Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The problem of condescension

I get frustrated sometimes... at how often we get angry at, or how often we ridicule ignorance. I'm sure, there are people out there that are comfortable in an ignorant state. But I truly believe that the majority, just... don't.. know.. And would be happy to change their understanding...

If someone said.. "Hey, you don't know this? Let me tell you about it."

It's instinct, in a way, to get defensive when someone acts condescending towards you. I'm frustrated by the videos we laugh at when people make fun of someone who doesn't understand a concept.

There IS NO MAGICAL AGE where we suddenly know everything. We don't turn 19, or whatever the age of majority is, and suddenly "know it all."

We'd like to, sure. But we simply fucking don't. We're all.. learning.. We are all still children to some bit of information, to some concept we haven't heard of yet. We should NEVER stop learning. And we should NEVER ridicule someone who hasn't learned something yet.

Condescension is the worst promoter of ignorance.

The dialogue:

"I don't know this.."

"Oh, I know something. Let me tell you what I know."

Can you imagine how different the world would be?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Three things I'm super grateful for right now:

Three things I'm super grateful for right now:

1) My mukluks. Best boots I've owned in a long time. Despite the eternal land of slush and puddle out there, my feet are cozy and dry. I want a million more.

2) My dog. Sierra. Bracing queen out there. Got me through the hard parts like she was a part of my body. "Oh, you need my help here? Sure, just hold right on!.. OH TREATS, TOO?? SWELL!"

3) The people who shovel the sidewalks. You guys are gods amongst men. THANK YOU.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Travel, my food for the soul

   I'm sitting now in a charming historic restaurant. Creamy clay walls make up the boxy shape of the building and round wooden beaming pierces the walls supporting wood panelled ceilings. I sip a glass of refreshing ice water while a surging heat permeates through the window beside me, battling against the air conditioned coolness inside. Outside a cascade of low mountains thrust up proudly from the arid landscape and slope gracefully back down to the gentle wave of hills below, dotted with the hardened and spiny vegetation of the desert.
   Ice cream has been served to me; a house-made berry sorbet and creamy vanilla. The bright bite of the sorbet compliments the smooth, rich vanilla and sends oh-god-yes joy through me.
   I savour every bite.
   I can't help but soak this in. I feel like the stones and land and shimmering heat are being absorbed into my body. The newness, the unique beauty, the change from my norm, forces me into relaxed meditation.
   There's a hunger inside me that is not easily sated. Travel... travel smothers that appetite with a richness beyond words. It is my bread and butter. My ambrosia. A tonic for the malady of mundane life.
   While I am here... there... away...
   I am cured.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kristina's Dream

Kristina's dreams: A heritage-style home with a big back yard for my wolf lady... and a garage space for my music/art studio. Yes, I want both. So at any moment of any day I can splash paint every which way, destroy my eardrums with ridiculous attempts at delicious music, and have all the pee and run time my mistress wolf desires. Also big trees so I can flop naked in my yard and not give a fuck about any possible creeperpeepers. Hopefully I'll avoid wolf lady's pee spots. We'll work something out.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Poetry: whispers

Whispers,

   like a pencil tip tracing across paper.

A flow

                             a movement

                                                                       that clutches and pulls.

Stories

     unfolding and folding so..

Friday, March 4, 2016

POETRY: 11.11.21 - labyrinthine abeyance

a sweet moment,
soft and cotton,
warm on zephyr wings..
labyrinthine abeyance.
Secret reality.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Poetry: Paper, Stacked Beautifully Full

Why does the feel of paper,
stacked beautifully full,
entice me so?

Blank paged,
or ones wet with ink
Dry, coarse with age
Or silken soft in their exquisite youth
 
Paper that begs to be read
begs to be drawn
Begs for fulfilment of a mind
and whispers you along

And tenderly held
or delicate rip
A reverency
and urgency
that plies my grip

Why, this paper, 
my jaws ache and clench
My finger-tips cry need
the tickle as I trace

thought.

Why does the feel of paper,
stacked beautifully so,
entice me..  
so full.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

First draft: First short story for my first short story class

Finished: (working title)

“Seriously, though. I think there’s…. life.”

“You know better than to get your hopes up,” came the reply.

The following silence was heavy, like too many blankets piled on a bed. A clock ticked in the background.

“I know…” I started, pausing briefly, trying to stitch together my thoughts, gathering the frayed bits of a ravaged tapestry. “I know, not to.. do that… But I felt something…”

“Recovery is minimal at this point.” The statement was sharp. Pointed. It threatened to tear apart the stitches I’d been working so hard to repair.

A small muscle in my jaw twitched, and I took a few moments to breathe in and out through my nose. I released my mouth, letting my lips part open and wide, working out the kinks of tension in my jaw as deep breaths filled my lungs.

“I know the science,” I stated quietly.

The woman in front of me folded her hands politely on her lap and gave me a practiced smile. “Look,” she said rather firmly. “I’m not trying to discourage you...”

My eyes must have rolled, because she pursed her lips instead of continuing. Another thick moment hung in the air, cloyingly oppressive.

She cleared her throat before continuing, “I’m not, Kristina, trying to discourage you. I know how hard that must be for you to believe. You’ve been through so much. But I need you to be realistic. I need you to understand the limitations of your current situation.”

My head had dropped down and my eyes looked up at her now from a lowered position, the intensity of my feelings framed by the arch of my brow. I knew she felt the pressure of that expression.

“All I’m trying to say,” she said, “is that you have to recognize that you just can’t do what you used to be able to do.” She finished off rather confidently, as if that statement finished the subject.

My finger tapped impatiently against the wrist of my other arm. I don’t think she gets it, I heard my voice in my mind, What is she trying to say? That it’s impossible?

I remained silent as my thoughts played out. For a full minute only our breaths and the ticking of the clock made any sound in the room. Like a showdown between cowboys, our hands were poised above our pistols, waiting to fire the lethal shot that would win.

“No,” I said.

The shot was fired.

I heard her sigh. I had lowered my eyes again and could only hear the faint rustle of fabric as she shifted her position in her seat.

“Kristina--”

“No,” I said more forcefully, “do you even know what you’re saying?” my voice started to take on a more passionate tone. “Do you know what you’re suggesting?”

“Kristina,” she began, “Let’s stay calm here. I’m on your side.”

“No!” I called out, feeling the break of shattered glass as I finally pulled back from the condemnation she felt determined to place me with.

“Kristina--”

“No.” I said firmly. “I’ve been seeing you for months now, trying to sort out the remains of myself after my accident, trying to accept my…” I couldn’t help but hesitate here, and swallowed deeply, “of my disability.” The word stung on my tongue, like I’d chewed on lemon, skin and all.

“Right, and I’m only trying to --” her voice felt like it had a weed climbing up it.

“NO.” I said quietly, but with such finality the resulting silence tore the room in two.

She stared at me with a resigned defeat; though pity tinged the edges of her eyes, as if she knew something I didn’t. “Okay,” she said quietly.

I let the moment marinate for a moment. In truth I hadn’t felt this sort of conviction in myself for a long time. It had been 7 years since the accident that had broken my neck and left me with a disability that, seemingly invisible, completely controlled my life. I could walk, sure, but with far more symptoms than any passerby could see. Pain, spasticity, fatigue, it all plagued me. And the broken record that echoed through my recovery was: “You’ll get the most recovery within the first two years, after that… that’s all you really get. After that, it’s who you are.”

But, amazingly, I had started to feel that was wrong. I started to recognize the self-preservation that had stained those statements from my various therapists. In their effort to either avoid a lawsuit, or perhaps to save what was left of my fractured self-image, they were in fact binding me, restricting my true potential.

I nodded slowly to myself as my confidence blossomed. I raised my head and looked at my therapist straight in the eye.

“I am able to jump now,” I said simply. “Not only with both legs, but even my left leg - and you know that my left side is weaker - can jump, however slightly, on its own. This… after seven years.”

I think I could have heard the sound of her blinking, it was so quiet in the room. I smiled now, and she knew what my words would be next. I like to imagine that she fully understood my meaning, and that this would in turn help future clients with similar issues, but I suppose I will never really know.

The clocked ticked quietly.

“We’re done.” I stated.

“Okay,”  she said, “Okay.” A flicker of a smile tugged up the corner of her lips.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First Short Story Writing class tonight

Right. Well.. I admitted in my my first short story class tonight that I'm great at starting stories, but not so great at finishing them. So what do I do? Sign up to be one of the first to submit a completed piece.

By next week.

Apparently I like to challenge myself.

O.o

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

'Greensleves' - Sci-fi based off my dream; new edit

If you read my previous post, you've already read half of this story. This is an edited version of the previous post, plus another section I've added (after the *****'s)

I hope you enjoy!


 My palms were sweaty. I’d never been the head of an introduction before and felt incredibly nervous. I tried hard not to show it, but I was afraid it was written all over me. Besides, who knew what senses these beings had? They could be able to detect every emotion in me as if reading a large print book and there would be nothing I could do about it. What then? No sense in worrying, I thought, best not to think about it.

I tapped at the large white oval table before me which lit up the screen within it. A few flicks and some deft keystrokes pulled up the silver and blue holographic image of their ship. It flickered slightly and shimmered as it slowly rotated before me. I studied it. It was large, smooth, and had rounded edges. It was in the general shape of an egg with ornate branches tapering off into arced points at the smaller end. I checked out the stats. This was definitely a powerful ship. From the sensor logs I could discern formidable weaponry as well as unique exploration and study capabilities. It seemed it could be a living ship, with large colonies of inhabitants taking their homes on the ship itself.

I stopped my study and looked up at the statue on the table before me. It was an odd thing, all brown and deep reddish pink, with irregular shapes and circles. It looked almost like melted clay formed into an odd puzzle made of dripping circles and swirls. I suppose it was attractive, in a unique if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing way. Still, I was surprised to have received the transmission from the Paridians that they wanted it. I didn’t even know how the Evenheart Base of Section 84 came to have it, but the Paridians made it clear that they wanted it. I had checked with command and they practically laughed at the inconsequential absurdity of the request and told me to handle it myself, even though I was a low ranking officer.

A notification beeped and blinked on the table console in front of me informing me my guests had arrived. My heart-rate doubled, if that were possible, and I swallowed the dryness back in my throat.

I was about to get up when another transmission flashed in. It was blinking red and bright capital letters spelling URGENT were flashing insistently on the table top light console. I would have ignored it, but I couldn’t ignore an Urgent. Great, I sighed to myself, my first introduction and I’m going to have to make them wait.

Quickly I tapped away at the console to pull up the transmission. Concern wrinkled my features as I worked and had to struggle to find a clean image in the weak signal. I couldn’t get visual, aside from a flickering holographic image of a ship that looked very similar to the Paridians, only it was smaller and seemed a little more ornate to me. Pressed for time I didn’t bother to decode the garbled visuals and instead tried to at least pull up a viable sound file. I tapped at my ear piece and the light-set flickered on. Through snapping and popping and some generalized static I could barely hear a human male's voice.

“... do not… take.. I repeat.. do not give up... the statue is of utmost importance..”

The statue? Could they be talking about this monstrosity the Paridians want? My eyes flickered briefly back to the odd statue.

I tried to get more clarity on the message and pull up origin and base logs but nothing was coming through. It seemed as if someone were attempting to send this message from a jump. I swore quietly to myself, Useless jump signals.

“This is an urgent… ... I repeat.. do not let the…. keep the statue safe.”

I frowned as the message ended. What in the stars was going on here? I looked back up at the statue before me and my nose contorted in confusion. No way it was over this.

The tabletop console started blinking bright blue and beeping again, informing me that the Paridians were in the passageway ahead and would arrive within seconds. Stars, I swore again,  I didn’t even send out a delay request!

With an instinctive reaction I tapped a few commands into the system and the table opened up, lowered the statue into a compartment beneath, and then closed up again, swallowing the strange piece like a hungry white whale.

Just at that moment the door at the far end of the large meeting room slid open and a small group of four Paridians walked purposefully through. I tried to stop my jaw from clanking open. They also looked somewhat like melted clay. Their entire form resembled that of a humanoid, but that had had a vat of brownish-red clay poured over them covering their every extremity. They even seemed to have a few extra insect-like clay appendages, though it was strangely difficult to discern any specific feature. Something about them made the eyes slip off and never quite focus properly.

I stood up and brushed my silver and white uniform down to release the wrinkles. Very odd noises briefly echoed through the large greeting chamber before the universal translators picked up the unique language and words flowed out of my earpiece.

“Where is it?”

I thought that rather rude, but customs varied widely between species and I wasn’t about to screw up my first introduction.

With a practiced smile I opened up my mouth to reply. Instead, a massive booming sound shook the station. I blinked, and the words I’d intended to speak caught in my throat despite my wide open mouth, frozen like a discovered rodent.

The Paridians suddenly started moving, so fast my eyes couldn’t focus on their movements. They seemed only like brownish blurs to me. The door opened again and in rushed some officers. The Paridians shrieked in a bone shivering high pitched warble and with a movement faster than I could register they flung something at the officers. Each one fell stiffly to the floor, their bodies seized as if every muscle had tightened at once. My brain couldn’t quite keep up with what was happening. Another blast shook the building and I fell to the floor. Then the gunfire started, but who was shooting, I couldn’t say. I rolled towards the table and huddled in a depression underneath it. All I could see was a blur of shapes whipping past the table.

“What in the stars?” I whispered aloud.

In front of me the heavy shape of a Paridian thumped to the floor, felled from a shot fired somewhere within the room. With disgusted fascination I watched as the clay-like substance it seemed to be covered in first started to clarify, the eye-slipping effect apparently wearing off after death, and then began to melt off the body. The gooey mass spread from the dead Paridian like sluggish red-brown molasses and crept across the floor towards me. Repulsed, I edged further back trying to avoid the revolting puddle of dead alien. The main body itself began to appear beneath the dripping mess and looked glossy, onyx black, and hard.

Before I could study the dead alien any further I heard more screaming. This time it was human.

“Where is she!? WHERE IS SHE!?” a man was yelling. Then more strange warbling shrieks sounded before another cacophonous bout of gunfire and frantic movement took over the room. Two more bodies hit the floor and a sound like muted thunking feet trailed out of the room. Someone must have fled.

For a brief moment the room went silent and I could hear more sounds of battle outside the room and beyond. It sounded as if the entire station was submerged in fighting.

“Guard the door,” the man’s voice said.

“Yes, Nexan,” a voice sounded through the universal translator.

Was that a Paridian voice? I thought in a panic. Oh stars.. that was definitely a Paridian voice. Oh stars…

“Hey, there. You, under the table,” the man said.

I froze stiff, my muscles resolutely refusing to move.

“Hey, c’mon… get out from under there. We don’t have time for this. It was you, wasn’t it? You received my message.”

I might as well have been a bonafide possum for all the movement my body was willing to make. Or maybe one of those fainting goat things I’d heard about. I’d been shocked stiff.

I heard a sigh and then a thick arm reached under the table. A strong hand deftly latched onto my arm and roughly yanked me out and onto my feet.

“Oh,” I said lamely as I tried to catch my balance.

The man laughed and I looked up at him. He had a crooked smile that looked perfectly natural on his masculine face. I wouldn’t say he was terrifically handsome, but he was no slouch either. Something about his unshaven face and slightly crooked nose and crinkly eyes as he smiled didn’t look altogether bad.

What, are you going to ask him out on a date? I chided myself. You were just in the middle of a bloody gunfight with an alien species for stars sake. Oh, god.. and look.. some of that disgusting clay is on your shoe now. I lifted my foot and not really knowing where to put it down, since I was still locked rather firmly in scruffy-guys grip and couldn’t move anywhere, just stood there like a patient flamingo.

“You were the one who received my message, yes?” he asked again. “This is the communications room at this station?” He looked about briefly and nodded as if confirming his assumption by what he could see in the room. Although what he could see was beyond me; most everything was light based and everything just looked like smooth white furniture.

“Uh…” I started. “Well, yes.”

The man then made a strange noise, it sounded something like "Maruuka" with a sort of rolled ‘h’ in the middle.

“Yes, Nexan?”

My eyes trailed slowly to the left where they landed on the clay-dripped shape of a Paridian. Well, sort of landed. My eyes again couldn’t quite find purchase to look directly at it. It was as if my sight was mimicking hands playing a game of slippery soap in the shower. Every time I thought my eyes were about to grip the image of the Paridian, instead they slid right past. Panic fluttered in my chest and involuntarily I tried to take a step back, which only resulted in my foot landing in the muck of dead alien at my feet and my body making an attempt to do some wild gymnastics to the floor. Fortunately scruffy-guy - Nexan, I suppose - still had a firm grip on me and jerked me back upright.

“Oh,” was all I said again as I wobbled back upright. Sure, I chided myself. And you call yourself a communications officer. Real eloquent.

Ignoring me, Nexan turned to Maruuka, “Guard the door,” he said. “We may have found it.”

Quietly the Paridian moved to the door, moving so fluidly he seemed to almost disappear completely from my sight.

“Wild,” I commented under my breath.

Nexan looked at me with an amused expression. “Never seen a Paridian before, ah? Fun things, them. Craziest camouflage ability I’ve seen yet. Now, where's the statue?”

I looked up into his brown eyes and tried to get my brain to function again. I was an officer of the 84th station for stars sake. I needed to act like one.

“I’m not permitted to say,” I said, proud of how confident I sounded.

The steel grip on my arm tightened slightly, and I had to admit, it hurt.

“Look,” Nexan began in a cold voice, “I know you’re confused. You have no idea what’s going on, and you want to follow your rulebook. You’re what, a pin out of training?” 

A pin was a unit of measurement of time. It was based loosely on earth’s original orbit. A pin was about one earth year, a knot was a month.

I swallowed. It’d been 6 knots, but I wasn’t about to say.

Nexan grunted, “Yeah, your face says it all. Too green, you are. But here are the facts as you need to know them. We’re in danger. Very, serious, danger.” he stressed each word and punctuated them with a slight shake of his grip on my arm. My head sort of wobbled back and forth in time with the movement.

“We need that statue, and we need it now. The Ruughan Sect can’t be allowed to get it.” There was that odd rolling 'h' sound again in the middle of the noise he made.

“Uh... Roo-gan sect?” I asked.

“Never mind that,” he said sounding exasperated. “For the love of stars, please tell me you didn’t give them the statue.”

“It’s just a statue,” I said lamely, again mentally congratulating myself on my excellent communications skills. Because that's the salient point here, never mind the dead aliens and gunfire everywhere.

“It’s not just a statue, it’s something much, much more. Please, tell me you still have it.”

I stared into his eyes for a long moment. He didn’t flinch. I took a deep breath and made another instinctive decision, hoping to the universe that it was the right one.

“Okay,” I said, and gently pried his iron grip off my arm. The fabric was seriously wrinkled and distorted from his firm grip. I frowned at it but moved quickly to the table, trying to avoid the ever-spreading muck of the dead Paridians on the floor. Gracefully tapping away at the table and activating the light screens I re-opened the table and the statue emerged like a birthed flower. I looked over at Nexan, and the look of pure relief on his face was somehow comforting.

“Maruuka!” he called. It only took the Paridian a blink to reach the table. He brought out a strange looking brownish-red device, in the same general style of everything else Paridian, and tapped it to the statue. A ringing sound echoed throughout the room, a note so excruciatingly pure it almost hurt.

“It is done,” Maruuka said.

“Thank the bloody stars,” Nexan exhaled with a hint of relieved laughter in his voice. He looked over at me and joy lit up his face. “Youuuuu,” he said playfully and began to take steps towards me.

I backed up uncertainly, a little confused at his sudden shift in mood and intention. But before he could reach me an explosion sounded right outside the door. It shattered inwards scattering shrapnel into the room. I heard Nexan grunt and his body hit me hard. We fell to the floor in a tangled heap.

“GO!” Maruuka growled in his unique voice.

Somehow we were up and running and Nexan was yelling at me. “Back door! Is there a back door!?”

My fight or flight reflex clicked easily into the flight position, and I yanked him past some decorative paneling that shielded a side hallway. We burst into a small kitchen before dashing through another door and down a hallway. I think Maruuka was behind us. I couldn’t be sure, he had turned blurry again. All I knew is there were more explosions and gunfire behind me.

“We need to get to Bay 50!” Nexan called over the noise.

I only nodded in answer and pulled him sharply to the left down another corridor. Suddenly in front of us there was a blur of shapes. Nexan whipped me to the side and I hit the wall hard, grunting as my breath left me. He pulled out a weapon and shot it. After a resounding blast a net like substance seemed to shimmer out of it and hit the indistinct shapes near the end of the hallway. Light flashed and the suddenly visible shapes of dead Paridians hit the floor, already oozing their clay exteriors.

Stars,” I swore.

“Lets go,” a voice sounded in my ear. I practically jumped out of my skin. Maruuka was right beside me.

So I ran again, leading them towards the Bay terminals. Occasionally more Paridians tried to stop us but the weapon Nexan used was formidable against them. And if anyone came at us from behind, Maruuka shot them with the strange projectiles I’d see the original Paridians use. It didn’t seem to kill the Paridians but it did slow them down substantially with the same muscle-stiffening effect.

“It stops the heart of humans,” Maruuka explained quietly, calmly, despite the frantic escape. He seemed a bit unrufflable. “Paridians are stronger.”

“You mean they don’t have hearts,” I responded.

Maruuka made a strange noise. I think he was laughing.

It was the longest run of my life but somehow we made it to the Bay terminals. Quickly we made our way to Bay 50. The area seemed to be deserted here. Apparently much of the fighting was centralized at the main offices.

What in the universe was going on? All because of a statue that looks like volcano throw-up?

Nexan ran ahead of me and bolted for a ship. It occurred to me it was the one I’d seen earlier in the holographic imaging, the smaller more decorative one. Up close it was actually rather beautiful. It shimmered brown with flecks of red and the construction of the ship was based in smooth lines and gentle curves that the eye felt pleased to follow. It was supremely graceful looking.

Maruuka called something out that I couldn’t understand and I felt a tingling sensation rush through my body. I looked down at my fingers and they were sparkled incandescently. Oh, stars, panic seized my body, not transport. And then I was in the ship, flailing headlong into a wall that hadn’t been there a moment before. I slammed into it heavily and plopped backwards onto the floor, landing with a pretty decent crack on my tailbone. I groaned.

“If you’d had a plumper ass,” Nexan commented with a grin, “that probably wouldn’t have hurt so much.”

My jaw dropped as I looked up at him. He started laughing and then strolled casually out of the room. The ship was already moving, and before I could speak two words, I felt the tell-tale surge of a ship reaching jump.

“What in.. the stars...” I said lamely.

*****

I rubbed briefly at my bruised backside and then cradled my head in my head in my hands for a moment with my knees bent and toes against the wall. I suppose for a good few minutes I sat there digesting. My eyes were wide underneath the shade of my palms. I think I was trying to think, but I’m fairly certain I accomplished nothing of the sort. Eventually I let out a grunting huff from my nostrils and stood up.

Yup, this is real, I thought blandly as I took in the small room around me. It was quite plain with only a raised console panel on one end. The rest of it was just an open space in the same sparking brown with reddish flecks. The part of the wall I’d smacked into was only about a foot away from the console. I looked rather grimly at a jutting protrusion from it at just about the perfect level of my pelvic bone and thanked the universe for at least one, minor, saving grace.

Looking around I scratched at my head and let my hand rub down my neck as I accepted the fact that within the last 30 minutes I’d held my first introduction, recieved my first Urgent transmission, been in my first gunfight, and endured my first alien abduction. Okay, so maybe the last part was a mild exaggeration, but after everything I’d been through I was due a bit of leniency.

“Are you coming out of there or what?” I heard a call from outside of the room.

“Sure,” I muttered under my breath, “coming.”

I slowly exited the room and was faced with a hallway than ran two directions. It curved in such a way that I couldn’t see the end of either passage.

“Uhm…” I quietly said to no one in particular.

As if reading my thoughts, a call rang out from down the hallway to my left, “Hurrrrry up Miss Tiny-Butt.”

My face darkened. “My ass, is just fine, thank you very much,” I called back, attempting to put as much venom in my voice as possible.

I started down the hallway and before long I reached another room that seemed designed for relaxation. Cushions, couches, low tables and the like were the only accessories to the round-edged room, and everything was in the hue of red-brown shimmer.

“Don’t they know of any other colours,” I asked acidly, feeling decidedly grumpy at this point.

Nexan laughed from his position sprawled on a couch. Already he held a cup of something and sipped from it lazily. Maruuka wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

“Oh, c’mon,” Nexan snickered, “Be nice.”

I only blinked at him with a sour expression.

Nexan pulled in a deep breath and swung his feet to the floor, then looked up at me with serious eyes. “Okay,” he said. “I’m sure you have questions.”

I looked at the far wall trying to gather my thoughts. I didn’t even know where to begin. And then, despite every ounce of effort and with wretched embarrassment, tears began to well up in my eyes.

“Uh…” Nexan coughed, “you okay?”

“Uh, huh,” I said. Though in truth the tears were taking over and the next thing I knew I was making some sort of horrific sobbing noise. I’m fairly certain I sounded like a heaving rhino choking on pond scum.

“Oh, jeeze,” Nexan grunted uncertainly. He was beside me now, patting my back roughly in much the same way you would a person choking on a cherry pit. My sobs came out in an interesting staccato rhythm to his drumming but I couldn’t stop crying any better than I could stop a waterfall.

“Shock,” Nexan said. “Shock...” as if the obvious were comforting.

I think I said “Uh, huh,” again but it might have sounded more like, “SNORT, gurgle, uh Hgguuungh.... Cough, gurgle.”

I’m not certain how long I cried for, but thankfully Nexan did nothing more than slap ineffectually at my back. Eventually I pushed his hand away, and wiped at my face pulling myself together.

I cleared my throat and said in as strong as voice as I could muster, “Okay, now that that’s done.”

Nexan cracked a smile. I managed a weak one myself.

I swallowed and then tried again, “What in the fuck just happened?”

This time Nexan laughed, “There’s my girl,” he said scratching absentmindedly at his scruffy chin and sprawling back on the couch, “there’s my girl.”

I waited patiently, staring at him with an arched brow. I didn’t even care to address the “my girl” portion of that sentence for the moment. He had stopped talking and seemed more interested in the cup he held before him.

“Nexan,” I said.

“Mm?” he grunted, and looked up at me. “Right, uhmm.. where to start…”

I stared at him.

“Okay,” he said finally. “Okay. Well, shit..” he took a swig from his cup and looked up at me with furrowed brows. “Ever heard of the Ruughan Sect? No.. no I don’t suppose you have. Even if your ridiculous pronunciation earlier weren’t a clue, your expression now is.”

He looked me straight in the eyes. I just waited.

“You should sit,” he said.

I blinked slowly, like my mind was swallowing the situation, then nodded and sat down in a chair on a perpendicular wall. I briefly noticed how incredibly comfortable the seat was.

“So you’re what, less than a pin out of training?” he started again.

“Uhm…” I licked my lips. No point holding back now, was there? “I graduated 6 knots ago."

“You don’t know anything.” It was a matter of fact statement, but I could tell behind his eyes he was trying to figure out exactly what to tell me first; it wasn’t meant as an insult.

“No, I guess I don’t,” I said softly.

“That statue,” he said, “that statue wasn’t just a statue. It was, well it housed a living soul.”

“A… what?” I really didn’t have much to say to that.

“Well, not exactly a living soul. But, basically…” his voice trailed off and he licked his lips concentrating. “The Paridians are divided. As most nations are, I suppose - humans included. Anyway, long ago the Ruughan Sect made plans to annihilate the opposing Paridian peoples. A war was waged. A war that has lasted hundreds of pins. Honestly I don’t even know all of the sordid details, there’s too many pins of turmoil. But what I do know, is that the Ruughan Sect began to lose, and in their fear of defeat they chose to start abducting a neighboring species. A powerful species.”

I watched as his fist first clenched, and then released as his eyes dropped sadly to the floor, “a peaceful species.”

I waited patiently, not at all certain what I could even say. But for the moment Nexan was silent.

Finally I spoke, “I don’t understand, a living soul?”

“Yes,” he started, looking back up at me before he continued. “In a sense. The technology of this species, the Phrenaiis, is very advanced.  They have decoded their genetic selves so completely that they can download their entire selves; genetic make-up, memories, emotions - everything. They have actually found a way to so perfectly preserve their entity, that no data is lost.

Humans have attempted this in the past but although we have successfully downloaded our literal thoughts and memories into data bases, we have too much lossy information. We haven’t learned enough about our brains and our bodies and the complete system and how it interacts with itself to fully and seamlessly download who we are…”

He paused for a moment. He must have noticed the semi-dazed expression on my face.

“Look, suffice it to say, they can download themselves into a storage device, and either return themselves to a physical being at some point, or remain in digital format.”

I swallowed and nodded slowly. “Okay,” I said. “Cool….” I stared at the ceiling for a moment and then wrinkled up my nose. “But I still don’t understand. What does any of this have to do with the Paridians? And if these Phrenaiis are so technologically advanced, why don’t they just… I don’t know… blast the bad guys to an alternate dimension?”

At this Nexan laughed, “You really are green, aren’t you?”

I sniffed with an annoyed expression.

His smile fell and he took in a small breath before starting again, “It’s just not that simple. The Phrenaiis have focused their intellectual efforts on science and evolution. Look,” he said with some exasperation, “look at our history - at how much of the development of our species was focused on warfare. So what do you expect us to be good at? Fighting. The Phrenaiis aren’t. They’re good at many things, but they haven’t placed their resources and development into destruction.

“Anyway, the point is that the Ruughan Sect has decided they can utilize the intellectual power of the Phrenaiis in order to win their war. They’ve been abducting select Phrenaiis, trying to build a think-tank of sorts to help eliminate their enemies by bending the knowledge of the Phrenaiis towards war. The Phrenaiis we recovered today, was a sort of linchpin.”

“The key..."

“Yes. This particular Phrenaiis has been working on something unique, something that could tip the scales so drastically that not only would the war between the different Sects of the Paridians be completely turned, but any species within...” at this he threw up his hands, “within... I guess the universe?” He chucked, “Holy shit, yeah… the universe. The universe could be under the thumb of the Ruughan sect.”

A thick silence settled on the room and relaxed for a moment.

“So,” I said nodding slowly, “it’s the end of the universe, then.”

Nexan cracked a smile and winked at me, “Not quite. Not quite. Youuuuuuuuuuu...” There was that playful banter to his voice again. Except this time nothing interrupted him, and before I knew it he was up off the couch and swallowing me up with his big burly arms in a bear hug that squished every ounce of oxygen from my lungs.

Unbelievably, he started dancing, wiggling and jiggling me about the room. His raucous laughter the only accompaniment to my breathless squeaks and rib cracking.

He finally put me down and I bent over gasping for breath and tenderly held onto my bruised ribs.

“Owwwwww,” I moaned.

“Aw, c’mon!” his voice was jovial. “That was nothin’,”

I peered up at him, and although I attempted to speak, all that came out was another squeak.

“C’mon, Greensleeves,” he said happily, “You’ve saved the universe! Let’s have a drink.”


*****