Monday, January 11, 2010

A Series of Minor Events

I remember watching a science show when I was a kid. Mr Wizard or whoever had this big clear box with the bottom covered in mouse traps. On every mouse trap sat a single ping-pong ball. He dropped a ball in through a little opening and the whole thing just went nuts. That's how my brain feels most of the time--like that big box full of crazy.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Another Destination

The car slid through the glittering blackness of the city like wet ice. It passed through busy streets as if every car, construction barrier and pedestrian had been there for years. Its fantastic speed made the rest of the bustling night appear to be standing still, but at the same time its grace and nonchalance made it seem to be in no great hurry. Nothing could move in this dipping, darting fashion without some alien technological magic hiding its impetus from the registers of physical possibility.

Inside the car, I watched the city flit past as if it were merely images. I felt no movement whatsoever. This thing creeped me out bad. The fact that I never knew where it was taking me only made it worse. But considering how things usually went down once I arrived, I was better off not knowing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bargain Tombstones

A dream:

I was riding a horse along a forested dirt path. Occasionally, I passed people selling things on the side of the road. Particularly I noticed the tombstone sellers. I stopped at one -- a very short man -- and picked up one of the tombstones. They had been laying face down, so I turned it over and saw that the engraving was only partially done. I looked at the back again for a second, and when I glanced at the front again, it was complete. It was a simple, stylized image of a flying hooded figure with a scythe chasing a ghost. It was almost cartoonish. I picked up the second tombstone and again saw an incomplete engraving. More deliberately this time, I turned the face of the stone away and back again quickly, and again the engraving was complete when it came back into my view. The scene was similar to the first.
At this point, I knew that tombstones are engraved by Death Himself. The tiny salesman told me I could have them for very cheap, since they were his last two stones, and it was getting late.

I strapped them to my back and rode off. A short while later, I looked back and saw the dark shape of Death following me. I pushed my horse into a full gallop, my goal to reach the ferry before it left. With Death slowly gaining on me, I made it to the tiny village, flew through and toward the dock. I could see that the ferry was just about to leave. But I was going to make it. As my horse ran full-speed toward the water, I realized that we weren't lined up with the dock. My horse jumped, and the people on the ferry watched us pass several yards to the right. As we began to fall toward the black water, I kicked myself up off the horse, pulled my bag off my back and tossed it away from me.

As I hit the water, I realized that I still had two tombstones strapped to my back.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Threat of Annihilation

"I'm going to beat you to death with your own asshole," he said. He spoke so quietly that I might have though he was talking to himself if he hadn't been staring me in the face. "I mean it."

He had been standing in the middle of the dark sidewalk, but I hadn't seen him until he spoke. My heart thudded as he seemed to appear directly in front of me. His clothes, skin, and hair were the faded color of nothing.

I blurted out an expletive or two in my surprised and jumped back a pace. He simply stood there with an unreadable expression, his unblinking eyes studying me. For a moment I was at a complete loss.

Since he didn't seem moved to threaten me any further, I moved to step around him. He followed me with his eyes, but remained otherwise motionless. I continued past him, failing in my attempt to act unruffled. I was afraid to look back, but I felt him watch me leave.

Friday, January 20, 2006

She Melted Into The Biomass

I watched her as she crossed the street, throwing off unconscious vibes of attitude and sex. She wore black, tattered rags, artfully draped. I wasn't sure whether she had fashioned them herself from junk or paid a fortune for them to some inscrutable fashion designer. As she moved, the dark fabric offered glimpses of pale, smooth flesh.
She strode down the street confidently, almost boldly. Her intense presence made her strangely conspicous in the drifting sea of anonymous faces. Still, she seemed utterly unaware of the impact she had on nearly everyone she passed.
She stopped briefly at flashing garment display, and I caught her expression. Her brow wore a slight crease, and she bit her bit her lip. She seemed deep in thought, absorbed in the glittering showcase.

I was looking right at her. She turned her head slightly and shifted her weight. A large businessman in a long coat stumbled, looking slightly startled. Suddenly, she was looking right at me, a terrible awareness in her eyes. She glanced at the man, and my eyes followed. He had stopped. He leaned against a storefront, looking confused, and sat down hard on the sidewalk. I looked back, and she was gone. She had melted into the biomass with an ease I would have thought impossible just seconds before.
Dropping the sneaky facade, I ran to where she had just been. On the worn cement were three small drops of blood, smeared by passing feet. I heard concerned voices, and looked up. People were talking to the man sitting on the ground, asking him if he was alright. He still wore a puzzled expression, his staring eyes focused on nothing. On my way back to the transit station, an ambulance flew past, full of light and noise.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On Vulcans

Decades of study have shown that testosterone can impede concentration, reduce motivation, and slow learning. Many drugs exist that can either counter some of the undesirable symptoms caused by the hormone, and others directly reduce the generation of testosterone in the body. Those commonly known as "Vulcans" however, take a different approach. The man's testes are the source of all (or nearly all) of the testosterone created in the male body. While drugs invariably have side effects, the complete removal of the testicles has been found to sharply reduce the volume of annoying hormones in the system while causing relatively few problems.
The medical world calls them Voluntary Castration Patients. The term shortened to Vol-Cas in colloquial use. The term "Vulcan" quickly replaced Vol-Cas due to the similarity in sound and the Vol-Cas Patients' tendencies to be stone-faced, humorless, emotionless, and highly intelligent -- much like the pointy-eared race of beings in the fictional Star Trek universe. Vulcans are also generally pale and thin both due to their hormone deficiencies and because they spend so much time in windowless labs, workshops, and offices. For reasons not entirely understood, Vulcans live 24 years longer on average than men who keep their testicles.
The procedure is hardly popular, but those who choose this path are almost invariably men with an insatiable desire to accomplish more and learn faster -- and who have no patience for or understanding of the more delicate emotions. These men devote their whole lives to their intellectual passions and forever abandon the unstable sex-driven emotions of the inferior majority they laughingly call "Humans."

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Alien Memory of Warmth

I dreamt of the Sun again last night. The acceleration of the rockets presses me into my seat, and I can't move. The unbearable noise of liftoff is absent in my dream. As we climb above the eternal sphere of cloud, dust, exhaust, and smoke, the tiny windows of the shuttle become almost unbearably bright. Until this moment, I've only seen Sunlight as it looks filtered, diffused, and refracted through miles of filthy air. I watch a pure, warm circle crawl across my hand. The light, obstructed only by the rare upper atmosphere and a couple inches of glass, burns almost too hot on my hand. I've never felt the sun before.

We use sun lamps to keep our skin from turning pale an translucent in the darkness, and that's how I'd always assumed the Sun of ancient clear skies must have felt. Now I hate the sterile bluish light of the lamps -- the weak light that always fails to impart any meaningful warmth. My skin dutifully produces melanin and vitamin D, yet remains cold.

As we left our home forever, I stared at the intense dot diminish on the viewscreens and knew that I would never feel that warmth again. I could only watch its pale reproduction on the monitors as it faded into the starfield behind us, my face illuminated by the screens' faint glow, feeling nothing.

It's been 3 years since I've seen the Sun, and the alien memory of its warmth haunts me still. I can no longer remember what jolly insanity convinced me to spend 10 years in this windowless can. Sure, life on Earth couldn't offer much more than hunger, illness, and destitution. And maybe I'd seen more of the sun in my climb into space than most remaining inhabitants of the planet will likely see in their lifetimes. But these motivations seem insignificant in the freezing darkness of space.