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0. It Smelled Like Ozone in the Dark by Sebouh Gemdjian
SUMMARY: A monk accidentally invents a device for looking back in time while trying to pick up a girl at a science fiction convention, and a scientist from the future actually builds it. Whatever you do, don't wave at the sky, he is watching...
A mirror behind a bar reflects young people from a college neighborhood coming and going. A girl is sitting on a stool. Moments later she looks like a different person putting on her coat by the door on her way out. Now she is smiling at a baby in a corner booth. She is looking at the baby and dancing in exaggerated motions. The baby bobs his head. The reflection of a bartender in the mirror is looking the other way. Reality. To the Bodhisattva At Ease in Awkward Situations this could have easily been a magnified picture printed on the wall paper of a snazzy hotel room. There was a hotel upstairs.
Thus have I heard: The Bodhisattva at Ease in Awkward Situations was in a state of quiescent extinction, where past, present, and future are intrinsically equal and identical, when he received a sudden blow to the head with a lamp from a doll-like girl who looked way too innocent to be hitting men on the head in quaint Union Square hotel rooms. Returning to Samsara, the world of suffering, always felt to him like waking up after a night of heavy drinking. He did not really want to free all sentient beings from suffering, he thought freeing them of himself was doing them enough of a favor and wanted to enter full Buddhahood already, but had mistakenly taken the Bodhisattva vow, which required just that, as a dare at a sweet-tea shop in Lhasa.
The "lives" from which he had to choose to do his Bodhisattva work in the "world of suffering" were his own personalities, parts of his own psyche, ones from which he had already detached and to which he could conditionally attach again at will. The personalities themselves would not be consciously aware of his presence.
He was conditionally attached to a very confused new-age detective living in New York's Lower East Side in an attempt to liberate him and as many people around him as possible. And then there would be about 6.684 billion left, and that was just counting the people, but he had to start somewhere. He needed a plan... Admittedly, there was something special about the detective's ego. It was a manifestation of the Bodhisattva's own final obsession with a Big Bang Revelation or a Big Bang Orgasm, whichever came first.
He looked through the detective's eyes as he looked at the screen of his miniature laptop, tiny specks of blood dripping from his head wound onto the keyboard. The glare in the windows made the smoke coming out of "Metronome," the art installation across Union Square, almost invisible.
The detective propped himself with a hotel pillow against a hotel wall in the empty hotel room, doll like girl long gone by the time he had come to. He was looking through an email attachment he had just opened:
"'It Smelled Like Ozone in the Dark' by Sebastian Briglia," he read.
"It smelled like ozone in the dark. Lightning bolts in the vast black Pennsylvania sky lit the Poconos like stage lights would the props of mountains in a theater. The stars took charge of the lighting effects as the clouds dispersed. When the spectacle was over it was the moon light that took the place of house lights.
The scent of moist bark wafted from the edge of the woods into the meadow and hovered over a girl who looked like Anne Frank.