The Dead Bones

You kill your trees and live in their dead bones. That’s what she’d said to me as I left the forest last time. I’d looked back at her with wet eyes and could not deny it. I could’t tell her that she was mistaken, that I’d not been part of it, because I hadn’t questioned what we did. I hadn’t thought to stand up and resist, or to speak against it. In the end, I’d gone back to my dead-bone house. Sat in my soft skin chair that once belonged to a living creature. Then I reached over and I drank from a bottle. I drank the blood of the earth, and I tossed the cheap, cheap plastic into the garbage. Finally, I switched on the TV, powered by generators that burned the earth and pumped black soot into the sky.

She was right, and we were wrong, but we couldn’t change. No, that wasn’t it. We wouldn’t change because we were afraid of what might happen. We were afraid that we’d lose our wealth, or our conveniences, or that we’d somehow have to work harder for what we had. And this fear overrode the knowledge that we were actively destroying our world.

That night I went to sleep on my soft warm bed and dreamed that the world had turned to dust. Nothing green grew and nothing alive crept across the ground. I walked to the ocean shore and saw a field of plastic bags and detritus that stretched to the horizon and wrapped around the earth. I sat down in the trash and I cried, and I screamed out against the people of the world—at myself. I wanted someone to answer my question.

“Why?” I beat the ground, and yelled at the sky, but there was no one to hear me. “Why did this happen?!” And the answer came back as loud as anything I’d ever heard.


Blackhole Grind


Nobody thinks about how it’s done anymore. I’m out on the line for twelve hours. I’m tired, I’m beat. I’m in The Suit, and it’s charged up and buzzing in my ears. I can feel the energy crawling on every inch of my skin. Like a bunch angry ants pouring out of a nest that some kid kicked over for fun. I’m about to kick over my own nest by firing an Xray laser into the cookie.

The cookie. That’s what we call the atomic cocktail that the orbital factory spits out about once a month. Let me tell you, it’s big. It’s a roundish blob about three kilometers in diameter. That’s the target.

I’m in the suit, so every thing is harder to do. I’m nervous as hell working with enough energy to destroy a planet. That’s why they have us so far out in space. The sweat is mingling with the ants, and it’s just amplifying the effect. I’m twitchier than normal this time, and my hands don’t feel secure on the controls. I triple blink my eyes. The helmet fan comes on and I get some relief from the sweat dripping into my eyes. I can feel it evaporating away.

I concentrate on the controls and watch the power levels on the laser. I’m in the specially shielded part of the ship, in my suit, got it blaring full power, and hoping to God that it’s enough to keep the radiation from frying me up. It hasn’t yet, but sometimes the reaction isn’t as accurate as the math. There’s still some unknown variable, but that doesn’t stop the line. The holes still have to be made for the ships because that’s what makes them go. That’s what takes humans out to the stars.

The power levels look good. The distance is locked; the ship’s retros have stabilized us exactly eight kilometers away. The “safe” distance. It never feels safe, because I know too much. It was better when I was stupid.

When they first figured out they could make molecular sized black holes with a laser, it went completely unnoticed by the media. It was just a scientific curiosity, lasting only thirty femtoseconds – millionths of a billionth of a second. That was because after it stripped all the electrons from every neighboring atom in the targeted molecule, it didn’t have anything else to feed it. But given the right fuel and conditions, it could grow into a tiny hungry monster. The three kilometer ball in front of me would shrink into an invisible sphere the diameter of a human hair, and keep on sucking in everything around it.

I flip up the safety cover on the firing switch, wait a second, check the vitals, and then turn the switch. The ship vibrates with the released energy. Then there’s a bright spot on the cookie. The tiny molecular sized hole has been made in the middle of that blob. The focal point of the laser is set for the center of the mass. It takes a bit for the beam to burn through, but when it does, the hole gets made right in the center of the cookie. That’s the only way it works, and why everything has to be so precise.

The coral started it all. Those little sea organisms that became living reefs visible from space. In our technological race to learn and grow we’d heated the oceans just enough to kill them all off. That had created a cascading die-off of other lifeforms, up to, and including humans. As food sources from the sea became scarcer, and the ecology collapsed from climate change and pollution, it became critical that we find another earth. Some way to insure that our species would survive and not become a casualty of the damage we’d caused.

It happens fast, like an explosion in reverse, as the cookie collapses in on itself. A flash goes outward like a blast. All that energy has to go somewhere. It smacks me in the face, washing over my ship, and overloading everything. A split second before it hits, my ship goes dark, protecting itself by turning everything off, grounding every circuit together to prevent burnouts. The only thing left running is the tiny nuclear power plant in my suit. It keeps the angry ants crawling over me, the electomagnetic shield and the water in the thick walls of the room I’m in are the only things keeping me alive right now. The only things keeping my cells from being torn apart by subatomic particles.

I give it the standard delay, as the glow dissipates out there where the cookie used to be. By the time five minutes is up, the glow is gone and it’s pitch black. Then the ship comes back to life. The lights and instruments boot up, and I turn off The Suit. The crawling ceases, and it feels great. I take off the helmet and head for the bridge.

The bridge is just like I left it, four seats for crew members are empty and I take the one for the pilot. I fire up the thrusters and guide the ship toward something I can’t see on the cameras. The only thing that’s guiding me is the highly tuned gravity sensors. A three dimensional map of the space being warped in front of the ship. There’s a tiny black hole punching a dent in spacetime only eight kilometers away. I move forward slowly and the distance shrinks until it’s just meters. Then I fire up the fields and guide the ship so that the big magnetic hand slips right around the hole and closes it in. The fields bring it into the core of the ship, or rather drag us so that we’re centered on it. The ship’s mass is dwarfed by the little monster.

I activate the parabolic reflector in the core and it slips around the front half of the hole. The hawking radiation gets bounced out toward the rear of the ship and we start to move. Slowly at first, then rapidly accelerating toward the docks. Another starship is born.

Loss For Words

Dad was always muttering under his breath. At first I thought he might be cursing. I would get up close to him, put my little hands around his neck and hold my face up next to his wiry whiskers. He’d laugh and ask me what I was up to.
“I’m listening to your other voice,” I would say. He laughed and tousled my long blond hair sending the bangs into my eyes. “Silly girl, that’s my secret language. Would you like to learn it?” 
I gave an enthusiastic yes to this, and over a period of years from the time I was five to the age of ten we would sit down in the evenings and converse in the secret language.
At first I learned the words for all of the objects that were around in the living room, but that was only the first couple of weeks. After that I learned all of the action words and the adjectives, and even some words that didn’t have english parallels. It was a deep language and corresponding words like “squareness”, “stupidity” and “violence” were in a category of their own. Not nouns but something different. This secret language had higher dimensions to it. It was more complete, and when we spoke in it—only between ourselves, and never around anyone else—I felt like I could fully explain myself and grew more and more to see my native language as lacking. 
There were many times when feeling overwhelmed at the sight of immense beauty or intense horror that I was left speechless and without words. But in the back of my mind, in the secret language the words would form complete and coherent sentences fully describing how I felt and decrypting the unspeakable.
There came that awful day, when my father got the bad news. I was sixteen when he sat me down in the living room. He spoke in the secret language. He told me that he was going to have to go away soon, but that he would not really be gone. 
Oh, even now since you do not know the higher language, I cannot explain it to you correctly in these words. He was going to have to leave and not leave, because his body was failing and not failing. It was succeeding in ways that people don’t understand. He was fulfilling his destiny and going on to do what he was born to do. 
I was sad and I was excited. I was both of these things and there is one word for that as well. And that day came that my Dad became the very thing that we spoke of. That was the day he died and was born, the day that I cried and was overjoyed. And my life went on but with great anticipation.
The day I turned eighteen I was driving out to see my boyfriend in the city, and my mind suddenly felt on fire with electricity. I pulled over to the side of the road and sat as the cars swooshed by so fast that they rocked the car side to side. And then I felt my Dad, he was there, all around me like a static charge. 
“Hello, daughter. I’ve come to give you a very special birthday gift.”
“What gift, Dad?”
“The secret language that you learned is much more than for describing things and talking to me. Words have sounds, and these sounds have forms. These forms are energy and power to change the world around you in all the secret ways that I’ve taught you. Now’s the time to start using it.”
“How do I use it, Dad?” But he was gone and not gone again. 
I thought a lot about what my dad had told me. Since he had changed, I only spoke the secret language in my head. It was helpful for soothing my mind when I was weary of the world, but I had not thought to speak it aloud. Now I began to speak.

Four Reasons to Write Your Little Heart Out

You are a writer. You didn’t choose to be one, but rather it was born into you—a spirit as old as dwelled in the storytellers around the first fires. When they wove their imaginations in mysterious and delightful ways, akin to prophets, philosophers, and visionaries. That old fire is inside of you, burning its way out. And if you don’t write it down, it will find another way. Like every force of nature, it will find a way out. So write your little heart out.

The rest of the world doesn’t get you, and you don’t really belong to it. You’re not one of them and you never will be. You don’t think alike, and they know it. Your speech is strange to their ears, your anecdotes are odd, your propensity toward reflection and solitude confuses them. Your obsession with words is just weird. So write your little heart out.

Life brings hard times even in the best of them. You’ll get passed over, ignored, hurt, and beaten down. You’ll get sick, tired, and old, and lose your friends and family as they get sick, tired, and old. People will betray you, lie, cheat, and steal from you. You’ll work yourself to the bone in a never ending cycle of work, sleep, eat, and repeat. You’ll be a success at all the things that bring you no joy. And you’re not alone as we all tread out this grind in the world. The people around you will find their ways to cope, throwing themselves into work, exercise, and play. But as for you, you write your little heart out.

Ever since you were young, even the little things moved you. The joy of sunsets, the emotions of others, the magic of books. Your life is your story, and as it got written down in the memories of your mind you remembered every detail like a treasured book. The successes, the failures, the hurts, and the victories—all written down in the chapters of your life. A river so massive that nothing can stop it. You dwell on the past, and the story that is you because it is story that drives you. So write your little heart out.