[Edge1.1.0] Forward – Dave Bailey

[Edge1.1.0] Forward

I first met Art in an online community. We hit it off pretty quick. I’m not even sure why other than the fact that he was very persistent in trying to get my attention. I just thought he seemed really friendly.

In hindsight though, I often wonder if he was targeting me. Well, maybe not me specifically, but someone who could help him write this story for him.

That’s because Art felt his life was in danger. He was afraid that something bad was about to happen to him again. I say ‘again’ because as you’ll soon find out by reading his story, that his life was full of tragedy. I often wonder how someone could survive everything the poor guy went through.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Going back to how we met, Art mentioned that he had read one of my other books. He made a few nice comments about it to butter me up. Then he asked a few polite questions to get the conversation going.

From there, it seems like we talked about everything. Art was a really good listener and had a lot of interesting stories to tell himself. He made me feel like we were old friends right from the start.

Before I knew it, he was telling me all sorts of crazy stories about his past. I’ll tell you some of them in this book that you’re holding in your hands. As you’ll see for yourself, some of this stuff is pretty far out. So, of course, I didn’t believe him at first, like you probably won’t believe the stories he tells either. Which is quite alright. It’s a good story even if you read it as a complete work of fiction.

At first, I just listened out of politeness. I rolled my eyes a few times and tried to change the topic. But the guy was adamant about getting some of this stuff off his chest. He started naming names of real people. I couldn’t believe it.

Then he sent me copies of documents to prove it. I still didn’t believe it. So, Art pointed me to different resources online where much of this stuff is common knowledge. People discuss it, like you and I talk about the latest celebrity gossip.

It really weirded me out. I wasn’t sure how to take it. First, because he was very persuasive and convincing. But secondly, because he backed it all up with documented proof. Okay, well not all of it obviously. I do take that back because it would be an exaggeration. There were something things that he just told me without actually trying to prove it.

I don’t know if he didn’t have a way to prove it, or if he just never got around to showing it to me. But anyway, he showed me enough things to convince me he wasn’t just making this stuff up. Honestly, it really freaked me out.

You know how it is. Something tells you something. They go to get you something and get sidetracked along the way. Then they start telling you about something else, and one thing leads to another. Before you know it, you’ve talked about half-a-dozen other things and forgot what started that whole conversation in the first place.

Like I said, at first I just blew him off, but once I realized that Art was really serious, I started keeping notes to try to catch him if he lied or fudged some of the details. But he never once backpedaled or changed his story.

I don’t think he even met to tell me half the stuff he did. But Art ended up spilling the beans because he really wanted me to believe his story. And in the end, I think it was just such a relief for him to spill the beans and get some of that stuff off his chest.

Art sent ended up showing me his journals. The guy was meticulous about writing things down. He said it was a habit he got into back during High School. Sort of a way for him to cope with problems he was facing. That kind of stuff.

Anyway, to make the long story short, he felt someone was after him. Art wanted to make sure that all this information didn’t die with him. So, he made me promise I would publish it all online if anything should happen to him. I agreed mostly because of his insistence, but I didn’t really expect anything to happen to him.

Now, that conversation all took place over a year ago. We texted for a while. He kept sending me proof to his claims. Mostly things like pictures and videos. After a while, we started talking on the phone. We even did a few video conferences.

Of course, Art was always worried about security and made sure we talked on a secure network. He even sent me one of those little raspberry things that’s supposed to make impossible for ‘Big Brother’ to spy on you.

Not that I really think it’s that effective. I mean, if they want to keep tabs on you, they’ll find a way to do it. Personally, I think they create that kind of technology and distribute just to make us feel safe. But in the end, they have access to it all just the same. Know what I mean?

So, I don’t even go out of my way much to try and stay hidden. If anything, it just makes you look suspicious. Like you’re trying to hide something which would naturally make them curious and even more inclined to spy on you. But enough of that rant.

After a few weeks of chatting, Art seemed to have told me everything. Well, I’m sure there was more. I got the impression that he left a lot of things unsaid for whatever reason. I never really pushed him on anything he didn’t want to tell me. Maybe that’s why he ended up telling me everything he did. Like, if I had tried to push it, Art would have clammed up earlier.

It seemed like Art had gotten as much as he needed or was able to get off his chest at the time. We kept on chatting and sharing ideas about the topic of the group like normal people.

We were still good friends and talked every week, but just not about that stuff from his past. And over time, I just kind of pushed the whole thing out of my mind. Like, it was just too big and too crazy to process. I didn’t know what to do with that kind of information.

It’s not like anyone would have believed me anyway. I did try a few times. I would mention it out family and friends, but they just laughed at me. Or gave me worried looks like I needed serious mental help. So, I didn’t push it.

That’s actually the reason I’m publishing this as fiction now. I mean, c’mon? You won’t believe it either, which is okay. It’s still a great story. Right? I know you’re gonna love it if you can just suspend your belief long enough to get past all the things you currently believe right now.

So, whether you believe or not, isn’t the point. I know 99% of the people who read this book, won’t. And that’s okay. Maybe a few will. That’s okay too. I’m not out to prove anything. I’m just doing what Art asked and sharing his story.

Yep! Unfortunately, it’s been just over a week since I last heard from Art. That’s pretty unusual for him. Like I said before, the man is meticulous to a fault. The longest I ever went without hearing from him was three days. But that was because there was a storm in his area that wiped out power in the whole city.

I was able to contact a mutual friend who lived an hour or so away who was able to confirm that ol’ Art was alive and kickin’ still. But this time around, no one’s seen or heard from him. That would be suspicious in and of itself, but several other things happened recently that are unlikely to be a coincidence.

First, he felt like he was being trailed again. Art told me a few days prior that he felt like this time something was really going to happen to him. Secondly, there were other people staying with him, and sources tell me that they have disappeared as well. And finally, I checked in on the servers where Art kept his journal and documentation. Everything was gone. The hard drives wiped clean. It’s almost as if Art never even existed.

That’s the real reason that I’m writing this story now. Art did ask me to wait a month before publishing his journals and documentation. But if the people after him really were keeping tabs on Art, then they know about me. Which means that I might not make it until the end of the month.

I don’t know if I’m going to publish this just yet. I may wait to see how it all plays out here. But if you are reading this, there is a good chance that something happened to me too. I’m considering the idea of leaving this file scheduled to publish automatically at a future date.

As long as I’m okay, I can just reset the date and keep pushing it forward. But, if something happens to me. It will show up eventually which is probably how you got your hands on it and started reading it now.

I’m sorry, I no longer have the official documents to show you. But I will add footnotes and links to resources to things that are already known. You can look them up if you feel so inclined. If not, that’s okay too.

Otherwise, you can just read about Art’s journey like you would any other piece of fiction and still enjoy it. Because it really is great. So, grab yourself a cup of coffee or whatever your beverage of choice is. Then kick back and enjoy the ride.

Update #1: As I wrote the story, I remembered Art sent me portions of his journal way back in our first conversations when he was trying to prove he wasn’t crazy. I was able to dig back through my account and salvage some of the very first files he sent me on that particular platform.

Update #2: Please stop asking for the name of the online community where we originally met. I have changed the names of people and places to protect Art’s identity as well as any of the other people involved.

Dave Bailey

Dave Bailey started writing short stories when he lived in Brazil to help his students learn English. Now, he lives in Florida again where he continues to write fun and inspiring sci-fi and fantasy fiction stories. You can read his weekly short stories here on his blog. Make sure to join his advanced reading crew so you know when new stories become available >>> https://davebailey.me/go/crew