skonen_blades: (Default)
With all the recent changes to the darkness that I've seen.
The edges that were sanded off, the dirty made pristine
The safety and awareness and the need to be serene
The growing sense of friendliness and shunning the obscene
The Brothers Grimm made not so bad, the fairy tales made fair
The social justice warriors enlightening the air
The value placed on human life returning bright and strong
The grey reduced, the right enlarged, the shrinking of the wrong
The outrage at authorities for murdering the poor
I think perhaps one holiday is losing it's allure
October's bachannalia. The costumed autumn fete.
Althought it's taken lots of hits it hasn't been killed yet.
And if it dies then that's okay 'cause it's the only one
That doesn't need to be alive to have it's season's fun
Because a zombie works just fine, a ghost works just as well
A vampire or a demon up vacationing from hell
It's my favorite holiday, the best one that I've seen
This year I think I'm dressing as the ghost of Halloween
The Halloween that's not allowed. The Halloween taboo.
The Halloween that moral, righteous, good people eschew
I'll dress up as a sexy, sexist, racist, ableist male
A twitter nazi holocaust denier. With a tail.
I'll wear some blackface and a head dress and a turban too.
I'll layer so much ignorance they won't know what to do
I'll work in sexy condiments and sexy flower bed
and sexy lamp and sexy tree and sexy severed head
Kimono, sari, big sombrero, khaftan, high heel shoes
I'll get thick glasses and some crutches to complete the ruse
Vocally my ignorance will match my outer gear
I'll drop the n-word casually for everyone to hear
And if you try to challenge me about my costume choice
You won't believe how loud I'll raise the volume of my voice
I'll talk about free speech and how our country is a free one
And how I hate the knee jerk left and wouldn't want to be one
I'll rail against political correctness run amuck
And loudly claim quite proudly that I do not give a fuck
You know what? Wait. Just wait. This is a really bad idea.
If this poem has offended you, it's culpa mea
I admit that even as a joke that this is dumb
That where we're going has to be improved from where we've come.
Perhaps the chunks we've protested against this time of year
Are actually good parts to lose. It's actually quite clear.
That Halloween should not be seen as opportunity
to be a racist, sexist ableist with impunity
I take it back. The holiday is not in need of saving.
Halloween could use some rules to help us in behaving.
The day is dead! Long live the day! Our Halloween lives on!
Just make sure to double check the costume that you don.
True monsters live beneath the masks of flesh we wear all year
We need a holiday that is a holiday from fear
So let's all try to make October safer than it's been.
So everyone can have a safe and happy Halloween.

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Looking at Mars is different now. Through the telescopes, you can see patches of green and purple where the algae is taking hold. New shapes are spreading. Year to year it changes. There's a patch at the moment that the kids are calling the green man, not unlike the man in the moon.

Some of the teens have had the inserts downloaded to their iEyes so that they can see Mars without telescopes. The macro and micro on the most recent patch is amazing. Cops can do fingerprint identification just by looking closely at crime scenes and cycling through the spectrums. Doctors can operate at a new level, fingers like tree trunks sewing up microscopic wounds.

But Mars. Twinkling up in the sky as a new atmosphere grows. It's a war up there. The algae is fighting each other to make sure the most dominant strain wins. The colours are fighting each other for supremacy.

They say in fifteen years that the first private construction modules will be ferried over and fifteen years after that, the commercial flights will begin. Homesteading on Mars will be a thing.
I can't wait.

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“The hope of a spider’s an alien thing.”
The spider thought, chewing on Daniel Moth’s wing
“For though as a spider I bear no ill will
I’ll snack upon Daniel ‘til I’ve had my fill.
I don’t have the tiniest inkling of wrong.
In fact as I eat him, I’m singing this song.
He begged of his friend, (his friend being me)
To set his most succulent abdomen free
His thorax was stuck and his antennae, too.
His legs quivered quick (and between me and you)
He told me of all the months he’d been my friend,
Apologized if he’d had cause to offend
Stammered and tried to guess what gone bad
At what had come over me, why I was mad
As both of my fangs plumped up thick and tumescent
With anticoagulant life-sign suppressant
The question repeated from his mouth was why?
Why would I eat him and make a friend die?
And as my fangs emptied and as he went still
And as I enwrapped him, as I ate my fill
And stored his drained carcass in web corner four
And returned to the center and waited for more
I wondered on hope and arachnid regret
(Or how, if existing, I’d not felt it yet)
My eyes blinked in unison, one through to eight
As I got quite sleepy whenever I ate
I wondered why my friends all stayed friends with me,
When I was an eight-legged death guarantee
I think it’s because I present as benign.
Because when I’m full I seem calm. I seem fine.
I joke. I accept. I see everyone’s side.
And it’s all authentic. It’s all bona fide.
But when I am hungry there’s nature’s dark switch
And no matter who’s around me when I itch
Gets pricked and then packaged with spidery silk
And drained and then stored with the rest of their ilk
And back to my middle-web nexus I crawl
(I do have my centrist beliefs after all)
I sit and I hope that I one day will feel
A little remorse so that I can feel real.
That maybe that after my killing a friend
My glacial indifference to it will end
That even though such a thing would sadden me
So much less would I feel so much uncertainty.
About all my friendships (and my friend’s demise
I’m always surprised that they’re always surprised)
Spiders eat insects and that is the end.
But spiders pre-eating can be a good friend."

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The curves of Saint Monday call up the interlocking pieces of forgetfulness that I call life.
The carpet salesman will always undermine us.
Second place can be a nuclear power plant in the right hands.
If it’s bank left and hard right then it needs to be full throttle on the straightaways.
My face is relaxed in the storm.
You don’t slap fight with the hand of god.
You don’t high five the one hand clapping.
There’s a blue square in my chest instead of a heart.
A smear of paint where my worry used to be.
I don’t see a doctor about my brain.
I see a botanist.
There is ivy in my meat.

I want to fedex myself a real life by speedy delivery but that’s a serious charge.
Shipping slash fiction to greedy eyes can’t reproduce the big finish.
We’re all wireless but the server went down 4000 years ago and we’re still searching for a connection.
Art, religion, and science were all created to take up the slack.
More like opposable dumbs, amirite?
Give me the utility belt that Adam West took to the afterlife.
I want to use shark repellent in hell.

I don’t have a steering wheel big enough to turn my life around and besides, it’s hard to steer an elevator.
I’m infested with tourniquets.
Rechargeable batteries are sewn into my skin.
I’m a scratch and sniff house fire.
I’m a barrel roll in a monkey factory trying to make it more fun.
You twist my hoof and I’ll shit money and old glue.
I can’t see the future but I think it sure packed a punch in a suitcase for me.
I bank on the unsafe deposit box.
You can call me night cactus.
You can call me barbed lyre.
You can call me short-short cutoffs drying on a surfboard near a bonfire.

I chewed up the rewind button.
I made a smoothie out of my regrets.
It’s only by losing baggage that you can see what you won’t miss.
This flight’s a roulette wheel and I bet on blue.
The rain soaks my mind into being half sponge and I awaken.
I eat grilled cheese by osmosis.
I’ve imprinted on society.
My privilege allows me the luxury of the slow lane.
If I’m a kite then no one’s holding me.

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The cat snakes were my favorite of all the gene splices.

I’m wearing one right now. Her name is Waffles. She’s coiled around my neck, turquoise fur with orange stripes, purring against my throat in a mutual exchange of warmth. An extremely fluffy Persian constrictor.

Cat snakes have been available domestically for years. Nothing poisonous for home use, of course. Warm-blooded with long legless bodies, their minds a wonderful combination of snake and cat. Utterly unreadable. Like a Cheshire playing poker. Moody, aloof and opaque.

My brunch friend Amanda has a meters-long albino pythelot draped around her shoulders, white with those black capital-C spots winding around its torso like stripes on a candy cane. A short-hair because she’s allergic. She calls it Twiggy. Its face is serenely dunked in a small bowl of dried mice on the table beside our food. This lunch spot caters to our class.

The cross between a meow and a hiss is wonderful and haunting. And those eyes. Two unreadable species put together to form eyes that are portals to another dimension of consciousness. Time does not exist in those eyes. Emotions are alien there.

Feral tomserpents dart through the alleys these days. Unspayed and unneutered Christmas gifts reproducing in the dumpsters. There are rumours of the massive cobra sphinxes used for security in the outlying corporate factories, rearing up in the moonlight in front of terrified trespassing spies. Fifteen-meter sabertooth tigercondas patrolling the fences of drug-lord fields, fat on junkies and mercenaries, hooked on opiates from digesting the hopped-up victims.

But domestic cat snakes were bred to be docile around people. Strong and fierce when it came to mousing, though. Vermin were a thing of the past in our gated community. Unfortunately, so were birds.

The entire body a tail that twitched when thinking about attack. More silent than a regular cat when crawling up stairs through carpet. Cat snakes were slow lightning. I loved my Waffles with all my heart.

I felt a ripple down the length of her. Embarrassed, I realized my little Waffles was about to cough up a hairball right here in public.

I excused myself from Amanda and our table and headed to the bathroom before Waffles’ undignified whorfing could begin in earnest. Amanda seemed none the wiser but Twiggy’s thin arrowhead face poked up from the mice bowl, one eye smirking at me.

In the morning I may take a trip to the pet store for an exchange. Come to think of it, the hairballs had always been an annoyance.

Maybe I was more of a fishdog person.

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It’s the engine of the world. A holocaust of denials clogging the locust filters. An overheating of the entire worldwide server. Shouldn’t have built a computer in a greenhouse. The calculations are too fast, they need too much power. The underground network needs to be made of ice to survive. We’re bred to be warm but it we get too hot, we’re toast.

We’re a train of harmonica lizards crawling up the spine of the most expensive hooker in the universe. We’re one accordion short of a political movement. We ran so far away. The dawn is like an explosion, whipcracking across the horizon like nuclear war. The light slaps down across our naked planet like a flipper on an ass and we wake up shocked, hairless monkeys that we are. There is no dignity in a self-caused genocide. It’s pooping your pants times a million.

Lilies crowd our lungs and red farms panic across our skin. We are fertilizer for the next shot at the title. Too successful, our tombstone will read. The exponential infinity mirror march of genes overflowing the petri dish we’re wrapped around. At least we still make good food. Our afterlife is a main course for the new mouths.

Perhaps they’ll be smaller. My money’s on the bugs. Living off the free meat, multiplying by the billions, evoluting up the ladder at a spring with those short life cycles. A little more radiation blasting through the sky sprinkler with no one around to tell them that they’re mutated. Let’s get the trial and error started. Let’s start those ribonucleic shots in the dark. Let’s watch the magic happen. The universe is indifferent to our failure or our success.

We need to leave. We need to spread. We need to paint the other rocks with our biological graffiti. We need to tag our way out, leapfrogging to the stars like hardy cancer. Insurance comes from diversity and a wide spread of buckshot. The more host bodies we cling to, the more resource deposits we parasite off of, the more secure our future. Survival will get us to the stars, not greed.

Let our gods lead us if they must. Let commerce, too, if that’s our jam. Let altruism have a seat at the table, too. But we must leave. The bucket is overflowing with sentient meat. We have to lower the levels.

We must leave. Or we will die.

skonen_blades: (Default)
The horrendous flowerbed appeared in the silence of space. Fireweed stoccato explosions ripped across the hull of the ship in a dotted line of napalm shrubbery, blooming gushing portholes into the vacuum. It was a bouquet to the dead. Anti-matter seeds slapped the cold hull and kissed with the power of stars colliding. Fifteen hundred pirates spewed out into unforgiving cold in that first attack.

The rush of reason leaving him. He spun, intense with feral instinct, forgetting the gun on his bedside table and leapt from his bunk.

And violently met the ceiling.

The gravity core had been derailed. Now everyone he could see was dancing frenetic ballets in midair, trying to nightmare swim to a wall or a railing for purchase and direction. The teal of the alarm lights strobed through the corridor. Lightning washes blasting most biological eyes.

Blinding and useless, he thought. He closed his eyes and let his internals fire up. Schematics hopped up in flourescent pink across the back of his eyelids. He pulsed out across the spectrum. When the echo came back, he could see clearly where he needed to be.

The bridge.

The Pirate King Bigscreen was probably barking orders and trying to steer their freighter away from the onslaught. Caught post-celebration with their pants down. One half of the crew drunk and the other half sleeping it off. The problem with pirates is that they never waited to celebrate a victory because life was short. The fact that life for a pirate was short exactly because they never waited to celebrate a victory was lost on them.

Safe harbours make for better parties, or so his people had always said. He clamped his teeth together, clenched his eyes shut, and started clambering for the access tunnels while the ship writhed around him.

“Redfist! Where are you going?” someone yelled at his back. He turned, opening his eyes to get a glimpse at who was shouting at him. His interior vision was great for seeing through walls but recognizing a crew member by hot green skeleton and soupy orange heat signature was difficult unless he knew how many teeth each pirate had. The only thing he could tell from the x-rays was that the speaker had a larger-than-usual spear of cartilage sticking out from the middle of his face.

It was The Rat. His long nose stuck forward, a probing beak. His wet eyes quivered in the smoke above his weak mouth and absent chin. Aside from the bulge of his skull, it was like his head came out of his neck and decided to come to a point. It was said his nose could detect all manner of things but as far as Redfist had seen, it couldn’t detect perfume in a brothel.

“Headed to the bridge, Rat. Want to see how the King is handling this. You want to come?” he asked.

Another explosion pushed the whole world sideways. The wall leapt forward, kissing them both like the heel of a giant. After pinballing to a stop, Rat nodded, his nose conducting an invisible symphony.

Together they headed up the corridor past thinning air, lowering temperatures, fire, and thrashing figures. Soon enough, this part of the ship would be silent with air loss.

Avoid the morgue, his people also always said. Full of good advice, his people were.

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He’s walking into autumn.
He’s living an eclipse.
He’s half human and half sunset.
The light that burns half as bright burns twice as long.
Or so he hopes.
Playing dead so well he’s gone full method actor.
This is his impression of a clothesline.
Call him Canadian scarecrow.
Call him paused at seconds before impact.
Call him slow motion.
The tortoise and the hare were running two different races.
Slow and steady doesn't win.
It's just satisfied with less.
His version of failure is 8/10ths of the world's version of success.
It's hard not to look up to someone as tall as him.
The beard has all the answers, the age has all the wisdom.
He’s a 'used condom is half-full' kind of guy.
This is his impression of an empty bucket.
Watch him be parking lot.
Watch him be low tide.
The living embodiment of a discarded air guitar.
He has the gift of depression that never stops giving.
He can't breathe underwater but he can hold his breath for 45 years.
Let's flip a coin and disappear before it lands, he says.
Let's climb into Schroedinger's box and snuggle up with that cat, he says.
He embarrasses his mirror.
The universe is a predator that's picking on someone else these days.
Either that or he doesn’t feel the blows anymore.
He’s a pillow fight in a war zone.
He’s aging into irrelevance and maybe the most alarming thing about it is that he doesn’t mind.
No panic.
Just patient sinking.
Just love for friends.
Just quiet desperation.
Just tombstone lullabies for an old man.
Don't get him wrong.
He loves life and he’s not going anywhere.
It's just that he’s put down roots in the path of a forest fire.

skonen_blades: (Default)
The word swoops in on stork wings, causing terror in some and the deepest love in others.
The building blocks of a person’s life spelled out.
A heady soup. Waters best treaded lightly.
In the best worlds, the word is a synonym for God.
A word that sparks all the gratefulness possible in a person.
Tinged though it may be with lifelong frustration and resentment at the edges.
Bridges uncrossed, gulfs unbridgeable, and sailboats engulfed.
The ambigram of wow.
The missing tooth in some people’s mouths.
The reason for some people’s sharp corners.
Not everyone’s cut out to be a parent.
But when a mom gets it right, it’s a tower that reaches the stars.
A blasting javelin thrown into the future.
A release of another person or people into the vast times to come.
The word should be in the thesaurus under caring.
Under safety.
Under comfort.
Under undiluted, unconditional love.
You never stop being someone’s child.
And they never stop being someone’s parent.
Even if tragedy strikes or estrangement triumphs.
A good mother is a pillow for your heart to go to sleep on.
And a drive to keep you focused in the day.
Mothers try to get it right and often fail.
Like your friend’s did.
Like yours did.
And when it comes to a broken life, it’s hard to say that it was the thought that counts.
I believe that if one is a bad parent, then it doesn’t matter what else one does well.
I want to say all mothers have always been there for their children.
I want to say you’re at ease around yours.
But that’s for the greeting cards and the happy endings of sitcoms.
The truth is darker.
And lighter.
The most you can ask of a mother is that they did their best.
If their best was good enough,
Then you have reason to be grateful.

skonen_blades: (Default)
You can BE a good person with mistaken beliefs.
The fact you can change does not make you weak.
If YOU try to COMprehend other folks’ views
Accepting them doesn’t mean “they win, you lose”
Invisible privilege is real hard to see
I’ll tell you a tale of what happened to me
Of the ignorant person that I used to be
Of the changes I’ve gone through. And I MEAN recently.
I grew up poor in a small BC town
We didn’t have much that was non-white around
But I grew up odd and was bullied a lot
Often lamenting the life that I got
Believing that I was a downtrodden boy
A victim oppressed without that much joy
A person in touch with ev-er-y-one
A judgement-free liberal, enlightened son.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME I was steeped in my whiteness
My maleness, my ignorant, cisgendered rightness
But still I allowed my young mind to believe
The rhet’ric of privilege didn’t PERtain to me
I thought I was kind and, ironically
I raged at the people who dared disagree
But as the years passed and experience grew
I realized that THERE’S less of ME than of you
That being locked into this skull is a curse
That bias is natural. And what makes it worse.
Is it’s easy to never examine your mind.
Cause we’re all the good guy. We’re all fair and kind.
My point is I changed. I’m still changing now.
I ask myself why. I ask myself how.
I try to unpack and in-VES-tigate
I try to reflect more. I try to relate.
I feel like I’m woke but I know that I’m wrong.
I know that the path to awareness is long.
I know that I’ll never be fully awake.
No matter how hard of a path that I take.
There’s racists that don’t know they’re racists out there.
Misogynists thinking they’re fully aware
I saw some graffiti down in the east end
In spray paint it said “If you ain’t white, pretend.”
Shutting off empathy can make you feel strong.
Certainty can feel like power. That’s wrong.
Rigidity can feel like pure confidence.
But that doesn’t make any actual sense.
In closing, it’s hard to be called out on stuff.
No one likes being ‘accused’ and it’s rough.
But open your ears and your eyes and your mind.
No matter how woke. No matter how kind.
‘Cause while you can feel so enlightened you’re glowing
Stay humble. The process is always ongoing.
I was born on lost ground. There’s a lot to make up.
And miles to go before I wake up.

skonen_blades: (Default)
The flames that warped across her field of vision shuddered the frames of her cameras. Her pain sensors had been removed which was probably a blessing but Ravendawn felt like something was missing. Hard data about hull integrity minnowing through her mind was useful but the spur of pain could be helpful. This atmosphere was doing its best to ignite her into a firework as she tore through it. She retracted her stabilizer fins before they completely disintegrated. She was more bullet than craft now.

This planet’s pink skies pillowed away from her on all sides, forming a pepto-bismol trampoline she was doing her best to pierce. It was a lovely place. No locals according to the scans. On the charts it was called DK485/c-9 but she’d get to name it whatever she wanted if the scans held up; the perks of being a pioneer. She was thinking maybe Judy like her biomother’s favorite actor. Or Centuryhawk.

Ravendawn reduced her speed. Her name stenciled on the side of her body was still intact but starting to blister and bubble. If the atmosphere didn’t yield soon, she’d need new detailing on top of a new paint job. It would be expensive but if the scans checked out and she was primary, it’d be a miniscule expense in the face of her new riches.

In her belly, the machines slept, waiting for the spasm of release. They would form the mining giants and bio harvesters that would build themselves out of the raw materials of the planet’s crust and crawl away from the impact crater, moving factories striping the planet with megameter-wide troughs of scoured bedrock.

Ravendawn was a planet harvester. A former human’s mental imprint housed in a deep-space arrow. A scant 6% of biomatter remained intact in the nucleus of the ship. All of her senses were sensors. Her eyes were varied and legion. A ladybug death flower on a mission of wealth and destruction.

One of a thousands, pinballing around the the universe, claiming and abrading planets.

The process left a planet heavily scarred but with enough of a biosphere left that, several millennia and a handful of ship generations later, it would have fully healed. Ready for another contact.

Lucrative. The retirement homes for her kind were gated servers near guarded planet cores where she could indulge in any constructed fantasy she could imagine. This was her ninth planet. One more and she’d be able to lock in to retirement for a real-time century, nearly infinity inside the machine.

The soup of the atmosphere cooled around her as she slowed, her skin going from white hot to red to orange, the holes in the clouds behind her staring to slow their expanding irises of rupture.

Half of her vision turned hot teal and protocols slammed shut all throughout body. Alarms sounded. All forms of scan shunted forward to the target. Magnification ratcheted up and her emergency ascent thrusters braked her sharply to a stop. All of this was involuntary reflex from directives peppering her insides. She violently stopped. The slosh of momentum inside her made her nauseous, a humanity leftover.

Damn, she thought.

She zoomed in on forty-six spectrums.

There, beneath her, in bright blue fur, was a four-armed child the size of a cat drawing a picture on a rock. The child looked up at Ravendawn and looked back down, continuing the drawing.

It was a drawing of a fast dot tearing holes in the clouds. It was a drawing of Ravendawn coming down to roost.

No more evidence was needed. This planet would be marked off limits and Ravenclaw would resume her search of leads. Mostly the data was reliable but sometimes life could evolve in between the scan logs and the arrival with the distances traveled.

Ravendawn banked and swooped back up into the dark space with a few cameras pointed back to watch the creature that had denied her this planet’s treasures.

The blue child watched her go, frantically trying to capture the detail of the ship’s moments in the sky to show her tribe.

skonen_blades: (Default)
The forced groan of exhaust that squeaked through the rotted pipe coated his aching lungs. To be an air scrubber in the toxic atmosphere of Railtown was a death sentence without regular maintenance. After two more weeks of this, though 56Raul2080, he’d need a complete overhaul.

Visibility in the human spectrum down here was zero as rainbows of fog and smoke from the low-level factories poured out, some heavier and spiraling down like waterfalls and some rising. Most of it drifted like the bands of cloud on a gas giant, disturbing in swirls by constant passing traffic. Bullets through curtained sheets of gas. A demonstration of chaos.

The sensory equipment of 56Raul saw through the smoke. He saw the archipelagos of untethered islands floating in the smoke, the long spacetoucher buildings girdering up into the sky. They had no windows down this low. Nothing to see out of windows this low aside from smears of pastel death and besides, the corrosive gases would eat through the transparent materials or at least scour the outside until they were frosted over opaque.

56Raul’s metal frame bobbed through the air, his wide mouth scooping in huge gulps of gas. It was sorted and compressed into interior channels. Most of the chambers in his storage stomachs were extremely volatile. One spark or puncture and he’d most likely explode. It was hazardous work down here.

He was paid in valuable Acoin, though, a currency for the silicate. One of the few freedoms the artificial had was being able to participate in the online economy. 56Raul, being so huge and weighing so much, would never have fit through the doorways of a regular meatwalker store. But once he got back to his station bay, he could buy time in the sim farms or rent episodes of good shows or even order possessions. The hardware was the most useless. It all melted or sponged in the atmosphere down here eventually. No point in cosmetic paint jobs or add-ons either for the same reason.

The machines had an artform of bringing have toys and not-sentient machines down here and letting them melt in interesting ways. 56Raul was no exception. Currently he had an Eiffel Tower made of human toothbrushes slowly bending Dali-like down to the floor. 56Rauls had seen all of these references online and enjoyed making sculptures of things long-dead, things he’d never interfaced with his own cameras. It was a way of proving the ephemeral to himself.

In two hours, he’d be back in his bay. One of the hundreds of pod bays honeycombed into the thousands of his parent company’s scrubber garages, scattered through the fog like seeds in the meat of a melon. He’d order some screamgrind off the charts to lullaby him into standby, hook himself into the purge hoses to unload his stomachs into the different output conduits for processing, and see if his shipment of purple left-handed toothbrushes had arrived yet.

But for now, he coasted, radar blasting the opaque oceanworld of smoke outside of his shell, wary of traffic, eating and scrubbing the thick soup of death, feeling happy and alive and content.

skonen_blades: (bounder)
Its name was a mental picture of a sunset on a specific day with cultural meaning to it plus personal memories of its family and the memory of three smells, almost like three tones of music, which we had no true parallel for. Pepper, lemon, and hot stone would be close but insultingly far off.

Without telepathy, we could not communicate.

The problem with human minds was the lack of a broadcaster organ like the aliens had. Using some organ graft technology on a stem scaffolding and a bucketload of immunosuppressants, Stevenson cloned one and joined some of those strange tube structures onto a lab mouse.

The alien’s reaction was to turn hot pink and to dance its feet yellow feet around like a horse on ice. It immediately hit the mice with a hot bank of information about its purpose here and the poor little mouse’s head exploded.

Obviously a success. Obviously human trials were the next step.

The problem with this level of the experiment was the human subject. We couldn’t use a death row inmate because who knows what his brain would broadcast to the alien? The same went for the mental hospitals we sometimes used. We couldn’t risk the best minds in our studio because of the work that would be lost if a head exploded.

We had to settle on reaching out discreetly in our local circles to a human that was loving, tender, fun, and into undergoing surgery to talk to aliens.

We found Alan. Alan smoked a lot of weed and had blue glasses. He sold high-grade marijuana to some of the scientists. It was slightly embarrassing when three of us realized we had the same dealer. He drove to the lab in twenty minutes and signed every form and waiver we put in front of him.

It took four days but the graft was a success. The tubular accordions hanging off of either side of Alan’s newly-shaved head pulsed and slackened wetly like lungs from a child with four probing flowers tasting the air like each ear was wearing a uterus.

The alien turned mint green this time and shuddered something that was either orgasm or shock. It knelt on the floor gasping through its sunflower heads and the smell of something between strawberries and rain wafted through the lab.

It composed itself and stood back up, straight backed this time, like a centaur dancer standing at military attention.

“Hello,” said Alan, turning towards us. “Thank you. This volunteer human knows my name now and can be my spokesperson. I know of your world intimately from him and I want to know more. If you can provide us with more spokespeople and minds to communicate with, we will give you the secrets of star travel and alchemy you need to heal this planet or leave it. Please provide as many as you can.”

Alan sagged. When he raised his head back up, his eyes were focused and clear and his own again.

“I have to make some calls.” He said. “I know about a hundred people that can be here in less than two hours.”
We gave him our phones.

That’s how the hippies took us to the stars.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
Our racism was strange to them and their racism was strange to us.

The Quenari only saw in the radio, microwave, and infra-red waves. They had huge bulbous eye apparatus on tops of their head stalks in amongst orange tufts of muppet hair. They had three legs that spread like a tripod and ended in hand-like, eight-toed feet. Three tentacles spread equidistantly around their body stalks and drooped semi-rigid like tails when they weren’t in use. The most alien race we’d encountered so far and the most ridiculous looking.

But aside from the orange tufts of hair, they were all blue. The exact same shade of earth-sky blue.

Under their skin, they had naturally occuring radio transmitters, heat sinks, and microwave generators. To the Quenari there were seven variations of these emitters that made them as different to each other and a Rembrandt was to a Pollock. These skin patterns were invisible to us. The Quenari remained a pallid, uniform blue to our eyes.

And to them, we were all the same boring patches of black, blue, and red that our body heat produced naturally, with no radio or microwaves to speak of. Our translator pendants made us all sound similar so they didn’t notice accents or languages, either.

Their sexual activity was a long five-stage egg donor, carrier, fertilizer, mitosis generator and harvester affair that held no parallel on earth. Again, it was the subdermal beacons that spelled out who was who in that regard. Very social beings and large family units as a result. Our rather quick and internalized procreation was odd to them but our choice of partner was of no consequence. They could barely tell the men, women and genderfluid people from each other and never thought to ask in any case, sensing social awkwardness. Sexual orientation and gender held no meaning for them when it came to us and we were hopelessly lost in the same way looking at them.

Appearance wise, we were mostly homogenous to them and they were mostly homogenous to us.

It changed us. News of them spread and they infested our consciousness like Dr Seuss creatures. Indeed, several children’s books about them were published and were popular.

Instead of calling each other racist or sexist, we started calling each other Quenarish. Or Blue. The ridiculousness of it all altered our society in profound and lasting ways. Subtly at first but more and more, like an unspoken agreement around the planet, we measured each other on the basis of tenacity, knowledge, and strength of character rather than gender or race. As a people, we saw the Quenari as ridiculous and petty and beneath us.

Maybe we substituted one form of racism for another but it helped us.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
The problem was their terrific understanding of math regardless of having no spoken or written language.

Both of our teams are here on the First Contact asteroid, formerly Vesta in the belt. It’s a neutral meeting ground selected for this purpose. This is the 8th race we’ve met here and they are so far the most unusual.

The Cashnishi, named after Dr Cashnish who discovered their ship’s trace pattern as it entered the solar system, understood math on an instinctual level, not unlike savants here on Earth. It could be likened to catching an orange. If a person tossed an orange at a human, the catcher would need to perform complex calculations of the orange’s parabola and the intersecting angle needed for that window of probability to catch the orange. However, no conscious math goes through the catcher’s head. It was like that for the Cashnishi but on a much higher scale.

They wanted to go to space so they made it happen. They intuited how much thrust it would take and how much fuel would be needed and the necessary tensile strength of the materials involved. They figured out faster-than-light travel in moments. Design and construction took the same amount of time it would have taken here on Earth but the basis for the engines took no time at all. Several groups got together into one group and made ships. To them, it was as simple as that. Instinctual, intuitive math leading to production. Not a higher brain function like ours but something on a level of hunger or attraction.

The deeper mystery was how they communicated with any complexity. They seemed to only ‘speak’ in intent. They had no trace of being telepathic in a way we’d know it but like-minded groups would gather and do what they wanted to do, knowing the end goal. Sometimes for minutes and sometimes for entire lifespans like the Cashnishi astronauts/ship engineers here.

They germinated bulbous memory pods on their backs during their life. These pods were harvested at death and eaten, passing on the memories. No matter where death occurred, it was instinctually the highest priority to them to harvest the pods. They lived in memories, did whatever they felt needed to be done, and knew math in a way we could not. They seemed more primitive than us yet they were here, escaping their own gravity well and breaking the light-barrier in a giant blue ship to discover other races.

Their research on us is stimulus response in nature. Our first contact team is on edge. The Cashnishi shout at them, coo at them, touch them, slap them, change colour like cuttlefish, tap out rhythms, and then stare at our team’s responses, committing it to memory. The memory pods on their backs writhe with the new information.

The separation of mind and memory is interesting. They seem to have a practice of disconnecting from memory and just sitting in a form of ‘meditation’ if we had to give the state a name.

They read our body language like we’re shouting. I feel as if they know our team very well and understand humans on a deep level. All of our written knowledge is useless to them, however. We cannot give them our memories and we can’t show them our records. Communicating our history to them is impossible. Video seem to get across to them but only in a gestalt way like they’re watching a montage.

The tallest one keeps looking at me. I’ve named it Wendel. I’m not sure how to tell them that they should probably steer clear of us. They seem so naïve. But maybe I’m projecting.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
The airport wasn’t packed this time of night. I scanned the thin crowd for my audition.


She had a gold filigree tattoo printed onto her upper arm near the shoulder, the kind of tattoo that went away in a year but twinkled brilliantly like Egyptian history as it faded. Her forearms carried the whorls and puckers of burn scars; acid or fire, he couldn’t tell.

There’s two ways to live here. Under the radar or straight peacocking. Red vinyl Mohawk implants made from old records, chrome knucks, eye enlargements, antlers, kangaroo blades, whatever. Bright and cheerful. High profile meant you needed to be able to back it up. If you were easily recognizable, you were easily trackable. ‘The most dangerous care the least’ was the theory. Of course, it could also just be bravado, someone playing ‘fake it ‘til they make it’ but that kind of stupid was its own kind of dangerous as well.

Me, I go under the radar. Regular suits, a little rumpled, and I look tired. My implants are all subdermal. I try to be as tourist as possible. Just on a layover, sir. I try to look a little scared all the time and I try to go quickly from place to place.

It’s just bait. Anyone sees me for a mark, they follow me into an alley and then they die. I get ninety per cent of my scavenge that way and save the best for myself. I do alright.

But I was just about to turn twenty-five in a part of the world where life expectancy was twenty-three for solos. I needed to get connected. I need join one of the big gangs and get paid in policy. Independence was good for the soul but it was getting harder. I was good enough to join one of the middle guilds but I wanted to shoot for one of the top eight. The Terminotaurs.

I’d been given a time and a location. This airport concourse at 9:30PM. Even though I was qualified, there was always an interview. There was always a deadly test.

And Gold Tattoo there was mine. Armband twinkling in the flat, fluorescent lights. Scanning the crowd for me and she still hadn’t found me. Showtime.

I stood up and checked my watch and scanned the departure boards nervously like I was worried my fictional flight might be delayed. I caught the eye of an airport attendant just behind Tattoo and waved at him. I jogged over to him clumsily in a way that would take me within an arm’s reach of Tattoo. If I played it super straight, she’d see me as background right up until it was too late.

It didn’t work. She saw through the act and recognized her target.

The gun barrels that fanned out of her wrists swept under her snarl in an arc that hosed down the whole crowd, me included, with a staccato engine thunderstorm of plastic shrapnel. Commuters dropped like cut-string puppets and everyone else became a scream and fled. The conflict shutters slammed down over kiosk windows. Within five seconds, we were alone with the bodies of a dozen downed travelers and a wide radius of cowering people taking whatever cover they could. We had seconds before security took us out.

My armour soaked up most of it but blood was definitely being guzzled out of me somewhere. I tongued my incisors and front tooth in the sequence that puffed open the glands in my neck. My bloodstream sang murder and time stopped.

I felt my muscles tear as I moved. There was a price to this speed. She finished her sweep left with both her arms pool-cue straight, stopped and elbowed her hands to point at the ceiling before setting her eyes on me and straightening her hands in my direction. The motion took a millisecond of jerking muscle but to me it was a ballet. Not slow motion but clear. She was excellent. No wasted movement. A real artist. I was flattered they’d sent someone so good.

As she brought her barrels down, I stayed ahead of the sweep and crouched until my hips and knees popped open and sideways. I skittered like a spider towards her as, wide-eyed, the vector of her guns stayed above me no matter how quickly she lowered them, like the direction of her lowering arms was a broom sweeping me towards her. I was like the shadow of a diving bird. I felt the projectiles shred the air in a stream above me, nearly parting my hair as I reached her ankles and minnowed between them in a corkscrew.

Her arms had guns and mine had blades. I flapped my arms out once and brought them in again as I spun torpedo-style under her and past her.

I cut off her feet.

The resulting awkwardness from her and her screams of defeat were hard to watch. She even attempted to balance on the bone stumps. I had cut them cleanly so for a second she almost managed it, taking one, two, three skittering clops before she slipped and thudded to the floor, elbow, knee, shoulder, rolling back towards me for another shot.

I was running ahead of her arc like a speed skater on the clean airport floor. I would try not to kill her. I looped around and her face twitched like a lizard to track me. Her arms were too heavy to go as fast as her neck and her frustration roiled off of her. I got to her head before she could focus her armaments on me.

There was a moment, then, when I think she considered surrendering. I had my blade to her head and she had not brought up her guns to shoot. Time hung still like dust in a sunbeam.

“I-“ I started and she twitched her arms up. I flexed my forearms and everything above the line of her nose blended. Her arms splayed out Jesus-wide with metallic thumps and that was the end of her time with the Terminotaurs.

And the beginning of mine.

Getting away from airport security was part two of the test. But that is a story for another time.

skonen_blades: (dead)
This is a note concerning suicide prevention awareness day.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, an odd teacher was brought in to teach our small Grade 7 class for two hours a week in elementary school. Some light acting, a little meditation, and one time, some astral travel. It was Nelson so that wasn't unusual. I still don’t really know what her ‘subject’ was. She was just given some time with us every week or so for a while. Miss Richards was her name.

One time she asked us to think of ten reasons not to kill ourselves.

I only came up with one reason: that my family and friends would miss me.

Offhandedly, she mentioned that if we couldn't think of ten reasons then we might as well kill ourselves right now. I remember her saying that like it was yesterday. It was like a lightning strike to me.

I thought about it for days. I was deeply worried and affected by the fact that I could only think of one reason.

I don’t remember having to tell the class about my list. I think she just wanted us to keep the list to think about if we ever got sad. Looking back on it, I guess she wanted us to think about ice cream and sunny days and petting cute dogs or things along those lines.

But to this day the reason I came up with is still the only reason I can come up with. It would damage the people close to me.

I tried to kill myself once when things got bad in the early nineties. I set the attempt to up to give myself an out and I took it and stopped before I lost consciousness.

Things got dark a few years later again. Bad breakup, no money, no job, depression. During one dark day, I was driving myself crazy with all the cyclical blackness in my mind so I decided to flip a coin because I couldn't even make the decision for myself. Heads, I go buy some pills and vodka. Tails, I keep going and get my shit together and I never let it get to this point again.

It came up tails.

Here we are in 2015.

I've told one or two people this story. One said "I bet when the coin was in the air, you really knew
which way you wanted to go."


The other said "If it came up heads, you would have flipped it again."

Again, nope. I was fully committed to either outcome.

I'm here because of that coin toss. But I also haven't let it get that bad again either. Or maybe I've been lucky. Or stubborn.

And I didn't even have it that bad. I can only imagine if my state of mind at that time was constant. Or if I didn't have family or friends. I wouldn't stand a chance.

Sometimes I think maybe I surround myself with so many friends for just this reason. That they’re like my insurance policy. As long as I know that killing myself will hurt a lot of people, I can’t do it. I mean I genuinely like being around people that so there’s more to it than that but I wonder if that’s part of it.

So I'm thinking today of people I know that have killed themselves or have told me about their suicidal thoughts. I'm also thinking about the bone-deep subtle switch that can activate in a person that starts the road to checking out. There was one guy I know of who killed himself after hanging out with all of his friends at least once over the course of weeks, saying goodbye without saying goodbye, not telling any of them what he was planning, and it was only clear in retrospect. That blows my mind but I understand.

My love for my friends runs deep and intense. My feelings about suicide are complex.

I've seen a lot of posts today about this subject seeing as it's suicide prevention day and it's got me thinking. All I have to offer to people is that I'm very, very happy I didn't do it. Some of the greatest times I've had in my life have been in the last fifteen years. I've seen a lot of the world and met some frankly amazing people. I still have a propensity for darkness but I fight it.

My impression is that people who do have suicidal thoughts outnumber the people who don’t. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. But I know that people don’t talk about it so we can’t really know. It’s not a huge, guilty secret to me but it sure is something I don’t talk about. I’ve moved on and I don’t want to be ‘that guy’.

Sometimes I’ll look at an empty chair at a table and think that maybe someone could be sitting there that would’ve been a really cool friend of mine but they’re dead now so I never got to meet them.

It’s one thing to lose someone you admire to a car crash or cancer but when the death is self-inflicted, it’s different. Everybody that’s left shares in a guilt that maybe there was something they could have done.

So if you're thinking of doing it and you're reading this, please don't. I could offer a dozen "just one more day" cliches but they didn't help me. All I can say is that you will be grateful you didn't at some point after you make the decision not to. It requires faith to believe that, though, and that can be hard to come by.

And I'm no expert on mental illness. That's a whole other thing. I’ve been really emotionally distraught but in retrospect, I don’t think I’ve ever been truly mentally ill or suffered a break with reality. That's something else. And if you’re in intense physical or mental anguish and it’s terminal then I believe you should do what you have to do.

But if those don’t apply and you're thinking about doing it, I hope you don't do it.

And in this moment, I love you.

skonen_blades: (jabbadoubt)
I miss having Jupiter in the sky.

I know Earth is humanity's homeland and a pilgrimage to her is on everyone's bucket list along with seeing Olympus Mons, the Ganymede Borealis and Titan’s cryovolcanoes in person. However, I am underwhelmed.

This coffee shop is serving the purest coffee I’ve ever had. One sip of it has set my heart galloping and I feel like I’ll taste coffee for days. It would have cost a year’s salary back home on Europa. The unfiltered air here is stinky, layered, and confusing to my nose. Being outside without a faceshield makes me nervous on a bone-deep cultural level. The whole setup here seems oversaturated with smells and tastes. There's a complete lack of safety. People are walking around practically naked because there’s never been a violent, sudden decompression in their lives. It gives them all an air of terrifying naiveté.

Europa has no mountains. I should have gone to Earth’s prairies, I guess. Instead I’m in Switzerland, in what Terrans calls Europe. I just assumed that Europa and Europe would be similar. Rookie mistake, I guess.

“The food on Europa is bland. The coffee is weak. The air is boring.” That’s what I keep hearing from Earthers in passing. But to me, the air and food here seems unnecessarily complex. Designed to confuse and overwhelm. All native Earthers seem a little crazy to me with their bright eyes and their short attention spans. I think it’s the rich input of what they consume. Too many distractions.

But I guess they need it because the plain blue of the daytime sky makes me feel like this planet is unfinished. Like it's in a blue room. I have no perspective when I look up. It's unsettling.

'Jupiter watches' was our moon's Latin motto. The eye swinging around to monitor our lives, taking up so much of the sky. No interference but it was keeping a record. It was the basis of our religion. Here on Earth, it feels like no one’s watching.

Alone. That was it. The Earth felt alone.

One tiny pathetic moon haunting the night time while the Terran light pollution erased most of the stars and then the powerful sun bleaching out the entire universe during the day. No Jupiter hogging half of the sky, no family of moonlets, moons, and halfteroids peppering every afternoon, morning and sunset. No daytime ringstellations telling young lovers when to kiss or gamblers when they were at their luckiest.

Earth’s history had something called a sundial that stood out to me as a symbol of the tedium here. It was a flat, metal circle with a triangle set perpendicular to it, casting one single shadow to measure the march of time by tracking the one plain light traveling across the sky. Like a bare bulb in an empty room.

Earth and the moon had the simplicity of a hydrogen atom. A child's toy of a setup. A very basic protostructure of what a planetary microsystem could be. A blueprint sketch. A first step that had never been followed up on. I really didn't like the crushing monotony of it and I longed for the majesty and complexity of my home sky.

I could watch Jupiter's swirls forever, meditating on the storms. I remember reading that most people on Earth chose blue as their favorite colour. What a drab reminder of loneliness and simplicity. On Europa we had names for shades of orange, red, pink, and brown they didn't even have here.

I mean, I guess I'm glad I came and all but I can't wait to go back.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
I feel that this poem needs an introduction and a trigger warning. This society portrays women as end goals. Things to be achieved. Objects to be won. It tells men that there are winners and losers and nothing in between. I have heard that there are rapists out there that don’t know they’re rapists. I can start to understand how that’s possible when I see the inspirational messages that can be taken as pro-rape in the wrong light. I start to see how that’s possible if every sexual experience a person has had has been a power struggle and they don’t know any different. This poem is an exploration into that mindset to try and understand that mindset. Trigger warning for sexual assault.

First they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
Winners never quit and quitters never win.
If at first you don't succeed try try again.
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up
Don't take no for an answer.
You deserve it.
It's not your fault.
Haters gonna hate
It's easier to ask for forgiveness that it is to ask for permission.
Just do it.
Fortune favors the bold.
Never give up.
You always regret the things you don't do, not the things you do.
Your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure
Overcoming challenges is what makes living worthwhile
The good guy gets the girl
The good guy gets the girl
It doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
He's so strong.
You throw like a girl
He's so strong
You're such a pussy
Resistance is futile
Home run. Home base. Equate body parts with objects. Sell sex as an objective. Sell vagina as a goal. Sell women as gifts.
Willing equals desirable.
Willing equals slut
You can't rape the willing
You better be willing
What if she says no
Fucking is winning
Winner is balls deep
Winner is getting sex
Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
We must win we must win
What if she says no
Never take no for an answer
Alpha males don't back down
She doesn't want to be seen as a slut
She has to say no at least a couple times everyone knows that
Tell me more tell me more did she put up a fight
Evolution nature strong survive might makes right
It's just nature it's just nature
He couldn't help himself
She was so tempting
She came to him in his dreams so we burned her for a witch
She enticed young men so we sent her to a laundry in Ireland
She’s a tease
He hates it when women cover themselves up
He hates it when women wear revealing clothes
Guys want sex all the time why doesn't she
He’s just playing devils advocate
He’s just playing devils advocate
You have to understand
You have to understand
Men have it just as bad as women
Men have it just as bad as women
Woman are goals
they're not people
they're goals
to the victor goes the spoils
all is fair in love and war
he just loves you so much
you'll let him if you love him
and you better love him
or he'll get hurt
and he likes to spread that hurt around
and there's two ways we can do this, he says.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
I love Granville Street
clubs on a Friday night. They
are a cure for hope.



skonen_blades: (Default)

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