smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Dear Angela

Dear Angela,

I tested the waters. And it went from scalding hot to freezing cold in the blink of an eye.

I admit, I was flattered by the attention – and so I gave attention back. It didn’t help that I so love the hunt (whatever side of it I’m on).

At first, I couldn’t get enough of it. Nearly everyday, I went out of my way to find ways for us to be together. A minute, an hour, an entire afternoon – it didn’t matter how long we had. All I cared about was that we were together. Sitting in companionable silence, I would have firecrackers going off in my heart and in my head, and – I have to admit – in the deeper parts of me. Whenever we so much as grazed each other’s fingertips, I felt like a current would pass between us that I had not felt in a long time.

Eventually, we worked out an agreement – a conceptual framework of us – where we freely admitted some things and consented to be kept in the dark about others. It was a way of forcing the issue with a velvet crowbar. But then, things started going faster and faster and faster. Where I used to want like a forest fire, I began to burn like the sun.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that the fire soon enveloped us both.

Thankfully, I didn’t let it consume us. I held back and the sensation of delayed indeterminacy – so close to being resolved that one time – returned and doubled in power. I thought for sure that it would eventually lead us to a better place.

But it didn’t. I don’t know about the other way around, but I started to see the flaws. Maybe it was because I was starting to invest in it, that I slowly but surely came to realize that if I continued down the road I was on, it would lead to nothing but heartbreak. It dawned on me that I was in a race to see whose heart would get broken first.

And then last night, after a long wait apart, we found ourselves in each other’s orbit again. I had thought that there would be more feeling to it, but I couldn’t help but keep looking at my watch. The stories that used to make me laugh now just made me cringe; the tourette’s I once found so charming now only grated; the hide-and-seek that made me want more, now only made me want out.

And at the end of the night, goodbyes were said without remorse. Call me a romantic – because I am – it didn’t sit right with me. The spark – as was tentatively mentioned a short while before the goodbyes – seemed to have gone and if things were to continue, it would be only be fueled by the memory of that spark. That, to me, seemed a poor thing to have.

Strangely, that wasn’t the end of it. The end came when I learned that past associations would not be severed. There, I feel, I was being unreasonable. But who can reason with the heart anyway? It was unacceptable, and so the night ended in a mixture of lust and disappointment and hurt.

I hardly slept a wink thinking about how to end everything.

Morning came and brought with it the kind of tenderness I had so craved the night before. But it was too late. Now, the melancholy in my heart is, I think not for the severing of ties, but in grieving for those weeks that were spent under cherry blossoms.

The branches are bare now, and memories and murmured assurances cannot caress my cheeks the way the blossoms once did.

Dear Angela, I stepped off the cliff but now, I managed to hang on to the edge. Now begins the long climb back. I can only hope that the ground I find when I get back is as solid as it used to be.

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Filed under: Rong-Nu

First Contact

It was in 2015 when I first heard extra-terrestrials. I was fiddling around with the Morgan Foundation’s radio telescope at around 10:30 am, just before I was supposed to clock out after yet another night of fruitless listening. At first I thought it was just background noise. Then, I thought I was just feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. When the hiss got stronger, when the pattern emerging out of the white noise became too obvious, that was when I hit the button.

The panic button, we called it, even though it wasn’t even a button and it wasn’t panic that was supposed to trigger it. When I flipped that toggle, three things happened all at once. The computers locked on to whatever frequency I was listening to at that time and began recording everything; a text message was sent on a private network to Mr. Willard Morgan’s cellphone; and telemetry was activated in the main House where Mr. Morgan could monitor the frequency.

At that time, I didn’t know that a fourth thing happened when I flipped the panic button. A packet of information was fired off to the MorComm satellite. The packet contained instructions for the satellite to fry all other satellites by sending out an electromagnetic pulse. The MorComm sat itself would jettison a virgin satellite that would commence operation almost instantaneously after the emp went off. Mr. Morgan’s exclusivity guarantee. It was a good thing I didn’t know that, or I would have not hit the button fearing a false alarm.

But as things turned out, it wasn’t a false alarm.

Three days later, while the world media still bleated about mysteriously downed satellites, the Morgan Foundation had scrambled it’s steroid-pumped version of the Hubble and within a few hours, we were getting clear pictures of the source of the signal. An asteroid that would, in six weeks, pass about 2 lunar distances from the earth.

Five weeks later, the rest of the world found out about the signal through the tabs. Everyone ignored the blaring headlines, just like they ignored the stories about the image of Elvis being found on a granola bar. The US government didn’t ignore the story exactly, but it wasn’t in any position to do anything about it, so it kept quiet. The Morgan Foundation, however, had launched a piggy-backer aimed at the incoming asteroid.

When the piggy backer hit the asteroid a week later, we realized it wasn’t a rock at all but a derelict.

Over the next few months, as the derelict receded into the distance the piggy-back sent back tons of information. We learned that the signal I had found was scatter from course correction instructions sent to the derelict to prevent it from slamming into the moon. It was an automated instruction and it scared the shit out of everyone at Morgan. Everyone, that is, except Morgan himself.

He called it first contact and finally told the United Nations about it. His speech before the General Assembly was something to behold.

First, he told the story of how I had discovered the signal. Then he apologized for the emp, calling it an act of necessary vandalism and offering to pay for all costs. And before the leaders of the world had time to harrumph, he hit them square between the eyes with the powerpoint presentation of the millenium. Al Gore must have wept with envy.

He gave free and full access to Morgan databases to all governments, inviting them to verify our results. For awhile after that, outrage caught up with the rest of the world and sanctions were heaped on the Morgan Foundation. But when the results were eventually verified, the sanctions were quietly lifted. No one could forget Morgan’s closing statement at the General Assembly: “We have found them. It is only a matter of time before they find us.”

Three months after that revelation, the General Assembly convened again, and in an unprecedented move, several regional groups – including the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Countries – coalesced to form the Eurasian Union. The US was invited, but Washington declined. It had its own plans.

Fearing further reprisals, the Morgan Foundation pulled out all its interests in the continental US and relocated to the Hague. The EAU was ecstatic. The US condemned Morgan and, while still wondering how it had been so neatly outmaneuvered, stripped him of his citizenship.

The realignment of the global power structure gave rise to a new space race. 15 years later, the EAU launched its first space station: Jericho. Six months later, the US space station was commissioned. It was named the Rubicon. And everyone settled down for the long wait.

– The Long Wait: The Memoirs of Jonah Erskine

Filed under: Rong-Nu, science, space, stories, , , , ,

Job Interview

I answered the advert in the paper that said “Looking for single female, no attachments, for job requiring extensive traveling.”

The address on the advert took me to a dingy part of town. Having just graduated from university, I had the belief that i was invincible so I wasn’t too scared. It helped that I also knew nichak and that i had once beat down a six-foot gorg in a pick-up fight on campus.

“Kuang-Ning Bjornsdottir” I said to the receptionist. “I’m here about the advert.”

“Right” she answered in heavily accented Chinglish. “Down that hallway, last door on your left.” I went.

The door opened inward, and as I stepped in, I felt a tingle down my spine, like something was off. It’s not a spidersense exactly, but many times I’ve been on the receiving end of a whack for ignoring it. My gut tensed up, and I sank maybe an inch lower as I centered myself. Good thing, too.

Three spikes hit the wall behind me, roughly where hy head would have been if I hadn’t assumed the position. I was like, wtf?!

I collapsed my left knee and rolled off to the side. In the periphery of my hearing, I heard the dull thuds of more spikes embedding themselves into the floor where i had been half a second earlier. Sonuvabitch.

I pulled out my portable and slid it across the floor away from me. The screen lit up and in the faint glow, I saw boots. Girly boots. From the floor, I heave my satchel up to where her head would be – assuming she was proportioned the same as me, which was a big assumption considering how weird things had gotten in the last ten years or so. Luckily, this one was a real girl and my satchel hit pretty much where I wanted it too. Hah. It figures that a heavy purse would have some use after all.

I hear her grunt, and that was pretty much all I needed. I tackled her and after a few fancy nichak moves, I had my arm crooked around her neck and my knee up against her hamstring. “You’re hired,” she wheezed. “Bitch.”

Filed under: new age, Rong-Nu, stories, , , , , ,