98 Aprils

Diary entries by Dr. Jessalyn Chaucer, as provided by Juliana Rew
Art by Luke Spooner

Diary: Open. [Timestamp: 2039-04-01]

I knew it. I was telling you all along, wasn’t I?

Diary: Not Closed. Save?

Diary: Not Closed. Save?

Diary: Not Closed. Save?


Diary: Open. [Timestamp: 2030-04-19]

I’m as logical as the next person, but this feeling that I will die in the month of April has haunted me all my life.

I was walking home from school one April day–I was probably seven or eight years old–the chilly 60 degree air turning my skinny legs blue under my thin cotton slacks. I stopped at the corner to look both ways and rub at the goosebumps on my arms, and it hit me. Maybe I’d heard a phrase from a poem, “April is the cruelest month,” somewhere. Who knows? It was a long time ago.

It wasn’t just an inkling. I felt the most serious foreboding that I was going to die. Sometime in April. I could put the thought out of my mind, but it never went away. Every April of each passing year, I stopped whatever I was doing, shivered, and tried to ignore the feeling until May would arrive and I felt safe.

People die in every month of the year, in fact, in every minute of the day, yet my feeling grew until it became an obsession that I labored hard to hide from my family and friends.

At first I walled off my dread in a locked, handwritten diary, penned in my childish scrawl. When computers became ubiquitous, I created a secret file, where I logged anomalous and dangerous April events, and we all know there were a lot of them. I was determined to prove April was out to get me. Then I could make my case–to whom, I did not know.

I searched for any sort of pattern. Some events were surely random, or, at least, not aimed at me in particular, such as asteroids, tornadoes, floods, and other “Acts of God.” It’s a big universe, after all, and I couldn’t claim to know the thoughts of an omniscient being, but I came to suspect there might be a powerful malevolent substrate underlying the creations of man that conspired against me.

As examples, here are some memorable dates that could be construed as direct attacks on my life during the month of April:

Number 1. The Blitz – While I was still a babe in arms in April 1940, my family took shelter in the Underground in London, narrowly avoiding annihilation by newly developed Spengbombe Cylindrich high explosives. We later moved to New York City for greater safety. Adolph Hitler’s luck also ran out in April, and he shot himself on April 30, 1945.

Number 2. Tax Day – In 1955, the collection of U.S. income taxes popularly known as “the Ides of March” was changed from March to April. My father disappeared on this date, leaving me, my mother, and my two brothers destitute and in deep debt. My despondent mother gave us all a lethal dose of the new benzodiazepine sleeping pill. Surprisingly, I survived.

Number 3. The Martin Luther King Assassination – Upon hearing the news of the great man’s death in April 1968, students began demonstrating on the college campus where I taught Probability Theory, and I was caught up in the rioting. I spent two weeks in the hospital in a coma. Then my girlfriend April left me, claiming I had been stalking her. That’s plain false; it was more like the other way around. I should never have been so foolish as to date a girl with that name.

Number 4. Chernobyl – In April 1986, I was touring by bicycle in Europe when a nuclear meltdown in Russia released a radioactive cloud into the atmosphere, slightly increasing my chances of dying of cancer. I did, in fact, contract leukemia 16 years later, but with medical intervention it has been in remission.

Number 5. The Dot-com Bubble Burst – All of my retirement investments went down the tubes in April 2000, and I got laid off from my union teaching job. It looked like I might be working the rest of my life, except that two years later, the leukemia struck, and I didn’t have insurance.

I’m crazy or paranoid, you say? I also include here some later audio recordings that I dictated to this online diary:

98 Aprils

Every April of each passing year, I stopped whatever I was doing, shivered, and tried to ignore the feeling until May would arrive and I felt safe.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2015 collection.

Dr. Jessalyn Chaucer received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from City College, New York, and has authored over 35 peer­reviewed articles in the field of Probability Theory. She has specialized in analyzing world­changing events occurring during the 20th and 21st centuries, most notably, “Long­Term Effects of Radioisotopes Released at Chernobyl, USSR” and “Statistical Comparison of the Game of Othello and the Tito Mission to Mars.”

Juliana Rew is a software engineer and former science and technical writer for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, who is now trying her hand at writing fantasy and science fiction. She has sold stories to Sorcery and the Far Frontier, Fresh Blood (May-December Publications), Bards and Sages Quarterly, Aurora Wolf, InfectiveInk, Song Stories Press, and The Colored Lens. Her Y/A SF novella, Erenarch Academy, has been released by World Castle Publishing, and the sequel, Miranda of Daris, is in press with them. Her author website is julianarew.com.

Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.

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