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Escaping Reality

G. O. Clark's writing has been published in Asimov's Science Fiction, Analog, Talebones Magazine, Strange Horizons, Space & Time, Retro Spec: Tales of Fantasy and Nostalgia, A Sea Of Alone: Poems For Alfred Hitchcock, Tales Of The Talisman, Daily SF, Jupiter (GB) and many other publications. He's the author of eleven poetry collections, the two most recent, Scenes Along the Zombie Highway, 2013, Dark Regions Press, and, Gravediggers' Dance, 2014, Dark Renaissance Books. His fiction collection, The Saucer Under My Bed & Other Stories, was published by Sam's Dot Publishing in 2011. He won the Asimov's Readers Award for poetry in 2001, and has been a repeat Rhysling and Stoker Award nominee. He's retired, and lives in Davis, CA. See goclarkpoet.weebly.com for more info.
My grandmother disappeared one hot summer afternoon into the movie screen at the Alhambra Theater. She was watching the Shirley Temple movie, Bright Eyes, and connected with the movie so deeply, just had to up and join in all its wholesome fun. Casting off her winter coat, she vacated her red velvet theater seat and walked right up to and through the great silver screen into a new life, all her troubles left behind.
An uncle of mine, a confirmed bachelor, loved watching baseball on his TV. He daydreamed about being a part of the big show; fielding flies from Jensen and Williams, launching fast balls out of the park like the Babe, laughing it up in the dugout when Yogi spouted one of his -isms; finally making the pros after all his years of sand-lot failure. So one rainy Sunday afternoon, he jumped out of his favorite wingback chair and climbed right inside the black and white Sylvania Console, leaving a smoldering cigar and half empty beer bottle behind, and his neighbors none the wiser.
My brother, a special effects cameraman at a major Hollywood studio, always daydreamed of stepping out from behind his lens to star in one of the sci-fi action adventures he was only technically a part of. To join in those life and death struggles against Geiger inspired aliens. To pilot a grand FTL starship to exotic new worlds. To save a galactic princess from some fate worse than death. Finally, ignoring the Director's curses, he took a flying leap one morning through the green screen into that land of celluloid dreams, cast and crew staring after him in total disbelief.
And there's still a few more. Like my sweet little niece disappearing late one night into her bedroom mirror, in search of a Disney-proper handsome prince and magical fairy kingdom. Or my teenaged son, the computer geek, crawling through the screen of his 3.2GHz iMac to become one with cyberspace, turning into a powerful avatar of his own design. And finally, my Abyssinian cat, Pomegranate, who now blinks in and out of another dimension at will. She never misses her regularly scheduled feeding times, however, and has never returned with other dimensional dead birds impaled on her sharp canines.
She always returns, unscathed and purring up a storm, unlike all those others who left family and friends behind to deal with endless probate claims, and years of praying for some kind of closure. Label my relatives selfish, at the very least. As for me? I have no intention of carrying on my family's escapist traditions.
No use dwelling on the past, though. I have plenty of good books to get lost in. To escape reality whenever I want to. To put them all out of my mind.
I can always visit my son in one of his favorite online video games, watch for my relatives on Netflix videos, and rely on Pomegranate to keep me company, most of the time.
As for my uncle? His rookie baseball card will never be worth anything, but I still cherish it.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 11th, 2016

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