skonen_blades: (Default)
White clam chowder and over-easy eggs. Soup and eggs for short.

Mass was the problem with colonizing. Getting mass near C was expensive. The smaller the load, the better. Sending ten thousand colonists was impossible.

But sending ten thousands eggs and ten thousand loads of semen was way cheaper.

The ship had a chilled cargo of those two ingredients to make human babies. Womb ships, they were called. They had a skeleton crew of scientists, techs, teachers, and caretakers trained to take on whatever challenges might arise at first contact with the target home but after they’d landed and seen that everything was alright for seeding, they’d get underway.

The birthing tanks would be unfolded and irrigated with dehydrated amniotic solution. These giant uterariums would then be flooded with the soup and eggs slurry sometimes referred to as brunch. The old exponential dance would start and babies would pop up like strawberry Christmas lights on the vine. Tendriled, manufactured, multiumbilicals would snake out and attach themselves to a thousand belly buttons. Each tank was filled with fraternal millituplets.

Wait time was the human usual. The children would be boosted with learning enhancers and xenoviral protection. A small percentage were always lost to errors in cell replication no matter how tailored the dna but the average yield was 90% or 900. Harvest would happen in two-year stages, nine hundred per year. This was called the familial ladder. Ten years of baby making before shutdown for 9,000 humans.

The crew would foster them with help from the AI adoptives, working as a team to cram as much knowledge and mental health into them from the get go before they took on their new world.

It was a system that had worked twelve times before. Twelve Edens had successfully flowered with no humans needing expulsion from angry gods.

This was going to be unlucky thirteen.

The tailored enzymes would fail and the entire crop would be born sociopathic and cruel unbeknownst to the crew. As the children grew, they schemed and the crew began began to meet with accidents. Before any of them figured out was what happening, they were gone.

The children were geniuses. As the other batches reached fruition and were born, they were taken in by the first two waves and taught to be just as awful.

The planet survived and flourished. They developed weapons and a reputation. They broadcast torture videos and vile non-consensual pornographic videos. Their system of government was opaque. It seemed like anarchy but they had such organizational skills.

Their planet is isolated. Quarantined. Embargoed. Struck off the records as a failure, they’re monitored for signs of extra-system aggression. They’re an embarrassment.

A closeted mistake until sixteen minutes ago when their entire planet, now decades into post-womb colonization and nearly five generations deep, completely disappeared off of everyone’s scans.

And reappeared near Earth Prime bristling with nuke barrels and planet crackers pointed at our race’s home.

The pirate planet had come home, prodigal son returning.

They didn’t open fire immediately but they did send a message system-wide on all channels before they started the war.

“No more wombships.”

After a heated exchange of nuclear fire that the pirate planet lost, they drove their planet straight into Earth. Terran defenses didn’t stand a chance.

We no longer use wombships for colonization but we are still trying to figure out how those little bastards made a whole planet capable of faster-than-light travel. None of the other Edens have come anywhere near that kind of technology. The philosophical implications of their success don’t bear thinking about.

Evil might be smarter than good.




tags
skonen_blades: (dead)
I never want to close my eyes because they might not open again. Every blink is a moment of fear. And don’t get me started on sleep. I’m even afraid of the space I can’t see behind my head. Death lurks everywhere. Outside in objects that can take shake me loose from this earth. Inside in untrustworthy meat that loves to rupture and degrade.

I feel like I’ve been shaken sideways into another dimension. And I guess on a true level, I have.

Some sentences have not made sense to me recently.

For instance, Sonja watched my performance at Zach’s memorial on livestream while our daughter Audrey was having a bath. I am older so the internet still amazes me. I’m still coming to understand that I have a daughter. And inside most of me, Zach is still alive.

The peacock feathers at Zach’s shrine at the foxy house were singed by the candles, almost burning the plywood painting of the octopus above it. So I said “We better move the peacock feathers away from the candles so the octopus doesn’t catch fire.” I’m not sure that sentence has ever been uttered in the history of humanity.

I insist that he’s not gone even while editing footage of his memorial. This whole joke is so elaborate. Everyone seems to be in on it. I know it can’t simply be for my benefit so I wonder what the point is. Who’s the target audience?

Zaccheus is a tower of light wearing clever pajamas.



tags
skonen_blades: (dead)
It’s a beautiful day and Zaccheus Jackson is still dead.
It’s a beautiful day and Robin Williams is still dead.
It’s a beautiful day and Mark Steinberg is still dead.
It’s a beautiful day and my father is still dead.

I feel like I want to tell the sun to shut up.
I can’t understand the arrogance it takes for nature to keep on making beautiful days.

I remember after 911, the news networks kept trying to put a spin on the attack to make it seem more horrifying and momentous than it was and they couldn't. I was so big and so real that there was no way they could exaggerate it. I feel the same way about tributes to the death of Robin Williams. It's like no words can really even touch it.

And now I feel that about Zach.

I wake up and it’s still true. I wake up and it’s still true. I wake up and it’s still true.

Jessica Mason Paul said about her beloved dog “It’s not that he died. It’s that he’s still dead.” and I feel that.

In my best dreams, a freight train was hit and killed a Zaccheus. It makes more sense. And then I wake up and this seems like the dream.



tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
Yes. The aliens came down and harvested the human race. Yes. We asked them to.

That was the plan all along. We just didn’t know it.

Our basic nature was installed in us by them. We were set down on this planet to evolve until overpopulation and to invent the technology necessary to start screaming our position into space. The language wasn’t important. Giving off radio and television waves was the sign that we had reached fruition.

We did it brilliantly.

The aliens, all green teeth and dimensional tentacles, saw us show up on their routine scans. We were a delicious, ripe apple. This galaxy and others like it are merely orchards for these creatures. They are farmers and we are genetically modified planet boosters.

We pulled most of the resources out of the earth already. That’s why the aliens collected the cities. All that glass, steel, copper, iron, concrete and gyprock. All processed. All ready to go. They harvested the minerals and oil, too. We had even dug the holes for them already. The Earth has ice-scream scoop craters all over it now from the aliens’ machines reaching down and picking up every single town. Those holes have been sprayed with fertilizer. In five years, they will all be jungle. Future generations won’t even know they existed.

We were very efficient parasites. We overloaded the planet with our biomass and started crying to the heavens. Then we were culled and smashed down to the stone age again.

And of course, our meat is prized. The enormous flying thresher slaughterhouses that collected us were the final nightmare. That’s why there are so few of us left. Enough to start another breeding program here to be sure, but the population of earth has gone from billions to a few thousand.

In a way, we’re lucky. The dinosaurs were the first experiment but they were killed by a meteor. Probably for the best since they’d had millions of years to build a radio but never did.

We, on the other hand, must have exceeded our presets. Because of that, they’re setting us up for a round two, I think. We get to do it again.

How do we warn the future generations? How do we tell them not to breed, not to innovate, not to invent, not to think? We want to start a religion that will celebrate meekness, to idolize servitude, to live simply, and to shun technology. But I remember that a lot of religions before the harvest were already trying to do that and they failed.

Maybe if I made an image of death that looked like a farmer but then I remember that my image of Death had a scythe and that makes me think that maybe this isn’t the first time we’ve been culled.

Maybe the wave of humans before us already tried to do what I’m trying to do now.

This is why we never got any responses to our messages into space. Those messages are silenced as soon as they start talking. There are no conversations. Only yells that are cut off.

If I could go back in time, I’d tell the people of earth to shut up. To stay quiet. To quit beaming our entire lives at full volume into space.

All we were doing was ringing the dinner bell.




tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
At the funeral, I kept thinking “How can someone be dead on such a beautiful day?”

And when I was wondering how it could be possible for him to be gone, I realized that there were literally billions of excellent people that were also not there at that moment.

My best friend, had I been born in 1540, was not there. The love of my life, had I been born in 500 BCE, was not there.

My father. A few people I went to school with. Another friend. One ex-lover.

The best philanthropist the world would have ever seen had he been born during the internet age was not there. The world’s leading expert on viruses had she been born in a time when women were even allowed to be in the sciences was not there.

It made me think about everything that’s good and bad right now, about how many people were not there enjoying that beautiful day, and the fact that I was there enjoying it.

I felt like every death made my life sweeter and that I owed it to the dead, the numerous, numerous dead, to enjoy the day instead of being insulted by its insolent beauty near the body of my friend.




tags
skonen_blades: (meh)
The universe is ending
The stars are going out
It's taken years for the light if 50s stars to reach me
My fathers stars
He watched them die as he grew up before death got him too
And now I watch the stars die
Hollywood's white dwarfs and quasars, red giants and blue pulsars blow up, go nova, and turn into black holes
Stars are said to have heat as they get famous and I am watching the heat death if the universe
The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long and a lot of stars die young. The Phoenix nebula. The great Ledger cloud. The Hoffman Spiral Galaxy.
Some new stars are born but these are not my stars. They belong to the the youth. I no longer know their names. Their light is faint to me.
My dad's stars preceded him to the other side. Edward G Robinson. Errol Flynn. Robert Mitchum.
And now mine are starting to go as well. Their deaths change the movies they were in. Patrick Swayze is a literal ghost.
Soon, most of my favorite movies will only hold memories of lives, records of performances from dead stars.
In the entertainment newspapers and TMZ, we watch the stars go out before they go out.
The universe grows and shrinks with every generation of performers.
It's an ebb and flow.
But I live for movies. The triumphs of those actors stories were my triumphs. Their sadness was my sadness. Besides my parents, movies were my parables, my teachers. Life imitating art.
As my teachers die, so I become a teacher.
And soon I will follow them into the blackness of space.
The universe is ending. The stars are going out.
Credits
The end
Fade to black



tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
It’s called a rift ticket. It’s the assignment you get when you’re not going to come back. Sometimes it’s handed out as a punishment. Sometimes it’s given as a reward. People that have lost their entire family and really want to go somewhere else and they don’t care where, for instance.

Ten broken bottles in the kitchen sink and Sarah couldn’t care less. Flies help themselves to leftover plates of food from two weeks ago. Sarah has watched the wallpaper for a month now, willing herself to forget her child’s dimples and the smell of Steven’s neck. The accident was a small one by this city’s standard. Just two fatalities. The funeral was handled quickly with a minimum of fuss. One long coffin and one short one. Sarah’s daughter was the only daughter and only grand dauther. The funeral didn’t have too many people there.

Her career in the atmoforce tactical support tied her to the military even though it wasn’t a pure combat position. She applied for a rift ticket two days ago after realizing that the wallpaper wasn’t going to change and by extension, neither was this planet or the fact that her child and husband were gone.

Her communicator pinged and a turquoise notification bloomed in the corner of her vision. She blinked to open it, too slowly at first. She blinked quicker to activate it and wiped her hands on her dress in an unconscious school time gesture to look better for the camera phone while it unfolded to take up the top quarter.

Rift Ticket confirmation. Sarah smiled and the notice, scrolling downwards to see the time and place. Tomorrow at four in the afternoon was her gate appointment.

She leaned back and kept staring at the wall, the smile evaporating off of her face slowly as she settled in for the wait.

No need to pack. No need to even change.

The Rift was a crack in the now, a crack in the here. It had been opened by a volley of experimental weapons during the moon independence war. Halfway between earth and the moon, a violet glowing fissure calmly glittered like an aurora borealis around a split in reality. A crevasse from here to no one knows where.

Everyone that went through was given a package of tracers and homing equipment to let the scientists back here know what was happening.

Ten years it had been there. We’d starting sending our garbage through it. We even send a nuclear missile once. Nothing.

Heartbeat and pulse information come back normal on the people that have been sent through but no voice transmissions have come back.




tags
skonen_blades: (dark)
April 30/30

1/30

I imagine all the children sent to the death camps must have had their toys confiscated and that the toys had their own pile. Like the piles of coats, suitcases, and shoes.

But then I also wonder if those children were allowed to keep their toys as they were herded naked into the tiled rooms with no exits. I imagine how much love and fear were transferred into those toys by small hands squeezing as hard as they could as the gas took effect.

I wonder this when I see movies like Toy Story that claim that toys come alive and have a secret life. I wonder if toys taken from such horrific wartime circumstances are toys that are revered or shunned.

Are they like unpredictable, haunted veterans with PTSD so severe that no one can stand to be around them? Or are they shining saints, blinding their fellow toys with the child’s highest need for comfort mainlined into them so purely? After all, a toy’s job is to comfort a child and to comfort a child during the terror of death should be a toy’s highest wish. A chance to do what few toys have the opportunity to do but all toys wish to.

The horrible dream job that all toys fear but at the same time hope for. A coveted position that they wish they never have to fill but, if that need arises, hope that they are able to accomplish.

A toy’s job is to allay fear. To banish the illusion of loneliness. It should be every human’s job as well but we are flawed.

I see these piles of toys in my imagination outside of the death camps. Toys being lightly covered in ash, their bright colours turning sepia, and I wonder if they are beacons of purity or testaments to our cruelty.

Or both.




tags
skonen_blades: (hamused)
Time exists a byproduct of the universe winding down. Entropy needed a dimension to inhabit so time flowed in one direction to let that happen. Time is a secondary effect of the heat death of our galaxies. Time is a little brother. The creeping collapse of it all is the most important part of this place we see in the sky at night.

That means that clocks measure the death of the universe. That is their sole function. They have nothing to with life. They have no importance other than that. They do not measure our existence. It’s easy to think that clocks control us. They do not. They are Christmas ornaments. They are unimportant.


tags
skonen_blades: (gasface)
Hey there test pattern.

Why don’t you go join the cardboard boxes and beige nail polish over there by the copier. Why don’t you wrap yourself up in an accessible package with easy-to-follow instructions? Your brother the knowing-smile-of-confidence mask has got seven unread texts for you to semi-colon-closed-parentheses wink at. Find out if both of you can see through the conversations on repeat that cloud the air like L.A. actor’s post-mortem audition chats. See if swimming through that predictable, monotonous, mediocre, comfortable, safe algorithm keeps you from dying. I’ll willing to bet that it won’t.

Speaking of dying, write me a eulogy that I can proofread before I go and please, make it all up. Mention that I was a king once. That I saved some lives, that I spared no one love, and that I took those sharp turns quickly and in control. Say that I handed out decisions like winning cards in Vegas and brooked the consequences on my chin like a diamond hero. Imply that my conquests numbered many and that we all stayed pleasantly, flirtatiously in touch. Friend of couches, never shy around cars, doting parent, and expert at folding lasers into the shapes of neon birds.

Say that I taught cats how to read. Say that if every television station died and our world collapsed to ivy and caves again, that my smile would still warm more than any fire during winter. I want a woolly mammoth of a tribute. Give me a neck an executioner would be afraid to damage.

In return, I promise you that starting now, I’ll live up to it.

But give me the eulogy first.




tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
My worst fear is that I’ll have an embarrassing death. An inconvenient death. That I’ll die in the audience during a friend’s performance and the whole place with be struck with the tragedy of it, ruining the night. That I’ll die during a performance of my own and while the retelling of it would be dramatic and even amusing, the act itself will be chaotic and horrifying to anyone present. That I’ll die at work and forever scar my co-workers.

But I will probably have no control over where I die.

I realized the other day that there is no shelter from evil. There are manners, there are societal niceties, and there are agreed-upon laws and people who enforce them. There are houses with locks and the belief that evil is outside.

It makes life bearable but it’s a lie.

Lately, I turn to darkness. Not fulldark but trenchward. Like a dolphin going deeper to avoid an oil spill.




tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
It's a unique experience to be involved in an explosive space decompression. If you survive, you never forget the sound.

It's like something turns the volume down sharply in the middle of the explosion. The screams, the shattering of glass, even the rushing wind, all suddenly has nothing to express itself with. The air becomes thinner and disperses. The medium through which noises travel expands to the point of non-existence and you're left with the silence of space. Even while all around you people are screaming and flailing, alarms are wailing, and everything that was in the room is now clattering and colliding as it spins out into the starry blackness.

And I should know.

We were on our honeymoon in a Galactic Class 8 Yacht on the starboard promenade eating lobster while the musicians were setting up onstage. The bank of space-facing windows were massive. The official reports said there were four hundred and thirty eight people in the hall with us, relaxing and talking to each other. Most of us were wearing our fanciest clothes, pretending that we were wealthy even though this was a discount cruise. Alison and I had waited long to get married. She was thirty-five and I was going to turn thirty-eight in ten days. She looked beautiful as she turned to signal to a waiter for another coffee bulb.

Perhaps the ship was old. Perhaps it was poorly designed. Maybe a safety inspector was hungover and missed something at the previous inspection.

A sharp crunch like someone stepping hard on a champagne flute right by ear and suddenly the wall to my right became ‘down’ and we all fell into space. Fail safes failed, blast shutters jammed and circuit breakers broke.

That is why my nightmares are silent. When I wake up screaming, it’s from seeing my darling wife bloat, freeze, and rupture. In the dream, she screams as soon as the viewing plate shatters, pluming glittering glass dust into space, and keeps screaming as we are both pushed by strong forces into the black. Her hair whips crazily and she kicks like a first time skydiver, reflexively trying to get her balance in mid-air with no up or down. Her scream starts like a fire alarm and very quickly whips down to silence even though her mouth is still wide open. He throat is still vibrating but her voice can no longer travel to my ears.

Other patrons screams, the clinking of silverware and plates, furniture colliding with the instruments of the musicians, they all fade to nothing and the last thing I hear is my wife’s screaming. The last thing I see is her mouth filling with popsicle blood as her lungs shred in their freezing rush to fill the vacuum.

I see it often. Her mouth is a tattooed O on the front of my mind. The nightmare is down to two or three nights a week.

The sticky safety cables that fired out managed to grab me but they missed her. I was reeled in sharply like a fish and I survived. I was one of only six that did. All six of us were paid a lot of money by the company to keep quiet about the accident. We all agreed to take it.

I am back home now with no need to work for the rest on my life. I’ll never go into space again. I need noise around me at all times, even when I sleep.

I cannot stand silence.




tags
skonen_blades: (dark)
When Death came in quietly on its unfair legs and took up residence in our oldest cat, we barely noticed. We were in the middle of a move and all that happened when we were finally unpacked in the new house was that she stopped going outside.

She was one of those black cats from Halloween calendars with glowing green eyes. She was a bitch. She shared our house with another cat through no fault of her own and she made that point whenever she could. The other cat, fat and stupid, was merely tolerated but she, the black cat from a Parisian art nouveau poster, ruled the house. She was forthright, mean, majestic and aloof as only a cat can be.

And death seemed like a trophy hunter.

She was found as a kitten 15 years before near a dumpster behind Café Deux Soleils in Vancouver British Columbia. She was taken all the way to Halifax and lived there for nearly a decade before being driven across Canada back to Vancouver. She had seen more of this country that I have. When she died, it was six blocks from where she’d been found.

And death seemed to have a sense of comforting irony.

She became lethargic and thin. I’ve never felt a cat so thin. We took her to the vet to see what was wrong with her and the vet made it clear that there were a lot of things wrong with her. Four or five organs were failing. We were given saline to keep her hydrated. We administered it through an IV line. We were told to keep tabs on her and comfort her. That was the best they could do.

And death seemed inhumanly patient.

She would forget to retract her claws and get caught in the carpet, anchored by her paw’s betrayal. She fell down the stairs near the end. I’ve never seen an act so unnatural as a cat falling down stairs. I’ve never seen a cat unable to walk on a hardwood floor because her weakness made her slip. I’ve never seen a cat unable to keep its head up.

And death seemed cruel.

A strong cat. A smart cat. A mean cat. She faded out of this world, soul turned inside out and funneled away by Death’s silent climate into a different place. Looking back, it had been coming for a while yet it seemed so sudden at the time.

And death seemed like a complex plan with no hope of being evaded.

Her death seemed natural in a bad way. A cruel trick to play on an unsuspecting cat. A cat with no means of language or defense made clumsy and embarrassed by ‘natural causes’. An athletic cliché of a cat that belonged on the broom handle of a cartoon witch, turned into a shaking caricature of sickness. Tuna fell out of her mouth. Water dribbled down her chin. Her eyes became infected. That last night, she lay on the ground and meowed without sound until her shallow breathing wound down in the middle of the night like an untended watch.

She died the day before Christmas near the fake Christmas tree beside the fake fireplace, her empty body the realest thing in the room.

And death seemed as powerful and as kind and as inevitable and as terrible as our sun.


Rest in Peace Ingeai


tags
skonen_blades: (bounder)
I give a standing evasion to the grunting half-gutter; letting skillables dribble out through the teeming sifter of my mouth. A near-vana making my edifice complex clearly visible, a hades of hot nights but your cold shoulders are soft. You’ve won this game of chance with support hose, a rubber neck and pure gumption. If it weren’t for the saddles you’re using for shoulder pads, I’d think you were a golden horseshoe-laying silly goose.

You can appreciate the shattering cymbal of his mind and the bleeding air mail that circles every thought arrowing and minnowing around his head. It is the airspace of genius but it has no radar. Ideas full of passengers go down in flames or crash into each other regularly. If it wasn’t for tuna sandwiches and those arms of yours, he’d become a child made of missing posters.

Some jaws are hinges for waterslides. Some tongues are the kind that wrap kindling up so winter cold that it will never burn. Some lips are only built to tempt, mock, sneer, and pout in a parade of boxer’s promises.

But his set of teeth cuts the sentences into bullets. Those hollow cheeks frame a wind tunnel for aerodynamic language. Throats are bloodied in battle but only the strongly-worded survive. An armour stolen from the same dictionaries that haunted the questing author-minds of Shakespeare, Fat Tony, Rocky Shores, Cheese Louise, and Barney Rubble.

There are baton handoffs that make sense and then there are the bullets that find eight-year-olds in springtime, splattering ice cream that hasn’t even had time to start melting. The yoink of cancer, the screech of car tire interruptus, and the unwanted surprise of the scythe. Your relationship will hunker down beneath the blankets and take the punishment the outside world throws. You’ll laugh right up until it hurts. But know this:

Be kind to the crows and the flies and the worms.

They’ll return the favour.




tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
There is a clarity that comes with crisis, he thought, a simplicity that comes with emergency. Triage choices made in seconds from necessity have a way of spurring the life you’ve chosen forward. As beautiful as still water is, it isn’t going anywhere. Streams travel and the more powerful they are, the rougher their surface. Rock bottoms are made of bedrock. They make good foundations. Or runways.

That’s why this movie night on a space station named Heron 6 pinned in the perihelion lagrange point between Triskus and Constantine became a sudden trial. There was a crack in the hull and there were eighteen of us. There were six life boats. Two to a boat equaled twelve. That left six people that would have to stay on the space station and die.

We were all experienced spacers. We knew without speaking that the first to the lifeboats would survive. The movie, something hideously outdated from Original Earth, stayed cycling on the screen as we scrambled without language to the porthole irises of the lifeboat pods.

It was an interesting race. Jason and Tanya had my ankles at one point. I broke his nose with my foot. She let go when Jason’s blood got in her eyes in the zero gravity. None of us had weapons and we knew that if we were to detour to pick them up from the weapons locker, we would lose our chance to get to a pod.

The scramble was made more intense by the dropping temperature and air pressure. My ears popped and the cold numbed my extremities frighteningly quickly.

Peter shouldered past me with his larger frame and I careened over into the wall. I knew that I was going to die if I didn’t keep going but if I was panicking, I couldn’t feel it. I think that the entire group of us were experiencing what cattle in stampedes must feel, or groups of people trapped in burning buildings. I scrambled forward through the thinning air, watching Peter receive a sharp elbow from Lorenz and double up, winded in the rapidly declining atmosphere. He floated back past me.

The whole race for life must have taken two minutes but I remember it as a timeless extended moment bereft of clocks. I felt as if I joined the mindless fight for survival that every single living being has experienced. The chase to beat death with the certainty that there would be losers amongst your number.

I slammed into a life pod and Tanya slammed up against me. I struck out with my fist and hit the button to close the door. The doors sealed with a violent slam and the thuds of fists echoed on the outside. The thuds stopped after a minute.

Tanya must have clawed her way back after our tussle. When she looked at me, breathing deeply of the emergency air supply gushing into the sealed lifepod and smeared with my blood from earlier, she smiled with a nervous, bright-eyed smile. There was no resentment of my earlier clash with her and Jason.

We held each other there and waited for help. It arrived seven hours later. We didn’t say a single word to each other in those hours. We shared the bond of beings that had survived a crisis. We were in a place beyond the usual banality.

The others that survived met up with us back in the rescue ship with sighs of relief and knowing nods and tears over who we had lost but beneath it all was a joy. A completely placid, guilt-free aspect of gene-deep peace. I still remember that.



tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
This is journey into a sideways well. Star Trek villains compete with blue torture wire for the attention of mice and keyholes. This bag of marbles is looking for a slingshot and some stray cats. It’s your job to tell the difference between bullies and murderers. I’ve never owned a convenience store but I can tell you why hooded falcons don’t fly. It’s a list as long as the last thirty-nine years. It’s every nervous newspaper begging you to read it and every forest begging you not to. This journey into the digital will make Max Headrooms out of us all and I can’t wait.

Here’s to the heads in jars! Here’s to our robot overlords! Here’s to ‘I can has’! Precision will only match art after an economy based on money and work ends and we will all be better for it. Automation and celebrity have successfully put America out of work. Dark days are sliding down the slaughterhouse troughs and we’re all going to eat a lot of crow. I’m reminded of the doom predictions of some of the smartest monkeys we’ve produced and while I’m scared, I also know I’m insignificant. Quick or slow, my death is on the way. I’m curious to see how it turns out.

So throw that Frisbee, rush to catch it, and laugh hard. The bubbling acids in your stomach and the dry skin that flies off of you in microscopic flakes will continue to keep you alive and renewed until the processes of this planet stop your body cold. The real world is delicate and fragile but its strength lies in its complication. It cannot be defined. As we teach our pets to obey and our children to learn, let’s all commit to realizing. We are Christmas stockings filled with gifts. The main problem with intelligence is confusion. It’s only through calmness that we can see the way forward.

So take a deep breath. Wrap it around yourself. And walk slow with your eyes wide open.







tags
skonen_blades: (meh)
Drowning in buttered wood the day after the news tornadoed through our house. One child poorer. Five older brothers became four and the second-to-last child suddenly had no one to hand clothes down to.

The flowing river next to our house had fattened with spring and taken our youngest. Snatched him quickly and quietly. A lone pink arm flailing in the middle of the brown, silt-filled storm of water. That current was peppered with white foam, whirlpools, undertows, and the tips of serrated rocks sticking up like shark fins. It was a deassembly line. A spring runoff claiming the unwary, animals and humans alike. “A real spring drowner” as the old men at the store would say.

And now we knew what that meant.

A missing tooth that still showed up in old pictures. A ghost that haunted our memories. We got older, he stayed young. He became an echo. A little what-could-have-been that caused us all to take life a little more seriously. A signpost in the rearview mirror that told us what we feared most of all was always closer than it appeared.

The four older brothers had seen him born and seen him die. They’d witnessed an entire life.

Born to the screams of his mother and taken in the same way.

I like to imagine him with baby deer and young bear cubs just as trusting as he was, swimming in the clear ocean where the river finally set his body free.




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skonen_blades: (bounder)
I wish I could say there was a sweet revenge at the end of his life but there wasn’t.

Better people than him made better choices than he did. Everyone touched by those decisions lived with the outcome. There's tremendous peace with that and no tragedy. It was a difficult climb with no reward except the climb itself. It beat the hell out of not living at all. But there was no twist. No comeuppance. No “I told you so” evening of the scales. No moment where the tables miraculously turned and he got to say “who’s winning now?” with a smile. The ones that had been mean to him never apologized and they died mean, some of them living much longer than him and most of them never even realizing they were mean.

Karma only works on a small scale. The destiny written in the foreheads and skinned ankles of some two-year-olds tell of a life already lived, needles deep in grooves that will never let go. Most lives play out in surprisingly unsurprising ways and his was no exception. His crafted works of art and attempts at wisdom were as cliché as millions of attempts before his. This is not depressing news. His beauty lay in his attempt in the face of such numbing inevitable banality. He splashed into the top of his life and sank slowly to the bottom, having as much fun as he felt was allowed on the way down.

Injustices against him, trespasses he suffered, even the random cruelty at the hands of strangers went unbalanced by much good. The end of his life saw little in the way of resolution or tidy packaging. No music video ending or sitcom finish. Just an end.

And it was glorious.




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skonen_blades: (gasface)
It was a strange thing. The scavengers of this planet were circling closer. I was getting an education about the ecosystem here. I’d been walking for a long time. I decided to lie down for a while. I wasn’t so sure about the whole ‘getting back up’ thing.

Wide, black birds were circling in the air, lower and lower in wide, slow circles. Four-legged animals were pacing around me on the ground. They were like a cross between coyotes and hyenas. I could hear their panting, wheezy laughter getting closer. I could even feel the hardcase segmented worms making their way up to me through the ground, snuffling through the soil with their blind, razored snouts. I had become the focal point for this world’s carrion eaters. They were converging on the point of my imminent death on vectors as true as nature. I couldn’t decide if they were lazy or patient.

It’s not an experience I recommend. I felt a sense of peace steal over me and I knew that relaxing would kill me.

It was with a huge effort that I stood. The smell of my useless arm made me reel. I could feel the dead meat of my body turning into food for the specialized stomachs of the scavengers. Necrosis was spreading through me. I was in denial of my escaping life. It was leaking out of me like air from a pin-pricked balloon.

I saw the city then. The yellow clay walls were shining like gold in the sun. I walked toward it with my entourage accompanying me like a force field of death. I knew they’d never let me in but I kept walking all the same. I felt like a zombie as I shuffled forward, dragging my feet, my mouth slack and dry from thirst. I felt like I was commanding the dogs, worms and birds around me. A dark conductor of nature.



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skonen_blades: (Default)
The front steps of the castle were littered with the bodies of the palace guards. Their sightless eyes stared up at the nighttime sky, catching snow.

Occupying the massive throne at the end of the cold, cavernous ballroom was King Orlond. The wind whipped snow through the huge open doors at the other end of the room. King Orlond, old and frail, stared at the fur-clad, red-eyed visitors that strolled into the chamber before him. They were framed against the blizzard that raged outside. King Orlond’s entourage pulled their feeble cloaks and blankets tighter around themselves and watched the creatures walk forward. Queen Orlond bit her lip and held tight to her husband’s rings.

It hadn’t snowed in Orlondia for sixty years. The winter had come with the demons. King Orlond’s people believed the end of the world was coming. Looking at the invaders, Orlond was forced to believe that it was a possibility.

The visitor in the lead was over eight feet tall, a thin giant who quested around the room with his eyes like a bear testing the air with his nose. When his eyes fell on the servant girl next to the King, he held up on clawed hand in the air. The small crowd that came with him stopped with a shuffle, breath pluming from each of them like horses in a yard. Sweat dripped off of them onto the cobbles at their feet with a hiss. Even this cold palace was too warm for them. One of them yawned and his huge blue tongue lolled out like a dog’s.

The servant girl, Marla, was a sixth-generation servant in the castle. She was the illegitimate half-daughter of the king although she didn’t know it. The lead invader looked at her, cocked his head, hummed deep in his chest, and began to walk forward. He had a limp, the King noticed with a smile. At least one of his army’s blades had found its mark. The entire palace listened at the steps echoed off the walls. Step. Drag. Step. Drag. Slow but unstoppable.

The siege had lasted five months. The people who hadn’t starved or fled were in this room with the king. There were thousands more of the visitors outside the gates. They were brutal, calculating, and worst of all, patient.

As the creature came closer, the reek of violets wafted off of it and the King heard the horrible ticking that came from their skulls when they were awake, like an abacus being shaken. It angled its head down like a panther and stared at Marla.

Marla’s eyes glazed over. She stood up, dropping her jug of water to shatter on the floor. In that silence, the sound caused what few survivors there were to gasp. A few snarls from the crowd of demons blocking the door scared them back to quiet.

Marla walked towards the lead visitor. It was cooing softly and swaying, each nod of its head timing with Marla’s steps, like a conductor timing out motion instead of notes as Marla got closer to its claws and teeth.

Marla got with two feet of the creature before it stopped humming. Marla stopped walking, balanced on one foot in mid stride, as still as a statue.

What happened next was too quick to define but suddenly Marla has no head, her mother screamed and the tension broke.

The King watched helplessly as what was left of his fife was butchered in front of him by tooth and claw. Then he himself faced the red, dripping muzzle of the lead creature, its breath reeking of the Queen’s blood.

The creature lunged and the King's world turned black.



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