earth’s atmosphere.
Back on their home planet, the beings wake up simultaneously.
“So. Humans,” one says groggily to the other as he wipes the crust out of his eye.
“Yeap. I guess not all the planets can be winners. Did you catch that bit about that was a private thought, you had no business reading it?”
“Yeah, that was…” he shakes his head. “That was just sad.”
One being approaches the starmap as the other breaks out the logbook and writes the following in the inch’s worth of blank space at the bottom of the page:
Dominant lifeform: Human
Observations: Lost cause, further research unnecessary. Not worth visiting twice.
“So, where are we headed next?”
The being browsing the starmap smiles to herself. She zooms out until the Milky Way Galaxy is nothing but a pale white dot lost among the greater cosmos of the infinite Universe.
“Anywhere but there.”