false vacuum

Various scientists have confirmed that it's entirely possible the world will just spontaneously end. One of the ways that might happen is the idea that, basically, we're wrong about the laws of the universe. All of existence might just stop being "existence." Or maybe it would just be destroyed. I'm not pretending to understand. The point is it doesn't take much to destroy the world. It only takes the easiest thing in the world: we have to be wrong. And if there's one thing I'll bet anything on, it's that.

I always used to find this terrifying. Everything could end in a moment of perfect agony, or maybe not even that. How can we deal with that?

But it's all hinged on the basic fact that everything we think we know is wrong. All our perceptions and our tiny human notions are wrong. That bothered me for a while, too, but I stepped outside this evening, and the wind was blowing and there wasn't a star in the sky, but the whole city seemed to have this shimmering beauty about it, all mutable and alive. Every thing we've gotten wrong about it is nothing but iridescent potential. Every time we break another law of physics we get closer to the chaotic things we were meant to be.


quiet places

Since I was very young I've been very sensitive to the timbre of a place. (Timbre? Is that even the right word?) My father's room--and it has always been my father's room--is a quiet place, a forbidden place. The disused rooms and corners always felt unsettling to be in. I always assumed it had something to do with the fact that I was not allowed there, or merely just knew they were unused.

But I sit in the same place whenever I can, and when I'm displaced from my usual spot I feel uneasy. And I only connected this to the forbidden places from my youth--forbidden places that I still find sometimes, walking into an obviously haunted building and feeling nothing more than the urge to run away, or entering the house of a guest and finding a room full of dark wood that I feel hasn't moved in lifetimes.

It's not that the places feel strange because they're unused. They're unused because they're forbidden. We aren't meant to be there.


a time and a place

She's dead. I can't get my head around that.

I met her the night before at a party. We drank enough that we decided the party was lame, since she had a flask anyway, and made our way through the streets, making out, making ourselves a nuisance to anyone still up and out themselves. It probably doesn't matter.

I wish I could tell you I knew what drew me to her, or probably more importantly, her to me. But once we'd talked for a while I sensed it. She was running, and running from something big. The sort of thing you can't run from. Maybe she thought I could protect her--"it's like you get me," she slurred in my ear, her lips so close I couldn't hear any words. And we certainly walked the streets feeling like we could take on the world. Bring on the monsters, I don't care!

But after we'd gotten thoroughly lost and slightly less drunk we talked. It was a conversation you can only have with someone you know you'll never see again. We didn't talk about running, or monsters, but the fear was back. Had I failed, or had I just not had a chance to succeed yet? Or maybe--but anyway, we got a cab and went back to my place, and then she was gone in the morning and then I heard through the grapevine that she was dead. Some freak accident, I guess.

And here's me wondering what really killed her. Did what she was running from finally catch her? Or maybe she stopped running. Did she say something about that? My memories of the evening all ran together and they didn't contain much in the way of words.

Of course they wouldn't show me where it happened. Of course I wouldn't want to anyway, and even if I did I wouldn't find anything. This was all just some weird nervous reaction to hearing some random one night stand just died the next day. Meanwhile I'm locking my doors.


storm chaser

You just laughed, and lightning struck.

She trails destruction behind her--everywhere she goes, a terrible storm. Fire and lightning and wind. I follow her on the news: hundreds missing, presumed dead. Millions in property damage. A way of life uprooted, or not even uprooted--ripped from the earth by impossible winds. Survivors give interviews. Octogenarians who've lived here their whole lives say they've never seen such destruction. Now everything's gone. What can they do? What can anyone do against something so senseless?

I used to know what that felt like, but I was thunderstruck, electrified, blown away. And then the storm was gone and I was left reeling under a clear sky, lightning flickering on the horizon. And what was there to do but follow? I didn't even pack.

She led me through storm-wracked lands, ancient trees torn down and strewn across the road, or split in two by terrible lightning, but I could only see the distant flickering light. But I was getting closer. I could hear the distant rumble of thunder, feel the howl of her gale. And the radio buzzes about the latest devastation, the forecaster saying where it will hit next, and then I realize it: tonight's the night.

I drive until she is all around me, and I can't hear for the blinding rain and the deafening thunder. And through the constant lightning I can see a massive funnel touching the ground, and even the rain is drowned out by that perfect roar. The sky turns green and she pelts me with hail, and I know it's headed right for me.


call the storm

I once wrote something where I expressed sadness at the state of the world--all the horsemen of the apocalypse lined up and waiting to charge. You can imagine the smug looks on their faces--"and see thou not hurt the oil and the wine" indeed--but they just waited. They're still waiting. At the time I must have felt that the impending doom of society was somehow lamentable.

But now every time I read of a disaster I'm on the edge of my seat. Maybe this will be the one. Maybe this time the world will finally end. It's been so close for so long. And yet the horsemen shuffle their feet and look at their watches like they're waiting for someone to show up.

And after the latest disaster turned out to be a no-show, I started wondering: maybe it's me they're waiting for? Or not me specifically, but someone has to get this show on the road, right? So I started researching. I got old books of apocalyptic lore and read up on my demon-summoning. I learned the signs and seals. I knew what happened when the bowls were poured out and the trumpets were sounded. I was ready.

So tonight's the night. I'm drawing the signs, spilling the blood, saying the words--tonight I end the world. I'm tired of waiting.


some assembly required

This is the first day of my life.

I was slow to wake up this morning, and I became distinctly aware, each time I woke and decided to drift back to sleep, that I was becoming more real, more human, with each passing dream. By the time I was fully awake I was fully human, with all those memories and quirks like I'd been here this whole time.

But the process of waking was enough to convince me I hadn't. Today is the day I started existing. And I feel like I should be terrified--why today? Why me? Why these memories, when they could have been anything? For all I know I could be a weapon, something sent into the future to bring catastrophe to the world. I know I'm not me.

But here I am and I'm not frightened in the least. If I can discard my memories as a fiction, that means there's a whole world out there to discover for the first time. Maybe I'm not free, but until I'm given evidence to the contrary I'll make a spirited attempt at pretending I am.



I once dated a girl who said that goodness is its own reward, though not in so many words--she would never have used such an ugly turn of phrase. Every word she wrote was beautiful. I must have taken her at her word, because I never really thought about it again--or if I did I never questioned it. It's hard to question something beautiful.

Since I was a kid, most of my endeavors have failed, so I've set my goals low. While my friends were aspiring to become wealthy and influential, I simply tried to be good. And because failure follows in my footsteps I often fell short--aspiring too high, I fell to the same petty cruelties as other humans. I couldn't tell the difference between me and anyone else.

Until suddenly it hit me: where others would laugh it off, I spent my life worrying about it. I couldn't get over it. That was my reward: I cared. And I cared so strongly that even when I finally realized that this was no reward at all, I couldn't bring myself to stop. This was important. There was always that chance that one day the failures would stop.