VIN 22- Halls of The Universe, pt. 1

I started writing when I was about six. Doesn’t everyone?

As soon as I could pick up a pen, I began writing. My mother, an oldschool reader, subscribed to volumes of collections of fairy-tales as a child and filled the house with books until the shelves sagged. My father, though not traditionally “literate,” held true the written word enough to have learned most skill through self-teaching manuals.

Thus, the vein of story is pure and deep within me. It’s no surprise I became a writer. Though spending life attempting to please others is not the way to go, it does not devalue what you learn of yourself along the way. For me, that was fiction. Stories. Information. Then later, technology and science, truth and justice. Text. Words.

For words are power: true, eternal power.

What separates us from the so-called inferior boils down to language. One need only look to history books to see as much. Especially with regard to North American and European history, the barrier between “civilized” and “savage” was based upon whether one spoke specific languages– usually, those of whites, Caucasians, Europeans, and later, North Americans.

This extreme and prejudicial example is no less repeated in regard to anthropocentric– that is, Human-centered, views on Death, the Multiverse, and Nothing. The problem is, these views are subject to mob mentality as a result of their manifest by the group. Simply: Death, the Multiverse, and Nothing, are concepts too big for one person alone to understand and thus require the effort of the group.

Big jobs need more people. Simple enough, right? Right.

The catch, as always: this reality means the mob-mentality– or that state of chaos roused by inexplicable rage, fear, or inner turmoil, can also exist.

This is not seen in other animals. However, the reason’s likely a result of Human intellectuality placing them as ecologically dominant. It is quite possible, given enough Evolution, any remaining lineage of Earth-animal surviving alongside Humanity long enough would inherit its traits. Intelligence being its defining trait, would only increase the likelihood of that trait being made manifest.

Evolution would need only, as a result of the same naturally-selective processes, on social-scales, eliminate those traits. To do otherwise would avoid evolutionary paths-of-least-resistance, which is counter to nature’s tendencies.

In essence, if dogs or cats could live in large, intelligent enough groups, for long enough, they might too become as complex socially as Humans. Canids and Felidae alongside Homo sapiens in the halls of the Universe isn’t the worst idea, but it does require compromise on the largest scales of Human Ego.

Then again, maybe that’s the point.

VIN 20- Thus, We Resist

The only problem with America is that it has always been acceptable for large portions of it to be uneducated.

After the fall of Southern Slavery, that divide became smaller and smaller, resulting in less educational inequality. The seeming Broca-Divide between those diseased with poverty, and those with eloquence and refinement, was nearly erased. At least so far as history had yet recorded. Then came the re-institution of racism in the national-jingoist’s mind, the rise of the Civil Rights movement.

These were effects of the disturbing changes in modern-day comforts. Suddenly, instead of seeing a local newsman lazily predicting weather, people were seeing whole swaths of others being brutalized or disruptive.

Regardless of sides of the fence, fires were stoked. Indeliberately, but undeniably.

These realities though still existent, seemed to subside with the growing pace of the Vietnam war’s end, and the sleek fast-moneyed cocaine-lifestyle of the 80s. However, that lifestyle had a seedy underbelly that millions were suffering from the cost of fueling it. In context, Cocaine was black market. Black market was bad. Not because it is, inherently– it is only a concept for the market of that which is prohibited but needed, and thus, unregulated– but because it was perceived to be and treated as such. (Whether it’s worth long term stability to remain so is a matter unto itself.)

However, those suffering from that underbelly were those so recently disenfranchised– whatever the effect, because they, as components of the system of society, were yet in the final stages of their own turbulence.

In essence, civil-rights and peace movements weren’t done moving, but they were slowing– if only to come to a stop at having yet nowhere to go next.

That was exacerbated later, by those other-but-corrupt elements of the system (society) that had struck back at those slowing, causing them to speed up, swerve, and nearly lose control. It was like a retributive game of rural-road chicken.

The crack and heroin epidemics of the 80s and 90s gave way to such current nuisances as the Drug-war and Opioid epidemics– whose pre-digital mindsets are entirely products of their time. Psychology dictates prohibition is doomed to fail. Human curiosity, that which is relied upon for us to survive and thrive, does not allow for prohibition except when used to challenge oneself.

While these aforementioned epidemics are of the worst kinds, in that they harm those involved more greatly than they could ever help, it remains that it is not in the prohibition nor prosecution of these behaviors, Human efforts should be focused. Rather, evidence best indicates its focus should be on treating their underlying causes.

Escapism will never be entirely voluntarily. It is, if only partially, a compulsion for Humans that comes from their need of, and connection to, imagination. It is why, despite the existence of videography, pure type still exists. There is a want, need even, for the Human mind to capably escape its reality in as many ways as possible.

The reason is simple: Stress is a killer.

Medical science knows this now. Society knows it, too. Likewise through Medical-Science, it is known as unavoidable, useful even: as much a part of the Human condition as water, oxygen, excretion, or death. An equal imperative in life to keep itself living. As well, through Physics, we know each action has an equal and inverse reaction.

These principles, reversely applied to escapism, reveal its engineering as a mechanism of action for coping as much as needed or desired. The problem with the aforementioned epidemics, and their connection, means they’re byproducts of the same underlying issues.

Simply: No pure-escapist, uninfluenced by external sources, wishes escapism badly enough to rot their teeth and smell like bleach and cat-piss from crack. Such a person would be like a connoisseur of animal shit: probably necessary, but limited in number for sake of natural process rather than want.

To simplify even further, the extremes one may go to in their escapism may correlate the depths of their damage. Speaking generally, the higher you wish to soar, the deeper you live– unless you’re Tolkien’s Dwarves.

But education, its seeming lack of pervasiveness in a so-called “educated society,” dictates we are anything but. Mostly, because en-masse Humans have failed to grasp the simple concept that to learn, one must be willing to do so.

With that comes a harsh reality: Humans don’t care to learn. They care to be led. To change the people, they must understand why they must change. It is why the addict seeks help only after admitting their addiction.

Thus Humans must wish to learn, so that they might see the beauty inherent in what it grants– why it is crucial to existence as a whole, as a “next-level” species to do so.Because otherwise Humanity is built on a foundation of animals shit, rather than something lasting.

To resist that, guide the change properly, allows all involved to be apart of something grand. It makes each participant like a kind of royalty.

Until that is recognized, treated as such, Humanity cannot hope to even begin grasping the challenges before us. When such challenges threaten our existence as a whole, it is dangerous to ignore them– Climate change. War. Nuclear anything. Planetary catastrophe. Extra-solar catastrophe…

We must remain focused on our individual goals, the healing ones– for ourselves and those around us. Otherwise, the systems needed to be in place to prevent catastrophe– for us and our progeny– will not do so.

Thus, we resist.

Short Story: Then What?

Sounds and smells of hammered and welded steel emanated incessantly from the garage. Edwin Malcolm’s neighbors had long since resorted to ear-plugs, letting come what may. Even in the middle of the night– or rather, especially in the middle of the night, Edwin found need to be working on something. The middle-aged inventor was a spitting image of a mad-scientist: his hair wild, white, and clothing appropriately frumpled. He fell short at evil genius, thus was left merely a lonely, sad man pitied by even the local police.

That had not always been the state of things. Edwin was once a prominent, high-school science teacher. He inspired even the laziest students to sit up, take notice. His enthusiasm and unparalleled respect garnered him more than one “Teacher of the Year” award. The transition to reclusive hermit obsessively working nights had come about tragically. Indeed, his first night that rolled over into day– and set his diurnal hibernation in motion– had been the same his wife was hit by a drunk driver. She lasted all of twelve hours. By noon the next day she was dead, along with any hope for Edwin’s sanity.

He took indefinite sabbatical, hadn’t returned since. No-one had the heart to cut off his benefits– not even the state-people that managed to rouse him from sleep during the day. He was less than half a man now. Even when others came for condolences, they found a slowly disintegrating husk of a man. The clean-shaven, well-groomed man was now a scruffy, stinking, Gollum-like creature with little to say, let alone teach.

His tragic demise spread so far and wide most of his former students came to console him. Always he was awoken from sleep, looking paradoxically as if he’d not had any in weeks, and stinking of sweat and day-old whiskey. Contrary to revulsion, both host and guest settled in for short, tired conversations. Such moments made Edwin’s change most obvious. He was not the razor-honed, one-track mind his students had known. Rather, he was scatter-brained, anxious, always accommodating but to a point where nothing deep could ever be broached. Guests invariably left dejected, and Edwin lapsed back into exhaustion until night when work began again.

One, former-student sought to change things. It had taken ages for news of his state to reach her, but she found it best to seek him in his natural habitat. Over a decade had passed since he’d impacted her life, but to discredit it over that missed the enormous contribution he’d made to her life. Denise had been a student whose school-life was an escape from her hellish home-life. Instead of using that time wisely, she made trouble, fought, failed classes, and everything else such kids did at her age. Years later, she’d become the first to agree she’d been one.

Edwin’s house appeared as night set. Winter’s early darkness hung heavy overhead. Denise was used to the cold. Her most recent job had been in a harsher clime, but somehow this cold felt excessive. Negative temperatures in the midwest? Who’d ever heard such nonsense? Still, she wouldn’t leave without seeing him.

She thunked a triplet on the door. The sound should’ve been lost in the garage’s clatter. Somehow, Edwin heard it. Or perhaps, he sensed her shivering presence, rushed to its aid. The door cracked. Edwin’s wild eyes peered out beneath wilder hair. He squinted, surveyed her up and down.

“Mr. Malcolm?” Denise said solemnly.

Edwin always had a good memory for faces, but he was admittedly lost until he heard that voice. It contained a perforated, angelic quality that had only ripened with age. True she was taller, leaner, better dressed and groomed, and more pale, but Edwin knew Denise’s voice. It was difficult to forget: he and most of her peers had become experts at manufacturing excuses for her speak. Its gentleness had been so rarely employed then that its innocence was superbly comforting. It always lulled him into a trance– he and everyone else that heard it.

“D-Denise Collins?” Edwin said, easing the door open. She gave a small nod. “C-Come in. It’s freezing out there!”

Denise thanked him, completely oblivious this was the most lively Edwin had been in years. His changes were soon evident as he rushed back and forth preparing coffee, mindlessly preening the house, and inviting her to sit on a couch. With a cup of coffee before each of them, he set down to speak as lightly as possible. Denise allowed it, for now.

“Tell me everything,” he said, hoping her voice might lull away his pains.

She began with her most recent field of study; the arctic. She and her team had been researching global warming effects on polar ice via extracted core samples. By deducing CO2 content over the various eons, she said, they hoped to better understand just how great an impact humans had made. Edwin was enthralled, both by her discipline and ever-lulling voice. She reached present day and gave a short explanation of what had led her to him.

“I spoke with Melody Parsons. She was in your class with me. I’d heard a new driller was transferred out to help nearby, and that she’d come from my hometown. I met with her and saw it was her. That’s when I heard about your wife.”

Reality smacked Edwin in the face. He was suddenly up, refilling the coffee cups, wiping down the coffee-table, straightening things that didn’t need it. Denise saw the acts for what they were, allowed them until they passed their logical conclusion. It was then that she stood beside him at a kitchen counter. The situation was delicate, required a transference of his madness from one subject to another. She engaged him with a simple question that tempted his natural exposition.

“I heard you working in the garage,” she said carefully. “What is it you’re doing?”

“Hmm?” Then, more dismissively, “Oh that. Nothing. Nothing at all. Just a fever-dream.”

“Really? May I see it?” She asked, knowing she had him by the extensive whiskers.

Denise had never been stupid. In fact, once she’d applied herself and her home-life faded into the background of strife adulthood brought, she’d become an honor-student, a Dean’s-Lister, and an Honor Graduate. She’d been accepted into MENSA, spent time as a researcher at MIT, then formed her own team to study the Arctic Ice. Needless to say, she knew exactly how Edwin would react. Edwin likewise, saw exactly how he’d been manipulated, but for wishing to hear her speak further, allowed it. They stood just inside his garage, Denise stared at a concoction of piping and bits of steel intermingled with gauges and a myriad of other instruments. A sort of cage enclosed a van’s rear-bench seats half-crowded by pipes running around them.

Denise was breath-taken, “What is it?”

“Take a seat,” Edwin said calmly.

They twisted and turned, slipped through the pipes. With a thrown switch, a loud hum grew to a deep grumble. The device thrummed. Something sparked. Light descended in a dome. Denise reached out to touch the field of blue, her hand repelled by a power anti-magnetism.

“A force-field?”

“To protect us… and them.”

He threw another switch: bright light flashed. The pair were suddenly sitting before an open garage door in bright daylight. Denise’s brow furrowed. A car rolled into the drive-way, oblivious to their presence. Its door opened. A duplicate Edwin appeared from one side. He looked as he’d been when Denise knew him. He jogged to the car door and a beautiful young woman there. The Edwin beside Denise teared up, sniffled quietly. His duplicate embraced his wife for a moment before thgey walked, hand-in-hand, out of view.

A second flash replaced the closed door. The blue force-field sank away. All went quiet, still– including the two travelers. When noise finally returned, it was Denise building to amazement.

“Woah.” She swallowed hard, “You built a time machine?

Edwin sighed, his body deflating with a sad nods. “Every night, for years, I’ve come here to watch them– us– to see her again. Each time the trip’s a little longer, but I can only maintain the connection for short bursts. It’s why I am always working, trying to squeeze even a second longer from the machine to see her come down the road… or anything else.”

Denise’s heart ached, but reality was painful. “Mr. Malcolm, I know it’s harsh, but this isn’t real. It was, but it isn’t now. You can’t effect it. You can’t change what happened. All you’re doing’s lingering, wallowing. These things happened, sure, but they’re supposed to remain inside you, to remind you life is worth living. Not to be the focus of its dwindling time.”

Edwin was quiet for a long time. The look on his face said he’d taken her words to heart. She knew she’d had at least a partial impact. She needed to make it stick though. There was only one avenue she saw to do so.

“You’ve inspired so many lives in your time. You could inspire infinitely more. You’ve done something no-one else can do, and there’s fodder in that to hide the truth if you need, but you have to ask yourself: is this really what she’d want for you?”

His eyes were teary. They rose to meet hers, “I know you’re right.” He hesitated a long time, then, “But I’ve become numb. I don’t know how to go back to what I was.”

She frowned, “You don’t. You change, grow, incorporate it into you. Adapt and evolve.”


She managed a small smile, “I owe you a lot. I’ll help. Whatever you need.”

He gave a desperate laugh that mingled with a sob. It incised both of their hearts. “I need sleep.”

“Then go and get it,” Denise insisted. “I’ll be back in the morning to wake you, I promise.”

They climbed from the time machine. Edwin headed into the house. Denise followed. He glanced back at her, “So you’ll be here? Then what?”

She shook her head, “One thing at a time.”

He felt weight lift from his shoulders. Simultaneously, Denise felt some settle on hers. It wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. After all, she owed him. He’d put her life on track. That friendship was worth the weight and more. Now, she’d just have to show him as much. Then what? Who knows? Maybe life.

Bonus Poem: Black Mass

A mass,
held in black.
Crying mothers.
No turning back.

We’ve martyred criminals.
let thieves run wild.
filled powerful seats with animals,
that grow rich off betrayal.

Then, we riot and loot,
destroy our communities,
blame the jack-boot–
we’re only looking for opportunities.

There is no simple answer,
I’m afraid I must say.
It is a complex social problem.
Rome was not built in a day.

But we forget that.
Completely lose sight.
Melt our brains with propaganda,
that stokes the fire-fight.

Take a moment next time,
you think to light the fire,
or even fan its flames.
A thought is all I require,
for you to understand:
it is not child,
nor woman, nor man,
but the Human species at stake,
and it will soon come under ban–

from laws and threats of violence,
against love, expression, freedom–
the rights of every Human–
and I promise you’ll need ’em.