I started life with nothing and I still have most of it.

Wall (9 Sep 1994)

Strike, wall. I am not beaten far enough into submission.

My back is against you, wall. Stab again; I blinked.

Fall upon me, wall. I stopped holding you up for a moment.

I'm yours to devour, wall. Savor every bite.

Spin me around, wall. I might be able to stand if you do not.

I still have a few things to lose, wall. You're not trying hard enough.

Freefall (9 Sep 1994)

How far can he fall? It always seems like the ground is right there, righ there in front of him-- WHAM, any second now-- and yet he continues to fall, fall without slowing.

How hard will he hit, when it ends? It must be a bad end coming, because he's been dropping for so long. He must be falling into a tunnel, that's it. Something is tunneling ahead of him, he's already below ground level and still falling but the ground keeps moving ahead of him.

Is he at terminal velocity yet? Yes, I think he must be. He cannot fall any faster, but he cannot fall any slower, either. He cannot puff himself up, make himself catch more air, fall like a feather or a parachute or a dollar bill.

How far can he fall? To the center of the world? Will he just pass right through and begin to rise on the far side? Has he fallen farther than he did the last time? We could compare tunnels, if the other one wasn't so old and so far away-- old and forgotten, we thought. Funny how it's at times like these that we remember the old tunnels.

The heat is rising. Pretty deep, now.

Stifling. Tearing.

What's that sound? Is that the wind, stripping past him? Or is the wings of something final, waiting to claim him and take him to the end of the old tunnel, to that dark thing he escaped there?

Pray for him, for the spirits hear and answer prayers when the bandwidth is good.

Re: US Army 29Y SatCom Ft Gordon Taegu Ft Detrick people (18 Sep 1994)

Maybe I'm just a total nut, but this got me thinkin', and you know, there's a bunch of guys back from my old military days that I would love to get back in contact with. So if any of you know any of these guys from the 14th Covert Assassination Wing, out of Fort Mandrake along the South African border, let me know:

Little Bellhop: Right eye was taken out by shrapnel and replaced with a passive radar system. He probably still carries around a small oxy-acetylene torch for burning bugs when he sees them. He always hated bugs.

Black Specter: Last I heard, he was working on ECM for the replacement for the B-2, but by now they'd have to be done with it.

Rogue Waffle: 8'4" after they installed the telescoping leg system in him. He probably used his Mob connections from our heroin-smuggling operations to go into that (admittedly more lucrative and respectable) field.

Spinning Crystal: She probably got her dream-- to infiltrate some normal Joe's life as a housewife and spend the rest of her life planning one last kill.

Right-Wing Pagoda: Did he actually get to operate a rifle range for the Boy Scouts of America? I can't imagine he'd be content with nothing more than bolt-action .22's for the rest of his life....

Colonel Pain: Are you there, Mein Fuhrer? It's me, Crisper! When are we putting Plan Nine into effect?

Diffuse liquid-crystal degradation (11 May 94)

He was well-loved by the the people and, after his death, they enshrined his soul in towering glass. A thousand feet tall, he stood, over the river, over the city, over the land that he had ruled and defended and cherished for so long.

But, of course, time ate at him, and gravity pulled at his substance. And in the recesses of his awareness, he could feel his slow collapse. His feet widened and his shoulders sagged, as the glass moved ever-downwards. At first, you could see him from ten miles away, but his once proud and solid form slumped now, losing its shape over the years. There was nothing he could do but watch and feel as, over forty generations, his world decayed and his view of it dropped lower and lower.

The people who knew and loved him were long dead, of course, and their descendants no longer remembered or cared about all that he had done. He was a name in the books and an unsightly lump on the horizon, nothing more. "Look at this shoddy excuse for art," they said. "The glass would be much better used elsewhere." And so they began to break him up, this translucent mountain, this lump that only vaguely resembled the man it honored and contained.

It was unlikely that these new people even knew that he still lived within its mass, and his horror grew as they chipped away at him and he realized that each little piece they took away carried, with it, a part of his life, his memories, and his awareness. But the chipping and melting down and carting away continued until, eventually, he was everywhere-- in windows, in microchips, in drinking glasses, in mirrors-- and every little piece of him was too small to remember what had once been; it could only remember that it had lost something.

They devoured us (1 Jun 1994)

The healthers. Yes, small, virus-sized, they made us better. They knew what a
healthy cell looked like, and they wandered throughout our bodies fixing
everything. They ate cancers and used the fragments to repair aging;
they learned which bacteria were vital and which were AIDS; they
eventually figured out how not to dissolve developing fetal
tissue unless the carrier wished it to be removed. Took a
while, but nobody noticed the brief dip in the birth rate.
But they never figured out thought. Sure, they got good
at pushing the electro-chemical material around, but
there was something there they could never define or
handle or even locate. They could never tell the
difference between memory, and new thought, and
developing insanity. They just kept it all
static, and eventually we all stopped
thinking new things and had nothing
but our memories, which were kept
absolutely clear.
But that was not a problem for long. After all, there were the enviros.
The enviros. Small, virus-sized, they cleaned the world. They scoured away the
oil and dust and carbon monoxide. They rebuilt ozone whenever possible and
ran through the air, the land, the sea, righting wrongs. But there was so
damn much variety out there, and, like the healthers, they weren't smart
enough to deal with it all. They exterminated millions of kinds of
bacteria before they learned which ones were necessary for the
ecosystem and which were harmful. And the ozone began to
thicken, screening out far too much. The air was clear.
The greenhouse effect began to reverse, to the point
that the Earth could not maintain its heat. There
was no decay; vital processes at the bottom of
the food were halted and life-- all life--
rapidly began to die.
But that was not a problem for long. After all, we had the warriors.
Oh, yes. Small, virus-sized, they were far too complex to have been an
accident. No, some motherfucker built them-- or, more accurately, ALL
the motherfuckers built them. We all had them, every one of us. Some
were made of carbon and hydrogen and nitrogen and oxygen; they
attacked anything organic and used it to make more of them-
selves. Some used iron and silicon. There were versions in
sulfur and silver and sodium. They all had one thing in
common-- they knew how to take apart anything made of
the same materials as themselves, and they carried a
compressed set of reproductive instructions so that
they could reproduce themselves from the stripped-
out pieces of their victims. And someone, anyone,
everyone, released them for some damn reason.
Motherfuckers. The little bastards went
right to work. They not only bit the
hand that fed them, they turned it
into more of their own kind.
This is our legacy to the Outworlders. In another
thousand years, they will check up on us again, and they'll
find a spherical mirror orbiting a star. Shards of trash will
orbit the mirror; evidence of a technological society will remain on
the surface of the mirror's largest satellite. But of the society itself,
nothing will remain but the seething reflective sea of warriors, fighting
amongst themselves for control over a ball of their own virus-sized bodies.
And the Outworlders will feel sadness, for they have seen this happen before.

Re: time (1 Jun 1994)

bartholomew burns <bburns@unlinfo.unl.edu> wrote:
>Once we waste it, folks, it's gone forever.

Gotta differ with you.

Time, once used, is like excrement-- it is no longer as fun as it was before it was used, but you could save it, really. Most people would find no pleasure in such an act, and fewer still would be willing to actually take the necessary steps to do so. Why keep it around? It was fun the first time around but it's been stripped of anything of value and what's left is, frankly, rather disgusting.

quality without mercy without (3 Jun 1994)

love    without pain   without blood without fear without dogs   without
leashes without string without hooks without fish without scales without
justice without law    without order without form without reason without
mind    without flesh  without blood without iron without shape  without
volume  without matter without mass  without life without sight  without
eyes    without nerves without men   without hats without sizes  without
costs   without money  without us    without them without life   without

A dream sent through the gate in Texas (3 Dec 1993)

A play is rehearsed three times. Once, I am a member of the audience. Once, I am an actor in the show. The third time, I am the character itself, living the events of the story as my own true life.

There is a woman who crawls, spider-like, under barbed wire. She is the subject of Russian medical experiments; her child, a bright green abomination, is growing from a cyst on her shoulder and back. It is infected-- very painful.

There is a man who cannot remember me, and I cannot remember him. Even so, we are haunted by each other.

There is more that I cannot recall, or cannot describe, or cannot bring myself to talk about. Isn't there always?

Things I'd take if the house was burning (29 Jun 2000)

} Kia writes:
} 1. The cat. 

"Ah ha!" thinks the cat as he tumbles to safety. "She doesn't even suspect me of being the culprit who set the fire in the first place!" Then it's off to the neighbors for a bite of tuna. "Please help me! My house burned down and my evil mommy beats me!"

} 2. The photograph of my grandparents with my mother in the snow at 
}    Big Bear Lake in about 1950.  They are all squinting into the sun,

Sadly, the UFO they were looking at never showed up on film. Vampire UFO. Magical UFO. Secret UFO. The real deal, not one of these crappy government reverse engineered jobbies that only go Mach 10 and have an operational ceiling of three hundred miles.

} 3. My negatives.  Of course my negatives.

I prefer to forget the negatives and remember only the positives.

} 4. The CDs Darin burned, containing every email I have written since I got
}    my first unix account in the summer of 1993.  I was a really stupid 
}    teenager, and it is nice to have a record of this.

I find that memory is more than enough to record how stupid a teenager I was.

} 5. The photograph of me and my brother, sitting on the back of my cousin
}    Marianne's quarterhorse, Thunder.

Just across the ridge, ten thousand angry Apache. We held them off all day with nothing more than our wits, determination, and a big box of nails. That's what America was like when I was a kid, goddammit.

} 6. My sketchbooks.  Of course my sketchbooks.

Approximations of approximations recorded on the backs of dead trees. A quick image... could be a face, a cloud, a house, a dog, a god, a crowd, a single clown, Chairman Mao, a map of India, or a field full of marbles. Whatever it was, it caught my eye and I had to have it, if even just in scribbly form, and it would be disrespectful to admit that I know longer even remember what it was or why I wanted it.

} 7. My box of letters.

All twenty-six of them. I pity the Chinese and their much bigger boxes.