Catherine Blue was suddenly awake and suddenly furious. She usually only slept for two hours each night and spent the day sluggish, with a cup of coffee glued to her left hand. She’s left-handed. But today was different, today Catherine was electric.
Like every cult leader in the year 2065, Catherine was visited by futuristic, otherworldly beings who bring information about how to avoid Earth’s rapid demise. She used to get these visions sporadically and during the day, mostly in public places where everyone could witness her chosen-ness. Lately however, she’d only been seeing things at night and much more frequently. Her visions had become little more than mundane dreams
Catherine felt herself fading away. Her cult, simply called Blue, was once ranked #2 on the New York Times’ “Best U.S. Cults To Join” list and was called the “Hippest Cult of 2062” by Time Out Chicago. Now her membership was a measly four. The once bright cobalt robes she and her followers wore were now faded and covered in cat hair.
Every night, Catherine was greeted by the same seven figures, minute orbs of glowing blue plaid, history professors from the year 3039 on the planet Glarf. When they first had visited her, the orbs brought all kinds of information about Earth’s future. Catherine wrote it down and preached everywhere she could. She performed live three times a week around Chicago and recorded a podcast from her parents’ farmhouse that later became the Blue commune. Now, her visions, if they could still be called that, consisted of Catherine sitting in on routine moments in the plaid orbs’ lives: office hours where they talked to students about their latest paper or reading professor reviews at the end of the quarter. She had begun to resent them for forcing Blue into obscurity.
Her latest vision had been different. Plaid orb #4 confronted Catherine after his lecture on the first Glarf Civil War. He seemed hesitant to tell Catherine, as it was something all the orbs had been keeping from her, but he knew it was the right thing to do. He spit out that Gina Flack, Catherine’s ex-wife, now a flourishing cult leader of her own, had never seen visions and was preaching false truths. It it had been a bad divorce. Catherine was fragile after it ended. Anyone would be if their best cult member and love of their life suddenly fled the commune to start her own cult.
Gina’s cult, called No Flack, was always trending on Twitter with #lifeflack and she had recently bought Chicago’s famous Laugh Factory theater. She kept everything in the comedy club the same except for the name, it was renamed The Laugh Flacktory and only No Flack members could attend shows. Everyone in Chicago knew the Laugh Flacktory was the best place to see live comedy. No Flack was the cult everybody wanted to join, not only because of the flashy perks but because Gina spoke with such cool authority. She was so convincing, no one had bothered to check if her prophecies were coming true.
Catherine had long noticed that cults were not respected. They had become a popularity contest. And though she loathed her ex-wife, Catherine wanted to think the best of people. How could Gina do this, how could Gina betray true cult leaders? How could Gina betray her? She needed to find out. Catherine franticly pulled on her robe, rolled as much cat hair off as she could, and set out for the train. She took the brown line and walked to the Laugh Flacktory, where the top No Flack members lived and worked. Just like that, there Gina was, smoking on the street outside. Catherine hated that Gina smoked but she loved watching her. She looked like a sexy dragon. Catherine walked closer.
“So you’re still smoking?” Catherine remarked.
Gina looked up and couldn’t help smiling. “I still like it.”
“And you do what you like.”
“What are you doing here, Blue?” Gina asked.
Catherine was no longer angry. Gina’s green eyes and raspy voice had a hold on her. She had forgotten what it was like to be around such magnetism.
“I don’t know.” Catherine stumbled.
“I never signed the divorce papers. I didn’t want to. So I didn’t.” Gina said.
“You didn’t? No. You can’t do this to me again. I came here for a reason, because I know you haven’t been getting visions. I know you’re a liar.” Catherine said with surprising force.
Gina put out her cigarette and took Catherine’s hand. “I was scared, to just be your follower, your wife. I felt like I didn’t have my own identity.”
“You’re a liar, just say it.” Catherine pulled her hand away.
“Fine. I never had visions. I lied to everyone and then I couldn’t stop lying, it was fun. It felt nice having people want me. You must get that.” Gina seemed earnest.
“No. Leading a cult is not about being popular. You’ll never understand.” Catherine turned her back and stormed off.
Catherine reached the Blue farmhouse, her heart still racing from seeing Gina, standing up to Gina, and, recording her conversation with Gina. Catherine took out her iPhone 37s from her robe pocket. There it was in voice memos, Gina’s whole confession, all Catherine had to do was post it. Just then her phone rang.
I’m sorry.” Gina whispered on the other line.
Catherine was silent for a moment. “I know.”
I miss you.” Gina continued.
Catherine put the phone on speaker and hesitated before deleting the recorded confession. Just like that, it was gone.
“I miss you too.” Catherine whispered back as she lay down on her bed, her clean robe once again covered with cat hair