Val in the Anga

…where we leave our guarded understanding to break free from that containment to find the universe that lives within all of us.

Val drove the truck hard, the corner coming too fast, how she wanted it. Dee was with her,not Dee but an Ethi of her, the idea of her when they had first met. She was screaming and laughing as she tried to change the channel on the radio. And then it was a song that Val remembered from when she was a kid. She had listened to that song on a tiny radio and the truck’s radio turned exactly to that too. But then Dee changed the channel again, and the tiny radio was gone.

“Leave it,” Val implored.

There was a stream of trucks ahead of them, heavy traffic, and she passed them all on the shoulder, over the gravel and rocks, wildly through the potholes, the axles getting slammed, and then the road was open again, a distant city on a hill.The music got louder as Dee leaned further back into the dark, and a car veered in front of her, crashed into the blackness, and another one veered to miss that and crashed with a thud. She looked around and stared at the accident to see if it had really happened.

Aqaara: Moving at Hawking 4X Speed*

The connector to Dee Pod was empty, the infinitesimal vibrations somehow building out here with the view out the oblong windows of the deep blackness. Calli stared out into it, looking for something to move, the stars to move past, a planet to appear as a fleeting shadow, but she only had a vague sense of motion, moving forward maybe, and then not, just still again, going nowhere, hovering. And then as suddenly, forward again, something there and then gone, a planet, moon or fragment of something like that, thrusting forward, and then suddenly back, hard, twisting around, the thing coming past the other way, falling backwards now, thinking she might vanish like that, her heart in the back of her head, plunging, a real sense of going down that rabbit hole, in that thing, going forward and back at the same time, not in the same place, but around and around, up and down, all at once. And then spat out of that, lurching ahead, really forward at Hawking 4X, At that speed so close to light, feeling that, getting somewhere, the glare and things in the blackness really moving past, leaving those for the next, exploding ahead into the darkness, as fast she was she was moving still, on into nothing.

*Hawking 4X: four time Hawking Speed which, at .21 light speed, is the fastest speed Stephen Hawking believes humans will ever be able to travel.

The Anga: From “Aqaara”

…where we leave our guarded understanding to break free from that containment to find the universe that lives within all of us.

“We sat on the rocks. All of us we were naked, stark naked. It wasn’t a sex thing, none of that. It was just being naked by the lake.” Liyuan’s mouth was too big for his head, his hairline a straight line on his forehead; he wasn’t as old as he felt, moving his hands slowly over his knees as he spoke. “We saw the storm at the far end of the lake, billowing up, thick and black, rich, swirling over the tops of the trees. The trees were lush green in that light. And the thunder, the way it rolled down from the heavens, the lightning echoing behind it, that was the magic. The rain came racing up the lake, that pristine darkness suddenly a tumult with it hammering down. The drops splattered on our skin and the rocks, so cool and wonderful. And we slipped into the water, pushed out from the shore, our bodies wavering beneath the surface, and drifted out into the downpour. It was the most natural thing on earth, swimming into that glorious darkness, so warm, out into the middle of the lake.”

Ashe knew all of this. She had experienced these very thoughts, floated in this exact dream, but it had vanished. She could not hold it.

“We were in the middle of the lake, the rain coming down in sheets, just sheets and sheets of it. That’s what I remember the most, the rain, the lightning a mile away, the quiet, the sound of the rain against the lake, the black clouds and the still water, so dark and pure. And I’m afraid of that. I’ve always been afraid of the dark water. Always afraid. But not this. Not this.”

Po appeared on the shore, floating just above the lake, indiscernible for the woman, not Ashe, who tried to will her away. It never worked.

“We stayed in the lake, our faces looking back at each other, turning around, spitting out water, little streams of it, the impression of our fluttering arms and hands beneath the surface, just a hint of those. This was it. A moment of divine existence. Yes. Exactly that.” He closed his eyes as he rocked slowly forward and back, his hands out for balance. “And then the lightning was right there, a streak of it across the black sky and into the water, the thunder ripping through us, the storm right on top of us. We knew we had to leave. It was dangerous. And we didn’t. We stayed, thinking we might die like this, struck dead, floating belly up, and we were good with that. I was overjoyed. Overjoyed.” He stared at her, wide-eyed.

“The program makes you get out of the water.”

“Out of the water?” His face suddenly became creased, his eyebrows moving sharply down, his mouth pulled tight. The light had gone out of his eyes; he was going to cry.

Ashe pulled his hands together and cupped them in hers. “None of that. You hear me?”

He held her eyes, staring back, dark, his mouth a sharp line, and then reached out and touched her chin. “That’s an error. That was the purpose of creating it, that lightning shearing the air, terrifying blasts every second moment. And yet never have I been so without fear. I belonged there.” He sighed and sat up straight again. “Sometimes I think that I might still be there, still in that water.” “The program needs to be rewritten.”

“Yes.” He nodded back firmly and let out some tears.

More of Aqaara can be read here:https://www.outerplaces.com/science-fiction/item/19061-aqaara-three-don-gibson

Read more of Aqaara on “Outer Places”

The spaceship Anori approaches Hawking Speed as it exits the Earth’s solar system: https://www.outerplaces.com/science-fiction/item/19034-aqaara-two-don-gibson

Aqaara Outtake: Liyuan & Xisi

…where we leave our guarded understanding to break free from that containment to find the universe that lives within all of us.

Xisi appeared in Liyuan’s childhood suitcase, a brilliant glowing dancing dollish sprite. Liyuan was running away. His mother and father disdained him. He planned to go the playground on the hill and then find a bus from there.

“Let’s go!” Xisi vibrated with excitement.

There were swings on the hill, and nobody else there. Liyuan placed his suitcase in his lap and watch Xisi begin to swing higher and higher. Liyuan was timid, worried about losing the suitcase, but got faster too, and was swinging higher than he had ever imagined. Xisi leapt from the swing into the grass, Liyuan after him, where Xisi stood up straight and fell down like a piece of wood, rose up again, over and over, like a trapdoor to a secret world. Xisi changed colors too – blue, purple, green – and went up and down, up and down.

“We should go back,” Liyuan said sadly.

“Where?” Xisi demanded.

“Home.”

Xisi stood straight up again, duplicated twice and sang and he started to float. Liyuan grabbed crazily after him, and then found he could float as well and could sing too. They made a house in the trees and watched the nighttime creatures fly around. And that’s where Liyuan awoke, his little suitcase still tight in his arms. But Xisi wasn’t there. Frantic, he looked down to the ground far away and thought he would fall and then heard Xisi’s song and found him inside and star-filled world too.

“Let’s go!”

Xisi spiraled down, Liyuan after him.

“Aqaara” on “Outer Places”

The first installment of Aqaara has been posted on Outer Placeshttps://www.outerplaces.com/science-fiction/item/19034-aqaara-two-don-gibson

Please read, share and comment!

Aqaara Outtake: Up the Narrow Gap

It’s been a long time since my last post – six weeks, a new record. Have I lost interest? Am I just writing? I don’t know. Here is an outtake of what I am working on:

There was just the sound at first, high overhead, the wind bending over the trees, branches dipping down into each other, and then the sunlight flashing across her arms. And then the smell of the lake nearby, water splashing up a narrow gap, her feet on the cool rock, toes gripping onto the cracks, tight to the bumps and scales of the surface, padding down the porous surface, a little girl there, crouched down, by the bushes at the shore, scraping at the lichen, poking her fingers into the water, and she was beside her, both of them, bending down, tiny fish schooling nervously against in the dark alcoves, and felt the girl lean into her, her hair ticking her arm, her breathing mingled with the sound of the water, and then looking back at her, her sharp hazel eyes, looking back briefly and then back down into the water. 

“I spoiled you.” Dee was there now, and they were walking together on adjoining paths. “I did everything you wanted. I never said no.”

The trees rose up on either side, languid and old, the wind pushing hard through their tops. It was a comforting sound, like waves on the shore, protected in the shadows. It was a remarkable thing how each step was made, the next rock calculated, up to the next one, crossing from side to side of the trail, measuring the gaps, moving forward.

 “Slow down, Apollo.”

“That’s Icarus.”

“Is it?” Calli squinted ahead, the sun slanting across, the shadows now sharp and long.

Dee was getting ahead, Icarus and Apollo beside her. “You need to catch up.”

“Don’t be cruel.”

“That’s who I am. That’s who we are.”

“I’m not.”

“You’re the worst.”

“No.” Calli had to use her hands now, pulling up on the edge of each slat, and then her feet, full-fledged climbing. Icarus and Apollo were way ahead now, almost at the foot of the castle. They were going to get there in a minute. She couldn’t believe that, that they had climbed so fast. It was amazing. Dee was almost there too, and then there was the sound of something coming apart, tools scattered loose in a box, rattling against the sides, hard back and forth, and then suddenly released, a last slip of a metal shaft against a metal edge, and then nothing.

Alone in the Mountains

I have a conflicted passion for hiking alone in the mountains, simultaneously reveling in and terrified by the solitude. This Aqaara excerpt reflects that:

It was clear ahead, the sky suddenly bright, all the trees gone. The summit was close, the trial suddenly steep. A small tree acted as a handhold and then a shelf of rock. It was unavoidable to not kick the edge, to not let it gouge into my ankle and thigh. The pain was almost good. It wasn’t a surprise to see it not there, to see more trees ahead, that this was just a blow-down, the trees twisted into a brambled heap, like a massive hand had swiped through. I watched my hand reach out ahead, pulling me up, watched the sleeve rumple up and flatten down again, over and over again, like I was a machine, reaching, pulling, moving ahead, a marvelous, thoughtless thing, moving on, knowing there were miles yet to the top. It was good knowing that it would not stop, that my legs and feet would have to not stop, that the path would wind ahead to the next false summit and I would turn and find more ahead. There was something on the horizon, far off through the trees. It was coming, slowly at first, seeing me move away, and was then moving faster. That feeling ground into me, about to be eaten, as I returned down the trail, jumping rock to rock and then climbed up into a tree, breaking the branches. The beast was still far and yet it wasn’t. It was awful how it crept closer, watching my ridiculous attempts to climb further, knowing what I would do, more than me, dreadful. The thing was still coming, methodical. It looked like a lion but stood on its hind legs and looked at her like something else, with awareness. I broke the final branch and clung to the peak, but the only escape was jumping now, and that is what I had to do, except the thing grabbed me by the neck and held until I stretched out like a cartoon, and then shook myself awake, and lay there, still, the images still hard and real.

Bouncing and Rolling Like A Kid

After 1,100 posts – and watching The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling – I have come to realize that for this blog to mean anything, it should be more personal and real. And so we’ll see how that goes…

There was no greater pleasure as a kid than to lie on my side in bed, my left side, my arm bottom bent a little out, my top arm flopped forward, and roll to music. My brother did it too, the record player between us. A favorite was The Beatles. I liked the Blue album; he liked the Red. It was a simple act, rolling back and forth on my side. It was comforting and helped me drift into the music.We bounced too, the three of us, my brother, sister and I. We listened to The Partridge Family in the living room and took turns in the bouncy chair, which wasn’t really that bouncy, but rather a wingback chair that had some bounce in the back. We each got a song and then the next person got to go. I loved bouncing. And then we realized that none of our friends seemed to bounce in their chairs listening to music, or certainly never talked about it.

That’s when it all became a secret, the bouncing and rolling, subjects of shame. My older sister insisted that she had stopped bouncing, but we caught her doing it on her own. And then she mocked us for rolling, something she had never done. “Are you still rolling in bed? What babies!” And so my brother stopped, or said he did. Not me. We were now in separate rooms, and I liked rolling. I rolled in the darkness of my room through middle and high school, because there was nothing as safe and perfect as that.

I tried rolling again years later but didn’t get it. It was an odd thing to do, and I couldn’t find the rhythm. I was no longer a kid.

Donald Flynt – Burdens to Bear

Donald Trump has been a heavy burden on my psyche over the past couple of years – the fury, the vitriol, and most of all, the deceit. I try to laugh it off but then I think it’s better to drink and forget and do that instead. It was during one such purge that it occurred to me how Trump isn’t unique, that he is the same as so many nameless other millions, to say nothing of the named ones too – Sean Hannity, Larry Flynt, the Koch brothers et al. – and they’re what we’re stuck with if we’re to perpetrate this fantasy of free speech. And, while we should throw these idiots in jail for their hate speech, the reality is that most people suck, and another racist/misogynistic schmuck will just take his place. Which is another good reason to drink.