The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Part One

A science fiction story about the end of the world, love, incest, murder, suspicion, and everything else.

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Episode One: The heart of a hero
Episode Two: Love hurts
Episode Three: God speed your love
Episode Four: Two hands ain’t good enough
Episode Five: Part One: Rape of the Sabine Women
Episode Five: Part Two: Rape of the Sabine Women
Episode Six: Everything counts in large amounts
Episode Seven: Love Never Fails
Episode Eight: Princes of the Universe
Episode Nine: Technobohemian Dreams
Episode Ten: It’s getting kinda hectic!

Episodes and/or related writing are published on this blog – most Mondays and Wednesdays. Please subscribe to this blog to get a reminder when the next episode is published.

Subscriptions are free.

Awolnation, Sail

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The Book of Carrot

Book One: Principal Virtues

Chapter One: Love is a battlefield

Episode Eleven: Part One: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Audience: Adult

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As they walked by La Biblioteca, Zach and George were discussing transportation issues – how to lower the cost and time of getting cultural products and supplies back and forth between Bucharest and Cacica – the Northern village where Zach was from. John passed them without saying a word.

George teasingly pushed John as he went by and John turned on a dime, like in a fighting trance. John put a fist in George’s side and a knee in his groin.

“WTF!” shouted George – doubled over in pain and almost unable to breathe.

Hachi growled at George and John snapped out of his trance.

“I’m sorry,” John apologized – he was losing it…

Zach looked at George’s white jeans, they were sticky and red where John’s knee made contact. It looked like blood. It also looked like John’s pants were soaked in blood.

“Are you ok, John?” asked Zach with concern.

“Why are you asking John if he’s ok – he’s the one that super freaked on my ass!” complained George.

“I’m fine,” John replied.

“Who’s blood is that?” asked Zach.

“Cristina’s…”

“You killed Cristina?!” asked George with surprise.

“Shut up, George,” said Zach. “What happened, John?”

“Cristina died in my arms – again…”

Zach pulled John in for a hug and held him tight. Zach remembered John’s childhood nightmares. He must have had a dozen of them at Zach’s house – if Zach remembered correctly.

One time, John awoke screaming in the middle of the night and his little hands were covered in blood. John must have been ten or eleven at the time. Another time, John brought back a skull from the place he had gone in his nightmare – Zach had that skull on a bookshelf in his study.

John’s nightmares had changed Zach – how he understood the world, the future, and his destiny. It wasn’t a picture perfect understanding, but it was enough to prepare himself spiritually and otherwise for the coming winter- a seemingly unending winter of sorrows and terror.

Obviously, those nightmares weren’t all about just Cristina dying. Nor were they simple nightmares. They were prophetic visions and, perhaps, quantum jumps.

If John’s nightmares were realized, the death count would be unimaginable – greater than all the world wars and all the wars and battles since, Zach thought to himself.

“It hasn’t happened. Not yet,” Zach said to John. “It might not even be Cristina…”

“I can’t stop it, Zach…” whispered John.

“Not unless I kill James Arthur Ray – that’s his name; now I know his name and I know he’s real. He’s here.

But… I can do this…”

Zach didn’t know what to say to bring John back from his murderous intent, but Zach was sure that murder wasn’t a solution for John.

Murder was contrary to Christ’s message of love. Murder was, in fact, contrary to the promise and beauty contained within human love, Zach thought to himself.

But who among us is like God?

Zach only knew that he had to calm John down and get John out of those blood drenched clothes.

“He’s gonna pop,” George told his father.

George tried to turned John the other way, but he was too late. The projectile vomit hit Zach in the face.

George grinned at the look of humble disgust on Zach’s face.

“Look John,” Zach proposed as he wipe his face off with a handkerchief. “Mihaela can do a blood match to see if this is Cristina’s blood. Let’s go there right now…”

John nodded in silent agreement and wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve.

“Nice sunglasses, bro!” George told John as he admired the K-9s.

John didn’t hear George. In his mind, he was holding Cristina in his arms. She was staring up at him with dead eyes.

Years of supernatural experience were woven into the fabric of John: his life, his truth and all that he was. It was a blessing and a burden. The burden he wore like sackcloth, ashes and Job’s boils -from sole of foot to crown of head.

Sometimes the blessings and burdens swallowed John whole just like a dog will swallow a steak unchewed. Or like the great fish had swallowed up Jonah.

Eventually, it would spit him out. Sometimes he came out raw and shattered. Sometimes, with a shit-eating grin.

John didn’t always struggle against being swallowed up, whole. Or not much. Or too much.

Whatever happened or however he felt about it, John knew that what must be, must and will be.

This insight brought him as much peace as it did, frustration. But this insight and experience was not easily shared with others – nor interesting and useful enough for them to make the leap…

The Hospital was a soup kitchen, free medical clinic and cancer ward that Mihaela and two other doctors had started up as an exercise in social entrepreneurship, community responsibility, and old-fashioned human compassion.

From the street, the Hospital looked like any other three storey, early 20th century villa with French Classical architectural details – common for this once affluent neighborhood. However, renovations had included the extension of the property through nine subterranean floors. The total surface space of the Hospital was about 2500 square meters not including the garden and the rooftop, hydroponic garden.

The top two floors were reserved as the living quarters of those cancer patients near expiration. The ground floor was the dining and living room. The kitchen and the administrative offices were on Sublevel 1. The clinic, lab, and examining rooms were on Sublevels 2 and 3; Sublevels 4, 5 and 6 were shelter living quarters for terminal patients and the collaborating homeless; Sublevel 7, Storage, Supplies; Sublevel 8, Laundry and Utilities; and Sublevel 9, Quarantine.

George, John, Mihaela, and Zach sat in a circle of chairs in the spacious examining room.

“Are John’s fears as substantial as he believes – that’s what I want to know,” Zach continued.

“That’s why we need to compare the blood from his jeans and Cristina’s donor blood.”

“Are you telling me Cristina is ok?” asked Mihaela suspiciously.

“Call her,” John suggested.

Mihaela went out to the hall and called Cristina.

“Sorry to wake you up, Cristina. How are you feeling?

“Well, I was wondering if we could have lunch today.

Perfect – see you then!”

Mihaela returned to the examining room.

“I just want to say this is crazy; no one knows the future; Quantum Jump was a dumb tv show. But I’ll do this if John talks to our psychiatrist right now; she’s upstairs. I’ll go get her, ok?


“You understand that your intention to murder someone for crimes that they did not commit is problematic,” said Ele as she drew a picture of the grim reaper on her notepad.

“Did not commit yet,” John corrected her.

“Your yet is yet to be substantiated and then there’s a question of morality,” replied Ele.

“Look, Ele, if the blood test is a match, you can fuck off. If it’s not a match, you can do whatever you want, push pills, study my sickness, weekly chat, whatever. Because if there’s no match, I’ll want to fix me. And I’ll want it so way more than anyone else. Ok?”

“How can I trust you to live up to that commitment, John?” Ele asked as she added a bunny rabbit to the scene.

“Maybe, if you stopped drawing the grim reaper and the easter bunny and you actually paid attention to what’s going on here, we wouldn’t have to have an encounter with your trust and morality issues,” John replied in anger.

Ele turned her note pad around to see if John could see through it. No – it wasn’t possible. Then she looked around for a mirror or window reflection by which he might have seen her drawing. Ixnay on that theory.

“How did you know what I was drawing?”

“The same way I know that your trust issues are all about your sexual relationship with your natural father.

You were bouncing on your bed in your white panties and bra when he came into your bedroom.

You were listening to Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

You’re growing into such a beautiful woman, Ele. So I’m going to show you how girls really have fun. I’m going to blow your mind, baby.

But the interesting thing, Elektra, the interesting thing is that you loved his cunnilingus and you had a six year affair with your father – not to mention five or six abortions. Your mother knew, but when she saw you two fucking like rabbits, she went outside and walked in front of a bus.

It was a suicide – not an accident. You’ve always known deep down that it was a suicide and you’ve lied to yourself for 10 years. Isn’t about time to get some help?

So what I’m saying is this: if you want to question my morality, I’m going to question yours.

So that’s how I know, Ele – that’s how I know things.

I see things like right now I see you begging your father for it – one more time. You had just buried your mother. He refused you – your father was disgusted with himself and you. You showed him your breast and how hard your pink nipple was and he slapped you in the face.

I see Cristina die in my arms and that’s why this motherfucker has to die before he has someone kill my Cristina.

“No… no one knows…” Ele stuttered as tears welled up in her eyes.

“It’s why you became a psychiatrist…” John continued as he tied a fisherman’s knot on the sash of the borrowed bathrobe.

“Physician, cure thyself!”

“You’re lying!” Ele shouted at him.

“Do we have a deal?” John asked her.

“Or, maybe, I should get Mihaela and the others in here and we can have us all some serious group therapy!

“What happened to your clothes?” Cristina asked John as he entered the apartment.

“These – I borrowed them from the Hospital. I was helping out in the kitchen and I got grease all over my clothes,” explained John.

“Good boy… oh – that reminds me. Mihaela called me and we’re having lunch later today.”

John was so glad to see Cristina alive. He wanted to hold her in his arms and smell her hair, but Cristina was late for work – she was putting on a pair of pearl earrings. She gently fended him off with an elbow.

“Not now, baby…”

She slipped on her heels and grabbed the purse strap hanging off the console – the flying purse knocked her Swarovski crystal unicorn to the floor. The head separated from the body and the horn was lost.

John had given Cristina the small, delicate unicorn sculpture the first time she woke up in his bed. The unicorn was set next to a fragrant red rose blossom and accompanied by two chocolate croissants, a bowl of strawberries, coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. She had woken late in the morning and he did some early morning shopping to make her wake up something to remember.

“I’m sorry, baby…” Cristina said as she glanced at the shattered unicorn.

“Ouf – I’m late. Can you clean this up?”

Mihaela met Cristina on her lunch break. They kissed cheeks and sat down at a table. Both ordered a Caesar salad with grilled Tiger shrimp.

“I broke a crystal unicorn that John gave me. I’m such a klutz,” Cristina told Mihaela.

“This is going to be a bad day…

But tell me how are the twins?”

“My little monsters!?” asked Mihaela and she laughed and blew cola out her nose.

“They’re monstrous! I love them to death, but I don’t get enough quality time with them. Between ER, the Hospital, and the Million Dollar Club – it’s hard to put in more than an hour a day with the twins.”

Cristina nodded sympathetically.

“How’s that going – the Million Dollar Club?”

“It’s paying for day school, music lessons, and ballet classes for the twins…”

Mihaela’s phone rang. It was Raluca, an old school mate who worked at the blood lab.

“Are you sure it’s a match?! Type and DNA?”

Mihaela hung up – she looked white.

“Bad news?” Cristina asked.

“Um, yeah, I think so,”

“That must be so hard working with cancer patients and the homeless,” Cristina said.

“I really do admire your courage and compassion, Mihaela.”

“Poor John, what’s he going to do…” Mihaela said absent-mindedly.

“Do you know something that I don’t? Tell me…” Cristina insisted.

“I’m so worried about him and all that money he’s getting. Where’s it coming from!
“Beautiful ladies, would you mind if a friend and myself joined you at your table?” asked a tall, dark and handsome Indian man. “My name is…”

“… chicka-chika-slim-shady… we’re awesome, thanks,” said Cristina (as if she were speaking to the waiter) and she continued talking to Mihaela.

“I don’t really understand how John can make so much money doing what he does. Playing a game. Blogging. It’s crazy to me – it’s like unicorns”

“What don’t you understand?” asked Mihaela.

“John just got a 250k signing bonus for signing an agreement that has to do something to do with virtual real estate in a game about zombies. Um, hello!? 250k!!!

I won’t make that money in 10 years and, um, all the luck in the world!

And then there’s the blog. It costs something like 3 Million/month for hosting and data transport fees. That’s crazy!”

“It’s a crazy world…” Mihaela replied.

“Do you think it’s all on the up and up?” Cristina asked.

“What do you mean?” Mihaela asked.

“Maybe, it’s some kind of money laundering scheme,” Cristina wondered out loud.

“The virtual real estate thing just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Cristina took a sip of cola.

“Maybe, John is getting mixed up with some really bad people and he doesn’t even realize how bad it can turn out. Mafia. Russians. I don’t know. But I’m worried about John. Really worried…

There’s something else. John – he thinks we need to get away. Before something bad happens.”


“It’s a good match. Blood chemistry and DNA,” Raluca had told Mihaela.

Mihaela blanked out, let go of the steering wheel and hit a parked car. Then, she called Zach and told him the news.

“Should I tell John?” Mihaela asked.

“Because I don’t want to tell him. This is crazy, Zach. I just had lunch with Cristina and if she had lost that much blood – she wouldn’t have made it to work.”

“You go home and get some rest. I’ll take care of this…” said Zach.

And thank you.”

Hold on, Zach! You want me to pretend like everything is fucking ok and never mind that John does quantum jumps AND the world is not as I understood it?

I just blanked the fuck out and hit a parked car…”

“Are you ok? I’m on my way. Where are you?” Zach asked.

“I’m not ok in the head, Zach… Alba Iulia Square,” Mihaela replied.

Zach closed the phone and went out to his car.

As Zach drove to the scene of Mihaela’s accident, he felt a growing anxiety.

He had always thought that he might see the end in his days. But now he was pretty sure the end times were just around the corner. The blood match was conclusive proof of John’s quantum jumps into the future – a future filled with boundless fields of human bones, black outs, epidemics, burning cities, zombies or worse.

But Zach didn’t know if he was ready for this test. He also didn’t know if his wife and George were ready for what was about to happen. Zach had to get back home to Cacica and make ready. Winter was coming.

A long, dark winter was coming and it was going to swallow the world.

Zach thought about the skull on his bookshelf.

Young John had brought back a skull from the bone yard – one of John’s nightmares. The boy said he did so at the instructions of a man whose feet were like burnished brass – radiant like molten metal.

Zach wondered again – to whom that skull had belonged.

Sometimes there were moments when Zach knew the answer to the question and he despaired.

A car tried to pass Zach on the left from the tram track. It nearly hit his car as it tried to jump in front of him. Zach slammed on the brakes just in time.

John is a problem solver and a man of action – he’s going to kill that man when he finds out about the blood match, Zach thought to himself.

And nobody is going to be able to talk John out of it.

Like the time that John stood at a street corner – for three hours every morning – every day for a month in order to prevent an elderly neighbor from being run over by high speed BMW. John didn’t have a date for the event, but he had guessed the month – July.

John saved her – in the nick of time – and exactly one day before that same elderly neighbor would first meet her 16 year old, blue-eyed and golden haired granddaughter from Spain.

What John didn’t know was that some months later, Zach had showed a picture of the elderly neighbor, her granddaughter and John to an excommunicated orthodox priest in Teguchi. The Teguchi man was known among the Orthodox religious as a man who spoke with angels and demons. He also foretold destinies.

“The girl’s grandmother died of cancer a year after the visit. Don’t drink the water in Bucharest.

That’s why this girl dedicated herself to cancer research,” said the angel whisperer. “If her grandmother had died by the hit and run, the girl would never have found the passion to do cancer research.

“In ten years, she identifies the undiscovered properties of a common amino-acid whose mysteries unlock the cure for cancer.”

The angel whisperer had shared his insight on a dozen more photos that Zach showed him, but Zach couldn’t remember anything else the man had said – except one thing. That Zach would remember each thing according to its time. If the insights had not been sealed in such a way, Zach would quickly meet an untimely death.

Zach remembered one other thing – the message from the Angel whisperer for John. The message had made no sense to Zach and John those many years ago:

Put your sword back into its place, for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

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Next Episode: The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Part Two

All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna
21 October 2012
Bucharest, Romania

Stan Faryna

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