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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 58 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon

Diamond Dog

It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, hoever. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world. 

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained. 

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity. 

It was against the law.  

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone

You're watching yourself but you're too unfair

You got your head all tangled up

But if I could only make you care

Oh no love! You're not alone

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 58 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon
Diamond Dog
It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, hoever. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world. 

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained. 

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity. 

It was against the law.  

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone
You're watching yourself but you're too unfair
You got your head all tangled up
But if I could only make you care
Oh no love! You're not alone
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Chapter 57 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Poetry & Free Verse

The Chilling Afterglow of Apathy

We've let the fire go out and the burning epoch ends here

Our long incend'ry journey from caves succumbed this year.

Prometheus will keep his liver but Man will spill his bile

For the stars have flickered out and hope's gone out of style.

My true love is silent, her voice left with the stars

Our ties together have reversed, because effect now searches for cause.

Our unborn children will live in a world roofed in starless decay

They will never know a horoscope but live uncertain ev'ry day.

Our broken hearts are manifest as we feel so terribly alone

Our hollow souls have already left us, forced as we are to roam.

Our future's certain by now, there's nothing for us there

So there's nothing for us here, nothing left to dare.

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Chapter 57 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Poetry & Free Verse
The Chilling Afterglow of Apathy
We've let the fire go out and the burning epoch ends here
Our long incend'ry journey from caves succumbed this year.
Prometheus will keep his liver but Man will spill his bile
For the stars have flickered out and hope's gone out of style.

My true love is silent, her voice left with the stars
Our ties together have reversed, because effect now searches for cause.
Our unborn children will live in a world roofed in starless decay
They will never know a horoscope but live uncertain ev'ry day.

Our broken hearts are manifest as we feel so terribly alone
Our hollow souls have already left us, forced as we are to roam.
Our future's certain by now, there's nothing for us there
So there's nothing for us here, nothing left to dare.
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CotW #64: Write about the most hilarious thing you have ever witnessed. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 49 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon

Love is Blind--a True Story

My son is blind. Very blind. He has been since birth. How could something like that ever be funny, much less hilarious?

He's a handsome man, but as a child was simply adorable, in a most Tiny Tim-heartbreaking way. When he would be out and about with me or his Mom, he would melt hearts just by his presence, being guided along with his long red-tipped white cane. In the supermarket, the bank, or church, it was the type of presentation that made people wax maudlin and run for their check books to contribute to the Lighthouse for the Blind.

We had regular office visits to his doctor's office, which housed a retinologist, glaucoma specialist, and general ophthalmologist. Because of the nature of the specialty, the waiting room was always filled with elderly patients on their journeys through cataract treatments, retinitis pigmentosa, and high eye pressures.

He was no older than seven, a living pick for heartstrings. We would enter and I would sign him in, but as we walked between rows of chairs of the waiting visually impaired, a wave of terminal empathy followed in our wake, and you could hear a hush of mute melancholy osmose through the room in the saddest of Brownian motions.

At one particular visit, he picked up on this. When I placed his hands on the counter where we were to sign him in, I saw it. A little innocent grin began and from experience I knew there was nothing innocent at all about to happen.

"And just how are you today, young man?" asked the receptionist, her sing-song soprano setting him up beautifully. By then the waiting room had resumed the usual soft din of shuffling feet, frequent coughs, geriatric eructations, and chair movements on the linoleum.

"I'm very sad, Miss," he told her. Another wave of heartbreak rolled in, and he picked up on that, too.

"Oh, bless your little heart, baby, what's the matter? How can we help?"Her soprano now morphed into a tenor of deep concern.

"Tell the doctor..." he began, making his voice break, "that the operation didn't work. I'm still blind." And then his alligator tears sealed the deal.

There began a sobbing to which only the women at Calvary could have aspired. His words straight out of a soap opera script, he had given a daytime Emmy performance. I was mortified. His hijinks had reached a new high. I couldn't face the room of mourners. I would see them, not him.

"C'mon," I told him sternly, "let's sit down." The disciplinary tone of my voice earned me significant stinkeye from those who could see whom we passed. At this point, he began swinging his cane around wildly--just more shenanigans for a mischievous seven-year-old who just happened to be blind. "Stop that!" I commanded. He kept swinging.

"Leave him alone," said an elderly woman wearing thick cataract glasses.

"Do you see what he's doing?" I whispered to her in alarm.

"Oh, you're a hard man," she told me. That's when I realized she probably couldn't see what he was doing. Not well, anyway. But she had heard him--the poor, little blind boy.

"Daddy," he asked, "why did God make me blind?" Now the room exploded with wails. His cane was spinning like a baton but at this point he could get away with anything.

"Stop that!" I said again, sternly. "You could put an eye out like that!"

There was a sudden silence that said it all. I kept leading him, but didn't pick seats for us, instead, pressing on toward the door.

"Sir?" the receptionist called out, "what about his appointment?"

"We'll reschedule," I called back, and guiding him successfully out of the door, I never looked back.

Now I do. Hilarious.

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CotW #64: Write about the most hilarious thing you have ever witnessed. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 49 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon
Love is Blind--a True Story
My son is blind. Very blind. He has been since birth. How could something like that ever be funny, much less hilarious?
He's a handsome man, but as a child was simply adorable, in a most Tiny Tim-heartbreaking way. When he would be out and about with me or his Mom, he would melt hearts just by his presence, being guided along with his long red-tipped white cane. In the supermarket, the bank, or church, it was the type of presentation that made people wax maudlin and run for their check books to contribute to the Lighthouse for the Blind.
We had regular office visits to his doctor's office, which housed a retinologist, glaucoma specialist, and general ophthalmologist. Because of the nature of the specialty, the waiting room was always filled with elderly patients on their journeys through cataract treatments, retinitis pigmentosa, and high eye pressures.
He was no older than seven, a living pick for heartstrings. We would enter and I would sign him in, but as we walked between rows of chairs of the waiting visually impaired, a wave of terminal empathy followed in our wake, and you could hear a hush of mute melancholy osmose through the room in the saddest of Brownian motions.
At one particular visit, he picked up on this. When I placed his hands on the counter where we were to sign him in, I saw it. A little innocent grin began and from experience I knew there was nothing innocent at all about to happen.
"And just how are you today, young man?" asked the receptionist, her sing-song soprano setting him up beautifully. By then the waiting room had resumed the usual soft din of shuffling feet, frequent coughs, geriatric eructations, and chair movements on the linoleum.
"I'm very sad, Miss," he told her. Another wave of heartbreak rolled in, and he picked up on that, too.
"Oh, bless your little heart, baby, what's the matter? How can we help?"Her soprano now morphed into a tenor of deep concern.
"Tell the doctor..." he began, making his voice break, "that the operation didn't work. I'm still blind." And then his alligator tears sealed the deal.
There began a sobbing to which only the women at Calvary could have aspired. His words straight out of a soap opera script, he had given a daytime Emmy performance. I was mortified. His hijinks had reached a new high. I couldn't face the room of mourners. I would see them, not him.
"C'mon," I told him sternly, "let's sit down." The disciplinary tone of my voice earned me significant stinkeye from those who could see whom we passed. At this point, he began swinging his cane around wildly--just more shenanigans for a mischievous seven-year-old who just happened to be blind. "Stop that!" I commanded. He kept swinging.
"Leave him alone," said an elderly woman wearing thick cataract glasses.
"Do you see what he's doing?" I whispered to her in alarm.
"Oh, you're a hard man," she told me. That's when I realized she probably couldn't see what he was doing. Not well, anyway. But she had heard him--the poor, little blind boy.
"Daddy," he asked, "why did God make me blind?" Now the room exploded with wails. His cane was spinning like a baton but at this point he could get away with anything.
"Stop that!" I said again, sternly. "You could put an eye out like that!"
There was a sudden silence that said it all. I kept leading him, but didn't pick seats for us, instead, pressing on toward the door.
"Sir?" the receptionist called out, "what about his appointment?"
"We'll reschedule," I called back, and guiding him successfully out of the door, I never looked back.
Now I do. Hilarious.
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Written by DrSemicolon

♂: The NOVEL

I have just posted the final chapter of my novel, ♂: THE NOVEL. Please feel free to tag me or to email me (eddiehchrist@gmail.com) with comments, criticisms, etc. 

----------------------------------------------------------------

How could we misplace an entire planet? One moment it is there, the next it is not, as if it were a private thing between Mars and someone else...as if no one on Earth were permitted to know why. So begins ♂: THE NOVEL. Mars in the 25th century, looking back: long ago, Earth colonized Mars; later Earth terraformed Mars. But longer ago, Mars didn’t need Earth’s help, thank you. And now it has simply vanished, as if it had never existed.

A nearly terrestrial band around the equator is home to New Mars Colony, ready to expand and populate the Red Planet, going full tilt with corporate and governmental backing from the Mother Planet. But strange things start appearing as terraforming proceeds and Mars becomes more Earth-like. Supposed mineral formations, used as industrial staples, metamorphose into ferropods. What are they and why are they killing us? Also, there are ambulating plants--if that is what they are. Why does the illegal chemical within them act as a novel neurotransmitter in the human brain? And the songs riding on the winds through the canyons--the Sonotomes, brilliant recordings laid down by the ancient Martians into the ferric oxide of the geology--contrast with an unexplainable total absence of fossilized remains. Are they telling us something? Something long hidden, something terrifying--or something beautiful?

As questions sprout like seedlings after a shower, Earth sends her best and brightest and perhaps her somewhat flawed to research and to understand. Dr. Renee Niemann is a conflicted veterinarian, unanchored in life now that her aging loved ones have declined the life extension she so recklessly snatched for herself. She is assigned to the Veterinary Studies Division on Mars to explore why ferropods snap into the heads of people but not of animals and begins to wonder if there is a ferropod with her name on it. There are machines that question the difference between “what-is” and “what-is-not,” and why “what-is” is, and why “what-is-not” isn’t. They are machines that can leap across eons for the answers. The ṺberCollider has isolated the exotic chronoton particle, that quantum state vector that assigns time to all things. The Chronarchy tasks its Chairperson, Gavin Atilano, with using it to engender the temporal reconciliation that will reconcile the colonists’ present with the time epoch three billion years earlier so that the living Martians of that time can be brought to us. Temporal reconciliation, however, is an experiment in progress and involves unforeseen, bizarre consequences. (What could go wrong?) Mare Mickal, the eight-year old daughter of Drs. Deniz and Evan Mickal, pretends to be the Princess of Mars, but has within her the solution to the temporal paradox that otherwise will doom either the Martians or the humans.

Interwoven into the scientific drama is a political and military crisis perpetrated by some who only want what they can plunder with two hands. The treachery of the Nations of Earth liaison, Denton Walsh, subverts his mission on Mars toward despotic independence from Earth, perverting the vision of taking the best Earth has to offer another world into something else entirely.

"♂: The Novel" is an existential thriller that journeys from what is to what has never been to what can be and far beyond. It tells the story of the temporal destiny for the future of Mankind.

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Written by DrSemicolon
♂: The NOVEL
I have just posted the final chapter of my novel, ♂: THE NOVEL. Please feel free to tag me or to email me (eddiehchrist@gmail.com) with comments, criticisms, etc. 
----------------------------------------------------------------

How could we misplace an entire planet? One moment it is there, the next it is not, as if it were a private thing between Mars and someone else...as if no one on Earth were permitted to know why. So begins ♂: THE NOVEL. Mars in the 25th century, looking back: long ago, Earth colonized Mars; later Earth terraformed Mars. But longer ago, Mars didn’t need Earth’s help, thank you. And now it has simply vanished, as if it had never existed.

A nearly terrestrial band around the equator is home to New Mars Colony, ready to expand and populate the Red Planet, going full tilt with corporate and governmental backing from the Mother Planet. But strange things start appearing as terraforming proceeds and Mars becomes more Earth-like. Supposed mineral formations, used as industrial staples, metamorphose into ferropods. What are they and why are they killing us? Also, there are ambulating plants--if that is what they are. Why does the illegal chemical within them act as a novel neurotransmitter in the human brain? And the songs riding on the winds through the canyons--the Sonotomes, brilliant recordings laid down by the ancient Martians into the ferric oxide of the geology--contrast with an unexplainable total absence of fossilized remains. Are they telling us something? Something long hidden, something terrifying--or something beautiful?

As questions sprout like seedlings after a shower, Earth sends her best and brightest and perhaps her somewhat flawed to research and to understand. Dr. Renee Niemann is a conflicted veterinarian, unanchored in life now that her aging loved ones have declined the life extension she so recklessly snatched for herself. She is assigned to the Veterinary Studies Division on Mars to explore why ferropods snap into the heads of people but not of animals and begins to wonder if there is a ferropod with her name on it. There are machines that question the difference between “what-is” and “what-is-not,” and why “what-is” is, and why “what-is-not” isn’t. They are machines that can leap across eons for the answers. The ṺberCollider has isolated the exotic chronoton particle, that quantum state vector that assigns time to all things. The Chronarchy tasks its Chairperson, Gavin Atilano, with using it to engender the temporal reconciliation that will reconcile the colonists’ present with the time epoch three billion years earlier so that the living Martians of that time can be brought to us. Temporal reconciliation, however, is an experiment in progress and involves unforeseen, bizarre consequences. (What could go wrong?) Mare Mickal, the eight-year old daughter of Drs. Deniz and Evan Mickal, pretends to be the Princess of Mars, but has within her the solution to the temporal paradox that otherwise will doom either the Martians or the humans.

Interwoven into the scientific drama is a political and military crisis perpetrated by some who only want what they can plunder with two hands. The treachery of the Nations of Earth liaison, Denton Walsh, subverts his mission on Mars toward despotic independence from Earth, perverting the vision of taking the best Earth has to offer another world into something else entirely.

"♂: The Novel" is an existential thriller that journeys from what is to what has never been to what can be and far beyond. It tells the story of the temporal destiny for the future of Mankind.

0
0
0
Juice
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Donate coins to DrSemicolon.
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Written by DrSemicolon in portal Novel Writing

♂: The NOVEL

I have just finished posting the final chapter of my novel, ♂: The NOVEL. I invite any comments, criticisms, etc. Just tag me or email me at eddiehchrist@gmail.com.

Below is a blurb prepared for my queries:

How could we misplace an entire planet? One moment it is there, the next it is not, as if it were a private thing between Mars and someone else...as if no one on Earth were permitted to know why. So begins ♂: THE NOVEL. Mars in the 25th century, looking back: long ago, Earth colonized Mars; later Earth terraformed Mars. But longer ago, Mars didn’t need Earth’s help, thank you. And now it has simply vanished, as if it had never existed.

A nearly terrestrial band around the equator is home to New Mars Colony, ready to expand and populate the Red Planet, going full tilt with corporate and governmental backing from the Mother Planet. But strange things start appearing as terraforming proceeds and Mars becomes more Earth-like. Supposed mineral formations, used as industrial staples, metamorphose into ferropods. What are they and why are they killing us? Also, there are ambulating plants--if that is what they are. Why does the illegal chemical within them act as a novel neurotransmitter in the human brain? And the songs riding on the winds through the canyons--the Sonotomes, brilliant recordings laid down by the ancient Martians into the ferric oxide of the geology--contrast with an unexplainable total absence of fossilized remains. Are they telling us something? Something long hidden, something terrifying--or something beautiful?

As questions sprout like seedlings after a shower, Earth sends her best and brightest and perhaps her somewhat flawed to research and to understand. Dr. Renee Niemann is a conflicted veterinarian, unanchored in life now that her aging loved ones have declined the life extension she so recklessly snatched for herself. She is assigned to the Veterinary Studies Division on Mars to explore why ferropods snap into the heads of people but not of animals and begins to wonder if there is a ferropod with her name on it. There are machines that question the difference between “what-is” and “what-is-not,” and why “what-is” is, and why “what-is-not” isn’t. They are machines that can leap across eons for the answers. The ṺberCollider has isolated the exotic chronoton particle, that quantum state vector that assigns time to all things. The Chronarchy tasks its Chairperson, Gavin Atilano, with using it to engender the temporal reconciliation that will reconcile the colonists’ present with the time epoch three billion years earlier so that the living Martians of that time can be brought to us. Temporal reconciliation, however, is an experiment in progress and involves unforeseen, bizarre consequences. (What could go wrong?) Mare Mickal, the eight-year old daughter of Drs. Deniz and Evan Mickal, pretends to be the Princess of Mars, but has within her the solution to the temporal paradox that otherwise will doom either the Martians or the humans.

Interwoven into the scientific drama is a political and military crisis perpetrated by some who only want what they can plunder with two hands. The treachery of the Nations of Earth liaison, Denton Walsh, subverts his mission on Mars toward despotic independence from Earth, perverting the vision of taking the best Earth has to offer another world into something else entirely.

"♂: The Novel" is an existential thriller that journeys from what is to what has never been to what can be and far beyond. It tells the story of the temporal destiny for the future of Mankind.

1
0
0
Juice
15 reads
Donate coins to DrSemicolon.
Juice
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Written by DrSemicolon in portal Novel Writing
♂: The NOVEL
I have just finished posting the final chapter of my novel, ♂: The NOVEL. I invite any comments, criticisms, etc. Just tag me or email me at eddiehchrist@gmail.com.
Below is a blurb prepared for my queries:

How could we misplace an entire planet? One moment it is there, the next it is not, as if it were a private thing between Mars and someone else...as if no one on Earth were permitted to know why. So begins ♂: THE NOVEL. Mars in the 25th century, looking back: long ago, Earth colonized Mars; later Earth terraformed Mars. But longer ago, Mars didn’t need Earth’s help, thank you. And now it has simply vanished, as if it had never existed.

A nearly terrestrial band around the equator is home to New Mars Colony, ready to expand and populate the Red Planet, going full tilt with corporate and governmental backing from the Mother Planet. But strange things start appearing as terraforming proceeds and Mars becomes more Earth-like. Supposed mineral formations, used as industrial staples, metamorphose into ferropods. What are they and why are they killing us? Also, there are ambulating plants--if that is what they are. Why does the illegal chemical within them act as a novel neurotransmitter in the human brain? And the songs riding on the winds through the canyons--the Sonotomes, brilliant recordings laid down by the ancient Martians into the ferric oxide of the geology--contrast with an unexplainable total absence of fossilized remains. Are they telling us something? Something long hidden, something terrifying--or something beautiful?

As questions sprout like seedlings after a shower, Earth sends her best and brightest and perhaps her somewhat flawed to research and to understand. Dr. Renee Niemann is a conflicted veterinarian, unanchored in life now that her aging loved ones have declined the life extension she so recklessly snatched for herself. She is assigned to the Veterinary Studies Division on Mars to explore why ferropods snap into the heads of people but not of animals and begins to wonder if there is a ferropod with her name on it. There are machines that question the difference between “what-is” and “what-is-not,” and why “what-is” is, and why “what-is-not” isn’t. They are machines that can leap across eons for the answers. The ṺberCollider has isolated the exotic chronoton particle, that quantum state vector that assigns time to all things. The Chronarchy tasks its Chairperson, Gavin Atilano, with using it to engender the temporal reconciliation that will reconcile the colonists’ present with the time epoch three billion years earlier so that the living Martians of that time can be brought to us. Temporal reconciliation, however, is an experiment in progress and involves unforeseen, bizarre consequences. (What could go wrong?) Mare Mickal, the eight-year old daughter of Drs. Deniz and Evan Mickal, pretends to be the Princess of Mars, but has within her the solution to the temporal paradox that otherwise will doom either the Martians or the humans.

Interwoven into the scientific drama is a political and military crisis perpetrated by some who only want what they can plunder with two hands. The treachery of the Nations of Earth liaison, Denton Walsh, subverts his mission on Mars toward despotic independence from Earth, perverting the vision of taking the best Earth has to offer another world into something else entirely.

"♂: The Novel" is an existential thriller that journeys from what is to what has never been to what can be and far beyond. It tells the story of the temporal destiny for the future of Mankind.

1
0
0
Juice
15 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to DrSemicolon.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 47 of ♂: The NOVEL
Written by DrSemicolon

47 (FINAL CHAPTER)

The ride in the Security Command RibCar was slow-going. There had to be a half million Martians just along the ribbon route before it ended a kilometer short of the Arsia Mons. Even crawling as ploddingly slow as it did, it was a miracle to sensitechnology the RibCar didn’t injure anyone. Along the way, rarely, because that was by how much the Martians outnumbered the humans, a man, woman, or child would be passed. Atilano was counting, however, and when he gave up he was into the hundreds of humans and knew it would end up in the thousands. In fact, of the colony, most of them.

What invitation could they have gotten to inspire such a monumental migration? It couldn’t have been some final religious frenzy over the Apocalypse, because few people knew what the ṺberCollider had wrought.

Dr. Kubacki took over manual control of the RibCar when the ribbon ended, and within fifteen minutes they were at Arsia’s lodestone rock.

“Do you feel it, Mr. President?” Kubacki asked.

“Feel what?” Atilano answered. Friday smiled with three mouths.

“Just feel. That feeling. Like we could be nowhere else but her.” Atilano considered. It was true, but it was not unpleasant; it was mysterious but not obsessive; it was alien, but not really Martian. The three got out of the RibCar.

There were endless crowds centering on the lodestone. Yes, pilgrimage was the right word. What next caught Atilano’s eye in the large crowd was a small child in, of all things, a princess costume. There were many other children with their parents, but that’s how he noticed the Mickals and their daughter, and also Drs. Cooke and Niemann, and General Llorente. They were all standing together.

“Have we missed anything?” Atilano asked Friday.

“No,” Friday answered, then added, “they couldn’t start without me.”

To Atilano’s amazement, Friday gently pushed his way through the throngs until he could lift himself onto the lodestone rock. He stood tall, going into full unlouvered array, but it wasn’t menacing at all. There he held out his akimbo arms to request quiet. The multitudes complied. All was quiet. He raise his eyes to the sky.

The Sun dimmed!

Then it flickered. Winds began to blow softly, and a deep bass Sonotome note brewed, coming from the northwest.

A brightness began around the lodestone rock, then began circling it. The radiant spin completed a loop, encircling the lodestone, and then spun rapidly around it. It was not a color, but its brightness was striking. It began to grow and the crowd fanned out. It was soon nearly fifty meters wide, encircling a space devoid of anyone except Friday atop the rock.

Slowly it rose, spread, and then within a moment covered the entire sky. A deep note, albeit slightly higher pitched than the sustained Sonotome, suddenly sounded, and the bright sky exploded into a burst of the most extraordinary colors, accompanied by a pan-tonal chord of divine musicality.

When the sound faded and the remnants of the skyward upheaval dissipated, everyone saw.

As if in orbit right above Mars sat some unknown world. It was so close the lights of its cities could be seen easily. Almost immediately another orb perched, another world obviously inhabited, by the similar artificial lighting seen on its strange continents. Over to the side appeared a double planet, exhibiting a communing ribbon of commerce between them, a communication bridge. A Bifröst.

Everyone was looking up, this way and that. The impossible parade of these worlds seemed to go on forever. Endless series of inhabited planets, moons, and planetary systems bobbed impossibly right overhead. They overlapped themselves.

“Do you think,” Mare asked her mother, “that there’s one up there just for me?”

“Looks like there could be,” Deniz answered her child sweetly.

“A princess, finally,” she whispered into her mother’s ear.

Beautiful worlds of all colors and sizes hung overhead. There were solid ones, striped ones, calico ones. There were breathtaking ring arrays and dazzling collections of moons. There were ocean planets and worlds dotted with innumerable seas.

The panorama went on and the audience remained speechless. After about an hour, however, a small patch of dark sky appeared, dotted with stars. With a slow start but then a steadily increasing acceleration, the starry sky began to grow. The myriad worlds, each promising the exciting certainty of life and civilization, began to rise higher in the sky and grew smaller until they each had considerable space between them. Soon they disappeared altogether, as if returning to their respective stars that shined so innocently in the Martian sky.

The Martians and humans turned away from this sky and once again looked toward the lodestone rock. There they saw the creature standing next to Friday.

But seeing had nothing to do with it.

There began for the humans an entirely new sense, as different from hearing as sight was, as different from smell as touch was. It was a sense heretofore unknown and for which words had not yet been invented. Humans had always had the capability, but it had awaited a spark.

The spark took, in a long dormant portion of the pineal gland.

And it was with this new sense the humans there were made aware of the visitor sharing the lodestone rock with Friday. In its presence the men, women, and children excreted an entirely new neurotransmitter in their brains. In its presence humans had never before been so much at peace.

And happy.

Back at the hospital wing of the Cultural Psych building, a woman who had been certain she would never, ever be happy again, slowly began a smile that started there but extended to a place and time well beyond her.

Back at the caldera, the being that was beside Friday enjoyed being sensed, and felt the excitement and exhilaration of yet another species being made aware, being allowed to come into the fold.

President Atilano finally fought away the total consummation of his new sense to a point where he could venture a question. He approached the lodestone rock.

“What just happened?” he asked. “Did the chronoton field collapse?”

The mysterious, exquisite being replied in a mysterious, exquisite way, but the humans’ new sense was not yet matured enough to discern any meaning beyond that of vague, ethereal dispatches. Friday answered for the being in tandem, the explanations from both of them simultaneous, but now clear.

“No,” the being answered through Friday. “No collapse. There was never to be a collapse. Not like you expected, anyway.”

“All of…all of…that,” Atilano said, waving his hand at the sky.

“New friends for you,” Friday translated.

“Where—what? Was the field collapse an incorrect prediction?”

“Again, no. Not of itself. It was a prediction for you.”

“And what did it predict? For us?”

“Whether you would join.”

“Join what?”

The being waved at the sky as Atilano had. “This,” Friday said for him.

Atilano turned around to see all of the Martians, as far as he could see, in co-existence with all of the humans there. But the co-existence was appreciated with his new sense. “Are we still in Prime Time?” he asked.

“No, you’re not,” answered the being through Friday. He elaborated. “No Time Prime anymore, no temporal reconciliation, certainly not at the level that is nothing more than child’s play.” Friday looked at Mare, who had a front row place for all of this. “No offense,” he said to her.

“Of course not,” she answered.

“You bring the best your world had to offer other worlds,” Friday said back to Atilano, then, as Friday, turned again to Mare to launch seven perfect smiles, and he said to her, “So you are ready.”

“This was a test?” Atilano asked.

“We do not test. Tests are easy. We search and knowing what we have found is the hard part.”

“And you found us.”

“Yes, even trapped in time like you were. You were trapped in a one-way arrow, but it was not a straight arrow; it was a maze. Navigating this one-way path relies on survival, self-preservation, competition, and domineering ambitions. Condemning such things has always been difficult for you. Some very special persons have pointed the way. You know who they are.”

“Very difficult,” Atilano agreed.

“Difficult, but doable, it seems. You were easy to miss, but we found you.”

“Sure sounds like a test to me,” Atilano argued.

“No. It is simply what you did. What you did was on the path to us, but it was the same as the path to us. What you did is part of your timeline—always having been done, always will have been done. But that is not accurate either. You are off the time line now. What you did—and I err in using the past tense, of course—what you did is intimately connected with your path to joining. Now, you have always been a part.”

“Of what? Joined what?”

“Time Immemorial,” Friday said for the being. “All of the world civilizations you saw just now, just a mere handful of the billions that exist, are your new brothers and sisters in co-existence. All of their time paths have been synchronized into a wealth of coexistence. You are embarking on a fantastic journey for your kind. Soon, when you mature—and you have already started—you will no longer think of this journey as something ongoing, but as something that is, always has been, always will be. In a singularity. With you. As it should be.

“You brought Friday and his kind to your time on Mars. They were not in the past, but living with us, along with all of the other enlightened worlds. The uniqueness of the ferropods, however—their chronotons allowing them to persist from your past to your present, was unusual and interesting, and their rejoining their hosts was the happy accident that allowed you to go forward. It was not until they re-joined their hosts that they could help you go forward. But temporal reconciliation was such a colossal underachievement on your part. We bring you now to all of the cultures that have ever been and that ever will be, previously separated by eons of segregation and unreachable distances of separation. That, my friend, is the collapse. Your new singularity. Consider this your invitation; this time we invite you.” Friday held up one of his akimbo arms as a gesture of emphasis for the being, and the gesture was seen across the expanse of the crowds, extending far away.

“Then,” Atilano surmised, “it was wise that we didn’t turn off the collider.”

“It was fair that you did not. That is how you were found. The fairness of your reason was a beacon for us. Welcome!” He paused, allowing Friday to multi-smile.

Atilano heard the roar of approval among the thousands within earshot which then traveled to the millions beyond them, a rolling communiqué that thundered to the periphery of the multitudes kilometers away. The caldera began echoing the sound until the reflective differentials of the rock faces, crags, cliffs, and precipices syncopated them enough to create a sonotome of its own. After it peaked, it took a long moment for it to fade.

“I didn’t see Earth in the sky above,” Atilano pointed out.

“No, not the one you are from. It is not there,” Friday said. “Not the one you know by your reckoning. Another one—you’ll recognize it soon; another one that finally reaches

Flagrancht.”

“In the future?” Atilano asked, and the Martians around him laughed weirdly in cultural politeness.

“Even the terraformed Venus will be with us before Earth will, and so they are both there now.”

“Venus was one of the worlds we saw?”

“Yes. And other close neighbors—planets, moons.”

“Welcome to the solar system,” Atilano muttered in resignation. “I guess you beat us to it.” Then he asked Friday, “Can people from Earth come to us here on Mars?”

“Once the Earth is in Flagrancht. You did not see the Earth in the sky. Do you think they can any longer see you?”

“You are no longer of Earth,” said the being. Friday’s co-utterances were hardly necessary now, as every Martian and every man, woman and child understood clearly what the mysterious, beautiful being said next. “Your Earth is lost in time and space. Until…”

“You belong here now,” Friday said affectionately. “Mr. President,” Friday spoke as himself, “you have all of those worlds to learn and visit. We will help you.” His large eyes lifted up toward the horizon. He outstretched his akimbo arms. The being next to him began to glow, as if proudly.

“Welcome to the speed of is,” the being proclaimed.

“And people

         people

         people of Earth,” Friday raised his voices, but he was interrupted.

“People of Mars!” the Princess of Mars shouted. “All of us!”

“Yes, people

        people

        people of Mars,” Friday corrected himself and looked at Mare in the crowd. She beamed back at him and what they exchanged needed no fiberoptics, superconductivity, or photons. It was impossible to tell where the transition was between Flagrancht and love.

In extravagant harmony the Martian proudly proclaimed, “Welcome

                                                                                           welcome

                                                                                           welcome to the universe

                                                                                                                   universe

                                                                                                                   universe

                                                                                                                   universe

                                                                                                                   universe

                                                                                                                   universe

                                                                                                                   universe!

♂ The End

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Chapter 47 of ♂: The NOVEL
Written by DrSemicolon
47 (FINAL CHAPTER)
The ride in the Security Command RibCar was slow-going. There had to be a half million Martians just along the ribbon route before it ended a kilometer short of the Arsia Mons. Even crawling as ploddingly slow as it did, it was a miracle to sensitechnology the RibCar didn’t injure anyone. Along the way, rarely, because that was by how much the Martians outnumbered the humans, a man, woman, or child would be passed. Atilano was counting, however, and when he gave up he was into the hundreds of humans and knew it would end up in the thousands. In fact, of the colony, most of them.
What invitation could they have gotten to inspire such a monumental migration? It couldn’t have been some final religious frenzy over the Apocalypse, because few people knew what the ṺberCollider had wrought.
Dr. Kubacki took over manual control of the RibCar when the ribbon ended, and within fifteen minutes they were at Arsia’s lodestone rock.
“Do you feel it, Mr. President?” Kubacki asked.
“Feel what?” Atilano answered. Friday smiled with three mouths.
“Just feel. That feeling. Like we could be nowhere else but her.” Atilano considered. It was true, but it was not unpleasant; it was mysterious but not obsessive; it was alien, but not really Martian. The three got out of the RibCar.
There were endless crowds centering on the lodestone. Yes, pilgrimage was the right word. What next caught Atilano’s eye in the large crowd was a small child in, of all things, a princess costume. There were many other children with their parents, but that’s how he noticed the Mickals and their daughter, and also Drs. Cooke and Niemann, and General Llorente. They were all standing together.
“Have we missed anything?” Atilano asked Friday.
“No,” Friday answered, then added, “they couldn’t start without me.”
To Atilano’s amazement, Friday gently pushed his way through the throngs until he could lift himself onto the lodestone rock. He stood tall, going into full unlouvered array, but it wasn’t menacing at all. There he held out his akimbo arms to request quiet. The multitudes complied. All was quiet. He raise his eyes to the sky.
The Sun dimmed!
Then it flickered. Winds began to blow softly, and a deep bass Sonotome note brewed, coming from the northwest.
A brightness began around the lodestone rock, then began circling it. The radiant spin completed a loop, encircling the lodestone, and then spun rapidly around it. It was not a color, but its brightness was striking. It began to grow and the crowd fanned out. It was soon nearly fifty meters wide, encircling a space devoid of anyone except Friday atop the rock.
Slowly it rose, spread, and then within a moment covered the entire sky. A deep note, albeit slightly higher pitched than the sustained Sonotome, suddenly sounded, and the bright sky exploded into a burst of the most extraordinary colors, accompanied by a pan-tonal chord of divine musicality.
When the sound faded and the remnants of the skyward upheaval dissipated, everyone saw.
As if in orbit right above Mars sat some unknown world. It was so close the lights of its cities could be seen easily. Almost immediately another orb perched, another world obviously inhabited, by the similar artificial lighting seen on its strange continents. Over to the side appeared a double planet, exhibiting a communing ribbon of commerce between them, a communication bridge. A Bifröst.
Everyone was looking up, this way and that. The impossible parade of these worlds seemed to go on forever. Endless series of inhabited planets, moons, and planetary systems bobbed impossibly right overhead. They overlapped themselves.
“Do you think,” Mare asked her mother, “that there’s one up there just for me?”
“Looks like there could be,” Deniz answered her child sweetly.
“A princess, finally,” she whispered into her mother’s ear.
Beautiful worlds of all colors and sizes hung overhead. There were solid ones, striped ones, calico ones. There were breathtaking ring arrays and dazzling collections of moons. There were ocean planets and worlds dotted with innumerable seas.
The panorama went on and the audience remained speechless. After about an hour, however, a small patch of dark sky appeared, dotted with stars. With a slow start but then a steadily increasing acceleration, the starry sky began to grow. The myriad worlds, each promising the exciting certainty of life and civilization, began to rise higher in the sky and grew smaller until they each had considerable space between them. Soon they disappeared altogether, as if returning to their respective stars that shined so innocently in the Martian sky.
The Martians and humans turned away from this sky and once again looked toward the lodestone rock. There they saw the creature standing next to Friday.
But seeing had nothing to do with it.
There began for the humans an entirely new sense, as different from hearing as sight was, as different from smell as touch was. It was a sense heretofore unknown and for which words had not yet been invented. Humans had always had the capability, but it had awaited a spark.
The spark took, in a long dormant portion of the pineal gland.
And it was with this new sense the humans there were made aware of the visitor sharing the lodestone rock with Friday. In its presence the men, women, and children excreted an entirely new neurotransmitter in their brains. In its presence humans had never before been so much at peace.
And happy.
Back at the hospital wing of the Cultural Psych building, a woman who had been certain she would never, ever be happy again, slowly began a smile that started there but extended to a place and time well beyond her.
Back at the caldera, the being that was beside Friday enjoyed being sensed, and felt the excitement and exhilaration of yet another species being made aware, being allowed to come into the fold.
President Atilano finally fought away the total consummation of his new sense to a point where he could venture a question. He approached the lodestone rock.
“What just happened?” he asked. “Did the chronoton field collapse?”
The mysterious, exquisite being replied in a mysterious, exquisite way, but the humans’ new sense was not yet matured enough to discern any meaning beyond that of vague, ethereal dispatches. Friday answered for the being in tandem, the explanations from both of them simultaneous, but now clear.
“No,” the being answered through Friday. “No collapse. There was never to be a collapse. Not like you expected, anyway.”
“All of…all of…that,” Atilano said, waving his hand at the sky.
“New friends for you,” Friday translated.
“Where—what? Was the field collapse an incorrect prediction?”
“Again, no. Not of itself. It was a prediction for you.”
“And what did it predict? For us?”
“Whether you would join.”
“Join what?”
The being waved at the sky as Atilano had. “This,” Friday said for him.
Atilano turned around to see all of the Martians, as far as he could see, in co-existence with all of the humans there. But the co-existence was appreciated with his new sense. “Are we still in Prime Time?” he asked.
“No, you’re not,” answered the being through Friday. He elaborated. “No Time Prime anymore, no temporal reconciliation, certainly not at the level that is nothing more than child’s play.” Friday looked at Mare, who had a front row place for all of this. “No offense,” he said to her.
“Of course not,” she answered.
“You bring the best your world had to offer other worlds,” Friday said back to Atilano, then, as Friday, turned again to Mare to launch seven perfect smiles, and he said to her, “So you are ready.”
“This was a test?” Atilano asked.
“We do not test. Tests are easy. We search and knowing what we have found is the hard part.”
“And you found us.”
“Yes, even trapped in time like you were. You were trapped in a one-way arrow, but it was not a straight arrow; it was a maze. Navigating this one-way path relies on survival, self-preservation, competition, and domineering ambitions. Condemning such things has always been difficult for you. Some very special persons have pointed the way. You know who they are.”
“Very difficult,” Atilano agreed.
“Difficult, but doable, it seems. You were easy to miss, but we found you.”
“Sure sounds like a test to me,” Atilano argued.
“No. It is simply what you did. What you did was on the path to us, but it was the same as the path to us. What you did is part of your timeline—always having been done, always will have been done. But that is not accurate either. You are off the time line now. What you did—and I err in using the past tense, of course—what you did is intimately connected with your path to joining. Now, you have always been a part.”
“Of what? Joined what?”
“Time Immemorial,” Friday said for the being. “All of the world civilizations you saw just now, just a mere handful of the billions that exist, are your new brothers and sisters in co-existence. All of their time paths have been synchronized into a wealth of coexistence. You are embarking on a fantastic journey for your kind. Soon, when you mature—and you have already started—you will no longer think of this journey as something ongoing, but as something that is, always has been, always will be. In a singularity. With you. As it should be.
“You brought Friday and his kind to your time on Mars. They were not in the past, but living with us, along with all of the other enlightened worlds. The uniqueness of the ferropods, however—their chronotons allowing them to persist from your past to your present, was unusual and interesting, and their rejoining their hosts was the happy accident that allowed you to go forward. It was not until they re-joined their hosts that they could help you go forward. But temporal reconciliation was such a colossal underachievement on your part. We bring you now to all of the cultures that have ever been and that ever will be, previously separated by eons of segregation and unreachable distances of separation. That, my friend, is the collapse. Your new singularity. Consider this your invitation; this time we invite you.” Friday held up one of his akimbo arms as a gesture of emphasis for the being, and the gesture was seen across the expanse of the crowds, extending far away.
“Then,” Atilano surmised, “it was wise that we didn’t turn off the collider.”
“It was fair that you did not. That is how you were found. The fairness of your reason was a beacon for us. Welcome!” He paused, allowing Friday to multi-smile.
Atilano heard the roar of approval among the thousands within earshot which then traveled to the millions beyond them, a rolling communiqué that thundered to the periphery of the multitudes kilometers away. The caldera began echoing the sound until the reflective differentials of the rock faces, crags, cliffs, and precipices syncopated them enough to create a sonotome of its own. After it peaked, it took a long moment for it to fade.
“I didn’t see Earth in the sky above,” Atilano pointed out.
“No, not the one you are from. It is not there,” Friday said. “Not the one you know by your reckoning. Another one—you’ll recognize it soon; another one that finally reaches
Flagrancht.”
“In the future?” Atilano asked, and the Martians around him laughed weirdly in cultural politeness.
“Even the terraformed Venus will be with us before Earth will, and so they are both there now.”
“Venus was one of the worlds we saw?”
“Yes. And other close neighbors—planets, moons.”
“Welcome to the solar system,” Atilano muttered in resignation. “I guess you beat us to it.” Then he asked Friday, “Can people from Earth come to us here on Mars?”
“Once the Earth is in Flagrancht. You did not see the Earth in the sky. Do you think they can any longer see you?”
“You are no longer of Earth,” said the being. Friday’s co-utterances were hardly necessary now, as every Martian and every man, woman and child understood clearly what the mysterious, beautiful being said next. “Your Earth is lost in time and space. Until…”
“You belong here now,” Friday said affectionately. “Mr. President,” Friday spoke as himself, “you have all of those worlds to learn and visit. We will help you.” His large eyes lifted up toward the horizon. He outstretched his akimbo arms. The being next to him began to glow, as if proudly.
“Welcome to the speed of is,” the being proclaimed.
“And people
         people
         people of Earth,” Friday raised his voices, but he was interrupted.
“People of Mars!” the Princess of Mars shouted. “All of us!”
“Yes, people
        people
        people of Mars,” Friday corrected himself and looked at Mare in the crowd. She beamed back at him and what they exchanged needed no fiberoptics, superconductivity, or photons. It was impossible to tell where the transition was between Flagrancht and love.
In extravagant harmony the Martian proudly proclaimed, “Welcome
                                                                                           welcome
                                                                                           welcome to the universe
                                                                                                                   universe
                                                                                                                   universe
                                                                                                                   universe
                                                                                                                   universe
                                                                                                                   universe
                                                                                                                   universe!


♂ The End

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Chapter 46 of ♂: The NOVEL
Written by DrSemicolon

46

On Wednesday afternoon, the RibBus made its way quietly to the new MCPSC headquarters where Gavin Atilano awaited his specially invited guests, those who had experienced ferropod insertions and those Martians linked to them. Invitees included Drs. Renée Niemann and Christopher Cooke, General Ricardo Llorente, and even Mare, accompanied by her parents, Drs. Evan and Deniz Mickal. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Pin rounded out the Martian contingent of the bi-world delegation. When Dr. Willner had reported that Cassie Rogers was in no condition for pondering anything weighty, Net had declined as well.

Except for Evan and Deniz, there were only the very few who had experienced, even temporarily, synbiosis. Notably excluded were the Martian scientist, Friday, and the human ṺberCollider authority, Dr. Jay Kubacki. Atilano didn’t want any scientific decisions here, even though the decision he sought had a scientific basis. Renée, Chris, Ricardo, and Mare—Subject-0—knew they were famous and why, but they had no idea they had been invited by the President to help make the most important decision on two worlds.

Atilano had considered inviting Jeremy Pasternak, Précis Transcriptioner, because of the historic nature of the meeting, but then reconsidered and deferred. There was no holocapture in the room and all automaton functions were disengaged. This was to be a private meeting. No one would be intimidated by posterity.

He began by numbering out the realities; he concluded by explaining why they had been invited:

1. The chronoton/anti-chronoton ratio advantage now stood at only 1.9% and was decreasing;

2. Collapse was imminent, anytime between the time of this very meeting and years, but due to the rate of ratio change, there was a 50% chance of oblivion for all humans on Mars by Friday morning and a 50% chance of survival by then, as well;

3. if the Chronarchy did nothing, all of the colonists would not only be gone at collapse, but will never have been;

4. there was not enough time to effect a full evacuation—it would take weeks, and there was not enough space and support on Lagrange 1 for everyone;

5. if the Chronarchy were to do a controlled shutdown of the ṺberCollider, averting the sudden field collapse that would doom the colonists, all of the Martians would return to oblivion like before tempconciliation;

6. there was a tiny possibility that any human oblivion for the colonists could extend all the way to Earth, probably less than one tenth of 1%, but it wasn’t zero; and

7. Drs. Niemann and Cooke, General Llorente, and Mare were the only living and functioning crag victims and, as such, having experienced a biological influence of chronotons and ferramine, stood as the closest representatives of a hybrid—of human and Martian—there could be. They were the only ones who could weigh in with a double worldview. They offered, as Atilano explained, the best possibility of a rational unprejudiced approach to a decision that would otherwise be fraught with emotionally charged bias.

“I’m not saying that you are the ones to make the decision,” Atilano continued after laying out the facts,” but your insight is a gift that might prove influential.”

“I’m no theoretical physicist,” Renée spoke first. “I’m just a vet from Louisiana. Can’t we turn it off, work out the bugs, then just yank our friends back again?”

“It seems no,” Pin answered.

“Our Martian scientist, Friday,” explained Atilano, “says the chronic booms are exponential. Certainly you remember the chronic boom we all experienced after the second tempconciliation?”

Everyone nodded. “Yes,” answered Renée, “pretty intense.”

“And do you remember the one after the first tempconciliation? The one that set Walsh on his rampage?”

“I didn’t know there was one then,” Renée said. “I don’t remember one. Anyone remember one?” she asked at large. The rest of the humans, except Atilano, shook their heads.

“That’s because it was so subtle,” Atilano said. “There was one, I assure you.” He looked around them. “The difference in magnitude between the first one—the one you didn’t even feel—and the second one—the one you did—would be the proportionate increase by the same exponential factor after the third tempconciliation. You could imagine.”

“We wouldn’t survive it,” Chris said.

“Wouldn’t want to try,” Atilano added, “not to mention what that field collapse would be like if we were pitched another curve ball in this crazy science. We’re worried about just from here to Lagrange 1 for this one. Probably not to just Earth, but the next one might be beyond comprehension.”

“I can comprehend it,” Thursday said.

“We thought ‘People of Mars, welcome to the Solar System’ was awesome,” Atilano pointed out. Then to the Martians, “Sorry.”

“The universe…” began Tuesday.

“As a whole

whole

whole…” continued Wednesday.

“…would be included if a third tempconciliation were done,” Tuesday finished.

“The universe is a violent place,” Evan said.

“I see,” Renée concluded, leaning back into her chair.

“If we allow collapse, how much chance did you say the humans on Earth would have never been?” Chris asked.

“Less than one tenth of 1%,” Atilano repeated, then exhaled in resignation. “I say that, but I’m just pulling it out of my ass. It’s extremely low, from what I understand.” Wednesday nodded his large head for Chris as best he could in a cultural liaison gesture of affirmation.

“Well,” Chris continued, “I like those numbers.”

“For those left on Earth,” Renée said.

“Yes,” Ricardo agreed shrewdly.

“Even my daughters and grandchildren?” she added. “One tenth of 1% for them, too?” There was a silence, but Renée wouldn’t let anyone get away with abstention on this question. Pin finally spoke in response to her stare-down.

“If you had never been, neither had your children and their children—that would be 100% for them,” he explained, but Renée had already suspected this.

“So the numbers, Chris,” she said, “are not so likeable for everyone on Earth, not to mention the impact on Earth of actions from everyone here who came from Earth.”

“There’s a 20th Century American Christmas movie they used to show in Sagua la Grande, part of Las Villas Cuba where I grew up. It was called ¡Qué bello es vivir!” Ricardo offered.

“I have strong feelings for my daughters and grandchildren,” Renée stated sternly. “Should I recuse myself?”

“No,” Atilano answered. “These are the ramifications that need to be discussed.”

“In any event,” Renée added, “certainly not great numbers for us here.” She looked at Pin. “I’m sorry, Pin.”

“Weren’t our Martian friends here…invited?” Chris asked, then paused for acceptance of the concept. “We’re their hosts. And now we’re talking about kicking them out?”

“Yes,” answered Atilano, “before they become bad guests and burned down our houses, figurative speaking, of course.”

“Of course,” said Wednesday, who used no inflection, masking the nature of any sentiment.

“Or burned down your tepees and wigwams,” Mare suddenly interjected. All turned to her and she blushed at the attention.

“Listen,” Atilano continued, “it doesn’t matter if we invited them; we were here first,” and then he realized how foolish he sounded.

“It does matter,” Chris declared. “I had it all wrong. We came to Mars, their house. We are their guests.”

“Forget the whole guest thing,” Ricardo said in exasperation. “We came to Mars, why? Not to be with the Martians. I came here before we even knew there were Martians. And after we found the crags and the Chantū and the Sonotomes, we stayed before we even knew we’d meet them in the flesh. I came to Mars because it was the next stepping stone of our destiny. First the New World, with all respect to my Choctaw friend.” Chris knew where Ricardo was going, but he had already gotten there by his own way of mourning. “First the New World,” Ricardo repeated, “then the new planet. It is in us to do this. And then we had a chance to actually meet them, live with them, learn from them, and of course we do this, because such a thing is also in us to do it. We don’t trod along; we skip and jump from milestone to milestone. And now we risk dismantling who we are, our very definition, to only back down to liability, to cower to being a casualty?”

“Spoken like a true soldier,” Renée said a bit unkindly, which crushed him. Everyone remained silent, for now this was between them. “What do you care, Ricardo?” she asked. “You don’t have anyone back on Earth you care about.”

“No,” he admitted, thinking about his estranged children, and some residual ferramine went to work on that regret. He looked at her with intensity. “But I do here on Mars,” he said, reaching for her hand. “I have a lot to lose, myself.” Renée melted. She leaned over and accepted his hand.

“Sorry,” she told him.

“I understand,” he said back, but then spoke to the group again. “So do we forget our destiny? Forget our spirit of exploration and curiosity? The promises of our research? Do we forget who we really are and what we really are?” He stopped to catch his breath. “I propose that forgetting these things—if all of that is forgotten, then we are the forgotten—we deserve to be forgotten, ourselves. That we are already oblivion!”

All sat silent, but Renée still held his hand.

“A noble speech, General,” Atilano tried to begin.

“I’m not finished,” Ricardo said. “I’m going to take it a step further. We tried to import the best of what humanity is, here. Even so, the worst snuck in—treachery, malfeasance, dishonesty, territoriality. Even murder. Which reminds me, where’s Walsh? Where is Dr. Rogers? I hope they weren’t invited.”

“Dr. Rogers,” explained Atilano, “declined the invitation to be here, although I’m I agree that it may not have been wise to invite her.” Renée shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She spied Chris, wondering if he knew the connection between Rogers and his late wife. His eyes seemed to be tearing.

“Ex-Director Walsh,” Atilano said derisively, “was not so lucky in life. It seems that somehow he found a hammer and—”

“Mr. President!” Deniz interrupted, motioning to Mare.

“Sorry, um, let’s just say he’s no longer with us.”

“Anybody miss ‘im?” Evan quipped scornfully.

“So,” Ricardo resumed, “now we have this chance, don’t we, to show a new planet and a new race otherwise—to undo all of the rot we brought here, to debride the wound, to reclaim our original goal of extending out into the universe the best we have to offer. Original Sin was committed here, just like on Earth,” he said as he crossed himself, “and this is our shot at Redemption.”

“This is not a religious decision,” Atilano argued.

“Can I say something?” Deniz asked meekly.

“You were invited only as a courtesy, Dr. Mickal. For Mare.”

“Mare’s a child, Mr. President,” Evan countered. “Let Deniz speak, please.”

“Very well,” Atilano relented.

“Everyone seems to have reasons for a position here, some of them historical, some religious, some of them beautiful,” she said, turning to Ricardo. “I only have one,” she said and clutched Mare to her. How do any adults feel they can decide on a child’s life. How can a mother?”

“Or a father?” Evan echoed her.

“Please,” Atilano urged, “let’s none of us misunderstand. I so want to come up with a perfect solution, but it’s an imperfect situation and there is no perfect solution. But for the purpose of full discovery, I have to play devil’s advocate.”

“I thought this wasn’t a religious decision,” Mare said to him and everyone laughed. Atilano turned to Mare.

“Hello, Mare,” he said to her. She smiled at him.

“Hello, Mr. President,” she said back.

“This is the second time you’ve spoken up.” He glanced around. “Always, it seems, at just the right time. Dr. Willner had explained to me how you have undergone a very powerful change because of your crag.”

“Oh?” Evan said protectively.

“No, no,” Atilano reassured Evan, “no details, no breaches of privacy.” He turned again to Mare. “He told me the entire experience left you with a—how did he put it? What were his words?—astounding insight.” He turned again to Evan. “I don’t know into what—that’s between him and her.” He passed his gaze around the room, but ended up back on Mare. “Now Mare, a wonderful…and pretty—” Mare blushed again. “—young girl with this astounding insight…what do you think? You understand what’s at stake each way, right?”

“Yes, sir,” she replied politely, timidly. She looked at her Dad, who motioned her on with a nod. “You said,” she continued, “there was a 50% chance it will happen by Friday?”

“The collapse, yes, and us with it.”

“So,” she said, as if thinking out loud for everyone, “there’s a 50% chance it won’t happen by then?”

“That’s correct, too.”

“So by Friday, it will either have happened or not have happened. That means there’s as much of a chance of it happening or not. Fifty-fifty, those are the numbers.”

“Yes. And?”

“Sounds like a coin toss to me,” she said.

“We can’t just flip a coin, Mare,” Atilano said, verging on patronizing her.

“Maybe not today,” she said, “but if we do decide to turn it off, why don’t we just wait till Friday, on purpose wait till then, to turn it off.”

“You’re saying that we take the 50% chance for ourselves by waiting till Friday. At that time we turn it off, save ourselves, make them go away, if we haven’t had the collapse by then and gone away ourselves.”

“Yea, I mean, yes, sir. Either we go away before then, or they go away after.” She looked around the room just as Atilano had before. “It’s 50/50 odds. Everyone has the same chance. Sure sounds fair to me.”

“Tails,” Tuesday said, completing the metaphor, and Mare smiled at him. The rest laughed.

This is how the most important decision in human history on two worlds was made. By listening to a child—a wisdom of naïveté, of purity, and of an intuitive sense of fairness.

The ṺberCollider would be shut down by the humans if they happened to still be there to do it, by Friday morning. The imaginary coin was flipped high and destiny called it in the air: by Friday the coin would land if it weren’t stolen before then.

It wasn’t very good for the nerves, but it was the perfect solution.

The next afternoon, on Thursday, Dr. Jay Kubacki came running into Atilano’s office excitedly. The Martian, Friday, was there, conferring with him when Kubacki arrived, breathless.

“I don’t like when you come in like this, Jay,” Atilano said. “It’s never good news.”

“0.086%!” Kubacki almost shouted. “We’re not going to make it—we’re not going to be here by tomorrow morning! It’s collapsing now!” He stood in front of the seated Atilano and Martian. President Atilano and Friday looked at each other. “We can still shut it down,” Kubacki offered, avoiding eye contact with Friday.

“I’m a man of my word,” Atilano said calmly. “It was a fair fight. We called heads and it came up tails. We can be proud of the fact that we are men of our word—one of the good things we brought to Mars from Earth.” Kubacki stood silently. Atilano looked at Friday as he spoke to Kubacki. “It occurs to me, Jay, that you could defy me and turn it off yourself. I wouldn’t even know how to stop you.” Then he turned to lock back onto Kubacki.

“No, sir, I would never do that.”

“Thank you,” Atilano said.

“For what?”

“For putting an idea like that into its rightful place.”

Suddenly, Atilano’s automaton blared an announcement: “Sir, there are thousands of Martians at the Arsia Mons caldera. And as far as sensors can perceive, it appears there are millions moving to join them from all over the planet.”

“Million?” Atilano asked.

“Millions,” the automaton corrected him, emphasizing the plural.

“What’s this, Friday?” Atilano asked.

“It’s a pilgrimage, Mr. President.”

“Another Synbiotic Event? A pilgrimage to what?”

“To fairness. To integrity. To the best things one world could ever offer another.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Then come with me.”

“Where? To the ṺberCollider?”

“No,” Friday answered, “to the caldera. There are many humans there already.”

“How—how did they know? To go?”

“They were invited.”

“Now?” Atilano asked.

“Now,” Friday said. Atilano paced for a moment.

“Right now?”

NOW

     NOW

        NOW

           NOW

              NOW

                 NOW

                    NOW!

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Chapter 46 of ♂: The NOVEL
Written by DrSemicolon
46
On Wednesday afternoon, the RibBus made its way quietly to the new MCPSC headquarters where Gavin Atilano awaited his specially invited guests, those who had experienced ferropod insertions and those Martians linked to them. Invitees included Drs. Renée Niemann and Christopher Cooke, General Ricardo Llorente, and even Mare, accompanied by her parents, Drs. Evan and Deniz Mickal. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Pin rounded out the Martian contingent of the bi-world delegation. When Dr. Willner had reported that Cassie Rogers was in no condition for pondering anything weighty, Net had declined as well.
Except for Evan and Deniz, there were only the very few who had experienced, even temporarily, synbiosis. Notably excluded were the Martian scientist, Friday, and the human ṺberCollider authority, Dr. Jay Kubacki. Atilano didn’t want any scientific decisions here, even though the decision he sought had a scientific basis. Renée, Chris, Ricardo, and Mare—Subject-0—knew they were famous and why, but they had no idea they had been invited by the President to help make the most important decision on two worlds.
Atilano had considered inviting Jeremy Pasternak, Précis Transcriptioner, because of the historic nature of the meeting, but then reconsidered and deferred. There was no holocapture in the room and all automaton functions were disengaged. This was to be a private meeting. No one would be intimidated by posterity.
He began by numbering out the realities; he concluded by explaining why they had been invited:
1. The chronoton/anti-chronoton ratio advantage now stood at only 1.9% and was decreasing;
2. Collapse was imminent, anytime between the time of this very meeting and years, but due to the rate of ratio change, there was a 50% chance of oblivion for all humans on Mars by Friday morning and a 50% chance of survival by then, as well;
3. if the Chronarchy did nothing, all of the colonists would not only be gone at collapse, but will never have been;
4. there was not enough time to effect a full evacuation—it would take weeks, and there was not enough space and support on Lagrange 1 for everyone;
5. if the Chronarchy were to do a controlled shutdown of the ṺberCollider, averting the sudden field collapse that would doom the colonists, all of the Martians would return to oblivion like before tempconciliation;
6. there was a tiny possibility that any human oblivion for the colonists could extend all the way to Earth, probably less than one tenth of 1%, but it wasn’t zero; and
7. Drs. Niemann and Cooke, General Llorente, and Mare were the only living and functioning crag victims and, as such, having experienced a biological influence of chronotons and ferramine, stood as the closest representatives of a hybrid—of human and Martian—there could be. They were the only ones who could weigh in with a double worldview. They offered, as Atilano explained, the best possibility of a rational unprejudiced approach to a decision that would otherwise be fraught with emotionally charged bias.
“I’m not saying that you are the ones to make the decision,” Atilano continued after laying out the facts,” but your insight is a gift that might prove influential.”
“I’m no theoretical physicist,” Renée spoke first. “I’m just a vet from Louisiana. Can’t we turn it off, work out the bugs, then just yank our friends back again?”
“It seems no,” Pin answered.
“Our Martian scientist, Friday,” explained Atilano, “says the chronic booms are exponential. Certainly you remember the chronic boom we all experienced after the second tempconciliation?”
Everyone nodded. “Yes,” answered Renée, “pretty intense.”
“And do you remember the one after the first tempconciliation? The one that set Walsh on his rampage?”
“I didn’t know there was one then,” Renée said. “I don’t remember one. Anyone remember one?” she asked at large. The rest of the humans, except Atilano, shook their heads.
“That’s because it was so subtle,” Atilano said. “There was one, I assure you.” He looked around them. “The difference in magnitude between the first one—the one you didn’t even feel—and the second one—the one you did—would be the proportionate increase by the same exponential factor after the third tempconciliation. You could imagine.”
“We wouldn’t survive it,” Chris said.
“Wouldn’t want to try,” Atilano added, “not to mention what that field collapse would be like if we were pitched another curve ball in this crazy science. We’re worried about just from here to Lagrange 1 for this one. Probably not to just Earth, but the next one might be beyond comprehension.”
“I can comprehend it,” Thursday said.
“We thought ‘People of Mars, welcome to the Solar System’ was awesome,” Atilano pointed out. Then to the Martians, “Sorry.”
“The universe…” began Tuesday.
“As a whole
whole
whole…” continued Wednesday.
“…would be included if a third tempconciliation were done,” Tuesday finished.
“The universe is a violent place,” Evan said.
“I see,” Renée concluded, leaning back into her chair.
“If we allow collapse, how much chance did you say the humans on Earth would have never been?” Chris asked.
“Less than one tenth of 1%,” Atilano repeated, then exhaled in resignation. “I say that, but I’m just pulling it out of my ass. It’s extremely low, from what I understand.” Wednesday nodded his large head for Chris as best he could in a cultural liaison gesture of affirmation.
“Well,” Chris continued, “I like those numbers.”
“For those left on Earth,” Renée said.
“Yes,” Ricardo agreed shrewdly.
“Even my daughters and grandchildren?” she added. “One tenth of 1% for them, too?” There was a silence, but Renée wouldn’t let anyone get away with abstention on this question. Pin finally spoke in response to her stare-down.
“If you had never been, neither had your children and their children—that would be 100% for them,” he explained, but Renée had already suspected this.
“So the numbers, Chris,” she said, “are not so likeable for everyone on Earth, not to mention the impact on Earth of actions from everyone here who came from Earth.”
“There’s a 20th Century American Christmas movie they used to show in Sagua la Grande, part of Las Villas Cuba where I grew up. It was called ¡Qué bello es vivir!” Ricardo offered.
“I have strong feelings for my daughters and grandchildren,” Renée stated sternly. “Should I recuse myself?”
“No,” Atilano answered. “These are the ramifications that need to be discussed.”
“In any event,” Renée added, “certainly not great numbers for us here.” She looked at Pin. “I’m sorry, Pin.”
“Weren’t our Martian friends here…invited?” Chris asked, then paused for acceptance of the concept. “We’re their hosts. And now we’re talking about kicking them out?”
“Yes,” answered Atilano, “before they become bad guests and burned down our houses, figurative speaking, of course.”
“Of course,” said Wednesday, who used no inflection, masking the nature of any sentiment.
“Or burned down your tepees and wigwams,” Mare suddenly interjected. All turned to her and she blushed at the attention.
“Listen,” Atilano continued, “it doesn’t matter if we invited them; we were here first,” and then he realized how foolish he sounded.
“It does matter,” Chris declared. “I had it all wrong. We came to Mars, their house. We are their guests.”
“Forget the whole guest thing,” Ricardo said in exasperation. “We came to Mars, why? Not to be with the Martians. I came here before we even knew there were Martians. And after we found the crags and the Chantū and the Sonotomes, we stayed before we even knew we’d meet them in the flesh. I came to Mars because it was the next stepping stone of our destiny. First the New World, with all respect to my Choctaw friend.” Chris knew where Ricardo was going, but he had already gotten there by his own way of mourning. “First the New World,” Ricardo repeated, “then the new planet. It is in us to do this. And then we had a chance to actually meet them, live with them, learn from them, and of course we do this, because such a thing is also in us to do it. We don’t trod along; we skip and jump from milestone to milestone. And now we risk dismantling who we are, our very definition, to only back down to liability, to cower to being a casualty?”
“Spoken like a true soldier,” Renée said a bit unkindly, which crushed him. Everyone remained silent, for now this was between them. “What do you care, Ricardo?” she asked. “You don’t have anyone back on Earth you care about.”
“No,” he admitted, thinking about his estranged children, and some residual ferramine went to work on that regret. He looked at her with intensity. “But I do here on Mars,” he said, reaching for her hand. “I have a lot to lose, myself.” Renée melted. She leaned over and accepted his hand.
“Sorry,” she told him.
“I understand,” he said back, but then spoke to the group again. “So do we forget our destiny? Forget our spirit of exploration and curiosity? The promises of our research? Do we forget who we really are and what we really are?” He stopped to catch his breath. “I propose that forgetting these things—if all of that is forgotten, then we are the forgotten—we deserve to be forgotten, ourselves. That we are already oblivion!”
All sat silent, but Renée still held his hand.
“A noble speech, General,” Atilano tried to begin.
“I’m not finished,” Ricardo said. “I’m going to take it a step further. We tried to import the best of what humanity is, here. Even so, the worst snuck in—treachery, malfeasance, dishonesty, territoriality. Even murder. Which reminds me, where’s Walsh? Where is Dr. Rogers? I hope they weren’t invited.”
“Dr. Rogers,” explained Atilano, “declined the invitation to be here, although I’m I agree that it may not have been wise to invite her.” Renée shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She spied Chris, wondering if he knew the connection between Rogers and his late wife. His eyes seemed to be tearing.
“Ex-Director Walsh,” Atilano said derisively, “was not so lucky in life. It seems that somehow he found a hammer and—”
“Mr. President!” Deniz interrupted, motioning to Mare.
“Sorry, um, let’s just say he’s no longer with us.”
“Anybody miss ‘im?” Evan quipped scornfully.
“So,” Ricardo resumed, “now we have this chance, don’t we, to show a new planet and a new race otherwise—to undo all of the rot we brought here, to debride the wound, to reclaim our original goal of extending out into the universe the best we have to offer. Original Sin was committed here, just like on Earth,” he said as he crossed himself, “and this is our shot at Redemption.”
“This is not a religious decision,” Atilano argued.
“Can I say something?” Deniz asked meekly.
“You were invited only as a courtesy, Dr. Mickal. For Mare.”
“Mare’s a child, Mr. President,” Evan countered. “Let Deniz speak, please.”
“Very well,” Atilano relented.
“Everyone seems to have reasons for a position here, some of them historical, some religious, some of them beautiful,” she said, turning to Ricardo. “I only have one,” she said and clutched Mare to her. How do any adults feel they can decide on a child’s life. How can a mother?”
“Or a father?” Evan echoed her.
“Please,” Atilano urged, “let’s none of us misunderstand. I so want to come up with a perfect solution, but it’s an imperfect situation and there is no perfect solution. But for the purpose of full discovery, I have to play devil’s advocate.”
“I thought this wasn’t a religious decision,” Mare said to him and everyone laughed. Atilano turned to Mare.
“Hello, Mare,” he said to her. She smiled at him.
“Hello, Mr. President,” she said back.
“This is the second time you’ve spoken up.” He glanced around. “Always, it seems, at just the right time. Dr. Willner had explained to me how you have undergone a very powerful change because of your crag.”
“Oh?” Evan said protectively.
“No, no,” Atilano reassured Evan, “no details, no breaches of privacy.” He turned again to Mare. “He told me the entire experience left you with a—how did he put it? What were his words?—astounding insight.” He turned again to Evan. “I don’t know into what—that’s between him and her.” He passed his gaze around the room, but ended up back on Mare. “Now Mare, a wonderful…and pretty—” Mare blushed again. “—young girl with this astounding insight…what do you think? You understand what’s at stake each way, right?”
“Yes, sir,” she replied politely, timidly. She looked at her Dad, who motioned her on with a nod. “You said,” she continued, “there was a 50% chance it will happen by Friday?”
“The collapse, yes, and us with it.”
“So,” she said, as if thinking out loud for everyone, “there’s a 50% chance it won’t happen by then?”
“That’s correct, too.”
“So by Friday, it will either have happened or not have happened. That means there’s as much of a chance of it happening or not. Fifty-fifty, those are the numbers.”
“Yes. And?”
“Sounds like a coin toss to me,” she said.
“We can’t just flip a coin, Mare,” Atilano said, verging on patronizing her.
“Maybe not today,” she said, “but if we do decide to turn it off, why don’t we just wait till Friday, on purpose wait till then, to turn it off.”
“You’re saying that we take the 50% chance for ourselves by waiting till Friday. At that time we turn it off, save ourselves, make them go away, if we haven’t had the collapse by then and gone away ourselves.”
“Yea, I mean, yes, sir. Either we go away before then, or they go away after.” She looked around the room just as Atilano had before. “It’s 50/50 odds. Everyone has the same chance. Sure sounds fair to me.”
“Tails,” Tuesday said, completing the metaphor, and Mare smiled at him. The rest laughed.
This is how the most important decision in human history on two worlds was made. By listening to a child—a wisdom of naïveté, of purity, and of an intuitive sense of fairness.
The ṺberCollider would be shut down by the humans if they happened to still be there to do it, by Friday morning. The imaginary coin was flipped high and destiny called it in the air: by Friday the coin would land if it weren’t stolen before then.
It wasn’t very good for the nerves, but it was the perfect solution.

The next afternoon, on Thursday, Dr. Jay Kubacki came running into Atilano’s office excitedly. The Martian, Friday, was there, conferring with him when Kubacki arrived, breathless.
“I don’t like when you come in like this, Jay,” Atilano said. “It’s never good news.”
“0.086%!” Kubacki almost shouted. “We’re not going to make it—we’re not going to be here by tomorrow morning! It’s collapsing now!” He stood in front of the seated Atilano and Martian. President Atilano and Friday looked at each other. “We can still shut it down,” Kubacki offered, avoiding eye contact with Friday.
“I’m a man of my word,” Atilano said calmly. “It was a fair fight. We called heads and it came up tails. We can be proud of the fact that we are men of our word—one of the good things we brought to Mars from Earth.” Kubacki stood silently. Atilano looked at Friday as he spoke to Kubacki. “It occurs to me, Jay, that you could defy me and turn it off yourself. I wouldn’t even know how to stop you.” Then he turned to lock back onto Kubacki.
“No, sir, I would never do that.”
“Thank you,” Atilano said.
“For what?”
“For putting an idea like that into its rightful place.”
Suddenly, Atilano’s automaton blared an announcement: “Sir, there are thousands of Martians at the Arsia Mons caldera. And as far as sensors can perceive, it appears there are millions moving to join them from all over the planet.”
“Million?” Atilano asked.
“Millions,” the automaton corrected him, emphasizing the plural.
“What’s this, Friday?” Atilano asked.
“It’s a pilgrimage, Mr. President.”
“Another Synbiotic Event? A pilgrimage to what?”
“To fairness. To integrity. To the best things one world could ever offer another.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Then come with me.”
“Where? To the ṺberCollider?”
“No,” Friday answered, “to the caldera. There are many humans there already.”
“How—how did they know? To go?”
“They were invited.”
“Now?” Atilano asked.
“Now,” Friday said. Atilano paced for a moment.
“Right now?”
NOW
     NOW
        NOW
           NOW
              NOW
                 NOW
                    NOW!

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Written by DrSemicolon

Slider

I have just finished uploading the final draft of my novel, Slider. If you're so kind as to read it, please offer me your comments via tags, or if preferred, email to eddiehchrist@gmail.com.

Below is the blurb I've prepared in my query letters:

“Slider” is a psychological thriller that explores the self-injury unrestrained selfishness inflicts. Ralph Ebe has always been a bon vivant and epicurean because he could. He has an extra convolution in his brain that allows him to shift to another existence where things go better for him. He merely “slides” from one version of reality to another until, for instance, the dice come up 7, or the girl he is lusting after loses that correctable, unsightly nose tip. Although he is selfish, he is likable, because he has been given a gift most of us would use the same exact way, following the paths of least resistance and the way to the most rewards in life. Ultimately, he progresses into worlds that are made a little worse each time because of the self-serving choices he has made. Like a rogue wave, the selfish small perturbations in fate he engenders gather until he finds himself in very unattractive places—a world where it took three atomic bombs to end World War II, where the South won the Civil War, or where hospitals do more harm than good. As he realizes his direction has become calamitous, elements of altruism start to creep into his journey. His pregnant girlfriend, Ava, gives him his first taste of putting himself second, but by then it is too late: he is being pushed further into the labyrinth of selfishness, powerless to manage the direction himself. The innocent Ava is trapped in his wake, making his struggle to undo the harm and get back to a reasonable world—home, where things don’t always go our way—so urgent.

As Ralph Ebe has an anatomical anomaly in his brain that allows him his sliding capabilities, is it really so different from each of us having a civilized part of our brain exerting authority over the primitive self-serving part? Each of us has his or her own threshold where that dividing line exists, but that dividing line is often blurred. When does the altruistic man overcome the caveman? Homo sapiens outvote the reptile? Human beings are complex, civilization and the rules of societal behavior hiding our reptilian thoughts so well. This ugly struggle continues in each of us, often privately taking us aback when we realize what thoughts so easily appear in our deeper brains. We are all both protagonists and antagonists in our own stories, as Ralph Ebe demonstrates for sympathetic readers in this cautionary tale. “Slider” is a psychological thriller and sophisticated horror story that adventures deep into the mental landscape of self-indulgence where karma is delivered without mercy.

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Written by DrSemicolon
Slider
I have just finished uploading the final draft of my novel, Slider. If you're so kind as to read it, please offer me your comments via tags, or if preferred, email to eddiehchrist@gmail.com.

Below is the blurb I've prepared in my query letters:

“Slider” is a psychological thriller that explores the self-injury unrestrained selfishness inflicts. Ralph Ebe has always been a bon vivant and epicurean because he could. He has an extra convolution in his brain that allows him to shift to another existence where things go better for him. He merely “slides” from one version of reality to another until, for instance, the dice come up 7, or the girl he is lusting after loses that correctable, unsightly nose tip. Although he is selfish, he is likable, because he has been given a gift most of us would use the same exact way, following the paths of least resistance and the way to the most rewards in life. Ultimately, he progresses into worlds that are made a little worse each time because of the self-serving choices he has made. Like a rogue wave, the selfish small perturbations in fate he engenders gather until he finds himself in very unattractive places—a world where it took three atomic bombs to end World War II, where the South won the Civil War, or where hospitals do more harm than good. As he realizes his direction has become calamitous, elements of altruism start to creep into his journey. His pregnant girlfriend, Ava, gives him his first taste of putting himself second, but by then it is too late: he is being pushed further into the labyrinth of selfishness, powerless to manage the direction himself. The innocent Ava is trapped in his wake, making his struggle to undo the harm and get back to a reasonable world—home, where things don’t always go our way—so urgent.

As Ralph Ebe has an anatomical anomaly in his brain that allows him his sliding capabilities, is it really so different from each of us having a civilized part of our brain exerting authority over the primitive self-serving part? Each of us has his or her own threshold where that dividing line exists, but that dividing line is often blurred. When does the altruistic man overcome the caveman? Homo sapiens outvote the reptile? Human beings are complex, civilization and the rules of societal behavior hiding our reptilian thoughts so well. This ugly struggle continues in each of us, often privately taking us aback when we realize what thoughts so easily appear in our deeper brains. We are all both protagonists and antagonists in our own stories, as Ralph Ebe demonstrates for sympathetic readers in this cautionary tale. “Slider” is a psychological thriller and sophisticated horror story that adventures deep into the mental landscape of self-indulgence where karma is delivered without mercy.

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Juice
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Written by DrSemicolon in portal Novel Writing

SLIDER

I have just finished uploading the final draft of my novel, Slider. If you're so kind as to read it, please offer me your comments via tags, or if preferred, email to eddiehchrist@gmail.com. 

Below is the blurb I've prepared in my query letters:

“Slider” is a psychological thriller that explores the self-injury unrestrained selfishness inflicts. Ralph Ebe has always been a bon vivant and epicurean because he could. He has an extra convolution in his brain that allows him to shift to another existence where things go better for him. He merely “slides” from one version of reality to another until, for instance, the dice come up 7, or the girl he is lusting after loses that correctable, unsightly nose tip. Although he is selfish, he is likable, because he has been given a gift most of us would use the same exact way, following the paths of least resistance and the way to the most rewards in life. Ultimately, he progresses into worlds that are made a little worse each time because of the self-serving choices he has made. Like a rogue wave, the selfish small perturbations in fate he engenders gather until he finds himself in very unattractive places—a world where it took three atomic bombs to end World War II, where the South won the Civil War, or where hospitals do more harm than good. As he realizes his direction has become calamitous, elements of altruism start to creep into his journey. His pregnant girlfriend, Ava, gives him his first taste of putting himself second, but by then it is too late: he is being pushed further into the labyrinth of selfishness, powerless to manage the direction himself. The innocent Ava is trapped in his wake, making his struggle to undo the harm and get back to a reasonable world—home, where things don’t always go our way—so urgent.

As Ralph Ebe has an anatomical anomaly in his brain that allows him his sliding capabilities, is it really so different from each of us having a civilized part of our brain exerting authority over the primitive self-serving part? Each of us has his or her own threshold where that dividing line exists, but that dividing line is often blurred. When does the altruistic man overcome the caveman? Homo sapiens outvote the reptile? Human beings are complex, civilization and the rules of societal behavior hiding our reptilian thoughts so well. This ugly struggle continues in each of us, often privately taking us aback when we realize what thoughts so easily appear in our deeper brains. We are all both protagonists and antagonists in our own stories, as Ralph Ebe demonstrates for sympathetic readers in this cautionary tale. “Slider” is a psychological thriller and sophisticated horror story that adventures deep into the mental landscape of self-indulgence where karma is delivered without mercy.

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Written by DrSemicolon in portal Novel Writing
SLIDER
I have just finished uploading the final draft of my novel, Slider. If you're so kind as to read it, please offer me your comments via tags, or if preferred, email to eddiehchrist@gmail.com. 

Below is the blurb I've prepared in my query letters:

“Slider” is a psychological thriller that explores the self-injury unrestrained selfishness inflicts. Ralph Ebe has always been a bon vivant and epicurean because he could. He has an extra convolution in his brain that allows him to shift to another existence where things go better for him. He merely “slides” from one version of reality to another until, for instance, the dice come up 7, or the girl he is lusting after loses that correctable, unsightly nose tip. Although he is selfish, he is likable, because he has been given a gift most of us would use the same exact way, following the paths of least resistance and the way to the most rewards in life. Ultimately, he progresses into worlds that are made a little worse each time because of the self-serving choices he has made. Like a rogue wave, the selfish small perturbations in fate he engenders gather until he finds himself in very unattractive places—a world where it took three atomic bombs to end World War II, where the South won the Civil War, or where hospitals do more harm than good. As he realizes his direction has become calamitous, elements of altruism start to creep into his journey. His pregnant girlfriend, Ava, gives him his first taste of putting himself second, but by then it is too late: he is being pushed further into the labyrinth of selfishness, powerless to manage the direction himself. The innocent Ava is trapped in his wake, making his struggle to undo the harm and get back to a reasonable world—home, where things don’t always go our way—so urgent.

As Ralph Ebe has an anatomical anomaly in his brain that allows him his sliding capabilities, is it really so different from each of us having a civilized part of our brain exerting authority over the primitive self-serving part? Each of us has his or her own threshold where that dividing line exists, but that dividing line is often blurred. When does the altruistic man overcome the caveman? Homo sapiens outvote the reptile? Human beings are complex, civilization and the rules of societal behavior hiding our reptilian thoughts so well. This ugly struggle continues in each of us, often privately taking us aback when we realize what thoughts so easily appear in our deeper brains. We are all both protagonists and antagonists in our own stories, as Ralph Ebe demonstrates for sympathetic readers in this cautionary tale. “Slider” is a psychological thriller and sophisticated horror story that adventures deep into the mental landscape of self-indulgence where karma is delivered without mercy.

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Chapter 45 of ♂: The NOVEL
Written by DrSemicolon

45

Crags make chronotons. Ask anyone who has had one.

Friday’s words kept coming back to him.

Like all good diplomats, Atilano played his hand close to the vest. In the interest of those he represented, he dared not let on how horrified he was that anyone at all must be chosen for elimination.

He may have had little or no time left, true, but there was a 50% probability he and the rest of the humans would be around until that Friday, about 60 hours, and counting, from his bedtime on this Tuesday evening.

Crags make chronotons. Ask anyone who has had one. Had he been thinking about this very thing already this evening? He noticed a strange feeling of déjà vu.

Again.

He realized he had been having these feelings sporadically for several days now. Perhaps not so sporadic. Perhaps the feelings corresponded, he reasoned with horror, to the serial minichronic booms that had been occurring along a collapsing rectangle of Fibonacci curve points. The minicollapses.

He slept terribly that night, as did all of the humans all the way out to Lagrange 1. In his shower the following morning, he did excellent thinking, as he always did in the shower. First of all, he realized, he was still there to take a shower and was thankful for that. Although he was finished washing himself, he stood—a naked human being—under the water. Naked and scared. Naked—as good a metaphor for helpless and unprotected as there could ever be.

He did his most excellent thinking.

The Martians after synbiosis were superior in both intellect and, seemingly, in what many on Earth might call humanity. What we could learn from them! We hadn’t even scratched the surface, and now the human default position of self-preservation would send them back to extinction, back to oblivion.

Like they never were. Like their non-existent fossils.

On the one hand, allowing them co-existence with the Earth-bound humans until TNULL meant annihilation of the colony. Men, women, and children—all who never were. Not even dust to dust, or as the Martians might say, light to light. And probably all children of colonists, even back on Earth, might join the oblivion. But annihilation for Atilano, the rest of the colonists, and even those few on Earth who were the progeny, meant both races would persist.

People of Mars, welcome to the Solar System!

After all, human history would remain. Probably. The Louvre, the Vatican, the Rijksmuseum, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Confucius, Jefferson, Locke, the Pyramids, Tour d’Eiffel, the Taj Mahal, and on and on. Persisting.

Probably.

Beautifully persisting along with the wonders of the achievements of the Martian race. Who on Earth would care about 2700 colonists—mere adventurers who knew the risks when they had signed on and deserved whatever their risks would bring?

People of Mars, welcome to the Solar System!

Oblivion would spare Earth. Probably. But “probably” still meant some uncertainty. For Earth’s safety, Kubacki’s mistakes could only be upgraded from his disturbing possibly to Friday’s reassuring probably not.

Still there was the chance that all humans—possibly all the way to Earth, might be assigned to oblivion.

Oblivion hurts.

And because it hurt on the front end, as Atilano once said, he wanted to cry.

Crags. “Ask anyone who has had one,” Friday had said. Atilano wasn’t deluded that this decision was his alone. Or was it? That would be WalshThink, he groaned. But this begged an important consideration: who had the right to weigh in?

The whole colony? There wasn’t enough time to evacuate everyone to Lagrange 1 before Friday, although some evacuations could begin and continue to Lagrange capacity. (Even if there was so little as a 1% chance of collapse not occurring before 60 days, shouldn’t that window be used to load up the perennials?)

The MCPSC? Should they make their case? Didn’t they run Mars? Weren’t they entrusted for things like this?

The NOE back on Earth? There was a possibility, however small, that all of Earth was at risk.

No, no, no! he realized, realized severely. What would their capitalism say about it? Martian technology would change everything, of course. The whole colony had been an NOE business venture by nations and corporations, a hybrid politico-fiscal enterprise, with the associated responsibilities to shareholders. God, he thought. Imagine making this a business decision. Which way would profit vote? Which way would a return-on-investment vote? It certainly wouldn’t be in favor of the 2700 colonists when there was a millennial technology available for consumers.

Furthermore, there were nations in the NOE who had made no contributions to the colony, yet they were fully entitled say in all NOE decisions. The NOE, its members as enmeshed in perpetually fruitless gainsaying as they were, would turn the decision into an offensive farce. Some of its members still struggled with other members over the right to exist, so how could they qualify to consider the same of another world?

Should the Chronarchy decide? According to charter, this would probably mean input from the languid Bureau of Prisns, which was hardly qualified to run a cafeteria or laundry much less judge for or against genocide. As it was, only one other person, Dr. Jay Kubacki, was privy to the current field measurements.

Indecisive and emotional missteps could not rule the day. Could not rule the planet. Should not rule the future or the past. Not if Gavin Atilano had anything to do with it.

Atilano shivered, but it was not because his hot water had run out. He shivered because he realized any participants in the decision by the pro-profit Earth-centric would sound the death knell for any consideration for colonists’ survival. The colonists would be hard pressed to find champions. On the other hand, any colony-centric decisions would end the dream of tempconciliation, alien co-existence, and quantum leaps in human civilization. How could the colony ever be exciting again after having walked in the gardens of the gods?

Ask anyone who has had one. Atilano knew now how the decision should be made.

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Chapter 45 of ♂: The NOVEL
Written by DrSemicolon
45
Crags make chronotons. Ask anyone who has had one.
Friday’s words kept coming back to him.
Like all good diplomats, Atilano played his hand close to the vest. In the interest of those he represented, he dared not let on how horrified he was that anyone at all must be chosen for elimination.
He may have had little or no time left, true, but there was a 50% probability he and the rest of the humans would be around until that Friday, about 60 hours, and counting, from his bedtime on this Tuesday evening.
Crags make chronotons. Ask anyone who has had one. Had he been thinking about this very thing already this evening? He noticed a strange feeling of déjà vu.
Again.
He realized he had been having these feelings sporadically for several days now. Perhaps not so sporadic. Perhaps the feelings corresponded, he reasoned with horror, to the serial minichronic booms that had been occurring along a collapsing rectangle of Fibonacci curve points. The minicollapses.
He slept terribly that night, as did all of the humans all the way out to Lagrange 1. In his shower the following morning, he did excellent thinking, as he always did in the shower. First of all, he realized, he was still there to take a shower and was thankful for that. Although he was finished washing himself, he stood—a naked human being—under the water. Naked and scared. Naked—as good a metaphor for helpless and unprotected as there could ever be.
He did his most excellent thinking.
The Martians after synbiosis were superior in both intellect and, seemingly, in what many on Earth might call humanity. What we could learn from them! We hadn’t even scratched the surface, and now the human default position of self-preservation would send them back to extinction, back to oblivion.
Like they never were. Like their non-existent fossils.
On the one hand, allowing them co-existence with the Earth-bound humans until TNULL meant annihilation of the colony. Men, women, and children—all who never were. Not even dust to dust, or as the Martians might say, light to light. And probably all children of colonists, even back on Earth, might join the oblivion. But annihilation for Atilano, the rest of the colonists, and even those few on Earth who were the progeny, meant both races would persist.
People of Mars, welcome to the Solar System!
After all, human history would remain. Probably. The Louvre, the Vatican, the Rijksmuseum, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Confucius, Jefferson, Locke, the Pyramids, Tour d’Eiffel, the Taj Mahal, and on and on. Persisting.
Probably.
Beautifully persisting along with the wonders of the achievements of the Martian race. Who on Earth would care about 2700 colonists—mere adventurers who knew the risks when they had signed on and deserved whatever their risks would bring?
People of Mars, welcome to the Solar System!
Oblivion would spare Earth. Probably. But “probably” still meant some uncertainty. For Earth’s safety, Kubacki’s mistakes could only be upgraded from his disturbing possibly to Friday’s reassuring probably not.
Still there was the chance that all humans—possibly all the way to Earth, might be assigned to oblivion.
Oblivion hurts.
And because it hurt on the front end, as Atilano once said, he wanted to cry.
Crags. “Ask anyone who has had one,” Friday had said. Atilano wasn’t deluded that this decision was his alone. Or was it? That would be WalshThink, he groaned. But this begged an important consideration: who had the right to weigh in?
The whole colony? There wasn’t enough time to evacuate everyone to Lagrange 1 before Friday, although some evacuations could begin and continue to Lagrange capacity. (Even if there was so little as a 1% chance of collapse not occurring before 60 days, shouldn’t that window be used to load up the perennials?)
The MCPSC? Should they make their case? Didn’t they run Mars? Weren’t they entrusted for things like this?
The NOE back on Earth? There was a possibility, however small, that all of Earth was at risk.
No, no, no! he realized, realized severely. What would their capitalism say about it? Martian technology would change everything, of course. The whole colony had been an NOE business venture by nations and corporations, a hybrid politico-fiscal enterprise, with the associated responsibilities to shareholders. God, he thought. Imagine making this a business decision. Which way would profit vote? Which way would a return-on-investment vote? It certainly wouldn’t be in favor of the 2700 colonists when there was a millennial technology available for consumers.
Furthermore, there were nations in the NOE who had made no contributions to the colony, yet they were fully entitled say in all NOE decisions. The NOE, its members as enmeshed in perpetually fruitless gainsaying as they were, would turn the decision into an offensive farce. Some of its members still struggled with other members over the right to exist, so how could they qualify to consider the same of another world?
Should the Chronarchy decide? According to charter, this would probably mean input from the languid Bureau of Prisns, which was hardly qualified to run a cafeteria or laundry much less judge for or against genocide. As it was, only one other person, Dr. Jay Kubacki, was privy to the current field measurements.
Indecisive and emotional missteps could not rule the day. Could not rule the planet. Should not rule the future or the past. Not if Gavin Atilano had anything to do with it.
Atilano shivered, but it was not because his hot water had run out. He shivered because he realized any participants in the decision by the pro-profit Earth-centric would sound the death knell for any consideration for colonists’ survival. The colonists would be hard pressed to find champions. On the other hand, any colony-centric decisions would end the dream of tempconciliation, alien co-existence, and quantum leaps in human civilization. How could the colony ever be exciting again after having walked in the gardens of the gods?
Ask anyone who has had one. Atilano knew now how the decision should be made.

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Juice
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