Monthly Archives: November 2010

Revisions & Editing “The Rough Draft”

“Wow, it is COLD out there today.”  It has been 32 Hours since they left.  If I hadn’t gone into the vestibule to clean the lenses of the camera we have in there, I would be frustrated, squinting now, the cold can ice over the camera in the time it takes them to enter the lock.  As it is the picture is good, sound too.  I tell him it looks beautiful out there from the array.

“Lots of activity in the sky again.” I tell him.  I think I see him nod through the suit.  He asks me what’s for dinner and I tell him.  I hover at the terminal, standing, waiting.  It’s not quite ten minutes.  It’s not long enough to walk away and do something else and it’s just to long for it to be a comfortable wait.  He is scrubbed next.  We figure out it can be done while he is getting the suite off.  I always start it when the reverse collar spindles.  I think of it in terms of body area.  It’s soon but not too soon.  He says hello to me when he comes inside.  I made new fish today.  I have accepted that this hobby of mine is not his chief interest, so I keep it short and just kind of let him react to them, then I drop it unless he makes an observation.

“Leda and I wanted to be here for your birthday but it looks like we won’t be able to.”  He hasn’t removed everything.  He usually has by now.

“Will she be back tonight?”

He waits before shaking his head no.  I ask him if she is ok.

“She’s fine Justin.”

“What’s going on?”

“Justin, we didn’t plan on this.”  He glances at one of the reader boards, the iglacti one, I still can’t read a lot of it, I guess I just never tried hard enough.  I tell him it’s ok.  He says it’s not but there is nothing he can do about it.

“Justin, were leaving.”

“You just got back.”

“Were leaving for good.”

“Ok.  Where are we going?”

“Justin, we can’t take you.”

“What, outside, I know, you never take me.”

“No Justin, we are leaving, all of us.  All of us but you, maybe some others.”

“I can’t go into the ships.  You said so.  Can I?  You told me they don’t work like this, like where we are.”

“They don’t Justin.  In fact, most of this is for you.”

“Most of what?  No.  No, we live here.” But he is shaking his head no again.

“This is not the best thing that has ever happened.  It is also not the worst.  We will think of you a lot.”

“What will happen to me?”

He doesn’t say anything.  He is looking at the reader.

“You don’t have much time do you?”


“I love you.  I don’t really understand but you have been so good to me.  Are you going to kill me?”

“No Justin.  I thought about it.  I wanted to do it while you were sleeping last night.  Leda refused me.  Maybe she was right to do so.  It would have been painless of course, you just would not have awoken.”

I sit now.  I think of the ships I love, leaving.  I think of my family, leaving.  Leda, Ran.  “What will happen to me.”

“Justin, you cannot go outside.  You cannot operate the lock, and it takes two.  We talked to certain others, ones that were sympathetic.  The best we can do-” He said rising and my heart fell from out beneath me.  “-is make sure you can operate the sieve, the kitchen too.  Justin, we love you but there is a reason not many other than Leda and myself come here.  You need to know this, in case you are in danger.  Hold this, put it on.  Ok, yes, I know it doesn’t fit like it does but you can shift the weight here like this.  See?”  I do.  The metal is cold and alive with energy.  It almost hurts to touch it but not completely.  He has me hold it in a most awkward way.  It seems wrong.  He continues.  “Anyone can use it but this light, this one here, see it go away if you let the weight pull it to this way, move your head with it, there, see the light fade right there?  This light makes you safe.  Keep like this, you can press here if you need to but you don’t have too, anyway it will not help if the light isn’t here ok.”

In only moments my wrist hurt bad enough that I held it with my other hand for the rest of our time together.  “Someone may come, Justin.  You will know if you can trust them if you can speak with them.  If they do not speak, find this, do like I told you.”


“Leda wanted me to tell you that we tried to find where you came from.  We tried to find your home Justin.  You have asked before, but we can’t.  You should know that we did not take you from there, from your home.  She said you should know that too.  You were born here.”

“I love you.”

“We Love you too Justin.”

“What should I do?”

He is dressing again.  The recursor howls in a phantom of sound covered in that beautiful blue light and Ran moves to it.  “There is food enough for you.  This shelter, your home, this place will be ok.  We have powered it for longer than you will need.”

“Am I going to die here?”

“I believe so, Justin, but I hope that will not be for a while.”

He starts a sequence on the Terminal I have not seen.  “It will be a little darker for a while, you will get used to it.  You can use the dials now, the will help you move around.”  He stops and puts his hand upon my head, pulling his wide finger across my forehead.  “There is so much I want you to know.  Most of it you can find in the terminal.  It’s open now.  You’ll see when you look at it later.  Justin, we don’t know where you came from.”

I nodded.  It was so much, so fast.  I understand more now.  Of course, in these dark long years I have learned so much that I did not know then, but now, where is Leda to exalt my triumphs, or Ran heavy warm hand on my head.  I miss them.  After that day I only ever saw one other ship.  In these years that have seen me weaken and slow, I have never needed the silver shell, as I called it once.  The reader stopped days after they left.  I know they said it, but I am going to do it anyway, tomorrow.  There was a time I remember when I was a child.  I remember Leda face, I was held so high above the ground.  I was outside.  I am going outside again.  If you come back, if you find this?  I am not mad, I just miss you both so much.  I know you must have done all you could.  I do not believe I will find you but maybe, outside, maybe there is something else, I am just so lonely Leda.  I am so lonely..


In the begining

In the beginning it was crazy.  We were finding people every day.  It wasn’t methodical like you may think, slow hikes under a retrograde blood moon, all the ambiance of death.  Campfires in apocalyptica, nah, it was nothing like that.  We drank, we drank heavily and we drank often.

We found people as often as we’d loose em.  I remember thinking what a great business model it turned out to be, I mean the turnover, the deaths?  I had three different people pulled out of the back of the truck in one day, all of them, found just that week.  I know what you might think.  Why did you keep putting them in the back of the truck if you were just going to loose em but it wasn’t like that, they sucked.  I could do the back of the truck thing but someone who sucks in the back sucks worse behind the wheel.  One lady couldn’t keep from hitting every fucking little thing.  Unbelievable.

It was crazy.  Everyone wanted to help which meant everyone disagreed.  That shit got sorted quick though, the fights, the whole, your not the boss of me thing, yeah, it settled quick, I imagine all those fuckers died or acquired those who’d do what they said.  I shot a couple people myself.  You just don’t have time to argue at some point.  At some point when you say, “Get the fuck out of the car.  Get the fuck out from behind the wheel, Now!”  and they have that glassy look, that defiant, week, scared enough to kill you look, that look that inspires you to try to remember if you ever saw them with a gun, if you saw them pick one up.  Anyway, you don’t have time to say, hey, what’s wrong.  You kill them, pull them by their whatever, the fuck out of where ever, then move on.

I guess I am trying to say, you know, we never sat around and agreed on shit, there was no compact, no tribe.  It was just a horde of individuals.  Some people got along, some people followed others.  Its hard to argue when some says whatever idiot, then walks away.  Those guys, those arguers, yeah those fuckers are all dead.

There were days when it had that whole Serengeti feel, like we were all out hunting, not together or anything, we were just all out doing it and would run into each other.  The good ones, the good groups were the ones that could spare some fucker with high calibers to watch all the other “Hunters” while his crew owned.  Yeah, you don’t walk up on folks like that with a lot of complaints and needs.

A lot of doers made it, changed things.  Not a lot of room for bullshit, you know, when the law turns back into folks just making things happen.  Lots of people with intelligence and breeding died from holes being punched in or through em.  You just don’t have time for all that bullshit like I said.

It was like everyone just felt the yoke lift, you know, the moral responsibility just came off all of us, the guilt, what guilt?  It’s not that there weren’t people out there preying on other people but I think the instances of that are greatly inflated and per capita, lower then pre apocalypse levels.  I just can’t state enough, the utter lack of people telling other people what to do.  Hell, it went on like this for weeks.  Ya know, when a thing like this happens, all the bad asses, all the military types, the law enforcement, they don’t fucking melt in their shoes.  Inside of two months the beginnings of the first fiefs emerged.  You see, there was no electricity, not web, not cell coverage.  It’s was noc’s and hunting rifles, that was the edge of a newly flat world.  Some people, some people saw this coming a long way off or were just bat shit crazy and the universe took a digger and made the nut jobs prophets.  Well, nothing anyone did from before mattered much and certainly nothing they said did.

I found Masada probably about a year after it all started.  I say I found the place but I was brought there by slavers.  I suppose that’s the start of my story, the real story.  Before that I just wandered.  The people ran out quick, Masada, Masada was Eden then, a real fucking Eden in the desert.  But that was all it took I guess, just a few people to walk away at the same time, I mean shit, the whole country fell apart in days.  Sure it went through denial, some did, but the tide of this new humanity pushed and pushed and drowned those that did not take their shoes off and swim.  All in all, what was lost, really, in lives, legitimately, not from the bomb or the plague, just from dyin, not that much, it was those wheels we’ve been pushin since before our father were born.  One person stops pushin, a hundred try to take his place right, well a hundred stop pushin and the ones that jump up, not a hundred mind you, well they don’t know shit about keeping that wheel turnin and quick as fuck they realize that things have changed and why did the guy that stood here leave and why the fuck am I standing here instead sets in, Yeah, awfully hard to keep this show runnin without worlds of blind cooperation.


“Look at this!” I shout back to her.  I see her head turn towards me a bit, tellingly, but not completely, not like she is looking at me.

“Remember this!” I say.  I am laughing.  She started wearing a baseball cap when we left.  That and shades.  Her cap was a faded red, really faded but it had not gone pink, it was more a bleached maroon.  The bill bone wore through in a spot.  How do you wear out a bill?

She nods to me to get down and come over.  I do.

“Up there.” She says with her face.  She has never been around the Navajo’s but she does it perfectly, intuitively.  She does it so she doesn’t move her hands or give some clue or sign.  At least I think that’s what it is and I’m pretty sure it is.  “That’s where we’ll stay tonight.” She tells me.  I nod ok.  I will always be younger than her.

Things went better immediately for me, when we left, with her there, it’s like she found herself.  She hid our fire with cinder blocks.  There were no traps we could set so she laid cans and bottles all over the steps in the stair well.  “This is where well jump down if we have to, the matress is right there, see it.  Its covered with dirt, right there.  Drop this rock on it so I know you know where it is.  Ok.”

Try to carry a weeks’ worth of food with you.  Now try and do that for two people.  Mostly I carried our shit but she carried a lot too.  It’s not like what you may think.  There was no division of labor.  There was me fucking around mostly, fairly, and there was her helping me, keeping me safe.  I remember telling her we should get back to where I lived, when they were gone.  Before that it was different.  We all were different.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them.  Not a day goes by that we talk about it.  She didn’t ask a question or argue, it’s like we just skipped the conversation about agreeing what to do and moved onto the doing it as the first order of business.

“Tie this, tie that end.  Ok.”

I brought her a package once, a wrapper of a wet-knap.  It was old, opened.  I could see her face crack a smile.  Behind the shades, those mirrors she put on, they only worked on me, who else was there?  I could see her smile behind them.  I dropped it.  I just never thought there would be so few people left.

She never made it with me.  I think of her a lot when I hold my child.  That morning, that one morning when I got up before her.  “I named her for you Kasha.  I miss you so much.”

mostly now he is just sad.

I put a collar on him so that he can’t say alcohol anymore, so that he can’t say the name of it or any kind of it.  You should of seen him at first, when he was learning, oh man it was great.  He said Sambuka, that was his first time with the collar on.  Holy shit, he just kept trying, like it was a problem with him, oh my god I laughed.  There are bugs of course like maraschino and bon bon, but it makes me happy to think that much thought went into the collar.  Anyway,

and then they just let me go.

“I wouldn’t have it.  I’m telling you I wouldn’t have it.  If they could talk, if animals could talk.  I wouldn’t have to do anything about it though.  Really, your putting water in the cat dish, it splashes, you don’t do it on purpose, but some of  the Surf ‘n Turf gets wet and there she is, but there’s no meow, there’s just ‘wow, hey, watch it buddy, jesus.  I’d get my own water but fuck, you know that gallon jug you got weighs more than I do.  Hey, don’t look at me like your pissed, I’m just sitting here relying upon you for food, oh yeah, and water, thanks.  No, don’t worry about it, I’ll eat it, I have to right, I’m the cat, I’ll be ok, it all goes in the same hole right, it’s not like you’d do something about it if I couldn’t talk anyway right.’  Only it wouldn’t stop there.  The shitting would be incredible, it would be like, ‘he, um yeah, excuse me, hey sorry, I know your watching a movie, yeah, um, I’m done in there so could you just you know, could you take the shit away please?  Thanks, love ya.’  but it would never get that far, all their fucking talking!  it’d be way back when.  they’d be like No Way.  We’d be telling ourselves stories like to our kids, the’d be incredulouse.  We’d insist, no realy, once, animals talked, and the kids’ed be like, What happened?, kids like the idea of talking animals really, I mean what are they anyway, but anyway I’d say to my kids Id be like, what do you mean what happened?, we fucking killed them all’s what happened.” im thirsty.

“So she asks me, ‘Was this a dream?’ she asks me this.  This was her response.  Can you believe that?  Of course it was a question officer, thay ALWAYS ask you questions.  She was not psychological, I mean she was a shrink, but not like that, I mean she sucked.  She had a colorful sweater, it was grandmotherly right?  You know.  There was a desk in her office, that was a point for her right, but it faced a wall, get it?  I made excuses for her all day like this.  I was always looking for soemthing to give her credit for, FUCK!!”

“I would like some water now please.” I ask him, cuz you don’t tell a cop anything.  He nods his head to the other guy and makes a pointing gesture with his hand but it feels more like he is making it with his finger.  Its like he threw something towards the water he wanted the guy to get and the guy fetched it, you know, the thing he threw, it was the water, he brought it back too.

“As I was saying, she didn’t look uncomfortable, neither of us were.  She was the recording type, not the note pad type.  Like these fucking things.” I toss towards the note pad like he did to the other guy for the water.  No one moves.  the pad just sits there.  “Anyway, Im not writing this shit down, I mean, tape me right, like she did.  Thats ok, Ill say it.  It’s ok to tape this instead alright.”  I say this to the window, but I don’t think I warant soemone behind the glass, not for this at least.

“I mean officer, or detective, anyway I mean I wish someone was there to see it.  I wish that there had been an imartial witness to my expression, to the expression on my face.  An impartial witness to see my face when she said that, when she asked me if it was a dream, if I was telling her about a fucking dream.  Was it a dream.  That bitch.  Did I say it was a dream!”

The water is good.

“‘Do you want to talk about something else?’ she tells me.  No I didn’t mean she asked me, she told me, they tell you.  Thats how they do it.  I swear, it was like she was being paid by someone else to say all of this unbelievable shit to me, to really fire me up and then send me out into the world with a gun and two boxes of ammo.” I don’t smoke but thats when I would have put out my cigarette.  I used to smoke and there is nothing better than a person who knows when to ash and knows when to put that fucker out.  “Do I want to talk about something else, hmm, let me think about that I tell her.”

“So she doesn’t say anything for like a minute.  A Minute!”  I emphasize with them.  “Thats a long time to eyeball a fucking shrink, anyways she was telling me again, ya see it?  Of course you do.  She just sits there and lets her last question just float and shit and fill the air in the room like a crap in the pants.  So I say, hey, I mean, I’m talking about it right?  Now I feel all gay, I tell her this, exactly, I say I feel like I need to, like I’m saying hey, will you talk about this with me?  Like.” But its still hard to talk about.  I don’t want to even think about it, about loneliness.

“So she tells me, she says, ‘Isn’t that what were doing?’ she didn’t cut me off or anything, its just hard, it, I was there for stuff.  Its just hard.  Anyway so I realized what I wanted to say to her but I stopped because when I realized what it was I was getting to, you know, I realized how ashamed I was for wanting it, for expecting it, from anyone.  Thats when I made up my mind.  So I ask her, ‘How much time do we have left?’ and she tells me half hour or so and we can go longer if I need to and all that shit and I say Good!  Good, cuz I may need to.  You know?  I tell her that I wan’t to spend the rest of my time telling her what, you know, calling her names and shit and just realy telling her what the fuck, that shes a fuckign monster and all that shit, all this, you know, what I’m telling you, all the shit she was doing, the just mercilouse shit she said to me in there!  I said, ‘Im gonna tell you all about the fucking bitch that you are and anything else I can posibly think of, its my time, I paid for it, now shut the fuck up, right?  Is that ok with you?  Any ways so I don’t even get that out.” I tell him.  The other guy in the room has become a non entity.  Thats what they call it when someone doesn’t mean anything.  So then the door opens and some shit walks in.  He’s in uniform.  Total side story here but, when youre like out on the street and you see a cop and the uniform and all that and it’s just so official, its like, thats a cop, do what he says and all that.  Inside a presinct, or jail or whatever, inside the police department, thats it, inside the police department, its the guys that don’t have uniforms on that got that, in charge feeling, that they are the ones that tell the cops what to do.  Those guys come up and its like, oh shit, this guys in charge, do what he says.

but I don’t think they cared.

“Get out of there!” I yell, my voice echoing back to me off clean glass walls before reaching her, probably.  She ignores me or doesn’t hear.

I lower myself more after putting my gum on a lower right hand corner of pane, de-spitting it enough to make it stick good, so i can find it again.  Below me and around her, the kids are just swarming.  I don’t try to talk her out of it.  There will be no talking her out of it.  I think about my cat as the winch shuffles links of bicyle like chain through its round, revolving mouth, one foot, two foot, three foot.  Anyway, my cat, when I let it out?  Always this anxiety about her running away but thats not what I was thinking of.  I was thinking of how i try to trick her into coming close enough so i can grab her and bring her back in.  Its like letting your fish out to swim in the ocean and kinda keeping your feet in the water so you’re close enough to grab it if it looks like its gonna make a break for the trenches.  I don’t want my cat to be gone forever like that.  Thats what I was thinking about when I saw here down there.  I wanted to say ‘Here, kitty kitty!’ but now I know she is ignoring me.  Shes in it.  She, is, in it! and besides, its wierd thinking that about a person, I mean an adult.

“Isn’t this great!” she yells up at me.  I’m about 40’ above them now, already thinking about how I could improve the winch to make the descent rapiderer.  I guess they are just like us, you know, all behaving the same pretty much while all being different and what not.  It’s the ones not moving that catch my eye, by the liquor store, out front.  I expect to see candy and a dirty face but the kid is just watching me.  Thats strange behavior right. A child making calm observation of the abnormal.  Or not, maybe his dad does this, or did.  Anyway, their not realy people, not realy, not yet at least.

“Check this out.” I say to get her attention.  I am trying to steal the attention of a kid in a candy store, not gonna happen.  Now I know what they mean.  Some of them are clapping at me and waving, but they don’t do it for long.  I can’t believe there are no cars on the road.

“Isn’t this the greatest thing you have ever seen.  It must be one of those events you know, like for school or something, only bigger.”

“Yeah.” I tell her turning my fear into bemusement, counting the speed of the winch in window lengths like I was avoiding falling, like the ground would save me if I could get to it, Like time was running out.

“You can see them real good from up here!” But she is bent down looking at some little girl, she is smiling, I can see it from here, they both are.  I think the kid really sees her.

“Its gonna fall!  Watch out!” I yell and kick the back rail with my feet.  Its loud.  The wheels bounce off the glass.  It doesn’t need help to be unstable at this length.  If the wheels were balls, I could sell tickets to this fucking thing.  The thought makes me sick to my stomach.  I unbuckle my harness.  Even the rowdy kids have cleared from beneath me now so I stop kicking.  She frowns at me but all I can think of is if they help eachother, if they work together, they could get ahold of this thing, climb up, then what.  She has a crowd around her now, a short one.  They can see her, see what the other ones are crowding around.

“Look!” she tells me.  I can tell she feels like Doolittle or something.  Isn’t she though, intrepid, so blinded by all of this seeming goodwill.

“I know!  Their so great.  We should give them rides in this, ya think?  We’ll be careful.”

“I don’t know, it doesn’t look safe.” it looks like she is being led somewhere, and maybe its just away from me, like a kid poping up between you and the TV.  I see that.  This fucking winch.

She is realy being moved now, the way kids can move an adult by mere proximity, by the adult not wanting to step on the kid, hands up like they are little cops, ‘ok, ok’ I remember saying to my nieces once.

“Help me make it safe.  When will they have another chance like this!  Think of what it will mean to them later on in life!”  I have to yell this last part.  At just ten feet above her head I can still see them converging.  I think of a star forming out of gas and lower the last six feet, fuck it.  I can pull her up now.  I open the gate and reach my hand down but she is too far away.  The effort I am making is for me alone, what is she, sixty feet away?  The last thing I hear for sure is ‘don’t push.’  But they do.  They were taking it back, the kids were, all of it.  I’m back up to my gum but I still can’t shake the concern for them.  What were they all gonna do for work?

but we finaly did.

“No Jack, she bit me.”

“I warned you.  I told you twice, no three times, I said, Dude, do not treat her like a woman.  I said that.  And what did you say?  You asked me how we did it.”

“She took a bite Jack, like as in closed her mouth on my fucking arm and pulled away, chewed maybe, then swallowed.”


“Whatever?  She fucking annihilated my flesh man, she ate a portion of me.  Fuck!”

“What do you want me to do, leave her?”

“I want you to fucking kill her!”

“That’s fair.”

“That’s fucking the way it goes.”

“I am obviously not going to let you kill her.”

“Well then let me-“


“Man, what happened to you?”

“I am noting going down there and killing her.”

“If you came over to me one day and said my dog bit you and you showed me this, I would say, that’s it, I am killing that dog.”

“No you wouldn’t.”

“I know, I just realized that when I said it.”

“Dude, I am sorry about your arm, that sucks, its never gonna heal right, I know.”

“Its gonna be all burny looking, like that fake stretched burned skin looking stuff.”

“Like burned skin?”

“Yeah, smart ass, like burned skin.”

“You totally put yourself at risk, is she responsible for biting you?  Yes.  Could she have reached you if you had stayed where I said to, right by me?  No.  You know, there is an alarming lack of desire on your part to take responsibility for your actions.”

“I could say the same to you about her.”

“What do you want?  I mean, its my house, you’re here, in my kitchen, drinking my bear, drawing lines all over in the sand, my sand mind you, about my shit!  You’re lucky were friends.”

“Oh, I see.”

“Yeah, you pissed me off.  You’re like some fucking attack dog all concerned about her and what I’m gonna do or not do.  I’ll tell you, I am gonna do whatever I want with her, but I am not gonna kill her.”

“We used to be friends.”

“Yeah, used to?”

“You’re gonna keep her down there and what?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’m gonna come over one day and you’ll be dead.  She’s gonna reach through that hatch when you’re putting her food down and its gonna be over for you.”

“She’s not like that to me.”

“How the fuck?”

“Listen, you’re not concerned for me.  You want her dead cuz she bit you?  I don’t think so either.  You wanted to play with her like some giant stuffed animal or toy or something, I just, how, where could you have decided she was fucking harmless?”

“I don’t think she’s harmless, I think she is dangerous as fuck.  I think she is so dangerous that we should go down there right now and kill her.”

“With what asshole, kitchen knives?”

“I have a gun.”

“You don’t have a gun.  You brother has a gun.  You are not going to steal your brother’s gun to kill someone?  Are you that fucking stupid?”

“I have a gun.”

“You don’t have a fucking gun.”

“You’d kill her though if I did?”

“I knew you didn’t have a gun!”

“But you’d kill her?”

“I am not going to kill her!”


“I’m going to hit you in your wound.”

“Open that door.  I want in there.”

“If you do not calm down asshole, you are going in there in pieces.”

“Yeah, were not friends anymore.”