Divest yourself of Burdens, Lay them Down
Divest yourself of burdens, lay them down.
When young we had no duties to attend,
For you nor I are fit to wear a crown.
But ho! The carefree smile became a frown.
We harkened to a raging wind’s new tone.
Divest yourself of burdens, lay them down.
To shove aside our troubles, we would clown,
Attempt to cast our cares aside in jest.
For you nor I are fit to wear a crown.
Maturing yet, we rose to great renown.
We shouldered all the woes for all the world.
Divest yourself of burdens, lay them down.
The green leaf, as the winds blew on, turned brown,
And seasons bore urgently, unyielding.
For you nor I are fit to wear a crown.
Then did we not wish problems all to drown?
Would that we’d not endeavored overmuch.
Divest yourself of burdens, lay them down,
For you nor I are fit to wear a crown.
black hole limerick whence no whimsy emanates
There once was a blackened dictator,
a wannabe take-over-Stater.
The world waits in thrall
to dismay of all.
We'd oust this dream sooner than later.
What’s in a word?
Everyone espouses me and they elevate me. They're my type of sister and my type of brother. I’m intertwined with heart, I’m so essential. I tie these mates of mine together, destining bliss as together they live out long lives.
Yep, you guessed it. I’m the soul.
What’s that? I’m low-lying? Sticky with earthy manure at times? Did you say the ‘undersurface of the shoe’? Sole? Well, now …
Ahem. Everyone espouses me. For certain, they can’t live without me, I’m so essential. I guess you’d say I’m fleet of foot. I’m the underlying force for good. I’m base. And though lowdown, I’m not the sinister kind of base. I’m bedrock.
Last Monday, I headed home from work via the interstate in stop and go traffic. We sped up. I started feeling horrible, primarily with heartburn. My vision kept shrinking, perhaps like an aura and/or tunnel vision. I realized this was very dangerous!
I merged into the far-right lane, but barely missed an exit.
Fortunately, ALL FOUR traffic lanes slowed. I didn't feel nearly as out of control while driving slowly. I was afraid I might get sick to my stomach, so pulled onto the shoulder and stopped.
I got out to walk around and recovered within seconds. I'm now fine again.
Part I - 13 August 2224:
I awoke in stages, a luxury I wasn’t afforded before our escape to what we’d thought a safe haven. The Dark Matter I alone had detected in unmistakable detail shattered all semblance of normalcy, affecting immediate displacement. Not only had I seen its valid name-imprint, Dark Matter, on the scatterscreen at my workplace, I’d witnessed its awful power in person! I’d known instantly and resolutely that Jake and I were compelled to go within the hour.
Here now, due to dark material that had existed heretofore solely in space, but then manifested itself to me on earth. Upon rising and making my way down two flights to the kitchen, I’d glimpsed hundreds of roaches around the sink, but they scattered and disappeared. Horrified that so many could’ve made their way in here, I returned to the sleep-room but found my soulpartner Jake still sleeping. It was better this way, prolonging his knowledge of yet another misery.
Re-exiting the sleep-chamber, nausea and weakness struck fast and hard. I fell panting to the floor, swallowing convulsively, holding back bitter bile. Each time I’d beheld Dark Matter up close, I’d envisioned Thor’s thunderbolt revealing monumental effects this matter form had wielded on our planet.
Directly, in full detail, I witnessed the incalculable, all-powerful efficiency Dark Matter had employed as it formed the caldera now encompassing Yellowstone. Though more than 70,000 years past, this transpired here, NOW, before my very eyes as I watched, strapped to the floor by the Matter’s interacting particles. “It’s not Dark Energy, 68% of the universe, Lolla,” I soothed myself. “It’s the 27% of matter, Dark Matter!” Other earthlings could see only baryonic, “visible” matter, comprising less than 5%. A small consolation, “only” 27% had I dredged up!
I emitted a long, involuntary whimper as the singular vision cleared, leaving a distinct, acrid odor of sulfur. The sensation of norepinephrine galore pulsing through my veins held me hostage, rendered helpless. After some indistinct interval, the response subsided.
Who’d have guessed two weeks ago I would've chanced to come this far, to Here-Now? Since my neo-illusionment, my life changed in totality. From having held a job as a significant contributor to a society I disbelieved in, I’d been driven into this current position. A silent sufferer existing on the fringe, the banal now consumed my life.
The lottery likely would’ve caught up with Jake and me eventually had we not gotten out. A mandatory lottery determined who would live another day in a world where people might live on indefinitely. More to the point, it determined who would be sought out to die the next day! Very few made it past the odds to where they’d lived out their 500 years, after which point they were sanctioned to live incessantly without disruption.
Dark Matter enabled this practice, I now knew. Specifics eluded me though, despite my best attempts to unearth them. The lottery magnates had been protected by the influence of Dark Matter without the slightest whiff that this was so. Ironically these moguls would not have grasped the scienceknowledge nor its buffering effect that empowered them had all the physicists on earth explained it with the patience of Job.
Like Ancient Egyptians who thought the world would end overnight were it not for intercession of humans to gods, human life hung in the balance daily. And to keep it fair for all, people had but a day to put their affairs in order when their exitnumber came up.
It was one thing for Jake and me, who’d left our home due to fears of reprisal from our employ-opp, that corrupt government institution. We’d hoped to still cling to life in hiding. To receive a one-day death notice was quite another matter. It was not long enough to mentally prepare, to make peace. It was insufficient! To keep it fair, right! There was so much bribery
afoot, the whole society stank with it. Average workers like we were, earning but a decent wage, couldn't afford to buy anyone off. And we were doing our part for what? For this ‘just’ society?
Wandering the huge ghost of a mansion we’d come to inhabit, I noted the carpet was in ruin, composed of fibrous strands all but coming apart. Through these I spied more huge bugs attempting to hide but barely evident in the decaying fabric. Why, they’re just like we, I feared. No sooner had I thought this than I banished the very thought from my mind. No, we were safe now! Wasn’t that why we’d paid the sum total we’d put away over our lifetime to the Folcums? No one knows we’re here but Archibald and Esme, and they’ve been sworn to secrecy.
I made my way through a maze of rooms, down one staircase after another. Entering the north-facing room farthest from our sleep-chamber, I encountered two women of childbearing age like myself. They appeared to have led much harder lives than I by the look of them. Not wanting to attract attention to my situation, I let on as if their presence were commonplace.
“Can you believe she’s been killed, even now?” the shorter of the women asked me. I took in her oversized, bedraggled gunny, so flimsy and squalid.
“It came as quite a shock to me, I must admit,” I answered, unable to fathom to whom the speaker referred. An existence of necessary, habitual lying to unscrupulous, authoritarian overseers created the ability to easily conceal one’s true thoughts. My present fear of being remanded if targeted was palpable only to me, I hoped. I expected this woman would make it clear to whom she was referring, the someone who’d only just died.
The speaker continued in her tinny, nasal whine, “’Tis a pity she couldn’t have rested here indefinitely, and we could have stayed on with her. She was nearly verging on the 500-year milestone, the point of no returning. And now what’s to become of us? You’ve no doubt seen the crappy dogfood spilled on the floor of the kitchen? How it’s filled with maggots and flies? We’ve been reduced to eating that and what’s more, the remains of the dog in the oven. But that won’t last long what with the power being off and all.”
This news yet untested was unsettling, with still no telling who this person spoke of. It would not have surprised me much, though. People reaching the 500-year mark were all too often victimized for the sole purpose of stealing their identities, enabling others to live off their allotments. These women were hapless bystanders, but not family. I felt sure a tie would’ve been pointed out had they been related. I mulled this over and stated irritably, “It’s typical and I concur, a pity, that one 500 after another meets this fate. Still, it’s only this particular case affecting you.”
“Right you are,” agreed the wild-eyed one who’d not spoken until now. In the singsong of the paranoid schizophrenic, she wheedled, “Are you here to see we’re turned out? We know we were to be gone by now but haven’t got a place to go, you see!” Her voice, now raspy and deep, now climbing and dipping, reminded me of an actor I’d heard speaking on a 22nd century histoplay. This one, tall and slim, was the better appointed of the two. Her clothes did not hang awkwardly and were not nearly as filthy as the others’. Her unkempt hair, nails, and teeth belied a state of actual status, however.
I sensed I was nearing the end of my tether. While these women had no right to be here, neither did I; and the courts would view the highcrime of dissolution, mine, far harder than mere squatting. The going rate for reporting dissoluters would carry these poor souls a long way, by their meager standards.
My mind raced with lightning speed. The question that kept repeating itself was whether I risked making my way back to Jake to apprise him of this newfound, potential danger. As much as the roaches evoked abhorrence, the threat brought by these women was equally repulsive but far more menacing. Their presence, knowing I was here; these perils left so much at stake.
Were their motives innocent? I summarily reached my verdict. There was no way to trust them. The moment of truth arrived. “I see you’re hungry, and I’ve government cheese in my mealchest. It’s too much for me. You’re welcome to shares,” I intoned now in what I hoped was a passable rendering of a government humanoid.
A look of ecstasy immediately giving way to intense pain flitted across the face of the dowdier of the women, relief followed by greed too strong to bear. As she rose to her feet, my trembling hand groped for the metal pipe I’d noted leaning on a leg of the sidetable. I brought this pipe down hard on her nape. I’d saved the stungun for the one I took to be the more formidable of the pair. In short order these women, castoffs from a world grown callous to the needy, lay in puddles of their own drool as I raced back. Through sprawling padded hallways, up carpeted staircases with newly ramshackle banisters I flew to where my soulpartner lay, to rouse him, enlist his help, place on him the decision I was unable or unwilling to make myself. What in hell were we to do with these two now?
“Hurry, Jake, lest they come round to betray us!” I screamed as I rounded the door to our sleep-room. But it was empty. The only trace, a lingering scent of his sweetish sweat permeating the air. What’s more, his kit was cleaned out! Jake’s duolog flashed steadily, disproving the power outage rumor.
Entered in Jake’s own signet-font, a disconcerting missive visibly shattered any hope I entertained for salvation. “Lolla, make no mistake! I’ll go now, through with whoress like you!” it read on the disposal-feed, utterly simple with his clear intent. Now what’s next for me? I asked myself, sinking to my knees head in hands in dark despair. I scanned the rest of the narrative, the damning threat repeated and then the rest written in poemform.
I’ll go now, through with whoress like you!
The sucking without care.
But no, it’s meet, a bland scene,
devoid of diabolic scheme.
When heedless, wholly unintended,
virus fully had amended
back when laid and since repealed;
bastard microbe now revealed.
I list, as I’m
quite apathetic to all this.
It’s just, I’ve seen this play before.
Forgive me, ere I close the door.
How uncanny this was for multiple reasons. He’d never written poetry; and since I’d met Jake, he’d been as much a perfectionist as I. There’d been a spelling slip-up here and there, unlike his twin who could maintain no recollection of how to spell properly. So Jake would’ve had to notice his error in the spelling of ‘whores’ given that he’d misspelled it twice! How uncharacteristic! Another boggling deviation I found, logging back. A second entry showed on Jake’s disposal-feed. This, a nonsensical fragment of digits or code: 1248163264. Why would these be on this junk file? He would never not empty it! He kept nothing! Not only that, why enter gibberish at all?
Falling back to retrace my steps, I now saw one of his trademarks, for all the world the source of merciless teasing he’d endured for his love of the past. A piece of paper. Just like had been last used in the 22nd century. In his haste, he must’ve dropped it. A look at this cemented what I’d unconsciously suspected since before the Dark Matter had descended on me. Two
names appeared with a hand-drawn swashtyminder-mark vignetted between them, Fritz Zwicky and Archibald Folcum. So it was true!
Examining how Jake had acted of late now made perfect sense. His reluctance to leave, to come here now, to bring me along, his uncommon sleeping stretches. He had succumbed! On the take, complicit! And I? Now he’d laid it bare. I was but a pawn in this cruel game of the Dark Matter.
Zwicky had been sold out. He’d come to Caltech from his native Switzerland. Upon discovering unseen mass pointed out by anomalies in gravitational fields, he’d dubbed it dunkle Materie, Dark Matter, in 1933. His revelation hadn’t been hailed seriously, as it should have been by rights. A scant time later he wrote that evidence of this great of a discrepancy merited ‘a further analysis of the problem’. Archibald Folcum’s ancestors were moneyed even then, in the 20th century. I knew this full well, as I’d spent the entirety of my lifework-research daily investigating Dark Matter.
Though Zwicky raised the question of an error of gigantic proportion, it would be 50 years before the idea of dark matter was accepted by scientists. It was found that of the composition of 1000+ galaxies in Coma Cluster that Zwicky examined, fully 90% was dark matter. But the Folcums overreach of influence kept this burgeoning field of science on the back burner by channeling funds to other interests. The less attention drawn to Dark Matter, the better, in their view. By cherry picking and commissioning pet projects, they’d managed to capitalize on other up-and-comers. How else would Archibald and Esme have inherited this estate, as well as their dozen other formerly abundantly luxurious abodes?
“It is just as you’ve suspected, Lolla.” I told myself plaintively. Jake had sworn fealty to Folcum! Barely jutting my head through the slightly parted windowcovers, I took in the curve where the two-track lane disappeared into the wood leading to the ledge. I confirmed my worst
fear as Archibald’s convertpad plodded away down the course. Jacob’s darkly curled head of hair, an arresting sight, stood out beside Archibald on the frontseat. This selfsame conveyance had transported us up those barren cliffs below only two weeks ago.
Striking out of the chamber, I mounted the ancient pulldown ladder to the widow’s walk with the duolog, my scatterscreen, and enough clothing for a week in my rucksack. Unbeknownst to Jake, I’d stashed provisions and apparatus up above to supply us for a month. The visions I’d seen, the Dark Matter, acted as harbingers of what may be. I’d been numb and dense in past years from working 80-hour weeks. But the respite I’d gained in recent weeks brought newfound attunement to omnipresent necessity.
Jake had not seemed right, not himself at all, of late. When our former ardent lovemaking had cooled, I’d taken that in stride. This however was different, a seeming block of any feeling toward me whatsoever. Why had I neglected to call him on the carpet? A misplaced sense of duty likely bound me to him, for all the good it had done. Not hesitating a whit, I airgunned the attic door shut below my feet.
Having neglected to nourish or attend my body, I ate sufficiently, hydro-cleaned my teeth, and relieved myself on the remote-a-pot. My physical needs satisfied, I turned my attention to investigation. Upon scrutinizing Jake’s duolog, I discovered nothing in the feed I hadn’t already seen. But a hidden panel underneath opened as my finger unknowingly tripped a trigger and many papers flitted onto the platform. At first glance, they appeared blank. On further inspection I saw what looked surprisingly like tiny code inscribed on each leaf, 1248163264.
It was then that a realization hit me. I reflected on details that didn’t jibe. Searching my thought processes of the past hour, a stark inconsistency leapt out at me. “It is just as you’ve suspected, Lolla.” Why had I told myself I’d suspected Jake to be in league with Folcum, let alone act co-conspiratorially?
A conversation between the three of us then on-rushed me headon. We were preteens in the same grade in school at the time. We had become privy to the fact of Zwicky’s discrediting. I’d insisted we go to the Science Advisory Board, TVA, even the National Academy of Sciences with this news! While Jake had heartily agreed at first, after a long hard look exchanged between him and Archibald that spoke volumes of … I knew not what, he’d switched gears radically. He’d told me off in no uncertain terms, saying ‘scientists wouldn’t listen to anyone as young as we’ in such a withering tone it blistered! Had I remembered the abhorrent vitriol he’d spewed at me, we’d never have gotten together!
Who’d caused this memory to have been erased from my consciousness? Whose finger was it that’d been on the disremember trigger? Jittery now, a question presented itself to me. Had I spent decades with one who’d wiped my brain of that exchange? As unsettling as this was, I now noted another inconsistency of unimaginable proportion. TVA? NAS? They’d been operational at the time of that three-way conversation. Yet I knew these authorities had been dismantled no later than the mid-21st century when the first techno-famine was visited upon earth-citizens by the TechnoAutocrat. I, no, not just I; we three had been timeswapped as well, also unbeknownst to me!
Water under the dam, I reassured myself, is all this is. To sidetrack from my immediate focus would be foolhardy at this point. I must needs concentrate! Though daunting, I had to determine the method this Dark Matter employed without a moment’s delay. For eight hours, I pored over everything pertinent to Dark Matter I could assemble on my scatterscreen. My attempt to see a connection between Dark Matter and encroaching 500s being poached was thwarted. If there was a relationship, it was too well shrouded. Yet I held determined desperation. If damning fodder was there to be fed into an equation, I’d find it. I had to!
As light shined down a dark tunnel could make it through where nothing impedes it, any
matter blocking it cast a penumbra. I’d seen this as a child when I beamed a flashlight through a runoff drain. I knew the wild critter I’d seen enter the pipe was crouching halfway in, for its body shut off my ray.
Scientists tried at CERN in Geneva hundreds of years ago to gather enough dark matter to unlock its secret. They hadn’t seen the key, for they couldn’t. It was not part of the visible, nor could it produce, absorb, or reflect light.
As near as I could come to a tie-in between inside awareness of Dark Matter activity and details that had fallen into my hands of ubiquitous tax evasion, money laundering, and public corruption was a vague shell corporation. Its identity was profoundly encrypted like I’d never witnessed. Another dead end. Someone either had knowledge of how to unleash this awesome power or perhaps knew just enough to convincingly bluff that they did.
When I took a break to eat, I realized I was drawing to a close of my eighth hour enmeshed in researching. Nevertheless, I was frustratingly powerless to see my way clear to finding whose hand was at work here.
A wave of brilliant color swept over me. The Dark Matter returned with a vengeance! A roaring started in the left of my brain, louder than any MacroTrain blare. It continued, unrelenting, making its way incrementally through my head toward my midbrain. My amygdala heightened its fear sensors and I shook like a leaf in a hurricane. My eyesight grew splotched. I could see the world in a blur only, with a colored prism of light a circular corpuscle at my nerve terminal. This sphere was of huge proportion, unlike anything seen before. The sound deafened me, for I shouted aloud as vociferously as I could, yet could hear nothing of my own voice. Gradually, FAR too gradually, it moved on toward my right lobe and after what seemed hours, it passed out of my consciousness.
I was spent, sweatdrenched and drymouthed. I blacked out, fully dressed, for the night. A gracious gift from the universe was allowing me to relax thus completely. My drifting to sleep synced with newsfeed adding the following display: Dissoluter sought FOR TREASON - Dead or Alive - ^40,000.000 Reward for Lolla Myrkry of Aereonaut. The ante had been upped!
Part III - 14 August 2224
The raucous sound of birdcall came to me where I lay on the widow’s walk as the new day dawned. I broke my fast before noticing there was a bounty on my head. To say I was vexed at this turn of events put it mildly. I secured dark-matter ropes around me, stepped over the parapet and rappelled nimbly down the several stories to the lawn to scout around. These ropes I’d devised mimicked invisibility.
I had noticed a window ajar in the anteroom adjacent the kitchen. As I climbed through to enter the house, the unmistakable stench of decaying flesh confirmed what the women related about the dog. Donning gloves, I hauled the corpse out past the lawn, and lofted it over the bluff wondering, “they’d have eaten dogmeat?”
Back in the antechamber, against the wall, an ancient clockwork’s long, slender arm ticked off seconds. The antiquity clicked steadily as hands rounded its face. This centuries-old throwback brought nostalgia as often happened whenever I viewed long-forgotten artifacts. Suddenly a sense of foreboding overtook me with such dread my muscles tensed to run. But where? Raising the hackles on my neck, the Matter shortly arose out of nowhere! Cloying sea-smell arising, sweat drenching me in a thrice, my heart pounding in my throat, a towering tsunami ripped through the outer wall and excruciatingly flattened me in its wake, crashing waves crescendoing all round.
As quickly as it had come, it was gone. I found my recovery time better. Perhaps I was acclimating to the terrors. Not only was I adjusting, though. My perception fixated on another source of the lessened sense of fearfulness. I’d noted a bizarre flaw. When the tremor overtook me, I was looking pensively at the tall, old clockpiece. I’d sensed the Dark Matter a full second
prior to its showing itself!
Searching my memory for more, I replayed the event as in slow motion. Yes, there it was again! Around the edges of the effervescent corona I’d barely realized parts of actual surroundings. Perhaps if this event had lasted a shorter time than most, I was a trace less terrified. Again, after the tsunami’s departure, I’d felt its presence abate a full second before the normal look of the room returned, as evinced by the ticking of the artifact’s hand. I’d found a matched pair of rifts in the comings and goings of the monstrosity, although these arrivals and withdrawals had passed as seamless when Dark Matter had appeared before!
Now that I’d sensed a fracture in what had seemed impenetrable, the Dark Matter’s movements, I knit my brow over coincidences I’d noted. I knew sometimes they were just that, coincidence. Yet ofttimes, there’s more than meets the eye. Those misspellings had not been lost on me, and the Fibonacci chain cropped up recurrently. I located my dark-matter ropes with rope-sensor, reattached, and scaled the walls to my makeshift hideaway the way I’d come down, though more laboriously than my descent. Throwing a leg over the top rail and hoisting myself over, I mentally thrust around for a key to solve the mysterious repetition of this number chain.
Looking at the poemform Jake left unintentionally, I set eyes to the 10-digit start of the pattern. Examining the lot, I puzzled out words 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. This read as, “I’ll go through you meet back door”. Knowing Jacob, I took this to mean, “I’ll go through. You meet [me at the] back door.” While crudely coded, this must’ve intimated the ‘back door’ I’d noticed as spacetime staying open a time before closing. I’d seen-felt the undeniable opportunity this gap afforded when the Dark Matter receded in the anteroom to the kitchen. Jake had meant for that message to be found by me!
This knowledge armed me and, yes, buoyed me. If what I’d theorized would hold water,
given time, I could finally resolve and even master the riddle of the Dark Matter. To get to the very heart of this matter, I knew undeniably it was now or never! But I was aware I’d need help by way of extra hands to operate the clumsy manual panels at my disposal here. To my great disdain, realization dawned that I would eat a healthy serving of crow this day. I clenched my jaw in resolve as I reasoned out the only recourse left me.
I hand-wrote instructions on precious paper found secreted inside Jake’s duolog for precisely the way I needed the mini-colliders to be held open. These collider panels would secure access to the wormhole into the Dark Matter’s etherworld. I also scrawled proximate coordinates required for the star cluster vicinity I’d roughly deduced. Alongside these directions, I loaded pliers and food enough for an army in my knapsack and made the return trip down the side of the huge house to reenter unobserved.
In the antechamber, I grasped the copper arms of the clockwork and, with loud metallic snaps, wrested them from the antique with my pliers. Zinc-coated galvanized washers, vinegar, salt, copper ... I created a short circuit so that the flow of current would amplify as time passed.
The women were there in the same room, all right, just as I’d found them before. My disremember-beamer at the ready, I charged jauntily into their presence with the abundance of foods laden in my arms. As I’d predicted, in their present state of near starvation, all their focus went immediately to the rations. As they tucked in, it was a cinch to unbeam all memory of having met me from their minds.
“I am she”, I told them once they were sated. On a hunch, I acted the part I’d determined to play for them. “I had known my whole life I’d be rewarded, and it’s true at last. I resurrected. Had I not told you I would return?”
A part of me felt ashamed at this crass misrepresentation. Still, I reassured myself, it’d been necessary. I needed help to carry out my plan, pure and simple. For the first time in
weeks, I’d caught myself with an actual smile on my lips at the deep bows these women humbly and unabashedly made, to honor me. “Won’t you recite the name I took when you last saw my earthly form?” I asked breathlessly, with enthralling intensity to arouse their ardor.
“Esme, Esme,” they chanted dutifully in unison. This time a smile didn’t reach my lips, but I mentally shook my head at the nerve of this so-called friend of mine who’d clearly deceived these sheep with her posing as a 500. So she and Archibald acted harmoniously, after all.
“Tomorrow night,” I stage-whispered. “Be attentive to my need. I trust you with the wideness of the universes, as you doubtless will be faithful. 19:00 hour.” I backed out slowly. Once out of sight, I felt a rush of confidence at having secured allies. I turned, began to run, and slipped on damnable slickness of greasy excrement. My twisted ankle bruised and would purple before long, but I managed to top the rail of my hideaway nonetheless. To wash and prop the ankle up as I ate was my full intent, but fortune intervened.
Esme herself sat astride the white fence of the widow walk and shot bullets at me with her look. No pretense of a smile did she feign. “I need to eat,” I stated by way of greeting. I saw no need to sugarcoat the fact.
“You may eat when you’ve told me what you’ve done. That Jake of yours has gone and turned himself off again after indicating he’d cooperate! What do you know of this?” she demanded.
“He’s his own man. I’ve had no contact. He seems not to care whether I live or die.”
“Is that so? I’m vexed you would say this, Lolla. Come with me down from here. You can and must entreat him. Or do you not know there’s a reward on your head, you dis-so-lu-ter?” Esme intentionally over-enunciated the highcrime term with relish. I wondered how we’d been on-again, off-again friends through the decades and saw it must’ve been the nature of seeing one another so seldom, due to workload. “There’s a spare convertpad in the outbuilding I’m accustomed to maneuvering.” Though delivered with vibrato, I noted with an inner smirk that
misgiving about the eyes belied this gutsy claim.
“I will come down tomorrow. I truly must repose myself tonight.” Exposing my already swollen and still swelling extremity to play it up, I gambled for sympathy.
“All right, my dear. I’ll fetch you on the morn.” With that, Esme lifted up in her shuttlecraft-pack and alighted over the widow walk, hovering a long moment. She dropped a pantrypaquette before me and whisked off, over the house and on, up above the treeline with a quiet sputtering noise redolent of clicking beetles. The pantrypaquette proved nutritive in a way my tinned fare wouldn’t have, so I was glad of it. With a mental groan, I knew I would not sleep this night. To regroup and fashion a new plan was inevitable, now that the tide had doubtless turned against me in regard to not one, but both of the Fulcoms. I furiously ratcheted open the scatterscreen to see what solace I could find in much sought after, little known fact.
On the need to accelerate my findings with time still on my side, I dug into the realm of outer space, probing for a clue hinting at where the Dark Matter hid. An hour in, a swashtyminder became faintly noticeable, again between two names. The image began to pulse and glow at intervals on my screen. These were names of fantastical clusters of galaxies, Coma and Virgo, that I’d first made acquaintance with in my teens. I recalled that Zwicky had pored over 8 galaxies in Coma Cluster and most inner-ones were elliptically shaped. I read again what I’d always loved about this cluster, how two supergiant ellipticals overshadowed the central area. A portal map on pullout panels of the scatterscreen displayed the clusters with their respective galaxies as they’d been when satellites from earth captured their graceful inundations played out eons before.
Having cut my eyeteeth on teleportation theory, nothing new was here … except the damned swashty. Now the quasi-equation shifted of its own volition! I blinked my eyes repeatedly to make sure, but yes, it was still there! This time the shashty remained … but the
cluster names were gone. Instead, the mark was now betwixt two numeric phrases, 636/5.007874 and 636/5. Then I declare if the entire image didn’t start flashing and glimmering unbidden! What was it telling me precisely? Oddly, the screen color of the galax-font enumerating only the expression 636/5.007874 shot vivid red and stopped, appearing steady. The other components kept flashing.
I took a break then. When I returned, there was my answer! Flashing where the swashty had been, a 10-digit readout code displayed a pattern not lost on my mind’s eye. 1248163264. A quick calculation confirmed what I’d begun to suspect. Adding the 10 digits, I arrived at 127. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, it was simple enough to multiply it by 5 and more importantly by the ‘red’ numeral, 5.007874, to get an even 636. The portal map on the pullout panels of the scatterscreen now displayed the galaxy cluster Antlia, whose other designation is Abell SO636. The most habitable extrasolar planet choice for the likes of me in Antlia? Melquíades, aka HD 93083 b, orbiting K-type subgiant HD 93083. “Exoplanet Melquíades, it’s nice to see you there. How I’d love to meet in person,” I breathed.
What was it they’d said of Erdős, my first and all-time inspiration? He’d ‘said it better’, elegantly, perfectly! Of course! He’d viewed his love, mathematics, ineffable due to ideas that can’t or shouldn’t be expressed with language because the ideas are ofttimes impenetrable in their format.
I meant to double-check my calculations, run a stat-relay, failsafe the whole lot. I wanted, needed to work through. But try as I might to hold my eyes open, they closed against my will.
Part IV - 15 August 2224
It was 2:00 a.m. when I was awakened by überloud rushing, a convertpad engine revving
violently and climbing in hypergear. The clanking of metal against the cliffside of the promontory unmistakable, I frantically rose in a panic and fairly flew over the edge of my platform. I barely had time to grab my knapsack, gear, and the new coordinates I’d hastily run before nodding off. This info intact, I rappelled down fast, favoring the ankle shooting needles when it bore weight.
Once down and inside the house, I flatout ran, ignoring the pain and the chance of falling again, eyes already adjusted to semidarkness from my night beneath the stars. Rounding the hallway to the women’s quarters, I bellowed like a banshee, “Time is of the essence!” I broke in on their slumber like a bat out of hell and clicked the lights on, full beam. “New time of departure is NOW! Gather, get the trays out! Program!” I fairly barked, unpacking two mini-colliders as they struggled to their feet and collected them.
“Come on, Dark Matter, you son of a bitch!” I taunted reproachfully, ranting and looking for all the world like a crazed witch of old. “Show yourself!” I sought to spark it to make an appearance. The time I’d pre-calculated to summon it would not be until the following night. When it didn’t reveal itself I hung my head, discouragement washing over me.
“You need us!” cried the slender one, alarmedly. “I am Eppleson. Come!” she encouraged, leading me quickly, in anguish, with the other trailing a step behind. We moved not far up the hall where she motioned to turn off into the anteroom where I’d installed the short circuit the day before. Eppleson tapped the wall near the floor. To my surprise and great chagrin, the tsunami triggered in full form as it had two days prior. It was the Matter’s tsunami all over again. Only was it? Had I taken leave of my senses? What was happening?
I looked around, smelled saltair, squished squeaky seaweed bladders beneath my feet. The sound of the giant wave, the mist, the brutal burn as the wall of water smashed into and coursed over me were as they’d been. As the outrushing gushes retreated, I realized this was where I’d seen the anomaly, the rift in spacetime! Whether real or a trick of the senses, I didn’t know nor care.
I dragged the arms of the clock, now charged with built-up current, onto the mini-
colliders, punched in coordinates for Melquíades, 10 44 20.9149, -35° 34’ 37.279” through the back door, and blew out a pent up breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. The women were practiced in holding the heavy panels of the mini-colliders at angles and aimed them aloft just right.
One can jump from earth to keep from being grounded and touch an electrified fence unscathed. I tripped the short circuit with the intensified high resistance, and the old house held its own in the voltage department. Mini-colliders dimmed as they summoned electricity from the entire continental grid. Before the arc flash exploded, we rose as one. We were gone when Archibald and Esme Folcum, the doublecrossers, turned the lock and charged into the room mere seconds later. To their great astonishment, they saw all the gear there and turning around saw Jake’s on the ground outside, as well. We wouldn’t be needing our gear where we were. It didn’t matter.
This, for You (You’re the doll.)
I will flabbergast them all,
climb an alabaster wall,
going ever faster. Fall
to avert disaster! Haul
ass to gain a Master, Doll.
a Really Weird dream
My teeth were reddish brown. The bottoms of my two top front teeth were gummy, wet, and darker brown, a mix of rubber cement and thick brown paste.
A Dream of Interesting Minutia
No one was covering the car arrivals, so a teacher was out there standing in the parking lot with a toddler beside her. I told an administrator because of course this would never do. “What if she has to run off, leave the area in case of emergency?” I pointed out. It was not unheard of. The kid would be there alone, or she’d have to try to carry him? It would be a major liability.
Inside the school, I helped a little bit. It was to be my last day here. I went to the middle grade area to sit in for a teacher first. I wasn’t sure where they were, for the classroom was stacked so high with junk, I couldn’t see in. I stuck my head in a little as an afterthought as I prepared to go inquire. A teacher’s voice called out meekly. “Ms. Wonder?” Well, she’d got my name wrong, but I replied in the affirmative. They were all sitting in there, lined up in desks just past the initial wall of rubbish, and there was more detritus everywhere you looked. No one spoke.
I took them to an auditorium. We sat for quite some time. A huge, glowing, green screen was mounted on the front of a podium on a tall stage, front and center. It showed a crest for the school. A woman and girl of Middle Eastern descent entered through an entrance from outside, just behind the stage. The girl was somber, dressed in a white shirt, with her pretty black hair cut rather short about her somewhat pudgy face. Not one kid spoke to her, though she’d been their classmate before dropping out only a few months ago. The mother was here to officially withdraw her now.
The act was done by a staff member who’d come in for this reason. Taking her bank card, the transaction was made. On the screen, the green color remained, but the words ‘transfer successful’ came on. I was horrified by this. If the card were declined, it was obvious this would’ve been apparent to all the children. Maybe the green screen would have shifted to red?
I went back to my area for a minute and came to supervise the kids’ entry to the cafeteria. Someone had been covering the duty for me. How could this have happened? I’d had 5 minutes, and that should’ve been ample time! I had seen another woman who’d been a close associate. But we hadn’t greeted one another, both intent on our own little missions. Could that have slowed me down?
I covered watching the next class while they filed into the cafe’ to compensate for the teacher who’d done it for me. She was the actual teacher of the middle graders and had thought it rich that this could happen. She was glad to see it was not just her, I think, that this type thing could happen so easily.
I wandered about the lobby for a minute or two. The trophy case was an embarrassment, holding yard sale clutter that’d been thrown in. The headmistress came to the foyer to let me know she’d observed my idle snooping around on the new, flashy security cameras. I went back into the auditorium in hopes of showing her what an awful system they had of guarding personal financial info. A man who was substituting that day came in and asked how to spell a word. We told him and he left. Seeing the problem with the payment program, the headmistress chastened some. But then she returned directly to her office to tend the cameras, no doubt.
The same male sub returned and asked for the spelling of a synonym of the first word he’d needed. I gave it him. On impulse I suggested a third word meaning the same thing that was several syllables shorter. He really smiled over that one, nodding his head in obvious satisfaction. He was setting out large photos. I saw they were of me, some from very long ago, some from the prior decade here at this very workplace. So, they’d have my ceremonial party today, and he was setting up. I didn’t need the extra pounds I’d be putting on, in this case. Yet I knew instinctively I’d partake of it all nonetheless, for who doesn’t like rich and sweet delights?
All the Feels
What a strange holiday this is where people go to great lengths to wrap our heads around demonstrations surrounding being loving. Our young son's teacher at his magnet school asked students to bring a Valentine for each child in the 2nd-grade class. Our son Zach adamantly refused to address one to a high-strung boy who he found very annoying. Yet his teacher had sent home a list of all pupils, causing a long, uncomfortable standoff that eventually led to him addressing a card to the kid, Nick.
Zach had however amended the text on Nick's card from 'Will you be my Valentine?" to 'Will you NOT be my Valentine?'
To be a finder, one must ever cull,
Remaining quite aware and taking heed
To separate the bright seed from the hull,
To pluck the cherry, leave the rotted be.
The freedom to illumine matters staid,
To hold forth, teach the things that rend the heart,
Is rushed by those who’d overturn, degrade.
I fear this noxious lot, their poisoned dart.
And who will cast this blackened shadow out?
Who stands to preempt a subversive fray,
Declare ‘ideas’ winner beyond doubt?
A finder forged a color steely gray.
I labored long to keep this poem short.
The fact we’ve never met does not import.