American Cyborg
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12. Black Mustang

by Bluebird, December 2015

 

When Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty in 1877, horses were a primary mode of transit. She was inspired to write this book because horses were treated so terribly, and she wanted people to understand what complex creatures they are.

We are the first generation that has the privilege to interact with robots and AI. Self-driving cars are becoming more and more prevalent, and it’s important to think about how we treat them now.



 
 
 

11. Evolutionary Programming

by Finch, November 2015

 
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Computational thinking pervades the public consciousness. Everyone wants to be a hacker. “Hacking” has been applied to topics as diverse as baking, bicycling, and coffee-making.

It's useful to trace the origins of this, the adaptation of “computational logic” or strict rationality, to a vast array of human activities. After all, this sort of thing, this application of a type of logic to a new object of analysis, is nothing new when we think about how humans maintain relationships with animals and machines.

1800s London was a time and place before “professionalization” built walls between the natural sciences, art, and mathematics. The heavy thinkers all went to the same parties and read the same books. Charles Darwin is rumored to have found himself in the company of one Charles Babbage, inventor of the analytics engine, widely credited as the father of programming.

Babbage in 1837 had written The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, positing that nature was a sort of engine of technological determinism, like a machine logic program. Further, and this is key here, the eventual product of those accumulated interactions could produce unanticipated results.

He wrote that it was possible the events which the public perceived as miraculous, were actually the result of generations of interactions between deterministic algorithms, which God had pre-defined.

This flew in the face of the widely held idea that God interacted with the world via random construction. He speculated that his theory could assist in representing the complexity of many functions, including combat formations and “animal life.”

Darwin read the book. He commented on it in his diary.

Twenty-two years later, Darwin published On the Origin of the Species.

He argued that species could be moderated over long periods of time through interactions with their environment, responding within the predefined laws of nature, a process which could produce animals very different from those which had come before.

Sound familiar?


Further reading:

Philip Mirowski. Machine Dreams. "Some Cyborg Genealogies." Cambridge University Press: London. 2002.

Darwinism. "The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy." http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/darwinism/

Laura J. Snyder. The Philosophical Breakfast Club. Random House, Inc.: New York. 2011.

 
 
 
 

10. The Button

by Albatross, October 2015

 
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Colonel Sirewan was a fierce soldier, a loyal soldier, but nothing frightened him as much as the idea of being a traitor to humanity. When the Ruani captured him he knew that soon he could be facing this eventuality. The only time he saw their gray, disgusting faces is when they brought him food. He had held out while he was imprisoned with his men, but now that they had placed him in solitary he finally ate. You had to give it to the Ruani, they had done their homework. They knew exactly how to mess with us humans, he thought. It was a white, featureless room with four blank walls, and even the mark of the doorway was obscured until they opened it. They've created Purgatory! he thought. There was one feature to the room actually — the button. A great silver button rising three feet off of the floor on a white pedestal. The button was his only frame of reference in the void of the room and at first he laughed at its game-show like appearance. Only the button existed. The Ruani had told him that when he was ready, to push it.

When he was ready? The way he figured, it meant one of two things: when he was ready to talk, to spill, to betray his brothers and sisters, or when he was ready to die. Not exactly a game show button. Either way he would hold out. They wouldn't get to him.

He had no idea of direction or how much time had passed. For a while he simply lay down and slept, but he couldn't anymore. The shock of opening his eyes to that flat white nothing was worse than nightmare. He tried working out — pushups, sit-ups, running in place. The more he could tire himself, the more he could sleep and the longer he could hold out, he thought. However, every moment he rested he realized that he was staring at the button, the only focal point.

Frustrated, he decided to face the wall. I will meditate, he said to himself. He hadn't tried to meditate since he was a child. The martial arts classes, he chuckled, picturing himself sitting crosslegged and peeking slyly through his squint around the room when the Sifu wasn't watching. The old dojo was vivid and he could see it clearly: the soft mats, weapons against the wall, his fellow cadets training. I was fierce even then, he said as he watched himself tossing cadets about the room. Nobody was my equal. That was what led me to the top of the officers training, and to Sara.

He squirmed. She was there as he first saw her, lovely in her fatigues. The evenings they spent together in R&R, just a glow of loveliness. The only perfect thing I ever did in this life was marry her, he thought. He wanted to hold her again. A wash of warmth, like a bath swept over him as he reached out to touch her face. His hand collided with the white wall.

“Damnit!” he yelled, jumping up and stomping about the room trying not to glimpse the button.

“It wasn't my fault!” he hollered into nothing. But it was his fault. All of it.

He could see the arguments. She was against the war.

“But we were soldiers,” he cried. “We had to strike first. We had to.”

He sunk back down against the wall.

All of the men he had led, all of the men he had lost marched before him. Those damned Ruani! he cringed. They were changing people. Their ideas, their psychology was an infestation that started the moment we started relations with them. Don't you see what they're doing? he could hear himself yelling. They're rotting us from the inside out, our way of life, our humanity! But they have done nothing to provoke us, she said in return. They are trying to show us something else. You and all the others need to look at things through this new age. You need to change your thinking... NO! Dangerous! That's dangerous! They're dangerous! We will fight! We will fight to preserve what is ours! Besides, what else were we trained for?

The assault on the Ruani stations had been an absolute failure. He had led the first and second waves. A rain of destruction. Beams and explosions, fire lit up the skies, but the sound... the sound was haunting. It rang in his ears even now. He beat his head. It was the human howl. Sara had died in the second wave.

Colonel Sirewan watched again through tears as he melted onto the white floor. It's all my fault, he wept. We were annihilated. The war is over. He lifted his head and looked at the silver button which almost seemed an eye staring at him. What else can they want from me? What else could I possibly have to give them, for they have taken everything from me. He saw Sara’s face in the rubble. I... I have taken everything from me.

Slowly he scraped himself off the floor and walked up to the pedestal. He could see his stretched reflection in the button. He looked old and tired, defeated. I can no longer fight, he thought. This button is the end. It is the end of everything I was, everything I am. It is the end of my world. It is death. I have changed Sara, he said aloud and pressed the silver button.

The door hissed open on his right and one of the Ruani came into the room to lead him out.

“Are you going to torture me?” Colonel Sirewan asked.

“We have no need of torture, Colonel Sirewan,” replied the strange voice of the Ruani.

 
 
 
 

9. Drifting Lithophanes

by Finch, September 2015

 
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“Perhaps a human language is possible in which the intent of meaning is actually beheld in three-dimensional space.” — Terrence McKenna

“The computer is the essential medium for the simulation, that is for the emulation of processes for simulation within a model.” — Peter Weibel, via Quantum Cinema

Where weather patterns collide, storms gather. Appearing to those on the ground as moments of chaotic destruction, storms denote a boundary, a node of translation between two disparate systems. The same can be said of the objects inhabiting Laura Greig and Justin Cooper’s work Drifting Lithophanes.

Twelve small plastic squares, borne of a 3D printer and rigged to rotate ‘round a handmade windmill, make up the primary material of the work.

These squares are representations of climate modeling simulations. The climate model, it should be noted, not only represents/illustrates an idea of a weather system, but second, it projects that idea into a three-dimensional universe of computation. Inherently, it proffers an argument for how weather is to be thought of, and describes our relationship to it. It is a nonverbal projection of organizing logic. This model of weather systems then passes through a three-dimensional printer, a machine which, in its construction of the object, layers on its own principles of organization and expression as it layers globules of plastic. The square we see is a topographical snapshot, or one moment, of the weather system, subjected to the construction rules of the three-dimensional printer.

Models, systems of knowing and representing, and all of their imaginary outlines brush at each other. Is this printed, physical map of systems itself, then, not a storm gathering between systems of computational pressure?

It’s fruitful to note what a strange thing this is, to take a picture of a computational idea, to wrest a concrete moment from a temporal software simulation which sculpts dynamic objects happening in time, via a machine which sculpts static objects happening in space.

(This begins to touch upon Bill Brown’s thing theory, in detourning the object out of our normative relationship to it: “Why not let things alone? Let them rest somewhere else – in the balmy elsewhere beyond theory.” The longing for just such relief is described by A. S. Byatt at the outset of The Biographer's Tale (2000). Fed up with Lacan as with deconstructions of the Wolf-Man, a doctoral student looks up at a filthy window and epiphanically thinks, “I must have things.” He relinquishes theory to relish the world at hand: “A real, very dirty window, shutting out the sun. A thing.”)

Moving past the thing-ness of the plastic shapes I'd like to make apologies to Brown and move away from the real, and examine again the labor these things perform: the work of the model.

Drifting Lithophanes quite literally illuminates the various shifting roles of the work that models perform, as sites of scientific transcription, communication, and instruction. Drifting, and its cozy lightbulb (calling on aesthetics of the lone inventor/artist laboring under a single naked bulb), make transparent the apparatus of abstraction inherent in modeling.

Here the model is a performative object, working its influence in disparate ways throughout multiple networks of knowing.

As aforementioned, twelve small plastic squares, 3D printed topographic maps of weather systems, are attached to arms extending in uniform lengths from a small electronic windmill motor. The motor forces the rotation of the squares, causing them to pass in front of a single lightbulb, at which point the thickness of their layers can be beheld, illustrating representations of stratified cloud formations.

The physical apparatus of rotation imitates and points to (again, the work of the model) the natural or actual movement of weather systems, yet by virtue of its overt constructed-ness (the viewer can plainly see the sticks, the motor), exposes that the mental operation is itself a construction.

The history of lithophanes and their representation of three-dimensional space is yet another thorny iteration of the model. The word “lithophane” derives from Greek “litho,” which is from “lithos” which means stone or rock, and “phainein” meaning “to cause to appear” – is this not the work of a model? Does it not “cause to appear” not only an image of a system, but our entire mental conception of that system?

Here are models nested: our cognitive conception of the world, the way we perceive its shape, its properties, and all the relations therein, facilitated the engineering of a computational model of weather systems. This computational model was ostensibly built and programmed for purposes of prediction, as the weather, grouped into its own set of systems slipping over the surface of the planet, looms large in the way we move about the world.

Greig & Cooper's Drifting unhinges the invisible infrastructures of systematized perception. It drifts delightfully, tugging the viewer along between the representational and the performative, between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional, the computational and handmade, known and unknown, earth and sky.

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7. The Metaphorosis

by Albatross, July 2015

 
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One morning, when Greg Samsara woke from a very pleasant sleep, he found himself unfortunately not transformed into a horrible vermin. This troubled him greatly. He rolled over on his back so he could glance at his nightstand, where the copy of Kafka's Metamorphosis sat unfulfilled. Behind it his alarm clock sleepily yawned 5:30AM in red digital taunts. Why does one always wake an hour before the alarm? he thought. In an hour he would have to drag himself from bed to ready for his mediocre job for its commonplace pay to afford his run-of-the-mill house in which his conventional family lived their dull lives in middling nowhere Mid-America. The night before as he laid the short story aside he prayed to be turned in the night into a bug. Apparently his old boring God didn't pay any attention to him either.

He grabbed the thin book, flipped through the pages, and ran his hands over the covers. The contents of this are pure and extraordinary, he thought. Literature is a thing apart from this life. It shows it, but also sings it and makes it shine. How lackluster is my life in comparison? He wished he could write, but had no talent for it. I'll never be like Kafka. The remaining hour in bed was spent fantasizing about scuttling over the walls.

After ablutions, he moved through the house tying his tie, threading his belt, tucking and preening. His wife and daughter moved around him like leaves in a stream, curling around a boulder; simply an obstruction in their path. And he asked them quick questions in their wake to which he received no answers. Have you seen my shoes? Is there any milk in the fridge? Julie can I have a hug? His daughter Julie swung through the door, a backpacked swoosh, and slammed the door with a knocker echo.

His wife Teresa stopped on her way out to give him a peck on the cheek, but in the same manner in which she grabbed her keys or tossed a scarf about her neck. Then, slam, the door again and the silence which followed started out as a departing car. Next his heart beat, which also seemed to be thumping along without any care or notice of him. Finally the silence erupted into a piercing whine that interrupted his staring at the door, and when he shook his head and sighed he noticed the clock and his now inevitable tardiness to work. It's alright, he thought. Nobody will notice.

At his bus stop he rushed as the bus pulled away. He missed it and slumped down on the metal bench in the box. His briefcase was placed between his feet and at the top of his vision a butterfly of stocking legs flitted by him. He looked up and momentarily caught the gaze of a young lady. She also appeared to have missed the bus and Greg quickly glanced at her legs, at her skirt, at her blouse which tugged neatly into her skirt in such wonderful proportions and he thought, how lovely. He peeked up at her and smiled. She did not smile back. He offered her his seat, which she took without a word, and he stood with his briefcase between his feet and towered, hovered, like a hawk over fields. He smiled. She did not look, she glanced at her phone, at the streets, at her watch, at anything but Greg as he, with ever growing dejection, tried his best to be nonchalant.

Am I so invisible? So colorless? So insignificant? he fumed to himself. Anything is better than this. I'd rather be revolting, repulsive. I'd rather be pestiferous than nothing. He turned hard on his heels like a soldier and stomped away from the bus stop, much to the lack of attention of those waiting.

Yes, abhorrent is at least noticeable. In fact in some ways it is better than respect. People cower from the abhorrent. It is powerful, it is uniqueness itself among the processed. They have no idea how to deal with something so different, so strange, and so they fear, and that fear controls. People are clay in the hands of fear.

He sat violently down on a bench across the street. I'm going to call in sick, he thought. Maybe I am sick. He called his doctor.


Doctor Alburn sat with his legs crossed across from Greg.

"So what exactly is the problem, Mister Samsara?"

Greg uncomfortably moved in his seat. He was sweating and his briefs clawed at his ass. Pulling at his collar, he stuttered something out that was just sounds, stopped and reset.

"Come come, Mister Samsara. There's no need for this embarrassment. I assure you I've heard and seen it all. Out with it."

"Um, I don't quite know how to put this," he clamored for the words. "I want to be a ... I mean, I would like it if ... umm."

"What!?"

"I want to be metamorphosed."

Doctor Alburn grunted.

"And into what precisely would you like to be ... metamorphosed?"

"A bug," Greg said curtly.

"A bug. Is that all? What sort of bug exactly Mister Samsara? There are many."

Greg hadn't thought about that. What sort of bug was Gregor in Metamorphosis? Did Kafka ever say? He probably should have read the book in its entirety. He had a hard, armor-like shell for a back. Of course that was discussed at the beginning. The belly and chest was divided into arched sections, and there were many small legs. A beetle? It sounds like some sort of beetle.

"A beetle, Doctor Alburn. I'd like to be a beetle," Greg said with slightly more confidence.

"Well, that is no problem Mister Samsara. It is a very costly procedure, I'm sure you're aware?" said the doctor, flipping through some pages on a clipboard.

"But, I would also like wings. Can I have wings?"

"Of course you'll have wings! Beetles have wings. Beetles are Coleoptera, which literally means ‘sheathed wing,' Mister Samsara," replied the doctor coldly.

"Good, I would prefer to have wings."

"Thought this through, have you?" the doctor said with a sarcastic smirk.

Greg nodded.

"I'll have my secretary print up the necessary paperwork. This must be done in a few procedures, you understand? We must first do the initial cosmetic surgeries that will allow us to do the later ones. For instance we must begin paring the body in sections, create a thorax and abdomen, so on and so on. Today we will do the preliminary work. The most noticeable will be your head today. We will cut into you here and here," he said running his fingers under Greg's ears and along his jaw. "Then we will remove your jaw, see? It will then be replaced with mandibles, or pincers if you will."

Greg swallowed and wiped his forehead with a handkerchief.

"Mister Samsara, are you sure you want to do this?"

Greg thought of his wife and daughter. This would shock them. They would despise him for it. He thought of the bus stop. He thought of the multitudes of people crawling over each other every day in the ant hill of city and the sea of human faces. He was lost in the entanglement that was humanity. He wanted them all to be horrified. He wanted them all to despise him, fear him. He could see their disgusted faces. Disgusted with him and his bringing the beauty of Kafka's creation to life! He would be the living embodiment of literature! This colorless world would for once be like a book and it would be because of him. Himself and Kafka.

"Yes! I'm sure."


Greg left the Clinic feeling a little woozy from the drugs. The sun was exceptionally bright despite how low it hung in the sky and he tried to block it with his hand as he stumbled over the curb. His face hurt. He glanced down past where his nose used to be and he saw the tips of his new mandibles. They clicked together in a spasm.

"Oh My! Oh No! Oh, what have I done?" he yelped. I'm a bug! Ok! Ok! This is what you wanted. This is who you are. With his hands he felt his chest and the removal of many ribs. They had begun to section him off, creating an abdomen and thorax, but it was not yet complete. He was now exceptionally thin just below his armpits. It feels, he thought, like somebody has squeezed a rope around my chest until it became two separate parts. He moved his hands up to his face and felt the mouth parts moving and jerked his hand away. I just need to get the bus and head home.

At the bus stop he noticed that his vision was wider. He could almost see completely around himself. They must have pushed his eyes to the sides of his new bug head. He was about to try to touch them when he noticed a woman and her daughter seated on the next bench to his left. They were in his vision even though he was facing away from them. The little girl in her striped skirt and stockings was staring at him with her mouth and eyes wide. Her mother scolded her.

"Daniella! It's not polite to stare!"

"But Mom! It's a giant bug!"

"I know dear but that's no reason for civilities to end now is it?"

The woman stood up and approached Greg.

"I'm sorry for my daughter. She can be a pest." Her hand shot up to her mouth as though she had let slip some derogatory term.

"I'm sorry. I meant ... Hi, I'm Sarah and this is Daniella, my daughter." she said extending a hand. "And you are?"

Greg opened his strange mouth to answer but all the came out was, "GLOORPSH"

That's right! The doctor said that without his jaw he wouldn't be able to talk. That he would have to relearn to communicate.

"Well Mister Gloorpsh, I just want to say that I think it is so brave what you are doing," she shook his hand and smiled. "C'mon Daniella. We're going to be late. Lets take a cab," she said as they departed.

"But Mom! I want to ride the bus with the bug man."

"Shhh, Daniella! I've raised you better than that."

That never happened with Kafka! Everyone was supposed to be disgusted. They were supposed to fear him. The little girl wanted to ride on the bus with him! The woman shook his hand and called him brave. What a disaster! He would go home and lock himself in his room. His wife and daughter would be ashamed and hide from him. Eventually his daughter would slip cautiously into the room to leave him food while he hid under the couch. Yes! It would be alright. He just needed to get home and then he would bring Kafka to life.

He got on the bus. The thick bus driver did a double take when Greg stepped on and simply shook his head. Luckily there weren't many people on the bus. Those that were, his fellow passengers, looked at him and smiled. Some chuckled a bit and whispered to each other. Greg tried desperately not to look at their disgusting, approving faces but he could see them no matter where he looked.

A teenage ponytailed girl got up from her seat with a friend to exit the bus and quickly said as she passed, "I like your mandibles," then the two girls collapsed into a tittering, giggling pile of teen as they skipped out the door.

Greg fumed.


He swept through the threshold of his house and shut the door, pressing on it as if to hold the tide of all the world from pouring in, his finger in the dike. From the kitchen the familiar sounds of his wife cooking could be heard. For a moment he thought of running up to a room and locking himself in, but this was what he wanted. He wanted their reaction. Slowly, he stepped into the kitchen.

His wife was busy stirring something on the stovetop.

"Hello Darling," she said without looking up. She went to the refrigerator and ostriched her top half. Greg stepped to the side of the open door which she then shut with a twist and a kick, hauling a pot over to the counter. Briefly she glanced at Greg and then went back to work.

She didn't notice! Greg thought. He kept moving so as to be within her range of vision.

"Julie got an A on her report today," she sang out, removing the lid and putting the pot in the oven. "I told her we'd get ice cream and she said not to bother! Can you believe it? All snide like," she sighed. "Teenagers! I swear. You should have a talk with her. She's been moping around all day, as she does." Teresa, glanced up at him and for the first moment seemed to notice him. Greg's pulse rapidly thumped out of his skin. She slightly turned her head while looking at him.

"Did you get a haircut, Darling? Something seems different about you," she looked away and continued stirring.

"GLOORPSH!" he spewed out.

"God bless you, Darling. Would you go tell Julie dinner's in five?"

Greg stormed out of the room.

Upstairs he banged on Julie's door.

"What!? I'm on the phone!"

Greg opened the door. His daughter jumped up off her bed and swiftly slammed the door back shut.

"Jeez! Privacy!"

Greg just stood with the door in his face. His antennae resting on the wood. A click sounded from the handle which then slowly began to turn. The door crept open and his daughters eyes appeared in the crack. They got bigger and bigger.

"What the shit!? Are you a ... bug?" she opened the door and stood in front of her father.

"Are those pincers? And antennae?" she reached up to touch his face and then withdrew her hand. "Oh My God!" she brought her phone up to her ear. "Kim! You're never gonna believe this. My Dad turned himself into a bug!"


At the dinner table his wife sat crossly.

"I can't believe you didn't discuss this with me. It's just so costly. Like we have disposable income! Don't get me wrong, I support you, Darling. This is, of course, what you should do if deep down you feel you are — what is it? A beetle? It is pretty interesting actually. In fact, I can't wait to tell the girls. They'll never believe it! My husband, the new bug on the block."

His daughter just sat at the table taking pictures of her father.

Greg didn't know what to say. He couldn't say anything anyway.

"But we were talking about putting that gazebo in the back. That's not going to happen now. You're so impetuous! Do you remember the swimming pool debacle? All the neighbors complained that it was an eyesore. If you just would've asked me I could've told you what would happen. Really Darling, I am happy for you finding your inner bug, but still — you should've told me."

His boss was even more approving. He gave him paid leave for his metamorphosis. What was happening!? Was Kafka this far removed from reality? Did he exist in some fantasy world where people were held accountable for becoming horrible vermin? Nothing of literature was coming to fruition. There was only this sickeningly supportive acquiescence. This was — this reality was absurd! This world is absurd and everyone in it! I'm going back to the doctor's today and I'm going in deep, he thought. Make me terrifying! Give me wings and I'll fly away.


"So, today we will be adding your hard armor-like shell, Mister Samsara. Also, the biggest change — we will be removing your arms and legs and attaching your tibia, tarsus and claws. In other words, your new beetle legs. We will have you crawling about in no time Mister Samsara. I can guarantee you that," said Doctor Alburn.

"What about the wings?" asked Greg.

"No. They are very delicate and take much time to fabricate. You do realize that this is all fabrication, yes? An exorbitant superficiality, albeit a convincing one."

"Huh? What? I'm superman —" Greg said drifting off to an anesthetized ether on the operating table.

Doctor Alburn chuckled and looked up at the nurse.

"Ha! Superman! says the pest. Every dung beetle thinks the world of his shit! Nurse, would you hand me the saw?"

In the morning, when Greg Samsara woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in a bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. Finally! thought Greg. He waved his new thin legs about and tried to rock side to side on his rounded back. Doctor Alburn walked into the room.

"Mister Samsara, how are we feeling? Creepy and crawly enough for you? I think you'll surprisingly find that it won't take much work to learn to use your new legs. A hexapodal physical therapist will be doing some brief work with you to teach you to crawl. You know, we first must crawl before we can walk. Oh wait, that's right. You'll never walk again, but crawl you shall. We've organized a ride home for you since we figured it would be best for a giant beetle to stay away from public transit. The poor buggers on buses have enough to deal with."

The doctor was correct. It only took Greg a few hours of physical therapy to get the hang of his pointed new stems. He scuttled to the car and a Nurse lifted him into his ride home.


His wife clapped and jumped up and down when she saw him struggle up the stairs to their house.

"Oh my! Aren't you just my little guy!" she bent far over to touch his glistening back. Greg moved toward a mirror, the clicking of his legs on the wooden floor made quite a lot of noise. A perfect beetle stared back at him. A perfect giant beetle. He was about two feet off of the floor supported by six thin black legs. The spherical eyes were oddly human but bulging just right from the sides of his head. The pincers and mouth were moving about, disgustingly.

"Darling, I hope you don't mind. I've invited some of the neighbors over for dinner tonight. They are so excited to see you!"

What!? Greg, thought to himself. How could she want to show me off? He shuffled toward the stairs to try to make it to his room. He needed to get under the couch. His wife grasped him by the abdomen, and drug him backwards.

"Oh no you don't. You're not hiding anywhere."

She brought him into the dinning room, where she had very astutely rigged up a sort of highchair for him at the head of the table. A tiny platform at table height so that he would be propped up for all to see. Once again Greg tried to flee but Teresa would not be denied. She picked him up and secured him in his place, and once at that height Greg was too concerned in his frail state to try to fall.

The neighbors began to arrive. Each came in and said hello, peeking their heads into the dining room to get a glimpse of Greg. After a few cocktails, everyone was seated at the table.

Conversation ranged from such interesting topics as the weather to football, and everyone talked around Greg. They stole quick glances, but extreme effort was being made to look everywhere but at Greg. All but one, George, a short mustachioed man, shirt buttoned to the neck under perfectly parted hair, sat next to his husband, Jonathan. George stared, and Greg sensed the anger radiating from him.

"So, what are we supposed to call you, eh? Are you Greg? Are you Jeff Goldblum? Freaking Brundlefly! Are you even a man?" burst George.

"George! I'm sorry Teresa," apologized Jonathan with a hand on George's shoulder, which was quickly swiped away.

"No! This is ridiculous! What is that?"

"That's still Greg. It's just Greg as he sees himself now. And now we all get to see — that," replied Sarah, another neighbor, polka-dotted in a dress.

"That's not Greg! I don't know what that is," stormed George.

"Of course it's Greg, George! We shouldn't judge. We live in an age where you can be whoever you want to be. We just need to be supportive. And George, I think you look great!" replied another and everyone lit up.

"Oh yes!" replied everyone but George.

"You look so great!"

"Just a perfect — bug!"

"I love the legs!"

"And the bug eyes, they aren't creepy at all!"

George stood up.

"What are we supposed to tell our children when they see him crawling around the neighborhood?" he yelled.

"George honey, we don't have children," said Jonathan.

"You know what I mean! And good luck trying to sell your house now with giant bugs out in the trash!"

"George!" Jonathan stood up and took George by the arm. "Teresa, I'm so sorry but I think we'll be leaving." They shuffled from the room together to the approbation of everyone around the table.

"We think what you're doing is fantastic, Greg!"

"It's so brave."

"You can stop by our place anytime."

Greg squirmed in his high chair. They all happily continued chatting. Someone lifted a glass and announced a toast, "To Greg! The best bug I've had the pleasure of knowing!" Everyone downed their drink. "Greg, would you like to say a few words?"

The room went silent and everyone waited looking at Greg.

"GLOORPSH!"


A few days went by and it was time for Greg's final surgery. At last, he was going to get his wings. He was dropped off at the clinic and the procedure would take until the evening. Teresa, after helping him into the clinic, set out to throw an enormous party. She had invited everyone. All of the neighbors, some old family and friends, she had even invited a member of the press. Greg would be famous, she thought. She rushed to stores buying supplies, her phone pressed to her ear inviting people. She contacted a DJ for music, a photographer to capture the event.

Once home, she ran streamers and blew up balloons. She set dozens of candles everywhere throughout the house. The soft glow would make Greg a little less difficult to look at, she thought. She hired a caterer to serve tapas. Greg would probably put people off their appetite, but in case he didn't she wanted food there for the guests. She cleaned and organized and put special care into a sort of throne for Greg. Just a little place for him to sit and be admired, she thought. We don't want anyone stepping on him for God's sake! The seat was covered in his favorite blanket and she surrounded it in candles. He'll look so perfect here, and he can watch everyone.

As evening came on people began showing up. Teresa had her hands full preparing and greeting people, so many people. Already there were more people than she had expected. She ran through the house. Is there enough food? Enough chairs? She had almost forgot that she had to pick up Greg! She told the party she was leaving to bring the Bug of Honor and departed.

"There's my little guy," she said as she was putting him into the car. Greg was stretching his shell out, the thin wings shimmering beneath. He was fluttering them the whole way to the car. Look at him showing off his wings, she thought. As they drove he was clicking and clattering in the back seat. He clawed at the door handles.

"Darling, be careful. I know you're excited about your wings, but you don't want to fall out of the car now," Teresa said, setting the child locks.


At the house she carried him from the car. He kept buzzing and scrambling around.

"Darling! You really are being a nuisance," she said struggling to hold him, but she managed to get him through the front door.

"Here he is everyone!" she announced to the great cheer of the crowd. Everyone rushed in. Teresa set him on his throne, from which he tried immediately to escape. She placed him back roughly.

"No! You stay!" she yelled at him.

Greg stared at her and cowered on the seat. The crowd of people swarmed him. He couldn't leave the chair.

"Greg! You look marvelous! Wonderful job. May I ask who is your doctor?"

"I'd never have known you weren't a bug. Looks so natural."

"We're so proud of you Greg!"

"May I touch your shell?"

Hands started reaching in and Greg panicked. He tried to escape over the arm of his chair and sent candles falling in all directions. His blanket went up in flame quickly. The large group shocked by Greg's quick movement and the flames that spread moved back in a pullulating throng. They backed into more candles and soon the entire room was walled in flames. People screamed and ran in all directions. Someone burst through the front door and the whole of the party went pouring out like bees from a hive.

Greg scrambled, slipped and clicked over the wooden floor, looking for a way out. The flames rose higher and as the last of the people made it out the front door a curtain rod fell ablaze across the threshold. It was only a foot of flame but it was impossible for Greg to crawl out that way. He clambered for the stairs. His tiny claws poked into the carpet and he hauled his body up the stairs one at a time as smoke poured through the house. With his omnidirectional sight, he saw the entire first floor enflame as he got to the second flight. Up and up he climbed, struggling with intense heat just behind him. On the third floor he found a room with an open window. Greg managed to shove a footstool to the window so that he could climb out just in time as flames began to lick under the door frame.

He scuttled onto the roof. Down below the hive of people buzzed and yelled when they saw Greg.

"There he is!"

Greg frantically moved back and forth trying to find anything he could use to climb down.

"Use your wings!" his wife yelled.

"Yea! Use your wings, Greg!"

"Fly, Greg! Fly away!"

"FLY! FLY! FLY!"

Greg opened his armored back and unfolded the silky wings. Smoke billowed from behind him but the sun still flashed off the iridescence of them as they spread out over Greg. The doctor really had done a beautiful job. Greg moved to the edge of the roof. Below he saw Teresa's car, his family, the ridiculous people there to see him.

"Fly Greg! Fly!"

He leapt.


Six miles away a couple was driving on the interstate. The husband was just finishing a rather funny anecdote when a bug splat on their windshield with a great smack. The bug guts and ooze went streaking all over the glass and the wife laughed.

"Eww, that was a big one!" she said.

"Yea, we're gonna need a big squidgy for that one!" replied her husband.

 
 
 
 

6. The Red-Eyed Bug of Byrgir

by Albatross, June 2015

 
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School was done for the day and the sun was still high over the little mountain town of Byrgir as Jacque shed her uniform while walking. She pulled the form fitting body suit over her head and hopped on one foot and then the other as she peeled her legs from it. Gyl laughed at her.

"We can stop for a second if you want to get changed," he said walking briskly next to her, still suited.

"Don't want to waste any time," Jacque gasped as she wrestled her foot from the suits last grasp. "There! I couldn't wait to get out of that thing," she giggled letting the sun warm her skin and shoving the now miniature suit into her bag. "You should change. Your parents will know you were in the woods if you get your suit dirty."

"I will once we get there," he said.

"Race ya! I'm gonna win ‘cause you're still wearing that! GO!"

"NO Way!" he yelled after her, already far behind.

The two made their way down a path they had used many times. It skirted the edge of town and at a blind spot where the Cams couldn't see they leapt into the bushes. From there it was simple. Just slide down a bank and follow the stream out of view until they made the trees. Of course this took much scouting and planning, but so far this summer they'd been getting away with it. Nobody knew. They relished the delinquency. Not even the adults were allowed out of town.

Once in the shade of the forest Gyl stripped off his suit.

"Oh no! I got dirt on my ass!" he moaned.

"Told ya! You should listen to me more. I'm much smarter than you. I'm like a Primary. They're gonna take me away from all of you to some wonderful place while you dig ditches," she teased, shoving Gyl while he was trying to get his feet out of the leggings.

"Hey!" he fell. "I hope they do. If you were gone then we'd have the wonderful place." They both laughed.

"C'mon!" Jacque yelled, running into the trees.

They leapt back and forth across the stream, over boulders, up felled tree trunks, ever upward and away from town. On a particularly high boulder they paused and laid down in the sun panting. In the distance they could see the town and the ever-present fog that hung over it like a dome. All the factory noise was now an echo in the valley and bird song was the sound that tickled them.

"We should head back," Gyl said looking down at Byrgir.

"Nope. Not yet."

"But, we've gone far. Almost too far."

"I want to get up there," Jacque pointed to a spot up above the tree line. An area of fallen rock, shale, boulders and pines.

"That's too far! The Bugs will surely be up there! Dad says that if anyone heads into the high hills out of town the Bugs will get them!"

"I want to see one." said Jacque standing up. "C'mon! Don't be a chicken!"

"I'm not, it's just..."

"Look we'll be real sneaky. Like when we were finding the path. They will never see us. We won't get too close."

"Well, alright. Not too close!" he agreed.

"Great!" she beamed standing up. "Let's go."


They kept climbing, ducking from boulder to boulder, peeking over the tops, whispering back to one another. The sun crept as well, lower and lower, toward the peaks of the hills and the forest began to also whisper, in that mysterious evening way as it does when the shadows become longer, darker, and that desire for warm lamp light finally licks our feral nature. We look to the glow of windows with an almost wistful nostalgia, somehow far removed from our age.

And so looked Gyl towards town.

"Ok, we tried to find one. I just got a message on my Cuff from Mom saying that I need to get home soon for dinner. But we're going to seriously get into trouble…" he was cut off by a buzzing noise.

Jacque shushed him as they both hid. Further up the hill a black object hovered over the fallen rock. The setting sun glinted off the dark metallic of the body. In a whirring whoosh it moved from stone to stone leaning slightly forward where the thicker part of the disc-like machine, a mass of variegated lenses, seemed to be intently scanning the ground before it. They had found a Bug!

Jacque watched as it moved. It would hover a moment, then quickly change direction in a strange pattern, the lenses always pointed down. It seemed erratic.

"We found one!" she whispered back toward Gyl. "They're smaller than I thought. It's no bigger than my table…" she noticed Gyl was still hiding behind the boulder.

"Get up here, Gyl! Have a look at it."

He crept up the boulder to where she was.

"I don't want to," he whimpered.

"Gyl! It's not that scary. Look."

It was still humming, hovering over the rocks. It moved fast then stopped, lenses still pointed down. What was it doing? Jacque wondered. Then she saw it. A mouse scuttled over a rock and the Bug moved with it. It was following it! Looking at it! Playing with it! She smiled.

"Gyl, it's playing…" she began but noticed Gyl was sliding back down the shale. The rocks began tumbling and she winced at the sound. She turned and slowly looked back over the boulder. A red light in the middle of the Bugs lenses was pointed straight at her. The Bug was pointed straight at her! It hovered still a good distance away, unmoving, but focused on her. She dared not move. Suddenly her Cuff activated and she glanced down.

"Citizen, return to town," the message scrolled.

Slowly she stood up, in full view of the Bug. Still it did not move. They looked at one another. Jacque then moved to her right. The Bug leaned and hovered the same direction. She did the same to the Left, and so did the Bug. She laughed and waved to it.

"Goodbye Mr. Bug! I'll come and see you again."

She then turned and ran after Gyl down the dark hill and back towards town.


"How many times have I told you!? No more running around out there! I know you were out of town in the woods. Do you think they don't know!? And those Bugs out there!"

"But Dad they're not bad..."

"What did you say? Not bad? Sam and a few of the boys tried to escape town a few months back. Do you know what happened to them? Well, at least Sam is still around. It's dangerous!"

"Your father's right, Jacque," said Byl, a friend of her fathers. The three of them sat around the kitchen table, the same size as the Bug.

"Now, I have to be able to trust that you can take care of yourself while I'm at work all day," her father continued. "Promise me! No more trouble!"

"No more trouble, I promise Dad," she said with her head down.

"Good. Run off to bed now. Byl and me, we've got things to discuss."

Jacque sloped off from the kitchen into the dark of the next room. They didn't know what they were talking about! The woods weren't dangerous. Not if you knew them like she and Gyl did. They were just scared. Everyone was scared. She knew what she was doing. Through the door she could hear the mumbling of her father and Byl. She put her ear to the door.

"They couldn't find a single unwatched sector," came Byl's voice.

"But the boys, I thought they had the Bug's routines figured." said her father.

"They had. But they just keep coming out with newer better models. They're always smarter. Thing is, the Bugs are only scouts. Can't do anything on their own. If we could move fast enough, strike and move, we might be able to get to the rebels before the Company guard is on us."

"How far are they though!? We've no idea if they're over those hills or miles away!" her father sounded exasperated.

"They're over those hills alright! The people can't live like this any longer. We can't be the only ones. We've heard of the other towns fighting."

"Heard from who, eh? Could be all rumors." he sighed. "It's for our own good, they say. It's for your protection from the dangers out there! The Company thinks we're all idiots. How'd we get into this?"

"Well, you know as same as me that we needed a Company. It wasn't safe without one. An individual can't exist out there on their own. That's why when we do this we've all got to stick together," Byl was interrupted by a noise.

"What was that? Did you hear it?"

Jacque ran to her room in the dark.

*

Jacque was excited to see the Bug again but it rained for three days. Nobody could go out in the rain. Not without protective rain gear. Also, Gyl was taking much more convincing. The Bug scared him, but Jacque was doing her best to convince him that it wasn't bad. The weather had finally cleared and after school they walked down Main Street. The armed Company Guard was out more than usual today. Lined almost entirely down the street. It was going to be more difficult to sneak out.

"So? are you coming or not?" Jacque asked him.

"I dunno. My Mom was plenty mad. I'm grounded even. Gotta wear this tracker so she can see where I am while she's at work. That's why I'm walking straight home." Gyl said, kicking a stone on the street.

"I've got an idea!" Jacque lit up. "Do you still have that cat... Boots?"

"Brilliant! Put the tracker on Boots! I like it."

"Yea! The tracker. It should fit on him, right? He's only about this big? Isn't he?" she said holding her hand outs with her bag. "Your Mom might wonder why you spend so much time in the litter box though," they laughed.

The pair ran the rest of the way past the Company Guard and around the bend to Gyl's house. Boots was not as cooperative as they had hoped. They chased him around the house for an half hour before Jacque finally caught him. She proudly marched into the living room where Gyl was changing out of his uniform.

"I got him! And put the tracker on. Let's get out of here."

Gyl couldn't stay behind now. Not after all the work capturing Boots.


"We're going to have to take a different secret path today." Jacque said as they left the house. "They're watching our old one. I've been reconnoitering."

"What different secret path?"

"There's a good one by the tracks."

"But there are always Guard by the tracks," Gyl said wearily.

"Not today. Because there's so many of them about. They're not by the old hole in the fence. Remember?"

"We haven't gone that way since before the shipments started!" he gasped. "Ages ago."

"Yep, the ditches along the tracks. No one will ever see us there. And we can get back into the woods."

Jacque was right. The Company Guard had been pulled from the rail yards and they had no trouble sneaking along the ditches. They entered their verdure temple. The emerald ceiling, the chirping, the playful light winking at them, the soft stomp of the leaf bed, the hissing language of the trees, the furry congregation, a place safe from town and its worries. This was theirs, these woods. Gyl began whistling as he skipped along, but Jacque was way ahead and moving fast.

"Hey, slow up! What's your hurry?" he yelled up to her.

"I want to find the Bug again," she yelled back.

"Why do you want to find that thing again? They're dangerous," he panted catching up to her.

"No, they're not. I saw that last one playing with a mouse."

"How do you know it was playing with the mouse. It might have been trying to kill it," Gyl said.

"I can tell the difference, Gyl. I saw the mouse stand on its hind legs and sniff up at the Bug. And besides, you were too chicken to even look. What do you know?"

"Was not," Gyl said quietly.

"Then prove it. Let's go find the Bug. I want to talk to it." Jacque smiled.

"What!? You're crazy!"

"That's right." she stuck her tongue out.

They kept climbing, taking the same path that they had before and in almost the same location they saw the black disc buzzing around the shale. It hummed and moved like a bee, Jacque thought as they snuck from pine to pine and boulder to boulder getting ever closer. Gyl hung back to watch from a distance. He saw Jacque move to within a stones throw of the black machine then she stepped out from behind the trunk of a tree and spoke to the Bug!

"Hello again Mr. Bug! I told you I'd be back."

The Bug swung around to point all of its lenses at her. The red light looked like an evil eye to Gyl. It hovered slightly toward Jacque and stopped. Once again Jacque's Cuff activated:

"Citizen, return to town."

"Ok, Mr. Bug. I will. I promise, but I brought you something new to look at." she squatted down and opened her bag. Boots came out fast. The cat ran over the rocks in the direction of the Bug. The machine swooped down and buzzed just off the ground in front of Boots, stopping him quick. He hissed at the Bug.

"Boots!" yelled Gyl, running up the hill.

The Bug hovered in a circle around the cat with its lenses whirring and clicking.

"You seemed to like the mouse so much. I thought you would enjoy a cat," said Jacque happily.

Her Cuff activated again, "Cat?" scrolled across it.

"That's right! It's called a cat."

"How dare you!?" yelled Gyl, now upon them. "How dare you steal Boots from my house!?" he froze as the Bug tilted up, pointing his lenses at him.

"That's a Gyl," said Jacque laughing.

The Bug buzzed up to the pair of them. Stirred wind blew their hair wildly as the Bug moved around them in a circle as it had with the cat. Gyl closed his eyes, waiting for it to tear him apart but he just felt wind and blowing dirt. After a moment he peeked and over the rocks he saw Boots running away.

"Oh no! Boots! He's gonna run away into the woods."

Suddenly, the Bug spun around and in a blast of wind it made quickly for the running cat. It was too fast for Boots. The Bug was on him in a second and once again stared the cat down with it's whirring lenses. Jacque and Gyl ran after and while the cat was petrified with fear by the machine Jacque scooped him up and put him back into the bag. The Bug floated in front of them, unmoving.

"Ok, Mr. Bug. We'll go back to town now. I hope you liked seeing the cat. His name is Boots, by the way. I'm Jacque and this is Gyl." She grabbed Gyl by the hand and pulled him, heading back down the hill. "Goodbye Mr Bug!" she yelled back.

They ran over the rocks and into the tree line. Jacque looked back and the Bug was still where they left it, hovering and watching them retreat down the hill. She waved. They ran into the trees. They had made it back to the stream when Jacque looked down and noticed that her Cuff had activated.

"Goodbye," scrolled across it.


"I told you they were friendly!" Jacque boasted, as the two of them walked back down their street as the sun fairly bled in the sky. It looked like the red eye of the Bug, thought Gyl. Like the red eye as it stared you down and decided whether or not to tear you apart.

"I don't know, Jacque. It still scares me. Just because nothing bad happened doesn't mean much. We might'a got lucky."

"Nonsense! I think they really are up there to help us. They're just looking out for us."

A sad meow came from Jacque's bag.

"And you're a huge jerk for taking Boots! What? Were you trying to feed him to the Bugs!" he cried.

"I knew the Bug would like him, that's all."

"Well, he could've run away! And in the woods at that!" Gyl retorted.

"But he tried! And you saw the Bug, he stopped him! Maybe they really are up there to look after us."

They separated as Jacque got to her house first and said goodbye to Gyl. Goodbye — that was what the Bug said! It actually said goodbye to her.

She walked into the house and noticed that Byl was there in the kitchen again with her father.

"Jacque, come on in here," his voice sounded stern.

"Dad, I wasn't in the woods, I swear!"

"Jacque! Don't start off with a lie. Look, we know where you've been. Don't even try to lie to me. Stop now, you are not in trouble. Byl and I just need to ask you some questions."

"Questions about what?" Jacque fought back some tears.

"We need to know how you and Gyl are able to get into the woods? Apparently you two are experts."

*

"We are Dad! We really are! You would love it. It's so green and pretty and you can hardly hear the town at all." she gushed.

"Settle down. Now tell me and Byl."

"Well, we spent all winter scouting out the spots. We know where all the Cams are blind. Gyl even made a map!"

"Can you show us the spots?"

"Of course, Dad! It's easy."

Byl laughed and her father looked at him and started laughing as well. Jacque laughed even though she wasn't quite sure what was so funny.

"That's my girl!" he hugged her and kissed her hard on her head. "Now, I'm very proud of how smart you are. I really am. But you can't go back out there. Now, listen! Those Bugs are very real and they're dangerous."

"But Dad! I talked to one today!"

"What!?" her father and Byl balked.

"Gyl and I, we've seen it before. I saw it play with a mouse and today I took it a cat to look at! Gyl's real sore about the cat, it was his, but the Bug played with the cat and said Cat on my Cuff! and when I said goodbye to it, it said Goodbye to me, Dad, right on my Cuff!"

"Are you saying that you've been around the Bug and nothing happened?" asked Byl.

"Loads happened! You should've seen it catch the cat! It was way faster than Boots! It zipped this way and that over the rocks, like, Whoosh! Whoosh!"

Byl motioned her father over to the other side of the kitchen. They mumbled under their breath and Jacque couldn't hear them. Her father got real mad for a moment and she thought they were angry with one another. It's funny how adults always get angry with each other under their breath. After a long discussion, Jacque was very bored. She was about to get up and leave the table when they came back to her.

"Jacque, tomorrow you don't have to go to school. I want you to take me to the Bug," her father said very seriously.

"But Dad, it doesn't know you. What if it doesn't like you."

"Well, I'll hide. I want you to play with the Bug again, baby. But I sure don't trust it," he glanced harshly at Byl. " And if you are going to play with it I want to be nearby in case. Do you understand?"

"Ok Dad, but you'll see. They're not so bad. I think they're kind of fun!"

"We'll see. You'll show me tomorrow. Now, show Uncle Byl here on this map where your secret paths are."


The next day Jacque was giddy with excitement. She was going to play with the Bug and this time she didn't have to hide it. It was a gray day and that upset her a little. She really wanted her father to see the woods in the sunlight. After breakfast she and her father walked out the front door and toward her usual entrance to the woods on the outskirts of town. She was worried about the Guards. Lately they had been watching this path, but as they approached the area there was a lot of noise coming from the other side of town. Company Guard were running up all the streets and when they arrived at the stream, luckily enough, they were the only ones there.

She showed her father how to slide down the bank and follow the stream all the way to the trees. He followed her, but he seemed distracted. At every bird chirp and twig snap his head would spin around like one of her whirly bird toys. Once in the woods they began to make their way up the hill.

"Where is the Bug usually, baby?" her father asked. She pointed up to the rocky section of the hill where the lone pines and shale seemed to be frozen in a downward tumble. He pulled a pistol out of the back of his pants.

"Dad! You not going to hurt the Bug are you?"

"Only if he tries to hurt you, baby. It's just for protection."

As they neared the tree line, she pointed up. There it was, humming in its bee-like pattern. This time it appeared to be very interested in the trees across the hill. Her father's eyes were big. He squinted to get a better look, then glanced to where the Bug was looking and back again.

"Ok baby listen. I want you to go talk to the Bug, but you have to walk all the way over there to the right in the pines and come out to talk to it from over there."

"But Dad. The rocks aren't good over there."

"Baby! Listen to me. Go that way. I'll be watching. I won't let anything happen to you. Ok?"

"Ok Dad," she said and she scurried off in the direction of the pines.

Her father crouched between some large stones in a place where he had a good view of the Bug and put the machine in his guns sites. Sweat trickled in his eyes and he brushed it away. He thought it was sweat. It better not be rain. They would all be prepared, of course. Every man knew to carry his rain gear. He had his own and Jacque's with him now, but it would really muck up the works if it started raining.

He saw his daughter slowly coming out of the pines to the far right of the Bug. Her little voice bounced off the stone down to where he was.

"Hello again Mr. Bug."

He held his breath as the Bug spun around and slowly glided toward her. He kept it in his sights. His finger held tight on the trigger. She appeared to be talking but he couldn't make out anything she was saying, but the Bug crept ever closer to her. Quickly he glanced to the left. Where was Byl and the boys, damn it!? This was their chance. He looked back. Jacque was running down an outcropping of rocks, the Bug was directly behind her moving fast, she squealed, his breath quickened, it had her! He fired. The report of the pistol was deafening and echoed through the valley. Briefly he saw the Bug crash into some stone. He hit it! But, where was Jacque? Where was his daughter? He stood up to look. His knees were shaking. The ground shaking as well. He noticed stones rolling. It was a slide! The entire hillside seemed to be moving and taking him with it. He fell back and slid on top of the rocks until they crashed into a felled tree trunk near the tree line. A terrible pain ran up his leg into his back. His foot was pinned by stone. When he reached down the pain almost made him black out. It began raining. Clenching his teeth he managed to pull his rain gear out and stretch it over his head and arms. He still couldn't see Jacque, but he did see the Bug. It rose up from behind some boulders. It was damaged but still able to fly. He watched in terror as it moved down the hill. He then saw Jacque cowering under a tree. He tried to yell her name but the pain was too much. The hill started spinning.

"Don't worry, man. We gotcha! We gotcha!" somebody said. They were removing the stones from on top of his leg. It was Byl!

"Byl! Byl, get Jacque ... save her ... the Bug," he croaked. He was falling down a hole. The last thing he saw was Jacque, walking down the rainy hill at a distance, underneath the Bug.

*

When he awoke, he saw Jacque looking down at him smiling.

"Jacque! You're Ok! I'm so sorry. So sorry," he said. The white around her began to find focus. He found he was in a medical clinic. Byl was behind her. "Byl, what happened?"

"You're fine, first off," Byl responded. "I saw you were in trouble and broke away from the boys. I think they made it! I saw them on the crest of the hill. The distraction worked! By the time I made it to you I believe they were…out. Anyway, that's when I saw the damnedest thing I ever could've imagined! Your daughter there, walking down the hill using the Bug as a damned umbrella! Never would've believed it unless I were there. It was hovering over her, keeping her out of the rain. I pulled you from the stone and hid until they got far enough away from us. You're daughter is something else! She was even smart enough not only to train the thing like a dog, but she knew not to bring it to us!" Byl laughed.

"My daughter," he reached up and stroked her cheek. "The Bug tamer. How are you ok?"

"I told you Dad. They're not bad. They're protecting us. Who I feel bad for are the boys. Who knows what's out there, and what's gonna happen to them without the Bugs looking out."



 

 
 
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5. In the Pines

by Albatross, May 2015

 
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Mrs. Johnson loved her yard but nothing in it as much as the tall pines that lined the old farm road. Great savage pines that reached twice as high as her house, they towered dark over the needle bed that replaced any grass long ago.

“Mr. Johnson and I planted those trees when we first moved here sixty years ago,” she told me when I stopped by to cut her lawn. My mother had set me up with my first job, doing lawn work for the Johnsons, who were both in their nineties. Throughout my teenage years, week by week, I showed up reluctantly to toil in the sun. I learned to weed her garden, to use compost, to plant and cultivate grape vines, and to trim the pines. I was there when Mr. Johnson died and left her alone in her yard under the shade of those pines.

After that we talked quite a bit. She was in Chicago during the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. She remembered Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. When she heard of the end of the First World War, she ran to a church near her childhood home and swung on the church bell rope all day until her hands blistered. She wept talking of her husband.

I sat on her threadbare couch and listened, watched her weathered hands illustrate while she remembered. Family members showed up and told her to move to assisted living. They would pay for a nice place where she would be looked after.

She looked at me sitting in the background of the room and asked, “If I buy a computer can you show me how to use the internet?”

It was then that she bought her first computer. She was so excited that she chuckled every time I clicked on a icon or scrolled through an article.

“I’ve lived nearly a century and I finally have the world at my fingertips,” she smiled.

At ninety-six years of age she left to go to France and finally see Europe and I lost my job.

I knew that she had only left for a few months but I never went back. The next summer I saw another boy cutting her grass as I drove past in the passenger seat of my mother’s car.

“You should stop in to see how Mrs. Johnson is doing,” my mother would say every time we drove by.

“I know, Ma. I will,” responded the teenager with all the time in the world.

One day we drove by her house and those great savage pines were cut down. The ground white with mounds of sawdust that blew in gusts over the farm road and swirled as our car whooshed by.

“You should stop in to see how Mrs. Johnson is doing,” my mother habitually said.

I just stared at the enormous empty space in the front yard.

“I know.”

 
 
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4. Vis Viva

by Bluebird, April 2015

 
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I believe in ghosts. It makes sense to me – the conservation of energy, electricity of the brain, ashes to ashes. It seems reasonable that sites of great trauma would have more residual humanness. In a tree-falling-in-the-woods sense I think it takes a living person to see a ghost, but I still consider them real.

I was driving up A1A, the beachside highway in Florida, one night when I was a teenager. A friend and I had taken out my mom's champagne-colored Jaguar XJS, we had the top down, our hair blowing in the warm ocean breeze, laughing and singing Ashanti, just enjoying a beautiful starry evening. The road was empty, but I glanced in the rearview and saw a dark figure in the center of the pseudo-backseat that convertibles sometimes have. I looked back and there was nothing, back at the mirror and there was nothing. I didn't say anything because my friend was the skittish type; I knew if I got her scared she'd get me scared, and we'd never sleep, and it was getting late. So I drove home, a little more quiet and cautious. We're soon getting ready for bed, washing up and winding down, and she turns to me and says, "you know, this is so weird and I'm embarrassed to even mention it, but I have been feeling this ... presence ... all night."

Assuming the general consensus is true, and ghosts are electric, it's very easy to detect them. That is to say, it's easy to detect ambient electricity levels – whether or not that electricity corresponds to a ghost is another question. An EMF detector can be made at home by wiring an antenna up as an analog input. Here's a simple Arduino circuit using a stripped piece of wire as the antenna, and an LED as the output.

 

int EMFpin = A1;
int EMFval, LEDval;

void setup(){
   pinMode(LEDpin, OUTPUT);
   pinMode(EMFpin, INPUT);
   Serial.begin(9600);
}

void loop(){
   readEMF();
   writeLED();
}

void readEMF(){
   EMFval = analogRead(EMFpin);
   Serial.print("EMFval = ");
   Serial.print(EMFval);
}

void writeLED(){
   LEDval = map(EMFval, 0, 1024, 0, 255);
   analogWrite(LEDpin, LEDval);
   Serial.print(", LEDval = ");
   Serial.println(LEDval);
}

 
 
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3. The Rabbit of Chang’e

by Albatross, March 2015

 
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Captain Connor marched up and down the docks monitoring the loading of his ship, The Chang’e, when one of his crewmen approached him laughing. His name was Rocko, or at least that’s what everyone called him. Grimy teeth grinned in that dark head and with his muscular strides he was in front of the Captain quickly.

“Cap’n, what’s all dis I hear bout some big bunny on board?” he chortled, his voice deep and bellowing.

“Aye Rocko, it’s apparently a highly esteemed bunny from what I hear. It’s been visiting the Viceroys an all. It is our honored charge to bring him home.” The Captain answered, Irishly.

“So we can not eat him den?”

“No Rocko, you can’t eat him.” Then turning to the rest of the crew lounging on the dock he shouted out, “Do you hear that you lot!? No eating the rabbit! That’s the last thing I need.”

“Why all dem importants want to see a bunny?”

“Damned if I know, Rocko. But what I do know is they’re willing to pay his weight in gold, and that’s all that all of us need to know,” the Captain replied, giving Rocko a friendly slap on his shining cheek.

“Alright, up yous get! They’re just finishing up. Get your gear and let’s prepare the ship. Jeffreys! Give me a bell from the engine room when all’s set. UP UP! Ya bunch o’vagabonds! Ole Luna she’s a’waiting on us!” hollered the Captain.

The crew scattered throughout the ship as the last of the cargo was loaded. A clacking and scuffling rattled the walls as gear was chucked into familiar nooks and spaces. Constant thuds of the deckhands moving equipment reverberated. Whistles called uniforms to places. The hum of the starting ship hummed.

The Chang’e left the dock prepared for her forty-fifth return trip of the ending season. She floated under the control of Captain Connor just pass the Outer-ring. A glimmer off the Indian Ocean was blocked momentarily as the colossal Orbital Station 3 passed between The Chang’e and the Earth. Jeffreys watched the Station swing away rapidly on its orbit toward the ever brighter horizon through his porthole.

“Captain, 15 minutes to Sunrise. Ship’s holding steady.” Jeffreys belled the Captain.

“Right, Mr Jefferys, set the Headsail. Rotate her Earth aft,” came the Captain’s disembodied voice.

“Aye.”

Rocko chuckled nearby.

“It wasn’t funny the first forty-four times, Mate!” Jefferys cut him off with his mouth open. Rocko still chuckled. “Go check on the crew would’ja? Don’t sit there like a hyena.”

“All twelve of dem?”

“Aye, you know the drill. C’mon Mate. Check all of them this time,” said Jefferys as the the sunlight, just about to come leaping from behind the earth, slid across the walls like little moons. The ship shuddered with expectation. Jeffreys watched as the tip of the first sail turned a brilliant gold.

“Captain, Apollo’s gusting.”

“Grande, Mr Jefferys. Raise the Mainsail.” The course had been the same all season. “Set sail for the Sea of Clouds. Mare Nubium, once again. And Mr Jefferys, please come see me in my quarters once we’re underway.”

Back to the Moon.

As usual at three hours into their journey the Captain was in his quarters smoking his pipe. The thick pink smoke twisted around his head, and with his free hand he spun a Lunar globe that rested on his desk. Though most of the ship maintained the typical metallic look, the Captain’s quarters were wooden and soft. Through his window the Earth looked slightly smaller.

Jefferys entered the room upon a knock.

“Captain, we’ve got considerable speed today.”

“Thank you, James. Have a seat.” The Captain stared the Earth hanging like a piece of fruit in the blackness. “How’s your wife?”

“She’s fine, sir.”

“Doesn’t she give you hell for being away so much?” he asked.

“Aw well, sure enough when it’s time to go, sir. But she understands.”

“Mine did. She sure did,” said the Captain still staring out the window. “I hate it up here.”

Jefferys sat quietly.

“Well, she’ll be sorry,” the Captain swiveled around in his chair. “With the cargo we’ve shipped this season and the rabbit as icing on the cake, I do believe we have done quite well for ourselves this go around. Eh, James?”

“Aye, sir.”

“We’ll be up to our tits in the finest things.”

“Aye, sir. Um, Captain. If you don’t mind my asking, sir. What is the deal with the rabbit anyway?”

“Well, it’s very important and very expensive. Truth be told I know nought about it myself. Just keep an eye on it for me. What I do know is the rabble on this ship. Don’t let anyone mess with it. It’s worth a fortune.”

“Aye, Captain. Will that be all, sir?”

A sound like a coin being thrown at the wall rang suddenly. Jefferys and the Captain looked at each other, their eyes got wide. A loud pang followed another and the clatter of more coins.

“Aw damn! Debris! Always in this shitting sector!” yelled the Captain. Jeffreys ran from the room as an alarm screamed. “Engine room! Status report!”

After everything had settled and the damage was assessed, Jefferys glumly returned to the Captain’s Quarters with Rocko.

“Captain, it was a debris hit, as you know. Apparently there are major tears in the sails. Also punctures to the hull, but we have sealed those. No problem there. However, it severely knocked us off course. At the moment, we’re set adrift and every second that passes without functional sails increases our distance to the Moon.”

“Are the sails able to be fixed?” asked the Captain.

“Aye, sir. We have the sisters on it. They can fix anything. Right geniuses the pair. Problem is, Captain, we don’t know exactly how long it’s going to take. It’s a significant tear and we could be off course for days I’m afraid.”

The Captain sighed and looked back out the window where the Earth, now even smaller, was rapidly moving in circles.

“Thank you Mr Jefferys. Rocko, begin rationing our supplies. We’ve got a few days worth. We’ve got to make it last.”

“Aye, sir!” replied both.

Days later the crew moaned in the Messdeck. Any decent food had long since been exhausted and as the hunger increased so did the tension. Fights broke out frequently. To worsen matters the sails were even more damaged than was previously thought. They would be adrift off course for much longer. Rocko did his best to joke and lighten to mood of the crew, but their rumbling bellies were a constant reminder not only of the lack of rations, but of what was in the hold.

The Captain had put both Jefferys and Rocko in charge of the rabbit. He had it moved to its own private quarters under guard.

“Don’t I have enough to do without shoveling the shit of the Captain’s new pet,” was what Jefferys had to say about it later. Most of the duty time fell to Rocko. He would stop by to quickly feed the white rabbit, but after a time he began to stay longer and watch, chuckling at the way she nibbled. Eventually, he began to let her from her luxurious pen, and pet her. He named her Luna and once or twice he lost track of the time while playing with the fuzzy creature, and would get castigated for showing up late for his duties. He asked Jefferys to fill in for him quite frequently, a chore he gladly gave up, and soon Rocko was the sole companion of Luna. Sometimes he caught himself staring at the rabbit for long periods of time and when he realized it, he saw the rabbit staring right back. She liked him, he thought, and that made him happy. On these long days it was nice to have something to care for.

After a considerable time the sisters, who had been working nonstop, completed mending the sails. They were back on their way to the Moon, but it was still days off due to their detour. The crew grumbled in the Mess as the last of the rations were distributed. A particularly hungry and surly crew member slammed his mostly empty tray down on the table with a bang.

“I’m sick of this shit! Let’s eat that god-damned rabbit! The thing’s the size of a dog!”

A significant portion of the crew rang out in agreement. Rocko jumped up.

“Dat bunny is wert more dan your stinking lives! An da Captain said to leave it be!”

“Rocko, ain’t you hungry! Whatever money the Captain gets for that stupid thing won’t be coming to us! Where is it, Rocko?” cried a crew member.

“You’re not getting dat bunny! Leave it!” Rocko yelled, and slammed his fist down on the table. Shoving started and someone toppled over a table. Rocko rammed his fist into the shouters chin. A cacophony echoed though the ship.

“CAPTAIN ON DECK!”

Captain Connor walked through the middle of the brawlers. Everything had ceased and the disgruntled followed him with furrowed brows.

“I know you’re all hungry! But the rabbit is to be LEFT ALONE! I’ve made promises. Money is at stake. You have no idea of what is waiting for us upon arrival. It will be worth it. So, man up! Tighten your belts! People have lasted longer on less. We are on our way. Don’t fuck it up now! Or so help me! I’ll set you adrift!” the Captain hollered.


The next evening, Rocko was watching the rabbit. He was talking to her as had become his habit. The rabbit appeared to enjoy it.

“Now, I know you’re hungry Luna. But don’ you worry your fuzzy white head. We will eat like we rule da Moon when we get der.” The rabbit’s ears perked up. “You like dat eh? Loads of carrots an cabbage…” he was interrupted as Jefferys came into the room.

“What’chu doin in here, Jefferys?” asked Rocko.

“I’ve come to watch the rabbit, of course,” replied Jefferys.

“An you haven’t come for dat in ages. Why now? Eh?” he eyed Jefferys up.

“Look, the Captain ordered it. You heard him. Now leave. It’s my shift.”

“No,” Rocko said deeply and stepped between the rabbit and Jefferys.

“Rocko, Rocko, nothing’s gonna happen to it.”

Rocko said nothing. His gaze looked beyond the door that was slightly open and there he saw the ravenous faces of the crew.

“So what, you gonna make a bunny stew. Is dat it, Jefferys? Well, let’s see if you can get tru me?”

Rocko deftly lunged to Jefferys side and tossed him into the wall. From the door burst the vanguard of the crew. Rocko swung his fists catching a few in the neck and face before they were on him. Jeffreys got up from his slumped spot and pulled a knife from his belt. A flash of blade and blood pooled on the floor. Rocko lay in a heap still between them and the now helpless rabbit.

“Shit! Jefferys, you didn’t have to kill him.”

“Fucked if I didn’t! Well boys! Time to eat!”

A shot deafened them all. The Captain stood in the doorway, his pistol leveled. Jeffreys collapsed on the floor next to Rocko.

“Everyone back away from Rocko and the rabbit! NOW!” he ushered them out the door. “Now, we’re gonna stay on course! If you lot so much as breathe on this door you’ll have a hole in your belly and it won’t be from hunger! If you get us to Mare Nubium alive then maybe I won’t have the lot of you arrested for mutiny! Get back to your duties, shut that door, and fuck off!”

The door slammed shut and the Captain and the rabbit were alone.

“Thank you, Captain” came a small voice from behind him. He whipped around aiming the pistol at nobody. With trepidation he lowered himself down and nudged both Rocko and Jefferys on the floor. They were certainly dead. Then he looked at the rabbit. The rabbit looked back.

“I’m going mental up here! Shit, I hate it!” he said to himself.

“I assure you, Captain. You are fine,” said the rabbit. Captain Connor fell back into the wall. “What manner of lunacy … how can you?” the Captain stuttered.

“I apologize for not making you privy to my abilities as I know it is very strange to you indeed. But, we are in a vitriolic situation and I feel I may be able to help.”

The Captain shook his head, pulled at his hair, stomped about the room, “This is lunacy! Lunacy! Talking rabbits now is it!? And how are you going to help me Bugs? For fucks sake!”

“Please my dear man. At this very moment your crew is outside that door debating whether or not to kill you and me and take the ship.”

“How can you be talking to me?” the Captain whined.

“It is a long story, which I will be willing to tell you, but first you must listen to how we are going to get ourselves out of this situation.”


Outside of the room the crew roiled. Some yelled, others beat the walls. A turbulence was frothing and would quickly become frantic.

“You heard him! We’re all to be arrested!”

“Take the ship, I say. We could take her to Ganymede.”

“We’ve no supplies, ya pillock! We’ll barely make the Moon.”

“We can’t let him simply put us in. No without a fight!”

“Kill ‘em both and eat em!”

“You fuckin charva! You would wouldn’t ya!”

They tousled about like rough waters until suddenly the door opened. They all crowded over each other to look inside. There the rabbit sat, large, white and fluffy, and spoke: “If all of you would remain calm I believe we can come to some sort of arrangement.”

Everything went quiet as their eyes popped from their heads. Some looked incredulously to each other for proof of a prank. Then, an eruption. In their anger they all simultaneously made for the door and wedged one another. This gave the Captain enough time to fire his pistol in the air. The shock of the ear piercing report and the ricochet that followed silenced the group.

“All of you, shut the hell up!” the Captain yelled. “This is no ordinary rabbit! You must listen and you will know why we must get her to the Moon.”

The rabbit tried again: “I know that all of you are tired and hungry. That you have had not a scrap for days. If you decided to cook me up then I am sure that your growling bellies would be silenced briefly, but imagine for a moment please, never being hungry again. Never being thirsty again. These things could be for you mere trifles. You would eat simply for the taste or satisfaction but not for sustenance. You would drink not for thirst but for enjoyment, intoxication, what you will. What I can offer you for my safe passage to the Moon is something that few humans have ever had the opportunity to gain. It is beyond riches. It is the stuff of legend, but I assure you it is very real.”

“What is it talking about?” yelled the crew.

“I am speaking, my poor famished sirs, of immortality. I look to you a rabbit, and I am, but I am also thousands of years old. My story was told by numerous peoples in fables. Long ago I learned from visitors the art of shaping immortality in the form of a drug and I have been doing so for these visitors for thousands of years thence. If you assure my safe arrival at the Sea of Clouds then this I promise you — that each of you shall receive immortality in a capsule, the chance to live forever.”

The crew stood agape, fixated by the rabbit. Captain Connor stepped into the doorway.

“So now you know. As I said, every man and woman to their posts! Let’s get this ship to port and gain what all have wanted since the beginning of time. The greatest treasure ever attained! Go! You Dogs! Make way! We will cheat death in a day!” He slammed the door shut on their stunned faces.

The Captain stayed in the small room with the rabbit until they reached port at the Sea of Clouds. They discussed the rabbit’s past. Astounded, he listened to her rhapsodically recall the past as she glowed white in her comfy cage.

After a few days the crew gave up thoughts of eating the rabbit. The Captain said as much to the rabbit, “I believe we are out of danger. Only a short while until we arrive and you are safe.” The rabbit began to recite:

“I many times thought peace had come,
When peace was far away;
As wrecked men deem they sight the land
At the centre of the sea,
And struggle slacker, but to prove,
As hopelessly as I,
How many the fictitious shores
Before the harbor lie.”

“That is lovely, rabbit,” said the Captain.

“It is one of your own,” said the rabbit in reply. “A poet from long ago. She knew how to attain the best immortality. Her pestle and mortar were truth and beauty.”

As the ship moved into port at Mare Nubium, the bedraggled crew anxiously awaited their prize. The Chang’e slipped into dock silently. A uniformed man stepped quickly through the ship and her stink to the room housing the Jade Rabbit. With white gloves he ceremoniously bent down and picked her up, and they whispered back and forth.

The uniformed man stood before the Captain who slouched in his seat with his head in his hands. “Captain, the Jade Rabbit has informed me what you are owed. If you would come with me you will be sorted. Also, where is the crewman named Rocko? I was informed that he is deceased. Could you show me to his body, please?”

Captain Connor grudgingly rose and followed the uniformed man. He looked back at the rabbit.

“Remember, one must pay dearly for immortality,” she said.

The Jade Rabbit was carried off The Chang’e and placed on a table overflowing with her favorite vegetables. Later, as she munched on her preferred sprouts Rocko walked into the room, followed by the uniformed man.

“As ordered, my Lady, the crew were given the pills. We then sent them adrift toward the Empty Regions. Nobody will find them there,” said the uniformed man.

The rabbit squeaked in approval.

“I don’ remember a ting, Luna,” said Rocko to the rabbit. “What happened?”

“My dear Rocko, you sacrificed yourself for me. A true act of love and compassion. I will teach you to pound the elixir of life. Together we will laugh and live and watch it all again…someday.”

 
 
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2. In the Pines

by Bluebird, February 2015

 
Kelso  by Louis Capwell, 2012

Kelso by Louis Capwell, 2012

 

In the summer of 1996 I moved from Philadelphia to Chicago on a solitary, 24 hour ride on Amtrak's Cardinal line. I was 13 years old, about to start high school. On an otherwise empty car I met a friend I have to this day, Lou Capwell. We listened to Belle & Sebastien, which I still do, though not on a Discman. I read a book of Bukowski poems, which I haven't really done since. (I'm more soft than hard, though I try to stay balanced.) Ten years later I was living in Oakland and the Coast Starlight ran past my building. The horns would startle me from sleep, but I do miss the sound of the wheels on the tracks.

I've always loved trains and in particular, folk songs about trains. There are so many of them, there's a even dedicated page on Wikipedia. The most relevant to our studies is of course the tale of John Henry, a man who fought and died against a steam drill that had no capacity to understand the stakes. Still, the trains pay their respect: "Every locomotive comin' a-rolling by / Hollered, there lies a steel-drivin' man, man, man."

 

In the Pines  by Carrie Schneider, 2006

In the Pines by Carrie Schneider, 2006

My favorite train song doesn't have a train in every version, and isn't always called "In the Pines." I first heard it a few years before my Cardinal ride, as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" on Nirvana's Unplugged album. It was almost twenty more years before I heard Lead Belly's version, and only then did I notice the title of the Carrie Schneider photograph at my parents' house. I found every recording of the song I could, and spliced together my own version. I'm singing it here along GarageBand's automatic Bluebird drum kit, and some of Lou’s train footage from Macungie, PA.

 
 
 
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  1. Flight Time

by Albatross, January 2015

 
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Off a pillow in morning dark

my companion chirps and sing-songs me from dreams with a timely tune

and remembered night click at an a.m. arrived decision

could I have been wrong?

my sleep addled head drunkenly calculates and misappropriates

some skulking time hidden between my bedsheets

No, my friend, we are both incorrect and sleep the tap beneath waking is the bit tapped

Back to my pillow

Hello!

Good morning again my friend

My companion, who I grasp and agitatedly, with blurry eyes

seeking searchingly for lost time, once again greets me

OK!

and slide to the bedside with a deft piece of practiced clumsiness

My companion remains in his nightly dock

whilst morning ablutions drag me robotic

through splashing water, creams and raking threshers that scrape face grains

buzzing blades, humming bristles, cellular murder scenes that scream, I am clean!

Clean!

I am an un-animal preened

Then, uniformed and blend-ready I hop into the saddle of my wheels

Cobalt blue steely speed that once inside I set my companion in his co-pilot place

sink in the pitchfork of usb, and say,

my friend play me something warm under this cold starry sky

and reaching through space, he in concomitance with the entire,

the whole in completeness sounds out boots of Spanish leather

and I think the times they are a-changin'

Three of us in concord ricocheting the streets with swiftness

the turning sphere tuning tones of magma over us

Stay right at the ramp, my companion warns, the airport is but a song away

Goodbye now my trusty speed I must gallop to something faster

and long striding, hauling house in tow through long autonomous walkways

as quickly as you can, my companion says, slow down my friend

We rule the world albeit nature still tells us when we can move

Flight is yet a privilege

Sat in wait my companion tells me stories of friends and fiction

He sings songs only for me in voices few used to hear

Around electronic campfires we wait for battle

and he teaches me to speak Spanish and German

He sends out his carrier pigeons with messages of love to those we love

We are sound in our – what's the word my friend? Travails

Thank you!

He weaves the wrack for me for me

Boarding flight 5723

Up and on we climb aboard the beautiful bombardier

She's rough and tumble, a tiny growler surfing shining cloud wake

The props hum hard and at times certain sung tones will shake her body like shivers

or goosebumps on dips and drops

Spread in her blue dress over fluffy pianos at eighteen thousand feet

she serenades me to sleep

Drowsily after her foot stomp we spill into anthill number two

and the throng carries me along to our next site

Drop down delayed and once again, my companion, he reads me Hemingway

'Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction

and he learned to think and could not fly any more

because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been

effortless.'

My companion is dimming, his energy is fading

Indeed it has been a long day I say to him as his lids close and face darkens

He drains, is drained, and I unawares

I search for some means to keep him sustained

Don't go, I plead, at least tell me of our damaged wings

A last mistap misleads my friend and quotable quotes an app his last gasp,

'Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.'

–Pablo Picasso

Making my way to a stranger screen it boldly announces:

CANCELLED

And I wander the Terminal unanswered alone

 
 
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