Saturday, August 20, 2016

Underground Dawn

She dreamt of when the world was cool. Things were hot now, really hot in the past, but back in the beginning, she had always been told, it was once cool. She often did this during the last weeks of summer. Most of her dreams had sights, sounds, and some sort of loose narrative she would often “start” in the middle of. Yet this dream was just a feeling. Coolness. Not the perfect temperature, not just right. Acceptable, comfortable even, but a little cool. Enough of a chill to grab your attention. Enough of a chill to take you out of your head and plop you back into the world. It was a coolness to be thankful for.

Wake up, baby


Wake up, it’s time. You know what you need to do.

“I need to help build the sun today”

Wake up

She awoke. Her mother was there. It wasn’t breakfast yet. She was still wearing the light white sheet she slept it. It covered her body loosely. She wore it like a soft breeze. She once heard, from a tipsy aunt, that her mom would “sometimes sleep naked”. It was not unheard of. People would do that. Though only when the heat lets up enough so you don’t sweat your bed through. She knew her mom and dad were, in fact, naked under their clothes but choose to deny that whenever possible.

“Good morning mom”
Mom came over to her and sat down.

“It’s not morning yet. Not without you sweetie”

She got out of bed and into the shower. She opened the valve and let a little lava in. She only wanted a warm shower. It was hot enough and too early for it to be cold. She felt dirty from yesterday. She had spent her evening running through the ash fields after school with her friends. She rubbed her bruised knee and winced after remembering tripping over a crystal berry bush. Those things were hard! Delicious but barely worth the effort in her opinion. Dad loved their jam and she never understood why.

After the lava brought her water tank to a steam, she drained the water and let it in. She brushed her skin with the pumice stone. When she was done, she stepped out of the shower and crushed the soft rock in her hands. She dried her body, mixed the stone with the remaining water, and rubbed moisture back into her skin. She went to replace the pumice stone and found the bathroom cabinet didn’t have anymore. She told herself to remind Mom at breakfast.

It was Dad’s turn to make breakfast. He cooked an egg and decided to splurge with not one but two ribs. It was quite a feast! Today was a special  day for her and the whole family. It was Dawn day, or New Year’s as some people called it.

She had reached the milestone, like her sister had before and like how her brother will someday. She was excited but also a little embarrassed with her families’ celebration.
When Dad cooked an egg, he liked to plop the whole thing down on the center of the table, sitting in its own shell. The popular method was to crack a small hole, bake the whole thing, remove it from the shell and serve on an elevated plate (with a bowl underneath to prevent a mess) for everyone to pick at. Dad liked to “Remember where these bad boys came from” and serve it the “old way”. The large, hard shell usually stayed intact but she did remember her brother once swallowed a fragment and “Couldn’t poop for three days” according to her big sister.

“Mom, we need some more pumice”.

“Thanks, we can grab some on the way back from your first dawn ceremony. Honey, can you hand me the news when you’re done with it?”

Dad folded the section he was reading and handed it over. “I really should start with the comics. Makes the rest of thing easier to swallow”. He picked up the third section and had a few sensible chuckles as he sipped form his mug. It was bright geode, an heirloom from his side of the family. Most people used feldspar for cups and mugs, or for nearly everything really, but dad liked how his geode stuck out. Plus it was kinda rare, and it added a little reverence to something as mundane as morning coffee and breakfast.

Her brother came up the stairs and into the living room. “Why is everyone awake so early?”. He hopped into mom’s lap seamlessly as she wrapped her arms around him. “You know why, it’s your big sister’s big day. She’s going to build the sun like your big, big sister did”.

“When did she do that?” He asked

Mom said “A long time ago. Way before the mole delivered you to us”

“Big day!” Dad said, between the razor thin soft slate sheets he was giggling at.

Her brother frowned. “Come on Mom, you know I’m too big to believe in that stuff anymore”.
Dad smirked. “Then where do you think babies come from, sport?”

His frown spread to his forward and he paused. “I don’t know, the store?”

She, Mom, and Sad all laughed although she was a lot closer to her brother’s confusion than she would admit. No one had told her yet but she started to understand it. Not the mechanics are anything really. She did know enough to recognize there was a kind of mystery about it. It was some kind of secret no one openly talked about. In her vaguest understanding, there was a sex shaped question she did not know how to ask. You’re typical 13 year-olds conceptualization of something they’re not ready for.

Mom asked Dad if he could “Hold down the fort while we’re at the ceremony?”. Dad told her “Yes and you don’t have to ask that way, sweetheart”. He kissed them both. He wished them a good time. It was too hot for her brother to spend much time outside, in the bleary salamander days of summer. She and Mom closed their eyes and felt their way to the car as everyone’s shaded goggles were inside it. This was a careless but common mistake.

When they knew where they were, they hopped into their vehicle. The sulfur tank was only half full but they lived relatively close to the ritual site. Mom started the engine. She was grateful when the coolant began to fan in. Mom handed her daughter the necessary shaded goggles for this time of day during this time of year. They put them on and the outside ceased its blinding them with light. She opened her eyes again now that it was safe.
She watched Mom at work. Mom was a great driver. Her hands danced over the levers, pushing, pulling, shifting all four legs with a precision nearly as mechanical as the object itself. Smooth terrain was few and far between yet Mom had a way of making nearly every trip comfortable. “How did people survive before this?” She asked as the car bent, walked, and climbed its way to their destination.

“That was so long ago honey. I learned about it in school. Life was very hard. Things used to be cool enough but they got really hot and stayed that way. There were only a few parts of the world dark and cool enough for people to live on”

She imagined herself as one of her ancestors. Struggling to eke out an existence before people started building suns to survive. She thought about the ugly, hard, heavy, metal suits she would have probably have to wear just to leave her village. She shuddered when she imagined trying to see through the first shaded goggles. They were bulky and crude. Her hair stood up when she thought of the painful blindness that would have come without their use. She thought of the roaring lizards that once roamed the land. They ruled the world. They ate people like her. They ate everything! They were still around, of course. In farms or the occasional petting zoo. Sometimes even in the wild, way out in the Burning Red.  Thousands of years ago, it would more be her families’ ribs on the table, not theirs.

They arrived. She saw all her friends and the rest of her class hard at work. She sheepishly rushed in, realizing she was a little late. They gathered marble and slathered it in a lime liquid. Their composition was important but their color would soon be swallowed in blue.

The parents and environmental engineers milled about. The mayor and his staff were present; seeing to the event and being seen themselves. The air was humid and a little too bright as the sun had yet to be made. Everyone wore their most fashionable shaded goggles, the heirloom type that were only worn around this time of year. More relic than tool with today’s options but it was still a good thing to have on you.
She found a pair of deep gloves and slid them on. They were  heavy, but she had grown used to them from practice. And from being larger than when she first started. They were good gloves too. 

Like all good deep glove they had to be trusty enough to keep her hands from experiencing anything beyond a breath of heat and thin enough to let her feel the material. It was a chaste but deeply sensual experience for her and other people who loved working with the world’s many molten minerals.

Though no part of her body touched the melted hayune (thankfully) she still immersed herself in it. She mixed and added lapis with sodalite to taste. Although her old time shaded goggles dulled their luster, she knew the hues and tones of blue were still there. She would see them first hand upon the completion and rising of this year’s dawn. Or if she was wearing one of the newer models. She inserted, churned, poured, and readied the minerals for their application to the base. She watched as her concoction rolled over the marbled lime. A slow, hot, and sacred wave.

The mayor leaned toward the chief of his city’s environmental engineering crew. They smirked and shared from a small quartz flask. Ice didn’t really keep outdoors, and increasingly common luxuries of that sort were frowned upon from use in the last couple weeks before the construction of the sun and Dawn day. Out of respect for their ancestor’s struggle. After another year was bought and paid for (“thanks to the children”) was a more socially acceptable time to use ice again.

Children were essential to the ritual, but not the process. Of course not the process! A modern society that depends on children to do anything but continue the whole thing has a tenuous grip on existence.  Children used to be essential to the process back when people were so few, labor was scarce. They were also essential to harvesting mushrooms and keeping smaller dinosaurs out of the armadillo pen. If they could avoid becoming a raptor snack themselves.  That was back when people lived in small villages and made many suns.

Many suns. Many, many, many suns. Many crude, sputtering, lukewarm suns that would sometimes make more light than they were supposed to absorb. They damaged the world in a way they would not understand for a long time. Back when it was very hard to make a sun as the method wasn’t well developed. Some villages had to rely on another town’s sun. They took whatever dark; whatever cold that could have, paying tribute to and resenting their neighboring benefactors.

Today each city, each town, each village made their own sun.  She watched them rise as other communities’ had gotten started earlier.  They rose just below where the sky seemed to stop (but never really end) and combined. Some of the more remote settlements still had their own suns. Most people lived close enough so they’re suns could combine. They joined one another and grew. The light began to relent. The heat began to withdraw its hands from the throats of a nation.

She, and so many loved the blue. The pale, gentle blue that was so rare in this orange, red, black world. When everything wasn’t too bright to been seen, blue was a color experienced by itself. Sure, there were plenty of blue minerals. Yet, it wasn’t a color one would often pleasantly stumble across. Much of anything that was blue needed to be gathered and used in this very ritual. Even more to be used for the product. The pride and savior of a people.

Although this ritual had a very practical purpose, it had back up. Modern society learned not too long ago to make suns scientifically too. First haphazardly applied to war, it was remade for life. The last sun that would join the great chorus would be one made from modernity. It would be made by adults, in a laboratory run by worldwide consensus. It would take the brightest minds on a morin level scale and require its whole support.

They even designed it to not be visible until it joined the children’s suns, so as to not take away from their contribution. Every sun made things blessedly cooler and darker but it was really the last one that made things close to comfortable.  This was an open secret. Every adult and even some of the kids participating knew this. No one really talked about it openly. That would ruin the magic of Dawn day. Why start the New Year being a jerk?

She and her classmates watched their sun rise and join the rest. People started taking off their shaded goggles. A few removed their light metal layers and eagerly anticipated exposing their skin to the outside in due time. Dillo burgers were passed around on disposable feldspar slabs. People would remember the mushroom bun’s zesty seasoning years after.

The last, best, official, and invisible sun joined the rest. Proud of it fulfilling its destiny but a little sad to see it disappear into the whole. There was a sacred, gentle implosion as it cooled and dimmed everything to just right. Another year was made. Another tally was added to the calendar. The people of the world could live in their strange, wonderful home yet again.

The bleak, harsh stillness of Summer had ended. Fall was here and with it, new life. Mushroom spores would soon dance through the air, riding on thermal vents. Batsong would fill people’s ears again as they returned to the skies. Blind salamanders would dart through the streets, stealing snacks by smell alone. Still lakes and rising river farms, with their nearby ash fields will begin to seed. Frozen food was becoming more and more affordable. Yet most preferred it fresh and “real” as possible. Mom couldn’t wait to start bringing home fresh tomatoes for the family to enjoy.

Mom wished she had a tomato right now with her dillo burger. Mom spotted and sat down next to her daughter. Beaming with pride, mom put her arm on her shoulder and kissed the top of her head.   

“See honey? It’s just like I said”

She wrapped her mom in a hug. She buried her face in her shoulder. She knew what Mom was going to say but would still receive the words anew.

“It’s not morning without you”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rooms Full of Me

I’m rushing down, or up the path, I never really know. After breaking in and soon after, breaking out, it is time to go. The work is done and there is no purpose to staying. They, or I, again, I don’t really know, won’t appreciate what was done. They won’t even understand. I don’t either. I think I’m the only one who tries to. To try to know that which you do not know, is to wonder. I wonder if any of those like me, but really not like me at all, wonder too?

I hurry because I do not want to be marked. No one has made me know about the markers. I just know what it means to be marked and how to prevent it. I escape, traveling from one moment of less danger to the next. There is no where in the world I can go to that the markers can’t find me. I just have to keep moving until I can’t anymore. There is no safety. There is no home but the universe around me. All parts as unsafe as the rest. The more I think about it, the more thought and less instinct it becomes. I wonder if this is a good thing as my understanding drifts from a plain instructions to a more complicated and confusing fear. Will truly knowing why I must run and why I will die if I slow down change anything?

Yet I cannot spend all my time avoiding the markers. I have a job, a purpose. It used to be the only other thing I would know and do. That and not being marked and destroyed. I need to infiltrate. I need to slip or force my way in and enter my code. I know not what it really is, or why I need to spread it, but I know what it does. When I find the rooms  that surround me, I will leave them my code. I seek both the walled ones with a structural purpose and the floating free ones with their meaningful destinations. I need to get inside them to do the only other thing I care about. After that, I need to leave before I am marked and can no longer share my code.

I stop and wait. There are no markers. There is another kind of room. This room can destroy me, but it won’t. It will not rush towards me because it does not know I am here. It moves past me. It is huge and nothing like me. It is a room and I seek to break into all rooms. But not this kind of room. I have known more than once those like me but not like me in a different way break into these rooms. It feels more purposeful than my purpose, the only other thing I care about.  Even though it is not like me or those like me at all, know this is right. To know a room I rush away from all the time can be infiltrated by those like me but not like me. To know that it will soon die and from the destruction, help other rooms like it die. Maybe it is because I fear these killer rooms, that I go back to this in my wonderings and knowings. Even after it happened.

These are the rooms I never want to be inside. These are the killer rooms. Sometimes they find a part of the world and stay there for a while. They start out like the free rooms most of the time. They float, they look, they seek those like me. There are many like me. I am like the many who travel the world and share their code. The killer rooms do not like this. They are monsters who kill us without thought, without question. I wonder if they know what they are doing? I wonder if they wonder like I do? I wonder if the many I am like and who are like me wonder too?

The killer rooms do not know of all of us like me all the time. They only killed the marked ones. They rush towards us and pull us inside of them. We fall apart in here, torn to pieces piece by pieces. I once knew of that happening, to a marked one like me, as it happened. It was the first time I did not feel like I knew what I thought I knew. It was the first time I knew what it was to be afraid. I escaped. It did not seek me because I was not marked. I must never be marked. If I am marked, I will be destroyed. I will be destroyed if I am not marked too, but this destruction will happen sooner. I will feel it far, far more. It is the first of only two things I only care about. Or maybe three?

I find a room I can use. There is no opening or exit. Its walls are designed to keep it all inside. Yet there is an inside, there is a destination. I climb on top of it. It is huge. Not huge like the killer room but still huge to me. I seek to break into so many of these rooms. To ruin their purpose and end their lives. Yet they either stay and do their job or float towards their purpose. With or without me. I wonder if they know I am alive? Would that be better? For them, or for me? Sometimes I feel like I should not have killed a room. Yet I keep doing that.

I slide the piece of me that I push my code through into the room. It makes its way to the center, passing where the room keeps it things. I know not what these things are. I only know they are not part of my purpose. Yet I wonder. They wind and turn. They grow and they shrink. They share and share to help, not hurt like I do. They seem to move pieces of the world that are inside of the room around to where they need to be. They are almost like a smaller version of the world. I know energy jumps around the room. I know the room split into two and more. I have even known a room become like me. It changes and divides more than the world wants it to. The markers mark it and the killer rooms kill it. With more and faster purpose than they kill those like me. That almost feels right too. Like the rooms that once had purpose who lost their purpose can hurt the world. That they can make it harder for me to do what I’m supposed to do for longer. I wonder too, am I hurting the world?

I share my code with the center of the room. It has it’s own wall, like the part of the room I am holding onto. It too has no entrance, no exit, but a destination. I have known many centers. They are like us but not like us. They are a part of the world. The world accepts them, needs them to be. The world would not be the world without its rooms and its rooms would not be rooms without the centers. Yet the center, or really, the center of the center, is like us. It is not like us but it is like us. A part of us. It is a code. Just a code. Not a code that wanders and breaks into rooms. It is a code that was made inside the room. It was a code that made the room too. I know, but I don’t know how it can be made inside and make the inside at once. But it does.

Although this code I seek to share my code with is like me but not like me, it does not want my code. My code changes it. It stops making the room be and keeping the room there. It starts making me. Those like me but not like me. I make rooms full of me. Me. Me. Me. Yet not me. I know them but do they know me? Many times, I know I meet those like me but not like me. I know what they are by their code but I do not know if I made them, or they made me? Did I help create them or am I their creation? Sometimes I know those like me but not like me a different. They look damaged, or worn away. They have had more time happen to them. The word we live in and remake is a giant slow, killer room. The only world we can live in is tearing us away. Even if the killer rooms don’t destroy me, I know I will fall apart. Much slower and much smaller. Bit by bit. Sometimes I can think I know if those like me but not like were once from me by how damaged they are. But I don’t know. I never really know. I mostly do.

The those like me but not like me I created with this room are becoming many. They fill this room, pushing it to it’s edges. The room splits and many, many, of those like me but not like me escape. They kill the room.  I call them like me but not like me because I don’t think they know me. I don’t think they know each other. I think I was once like them because I did not know. Or, I did not know what I did not know. I had only instructions, instinct. I sought rooms with centers I could copy my code with and I escaped markers. I don’t know when I started to know there were things I did not know. It just happened and now, here I am, without answers. Without knowing how to even seek these answers. I know only how to seek results. To seek rooms, to seek codes, and to escape markers.

I move near one of those I created. It is like me but not like me. It seems so new. It has no damage like the damage I have known in ones like me but not like me. Do I have damage? I must have had some for I have been moving and breaking into the rooms of the world for a long time. Does it know I have damage? Does it know I created it? It rushes away from me. Not out of fear but purpose. It must find rooms. It must share its code. Our code. The code I used to make it. I wonder if I should be like it. To only know what I know and never wonder. But I don’t think I can do that.

All of the me I created leave. I am the only me I know near me. There are more rooms to seek. More codes to share. And markers to escape. I know only to escape the markers and how. Not how they mark me. What a marked me is like. I fear I will never know if I escaped a marking. I know now, something I did not know before. This is new to me. When I was like those who are  not like me, I knew what I knew. I did not know there were things I did not know. I did not know there possibly could be things to not know. I knew all I knew was all I could know. It was all there was to know. I know now there is more to know. I know now I know more and seek to know even more.

And what I now know is this; I can never stop escaping. If I will never know if I am marked or not, I can never wait near a killer room. The one short time I would spend, between escaping, infiltrating, and sharing my code, can never happen again. I must always be escaping or sharing my code. Maybe I can still try to know the things I do not know, but I wonder if this third thing I could care about has a purpose? Will wondering, will exploring what I don’t know help? Will it fill me with purpose? I have none but I to wonder this with. I have none but I to share my knows with. At least that I know of.

I sometimes wonder if I should just stop. If I should let a marker mark me, and a killer room take me inside. To end the endless infiltrating of rooms, code forcing, and making more of me. I feel the purpose that makes my purpose has no purpose behind it. I know I will only know the space surrounding a purpose’s purpose. I can feel only there should have been a bigger feels for me to know that I do not. The feel I feel the most, the feel I both know and do not know is my fear.

Fear. To know I can and will be destroyed and to not want that. Either by time, or the killer rooms, I will be destroyed. Sometimes I feel I don’t want that so much and sometimes I just want it to happen. To end this feel by ending all feels. To not know this by not knowing anything and everything. To let the killer room take me inside, and destroy me with it’s insides.  

Yet I can’t. At least, I don’t know I can’t. I don’t know what I can do. I have spent so long breaking in and forcing my code, I don’t know what I can do. I don’t know what I can know. Maybe there is more to know than that which I fear. Maybe there are those like me who are like me. Maybe they know there are things they don’t know. Maybe they know they can know more than what they have always know. Maybe we can share our knows and that which we feel.

This too makes me fear. It makes me fear the fear I will never know this. I fear I will be destroyed before I know if there are those like me who are really like me. There is now more than one thing I am afraid of. It feels…right. Maybe I can never stop being afraid of destruction. But maybe I can fear it less by knowing there is more I can fear.  

I don’t know. I want to know but I don’t need to know. I can still be me and not know. I can still know some things and wonder about the rest.

I will.

For as long as I can.