The Space Between Two and Three – Gabriel Hart

As her vision rebooted with darkness, the expanse deceived its very presence. Then, varying depths of glitterlight she could only assume were stars. They grew in size, from pinpricks to nickels, until she realized they weren’t growing – they were speeding towards her. 

She had no arms to flinch with once the first layer passed her by.

Skye Connelly was now disembodied in the absolute surrender of pure consciousness. Once the residue of her Earthbound recall compared it to driving through a blizzard, that’s when she knew that it was her that was speeding towards them.

But this too, did pass; like a nagging magnet pulling her into another indeterminate section of the vastblack. She gained rearview perspective without the swivel of a neck, humbled that even a million balls of burning gas could abandon her – though her ability to emote also began to dissipate. Unencumbered by any further weight of ups and downs; still, Skye Connelly ascended into a space beyond the stars, into an area of man-made illumination.

Rather, a celestial whirlpool of synthetic debris. Because satellites are geostationary, it is assumed that the signals they send from Earth travel there in a tidy orderly stream, then bounced back to the planet in similar discipline. But consider the Web – now the accumulated scaffolding of civilization – its velocity, concentration, and frequency of usage. No one on Earth can imagine the backsplash, the stray droplets of static information going rogue down an erratic stream and into the void. Invisible to mortal optics, this polluted ethereal river of slighted intelligence could only be confirmed by those caught in its undertow – the spirits of the departed. Ascending back into the stardust from which they came, every one of the deceased now head right for this intersection of absolute detour, flung into a stillborn swirl of ever-suspended Big Bang.

A Purgatory of Techno-Refuse.

Skye’s essence arrived there like a lost child on the first day of school, suddenly robbed of spiritual instinct. Her only option: improvisation, once she saw all the other stray clouds of gas were not much different than her. So playfully she mingled, overlapping with the veteran elements. 

Until she saw actual little pieces of her Earth-self floating in the fray, like shards of a broken mirror.

She repelled herself from the gaseous masses once she realized that they too, were all trying to put themselves back together again. 


* * *


It was two weeks after the funeral. 

If you didn’t count the largest detail, that Jaxon Baker’s best friend Skye was no longer tethered to the Earth, it looked like nothing had changed. 

Because two weeks later, Jaxon was still staring at her photos on her LIFECAST Observer – her social media account that had since become her unsettling digital tombstone, a still-life chronological montage where she now had zero control over the content.

Much less, the comments.

He typed another one as tears welled up in his eyes: You were the most original person I’ve ever met, Skye. For someone who seemed like they fell out of the sky above, it’s somehow the most difficult thing in the world to accept that you eventually had to go back there.

He deleted it right away. Not because he didn’t mean every word, but because he felt foolish after scrolling up and seeing everyone else – mostly those who barely knew her – riffing on her unique name. They all made sentimental puns that might make his look one dimensional. Or worse – suggest that he didn’t have anything more profound to say. Another subconscious contest to prove who knew the dead girl better in this performative electro-wake with no end in sight.

But he did know her the best. He didn’t have to prove it by writing juvenile graffiti on her wall. He had all his memories of Skye up there in his Brain: the oldest, most reliable, and thankfully, most private computer God ever created. He slammed his laptop shut in frustration, a vain gesture of finality. Yet he felt stuck between a hyphenated footnote of mourning, as if he was experiencing a fine print too small and detailed for inclusion in the Five Stages of Grief.

Jaxon, Skye and Marco were inseparable. 

Now, there were only two. 

Marco found himself in the overwhelming role of consoling Jaxon since he had an emotional head-start. In spite of her privacy, Marco had long confronted Skye about her reckless experimentation with UPLYFT – the popular yet controversial over-the-counter anti-depressant – so his grieving began when he gave up talking sense into her. 

“So, like, what Stage of Grief do you think you’re in then?” said Marco

“I dunno, like, somewhere between four and five – in the middle of Depression and Acceptance, I guess?” said Jaxon, ashamed of his stagnation.

“Well, you probably feel stuck because you are stuck. Let me ask you – how often are you creeping on her LIFECAST Observer? ‘Cause you know that’s just gonna make it worse…”

“Man, honestly – if I’m not at work or talking to you, I am on that shit. I can’t stop. I’m always worried about what you told me…”

“What? What did I tell you?”

“About a person’s three deaths.”

“Yeah? So, what about it?”

“Well, I can accept her first death – her body no longer working. I can see how all this is temporary at best,” he said, motioning to his chest and torso with his two fingers. “I can even accept her second death – I might have had tears in my eyes that day, but I forced myself to watch every inch as they lowered her casket down into the ground. But a person’s third death, the whole forgetting about them thing – that one I refuse to deal with. Can you blame me?”

“No, I understand,” said Marco. “But you got it a little twisted. A person’s third death isn’t just us forgetting about them while we’re alive. I don’t really think that’s possible the way we loved Skye. The third death would be you or I dying. Eventually all of Skye’s loved ones will pass away, so we’ll be unable to think about her anymore. That’s the third death – her circle fading so we can no longer keep her inside.”

Jaxon thought it over.

“I don’t know, man. I’ve been taking UPLYFT and just like everyone’s been complaining – my recommended doses barely work anymore. Maybe I should take as much as she did? At least I wouldn’t miss her this bad…”

“Man, you sound ridiculous. You wanna die like all these fools? I really can’t believe this UPLYFT stuff is still legal – a person can only get so happy, you know? It’s no different from any other dope, man. You get so high that there’s nowhere else to go except go die.”

“I didn’t mean to imply I’d actually kill myself, man. I mean, Skye was crazy enough to cook it up and shoot it. I don’t have the guts to mess with needles anyway. I was just thinking I could take a bigger dose than usual, maybe it would just clear this fog so I could focus, gain some perspective.”

“Okay, so you’re saying you want to turn your brain on instead of off, right?”

“Yeah. Like, what if I made a ritual out of it with a slightly larger dose might help me feel closer to her. See what happens, you know?”

While it was only a brief smirk, one that Jaxon tried to hide by pursing his lips, Marco saw he had gotten through to him. He threw his arm around him, patting him on the back. 

“Damn, so does this mean I can finally have a night off or do I have to report back the second you can’t handle your drugs?” said Marco, laughing.

* * *

Armed with a forty of malt liquor and the fresh pack of UPLYFT he bought from the same store, Jaxon approached the grass at Beggar’s Park. He planted himself on the green planks of the bench, squinting as he watched the sun set behind the high-rises of downtown like an underbite of broken fangs in front of a blinding fire. Jaxon was leaving himself vulnerable in such an exposed public space, but he wanted to be as far from distraction as possible – namely, his laptop. He sighed as he sat down, now aware that he couldn’t inhabit his own bedroom without being seduced by that techno-window to the world, which sadly, he was now only using to commune with someone that no longer inhabited it. 

He inhaled the brisk evening air as he reluctantly shoved the bright periwinkle tablet in his mouth. 

Determined, he followed that tablet with another, then a pull from his bottle. Since he recently appeared immune to what LIFECAST Pharmaceuticals and Wellness deemed as the recommended dosage – two tablets no more than every six hours – he began popping them into his mouth like movie theater popcorn, as if it were merely a show about to unfold.

Jaxon felt that familiar tingling in his shoulders, accentuating a growing euphoria up his neck as he continued to roll them back in tiny circles. His head floated like a buoy in a calm yet unsettling ocean as he noticed the 16-dose package had just a few left. Satisfied he had consumed enough for the moment, he allowed his burdened head to recline backwards as the rest of his body oozed into molded comfort on the stiff bench.

His eyes fluttered closed.


A sound and force like a bomb, his whole being as the projectile shrapnel. Jaxon’s periphery went black before a glittery spread of stars faded into view. 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))Oh)))my))) God!))) Finally))))))someone))) was))) open!))))))) Jaxon?))))))))))))))))))))))))))

He opened his eyes to Skye, his dearly departed friend who remained dear, though appeared no longer departed. 

Past Skye.

She stood there looking at him, smiling, though frustrated as she threw her hands up.




She put another record on her turntable.

))))You)))know)))))I)))don’t)))even)))want)))any)))of)))this)))stuff)))))))))))))))))))))))))))She motioned to her albums. 


Jaxon’s sight came into sharper focus. All her possessions lay faded, scattered over this dark room, which appeared a virtual negative film roll of her once vibrant apartment. No posters or scotched-taped photo collages of her and their friends on the walls – just different shapes in varying shades of hue inside a pitch-black cube of indeterminate size where only their bodies were illuminated.




The closer he walked towards the wall, the wider its angles fanned out, ever expanding into further darkness.

)))))Uh))))))I)))mean)))))I’m)))fine)))))I)))guess))))))We)))don’t)))really)))do)))that)))here))) though)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))




The question was delivered with slight surprise — he realized he hadn’t given her the hug 

he vowed to give if he ever saw her again. In paralytic awe, those synapses wouldn’t fire.




)))))I’m)))sorry)))))But)))in)))order)))to)))really)))let)))me)))go)))))I)))actually)))need))) you)))to)))release)))me)))))Allow)))me)))to)))be)))dead)))))That’s)))what)))I’ve)))been)))trying)))to)))tell)))you)))all)))this)))time)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))



me)))speaking)))to)))you)))when)))you)))were)))staring)))at)))me)))through)))your))) screen)))for)))the)))past)))two)))weeks))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

(((((Well(((((I(((did(((notice(((that(((no(((matter(((how(((many(((times(((I(((saw(((a (((photo(((of(((you(((((or(((anything(((resembling(((you(((on(((your(((LIFECAST(((account(((((the(((worse(((I(((felt(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

)))))Yes)))))exactly)))))That)))was)))me)))telling)))you)))to)))leave)))me)))alone)))))that)))you)))were)))doing)))it)))wrong)))))I)))swear)))))this)))has)))felt)))like)))screaming)))at)))a))) massive)))crowd)))who)))claim)))they)))are)))there)))for)))me)))))but)))their)))own)))chatter))) drowns)))me)))out))))))even)))though)))it’s)))me)))they’re)))trying)))to)))recapture)))))))))))))))))

She paused, staring at him straight in the eye, but careful not to expose too much it because any semblance of passion might confuse her message.


They stood in momentary silence. She knew he needed time for it to sink in. She felt a shadow of pity, considering he didn’t know that these weren’t real words she was talking with, just his interpretation of her consciousness, her sending signals. 

But it seemed to be working.

(((((Can(((I(((ask(((what(((you(((meant(((when(((you(((said(((((Finally(((someone(((is((( open(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((


Past Skye fought to find consistency to her drone so he could interpret it as Earth words —it was no longer her natural way of communicating.

)))))In)))a)))way)))))it’s)))natural)))you)))all)))commune)))with)))me)))through)))the))) LIFECAST)))Observer)))))where)))a)))lot)))of)))our)))shared)))memories)))are)))))how)))you))) prefer)))to)))remember)))me)))))But)))we)))don’t)))get)))the)))same)))satisfaction)))on)))the))) other)))side)))))here)))))We)))can)))see)))you)))crying)))))having)))that)))catharsis)))))but)))we)))can’t)))really)))respond)))))That’s)))because)))emotion)))is)))an)))Earthbound)))construct)))))made)))only)))to)))interpret)))one)))another’s)))vibrations)))))Since)))web)))technology)))is)))new)))on)))Earth)))))a)))lot)))of)))us)))are)))fastened)))here)))on)))the)))rim)))of)))the)))drain)))))if)))you)))will)))))))))))))))))trying)))to)))tell)))you)))to)))stop)))occupying)))us)))so)))we)))can)))pass)))over)))properly)))))Here)))))look))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Past Skye took Jaxon by the hand and led him to the wall. A window appeared, offering a view of endless rows of other black cubes suspended in black void just like hers. Now in context, the view of this totality resembled an endless battalion of fallen dominoes.


Jaxon squinted his eyes, focusing on each cube’s contents. Each one was inhabited by another Past version of a departed body, screaming at portions of pixelated data. Some were trying to talk sense into whoever was on the other side. Others were in the throes of abandonment, giving up their own ghosts. It was hard to watch, so he took a step back to process.




empathy)))))as)))connection)))))when)))it’s)))actually)))a)))selfish)))gesture)))))Imagine)))a))) doctor)))refusing)))to)))cut)))your)))umbilical)))cord)))))just)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))staring at you while you scream(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((



)))))Well)))))there’s)))two)))factors)))here)))and)))they’re)))both)))difficult)))for)))me))) to)))say)))to)))you))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))


)))))Okay)))))one)))))I’m)))not)))condoning)))it)))))but)))you)))nearly)))consumed)))the))) same)))overdose)))of)))UPLYFT)))that)))I)))did)))))You’re)))lucky)))to)))be)))alive)))))Your))) saving)))grace)))is)))that)))you)))didn’t)))shoot)))it)))up)))like)))I)))did)))))Like)))an)))idiot)))))But)))I’m)))grateful)))you)))had)))the)))guts)))to)))make)))a)))bridge)))to)))me)))like)))this))))) so)))I)))thank)))you)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))






)))))Please)))don’t)))make)))me)))spell)))it)))out)))))That)))one)))night)))at)))my))) apartment)))when)))we))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))you know)))))))))))))))))))))))

(((((Sure(((((I’ve(((never(((forgotten(((it(((((Skye(((((Why(((can’t(((you(((say(((it(((out((( loud(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

)))))Because)))we)))have)))to)))unlearn)))emotion)))))graduate)))from)))information)))here)))in)))order)))to)))pass)))on)))))If)))I)))expose)))myself)))too)))much)))then)))maybe)))you)))will)))too)))))then)))it)))will)))be)))my)))fault)))if)))you)))can’t)))go)))back))))) I)))can’t)))do))) that)))to)))you))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

It took all her strength to contort her face back to stoic. Realizing that she may have expressed too much anger, the pendulum threatened to swing to the opposite extreme.

(((((Skye(((((this(((sounds(((like(((the(((same(((excuses(((you(((were(((making(((back((( when(((you(((were(((alive(((((back(((when(((you(((couldn’t(((handle(((your(((own(((feelings((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

She locked eyes with him, making sure he could see her tears welling up, yet refusing to go into full sobs.

(((((Skye(((((just(((tell(((me(((what(((you(((want(((((What(((do(((you(((need(((me(((to((( do(((now(((that(((you(((have(((me(((here(((alone(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

Nodding her head thoughtfully, she wiped a tear away in spite of her dormant urge for exposure.

(((((C’mon((((((((((If(((there’s(((anything(((you(((need(((me(((to(((relay(((((make(((it((( quick(((((I(((think(((I(((feel(((a(((window(((back((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

She leaned over to him and began whispering. It started in plain English before dissolving into a monotonous sustain……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


“Jaxon! Jaxon, wake up, bro! You there?

Marco was leaning over him on the bench at the park, slapping him lightly on the cheeks to make him come to. His eyes wouldn’t open, but his mouth began to speak.

Her email. Her password.

“Delete it immediately. All of it. Fast. Please!” he whispered faintly.

Confused and worried how ghastly intoxicated Jaxon was, Marco still took the orders as gospel. He took out his phone and began thumbing his way into Skye’s LIFECAST account, occasionally one-handing it as he put his arm around Jaxon for warmth. Marco shuddered, the way Jaxon’s mouth kept opening and shutting like he was speaking somewhere else, to someone else. 

He saw Jaxon’s lips begin to pucker, his tongue emerging through his undulating lips as it licked the night air. His breathing got heavy, culminating with an amorous moan then…

One last breath from Jaxon Baker’s Earth body.

Back in the cube the two became one, then became none, then became everything always in all time, as the remedial images of their human forms dissolved, no longer obligated to illustrate themselves to those they left behind.