#NYR2019 : Welcome To The New Arctic

When this snow storm started, I could look outside. It was a whiteout. The worst I’d ever seen.

Thing is, it’s never stopped. On the second day I got trapped inside. I opened the front door, and saw a wall of snow. I tried to push through it, but it was useless. It was seven or more feet deep, everywhere. And it was still snowing. The windows showed nothing but snow, packed in around the house, on all sides.

At that point, at least the electricity still worked. I had heat. “Man, this is one hell of a snow storm. I’m gonna have lots of stories to tell people on the networks. Those down in Australia, where it’s like bathing in lava right now, are going to never believe this.”

One of the first things I lost was time. There is no sun. No daylight. I don’t know how many days I’ve been here. I don’t know how long I sleep, how long I’m awake. I remember the news, “The snow storm continues. It’s now the worst in recorded history, by far.” They estimated forty feet, and it was still snowing.

I knew things were bad when I saw icicles hanging from the Living Room window. I’d never seen icicles inside a house before. Now, half the living room is packed with ice, where the windows and wall couldn’t keep it out.

At least I can get some light, and I’ve been able to write in this journal. People used to think I was silly, because I had six packs of batteries, forty batteries to a pack. At least I get a tiny bit of light. I’m betting most people don’t. I wonder too, how many people have already frozen. “Must be a lot. But they won’t stink. Be like frozen food. They won’t rot.”

Back when this started, I went to the attic, to see if I could see anything. The attic fan on the roof? It was packed with snow. The snow was deeper than my house was tall. “That can’t be a good thing.”

The news went out with the power. I can run my phone, but it’s useless. No one to call. No internet. No TV. No radio. Nothing.

Then there was the science show, out of Canada in those first couple days, when we still had power. They said it was the end of the world we all knew. Had some scientist no one ever heard of on the program, talking about how the north pole was shifting, right before our eyes. All because we’d weakened the air currents by warming the air with carbon from oil, and coal.

They had a map with the north pole over the Ontario and Manitoba province line. About sixty miles from the US and Canada border. “This is not magnetic north, or geological north. But, it’s where the climate patterns are shifting.”

I have no idea if it’s still snowing or not. I don’t think anyone knows. If it is, I figure it’s a good hundred feet deep now. Probably deeper. The last time I checked the front door, the snow outside had turned to solid ice. Yeah. There’s a sheet of ice outside my house that’s at least 7 feet thick. At least.

I’m not going to make it. I know that. I’m living on melted ice I chip from the door each day, stale hot dog buns, and jelly beans. I already ate everything else. The attic beams are visibly sagging. I figure, sooner or later, my house is going to get mushed by the weight of it all. And I wonder, will I be alive to experience that, or will I have frozen into a human Popsicle by then. Or will I starve to death when I run out of food. I’m betting on the last one. It’s not like Amazon and Walmart deliver in this kind of weather, you know.

And I wish I could tell all my Christian friends what hell really is. It’s not fire, and smoke, and brimstone, and pitchforks. That would be nice, really. Hell is when you freeze your ya-ya off forever, and wish you could die, and get it over with.

I sure hope it’s warm in the after life. ‘Cause I’m friggin’ tired of the cold.

718 Words
@mysoulstears

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Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/01/27

It was a strange planet, unique in my experience as an observer. I couldn’t help but wonder what evolutionary path its life forms had followed to cause it to become what it was. There was no diversity, at least not in the way diversity is normally defined. There were no separate species, no separate life forms.

Yes, there were creatures that lived under the oceans. Creatures that flew in the skies. Creatures that lived on the ground, and in the ground. What was unique was they were all derivatives of the same species.

At first, we didn’t know what we were observing. I remember the first images from the drones, flying over barren ground. There were two of them in one image. Sticking out of the ground, buried from the waist down, watching the drones. We circled them, they kept watching. We moved one drone closer, they ducked back into the ground. Like worms, or voles, as if in the ground was their home.

At first, the avian forms avoided us. We realized they could hear the drones, and they fled, staying out of sight of the cameras. It wasn’t until we set the drones on the tops of forest canopies that we saw the first of the avians.

They were strikingly similar to the creatures we’d seen in the barrens. Bipedal, with two arms, two legs, a torso, and a head. From the size of the head, we knew they possessed large brains. But, where the ones on the barren had been in ground dwellers, these were avians, living in trees, and flying. They had wings.

We found fish too. Again, bipedal, hominid type creatures. We armed the drones, had them take tissue samples of all the creatures. They were all the same. Genetically, they were all variants of one proginater. They all came from one life form.

An entire world, a vast ecosystem, a complete biosphere. And only one dominate life form. A single life form that filled all the ecological niches.

We knew we’d never figure out what was happening on that world without putting bases down. It took decades, of course, but we did get our bases. Then, it took decades of observation. And decades of learning to survive on that world. But we figured out what had happened.

Each of the bipedal beings, we learned, was part of a single life form. A macro life form. One that lived as a symbiant with the planet itself. The planet provided the sustenance the life form needed. The life form helped the planet’s biosphere maintain its balance.

With time, we did archaeological research on the strange world. What we learned was shocking. We learned that world had once been like so many others. Filled with millions of life forms, from all kinds of branches of a genetic tree.

But, we learned too, the surviving life form, when it first appeared on the planet, grew, like a virus. It spread across all the land. Where it spread, it killed everything. What happened next was unique across all the worlds we’ve ever studied.

When they destroyed their biosphere, and were inevitably going to die, they learned to make food from raw materials. They learned to manufacture what they needed. Until that time, they’d been separate life forms, with limited ability to cooperate, and no ability to work for the good of the whole.

Faced with their own destruction, they changed.

It’s the only world we’ve ever found where life started as chemical soup. Then formed single cell organisms. Those organisms evolved into colonies of cells, and those colonies became complex life forms. The deviation was when a single complex life form began to evolve the same way. Into colonies of life forms. And those colonies grew and became complex. The original complex beings became like cells in a complex life form. They became specialized.

When we realized what had happened, we rapidly learned the purposes of each of the different branches of the bipedal life form tree. We’ve identified the digestive system, the reproductive system, the lungs, the circulatory system. It’s one planet sized life form.

It will take centuries for us to figure out how to talk with it, how to understand it.

It is the only such life we have ever found.

715 words
@mysoulstears


It’s week 91 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. The picture this week forced me to begin the years long process of putting a story into words, and bringing a new story to life. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

#ThursThreads Week 348 : I need you to stay quiet and out of sight.

Raymond Scott, the father of Jackie Scott, who used to be Jack Scott, peeked between the curtains out the front window of his home, at the rabid gang on his front yard. “We know it’s in there! Bring it out, and there won’t be any trouble!”

Raymond turned to his wife, Brenda, and their daughter Jackie. “I need you to stay quiet and out of sight. Go hide somewhere.”

Have I ever mentioned how stupid people are? Let me mention that now. See, after I fixed the problem that happened with Michelle, and shot who knew how many people, to correct a violent, ignored act against a human being, these little incidents started to pop out of the woodwork. That old saying, “violence begets violence.” Suddenly, the world was filled with idiots trying to murder anyone they didn’t approve of.

Raymond, I knew, was about to step onto his front porch, and confront the idiots. Unarmed Raymond. Like a big dummy.

It was time to protect Raymond and his family from the idiots. I blocked the door to his house, so he couldn’t open it. Then, I marched into the crowd. An invisible demon from hell that broke bones, bruised bodies, and shattered teeth. One who spoke with a computer generated voice that warned, “Don’t make me come back. Your families won’t like burying you if you make me come back.”

I wondered how many of those idiots I’d have to kill before they figured it out.

248 Words
@mysoulstears


One story leads to another, it would seem Now, the aftermath of trying to fix one problem leads Armor 17 into a war of attrition. It’s Week 348 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

#MenageMonday 2×17 : She’s Not The Devil

“I can’t focus on this.” I clapped my pencil onto the table. “I just can’t focus.”

Jerry looked up from his work. He stared at me with that stare that said he was trying to understand a problem. After a few seconds he chuckled, “You can’t focus ‘cause you’re thinking about her.”

“Yes, I’m thinking about her.” I stood up, stretched, “Gods, if she was the devil she’d have horns, you know.”

“Instead, she has blonde hair, green eyes, and what are, for you, just the right curves.”

I sighed, “Yeah. I start working with the numbers for the rebar, and I end up sidetracked.” I held up my notebook. “See?” The sheet of paper was covered in scribbles, and a few curved lines, and her name.

“Yeah,” he stood up, “Those curves almost match where her neck and shoulder come together.” He headed toward the chalkboard in the lab, “She’s not the devil, and she doesn’t have horns. And she’s not just a dream to you. I can prove it.”

Jerry started scribbling away, “It’s a set of chaotic equations. Change the starting point, and get a totally different answer. But, if we make you the starting point,” he kept scribbling away, all kinds of gibberish to me, “She’s the answer.”

“What?”

“She happens to exist at your weak spot. Your Achilles heel.”

“What?”

“There’s only two or three women that will be at that weak spot.” Jerry grinned. “And they’ll always turn you stupid.”

246 Words
@mysoulstears


It’s week 2×17 of Cara Michaels‘s #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. You can read about #MenageMonday here. Please, go read all the short tales from this week. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/01/20

Having dealt with the problem of Michelle’s murder, and added a stack of names to the list of those I’d killed, it was time for me to rest, and recover. You might wonder where my home would be, or where a safe place would be.

I’m an Armor. We don’t exist. We have no homes.

A few years earlier, I’d found a cave in the mountains. One that wasn’t on any map. An unknown cave. It was away from everything. Away from electricity, roads, stores, towns, gas stations. It was in the mountains, hidden.

I figured someone would eventually find it, and when they did, I’d never set foot near it again. We all do what we must to survive. And for an Armor to sleep, to physically rest, is a dangerous thing. If an armor is ever identified, they are hunted down, and killed, by the Armor Corps. Secrecy is everything for us. Without it, we can’t exist.

It took six days of hiking, but I reached my hidden cave, and pulled aside the covering I’d placed over it’s entrance. Once inside, I pulled the covering back into place, making the cave entrance virtually invisible. Someone would have to fall into it to find it.

The armors night vision painted the interior of my cave in shades of green. I walked the rocks I’d placed inside to make a small trail into the back of the cave. There was nothing inside. No bed. No food. No water. Nothing.

Everything was outside, in the mountains. A stream I could use for water was a mile and a half to the north. The trees, and brush provided all the food I would need.

I pulled off the armor. Something that was always terrifying. Without it, I was vulnerable. I could trip, and fall, and break bones, or slice an arm open, of have a concussion. That would be easy to do in the dark.

Predatory animals, bugs, mice, ticks, everything I never had to worry about inside the armor, was a reality outside the armor. But, the only way to heal me, the only way for me to rest, and let the bruises fade, and watch the rings under my eyes, where I hadn’t slept in days, fade away, was to leave the armor.

I wouldn’t put it on for a week. I’d sleep on the cold stone floor of the cave, just my clothing, and a sleeping bag. I’d search for food, and visit the stream for water, without the armor. That was the medical requirement. Leave the armor, and let my body feel the air, the hot, the cold, the wind, the weather. Let my body breathe.

It was something we all did. We all had to. The first armors hadn’t, and they’d all died. They’d made mistakes, and got themselves killed, or identified. They’d learned we were all human, not supermen. And humans need sleep. Armor 5 had gone on a killing spree, when he’d lost his mind, and become trapped in some nightmare none of us understood. We’d had to stop him.

Armor 9 was the first to leave the armor, and rest. And it worked. He’s still there. Working. Doing what we do. He hasn’t found his end yet. If he’d stayed in the armor, he’d have died years ago.

All the simple things, all the senses, got locked away in the armor. And we’d learned it drives us insane. Slowly. Steadily. Relentlessly. We’d learned, a human being has to use their senses. Touch, vision, smell, taste. In the armor, you didn’t feel the rain. And funny as it sounds, you have to feel the rain.

So, I’d found a cave. In the middle of nowhere. And I lived there for a week at a time, every few months, as I remembered what it felt like to feel the air flow between my fingers, or the sunlight shine on my face. As I remembered why I became an Armor. Why I became Armor 17.

It was so easy to forget. I fought, we all fought, against the tides of darkness and violence, so others, normal people, people we wished we could be, could live, could feel the sun, and the wind, and the rain, and the heat of the summer, and cold of the winter. And the touch of another.

We couldn’t forget that. We could never forget that.

It’s why my hands shake, I know. Why they’re always moving. Because. They’re always seeking someone. That someone they can touch.

That someone I would never know, and could never touch.

We don’t exist, you know.

We don’t exist.

769 words
@mysoulstears


It’s week 90 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Saw the cave, and knew Armor 17 would show up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/01/13

NOTE: Before reading further, be aware of the following. The content of this story may not be appropriate for everyone, and discusses sexual behavior.


Jacki stayed there, on the wooden floor, aching all over. The only thing she could do, really, was pull her knees up, and maybe raise her head. The team had removed all the rope, and gotten her down, quickly. She appreciated that. They’d get paid too, she knew that. The studio would make sure they got plenty of cash for taking care of her, and helping produce the pictures and the video.

That’s what it was all about, she knew that. Nothing personal. Nothing she wanted to do. It was all about the cash. “Men will buy anything, they can get their rocks off to it.”

After a few minutes, she tried to sit up. One of the crew offered to help, but she declined. “Not ready yet.” She rested on the floor a bit longer, and tried again. The second time, she made it up. Her toes and the bottoms of her feet felt like a million little needles were being stuck into them, but she knew it was only the return of her blood flow to them. Normal circulation, returning to her body.

She looked at her wrists. No broken skin, or visible signs of bruising. They’d done a good job. She checked her legs and ankles. Plenty of tracks where the rope had been, where it’s had held her motionless, and helpless, hanging in the air.

First thing she needed was to reach her dressing room, where she could use mouthwash, brush her teeth, and get a long, hot shower. She wouldn’t look at any pictures or videos until the next day, she was too exhausted to deal with them today.

One of the crew offered her a bath robe. She smiled, nodded, and wrapped herself in it. It was nice of him to hold his distance, and not help her get into it. At that moment she felt she’d had enough contact with men to last her for months. She walked, slowly, and barefoot, through the chaos of the studio to her dressing room.

She started with mouthwash to kill the taste, and then brushed her teeth several times. She used the mouthwash once again, because she liked it’s taste better than the toothpastes, both of which were miles ahead of the slime she’d had to consume on the set. She wondered, “Do men really think we like doing that?”

The hot water in the shower was perfect. Everywhere it touched her, her skin let out an, “Ahhh…” She used soap everywhere, made piles of lather, then rinsed off. Then soaped up two more times before she felt clean. Then, she stood under the water, and let its heat soak into her.

It took time, but she needed to take time. Already she was doing the math. This was going to be her most lucrative production yet. She knew it. The studio knew it. The crew knew it. One that would never show up in a movie theater. Pictures that would never be in a tabletop book. But, that was OK.

She’d make a fortune.

Jackie got dressed, jeans, and an old flannel shirt. Her favorite. The socks felt great as she pulled them on, they came almost to her knees. Then, her favorite pair of sneakers. The ones with the holes on the side, so her toes were cooler in them.

She ran her fingers through her hair, de-tangled it, and brushed it back. Then, pulled on her favorite jacket, the one with the hood that she never seemed to wear. It was dinner time. She was hungry. “A nice sandwich from the sub shop on the way home. That’s what I need. And the biggest damn soda they sell.” She paused, looked in the mirror, and smiled, “And don’t forget the cookies. Those are the best part.”

Jackie left the studio, and went to the sub shop, where she picked up her dinner, and headed home. Along the say, she thought once more about how many men would spend oceans of money to get more pictures and more videos of her being screwed by other men. Men you never got to see the faces of. Because. If you couldn’t see their faces, you could pretend it was you.

It was the best paying job she could ever have had. Another couple of years, and she could retire, and never have to work again.

“I know. I know. Not all men.” Jackie watched the road as she drove, “But it’s more men than anyone admits. And I wonder how many of them are church pastors, or store managers, or that nice man that’s such a gentleman.”

It was OK. Let them be slimes. As long as she got paid, and paid well, she was OK with that.

817 words
@mysoulstears


It’s week 89 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I never know what the picture will cause me to write. I get an idea, and have to let the words happen. This week, these words showed up.

You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

 

The Mono-culture.

A friend of mine said, only a few days ago, “Tbh, I’m getting really tired of how consistently disabled people – 20% of Americans, btw – are overlooked & forgotten in convos around inclusion/diversity/marginalized communities.”

I could be simple, and say, “I know.” And nod my head a lot. And let it go. But, that’s not me. That’s not who I am. Because, to be honest, I know why things are this way. I know why people behave this way. Of course, being autistic, I have fits trying to put what I know into words, and explain it so others can even vaguely understand what I’ve said.

And, like a lot of us autistic people, I don’t take defeat lightly, so I keep trying. And trying. And trying. The results is this little note.

There are several clues I can give others so they may begin to understand what is in my brain cells, and how I see this particular behavior pattern happening. I’ll try to number them, and make a list of them.

1. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Now, don’t take this literally. We all know you can think about things that you can’t physically see. That’s not what this really means, and everybody knows it. This means, if you don’t have to live with it, you don’t think about it. It becomes invisible to you.

Look at the bathrooms in your house. If someone was bound to a wheelchair, would they be able to use the toilet? Or the shower? Or the sink? If you have upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, would they be able to even get to the one(s) upstairs?

Look at your SUV/Truck/Car. Can someone who can’t walk get into, and out of, your vehicle? Can the open the door? Can the climb into the seat? Can they reach the ignition, the steering wheel, the gas and brake pedals?

How about where you work? Can someone with a cane, who can’t always lift their feet very well, and has balance problems, function in your work environment? Can they reach everything at the workstation, the computer, the keyboard, the monitor, the desk lighting? Can they use the desk drawers, if there are any? Can they even use the chair?

“Out of sight, out of mind.” You don’t see it. It’s not something you think about, because it doesn’t exist in your daily life? But, what about that person who needs to use a cane to walk? That person who has to use a walker? The one who is unable to walk? Do they think about it? Yes. Because, for them, it’s something they encounter endlessly. Every hour of every day. Forever. They are faced with being unable to do something everyone else takes for granted.

And none of us notice. Because. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

2. The mono-culture. I once told someone that to me, everyone was the same. Everyone was alike. She had a fit,, and informed me how different everyone was. Because. She was, and probably is, part of the mono-culture. Oh, I know all the arguments. “I have blue hair with black highlights. I’m not like them.” Or perhaps, “I drive a Tesla, instead of a Ford F-350 dualie pickup truck. I’m not like them.” Or even, “I don’t even own a car. I’m not like them.”

I could rattle off thousands of such trivialities. They are details. Decorations on the cake, if you will. A Chevy Camaro is a Chevy Camaro, even if it’s got pitch black trim, and screaming purple paint, and chrome side pipes. It’s still a Camaro.

A cake is still a cake. Devils Food, Chocolate, Butter Cream, Lemon. I don’t care. It’s all cake. A taco is a taco. A burrito is a burrito. Chicken is chicken. So, you eat it raw. It’s still chicken. So, you go out on the farm, grab the chicken, lop off its head, pull off the feathers, and chow down right there. It’s still chicken. Or maybe you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken, and have chicken tenders. It’s still chicken.

That’s the problem with a mono-culture. Those living in it can’t even see it. To them it doesn’t exist. Oh, look. There’s reason #1 again. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

3. Dual Standards. This is exactly what it says it is. And every last person I know has dual standards. Some more than others. But we all have them. I have them. You have them. Your 13 year old child has them.

“The law is the law!” Well. Of course. Except when you’re driving. Because. That 45 mile per hour speed limit is, well. Stupid. Especially on that road.

“The law is the law!” Unless it’s you who got the ticket for driving while intoxicated. In that case, it’s time to get a lawyer, and go to court, and see if you can straighten out the police and the courts.

“The law is the law!” Except when you can’t find a place to park, so you park in the handicapped parking space, and tell yourself, “I’ll only be a minute. And besides. There’s no one here that needs it anyway.”

“The law is the law!” Except in your residential neighborhood, where you can drive however you want, and even hit 40 or 50 on the roads. But may God help any other person you see driving that way in your neighborhood.

There’s that “Out of sight, out of mind” thing again. Everyone is this way. So, it’s OK. We don’t even notice when we do these things. There’s that mono-culture thing again. Everyone else does the same thing, so it’s not wrong.

I could continue this for ages. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll stop at these three simple concepts. Do you wish to understand why 20% of those in the USA are forgotten, and overlooked? Read these three concepts again. Then, look for them in your daily existence.

I’ll be honest. I don’t expect you to notice them. They are woven into our existence. They are like breathing. We don’t notice breathing. We don’t notice these things happening around us, all the time.

It’s how our macro-organism called “US Society” works. Why change it? “It’s not a problem for me.”

Which pretty much sums up everything, doesn’t it.

Mark.