Sunday, December 9, 2012

 
She never looks dn.
Written by Justin Vasterling.
Inspired by the Short Story A Sea of Stars by Kayla Overkill
 
 
He had read all the logs he could find by the time he could hit her with the externals.  They were just magnetic echoes as her I systems were dark.  It was a bona fide derelict, a retirement party for the right vessel and crew, but he was not it.  9sic deposited 800k into his trade profile just to download their file and it went a long way towards him not getting any not-so-bright, bright ideas.  He was to, “board the derelict Sacrifice as an employee of Kada-IG, dark the AS Beacon, re-establish critical systems to Min-60%…” which really just meant lights and heat, something to keep the flies away, feign life if you know what I mean “...begin allswell transmitions & repel boarders as needed”.

There were four other ships enroot.  The Quiester was an OrionINC Jupiter Shuttle turned ABsalvage, they were a three man.  He had been chatting with their Intelligent Components crew, a girl, he assumed as I did from the chatter log.  They stopped talking after he posted read of the 3 files from Nine Planet’s Situation In Critical office.  Either he stopped getting “emails”, I don't know why we still call them that, when they no doubt saw his course correction, or she just grew disinterested with all his “what are you wearing now?” bullshit.  The Quiestar had been on Sacrifice’s six since 60HoursOut.  They must have been talking to the crew of the Sacrifice, or at least some of them, while some of them were still alive.  They would have been the hardest crew he would have had to repel and the first ones on him now at that time just 17HO. 

She was dark inside and out.  He made six complete rotations looking for telltales, hull breach, that’s what all the CS alarms hinted at and what he thought.  The Sacrifice had flushed 82% of its breathables in the last 13 hours before their Abandon Ship hit a blue-shifted Calisto Relay and proceeded to rain an “All Hell Is Breaking Loose” distress that no one this side of Mars new existed in code form.  Abandon fucking ship.  There must have been a real nightmare loose on that barge.

He had just picked his entry spot when he logged visual of a “body” tangled in the aft array.  It must have scarred him.  He had seen bodies before and has said he preferred them outside the ship.  It still fucks with you though, still makes you wonder what it feels like, like you could feel it, you know, hard vacuum, like they might turn to you and tell you how cold it was or that they couldn’t breath or would try to hold the air inside their blood with freezing arms.  It was a woman.  No one likes to see dead women.  He took a 3dburst of the body from one of the arms he had put on his sloop last spring then harpooned the aft hatch and went above to suit up.  The image has been sterilized with radiation but it sits in the uzby-Q as a pulse of black slides, testiment to the fact that a picture WAS taken.  He took a body bag with him. 

The body had dislodged by the time he had made it out there so he magnetized the mylar coffin and put it on the hull next to the Lock he entered.  Inside there was power and heat, the lights were just off.  He couldn’t get anything out of any of the panels in the lock so he geared back up and forced it.  In side there was no one home.  He had about 12 hours left to push this bitch back up on her feet.  That must be why he didn’t clear the ship, that’s what he must have told himself.  After checking the Changes log on his Lock he had to have assumed they had all done what they said they would do and did not check the other Lock logs.  Sacrifice had 43 when it left the Moon.  People.  Now THAT is a mining operation, hell, two of the bays were still full of those bitchin little orbiters and those babies alone were worth a retirement.  Just remote activate the little beast, paint your 8mil Ton iron Asteroid and off it goes, attaches and ferries it to a stable orbit around the nearest Brand refinery.

He was at -8% in three hours.  It was easy really; it was like he walked into some rich guy’s house, started a fire, turned on the lights, locked the door and went into the living room to watch TV only the TV didn’t work.  He got some hall to hall stuff up but not even the securities would go live.  He was on his ship when he heard it.  He was setting up his allswell and piggybacking on the Sacrifie’s IFR codes when he heard it for the first time.  There are entries, now blank like living bleach had found the stain.  He should have emailed someone.  He should have sent something but he was not that kind of guy.  He wanted at least six minutes of transition.  He wanted to send a packet out that would show a ‘receive’ a good five minutes after mission accomplished.  It was his professional salvage signature.  He never got to send it.

When the Questar arrives they wait thinking the Privateer would pull some murder shit for the haul.  It has happened, the stories are all fictions really, it’s only happened once, still, everyone thinks it.  Vacuum is no place to fight.  She sends right at visual and doesn’t stop the live call for 99 hours when all three ships go dark at once.  Her shit gets to the AMLabAe8, one of the other “Four” responders the kid mentions.  Who copies the Navies IL8 Gaspra Class Belt Hospital Ship.   The BHS IL8 rendezvous with the the AMLab and they take the next 4 full “days” getting there, arrive, then litterally disappear.

Whatever shit the kid re-awoke was swarming as the Questar started to get Gravity pings from the NISMO Drive on the Sacrifice.  I watch all seven Lstreams from the Questars last 11.8 Live seconds like it is a movie though now it sits south left of some galaxy rendered a star by distance in my hud.

The truth is, there has not even been a sea disaster like this, it’s like a cross between a fog pileup on some nowhere interstate west that stretches for a quarter mile and wrecks everything, and a marina full of glass fucking boats getting fisted by a hurricane.  The “scary” part of the transmissions is watching the crew of the Quiestar in late Technical Retro just stop forwarding AQ’s or refreshing aperatures or TC's and just sit there.  You think at first that there is a freeze in the feed but you can see horizon displacements grow or move and you realize that they are all either paralized or completely distracted.  All at the same time.  Like as in within a quarter second of eachother.

It’s not even a question about sending a nuke, each of these ships is a nuke and the Sacrifice has like a golf ball of antimatter in her NISMO drive and that could put some fucking English on the moon.  Being the only boots on the ground I wanted to feed 9sic my thoughts so they would not have to say the stupid shit outloud themselves.  The bad thing about a decision was it required knowledge of the problem and the best answer available right now, for What Is The Problem?, was still "other".  

Why the fuck is everyone jumping from their airlocks.  That’s the question right?  How are engineers spending LONG technical moments writing software patches to allow them to pop the doors to their ships with creative and calm collaboration from other crew?  What turns suicide into a trip to the club with your friends?  Those are the questions and they export into the super-psychological quickly when you consider the variance of factors and the singularity of outcome.

I get a “Stand by.” Every hour and an “Update” every six hours, I suppose they do it just so I do not think they have all shit themselves and run.  I am 11 days in Observational hold before the BC Montero is visual.  166 crew.  It’s like a space station but mean.  I dock and board and spend 11 hours getting personal with some very young people in Medical, which is all the military is any more, kids.  I wear a collar for lack of a better word.  It will “turn me off” if it needs to; just until danger is over, they tell me.  "Yeah, well, I need to be awake to make danger go away." I tell them, one of them laughs and says no shit, and then they all laugh.  They drink.  When did that change?  They are apparently going to sleepwalk into vacuum, two of the very serious types are I guess, I also guess they keep them somewhere else because every kid I have seen so far is not seriouse at all, not even a little bit.  They volunteered is what Medical says.  They would report back if they could and one of the NCO’s nod while scroll-writing into the air..  That’s what they said.

I asked them what they thought would happen.  They were all silent then one of them started screaming and grabbing her throat and cut her G-tether and everyone started laughing while she tilt whirled stiff legged until her head brushed a chair and then they all just laughed and laughed.  They were like one person.  I started drinking too.

The Captain was a girl or as the ensigns in medical called her, a Lipstick Lesbian.  Something told me they were all gay or second gender or BioSterile.  I would not find a single woman to fuck on a ship of 166, 130 of which were women of one kind or another.  She invited me to the bridge and we talked, not entirely of anything relevant to the crazy madness waiting 18KNM dead center visual in the CIC.  It was comfortable there, looked like a basement office.  There was a drawing of a bridge beside the door as you walked in, it really set the tone.  Everyone was drinking, not alcohol but something.  They were all great friends it seemed.

Then a guy rewiring some feed in the floor looked up and asked the captain, how do they all know they won’t die?  A homely girl facing away from us said telepathy but the kid doing the wiring shook his head no and smiled pointing his finger into the air.  The captain smiled.  Then six very serious looking young men came in.  One of them had his uniform painted on, no shit, you could see his dick and balls and everything and no one acknowledged it but me.  The captain stood up and ran over and hugged one of them and called him Lyle and asked him how he was feeling and he said ready and she made and indescribably encouraging, excited and cautious look that infected the entire CIC, or just me, and at that moment I would have done anything to be Lyle.

Tell Lyle that, the kid who was finishing up securing the panel told the homely girl.  She stopped, turned and looked at Lyle and then me, then turned back to the display hovering in front of her.  The captain told Lyle to come stand by her and led him by the hand back to her chair and sat, took a sip of something and looked back at the conversation that had lost some steam.  Maybe the Homely girl was straight, would want to fuck.

They ended up “Sealing” Lyle into a Clear Carbon shell with 300Hrs air and a couple power bars.  Painted it with a very unique radiation signature and fired him at the confederacy of dead ships.  Anyone within 7KNM of the egg could see it and could call it with anything larger than an EnFinity drive.  They got him back in ten days after losing two LRF’s, the Ligeia and the Siopia.  Those were two crew FA fighters, EXPENSIVE, and the pilots were fucking beautiful..  I don't know what hurts more.

“Fucking mermaids” he says nodding when they get him cut out.  I remember thinking, He shit in the egg, that’s what they were calling it, the Egg.  I remember thinking it like he had done something wrong.

The Captain just told him that Medical needed him.  He was “shut off” and fired back at the moon like a human tape recorder being mailed back with the tape still inside it for someone to play back and listen to.

They got a woman out of the deal too.  The Ligeia spotted her suited up, swimming like in water.  The suite was old school and the twin Falcata Drives on the Montero just grabbed her ping and drug her 18KNM to the gravity pillow under the ship that awaited her insane velocity.  She said the same thing.  She was the star of the ship.  She wouldn’t let Medical fix her ears.  She just kept saying that she did not want them fixed "here" and asking if whatever room she was in led outside, like outside to the yard or whatever, thats how she said it.  "Can you get outside from here?"  She was hot of course.  Mean.  Strong.  I got a kiss and a boot in my balls becaause of it.  Shit, I should name this; a Kiss and a Boot in the Balls for trying.  Fuckin mermaids, and nothing from anybody like, she's crazy or, sedate her, or any looks of incredulity it was just, Mermaids, really, no shit.

I was EB so I took her; she was keen to forgive everything for a ride FastBack.  We talked a little.  I asked her why everyone in this fucking solar system was gay these days and she looked at me like I just told her that her favorite band just sounded like noise.  Whatever.  I never saw a Mermaid.  Never went back to the Scene of the Suicides.  It’s a big belt.  There’s no reason to go back there and I won’t no matter how many times they ask.  You see, the BC Montero came back empty.  The whole goddamn ship’s crew just walked into space.  I found out weeks later.  The truth is I follow her, the girl they found.  I watch her from the street in the rain, watch her through her window, got an apartment across the alley, our windows almost touch, Old earth is the real deal.  I listen to her scream in the night, sit up in the window like I am protecting her somehow by being awake but I am not.  I am just watching, listening.  She never looks up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


"They crested out on the bluff in the late afternoon sun with their shadows long on the sawgrass and burnt sedge, moving single file and slowly high above the river and with something of its own implacability, pausing and grouping for a moment and going on again strung out in silhouette against the sun and then dropping under the crest of the hill into a fold of blue shadow with light touching them about the head in spurious sanctity until they had gone on for such a time as saw the sun down altogether and they moved in shadow altogether which suited them very well."
The greatest first sentence of all time, from the most beautiful novel I have ever read, Outer Dark. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


a Dream in the Witch House

or

The Death of Christ Wolejko

 

For my sister Kayla on her 23rd Birthday, with love and terror and truth.

 

                We can’t save the kid.  That’s what this is about, it’s what I should say.  It never developed a sense of comedy though to say it, to trivialize weeks of terror with sentences, short ones even to try to give the unnamable euphoria of dread and failure and hope some farther reach, you would think it would have.  And the kid somehow was like a Jesus to us, to me.  Some kid killed though through a kind of inverted failure of the non-divine, the unguided hand, the soul without god, us.  Truth even could say he was not that thing I made him, probably would become a drunk, a wild man by civilized definition, a worker, only if worker meant socialist or sub human or something worth disregarding.  And to me, that could never close the door on the idea, the idea that god can grow behind doors shut by industry, chance, and the cool ideations of great daring giants, of stark withering giants, of ingenuous damning men.  And he could stand a king but live a degenerate in a cage with no crown but lust, but gods he could yearn for it, if only gutturally as another hunger, or that same rage that drives fist towards wife, daughter, mother.  He was no less my god though he always died before his third birthday.  The ideas never cross for me, talent, meaning.  A man in heaven could lean down from things right and proved saying, “Son” he could say.. “Son, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Would he think I was lying if I said “God built that road and I see more of him in it than in you.” Would he think it was meant to provoke him, would he think it wasn’t a prayer that I said?  We never save the kid.  We do not try a tenth time.  We watch the sacrificed become more important than the thing that dictates the gift and more even then the thing receiving it.  We, I, watch the child become the sacrifice, that is what our hammers rang to destroy.  What is that?  As I said, we may have been buying pennies with gold coins.  It has been the thing I have embraced this shade of their evil for.  To kill someone for what you have determined they mean to you can be nothing but evil and I wear it and who is to say that those things are two different things.  We sit for hours and I believe we think about him, my sister and I, though to remember how Fava told us before, and so acutely, that it is wrong to think someone as wise as yourself, wrong to think their silence a deep thought, wrong to think the pause of wind is anything else.  I take exception with my sister, I know she struggled more than myself with it.  There was nothing to do with the rat each time but kill it; what else was there to be done?  I am glad you agree, I knew you would.  And who was the witch really.  It would be like accusing a man of the earth’s gravity.  In the end, we kill her together, each finding a better reason than all the etcetera’s of evil.  And who are we to deny gods, but we did, and the blood and the diaspora and the tears we discovered, and the light-years and the instances and the cadavers of our plans, our genius, our elaborate plans but none of it bought him never once even one more day and each time he dies in the end and the wind misses not a leaf and the storms roll knowing and though rivers may come by him eventually and walkers fake a kind of brief shade, I still see from the helm of the wreck of this ship our lives have become, mass and light and I think of him and build with breath this failing altar and know, alone, for sweet minutes, that this is the truth, that for me it is all there can be, and this my sweet sister, is the end.

                It isn’t though, of course.  We come back for Joseph’s prayers, his shaking hands, his faith, though we, neither one of us believe, or hope, or even seek the same sanctuary he offers us with those unsteady hands.  His eyes remove a pain born here that we have carried so far Kayla, that we carry still.  And we sit and smoke on the side of that house and the place is much different, the whole place like stones on some road, a perfidy, all of it. It is a world only because he is there.  We stay for days when we come. 

                We sit in seats of stars.  Our bodies shirk orbits and though my sister has written “ghost of Christmas past” on the bulk-head wall far below the steerable levels of her, to me our ship is an angel of a god we do not serve but believe in; what a waste of time is faith.  Visitors bring conversation but leave loneliness.  I have given up being anything for her and yet confuse just being.  Our stories are here, in a ship of dreams, to far above time for time to be an ocean and too long in that sea to think we know anything of it.  It’s said in a book that if you try to save your life you will lose it.  Our lives were never ours to diverge, shape or unreal.  Looks tear centuries like cheap curtains and I have never known myself to be anything.

                We dreamed in the witch house and down streets that were never real and pulled columbine and smoked tobacco rolled in obituaries from towns that have never existed and drank water we found cold and deep and every inch of our own possibility thundered like rocks in our chests and we never found a way to leave that Christ though so cruelly and like that same lie we tell of all those we have loved the most, he is not here. 

                We have known strange seasons to be this free.  As we sit I hope she thinks that I am just another dream from the witch house.  I am.  If you were something once, in a place that was true, you might be able to try to say to us, “Son, Daughter, Come away” but we never saved him in the end.
 
 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tony and Justin travel back in time to medieval Ireland to investigate leprechaun deaths


               We don’t speak Gallic.  We don’t speak Scottish.  We don’t speak English.  We understand some English, which is great if you’re on a passive listening tour of New South Wales; were not; we don’t know where we are.
          Tony and I have settled in at O’Muddycheeks house.  We have been giving everyone these surnames, if that's what they are called, O' this and O' that.  I am not sure that is even what a sur-name is, nor am I sure O' this or O' that would be historically or ethnologically accurate.  For all we know these assumedly pale folk could be proto-Huns, or Rus or what-ever-the-fuck-ish.  O'Muddysheeks has the biggest living room and best food and so there we sit.  Tony stopped drinking the first night; too much debris in the fucking whisky.
            “I think a leprechaun dropped a hay ball in my shit” he says.  He’s calling everything his shit now.  His shoes are his ‘shit’, I guess he still misses Africa, BC.  We have started blaming everything on the leprechauns as an inside joke to ourselves, a sort of self-ironic act that will not let us divorce ourselves from the madness that is time traveling backward.  The itch in my junk is just a leprechaun, sprinkling nettles in my shorts, and has nothing to do with me banging the witch every morning.  I don’t have to spell it out do I?  O’shitlip’s wife is taking us to where the leprechauns have been killing her babies, dashing them on a rock.  Poor O’shitlip’s wife has lost her last two kids to the short green men.  Then there’s Old Ben Have-a-bunch-more.  Great guy, happy, big family, wealthy I guess for this part of the old country.  7 girls, oldest is 19, youngest is 8.  Tony wants to take the three oldest ones back with us; wish it worked that way.  He’s a genuinely happy guy, looks more German than that sick, tiny, mopey looking Irish bullshit gene you see everywhere out here.
            At the meeting I try to stop it.  Tony feels it.  He has been chewing some weed the witch gave him, it’s like nicotine I guess, he says its like shitty speed.  I suppose it’s the closest thing you can come to a drug here besides drinking poison.  Everyone is gathered.  I hold the meeting at night by a big fire.  I get the look from Tony, like, its not too late to change the plan. 
            "Dude, are we not here to teach these fuckers how to fish?  Whats gonna happen if we go around killing all the supposedly ‘guilty’ people, no, it has to be this way." I tell him.
            ”I know" he says, but still, neither of us believe it.  I tell assembled hamlet that there are traitors in our mistsdists(sp?).  I had the witch help me with a pyrotechnic.  I thought about being honest, about telling them they can't blame teen pregnancy and burnt food on the supernatural to avoid being beaten.  I think about saying, hey, instead of making up little green men doing your dirty work for you, killing deformed kids or retards or unwanted pregnancies, why don’t you see if you can organize a cooperative of barren women or old maids who might want a little kid to love and care for and why not have the families that have 'donated' the children instead of killing them, maybe help out with repairs every so often and a few potatoes now and then.  I envision an archaic utopia in this shit hole of a place.  I know it won’t work.  I go for the pyrotechnics and murder instead.  Gully suggested we kill the two guys who have been braining their kids, but Ireland does not deserve that kind of justice and may never.
            In the end, through random bullshit, which seemed an appropriate face of arbitration and justice at the time, my flexible witch, 12 year old have-a-bunch-more(btw, she was not one of the three oldest we wanted to take, just in case, you know, in case you were wondering), O’no-jeans and O’laughs-too-much’s quiet brother are all the recipients of a minute, sulfur, meteorite from the sap con bat-shit, and a couple other things (none of which were probably vital to its functioning as a pyrotechnic), or as we were calling them, “Fire Faries of Truth, and hence summarily knocked out with sticks then pulled unceremoniously over the fire by two way too eager kids, Tony and myself.  It’s quicker than it could have been but not quick enough.  I tell them the fucking ‘Faries’ made a sign, marking O’shitlips as one who is guiltless, but, also as the one that the Leprechauns will try to get back into the hamlet through after we have gone.  “The Leprechauns will try to find a way in through this poor soul.  If he remains righteous, the hamlet will be spared.  If he seeks the aid of the leprechauns for perversions and favors, they will exact a child from him, and then all of your troubles will return.  If any more of his children are taken, you will know he has let leprechauns back into this clean and protected village.  But, don’t worry!  Don’t worry, this is a good man…”  then, I look long and deep into his eyes and... “No more of his children will be killed, will they O’shitlips?”
            It was a great plan, would have worked if they had understood any fucking thing we said.
            “Dude” they let us kill people and they didn’t try to stop us.”
            “Yeah, that sucked.”
            We have both lost our shoes and all of our jewelry, buttons, fuck, everything other than these night-shirt lookin things we have been wearing the last three days.  I lost my fucking crown in a bowl of porridge.
            “God Damn it!  I am really gonna miss that witch.” 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Letting Michael go

Its summer before the cast comes off.  Were always eating, talking.  Shadows on the lawn of empire come longingly, forewarned.  I put my name on the ground.  I look up.  She drives me to the beach. 
“I don’t know what to say to you.”
I nod.
“We are leaving the world behind.”  Its dark but it is not dark.  Each step tells me the ground hides under these waves and on out to the end of the sea and forever.  I have never had to explain things to her.  “Bring yourself.” I tell her.  Bring yourself because I cannot.
“I will stop everything if you tell me you are my brother.”
“I used to need to Justin.  And you don’t have to stop anything.”
I tell myself I will start smoking.  Those things, those worlds we were, I am not the greatest thing in the sky anymore.  This is ok too.  We talk about the woman she loves.  We tell weeks of stories in wordless noise and gesture and laugh.  The city brings us back, places us in ourselves and us in it. 
This always ends in a driveway, outside a door, practiced over decades only in that it comes again and again, the opening of a door, the noise, the TV, the relative, the hurried news, the look in the fridge, the smell of the laundry on the floor, the look across the room at her where we both still hold the universe of worlds we travel even now, in this each others eyes.  We will always be ourselves.  Can never be something else.  I love you Michael.  I am letting go.  Good morning.  I miss you.