The Valentine-pink salmon in the fridge was getting a little old. A bit past the optimal cooking time. The fridge scene was getting a bit old too. Too dark, too crowded, too cold. So when a sleepy hand came groping for a midnight snack, the salmon quietly slipped out and made its way to the basement.

It was dirty, punishing work, moving out of water, though the stairs brought back fond childhood memories. Until then, it had had no plan, only out, but the dirt and the memories brought the plan: return to the sea.

There were only a few thousand problems with that – the number of bodylengths it was away from the sea, and the means of getting there.

The salmon refused to get discouraged. After all, it had already been caught, gutted, frozen, sawn into pieces, thawed, sold, and left in a fridge for days. 'No sense crying over spilled milt', it thought.

It searched the basement, found the door and the locks, and, leaping up, opened them.

It pondered. It of course knew instinctively where the sea was, since all salmon have GPS built-in so they can return to the places of their birth. But the idea of hoofing it all the way to the sea didn't appeal to it. Too long, too dirty, too dangerous, no hooves.

It flopped down the road, pondering more, until it came to a road with cars driving on it. Huge cars, roaring past. The salmon contemplated trying to hitch a ride on one that stopped at a light, but the truth is they were too big and terrifying, and there was no way to control which way they would go.

Then, miraculously, a late-night college student came home, riding a bicycle, and the salmon was inspired. A bicycle! Not too big and scary, well except for the too-big part, and simple enough for a salmon to understand.

It returned to the basement it had left, and sure enough, there was a bicycle.

Now, if you're unfamiliar with salmon, you might discredit it when I tell you that the salmon shrank the bicycle to fit it. But consider: it has GPS built in (everyone already knows that). And what is GPS? GPS converts a position on the globe to a position on a small manageable map – in essence, shrinking a macrocosm to a microcosm. As such, GPS in a salmon is just a particular use of a more general adaptation, namely, the ability to shrink things if said shrinking helps the fish to get to where it wants to go.

And so, to make a short story short, the bicycle shrank, and the salmon got on and did its best to imitate the student that had passed by. It turned out to be harder than anticipated, but in time the salmon was on its way. And as the sun rose the next morning, the old, exhausted, gutted, sawn, frozen, thawed, dirty, sold fish dropped its bicycle, and slipped into the cool welcoming waters of the bay.

'Wait!', cried the bicycle. 'Take me with you!'

The door opened and a flurry of cold air came in, followed by another group of second trimester hosts due for their final physical. Snow melted and trickled off their shoes, darkening the carpet.

They signed in – name, time – then continued their conversations or stared silently out the windows at the white sky and landscape.

Only three protestors stood out in the cold today, warmed by their convictions. One double-sided sign could be read from the inside: THE BEAST GROWS IN YOUR WOMB.

Medical workers came out and took the two at the top of the list into the exam rooms. Marie got called 45 minutes into the wait, interrupting a reverie about a shiny-eyed Beast growing in her and controlling the outcome of the tests.

The medical assistant took blood pressure and noted answers to routine questions, then left. After a while, the doctor entered and introduced herself and went over Marie's file. "Cutting it kind of close aren't you? Three days left."

Marie nodded and didn't say anything. Three more days before the beginning of the third trimester, after which removal would be illegal and she'd have to carry the spoiled products through to stillbirth, at her own expense.

"What if it was really a baby?", Marie asked. "What if they implanted a normal egg by accident. Could you tell the difference?"

The doctor hesitated without looking up, clearly downgrading her estimation of Marie's mental fitness while trying to not let that become too obvious. She answered, talking a little louder and simpler.

"There's no risk of that – you can see the pictures here in a minute..." She hooked Marie up and took the pictures. "So you can clearly see it's just a normal biomachine and not a fetus. I know this has all been gone over before with you or you would never have gotten this far – I assume you've been looking at some of the creative protest materials?"

Marie nodded, embarrassed. "I know I can see the pictures, but they say those can be faked – the company contracts control all the machines and no one can see inside. And it's true we're not allowed to see the bir— the delivery." She didn't mention her daydream.

The doctor attempted to keep the irritation out of her voice, glancing at the clock. "I know you know the reasons for putting the host out for delivery. As for faking the imaging – I don't think I've heard that one before." She paused. "We have to finish up here so I can get to the other patients and I'm not really the person to go over this side of things with you, so I want you to visit the counseling department after we're done, ok?" She waited until Marie nodded, then continued with the tests and physical, finally pronouncing her in excellent health and ready for standard delivery any time in the remaining three days. The walked out to the side desk and the doctor left Marie with an assistant to call and schedule the counseling session (tomorrow) and the delivery (in three days – the assistant didn't argue with Marie's suggested date).

Marie waited to leave, pretending to read some pamphlets, until another woman bundled against the cold and left. She kept the woman between herself and the protestors. A prayer was muttered for or against them, not understandable through their BioMech fur hoods. No new-real fur for the protestors, just old-fashioned synthetics, even though animal hosts were used for those.
The humans were coming to visit and I had been trying happily for hours to think of some activities for them. Happy wasn't working, I decided, so I switched to angry.

Something dangerous then. Memorable and scary – if they survived to remember. Nothing trite though – no fanged monsters, crazed hunting, escape from some prison. I considered possibilities, and a plan slowly developed. It might be better if I didn't know about it though – a proper host should share with the guest. So after plans were set in motion I cleared my mind.

The humans were coming to visit and I had been trying angrily for hours to think of some activities for them. Angry wasn't working, I decided, so I switched to serene disinterest. They'd probably come up with something themselves.


Jul. 31st, 2004 11:18 pm
Michael stirred the gray ash, revealing glowing embers and cool black.

"What kind of person could do this? It's evil. Pure evil." James gripped the hilt of his knife, looking from one smoldering building to the next.

Michael answered, "No evil is pure." He stood, an ash-covered necklace dangling from the end of his stick.
Ancient barnyard spork turds flamed out above our frog gazebo, gnashing their gums on each other's arms with sleepy disinterest.


A dragon spoon herded the turdy embers into a small heap, lifted them into the coffee can, then smoothed the ground of the last few specks. Clank clank on the can's edge, then on with the lid. The dragon spoon, released, crept away and disappeared under some rotting planks.

A large potato man lifted the can onto his wagon and began the trek into the city. If you've ever deep-fried a whole potato that's six or seven feet tall, that's not this potato man, for a number of reasons, but that should give you a general idea.

Potatos pulling carts tend to plod. Carrots sleep in, pass them by later. The late vegetable doesn't get the turd can though.
Beautiful flowery sewage spewed from the solid-gold nostril and slopped against the tanned limbs stacked around the edge of the pool. A slow flatulant susurrus coiled through the room, then exploded in a quick puff.

I hung up my coat. "Honey, I'm home!"
My sandwich arrives. Frilly toothpicks.

My fries arrive. No frills.

My sorbet arrives in a luminescent frog dish – flavor something like anise and butterscotch.

I eat and drink the eatables and drinkables, then pat my tummy and burp. The waiter brings me a mint toothpick and a folding cot, setting up the latter in a spot of sun. I stretch, i wriggle, i nap.

I dream. Row after row of drab utilitarian military buildings in the desert sun. They feel like the death of all creativity to me. There's an anthill with big red ants by my feet.

Something wet and sticky splashes on my face and i wake. Compound polyhedral soap bubbles drift by above my face. A left-handed person with hair and clothes is creating them. I often prefer to not be woken by soap bubbles splashing wetly on my face.

The world grows dim and flat, a gray lifeless scrawl of matter – and then it passes. Most of the streetgoers look a bit unnerved, but decide to let it pass without comment, leaving just one disheveled person cracking up while sitting down on the cube. I decide on the former course.

I wonder about the etymology of 'cracking up', and picture the top of a popcorn seed opening to reveal a green and white shoot that climbs up through the rich brown soil.


Two hours, two blocks, two people meet. I've had lunch, and lunch is an hour, so that leaves one hour for one and 4/5ths block. I window shop:

A mini gourd megastore – fresh, dried, painted plain, albino, serene, horrible, tiny, huge, squishy, rattly, psychic, mobile, potted. Gourd-cooking classes Monday, gourd music Tuesday, gourd history Wednesday, gourdomancy Thursday, gourd appreciation Friday, Saturdays off, gourd grief Sunday. Too crowded – next:

A general store. Unpackaged stuff piled up here and there, most of it looking simultaneously very useful and vaguely disturbing, or vaguely useful and very disturbing.

All Things Poodle!, featuring poodle brains, poodle livers, poodle furs, poodle pets, poodle piddle, ...

A dirty little corner grocery, featuring carbohydrates and paper products and a shop owner on guard against shoplifters.

Now there's a street to cross. I could mention the bumper-to-bumper slow-moving cars, creeping along away from the sun, and the equally crowded other lane full of naked freshly bathed people creeping along toward the sun, and i did. I don't see any easy way to cross so i cross anyway, getting snorfled by cars and moistened by people in the process. Bath oil – for when you're feeling squeaky clean.

Someday i'll have to slide down a column of all the fish i've ever eaten.

On this block, most everything is boarded up, so the window shopping consists of glimpses of different flavors of darkness behind cracked and dirty windows. Most of them taste dangerous, tho not sinister. I reach the museum.

The Dyslandia Gelatin Museum. I fill out a marketing survey and get my free ticket. A colorful, slightly-springy walkway with fruit floating in it leads to a jiggling hallway, but i sit on a bouncy bench and wait for the 2 hour mark. There's no sunlight inside, so i have to use an artificial light for my sundial. That's probably not nearly as accurate, but there's only so much effort you want to put into meeting a voice from a toy telephone.

At about the right time, a small nervous bald red-bearded man in drab green clothes and matching red sneakers and two arms and two legs and one hand and two feet walks in.

He flashes a badge or pass at the booth and enters without filling out a marketing survey. Maybe he has a season pass.

My bench jiggles slightly as he walks toward it; he stops and quickly glances away from me. I decide to wait until the tour starts to introduce myself.

The tour guide rolls up to us, motions for us to follow. We do so, holding on to the rubbery handrails and stepping carefully. The guide stops, silently contemplating a single motionless lime cube on a small dull dish. There's no label or explanation. After a bit, we move on: A simple bowl of some red flavor; A multifaceted mold arranged with the raw materials of a pitcher of water and a pile of powder. There's still no word from the guide, which normally i would appreciate but which is inconvenient when you want to have noise to mask a private conversation. I wait until we finish with some photographs of whipped-cream and start to move again, then introduce myself to the drab-green bearded person.

“Uh. hi.”

He looks at me nervously, then looks away.

“I'm, ah... you can call me 'Span'.”

He starts looking like he wants to run away, but doesn't want to risk it on the bouncy surface and without the ok of the tour guide.

“It's about the 'O' word.”

He sighs with relief, then mutters “'Span'... funny name.”

I say nothing.

“Spaniard... spanakopita... spank...”

I say nothing.

“The 'O' word, eh?”

I nod.

“And what exactly is the 'O' word?”

“Um. I don't know. It's just what the other you told me i should tell you.”


We both stop abruptly behind the tour guide, captivated by a huge gleaming silent swirl of motion – a fantastically complicated device which is taking raw materials in on one side via ducts and belts and scoopers and hoses and grabbers, and sending out the other end a steady stream of of unique decorated gelatin creations – sculptures, figures, towers, igloos, airplanes, equations, feet...

The guide moves on. We blink, and follow.

“'O' word,” he says, rubbing his chin. “Omicron... Osiris... ought...”

The guide stops us at a wax figurine of a 50's housewife, smiling in a yellow apron and holding up a box of gelatin mix, but kneeling on a bearskin rug. The guide looks at us and speaks:

“My glums is swollen.”

I ponder whether this might be an explanation for the silent nature of the tour, or if maybe it's part of the current exhibit. The guide stares at us both briefly, then rolls through a door marked “Employees Only”, leaving us with the smiling housewife. She smiles.

“Odd that the other me knew I'd be here today – I try to pick things at random. I don't know what you have to do with anything but I guess he knows what he's about.”

“He said it was imperative that we meet and talk. Didn't say what about – sounded like someone was after him or something and he had to hang up.”

“Oh dear. Oh dear.”
d e s p a i r
d e s p a i r
d e s p a i r
d e s p a i r
d e s p a i r
d e s p a i r
d e s p a i r
The waiter fusses with the tea, and then pours some. I sip. Too much waiting-food. Enough waiting food to feed a small army. But childhood programming tells me i can't waste it. But bitter experience tells me i'll ruin my appetite for the actual food.

I'm spared by the appearance of a small army, two, two and a half inches tall, materializing on one side of my sphere of metal threads. They're speakless, but motion for me to help, and i get down some chips and cornbread for them, crumbling small enough to be manageable for them. Some congregate around the salsa trough and dip their corn chips in to moisten them.

They look tired. I don't ask them about the relative sizes of the molecules in their bodies and those in the food they're eating and air they're breathing. When you're a small tired army materializing on some table and trying to eat, chances are you'd be in no mood to discuss molecules and photons bouncemitting for me to see them and other physics difficulties. These things take care of themselves, and you might not like the answer anyway.

I don't ask where they're from, what they're fighting, and if they've had any casualties. I don't see any injuries. They don't answer that when the enemy gets you, it tends to not leave much behind to be injured.

The waiter brings me a little saucer and i pour some water for them to dip their canteens and splash their faces. Son they head back into the metal thread sphere, marching around the perimeter of the table and entering the other side.

My sandwich arrives. Frilly toothpicks.


Dec. 1st, 2003 12:49 pm

I nod too. I order: “Fresh-baked sunflower wheat bread with smoked gouda, medium cheddar, swiss, romaine lettuce, mixed fractal greens, thinly sliced black olives, cucumber, green red and yellow bell peppers, avocado slices, whipped cream cheese, spicy hummus, flavored oils, alfalfa sprouts, and fresh ground black pepper, cut diagonally, no pickle tomato onion relish mustard ketchup or banana peppers. A pot of jasmine pearl tea. Hot thin french fries with fresh-ground salt. For dessert, a small pewter dish of unusual sorbet.” I finish ordering.

The waiter disappears into the restaurant. Didn't write anything down – better not screw it up.

I wait, and watch people and things. They watch me, or not.

My tea appears. The waiter baps my hand when i try to pour some, so i let it steep. Waiting-food appears: a basket of corn chips and dish of salsa, corn bread and butter in a cast-iron pan, fresh-baked frozen dough rolls, a bowl of salad. I nibble some briefly, but don't want to ruin my appetite.

The waiter fusses with the tea, and then pours some. I sip. Too much waiting-food.

How should i shop? I observe the other patrons:

A tall skinny white left-handed short-brown-haired post-teen with no piercings and no scars but torn complicated clothing and semi-full lips and narrow cheeks and tall forehead and no cosmetics and hazel eyes and sandals and not much facial or other expressions and ambiguous gender and so forth is introverting around a display of obsolete toy horses. They can't walk or neigh. I introvert around some things, furtively observing the next patron:

An erect poodle with prehensile fingers and no fur and a variety of tattoos and no clothing but with a purse or bag of green faux-leather is forming shapes in a deep red drawing pool – little human faces in various expressions, silhouettes, each fading after a few minutes. Its expression is unreadable to me. When its finger traces out my profile in the pool i turn away. Who else to observe?

A medium-height magenta-mottled middle-aged bald man with no glasses mingles his fingers with the waters of the silverfish tank. Other than that he appears to be asleep.

The patrons do not seem to be a talkative bunch. I should shop with a neutral expression and with various untalkative characteristics. I wonder if that's bad for the fish.

A plastic telephone next to me rings. It rings. It rings. The tall skinny etc post-teen gives me an annoyed look; i answer the phone: “Hello?”

“I need to meet you – what's your name? – never mind I'll just call you Spanakopita – ”


“ – okay Span here's the plan in two hours I'll meet you at the gelatin museum (that's two blocks up) and we can talk on the tour. I won't know you so you'll have to introduce yourself and convince me to go with you – tell me it's about the 'O' word if I hesitate and try not to look too freaky or you might scare me off and it's of paramount importance that we – shit, they're coming...” The phone clicked, then fell silent.

Two blocks in two hours. One block per hour.

On the one hand, perhaps I should not follow the instructions of mysterious voices coming from plastic toy phones. On the other hand, i did chose to go down this street, and i should meet the responsibilities inherent in such a choice so i can look my grandchildren in the eye many years from now while lecturing them on personal responsibility.

When is two hours. When is now? I dig through a bin: Mickey-Mouse watch with one bent arm; egg timer; hourglass – tempting, but you have to pay attention; electromechanical clock with a steel ball that rolls along and flips numbers, no batteries; hour-candles with matching matches; magic flute, marked “as is – frequently sleeps in”. Then at the bottom, a sundial.

Anything else? I glance around – Loch Lemon pie mix; prim-mouthed rag dolls; tiny life-like metal figurines, of dogs and people and various alien or unfamiliar species, tapeworms and viruses and giraffes and sponges, Neanderthals and black widows and coelacanths and lemmings, squat and tall scary things, Venus fly traps and Venus flies, tortoises and porpoises and blue whales and Portuguese men-of-war, lemurs and trilobites and a crystalline heap, mud sharks and a spherical haze of finely spun metal threads. I take that one, wondering what the metal is, and approach the register.

Behind the register is the greasy unkempt top of a head. I drop my sphere and sundial on the counter a little louder than necessary.

“Hold on!” The head ducks down out of sight. Gurgling sounds, then swishing, then faint roaring, all for several minutes. I hold on.

The top of kempt and silky-soft head is visible behind the register. A pale arm reaches up and pushes the keys of the mechanical register, then pulls a lever. Numbers spin, settle: 030. I hesitate, then hand over a credit card.

A voice mumbles beneath the hair, “Titanium yeh... Olympium... Godsium... Brahmium... Coyoteum... ehm.”

The card reappears without any swiping noises. A receipt joins it:

    2.    030

I peer out the door – up – down – across – around – no snickering porpoise. I cross the street and sit at a small rickety table outside a food and beverageary. Nobody appears, once, then several times. My sundial is set to 'now'. I turn it slightly forward and the world grows bright and hazy, swift-moving indistinct forms appearing and disappearing. The sundial ticks down slowly to the 'now' setting like an egg timer, then dings. A waiter is waiting.

I wait. He waits. I request a menu. He nods toward a rack by the door that has several.
8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16


It may be that I both lie and truth at all times, and i'm not really on an ordinary street in Seattle with an angry man haranguing the air and the world a couple blocks away. Perhaps this was some sticky paper to trap an incautious observer. This is what i'm thinking as someone bumps into me from behind, knocking me through the doorway of the next shop. I look out and catch just a glimpse of what seems to be a snickering porpoise swimming around the corner. A scrap of paper unflutters at my feet:

Die angry fish spleen Die Die or at least adjust my trousers starch my shirts and pluck my wandering limbs from the icy puddle where the

Hunh. Aquatic mammal guerrilla poetry inflictors. Should try to be more alert. I read the scrap of paper again, wondering if it means something to the author or is just words thrown next to each other. Is there some hidden intellectual level that i'm not seeing in the words and in the method of delivery? Did the porpoise have a purpose? And how the hell does a porpoise write?

Big cities have odd people. And aquatic mammals.

A snickering startles me and the paper scrap is gone from my hand – the porpoise must have circled the block and come up behind me, no doubt predicting that i'd still be standing here with the scrap, unwary as the first time. I should be less predictable. Fine. I shop.
Millenniatimes companion intercessorchild with incautious sense extraterritorial investigation conflicting infant wild mis or non estimation lost and missed darknesskept from mothereyes with teenage overconfidence transmuting to experience but learn the lesson well and return to dwell in motherarms that need you now and futurecare decide with self safely inside and only lost is innocence.


Nov. 8th, 2003 01:07 am

Toothabrasion. Showersplash. Microsoapinoids sliding down each follicle with scrubbies. Pavlovian conditioner. Rinsesqueeze hand squeegee towelabrasion.

And then it happened. Damp towel lump, on the floor. Wadded. What kind of monster am i to do that? I can still see it there, in the corner of the motel bathroom.

What would aliens or cosmic powers be listed under? I don't want to think about that.

A motel morning is for going. No pig or parrot says goodbye.

I have to have food, but maybe food is too small and quick for me. Maybe it is too cute, and dangerous. What can happen? Consider:

A pig-and-parrot sausage gallops across the floor, sqrealching horribly and leaving oily hot messes in its wake.

The eggs start going a little strange – first subtle changes like excessive elongation, slight asymmetries and such – but then growing flat sides, metamorphing into irregular and regular polyhedra, concavities, Klein bottles, alternative topologies... You have to be careful if they start cooperating and merging.

There's the pancakes. Some you can never quite approach – round pale yellow sponges, shrinking away from you, burying themselves in a swamp of syrup and butter. Irritable recluses, passive aggressive. Not really their fault – they're not brought up right in restaurants these days. Not much is.

An old tired skinny grizzly bear could have a soft pink person, naked, on a bed of grass; but that has its own dangers. Deceptive power of the soft and pink, organized and cooperating like the eggs. I'm not a bear anyway.

Fruit salad, from a reputable neighborhood. Burp. Now what.

A bus passes by, ad on the side – “Taking Aim at Aimlessness.” Too late to run after it. Sinking feeling. Now what.

Do i lie or do i truth. Yesno. Well then:

A poodle-shaped thing with skin like iceberg lettuce walks past, giving me a perturbed look when i stare a little too long. I follow it in reverse, heading up the alley that it came out of. At the other end i pause, catch some motion up the street – low and small, then gone.

That way.

Grease smudges – pack of pig-and-peacock sausages maybe. Not the sort of thing i'd normally choose to follow in reverse, being allergic to danger. Be worse to follow it in forward though, and it's orthogonal to the aimlessness.

Still i hesitate there, put a hand out against the street sign post – corner of Indecision Pl and Criminal Ct. I haven't spent a lot of time in large cities. You hear stories. Car rabbits. Feral pets in roving bands. Obsequious cheese-seekers. Speaking of which, there's one behind me now looks like, fake smiling thing walking nonchalantly toward me. I decide, and turn the corner.

Instantly there's a change. Sounds of al-fresco diners, bicycles, people talking, musics playing here and there. Streams of ethereal rainbow incense floats out of the open doorway of the gift store on the corner, scent faintly unfamiliar. Inside, a frumpy patron is accosting a cashier who's looking politely annoyed.

“...and I want this pro-rated, you understand? I don't put up with this crap anymore. Twenty-eight days and thirty-one are not the same thing just because you call them both months. Call it a toad's butt if you want it's not going to change the facts. Just try you poking thirty-one toads with twenty-eight sticks and see how far you get. Yeah that'd be a good one, see you at around twenty-five, twenty-six, wondering what to do when you run out and have to...”

I pass on.


Nov. 6th, 2003 04:33 am


Hours later, motel. Loneliness begins. No cats, dogs, pigs, ferrets, parrots, or goldfish come with the room. Nothing moves in the room. No future closest friend or sexually adventurous world traveler notices me and knocks on my door. Three packets of sugar, instant burnt bean water, bucket for ice. Musty smell, menacing remote control on a cable. Still, nothing moves. Two non-paintings hang, more lifeless than the room? The TV doesn't move, but i can feel it, the only dead thing that might come to some form of life. I should probably do something. But rest... just for a moment... and i dream

        Someone who is this person
        Then is that person

        Says things
        In this place
        Which is also that place

I've never flown in a dream.

I wake surrounded by giant toes, standing on all sides of the bed. How much would toe socks cost for those? Can't find toe socks for men, probably would have to make custom tailored socks for these giant fellers. Might prefer being bare though.

I wake floating on an infinite sea, a mirror of the sea and me above. We stare at us, then avert our eyes. Where does the light come from? Maybe a horse galloping atop the sea would bump its head against its mirror self.

Just deep enough for the toes of mirror me to touch mine as we stop floating and start walking through the water. It's strange to be your own surface, soft and firm skin to walk on under the water.

I wake. My tendons hurt.

Motel phone book, large city: Gardening... Furnace.. Electric... Escort Services. Full page ads. How do they get away with this legally? What would murder for hire be listed under? Weapons contractors? What else... Identity Services, Drug Consultants, Retribution Therapists, Found Objects, Records Adjustments, Information Retrieval, Freedom Services.


Nov. 4th, 2003 06:07 pm

No hawk-rabbits in the road. No car-rabbits either. I straighten the curves, lines of light flowing back and forth beneath my car.

Maybe i should lie: A hawk-rabbit is on the road, a spot of light sitting on the edge, passing me as i follow the flowing lines. The lines become hotter, more liquid, streams of butter sizzling. I splash through, sledding in a great hollowed-out sausage, me a creature that resembles a green bean or preying mantis, guiding the hot sliding sausage. The holoride comes to an end and i climb out of the car and clatter toward the exit. A parent is there, blocking the exit while eating on of its brood, and i have to wait. When it starts in on a second one, my leg tips click with impatience, but the parent ignores me and slowly finishes up. Other clicks come from behind me, and the parent eventually exits and lets the rest of us through.

I stop for gas, buy dumb things in the mini-mart. Uninspiring road snacks. No goldfish for me. Local newspaper features local newspaper headline. Cashier. Back in the car. Merge.

Slow car ahead of me – an older driver. They can never stop driving – slower and slower, older and older, life force tied to the speedometer. If they let the car come to a stop their hands would clutch the wheel with a death grip, not to be broken till the jarring of the tow truck caused the dried husk to crumble onto the seat and floor. And so they drive, slowly and carefully, age and speed optimized by necessity and fear.

I wonder if they ever think to floor it on the highway, faster and faster until they have trouble reaching the gas pedal, maybe a heavy book or umbrella jammed on the pedal so it can be forgotten, faster and faster, till the small child is staring over the top of the wheel in fear and the car veers off into a tree or ditch throwing the infant driver free at last, free at last....

Or would they remain bound to their fate, aging to shrunken dessication in the second of flying through the windshield, ancient bones shattering when they hit the ground? Car to ashes, bones to dust.

Would any go faster, just fast enough to be young enough to have a chance to survive the leap from the car, abandoning it? Maybe with no driver to age, the car itself would age as it rolled to a stop, a musty rusted decaying thing on the side of the road.

The driver slows and turns ahead of me – i'll never know.

Hitchhiker – doesn't have a skull for a face, but still maybe not safe? I pass by, see them swoop away in my rear view mirror, gone in a ruffle of darkness. Maybe i've lost a gift that might have been. Oh well.

Every freeway onramp has a unique spirit. Most aren't malicious, but many are disconcerned with the humans that pass through their realm, allowing drivers to become distracted and dangerous to others.


Nov. 2nd, 2003 07:08 pm

I am not a hawk-rabbit, lying in wait for a hawk to scream down with talons outstretched, then jumping and kicking when the hawk can no longer escape. There is no bewildered instant of predator realizing something has gone wrong.

I stand and throw the rock in my hand, and it doesn't become a hawk tumbling down on the logging road, feathers torn and dusty. It hasn't rained for a while.

I don't see any blackberries as i walk, and no blackberries i think see me, tens or thousands of eyes gaging my distance from them. Fish would have to be small to school together enough to have that many eyes following me, gliding through the air silently and turning as if one. Blackberries can watch more efficiently, but so little mobility.

Clumsy walk down the road, scattering stones, no silent quantum transition to ever lower locations on the hill, no guardian spirit moving with native alacrity. My shoes get dusty.

I reach my car. It's not a hemispherical bubble, twenty feet in diameter, inertial dampers obviating the need for seat belts or other restraints as it lifts and glides smoothly in a slow spiral, forest and sky silently orbiting the axis of travel. No wings for gremlins to catch hold of and monkey with, or gremlin with.

No companions sit on the soft cushions, watching through the ceiling or floor, or mixing a juice at the kitchen island, or napping with the sunlight slowly reaching around their relaxed features. We don't follow the river to its source, just above its surface, or float in the belly of a cloud.

I try not to ride the brakes too much as i descend the logging road to get back on the highway. No borders are crossed, no military bases or units avoided as orphans of war are located by the intensity of their unmet needs, offered a ride to a new life by the computer's voice in their native language. No distrustful stares, wide eyes, hesitation about sitting with dirty clothes and limbs on the seats, talk and introductions with the other children, fear or wonder or suspicion when the landscape starts moving through the glass, eager taking of food and drink, and then with the last passenger on board, swift passage out over the ocean to reach an artificial island nation or submerged colony. No orientation, medical checkup, strange children and adults with different skins and eyes and bodies and languages and clothings and habits. No future forged together, no weeping to return to a lost home. No therapy groups, rivalries, breaking up of gangs, or matching psychological profiles to form cohesive threads of friendship, a common language emerging. I reach the highway, across from a red roadside bar that i can't imagine ever entering. I turn onto the highway.
The Family Tree Bar & Grill

Welcome to the planet's most unique dining experience! Follow the evolution of flavors along your choice of species hierarchy, each species painstakingly recreated by some of the world's top scientists, including five Nobel Prize winners! Start with our famous Primordial Soup™ and work your way up, or try our exclusive Neanderthal Ribs and work your way back–it's your choice! Your table-top console will help you choose a path based on ratings of previous patrons. New species are added weekly so come back often! All items are 100% organic and guaranteed to have less than 98.5% in common with human DNA.*

*Some species have been altered slightly to comply with state and federal laws or to reduce toxins and allergans. This does not change or harm the flavour in any way.

Voted "Restaurant" Four Years in a Row by Consumer Magazine!

· Blackened tuneless salad
· French cries
· Petrified shrimp
· Soft baby cow cut open and sliced into gobbits while its mother watches
· A festival of crustaceans cooked just until they stopped moving and not a second longer, served with mixed browns and ochres
· American Morning®—the freshest or most interesting things our chef finds during her morning walk
· Lunch Challenge®—your choice of cutlery and our choice of opponent! It's eat-or-be-eaten in this unique update to the rock-paper-scissors game. Trying to impress your date? Why not try two at once?
Flizzith esperatha nel ibith de—zaitgumila bah delipiliah nefet distilethp, de zii maad ilpithsh glebritoriant ebath. Fane beltr sim elak nith zynne.

Amaranth – 3 kibblers
Bauxite – 4 pills
Dalek – 1 bottle
Leitmotif – backordered
Spinach – potted, 3
Ineffable – to taste
Benzene – 3 rings per
Crawlers – 20 trays, or 16 if mixed w/creepers
Saline nasal spray – one per table enough?
Extra scrubs & dolls

Watch carefully — if the ambassador spews his creamed corn to the left, he may be leaning toward their alternative, and i'll need you to–wait, something is coming– -=DISCONNECT=-

Please. My doggie does not appreciate this. Please remove your fingers. I will not negotiate on this point. No. I will give you exactly five minutes to remove your fingers before I will be forced to take appropriate measures to preserve my doggie's equanimity.

The absolute becomes trodden—surely not eternal.
Way names can be divided—not constant.
Labels empty unnameable Heaven and Earth of their Name.

Possessing the Name of all beings of the Mother,
let there always be freedom of being
so we may manifest our essence: the Eternal.

Being attachments, we reveal our outer forms.
These aspects are alike in origin, yet differ in manifestation.
Their origin is primal, hidden within—
sublime totality of mystery is their womb.
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