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It was eerie that morning, something didn’t quite seem right. Granted the completely unnatural environment would seem to lend a hand to that, but he was accustomed to the place where he stood. The ships they stood there, bothered by no wake, nor ripple in the sea for they weren’t moored as ships commonly are. Sitting on blocks raised above the yards concrete and steel, they were casting their dark shadows through the orange light from across the estuary. As I’ve said the unnatural presence of ships out of water would be eerie itself, but he was used to that.
In retrospect it seems like a good idea. I know at the time there was no positive gain to be had from it, but I was driven to it for some reason. I cannot now remember what I was thinking, or even what it was that happened. All I can recall from then is thinking there cannot be anything good to follow.
That was a while ago though, during a time I don’t much care to revisit. Anything which has happened in the past is unalterable, the effects on the present only observable, and the possibilities for the future uncertain.
They were masquerading in a strange land. The pair danced upon the horizon for a while, they moved about seeming as to take stock of this new place. In many parts of the world and during long stretches of history they would slip through the currents using the breezes, completely in their element and totally unnoticed. Here though, they knew no subtlety. Moving through the waters with infinite grace and the presence of explorers coloring in the blanks of an incomplete map.
They were pirates with
!? The indignation grew within me, how careless could people really be? What misrepresentation!
The perplexities infinite, shades of gray innumerable. Attempting to contemplate all of life and its meaning, possibilities, and shadows of doubt in an instant should be impossible. More than that it should be illegal, the human brain can only cover so much ground in a life never mind an instant. Really though does it not happen constantly, it is said people only use so much of their brain’s capacity for thought, while much of its power and ability goes to waste, I would assume.
Dose the brain’s power go to waste, or is it realizing life’s mysteries with-out you?
Laying there, I could hear the waves slap the rocks at the foot of the building. It was dark and all was peaceful, on the corrugated tin roof of the ferry building. Earlier that night I hopped on a boat to another island, on the other side of the lagoon from where the ship was moored for the night.
I didn’t belong on the island where the small boat dropped me off. I was a stranger escaping hell in a place I shouldn’t be. So I hid myself on that corrugated tin roof and slept in the warm ocean breeze.
Absolute proof would seem to be a minimum requirement for most. Honestly though how certain can you really be anyway? So many people go through their lives searching for this certainty, spending so much energy desperately hoping to find a clue. To reveal some clarity to know more, while they walk right past so many answers.
Flipping through the pages of life trying to be more sure of things than the person next to you, would seem to me a waste. That is how people become gullible, they tire of searching and settle for ignorance with what they haven't found.
Walking along the snow drifts, their foot prints stretching behind them. They walked towards one peak or the next not really concerned with the specifics. It was still sunny, so it must have been early afternoon on that remote Aleutian island as they picked away at the bright white face of some unnamed mountain.
The three of them kept pace with one another. The one who had seen this place before, the one who wished he had snow shoes, and the one who couldn’t keep from wondering if this was how the gravity felt in this part of the world.
Living is like reading, like writing, or taking pictures. Any one particular life can be broken up into different parts, separate chapters that can be taken as individual pictures totally independent from the rest, or as part of a whole. Looking at life as a collection of unique and unconnected stories would be like having a photo album full of pictures from different times and places, each one standing on its own needing no supporting details. While taking life as a series of connected events is like a book, there are definite chapters, all needing one another to be complete.
There were three stop signs which dotted the long stretch from the south bend through the north bend. What was really a pristine stretch of waterfront beach road, had lead to three different worlds. Park, Willow, and Grand as they were properly called, three places totally unique from one another.
Park, the world of story book commerce ended with a quaint green drawbridge. Willow, a crowded residential street was all lined with cars and hardly seen by the passerby. Grand, presented elegant victorians sitting squatly within manicured green lawns their imperfections hidden by crown molding and lattice. That was then.
The impatient rap on the rain soaked window. Clearly a universally understood gesture, I rolled it down.
Instantly it was three months ago, dark yet clear that night. Wrong place, wrong time maybe? Must have been about nine o’clock, not much was exchanged that night. No words, no goods, just some shrugged shoulders and concerned looks. There’s no way I could be placed there, no way I was recognized.
A concerned look, a shift in step. I was placed, but how seriously, and where? It’s dark tonight, but not so clear. That night was crystal, tonight too foggy to tell.
The other day I was told a lie. Now this wasn’t a lie towards any real end, there was nothing to gain by lying to me. At least there wasn’t anything real or tangible to be had from this exaggeration of the truth. Really though in such a case when there are no stakes in a statement and it was made out of the blue for no apparent reason, is it a lie?
The other day I was told a lie, but in the end maybe it wasn’t a lie. It could’ve been an unwritten story known only by me.
There it was like a thousand other failed beginnings, or so it seemed. Another note book with a hopeful start, and a couple hundred blank pages. They sat there with stories unfinished and plots still folded collecting dust. The motivation and feelings which started them have long since vanished, but the stories still linger. They have been stories of many different types and settings, told for any number of reasons. They all had one thing in common though, they weren’t like this tale.
This was different, worlds apart from the rest. Or was it doomed to be one-thousand-one?
Peering around the corner she could only see another corner. This maze of concrete and steel had her trapped. It was in here somewhere, stalking her.
To gauge her location within the retired refinery was nearly impossible. Each corner she turned looked like the one before, and each footstep she took led her closer to panic. It was close, she could feel it near.
So many lines cut the vertical planes of the walls, so many pipes and valves. To stand still would hide any abominable creature, any ghastly creation in this place. There were no straight lines, no hope.
Sitting still on the pier I could hear it call, I could hear it beckon me. Surrounded by everything, and nothing alike. It stood there solitary, like a monolith. It was in the middle of nowhere, or was it the middle of everywhere?
There wasn’t a soul around to tell me otherwise, not a person to voice opposition to my exploration.
It was calling me. I answered this inanimate plea, and climbed. Yes there were steps, but I had no time for those. Scampering to the top from beam to beam, it was like an eight story jungle gym. Bliss.
Did I see it?
The black soot-laden smoke from a hatch. The short lived yelps. There are sirens on the yard now, but no more cries from the space below. There are only wrinkles in the air now from the intense heat within.
Green and red lines tracing towards the hatch... that valve was closed, right? So simple a thing, so menial a task - to close a valve, to disconnect a hose. Surely these things were done, I saw it.
The smoke is all but cleared now, the paint charred, but fire out. Something happened, did I see it?
Turning to his left he could hear the footsteps with his eyes. Falling just out of ear shot, he knew the sound they should be making. Pacing towards him through slotted beams of dusty light, the fall of feet closed faster and faster.
There wasn’t long now.
That’s funny, he thought, as they were more than close enough to hear now, still yielding no audible sound. Alas, this was what he had been waiting for, the culmination of everything in the little world around his existence.
One by one the deaf aardvark licked up the row of advancing army ants.
“This is very delicate situation”
The man said gazing up through what appeared to be nothing more than a crawl space. The lights had been shut off long ago, and there wasn’t a soul around to listen to the two.
“The lights come on in less than a half hour, there will be people here then.”
He seconded, to emphasize, the immediacy of their circumstances.
“Don’t worry, I know it’s in here somewhere,” said the other, his light chasing across the dark void, cluttered with pipes and valves.
Unbeknownst to them, another set of lights was fast approaching from above.
“So I don’t do dialogue. What do you want me to do?”
“What do I want you to do?” repeated the editor, as she flipped through hundreds of pages of scenery and scenarios. Thinking
I could just as easily buy postcards
, she turned back to the writer.
“How can you even pretend to write stories without dialogue? On what grounds can you create a story without running dialogue?
“All these places, all these situations mean as much as a picture book with no interactions. People make stories, people live stories, people tell stories.”
“So I’ll just add some people then.”
“So let me make one thing very clear.
“You work for me now, not the other way around.”
Said the filthy ship builder, brandishing a vindictive toothy grimace. His torch was lit, emitting a yellow light, which illuminated the cautious face of his employer above.
“I don’t believe that makes sense.”
“There’s a shortage of skilled labor around here, but not a shortage of work to be done. You need people like me to stay in business, while I need you as much as I need a headache.”
The dynamic had changed, yet the outcome remained the same.
“This isn’t going to be easy, you know.
“There’s going to be some trouble about this whole business.”
“I want you to know that I never, not even for an instant,”
you are so simple it oozes through your teeth
“thought this would be easy.”
The two sat on the bow of some unmarked ship, waiting patiently for the lines to be tossed. They sat there waiting to embark on a new and, for one, tragically fatal enterprise.
“So long as we are in this together,” spoke the honest, and doomed one.
“I’m right here with you,” spoke the other.
One by one the hammers they fell while two by two the laborers they picked up the pieces. Just like that all was harmony, and all was progress.
At the River Bend Production Facility (R.B.PROFAC) things were happening. Naturally the production and shipment of processed material was proceeding in a timely manner, as were the whistle blows and roll calls pointing workers in all the right directions, but there was something else. Somewhere along the finely tuned lines a crack had formed. The time charts and supply logistics (SUPLOG) offices on site wouldn’t have seen it at all......
This is going to be quick
, he thought, ducking into the empty fuel tank.
It’s in the ballast tank, just through here.
There were three bays, each ten feet in length, which made up the fuel day tank. The number three Starboard ballast tank was accessible only through a manhole on the forward bulkhead of the day tank. He knew it was careless to ignore safety rules, but he needed that clipboard.
Not quite halfway through the manhole a hollow metallic thud left a sinking feeling in his chest.
Surely they didn’t....
The echoey sound of rushing liquid.
“So where does this leave us?”
“I would say five,”
take me seriously now
“miles west of Trinidad.”
Disgruntled and untouched by the slide at humor Brian looked towards the east through the haze. “More like four and a half,”
you worthless accomplice
“but that’s not important right now.”
They sat there, bobbing up and down like a buoy off the shore. Winds sweeping from the south had blown them off course, thus totally preventing their rendezvous.
“Your telling me we traveled all the way out here, and the martians are going to miss us because you forgot the flashlights!”
“Quick - tell me your name.”
“Samuel,” said the other blankly, without casting a second glance.
“Good luck then,”
you’re going to need it
“Mike.” Turning to disappear within the crowds of people, there was no going back now. His fate had been sealed with a single syllable. Mike would need all the luck he could find.
He didn’t just do that, they could have been listening
, chasing through his mind, computing the possibilities, the inevitabilities.
Panicked and disregarding all policies or industry etiquette, Mike planned to return the favor.
Good luck won’t get that saboteur to the hospital!
“Fungus has taken over my body.
“A nasty strain of fungus.”
...said the raspy voice from under the white sheets. The relief of a face could be seen to move with the words draped in the sounds of death.
“What are you talking about?”
“I can’t have much longer now, I can feel it eating away at the lining of my throat.”
“Get over yourself, it’s just a cold!”
A shuffle under the sheet. “Blech, hurrgh! A vile nasty cold, it’s eating my soul.” Some more shuffling under the covers.
This will catch her off guard.
The sun was setting and we were nearing the end of the road. The sky was colored with infinite shades from fiery orange to majestic purple, while the shadows we cast upon the open landscape stretched for miles.
“This is what you wanted, yes?”
“All I can hear is crickets and bird calls between the wind. That and your voice, this is amazing!”
“I’m glad you approve.”
We kept walking along the desolate valley floor waiting to be consumed in the shadow of some snow capped peak or the next. Not knowing where this road led, only where it started.
“So there it is,” said the representative, in a deadpan tone. “Is this really what you wanted?”
“What do you mean, ‘there it is’?
“What do you mean, what
I never suggested anything of the sort
, thought Sandra as she stared in awe at the monitor.
The Progress Report for this quarter was a devastating blow to the nation. Manufacturing had slipped thirty percent. Both standing there watching the numbers chatter across the screen knew what would result from such a drastic slip in that sector. Both were frightened.
were happy and secure in ignorance, weren't
Dusty light shining through the crumbling buildings revealed a solemn expression on her face.
This wasn’t what I had in mind at all
, she thought walking through the devastated town. All that she once loved and cherished was in ruins, the places she knew in disrepair and the people vanished. Making her way down the road of cracked pavement she couldn’t help but wonder if it was better off before this all began.
In the midst of all this apparent gloom a light rain broke out.
Turning toward the sky and with a faint smile,
the rain feels nice though.
I remember every one.
All the post apocalyptic details, so many attempted autobiographies, and each failed tale of philosophical roots.
I would write because a line got stuck in my mind, a scene was conjured up in my imagination, or just to explain a notion to myself. So many have started with no ends, so many have ended with no beginnings. A few have laid claim to whole plots, while only one has been completed as of yet. Oddly enough that was the first one I had written. It was short, but I was young.
Sadly that one is lost.
“So that’s how it’s going to be?”
“No, not necessarily.
“Everything you see here,”
you blind fool
“is subject to change.”
“You’re misunderstanding something!” returned the other hotly. “You aren’t going to play these games anymore. I won’t allow you to continue changing things, they will remain as they are.”
The sun shone down upon the two, sitting on the edge of the pier. It was quiet there and plenty safe for this sort of conversation. Neither one belonged there and neither one held an advantage in this environment.
“This static world of yours can’t last.”
“Without you it can.”
Two pipes led down into the void, everyone knew that.
The group sat down there plotting away. Sitting between cold frames of steel and sweating bulkheads, they coldly calculated the fate of the ship. Their faces all glowing with pride, they were going to take this ship.
“It may not be easy, but tonight... tonight the ship is ours,” spoke the ring leader apparent.
Two pipes led down into that void. One was plugged with water and sealed by valves, while the other was empty and would reverberate the sounds of a failed mutiny throughout the ship.
I knew that.
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