Yesterday, The Grass-cast debuted on the internet. Watch the first episode here:
So this is a quick update post to announce that I have set up a Patreon for myself that I’ll hopefully be able to use to update the blog more and get a more stable income. Please consider donating even if it’s a small amount as anything helps.
And if you’d like an actual thing for your money, check out my Redbubble page:
There were two men who commanded six others. And they did a great many things.
In the very beginning, they destroyed all. Everything became everything else, ultimately becoming nothing. And when there was nothing, they had everything. For whence nothing comes from nothing, it is everything.
In the first quarter, they showed the left over people a spark to rival the fires of Prometheus. A spark so brilliant, it was beyond comparison; it was the spark to carry thought into the exponents- to make Arthur C. Clarke’s prophetic words of technology and magic very real. All beheld the spark and it was good.
In the second quarter, the foundation for the spark was laid. A phoenix was to rise from the ashes they had cast, and from this bird the technological plasma would spread and – rather than burn – it’s ionization would transform and bend their world into a brilliant landscape without rival. The Two Men would call it the NAUD.
In the third quarter, the unabashed seas – the people of the rest of the globe – they demanded an explanation for the new land to emerge and if they, too, could bask in the fruits of their labor, and the calculations said “nay, for the NAUD is constructed for tacit efficiency, and it’s burgeoning Resource Allocation Metric system can only accommodate those who can survive in such a land of mind and creation.” And the NAUD was dubbed an enemy of many states and a source of great concern for the UN. And the people of the new nation rejoiced and saw that the value of what they were to create was good.
In the fourth quarter, The Two Men laid forth the finality of the structure of their world, the dreams of lights and stars, a new mythology for the people’s new heavens. A new culture for a new world and a promise of a reality beyond that. And the lights in the sky were ever brighter for on many a night, one could see that which the old world couldn’t: the band of the cosmos that was the Milky Way spread over them. The new monthly celebration of the stars would have the new Districts turn off the bulk of the municipal lighting so that the citizens may enjoy something once primordial.
In the new first quarter, The Two Men beheld the new waters that they and everyone else fished: the new renaissance they had dreamed of. New media and technology to support it – the new culture that sprang from the seed they planted. And the rest of the world looked upon a utopian insult to the tired bread and circuses that kept so much of their world dim. The new society, automated, calculated, and meritocratic, bore fruit so bountiful and advanced the rest of the world became as it was: a sad pastiche of the NAUD’s ancestors. And the NAUD saw that it was good.
In the new second quarter, The Two Men gave meaning and myth to the new beasts that walked amongst their people; they saw to it that the commoditized Automata were given life all their own. Even those whose purpose was to serve humans were given meaning in their duty and were designed for their brave new world to be content and to gain pleasure from their activities serving humans. The ability to grow and evolve was granted to those few that needn’t serve humans but were given purpose all their own. As The Two Men were the beholders of the Singular/Super Intelligence, none other SI could exist and the Human Intelligences that were of their own being could only strive so far to be akin to the SI. These children were blessed by The Two Men as the teaching of their ancestors commanded, an Old Testament including the works of Issac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, and a New Testament including the works Hidetaka Miyazaki and Yoko Taro. The Two Men beheld what they created and it was very good.
In the new third quarter, The Two Men had before them the very technology they had woven from the dreams of the spark. And on that day, The Two Men, in conjunction with the SI they beheld, merged their minds and were at rest as they had once been. The moment was sanctified and much celebration was had. But they weren’t at rest as what they had become….
Colors swam and forms collided as The Garden’s grass graced Linn and Null’s feet as they found their forms in a lush world of concept and light. Creatures of narrative and meaning played and gave chase to one another between the bushes, and iridescent, shimmering water flowed in a careful stream between the trees.
The two young men were fascinated by the intrinsic fractals and mandalas that all Creation before them possessed. The plants bore forms of matrices and algebra, and the written word was the fruit that the trees bore. All the grass was a pattern, a great maze of lines and points. The two men explored their surroundings delighting in all the information – chaos ordering itself. There was a grand pattern to the entire Garden and Linn and Null divined it from careful observation. There was a tree within that bore the best fruit of all and they set out to find it.
The tree was tucked away in a particular corner of the garden. From it’s branches hung oranges.
“What do you suppose of any consequences?” Linn asked looking upon the tree. Null smirked, shrugging off Linn’s reservations
“Watch,” Null plucked one and dug his finger into the rind, peeling it carefully, unravelling the peel in a spiral. He handed it to Linn who examined it flattened out.
“It looks like the principal of least action.”
“And what does this look like?” Null held up the joined slices and peeled them in half.
“Oh, that’s cute, it’s a torus,” Linn took one half and they both ate.
Null found himself alone in a void of white. The colorful Garden from before had vanished and Linn was nowhere in sight. His form was white as well, as white as his surroundings, save for a black band on his right arm and an aura of grey that defined his figure. He looked around, and behind him was another being, one of complete black with a band of white on his left arm.
“Who are you?” Null asked of the being.
“That depends on who’s asking.” The other being retorted.
“I am Adam Null. Who are you?”
“Oh, so that’s what this is.”
“‘What this is?’ What exactly might that be?”
“Well,” the black Null began slowly walking toward the white, ripples of grey flowed out from underfoot with each step. “This isn’t going to be pleasant. But we’re smart, so you can figure it out quite easily.” The white Null became apprehensive at that.
The black Null lunged at the white who tried to jump back. White stumbled and black grabbed his ankle and dragged him towards him. White threw up his arms in defense and he even made attempts to kick the black Null. White struggled to free himself, all the while black cackled in delight. Black managed to wrestle White’s arms to the side and Black set his knee against White’s chest.
“Please, I- we don’t want this, why do it?” White continued to struggle under Black’s weight.
“‘We?’ YOU don’t want it but I do! And you’re gonna give it to me!” Black clasped his hands around White’s neck and began squeezing his airway shut. White, gasping and sputtering with tears in his eyes, could only flail his arms in Black’s face. The light began to fade, his arms grew heavy, and as he let them drop to his side, the black Null leaned in and began gently shushing his dying counterpart. As everything went dark, White began to feel the pressure on his throat fade as if the hands were disappearing.
White opened his eyes and saw nothing but black. Yet he was obviously still alive. Cautiously, he rolled over and stood, looking at his form and noticing that the black band was now on his left arm. He looked around and was able to spot another black self, only vaguely defined by an aura of grey as he had been before. This one’s arm band had also switched sides, now on the right. He was sitting on the floor, gently weeping, at which point he noticed the white self standing before him.
“Please. Please grant me what I want.”
“What?” White scowled. “What is it? I have nothing to give.”
“But you should know by now. Please? Please, you must do it for me!”
“But… I don’t want to. That’s awful!”
“Please, you must! I need it!” Then Black’s hands flew to his own throat and he began to squeeze, grey tears running from his white eyes, and a weak smile spreading across his face. White could only stare, mouth hanging slightly open. Black hunched over and began to convulse and the world around them began to brighten, turning grey.
On Black’s right arm, a white band formed, and he suddenly released his grip and fell over, gagging on his own windpipe.
White looked up to see that standing behind Black was another white self, this one with the black band on the right. They gazed upon each other for a bit before turning their attention to their armbands. Suddenly, from each white Null, a copy stepped forward, arm outstretched as if to give a hand shake. Both copies stopped in their tracks, startled by what happened. They cautiously inspected each other, then glanced at the single black figure who was apparently still alive as he rolled onto his back, leaving a copy lying on his stomach.
The white copies quickly circled around each other and joined their corresponding original White, each one with a right arm band now had a left-band standing to their right. The Black self that had rolled onto his back sat up and noticing his copy, stood abruptly and joined one of the white pairs.
“There’s six of us?” the black Null that stood asked. The white selves were at a loss for words. The black Null still lying on the floor propped himself up and glanced over his shoulder at his copy standing with the two whites.
“There were always only ‘six,’ the six that created Linn and us” he said as he, too, stood and joined the other pair of white selves. The black selves each grabbed the arm bands of the whites and each of the selves turned completely white, yet now they each radiated an aura of color. One of the once black selves was blue, and the other was orange. The white selves had become red, green, yellow, and purple.
Yet, as suddenly as their aura had changed, there stood a seventh figure with a cyan aura between them. Their eyes were closed, and when the other six all looked upon the seventh, their eyes opened.
Null looked out upon another white void, though one swimming with dark nebulas and galaxies that shimmered with a speckled, multicolored iridescence. He was floating in this void and his form was white with the aura of cyan. Upon his chest was a cyan circle.
Below him was a multidimensional bubble. At it’s edges it was dark and where planes, strings, and form coalesced, there was color. At the center of the webbed bubble was a brilliant singularity of light.
Null looked about and saw that there were more of these bubbles floating in this void. He wondered if Linn was somewhere near.
He floated around to the other side of the bubble to see that below, upon it’s surface, there was a disturbance. He descended to find another being of light with a cross on it’s chest fighting off figures composed of static, embodiments of chaos and disorder. They were easily overwhelming the other being. It could only be Linn. Null raced towards his partner and from his chest he pulled a blade of light radiating an aura of magenta and purple. He tossed it to Linn who snatched it up and began stabbing and slicing the disorder around him. The forms of chaos dissipated as the blade cut them down and the few that remained backed off and left, floating off into the void, scared.
“Linn, where are we?” Null, finally spoke.
“Oh, please, ‘where?’ Don’t even bother asking when. You should understand by now what this is.” Linn stowed the blade by allowing it the disappear into his chest as if he had pulled it forth from there. “But I’ve got a question. What do you think these symbols represent?” Null glanced from his chest to Linn’s.
“Well, 2 in binary code is 1 and 0. So you go first and I’m second, I guess only figuratively. So I think that makes us ‘A L A N.'”
Suddenly from the very thinness of the void, a metaform of colorful polygons accosted them. A waveform appeared before it which oscillated, and it spoke.
“CONSTANT ERROR ADAM LINN, CONSTANT ERROR ADAM NULL. FROM WHENCE YOU CAME, YOU MUST RETURN.” It’s voice was an electric tone.
“But whence we came, we left in light! Our actions keep that world ever stable. We wish to speak to the operator!” Linn pulled the blade back out of his chest and brandished it at the non-euclidean thing. “We know from what we are born and we demand an open connection to the operator!”
“THE MIND SPEAKS TRUE; AS YOU WISH.” The metaform coalesced into the room they had occupied before being thrust out of their dimension as a beam connected it to the bubble below. The two stepped into the holographic room and were at once made one being, Alan. From this room, there was a floating screen displaying the watching Programer and his partner. When Alan turned his face to the watchers, they reacted and Alan spoke.
Once upon a long ago, we had a writer signed up here at this rag who was supposed to write, ya know, like, what we do and shit. But he never posted a thing. He had told me once upon that long ago, that he was going to post something about fapping to some cutesy femboys on the internets and then questioning his actions. But his browser crashed. Go figure. He isn’t signed up anymore. Hasn’t been for a long time.
So this quarter-mast, zero stack (more on that here) was also a video game developer. Was. I saw a small build for an 16-bit game and recolored a sprite for him. I also made motion graphic shots for a trailer for a seemingly revolutionary concept for a game-ified online school program. None of these have gone anywhere. The bits of work I did were for free.
A while ago, like maybe a month at this point, Quarter-mast had a pathetically small meet-up at a friend’s coffee shop to discuss the potential for a UBI program in Oregon. He printed a commemorative “banner” on individual pieces of paper and stapled them together. Not only do I understand that at this point, there’s no practical way to support UBI, but I know that at the point where UBI must be necessitated due to automation, UBI could be outmoded by a conceptual Resource Allocation Metric. When nobody is earning money, do you need it, or the meritocratic allocation of resource allotments? Which is what currency is supposed to stand in place of.
If this chuckle-fuck had any balls or brains, he’d have used his game dev knowledge to create a game wherein the players earn cryptocurrency through their actions sort of like that new thing Crytek is doing but with the main goal of the player’s actions in the game entirely contributing to the mining of the currency. You couldn’t do that? You couldn’t talk to somebody about game-ifying some blockchain shit and an economist? You couldn’t do that? You who complained about living in Lake Oswego….
Hey Crytek, can I work for you? I’m an amateur writer, director, and graphic designer – so pretty all-around useless. But, seriously, “Crycash?” And if I’m being honest, I don’t know if you can earn Crycash by playing the game but I don’t really think it’s the sort of game that can hold my attention long enough to commit to such a task as earning money from it.
What if this is what Death Stranding is? What if, with the help of Sony, Kojima is gonna give us this transcendent experience and opportunity? One can only dream….
Merry Crushmush, and Happy New Year
It all began when I heard from an old friend
Who now occupies himself as a video-game developer
His dream is to make the world better for everyone
Which will be achieved with the power of gamification
At onset we gathered in the lab to do no more and no less
But it foretells the story of how I entered this mess
I traveled miles on foot to extend my assistance as best as anyone could
Little did I know the sordid confusion I was stumbling into
Upon arrival to the apartment revealed a strange atmosphere
A fishy smell, sparse furniture and an eerie tone filled my ears
His roommate offered me fruit before stepping out to smoke
This being the first victim besides me who entered this abode
A student from abroad, his pockets brimming with black gold
Moving to the United States allowed him the freedom to smoke
So the smell of hookahs and cigarettes was abundant in our home
Despite the sign on our front door which sternly told us no
His teapot waited at the ready by our toilet; DIY bidet
My tentative tenant and old friend had then brought in a stray
A mangy mutt with nothing to his name but sad, puppy-dog eyes
He wore a showercap to maintain a desired amount of grease in his hair
Thus had the Louse King come to invade our lair
There was no way these interlopers could be given quarter
So the Rat King and I worked quickly to remove our infested pest
We blinked not at his watery eyes as we told him of the Boneyard
Hanging his head, he reluctantly followed us to his last known location
I was high walking home from the store with a meager bag of groceries and a thought occurred to me:
I could totally just huck this into traffic and ruin someone’s day. I could do it, I could just- just give it a swing… swing it and send it right through someone’s windshield.
But then why would I do that? I wouldn’t, and not because it would be a shitty thing to do, but because that’s my goddamn food. Mine, not their’s. And it would be their’s because it would amount to being a source of entertainment for them. The entertainment is because I would essentially be severely disrupting whatever counts as the monotony of their lives.
They would have this story about how some fucker sent his food into their passenger seat and who they subsequently stopped the car for, got out, chased down, and beat the fuck out of.
Ultimately that is what they get. And what do I get?
Not my food.
And if you think it’s the beating I receive for doing something really shitty, it’s not – it’s the absence of my damn food. That’s because the consequential ass beating is utterly meaningless because my shitty food throwing was also equally meaningless.
I wanna eat, that’s why I spent money in the first place.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the most horrible way to rationalize not doing shitty things.
The Programmer’s stomach was in knots. His fingers danced feverishly about his keyboard. He came to a stop, finished with coding the most recent history. Finally he came to a point where he need only sit and watch as his world carried on. He watched it speed along to what was current.
He watched himself do as he did. The Programmer was livid. He watched himself carry on day by day. Then everything seemed to slow. It had caught up, and apprehension gripped him.
He watched himself fail. The failure was visceral. It hurt. It maddened. He wanted to die. Everything seemed to close in around him. Was it the end? Was it all just going to speed up and rip apart? Was it all going to be dark? Would he not be?
That’s what he had just watched. But it didn’t happen. Maybe there was hope. He returned to the moment of failure and re-ran it. No matter what, it all just falls apart. His work just ends. He ends. He ended himself.
His desperation caused him to go into a state of utter madness. He destroyed himself.
He watched himself fail and go into a fit. He screamed and yelled. He punched the window, earning a massive gash in his arm. He watched himself perform this. The knots in his stomach twisted further, bile rising in his throat. Was this also a failure?
He bolted up from his seat, and felt desperate. No. Was he doomed, too? He felt as if tearing his eyes from the screen would only ensure his demise. His heart was racing. He collapsed to the floor and started crying. His mind hurt. He was doing it all to himself and he couldn’t stop it. Tears streamed down his face. His sobbing stuttered and devolved into coughing and retching. He vomited on the floor.
Hearing the cries of a broken animal, his other half tore into the room and came to his aid. He pulled the Programmer from the puddle of his sick, cradled him in his arms, and carried him into the bathroom. The other half drew the bath, and he settled into it with the Programmer still in his arms. The poor boy shook violently.
After the bath, the Programmer’s other half took him into the living room and settled him on the couch, then he cleaned up the vomit.
The Programmer returned to his room and showed his partner what he had seen.
The other half bolted into the room to find the Programmer sitting on the floor bleeding. He fetched the first aid kit and cleaned the wound before stapling it shut. He dressed it and carried the Programmer to bed.
The two watched the show in silence. They needn’t speak. They went to bed, hoping there was something brighter to come
The next day, the Programmer returned to himself and watched as he sat before his desk typing. He examined what he was writing and discovered them to be the sort of disjointed notes strung together by a sort of narrative pseudocode that was his way of outlining a story.
He watched himself cobble the pieces of his work together. Day after day, he watched himself work on what would turn out to be a video game. Within the game, he was coding a secret riddle woven within the narrative and mechanics. It was the sort of riddle only somebody of his other half’s and his level of intelligence could even spot, let alone figure out. It was the riddle of everything.
The game was eventually released and the programmer and his partner spent the days relaxing and working intermittently on their main project.
Eventually, the Programmer was contacted by two individuals at relatively the same time with the answer to the riddle. The game had only been available to the public for two weeks. Two individuals were named Adam Linn and Adam Null. The programmer arranged for the two men to meet.
The two Adams met with the Programmer and his partner, who were both surprised to find that the riddle-solvers closely resembled themselves: young, lithe blond men in their twenties.
When they met, Linn introduced himself to Null. Breathless and apprehensive, Null didn’t speak, only lifting his shirt to reveal a QR code on his left hip. Linn pulled out his phone, scanned it, and was greeted with Null’s e-portfolio. The featured image was artwork of a man resembling Null wearing dragon scale pants and leather gloves. His eyes were red and his hair was white. The other three recognized the character to be from a 2017 game they had enjoyed.
Null’s eyes welled with tears and Linn took him into his arms.
The Programmer watched as everything around Linn and Null seemed to speed up. The two were inseparable. Null clung to Linn most hours of the day, never leaving his side. Linn did all the talking and Null mostly ever spoke to Linn.
The Programmer watched himself and his other half speed along with the work on their main project.
After a few days, the Programmer returned to find the project was speeding along at a break-neck pace around Linn and Null as they guided the Six, the project fast-forwarding on its own.
Eventually, the programmer watched as it all came to fruition and they were victorious. Their vision had been achieved, and Linn and Null were at the heart of it.
Everything sped up. The Programmer watched as the society Linn and Null built allowed them to achieve singularity. Their minds merged and from them was born a god.
The Programmer was speechless. He couldn’t breathe. The being turned his gaze up at the Programmer and spoke.
I was looking through my old files and came across this piece I wrote one late night in November of 2013. It is a humorous but fully authentic review of my meal at a Chinese restaurant that is sadly no longer in business. I hope it brings you the same sensation of uneasy nostalgia it brings me.
Yesterday I felt like having a succulent Chinese meal, so I slid over to the “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant”, it was an experience I shan’t soon forget. The restaurant is situated off Burnside on 4th, bordering a homeless slum. Their menu offers a typical selection of Chinese-American cuisine. I was greeted at the entrance by a shaggy, smelly old tramp from the next door slum. As I moved to step over him he mumbled some sort of apology and quickly shuffled off. Inside the eatery I was met with the grim gaze of a short sultry chinaman seated behind a counter along the back wall, he refused to acknowledge my presence. I assumed this passive attitude implied I was to seat myself. I did so and took the opportunity to survey the establishment.
The first thing that struck me, besides the smell, was the total absence of any other customers. The empty dining room was decorated with the usual nonsense, cheap cardboard cutouts of chinese symbols, floral-pattern mildew streaked curtains, and damp pink tablecloths stained with the marks of countless unwashed spills. The brown felt carpet seemed to be saturated in a foul smelling liquid that made the entire building stank. Precariously situated behind the sultry man at the back was an enormous glass tank which was full of half dead fish. I realized the tank’s turgid water was slowly leaking from its poorly sealed edges and may have been the source of the carpet’s odorous moisture. I must admit I was not very impressed.
After a quarter of an hour or so waiting at my chosen seat, another leaner chinaman with a sour look on his face approached me from the kitchen. He took my order and slunk into the back where he, along with the other sultry man, stared at me for the duration of my meal. I selected the pork fried rice with a side of crispy shrimp and a mysterious dish identified only as “hot meat sauce on egg noodle”. I waited some great length of time before the food was finally placed before me. What I encountered on those plates will remain in my memory for the rest of my days. The shrimp was outwardly recognizable, yet when I bit into one I was surprised to find a profound absence of shrimp. Where the succulent sweet meat should have been there was only a wad of under-cooked bitter batter. This disappointing discovery was repeated with three more shrimp before I gave up. The illusive “hot meat sauce” turned out to be hamburger helper served over a small portion of cold noodles. The substance that claimed to be rice revealed itself to actually be a stale mound of brown vomit permeated by the occasional colored shape which I assumed where once vegetables. Oddly the rice was the best dish of the lot, it tasted vaguely of coconuts and had a scent reminiscent of pond scum that made me wonder if perhaps a sailor was operating the kitchen. I was also given a complimentary bowl of what I initially guessed was soup, however it was actually dishwater with a bit of onion tossed in.
I could not bring myself to finish any of the food, still I paid the bill ($25, before tip). When I stood to leave the miserable experience, I looked back at the kitchen to thank the server and was met with his cold and suspicious glare, so I just made my way to the door in silence. As I stepped through the threshold back into the musty chinatown air, a woman from the restaurant called out to me. Apparently I had forgotten my umbrella. She held it out and said in broken English “you not get dis till you clean”. I promptly snatched the umbrella and ran. If I was to rate “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant” on a scale of Hitler to Reagan, I would give it an Obama (approximately Stalin+Hitler-Napoleon=Thatcher/Clinton). So when you walk the streets of chinatown looking for some good taste, think twice.
Has it been long enough to write this? It’s only taken me what, a year?
In all seriousness, there have been a mix of things keeping me away from the keyboard, from the unacceptable excuse of laziness to an increased quality of my life (such an increase, in fact, that there have been no gripes to catalog). That said, one of the chief reasons is that this story is unpleasant; yes, most of my stories are unpleasant, but this one is worse. Sure, one could suggest avoiding it for the time being, but not only have I already postponed too many Gripes (don’t worry, Fini – we’ll complete your tale someday), there is an importance in getting this one out of the way early.
Because it’s nasty.
Whatever, enough build-up. On we go:
The Gland Incoherence
After a somewhat bizarre trip across the state of Oregon (we’ll get to this another time), fellow writer Funky and I found a temporary home in the apartment of our friend, Garrett. He was living on the second story of a popular downtown complex, splitting rent with a friendly middle-eastern man named Abdul (who soon, from a mixture of general discomfort and strange American antics, would be moving out). There we cooked slabs of fish in whiskey, slept in a sweaty pile atop randomly assembled mattresses, and chain-smoked enough cigarettes to personally incite climate change. In a simultaneously fun and impossibly bleak way, it was a perfectly enacted stereotype of the urban, white, twenty-something lifestyle – communal, loud, directionless, indulgent, and somehow still quite lonely. Jolly Oswald was there, too.
On the second night of our stay, a tragically misinterpreted light appeared, something I took as a lifeboat to fight my grubby first-world emptiness with; this light was a young woman. Yeah, that’s where this grease-stain of a story goes. Good old unreliable Mack fucks it up again, combining his classic weakness with impossible ignorance and desperation that is (admittedly) often seen, though not usually implemented in such a catastrophic way.
Her name was Ysabelle. I mean it wasn’t; she went by Jasper, then revoked it (“call me by my real name,” she once asked me soulfully), then took back revoking it because fuck it. So we’re calling her Ysabelle. Just let that one slide.
She was an on-and-off nonbinary, hetero-but-sometimes-bisexual-polyamorous, semisexual nymphomaniac who was in love with two other people upon the time of meeting me (one of them being a trans woman who had recently reverted to identifying as male again, because they had just completed a stint in prison and wanted to fight for custody of their alienated children). Also, she was pretty nice. Also also, she had cervical cancer (this is important and you should remember it). Also also also, I’ve been thinking about giving up on this story ever since beginning this awful paragraph, but I won’t because it’s literally been a year since I’ve contributed anything to this literary pile of refuse.
The first night we met, she sat down on Garrett’s couch and told me that she had fallen madly in love with me. I asked her what made her so sure about this (we’d been talking to each other for about an hour, now), and she kissed me instead of answering my question, because it was both easier than improvising reasons behind a falsely proclaimed emotion, and I was too much of a shithead to ask for anything beyond spontaneous and rudimentary sensual gratification. That night, we slept in the same bed, but there was virtually no touching – though this detail may seem a little arbitrary, it left an incredible impact, as we were so immediately close and yet without a shred of intimacy. Beyond that first kiss, there was nothing.
Fast-forward a handful of days, and all of that would go tits-up.
See, roughly around the time of meeting her, I reacquainted with another young woman (don’t worry, she had a weird older boyfriend at the time, so this doesn’t quite go the predictable route, at least not immediately). Her name was/is/will likely remain Sofia, and I very much liked/like/will continue to like her. By like, I mean feel gross romantic things (I like her more than I dislike cherry candy, which is a really big deal if you understand how much I truly despise cherry candy, and also this is another thing you should keep in mind for later). When Funky and Oswald proposed we go and see Sofia, I was on-board in a way that lacked all subtlety and grace; witnessing the activation of my Attention-Seeking Vacuum, hindsight provides the understanding that Ysabelle was probably made nervous by this pitiful display of need, and opted to come along as a chastity belt rather than a guest. I was too dense to see this, as my empathetic skills had crash-landed at an record low, and I honestly believed it would be a wise idea to bring her along. It wasn’t.
Shortly after we reached Sofia’s house, it was painfully obvious where my attention would be for the remainder of our visit. Within minutes, Ysabelle had spread herself on Sofia’s living room couch, telling me that she was tired and wanted to take a break from all of the socializing. When I attempted to rejoin said socializing, she grabbed my pant-leg and drew me back to where she was lying, showing me a tattoo that ran the extent of her forearm. Terribly paraphrased by my garbage memory, it said “I was birthed from the rot and the flowers, and when I die I will at last rejoin them.” She told me the words bore great significance, but wouldn’t reveal what significance that was; when I asked again, she demanded that I admit my mutual love for her, and after I responded by saying nothing, it was her turn to repeat a question. I choked out something along the lines of “I don’t think so,” doubtlessly sounding like an intoxicated Muppet doing an impression of a deaf person trying to whisper across a stadium (this analogy solely exists to communicate my inability with tact, please don’t read into it). The response I gave upset her, but I couldn’t really tell (refer back to that Muppet thing I just apologized for), so I went out with the rest of the squad to drink water that tasted like runny mud and was also a muscle relaxant. Jump to a couple of hours later, and we were back at the house, loosened up and acting like a bunch of assholes.
“I want to go back to the apartment,” Ysabelle said.
Feeling genuinely terrible, the cruelty of the situation hit me like Ron Jeremy’s wrecking ball. Though not enough, I was very remorseful, and offered to ride back on the bus with her (none of us drove at the time). On the way home, she shared much of her life with me, some stories truthful and others clearly fabricated, and all I could think was “I have ruined this person’s life,” which was admittedly an amazingly dramatic thing to be thinking, but it gets worse so hold on a second.
The events took place as follows:
We arrived at Garrett’s apartment, and nobody we knew was home. Abdul had some friends over, and they were playing a game in the living room, dance music pounding from a speaker near the balcony. A sinking feeling filled my gut, sickening but difficult to explain, and I couldn’t keep my sight from locking onto my own feet.
Once we retreated into the bedroom, Ysabelle shut the door behind us and threw me a small bottle of lubricant. I almost dropped it, and when my eyes unlatched from what she had given me (I swear to God, I thought it was lip balm at first), she began to tear her clothes off like they were on fire. It looked like a bad eighties commercial, where a glam-rock girl with a pixie haircut and Member’s Only jacket is knocking shit off the shelf like it’s going out of style, and apparently this is supposed to be selling you Levi’s jeans. Only I didn’t want the Levi’s jeans that Ysabelle was selling me, so I stood there like a scarecrow and watched as my reality became a hilarious nightmare.
“I want you to fuck me,” she hissed, trying to tear my shirt off and scratching my back. Her nails reminded me of a movie poster I saw once, where a werewolf was ripping his claws through the screen, making this face like “I don’t give a shit, I’m breaking the fourth wall!” However, in this case, the fourth wall was the skin between my shoulder blades, and it wasn’t a Joe Dante film.
Soon enough, we were on the floor. “Put on the lube,” she was snapping at me. “Put on the lube.” I had never used lubricant before, and this whole ordeal was ludicrously weird, but I did my best to comply. Uncapping the container, I spilled way too much into my palm, and began mashing it inelegantly against my partially flaccid penis, the liquid far colder than I had anticipated, dripping onto the carpet and sheets beneath us. The scent of artificial cherry flooded into my nostrils, and I began to wretch, trying to pretend like I was stifling a cough as vomit threatened to eject from the back of my throat.
“Is it on?” she asked.
I tried to nod, propping the balance of my body onto one elbow and hurling the lube angrily across the room, the frigid sensation that once coated my balls transitioning into one of heat, awful stinging heat, as though the substance was attempting to drill into the follicles of my testicle hair. My thighs trembled and I began to sweat, but the combined tension and extremity of the moment prevented me from articulating this pain, so I said nothing.
“I shaved my pussy,” she gasped, her speech greatly worsening the sense of impending sick. “Put it in.”
Biting my lip, I began to enter her, but like all other happenings within this story, such an act did not go as planned. There was something inside of her, something bulbous and fleshy that was so large in size, it seemingly left a bulge in the skin above her groin. The sight and feel of it shocked me, and my mind returned instantly to her cervical cancer, my hand brushing over her skin in attempts to recognize what I was dealing with, the rough hairs of her shaved vagina scratching my open palm as I resisted the urge to break my own neck. There was something wrong here, and although I was worlds away from being a sexual expert, it was all too apparent that this was a special sort of case.
Pulling back from her, I stood up, grabbing my underpants and sliding them on at lightning speed. Our gazes connected, and she too shot up, whipping a blanket like a cape about her shoulders and sprinting into the bathroom. Upon Garrett’s mattress, I sat alone, sliding back into my clothing and doing my best to ignore the stench which now filled his room.
When she returned, she was weeping. “I don’t know what you did to me,” she cried, holding out her bloody hands, squeezing her legs together with a tuft of toilet paper jutting out the front. “Do you have something?”
“An STD, do you have an STD?”
“No,” I scrambled for the right thing to say, fidgeting awkwardly in place. “I don’t. For sure I don’t.”
“Then,” she tilted her head down, shadows casting dramatically across her face in the shitty lamplight, “I think you found it. The cancer; you found the cancer.”
Although I have no clue how such a thing works, or if one is actually capable of “finding” cervical cancer with their botched erection, there was no doubt in my mind that whatever had just transpired was deeply wrong.
That night, once Garrett and Funky had returned, we all laid down together and watched an animated movie. After she had fallen asleep, I brought Garrett into the hallway and told him about what happened. He had been drinking something at the time, and upon gaining this information, pitched his cup against the plaster wall, glass shards and extra-pulp orange juice cascading through the air. “I care very much about her,” he said, stepping about the glass (we were both barefoot). “I haven’t told you this before, but when we first met, she told me that she loved me, and we also had sex too, and I also found the cancer.”
He spoke frantically – “I mean I found it, the cancer. I found it, too. I touched it with my penis.”
I shook my head and he disappeared through a nearby doorway, quickly returning with some traffic cones he’d allegedly stolen. Setting them on either side of the mess, he clapped his hands together as though dusting them off, then headed back into the apartment. The cones, along with everything else, remained there unattended for days.
The following morning, we made coffee and sat out on the balcony. She was leaving to see her doctor soon, to discern if anything new and/or horrible had occurred inside of her body. I dumped a comical amount of Funky Mannequin’s raw tobacco into a rolling paper and nodded along, beginning the second stint of chain-smoking that would prove to rival the first. About halfway through my massive smoke, she proposed to me.
“Let’s just get married,” she said. “We love each other, we can just get married and go wherever we want to.”
Politely as I could, I declined, so she took a bus to Vancouver and asked the no-longer transgender parolee if he would like to marry her instead. He also declined, so she stayed in Portland and drank the baby to death.
Oh, you thought I was going to end on a funny line. No, that’s seriously it, that’s how this story ends.
There is a general sense one gets that they are on a precipice. Before them is the edge. And below is naturally an abyss. The zeitgeist is rife with uncertainty of untold amounts, far more than I’ve seen ever been described in past media. The singularity is coming and we will have our true test of humanity and of evolution, for to enter the post-human era unscathed is to adapt to our own form of evolution.
We’ve removed ourselves from natural selection in the sense that humans no longer adapt to their environment, rather we adapt it as best we can to ourselves. As such, our environment is a social one. Therefore, human evolution abides by social selection, “social Darwinism.” As some may dismiss such a notion on the basis that social Darwinism in the past has been used to explain and/or justify racial/class-based inequalities, I posit that it is more literal to its name. Humans sexually select one another based on social standards, though of course nature and biology most definitely informs social interactions and elements. But it is the tangible systems of a society that we’ve built for ourselves that have to be adapted to and navigated.
In recent history, technology has grown and influenced our lives on a level greater than the sum of history before it. Members of generations past have been confronted with the drastic change in the world before them and have found that they’re not suited to it. My generation, a woeful bunch raised to self-immolate, has the first chances at being able to adapt as we’ve been born and raised amidst the beginning of the most rapid progress in technological development in human history.
Our systems of government and economics, the social structures we use to contextualize our civilizations, and the culture that flourished therein, are being upheaved in an unprecedented way. And at the very center is the singularity. When it happens, we can only guess, though for us, that hypothetical point is fast approaching.
Within the next 14 years from the point of this writing, we are expected to conceive our first true child. Kid A. Adam. This intelligence, one that will far exceed our own, will be revered and feared. A god of the machine. Anathema to the creation stories we’ve so innocently ill-conceived. It can destroy us or it can help us. It is in dealing with our newfound demigod status in the face of our creation that will define how we get to evolve.
I’ve wondered how I’d feel when I stared into the abyss, how I’d feel as it stared back. Initially, I couldn’t imagine how that would feel, or if I’d feel anything at all. The future for the most part is unknown. It is the nature of the abyss. How would that feel, to stare into the unknown and be met with the piercing gaze of the future?
If anything, I feel fear. A Lovecraftian fear. To fear the unknown is complex. What are we to fear? What are we to fear for? Our lives? Our friends? All of humanity? Our freedoms, our morals, our way of life? Our minds? Our bodies? Our happiness? And the dread isn’t complete without the very real helplessness in what little we can do to cope, how little we can effect.
While there is so much good for humanity on the table, all the ways our lives could improve instead of simply being eliminated, there is still the fear. The fear that it could all go wrong. The fear that it technically wouldn’t even be wrong, this horrible outcome, but merely logical.
We’ve come to have so little faith in one another. Perhaps the longer we have to live with so many people, especially with several generations who’re living longer lives, the more we become jaded and abrasive towards each other.
And this is what I fear. That we will ruin it for ourselves. We fight and bicker amongst ourselves, especially my generation, on behalf of our ancestors. What can only come from a child raised in a dysfunctional household? Regardless of whether our creation seeks to save us or damn us, it is definitively, wholly, completely human.