Beneath the moon's soft luminescent veil,
A tale of love unfolds, a ship set to sail.
In whispered secrets of the starlit night,
A cougar's heart finds solace in love's light.
Her years a tapestry, rich and refined,
Yet her heart beats anew, as if redefined.
A silhouette of elegance, she stands,
Drawn to a youth who treads on untamed lands.
A twenty-year-old soul, vibrant and free,
Ignites a fire, a yearning decree.
Her heart, once untouched by passion's flame,
Now aches with a love she can't help but claim.
Legit and real, her affection takes flight,
A love that transcends judgment's cold bite.
For age is but a number, love's not confined,
As her feelings for him intertwine and bind.
In every stolen glance, every shared smile,
She finds herself lost in a world so worthwhile.
Her cougar heart, fierce and ablaze,
Beats in sync with his, caught in love's maze.
Aching yet resolute, she stands by his side,
Embracing a love that refuses to hide.
Their hearts' tender dance, a symphony to hear,
A cougar's love story, bold and clear.
The last of this planet’s sentient history may never be piece-worked into the exact mosaic of truth those that witnessed the last day would want. Many who should have recorded what happened didn’t. A few didn’t care. The bulk of the population never knew.
Maybe it was best that they didn’t.
Old calendar, 2026, June 8th, 0132 GMT, the reign of vertebrates concluded. Automatic data collection stations did not register an atmospheric disturbance or extraterrestrial event. Military stockpiles of weapons were not released. Chemical discharges did not occur. Even most biological inventories remained at pre-conclusion (PC) levels.
Most, but not all.
In Atlanta, Georgia and in Jakarta, Indonesia, researchers discovered (accidentally and coincidentally) a virulent strain of not one, but three viruses that attacked the central nervous system of Earth’s vertebrates. Acting symbiotically with the common cold (CC), they multiplied without fanfare or detection. With an incubation period of months, species dependent on electrical impulses through spinal cords and nerve endings never understood the imminent threat each carried or the ease of transmission each displayed. By June 1st, the first cases of central nervous system failure (CNSF or Glodok’s disease - source unknown) began manifesting in cities with large international airports. The first extinctions were avian and then reptilian. Amphibians and aquatics fared no better. Higher order mammals died later and died painfully. Data collection centers estimated vertebrate extinction within two weeks.
It only required one.
For this sole reason, travel to Earth (Terra) is now forbidden. Estimates indicate a prolonged dormancy to surpass centuries. The virus is most likely capable of cross species adaptation with a geometric (pernicious) presentation. Travel to orbiting relics is possible without quarantine (should one wish to visit). All landing inquiries will be ignored.
Todas las Voces
At birth on Homeworld, I understood. Before that, I only heard sounds. At first, only a few, but later, hundreds. Soon, hundreds became thousands, then millions.
From then, it became a race of my education against my sanity. At first I wanted to hear them all. Then, all I wanted was peace. Many a night I ran away from the voices. I cried when I couldn't run. I sought loud noises to override the cacophony of discord within.
Even in the presence of one person, the volume became unbearable. My mothers' voices became a single frequency invasion into my desperately required solitude. My father's voice became a full spectrum battering ram forcing me to flee to higher ground on distant shores.
But such places do not exist for me. For as I grew older, my range of absorption exponentially increased to include the collective superposition of all audio components of mechanical wave energy. I now hear all people, all mammals, all animals, and I soon fear, all life on Earth.
No dampening field exists to rectify my horror. No distance too great to alleviate my pain. I doubt even permanent residence on Luna could assuage my fear of my impending mental collapse.
So I have only one solution. Not a solution to my problem. No, I have exhausted all possibilities on that front. I have a solution to everyone else's problem. I will permit every single life form on Earth to understand my pain. I will turn my ability as a receiver to a broadcaster. Let the masses fall in stunning pain, begging for mercy, on their knees in the desperate prostrate position. Who will pray for forbearance against the biblical onslaught of suffering I will release?
And then, and only then, I might have my first night's sleep.
I am the Fourth
I am the Fourth
I answer, yes. My contact with the last key sends a premonition of foreshadowed doom.
I await a reply.
I do not have to wait for long.
I am the Fourth. The previous Three wait for the Fifth to self-identify. There is an icon labeled “background”. I have that feeling again. I look out my window and see a broken tree branch that began to fall, but still has not fallen. Everything is frozen and everyone is asleep except for my computer and I.
Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t.
With a moderate measure of trepidation, I click the icon.
I can only wonder how my life would evolve had I not participated in this stimulus. It only takes a second, one very long second, for the page to load.
It reads as follows:
“Don’t panic. Don’t stare at the world about you. You do not have the time for such endeavors. If you are reading this, you are one of the Five. Your participation in this world is now near its conclusion. The Five will decide for all of humanity the next step for all posterity.”
“The world, all forms of life, and all objects contained within have not died. They are not in stasis, nor suspended animation. To these players, all is normal.”
“To you of the Five, you are experiencing hyper-sensitivity of all external stimuli, except this computer. The tingling feeling is your physiological response to this. By responding, your life is accelerating 100 million times that of a normal person. From your perspective, the world is in a state of collective unconsciousness. Gravity has no power over mass and time ceases to exist. From their perspective, you are moving too fast to notice. You just disappeared.”
“It is better this way.”
I look once again through my window, except this time, it is no longer transparent. I can see individual atoms vibrate and electrons orbit in what I remember from a physics class in wave functions of overlapping probability densities. A quick scan of the other walls, floor, and ceiling result in similar conclusions. I am accelerating and thus, the computer is correct, my time is extremely limited.
The Fifth has now logged on.
I wait for him to catch up on his required reading.
“It is now time to decide. A simple majority will suffice. Humanity is at a crossroad. It may proceed ignorant of the universe about itself, taking small feeble steps to acquire (independently) the prerequisite knowledge to expand past this sanctuary called Earth, taking millions of years (possibly) to join the others in their rightful place among the stars. This is a safe, albeit, less profitable future for your species. Or, you can decide to accelerate the learning by accepting an offer of first-contact. This decision will make your species leave Earth much sooner, thus guaranteeing your survival when you begin to colonize the inhabitable planets in close proximity to you. Unfortunately, it will also place humans in direct competition with older species with designs on similar scarce resources. Choosing this option will destine humanity to wars, conflict, and sorrow, but not extinction. Choosing the former will permit millions of years of bliss, but nothing more.”
“Time is limited. You will choose for your species the path it will follow.”
On the screen flashed two icons. One read “Option 1 - First Contact”. The other read “Option 2 - Ignorant Bliss”.
Before my hand moved, Option 1 had two votes and Option 2 had one vote.
I held the fate of all humanity in my hands.
I had to choose.
And I did.
Types Of Writers
There are so many different types of writers. I am the type who loves to not talk to anyone all day, drink tea, read my favorite novels, and eat carrots with ranch dressing at three in the morning.
I also love typewriters.
They're so fancy. And beautiful. And so much less distracting than a computer. So much quicker than writing by hand.
I wanted: 1. To create a typewriter pun, and 2. To express how different we all are. And how special it is to create connections with other writers and appreciate both our differences and our similarities.
Also, writers type, right? So type righter. I mean typewriter.
That's the only thing of hers left in our old apartment
In the place where empty laughs echoed through the minuscule hallway,
Where we played tic tac toe on our arms,
Doodled on the walls and repainted them purple
Broke ice and hearts on tales of needlework
Screamed until our lungs burned
At least mine did.
She had used that screwdriver to unscrew our dusty vent,
We inhaled decades of grime, coughing and laughing
We gasped when we found a mouse, dead
She cried when she saw it
A Phillips head screwdriver
It came with screws and everything! But
She never used them
She told me to throw out the mouse,
After, she buried her head in my shirt and murmured about death
She wanted to stay with me forever, she said
To never die, to be immortal
I told her it was just a mouse.
It was a Tuesday when she
S h e
Tuesday. It was a Tuesday.
It was only a mouse.
It was only an argument.
It was only... a screwdriver.
When she died, she left me that screwdriver
As a sort of "screw you."
The Answer My Friend Is Brewing in Spit
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? As the Owl says in the classic commercial, "The world may never know."
Truth be told, all tongues, levels of mouth Ph, and saliva glands are as different as trailer parks are to gated communities. These differences make it is virtually impossible to come up with a concrete number of licks it will take to get to the chocolaty, sticky, goodness that is the center of a Tootsie Pop. Consider the following examples:
John, a middle aged man who brushes and flosses regularly, eats a healthy diet, and receives regular dental care may be licking that sucker to the tune of a couple hundred licks leaving his tongue raw and bleeding like skin exposed to a sandblaster.
Bob, a middle aged man who doesn't believe in that new fangled science called dentistry, has a taste for methamphetamine, Jack Daniels, hand rolled cigarettes, and avoids eating anything that doesn't have enough additives and preservatives to survive into the next ice age. In short, the carcinogenic environment of Bob's mouth could melt the bumper of a '59 Cadillac. A poor Tootsie Pop exposed to the caustic environment of Bob's mouth may not be able to withstand more than a couple dozen licks.
As you can see, thanks to the varied fauna that exists within all human mouths there is a wide difference between the potential number of licks it will take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.
This science lesson has been brought to you by Urban Idiot Labs: If you see us running you'd better try to keep up.
It's not even a pretty diamond. Just a crystalline mound, really. Disgustingly large and cut unevenly to preserve every piece of it, more of a testament to the rarity of the find than a show of elegance or use. But if value comes from scarcity, it's the perfect score.
I hook my rope to the skylight and begin to slide down. Ten minutes before the mansion's security systems reboot, no matter how thoroughly my forced power surge took them out. If these cameras catch me, the police station lineup will be little more than ceremony.
I turn on my flashlight as I near the ground, careful not to misjudge my landing in the almost pitch black room. I hate the sound when my own boots strike the tile. It's the sound of a pressure plate, a sensor. An error. Close calls batter one's nerves.
So does the figure across the room.
I choke back a startled noise and level my flashlight at it. But the fear devolves into irritation when I recognize him.
"Oh, don't balk at me," he says with his insufferable British accent and his ridiculous toothy grin. "Surely you knew I couldn't ignore this find, either. Donbury, out of town overnight? An empty house? It's irresistible."
I glare. "Ryker, stay out of my job before I put a hot ball of lead through your chest."
It's the windup to a punch I can't land, and he knows it.
"Don't play, Tonya. You can't hide a body in ten minutes. Settle with me, and you can go home to your quaint little dugout with ten percent profit and no prison. Deal?"
I don't let my shoulders slump. Five minutes left on the clock, and I'm tired of running. If he doesn't bend, we both go out.