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The Tinkered Mind

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July 31st, 2022

A bullet sliced the skin of Lucilius’ shoulder, but he paid it no mind as he ran as fast as he could. The edge was nearing as bullets cascaded past him all around. He strained for every ounce of speed from his legs as he vaulted off the edge, reaching as far forward as he could.


Below, the tracks rushed toward him and then blurred as the train emerged from the tunnel, hurtling forward. Lucilius smacked into the roof of the train, instantly tumbling back as the immense speed of the train ripped forward beneath him. He scrambled for a hold, his hands flailing. A few fingers caught an edge and the instant hault wrenched tension all up his arm and Lucilius cried out. But he was alive, and he quickly ignored the pain and breathed as he held on. It was only a moment as he heard the whir of blades, even with the wind rushing past him. He looked back just in time to see the helicopter emerging over the ledge he’d lept from, it’s Gatling gun beginning to spin again.


Lucilius let go, letting the wind slid him back, and he fell between cars just as bullets began peppering the train’s skin with holes. He fell onto the connection knuckle and it was only the hydraulic break line that caught him from falling into the blur of track below.


All around him the train’s skin was blistering with pops as bullets tore the metal apart. For a brief moment Lucilius considered the tracks below that he’d almost fallen on to. The helicopter would follow the train, even if it couldn’t see him. But the train was moving too fast, there was no way he could survive, tumbling forward beneath the speeding train.


He stood and wrenched the door to the car open and stumbled in as beams of light flicked on within the car from holes punched in from bullets. And then the spray stopped. 


Lucilius tried to listen, guessing the helicopter was angling for a view of him, and as he listened his eyes focused, and slowly he recognized what he was looking at. He rushed forward and unbuckled a giant black pelican case, flipped back the lid and there it was, perfectly tucked into grey foam.


A faint smile began to creep it’s way into Lucilius’ face. He looked up hearing the sound of the helicopter and guessed it had veered around in front of the train, perhaps to take out the engine and stop it.



Just as the Gatling gun began to spin, Lucilius heaved himself up the last wrung on the ladder, getting a clear view of the helicopter out in front of the train. He reached back and swung the rocket launcher up onto his shoulder, bringing his eye and the helicopter in line within the launcher’s eyepiece and pulling the trigger…



“More coffee Lucy?”

Lucilius snapped out of his creative reverie. “Huh?”

“Coffee?” The waitress said with a southern twang. Then she said “Oh crap. Lucy, I’m so sorry, I always try to come check on you when you’re not writing, but you were thinking up one of your movies, weren’t you?”

Lucilius smiled. “It’s ok, and yes, I’ll have more coffee.”

The waitress frowned. “Leave it to me to ruin a brilliant movie that might have been.”

“Oh don’t be ridiculous,” Lucilius said. “It’ll come back to me.”

The waitress looked unconvinced, and she kept her pause, as though to impress upon Lucilius that it was a serious matter that she was giving due gravity. 


“I promise I’ll pick my timing better,” she said as she refilled the cup of coffee. “I just loveddd that last show you wrote. I was so surprised by the ending. Best season finale. Ever!” She nearly squealed.


Lucilius laughed nervously. “That’s very sweet of you, thank you.”


“Well there’s some more coffee for ya to get that brilliant mind going again. Anything else I can get ya?”

Lucilius shook his head.


“All good.”

The waitress left him be, and Lucilius sighed and sat back, looking at the blank paper on the diner table, the pen laid across it, uncapped. He thought about picking it up, he should pick it up. Just let the words write themselves. It always works, he thought to himself. And then, just as the neurons in his motor cortex began their signaling cascade to activate muscles in his arm and hand to reach out for the pen, they stopped. Synapses in mid fire froze, like explosions rendered in resin. The cafe was instantly silent, no one moved.



“Geez is this guy ever going to write anything worth reading. Hooo-leee.”


Lucilius had hit pause on the simulation, bored out of his mind with what he’d been watching. He rolled his eyes, sat back and sighed.


He stretched his neck from side to side.


“Ok, computer, scrap that one. Boot up a fresh simulation, fast-forward 13.787495837398 years and….


…I don’t know…”


Lucilius looked off in the distance for a few moments, bored and unimpressed.


“Let’s…. Remove two grains of sand from Daytona Beach at random, then fast-forward a few decades and see if he’s writing anything worth chucking at my producer…”

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