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Is That Boustrophedon?

The Life-Giver / The Slayer

Her son’s tumor is at a point where surgery is necessitated to save his life. She has spent the night by his bedside, only retreating for water and prayers. She falls asleep for 2 hours, then awakens with a start. In the dream she has seen a little black book. The book has a mystical aura around it as if it is the answer to her prayers.

“Yes doctor I understand, but isn’t there any way that I could finance the surgery? $20,000 dollars is a lot of money, couldn’t you work with us on some sort of payment plan?

A silence, a rude reference to a saint, and a curt reply from the other end.

“I see well, I’ll look elsewhere then.”

She hangs up without saying goodbye. Dejectedly she slumps into her sofa.

A minute later a package arrives, in an ordinary cardboard box, and only because she craves something to do, she opens it.

How strange! The same little black book from her dream! Covered in strange symbols written in some sort of archaic language engraved on the front cover. She opens it to the first page, there is intricate interweaving in the same archaic language from the front cover like the book of Kells. The text in the middle is written from right to left and left to right, in the manner of boustrophedon. The next few pages are written in ancient Sanskrit and several images border the outside. The images look like a mixture between Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Mayan Glyphs. There is another page with dots and dashes like alien Morse code, and another page seeming to translate the alien Morse into Ancient Greek and then modern Arabic. After these pages, a page depicting a woman on her knees in prayer and then another image of the same woman on her back sleeping. The woman in the image bears a strange resemblance to herself, but maybe she is imagining this?

She continues to flip through the pages of the book and to her surprise she can begin to follow the patterns after page 5 as the language begins to take on a resemblance to Spanish. By the 7th page she is capturing the rhythms of the writing, and by page 8 she can tell that she’s reached some sort of incantated introduction. The next time she checks the clock above her fireplace, 1 hour has passed. She has reached the last page of the book and yet cannot remember exactly what she has read. She gets up, and immediately feels the blood rush to her head. She can feel a headache coming on, so she crawls to bed.

That night she has the strangest dream. She dreams she is robbing a bank with 3 other people. She is amazed at her deft reflexes and cool demeanor, even though she can feel that she is under the influence of cocaine. She feels exactly the opposite of what she feels in her normal waking life. In the dream she is powerful and in control, yet on edge, a veritable coked up Goddess. She decides to take a woman hostage, because there is something about the woman that she does not like. She threatens the cashier and guard to do as she says. The guard does not seem to want to comply, she notices him going for his gun and she places the gun next to the hostage’s head. The guard lifts his hands up, so she walks while pushing the hostage toward him. With the gun aimed at the hostage’s lower back she gets close enough to disarm the guard and makes him get on the floor. Out of the corner of her eye she notices a man attempting to rush her. She blasts the lady hostage in the lower back, and the man who attempted to rush her is now taken aback and cowering behind a desk. As the situation is now under control, the next 2 minutes flow by and the other 3 people exit out of the back with 4 black duffel bags filled with cash. The last dream image the woman sees are 4 black duffel bags covered in archaic writing.

The next morning the feeling of power from the dream is gone, and she awakens to the tragedy that has become her life.


Henry sits in the passenger side of the soccer mom van his crew picked up from little Charles. He is in deep thought caressing his gun and mask. He feels like an ancient Greek philosopher. He can’t stop thoughts from racing through his head. He blames it on the cocaine even though he can’t function without it. “So, this is what my life has come to? Sitting in a mom van, caressing my gun, about to commit a robbery? Am I in control of my life, or am I at the mercy of grand forces? How many choices have I made in my life, as a free deciding agent, that have led me here? Have I been in control of all of it, or am I just following some unseen chain of events destined to happen? Perhaps, some grand intelligence is elegantly laying out all the cues, knowing that my dumb selfish brain will always choose the most materially beneficial outcomes? So predictable, whatever gets you paid huh Henry? That was what his father used to tell him when he would visit. And even then, he would only visit for his own selfish interest. Keeping up family appearances since he knew the old man was loaded, about to croak and leaving behind a fat inheritance. Well, that wasn’t the only reason…his father had raised him and due to his ego he felt like he had to pay the old man back. Oh, it’s not like my father wasn’t also putting up appearances by raising me. The local club of well to do people would never have allowed his father to maintain the same connections if they knew he was a dead-beat dad. A cynic, I guess that’s what philosophers today would call me. No, the term cynic has become completely different from what it used to mean. Jaded is more like it, I guess. Anyways, let’s get this money.”

On the edge of the cocaine rush, Henry grabs a woman hostage. The conclusion is 1 dead body, & 4 black duffel bags.


“No, I’m sorry the doctor is not a charity. Yes, she understands that. She told me to tell you that she didn’t waste 10 years in med school so that she can dish out free surgeries to every person in need. I think that you’re looking for Mother Theresa sweetheart, and she’s not in right now.”

“God, why do people think that it’s my duty to help them? As if I don’t have bills to pay! Ask the next person that asks for something free, if I can come to their job and get a freebie okay, Rosie? Speaking of bills, I’m headed to the bank, please tell my patients that I am out on a break.”

“Jesus, the bank is packed today! Wow, that guy’s wearing an odd COVID mask. His eyes are so red, I hope he isn’t sick. Oh no, please no. Not today.”

The last thing Miranda Becker sees of her earthly existence, is the world transmute itself before her eyes into a collage of all the dead bodies of the patients she has turned away. The last specific image she sees, is a woman praying on her knees covered in strange archaic symbols. Is that boustrophedon?


A vision worthy of the Sistine chapel visits Henry that night. What a dream! No, a revelation, a directive from on high! Expiation for his sinful life. A chance to make things right! How perfect, he has passed the house with the cherry roof on his way to the city at least 3 times a week this year. Always it has struck him in an odd manner. A strange feeling of Deja-vu, and overwhelming familiarity. Always he has chalked it up to some forgotten childhood memory. Now he knows the metaphysical reason for his feelings towards this house. The color of the envelope is a creamy angelic, glowing in his hand, he does not know if this is an aftereffect of the cocaine. He can’t tell anymore, because all he knows is that he hasn’t felt this good in a decade. When he arrives at the house, he deposits the envelope without a second thought. Walking away, he feels himself 20,000 pounds lighter.


She has never seen so much money laid out in front of her all at once. 20,000 dollars, one for every tear she has shed since her son was diagnosed with that tumor. The creamy angelic envelope is soaked through. She rushes to the phone to call the doctor. “Oh my God, was that really her? I remember seeing it on the news. I am so sorry. Oh no, is this going to cause an issue with my son’s surgery? No, you can refer me to another doctor then please. Sure, and please tell her family that I send my condolences.”

Before retiring into her room that night, she passes by the dresser in her son’s room and strokes the little black book. It feels alive beneath her fingers purring with contentment.

Copyright Jimmy Eleazar Vargas de Sanchez

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