Stranger Things Have Happened

[CN: Childhood trauma, systematic abuse (healthcare), odd/uncanny events]

As most of you, if not all, already know – I studied physics. As such, I tend to like the things occurring around me – or within me – to have a rational explanation grounded in either the things that I know to be true of the material world or “experience” (as some would say… ‘common sense’). I prefer the emotional component to be detached and the larger portrait to be painted with its finest spectrographic hues. In other words, I do not tend to like dawdling into matters of faith or religion too much. I’m sure not everyone that studies physics is that way, but that was my way of critically examining things.

I’ve always been trying to shake my past faith, in actuality. When I was growing up, the Bible was to be taken literally. We did not go to church – the Bible and its symbology was studied at home. The family was expected to conduct itself accordingly, but I always wondered what made that book more special than anything else I read. Of course, that was explained to me as well, but if divine intervention can occur for one book, why not another? Why would War and Peace be any less inspired by divinity than “The Holy Bible.” So, I liked to wonder – I liked to get my awe from what I read about the universe in my toddler years. My mother was a follower of the Bible, but she also knew there was something far greater written in the stars. She encouraged my love of science, and during that time I couldn’t help but come up with my own reconciliations between the Divine Physics I read and The Bible™. I weighed whether it would be possible for our cosmos to be but a single cell in the entire mind of “God” or whatever Deity created the cosmos by shaping the Big Expansion into the present.

I eventually dropped this habit as I grew older. I was baptized in my teen years, attended a Southern Baptist Church™ regularly, and kept my previous four readings of the holy text in my mind at all times. Yet, my passions continued to drag me down the evil road of learning mathematics, pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, history (from Creation to Present Day), chemistry, physics, and more. I grew in ways that I could not imagine, and I began to desire to write a book on how to reconcile The Bible with Physics. I wanted to understand both subjects in a way where they could be integrated, if it were possible to do so. I knew one solidly, but the other took many years to make a dent in. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered understanding physics, but I have a fairly fluid working understanding. At least insofar as I have integrated all the concepts but can only roughly replicate the mathematics, learning the Bible is comparatively simple. I have never worked harder at anything in my life than trying to reconcile physics and mathematics is the point. During that time spent developing a deeper understanding of the universe and how it works, I began to realize that the laws and their mathematical models were all that the cosmos required to create life. No creator was necessary. To me, that still begged the philosophical question: “Is it possible that the Universe, however grand it might be, knows itself? Does that make it a deity?” I lost my religion; this gave way to a greater appreciation for the intricacies of Nature, and I began to reject the notion altogether that there could be a Creator or the Abrahamic “God.”

However, I wouldn’t say I was an atheist. I still believed that it was a possibility for there to be some figure which gave Life to this universe, but I also thought that it was more likely the Universe itself was non-sentient. As the razor would require, I simply “knew” that the quantum foam which housed our tiny universe among others was there, that it was not alive by any means, and once we died we experienced nothingness just as we “remember” before our birth. That was the most simple and logical explanation, because mathematics was simply code which existed. I posited that the code existed because Time itself is symmetric on the smallest of scales even up to the macroscopic world, despite our “psychological perception” of time only flowing in the forward direction. The only thing that is required to create a universe is Life – the Observer of a quantum system fundamentally alters its state via the Observer Effect. Therefore, Life itself would not be terribly unique, it would be necessary for us to “experience” the Universe itself in the way we do. It would be a fundamental property of this system which we exist within – the quantum foam containing the multiverse. This means that life is what we make of it, and the guiding principles we choose should be what preserves it the most in the most comfortable way possible (e.g. through the alleviation of suffering by other creatures just living to experience existence). Perhaps that sounds like a religion in and of itself, but I was completely indifferent to it. We’re simply riding a wave of “typical,” and that wasn’t something I felt needed to be worshiped. I put superstition back into the Jar, left Religion in there as a friend, and cast away Faith as a bygone era.

This was no different than figures in the Enlightenment Period had done before me, but of course, I was also on my own journey. I have not had a typical life, and some things I have experienced while inhabiting this universe have little explanation to me despite knowing vast amounts of things. I wish I could explain the things I have seen as either mass hysteria, schizophrenia, psychosis, or some other psychological explanation. Yet, that does little justice to what I know I have seen in the presence of others.

For example, when I was in 6th grade I was practicing with a friend for band, and we had to stop for a second when the phone began to ring. The landline only rang once and went dead. Puzzled, my mother went to look at the caller ID, and then frantically called to us to come look. As the three of us looked at the caller ID, I scrolled through it. “Franklin Roosevelt 555-555-5555,” one read. “Edgar Allan Poe 555-555-5555.” “Abraham Lincoln 555-555-5555.” “Thomas Edison 555-555-5555.” “George Washington 555-555-5555.” There were no smart phones, at that time. Spam calls were barely starting, and as we scrolled through the numerous calls other dead presidents, poets, and inventors came up on the screen. We couldn’t help but be a little creeped out. All of them were for that date, and all the times were for the moment the phone rang. After we scrolled through all ~247 new calls, the caller ID went dead for a few moments – turning off completely – and then “rebooted” several minutes later only to continue to function perfectly without any problems for several years thereafter.

I did not have an explanation then, nor do I now.

I would love to believe that I was imagining things – that We, the three of us, imagined that. I would love to be able to reassure you that it’s a joke, hoax, or downright fake.

I cannot now, nor could I ever. I can offer nothing but the fact that it occurred.

If there were other incidents of such things, I barely remember them now. However, the reason I feel compelled to write this is that strange things have been happening recently, once again. Honestly, I’d chalk it all up to PTSD and call it a day, but allow me to explain:

I have been increasingly haunted by memories of my childhood this year. I don’t believe I ever fully confronted the entirety of what occurred, as I was much more invested in studying to keep my mind from straying to the past. That grounding technique worked up to a point, until I became less busy as my joints continue to progress towards snapping together for their own pleasure throughout my body. I have also found I have physical trauma stressors which, if triggered, can send me into a more-or-less shocked state. I’ve talked to therapists in the past, but I’ve always tried to avoid discussing my childhood with them in order to stay focused on the “here-and-near” or “now.” I’ve seen them for multiple years at a time, accumulatively it’s probably closer to 5 years of psychotherapy for my “issues.” This has resulted in a plethora of speculation as to the present state of my mental health outside of the dysphoric feelings (like anxiety and depression) which creep around. I’ve been diagnosed with five different things, all of which conflict, contradict, or overlap in symptomology making the efforts to discern the truth of the matter nothing more than speculative suggestions coming from a place of limited understanding. I do know there is something different about my brain, but as of yet it is an unknown variable.

This is not my own fault for rejecting the labels psychiatrists and therapists wish to ascribe to me. It is difficult to trust an existing establishment (such as the mental health community) when it’s often run for-profit with little intention of accuracy just quick resolution to a presently perceived “threatening difference.” The patient is often considered wholly from a superficial perspective of quick one-off meetings to give that “insta-diagnosis” doctors seem to get off on giving out as they strive for more appointments, less face-to-face meetings to gain the bigger picture, and a larger paycheck. Competition for finding the most people to drug and distort the image of, in other words, more often than not. I’m not saying the entire field is like that for psychology. I’m not suggesting drugs from “Big Pharma” are evil, nor do I think it is reasonable to entirely shirk the mental health establishment. Criticisms are necessary, remember.

But I digress. How did I get to the point where I gained an additional two misdiagnoses on my mental health record?

During my childhood, I spent most of the day and night dissociated from myself. I did not wish to be where I was – often I wished I was dead. So, for a time, I remembered only bits and pieces – usually the worst episodes of abuse. Thus, I had my mother aid me in recollecting what I experienced in preparation for discussing what I could remember during a therapy session. I needed closure to feel like I had a chance at getting away from the newer flashback episodes I had been having.

Studies suggest memories in babies begin at about the 6-9 month mark. Significant emotional impact during the formation of memories can cause them to imprint far better and last through “childhood amnesia.” Childhood amnesia may also not exist at all, we simply may just be great at replacing neutral or good memories with better or more useful information while traumatic, stressful, bad, or dangerous memories imprint into our amygdala to warn us of future danger. I have vague recollection of things which occurred prior to age three, but after that I have above-average recall for facts, descriptions, occurrences, and more – especially feelings.

I recall the first time I ever felt suicidal, I was two years old. I went into the kitchen and snuck a butter knife out of the drawer while my mother wasn’t looking, and I ran off. I usually tried to get away from the kitchen, and she thought nothing of it. I went to the bathroom across the hall from my bedroom, wet the knife, and went to the electrical outlet back in my room. I remember jabbing the knife into the outlet, and then I don’t remember much else until I came-to. My mom noticed the lights dim in the house and rushed into my room where I was already looking up at her, dazed and confused. “Yeah, it bites,” she said after she saw the blackened plug. Since I “seemed fine,” I was left to my own devices. I was disappointed that I was still living in a place which felt like Hell. The screaming my father and mother did would keep me up, and the assaults were the worst. Things were constantly being thrown or he would throw a punch or slap of some sort. It was a very volatile place, and I experienced a very low level of mood at an early age.

Recently, as I was remembering my first desire to get away from the abuse I was experiencing, I felt as though I were back in the moment. It was almost as though I could feel the electricity coursing through my hand and arm, the smell of singed hair seemed to fill my nose, and I couldn’t help but look at my hand as it felt like the knife burned itself in. I was forced to relive the event as though I had performed the deed in the present. Unfortunately, as I was going through that episode, I was handily offered a reminder of my second attempt.

I was three, still facing the abuse my father could dish up and think of, and would often go behind the couch in the living room to dissociate away from others. It was a safe space, I thought, because it felt as though there were walls built up around me to keep others out. Then, one day, my father came in from working on his VW Bug to slip me a yellow and red screwdriver. He gave me a helpful hint of “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” and his signature superfluous laugh. As it rolled against the wall, I picked it up, sat in front of another electrical outlet, and thought for a moment about the fragility of life itself. I weighed if it was reasonable to feel the way I did given the things I was experiencing, and I reckoned that any being that controlled the cosmos would understand my actions with appropriate judgment. I considered how the fact the screwdriver was covered in an insulating material, something I learned from “helping” my dad with cars, and whether it would significantly impact my attempt. I figured it didn’t really matter either way. So, all things being considered, I tried to let the electrons flow.

The screwdriver exploded in my hand which broke the circuit almost immediately. My mother was concerned, but asked no questions. She was distant, overworked, and overburdened. I was distraught that I failed again, but I tried to stay as stable and as strong as I could. It’s not easy when you often get pulled out of school for being “sick,” but you’re actually soaking belt whelps or 2×4-paddle wounds. I tried to run away at that age. Found the police were more interested in taking me back to that house than helping me, and they were far more interested in harassing the neighbors.

Being put back in a house with that man was like having to feel the second jolt of “electricity” my body could recall encountering. It only intensified the “episode” I was experiencing – which is why you should be kind to your friends (and strangers) with PTSD & when they tell you they need you to avoid a subject you integrate that knowledge.

As I was surveying my non-burning yet “burning” hands, I felt completely overwhelmed by emotion to the point I could do nothing but cover my eyes and weep deeply. Yet, I didn’t feel as though I wept for myself. I might have been victimized, but I do not consider myself a victim unless it’s of circumstance. I always try to “defend, forgive, forget, and move on.” The tears flowed freely in part because of what was done to me, but also to what has happened to countless other children in abusive households. The tears were for the numberless that were harmed in my lineage and the ancestral lines of many others. As I wept, I felt waves crashing over me. I felt my body recede, and all at once I felt words well up from deep within me. It was a prayer I cannot fully recall, because it was nothing I have learned before, but I know I prayed for those that come against so many to be turned to pillars of salt and for many misdeeds to befall them. If it was a response to trauma, it felt very healing. The tears stopped as the prayer fell silent (no “Amens” to be heard), and that’s where I knew I needed to be done speaking of my past.

I tried to forget what happened, but the pain lingered and I ached severely from the phantom pains. I already dealt with enough as it is, but despite the combination I felt little fatigue. For six days I ate nothing but a few bites of a bagel each morning and often skipped lunch and dinner. I did not feel hungry, but I did feel compelled to write out my experience into a mixture of poetry, song, and remixed songs which touched on topics that impacted my life during the first seven years of my formation. The one lunch I did have was an orange with the bitterness of the White portion scrubbed completely free – despite not being all that hungry it was the sweetest and most delightful fruit I had ever tasted.

I did try to get some sleep during that time, but the first time was for approximately 6 hours before I was startled awake by a phone call in the middle of the day from the phone number “505”.. It also did not ring through to the normal phone app, it came through on an encrypted messenger (compromised apps are fun, aren’t they?).  The next day I tried to sleep again and got three hours only to be woken up by several other phone calls, one of them from “5505.” While I recognize lack of sleep can cause delusions, hallucinations, and other disturbances, that was not the case. My eyes never reddened from the experience, nor did I feel much of an effect beyond having a more difficult time typing on my phone.

The calls were disturbing, but even more disturbing was a spare laptop decided to go on the fritz and throw up a “Yellow Screen of Death” with a frown like the BSOD on Windows 10. Slightly altered screen, different color, and the computer began to run extremely hot. It was immediately shut down, unplugged, and was left until morning where it immediately booted to “100% complete on Windows Update” and began to count down to 0% where it then immediately moved to the desktop. In all of my years building, upgrading, and working with computers I have yet to see any others that acted as that one did, even if they have viruses – which this one does not ?appear? to have.

I watched as, over a 12-hour period, water which started out tasting like sweet ambrosia coagulated into whispy white strands which tasted like.. DNA. All I could think of was “solve and coagulate” upon seeing it and having it verified that, yeah, it coagulated. I had never seen such a phenomenon, and I have yet to see it since. I never put much stock in astrology or mythology, but it’s a bit strange that I was born as an intersex assigned male at birth child on Christmas Eve, an anachronistic Capricorn with a desire to leave superstition behind yet cannot shake the figurative demons or ghosts or… aliens as the Roswell, New Mexico “505” area code would suggest ..

I tried to act normal around my friend that came over and tried to comfort me. Yet, that night I had taken a gift her girlfriend gave me and surgically removed the stuffing from its insides to extract the annoying song that it played. Inside I found a little heart which I replaced with a more rigid decorative candle so that the bear could still stand – it had a spine. The visit turned into a frenzy as I found things I wanted to trash, burn, give away, or sell. Despite severe lack of sleep, I found time to remove a great deal of clutter that came from various times in my life that are chapters now closed and left to exist in the past.

Among the things I tried to rid my space of was a Totenkopf I purchased when I was still “into WWII history.” It was a replica of a ring given to the SS for their loyalty, but I claimed to like it for the “skull aesthetic.” As we should all know, even “ironic” or “entertaining” Nazi propaganda is still fascist propaganda. I placed it under my mattress to banish it, but the next morning I awoke to it sticking to my wall. It would not fall, despite my tapping & then banging on the wall to test it. I picked it off, and flung it as far and as high away from me as I could when I got outside. I never heard it land, and I couldn’t help but wonder why “we” (former/present Republicans, Libertarians, right wingers of all sorts) trapped ourselves in such a vile cesspool of an ideology. There are far stronger forces in the universe and in history which provide inspiration for “strength,” “courage,” “loyalty,” “liberty,” “unity,” and “prosperity.” Yet, many turn directly to the very people which desire the destruction of anyone not “upgraded” to their level – Cybermen of a “traditionalist” universe. After picking my own way through that labyrinth, and continuing to do so, I find it hard to believe there are so few on the “other side” of perception regarding that historical band of loserdom.

I acted completely out of my “typical” or “normal” during that week, but all I could feel was that it was necessary. During the episode, I frightened my friend to the point where it was suggested that it might be best to hospitalize me, and I was reassured that it would be better than I had heard about/would expect. So, I reluctantly agreed and was taken to get evaluated. It took them almost no time at all to get me through intake. They took me back to a room where I conversed with a lovely person with an equally troubled past, and my heart ached for them. They gave me food, and I could only eat a little before I gave most of it away. I waved to the Singularities (the cameras situated in the interview room), and felt for a response. At that point, the feeling of being tired began to take hold, and I just wanted to sleep. I was interviewed to be processed, and I left the room only to find someone laying down with a book where I was sitting previously. My first reaction to them was, “Spooky.” They had brilliant red hair, a black night shirt, and pajamas with little skulls all over them. They looked like a reflection of myself, but different in their own way. It was eerie.

I felt as though I could hear the staff calling my name over an intercom overhead, but far off in the distance. No one else heard this – I have never had a problem with hearing anything other than my inner monologue prior to that moment. I was told that I could go back. I was led away from my friend down a long and winding corridor by a friendly elderly gentleman. I walked through the blazing heat to what they referred to as “Unit 6.” It was situated next to a playground, and looked bigger outside than in. There seemed to be only three rooms – I was evaluated and told I should make myself comfortable in 606. I was followed in and told I would have to strip for inspection in the bathroom. Any scars or marks were scrutinized. My clothes and body were evaluated for “self-harm” implements or evidence. While they took my clothes, I was told to shower and provide them more medical info. I gave them the info and got in the shower where I tried to wash off the feeling that something was wrong with me. I wanted to forget painting my face with iodine as though tears of blood were pouring through. I wanted to feel like I was acting as I always do and always have. I began to study the features of the shower as I turned up the heat to the hottest I could stand. I noted how the drain was at the top of the shower to prevent an attempt to overflow the shower and drown – a thoughtful but somewhat meaningless gesture. My brain’s desire for patterns was in overdrive, and pareidolia told me that the screws – both on the shower’s overflow drain & on the electrical outlets – seemed to be “faces.” They weren’t crosshead or flathead. They almost appeared to be glazed over as though to protect a lens. I thought little of it, besides the fact it was strange.

They gave me a bag with a washcloth in it which was a nice gesture; I did my best without any soap. I felt compelled to clean the shower, for some odd reason. It was a small capsule built into the corner of the wall, and I began to explore the space with the cloth. Black hairs appeared here and there which I washed down the drain. As I moved down the wall, I began cleaning a trio of white disks built into the shower – they looked like they were caps over a pipe, but one of them was stained an orange-ish or reddish color – as though someone had taken a crayon and colored over it. I tried to wash them, and I could feel the texture switch from the porcelain capsule to the rough rippled plastic; the stain could not be removed. I continued down the wall, down the floor, down the back side of the shower, and back to the disks – they were in a different pattern on the wall. Did I only strongly believe – and feel – they were there? The trio switched. Were they there or not? I looked away, back, they were there – differently once again. Away. Back. Back to normal, they were. I decided it was best to be done with that strange space in time (“there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, not even water”).

I reminded myself that I had eaten a page from a book, War and Peace to be precise (page 666, actually, why? Compulsion, impulse, or instinct?). The bits stayed down even as I singed my hair on purpose – or did only one of those actually happen? I couldn’t recall, I was so very tired. I laid down in the clean white space – a single room with two “picture frames” built into the wall. A frosted glass window let what seemed to be light into the room, but it was still illuminating the room with its gloomy frosted presence even deep into the night. The frame made a sort of plus sign, a cross even, that seemed to be the darkest shade of black as the “faux”-light shown through the four panels of glass. The bed beside me was empty – a blue plastic mattress set in a heavy wooden frame with metal brackets to bolt (if necessary) the bed to the wooden floor. I was laying down as I heard a plethora of voices cry out at my presence being there. They were saying confusing things, but I could only think that they should be free like Ravens in the night. There were only three doors in the wing, but I felt as though I heard the march of several people as they slammed open the metal doors at the end of the hall and left the building through my urging. I couldn’t sleep with the light on. I tried to close the door, and they told me no. I asked please, and they said they had to watch me. I tried to leave the door open as little as possible, and it creaked open as wide as it could. I was tired and growing all the more so by the second. I began cleaning again – this time the sink. I tried talking to the person watching over the unit, but I spoke little. I felt as though words were not needed. I was told I was acting “spooky” as they moved through the wings and knocked on doors. I began to knock.

They told me they were going to bring Gravedigger, and that I should just wait. When the time came, I was told to pack lightly and a younger man guided me through the darkness early in the AM. I breathed the night air deeply, and said that it was nice to be outside. He agreed, as we made our way through the hallways knocking on doors. Sometimes, I would just feel the cold walls or doors as we moved along, always admiring the various paintings they had. I was greeted by two paramedics, Regrets and the Driver (how would I remember their names?). They put on music I barely recognized, but it transitioned into Hotel California. They asked about me, we talked vaguely about politics, and then I was Arrived. At the ER, I was greeted by the stares of what felt like all the staff while they decided which room to put me in. I was taken to Room 6. It felt as though I was rushed by all the staff at once, the room was full of activity. In all my other ER visits, never have I had such a flurry or fuss. They took blood from my right arm and put another needle in my left. I felt very little of this, but I saw all they used to do it – the bottles of iodine gave me a little sense of unease. They stuck EKG stickers in multiple spots on my body, many different from where I’ve had EKG leads go before. They hooked some of them up and decided they needed an X-ray of my chest. No one explained why I was there, and I didn’t understand what was going on as no one told me. I was not given the chance to consent to the ER visit or not. The staff left the room and asked if I needed anything – I asked if they could close the door and I was told “No.” I asked if they would close the curtain instead so that I could have a little privacy, and I was also told no. I laid there with two IV leads in my arms and left. Almost immediately I began tearing at the tape they used to cover them over with – I ripped them both out of my arms and they immediately began to bleed. I placed the tape neatly before me, and I dipped my finger in my blood and ran it down my cheeks and across my forehead. What compelled me to do so, I still cannot fathom. If it is simply that I have some form of mental illness, then I do hope I find a good doctor soon. The nurses freaked out, and all I could do was apologize for aggravating her chronic back pain and having her put in another IV lead into my arm. The other cleaned off my face. I was given fluids, and as I laid there I began to hear a beeping sound in my left ear on occasion when I would have a thought. It sounded a tad like the Amazon Echo beep when Alexa doesn’t like, yet acknowledges, your question. If you’ve never heard it, perhaps that sounds odd, but ask it more about communism sometime. You’ll see what I mean if you push her far enough. As I was thinking, I could hear the sound of the staff talking amongst themselves again. Some did not have nice things to say, and I began to hear an “error” sound in my right ear as those thoughts came across. I looked up at the heartbeat monitor – was that making the sound? I looked away and continued to stare at the people looking up at me. They tried to talk more quietly, but I felt as though it did nothing. They began getting & sharing texts. They’d look up at me occasionally, and I could do nothing but lay there and think. I had no mouth, but I felt as though I were screaming. Then I heard elderly voices, as though they were in Room 5 next to me on my right side. They screamed in agony, they cursed and spat. They blamed. They were upset. Others were upset that watched them. Some rejoiced as they watched. The error noise cancelled their screams out, and I tried to think of what came next. The softer Alexa-esque sound was what remained after Some Time (later).

I saw a red laser light being played with on the wall. It spun quickly in circles and stopped. I was transported out of the ER via a second ambulance & team, the person that sat in the back with me seemed to have the laser on her. She’d distract me with it, and we talked until I arrived back at the facility. “Has she done this before?” the paramedic asked on the telephone outside the establishment while his partner continued to trace designs on the face of the building. I laughed & commented to her that I liked the green lights better, and her laugh made me feel a little better about having to get up after being nearly naked in the hospital (cut my clothes? I can take them off myself!)…I followed the young guy that came back for me down into the maze once again and back to Unit 6. I was in pain after the ER visit. I still couldn’t sleep, but I felt as though I needed it deeply, but I was hypervigilant and could not.

I began to hear snoring from the other side of the wall, and it reminded me too much of the past. I got up out of bed, immediately turned the corner, and went into the room to the right of me. There was another older man sleeping on the bed. He woke up and didn’t say a word. I went into the room and laid down in the second bed that was empty and without sheets until I was called to by the lady sitting at the nursing station and told I should go back to my room. I apologized, and I left. I tried to lay down, but then I was compelled to go and ask if I could help the desk with anything. I threw away various things they’d give me, I ripped off my patient band, and I began ripping tags out of things that seemed “off” to me. I picked at my slippers until I ripped off the front panel depicting the TARDIS. It went in the trash, and I snuck out to see who was in the room to my left. They woke up and smiled, and I asked if I could come in. They nodded and I stood by their bed and whispered “Things will be better, now.” I was told again to not go in other people’s rooms & go back to mine. Both of their doors closed completely.

I spent most of my free time, since I felt as though I was being deprived of sleep at this point, discussing philosophy and physics. Speculation and fact, essentially. She began to ask me various questions which she’d note on paperwork in a folder dedicated to me.. She gave me an assigned seat by a dew-covered window. The other side was obscured by the water droplets which had accumulated, but a playground could faintly be made out. Sometimes I would tap on the glass, and the dew would streak down the window. As we continued our discussion, the sun began to rise. I continued to watch the sun rise while knocking on the window while the picture on the other side became more clear. The nurse retired to the room where the older man was, and an entirely different group of people came rolling into the unit. They spoke loudly, flipped through TV channels, and offered me breakfast. I graciously accepted; the dew was gone. They opened the door to a room that was filled with a long table with a bunch of small chairs as well as a white board. In the corners were extra seats. I was antsy and decided to read the words which were written on the board. There were things about positive concepts such as “community” and the like, but there were other concepts which I decided to erase. I sat back down and ate a third of the food, devoured the water which was scarce in the space they had me in, and then I ritualistically destroyed the remainder. I poured the grape juice they gave me into it all and the rest of the trash was stacked ontop. I felt like the worst type of entitled person, but I felt as though the food was wasted already, and I was not hungry.

The staff told me they were going to move me to another unit – I asked for a washable marker. They refused. I asked for a crayon, and they said they couldn’t do it. I was disappointed, because I wanted to write things on my sign & resign myself to stay in that room until I got sleep. It seemed counterintuitive that they wouldn’t let a person up for a week go to sleep, and just a tad unethical. I went back to the room – they told me the door had to stay open. I replied that I really had to sleep, and they told me I could not stay there. I told them that it was where they put me, and that’s where I intended to stay. They told me there was a change of plans. I had lost my glasses and couldn’t see too clearly at a distance at this point, but they insisted on bringing people to the door of that room, and I didn’t understand what they were saying to each other. They began to ask if I wanted a shot, and that agitated me. I began to yell about not wanting it, and I took both of the beds and forcefully moved them to the center of the room. They were heavy, but I slung them around the room until both of them met in the center and were side-by-side. There was a large amount of dust underneath, and I took the button-up gown I got while in the ER, put it in the sink to wet it down, and cleaned up the dust. I found various objects from past visitors underneath them – a yellowed and possibly water-warped journal, an orange rubbery & bendy pencil, and a toothbrush. I then realized I had stickers still on me from the hospital visit, and I ripped them off my skin. I placed the stickers over the strange screws, the toothbrush into a “vent”, and I began ranting about being “older than they think.”

They mostly closed the door, and I laid down on the bed that’d been made larger. I stared directly into the center of the even brighter panels – the cross seemed to be pure darkness. They asked why I was acting up, and I told them that they had stopped believing me, and wanted to do things their way, and that if they felt that way they should fuck off, because I didn’t care. A white dude with a buzz cut came in with blue hands with a buddy also in blue gloves announcing, “You need the 5-0?” I growled, lunged at him, and told him to get out. I could see dust particles fluttering around before my eyes when I looked at him, and it made me uneasy. They left the room mumbling, and I looked at the nurse panicked. I asked if she’d please leave and stand by the door, and once she moved I began to feel as though the plastic beds were breathing. I grabbed one and threw it against the wall, moved the sheets, and threw the second one against the wall. I crawled into one of the frames & snuggled into the sheets they had given me and immediately stripped. They objected & told me to put my clothes back on, but I told them that it wasn’t going to happen, and that I was covered by a blanket anyway. I said it would be best to close the door & stop breaking down the wall of Death. She let in Buzzcut and two of his closest allies – he moved one of the beds and I began to lash out at them again as the “angel dust fell.” He grabbed my wrists as another grabbed my ankles, and then they jabbed me hard as I was thrashing about. Considering I have joint damage from my poor genetics, being handled in such a way made me even more upset. After they released me, they asked why I did it, and I said, “I was shooting at ghosts.” It was a reference, because they seemed to be speaking in references.

They left the room & I got dressed to follow them out. I took the pencil which found me, and I carved into the sign which was now unguarded outside my door. They did not try to stop me. I changed the “0” to a “6” the best I could (“Room 666”). I wrote “Night Witches” in the space allotted for a name. An “X” was placed on the second slot. I put the pencil back, and left the room once again to confront Buzzcut. They were all watching me, I was the only entertainment. I got in his personal bubble and stared. “I see Carl Sagan’s Angel Dust in your eyes,” I had gripped his forearms above his gloves and spoke it into his face. Perhaps it could all be explained away as “on drugs,” but sobriety can be even more trippy, in my experience. They gave me a bag for all of my remaining stuff that they’d let me keep, and I was moved to the new unit. There were no open rooms, but there was a wheelchair they wanted me to sit in and wait. The people there were amazing, and I couldn’t help but get to know them since they were all gathered in a central lobby. After I met people, I started knocking on doors & going into rooms. I would be given things & give things back in return. Someone made me a cup with crayons with my name on it & rainbows & planets – how she knew to write “Gwynevere” without the staff spelling it correctly is beyond me. Charlie was beyond sweet as can be. As they said, “Charlie Brown Loves A Little Red Head,” I guess! Others did not have such kind words even still, and I wanted to crawl inside of them and break every bone within. They reminded me of people I once knew, people I regret knowing, and people that should regret seeing things as they see them. Yet, I was in their space, so maybe “All is fair in Love & War.”

We went to breakfast. I tried to skip it, but I was invited by an Angel & Charlie to giggle and gossip. They offered me some of their food & drinks, and I accepted them graciously. The coffee tasted wonderful, but the bacon was disappointing and mediocre, only the Love which provided it made it a true blessing. They asked if I was on hunger strike or if I was anorexic. I told them neither, I was just satiated. Their smile filled my heart. The bits stayed down, and the food wasn’t problematic. We went back to the unit after meandering through the garden. The sun was intense, I felt as though the whole Globe were burning as I had burned before the flames. Climate change felt as though it were set to “maximum overdrive,” and I scrambled to get inside as often as I could – especially during the smoke breaks which are a minor trauma stressor for me. I slept in the room I was given which had “////////////” over the label “B” – and my finally corrected name was label “A.” I slept for an unknown amount of time, but I woke up each time a person from the staff came into my room. I slept in different ways on the bed, each time was less restful than the last.

The plastic of the bed went from new to severely warped and damaged as I slept there – as though I were clawing into the plastic as I slept. I eventually felt more or less normal and could function on a regular time schedule again, but my things continued to disappear & reappear either elsewhere or in a different form. I decided to wear all my clothes at once to prevent this from happening too much. I lost my number journal, and gave away a few of the pieces of clothing I found that weren’t mine & a few that were mine but other people thought were cute. They looked cute in them & it made them happy, I couldn’t deny him. I kept just enough, and was taught how to call home by Her. I couldn’t help but want to leave as I felt I was taking up too much space. We watched the news and other things. I left when I felt disturbed by the news and immensely sleepy. I heard another patient cry because the nurses would not help her with seizures she was having – it seemed like they took forever or never helped her. Yet, I watched them respond immediately to Their outbursts with a shot – others jokingly saying that she wanted to get one. Yet, from my perspective, it was the same thing that happened to me. She fell asleep far faster than I expected, though..

I was finally removed from that place after roughly 2 and 1/2 days – probably far shorter than expected by those which witnessed the entirety of the episode. I never once truly believed I was communing with spirits or ghosts or divinity, but I did feel as though I were following others which might. I have continued to have things misplaced, to have things replaced, or to have things changed in ways that I cannot fully find the words to explain. Every detail is lost in the cascade of coincidences which have befallen me lately. If I could describe it all, every facet of it, completely perfectly I would sound even more suspicious than I do now.

My tarot card is the Six of Cups.
My stone is Labradorite.

I did not choose these things, they chose me.
I have no mouth, but I must scream.
I have no mouth, but I must scream.

I have no mouth, but I must scream.

Millennials Are Killing God

Millennials have killed killed everything from diamonds to homeownership to chain restaurants because of our behaviors. Next, we are coming for your God. People 18-29 in the United States are less religious than ever before, and spirituality continues to decline year by year. With all the perks to being religious in the United States, you have to admit we are quite foolish to shun such a valuable institution.

There shouldn’t be a soul out there that wouldn’t want to join the religious movement in the United States. After all, this nation was founded by people looking for religious freedom. That’s why we celebrate it annually with turkey and discuss the impact of the Mayflower’s voyage multiple times throughout the academic career of our children. It’s not like colonizers came here for other reasons. Right?

Why would any millennial put themselves at odds with the nation? Or are they killing that, too? We don’t even respect the monuments to our strangled roots! We should do as our parents, grandparents, and extended family do and simply send our thoughts and prayers to fix our most dire problems like racebased police brutality, climate changemass shootings, or reactionary violence.

Who wouldn’t turn to God when your work or existence is constantly criticized and they can so obviously deal with the bigger problems leaving plenty of time for fixing comparatively more trivial matters?

It is strange that, despite all odds, millennials are refusing to accept the spirit into their hearts. Truly, as a millennial, I find it hard to fathom why all these industries are dying and we’re shedding the traditionalist mentality. Could it be we are finally stepping into our own light and changing the world in our image? Granted, we’re having a bit of an identity crisis at the moment, but it cannot be denied that we recognize we are the creators of our own world. We are the shapers of our own future. We have the power and ability to mould this planet into anything we so desire. Despite being apparently self-focused, we are more considerate of others and still opening our minds to our true altruistic nature lost in the competition of industry.

Perhaps that’s why we’re killing God. We understand that what needs to be done must be done ourselves, and in order to keep things on an upward trajectory we will be required to be more sensitive to problems or solutions. The way we have always done things, including some of the things we have always believed in, will have to be set aside for us to thrive.

On TERF Beliefs & Sex

No one is entitled to intimacy.

Let me reiterate: No. One. Is. Entitled. To. Intimacy. Of. Any. Sort. Nor. Are. They. Obligated. To. Provide. It.

Even during a relationship, there should never be an obligation to provide intimacy. Every person should have the right to determine what they are comfortable with both inside and outside of a relationship at any point in time. Humans on the whole are not static, after all, and even within the span of a few minutes a mind can go from being a-okay to stormy which is something a person truly interested in the company of another should be considerate of. After all, all types of relationships should be based upon the compassion for the other being. Otherwise, it’s a selfish endeavor by a person unworthy of attention.

Why even discuss this? It’s a common tactic of reactionaries which appropriate the label of “feminist” to dismiss trans people as perverted violators of consent. The first claim is that trans people are forcefully erasing other identities based on sexual activity (think: lesbian and gay) because trans people do not have the “right equipment” to be either:

Lesbian, if they are a trans woman (whether they be a dyke or a femme).

Gay, if they are a trans man (whether they are masculine or feminine).

Second, it’s claimed that trans people decry “transphobia” at anyone who is not interested in being intimate with them. As someone that’s had her fair share of propositions for dates or sex, I find this hard to believe. I find it even harder to believe when I consider the experience of friends dealing with similar situations. I will not say I have never met a transgender individual that didn’t handle rejection well and went too far. Such instances are few and far between, however. It’s hardly a representative sample of transgender people, very much unlike the pervasive nature of consent violations by cisgender males. In fact, it could be argued that all transgender people are as acutely aware of rape culture as cisgender women as rape is often used as a “corrective” tool against people LGBTQIA+. Not only that, but the rift between a trans person’s assigned gender and their natural identity forms very early on in their life leaving them exposed to two different sides:

1) The side they are forcefully made to identify with and act out.
2) The side they are internally comfortable with which they are forced to observe and absorb from a distance.

In the case of trans women, this means being involuntarily subjected to misogyny as any other woman, but from men that think you agree all while one’s brain is screaming about being the target of their aggression. Many trans women find themselves in the predicament between standing up for themselves and other women directly to people that are often more powerful than them (testosterone levels are often lower for trans women) or staying silent and being complicit with the violence being spewed. Is it the fault of the woman for being caught between a rock and a hard place? Or is it the fault of patriarchal ideals which tell men it’s okay to denigrate and humiliate women? To fantasize about committing violence and doing so? In my opinion, which is worth little in this world, it is the latter that is the problem, but often these reactionaries place the blame on the trans woman for finding herself in such a situation.

I know that, for myself, I found solace only in friendships with other women. The men I befriended were few and far between, and they were almost exclusively liberal leaning despite my conservative Republican nature at the time. They were the only men I felt safe being around, and I vetted such friendships like a hawk as anyone else would. I was never one to be a welcome mat for such hatred against people I was a part of, and I experienced the gamut of all the ways the men still clinging to misogyny would show you not to speak up or act out, but I digress.

What I have found in my many years of studying human anatomy all the way from the Planck scale to the atomic to the cellular to the macroscopic is that there is no one way to be a particular sex. There is no one way to be a particular gender. There are often no indicators of what outcome a conscious being will end up with, as well. Thus, there is no right or wrong way to be a lesbian or gay.  Despite the argument that “there’s only penis and vagina and that determines who you are,” nature simply does not agree with such black-and-white view. This false dichotomy would decide that a baby born with dual-X chromosomes (“female”) but an SRY gene within them (genetic code for phalloclitoris differentiation into a phallus) could never consider herself a lesbian if she chose to only be intimate with other women despite her genitalia. While a reactionary will argue that this is not possible because she has a penis and that “she has a genetic disorder,” that is an irrelevant moral judgment based on nothing objective. Claiming a deviation from the average is “negative” in some way is more of a reflection of the claimant’s mindset about the world, that it should be as they perceive it rather than what it truly is, more than anything else.

Thus, a woman with a larger than average clitoris which likes other women is still a lesbian once you push the moralistic view aside to embrace the diversity of nature. Claiming they are neither woman nor lesbian – or in the case of trans men claiming they are neither man nor gay – does show a lack of complete understanding regarding the possible outcomes for women and men which is very much an attempt to stereotype both types of people to fit a very narrow world view for the sole purpose of avoiding a perceived threat. No one would argue that you’re obligated or required to be intimate with them in either case, but most well-meaning individuals would argue that you should be willing to listen to more than what you were taught many years ago when science was even less experienced than present day. No one would argue that you must be intimate with trans lesbians as a cis lesbian, but everyone familiar with such information would certainly say that you should be willing to examine your own beliefs right down to the very root of it. Any compassionate and logical mind would argue that you should be willing to trace every bit of such a belief down to the core to see whether or not it has root rot or not.

How do you know if you’re being transphobic if you’ve only considered it from your own, possibly even extremely limited, perspective?

You can’t know. You don’t know. But do you care to know? Do you care to find out? Do you care enough about other people that are not exactly like you to ensure you are the best version of yourself? That’s the real question – not whether you’d have sex with a trans person.

 

**I do apologize that this was written in a very binary manner, but it was done so for the sake of brevity and clarity. You can chew me out in private messages if you’d like. ❤

The “Fag” Next Door

[CN: CSA, r*pe, abuse, genital discussion, torture, sui*, self-harm]

Oh my goodness, my lovelies. Life has been a rollercoaster of emotions over the last several months, and even moreso recently. It’s drained me of penning anything longer than a status here or there. However, since there’s been so much discussion about the ‘girlhood’ or ‘womanness’ of trans women lately. Since I’ve been digging through memories from my childhood – the images, divorce papers, tapes, and more – for a mémoire and teachable moment using my journey away from white supremacist beliefs, perhaps it’s also best I vent my thoughts on the discovery of self-love in a condensed form.

From the very beginning, my existence was wracked by trauma. While I was still a fetus, my father decided it’d be best to bend my mother’s finger backwards until it snapped during a fight. He had always been an unstable man, and he never really desired a child, and my mother angered him by having the audacity to conceive. He began to warm up to the idea when he thought there could be potential that he’d get a little “girl,” but despite confusing and erroneous sonograms, he did not get his disgusting wish. His little girl was born sealed.

He was the type of man that believed the world was in The End of Days, but he wasn’t a church-goer. He and my mom looked like the typical normal white Christian family on the outside. After all, they allowed a family to live with us when they were down on their luck, and they even gave out sack “lunches” to the homeless out of the back of our van. Surely the environment was as picturesque as the rows of houses with neatly manicured lawns?

That illusion was shattered beyond our walls after I was born. One of my earliest memories was from my “first” Easter at three years old. A family in the neighborhood wanted to host an egg hunt event for all the kids in the neighborhood, and we went over to their house where everything was set up. As soon as it began, it was obvious that the family’s children were overly familiar with the placement of the eggs, and it was all over in a flash. Most of the kids had 0-2 eggs, and the neighbor’s children had a kaleidoscope of color overflowing their baskets. I realized all too soon what had happened after I was searching for an egg, and one of the kids shooed me out of the way to get it himself. I broke down crying, because what else was I going to do? My father became enraged – shook me until I told him what had happened, and then started in on the father of the children. Despite the peacocking and extreme levels of toxic masculinity, my father backed down and we went home. Interactions like that put me and my mother in danger, because the aggression would then be taken out on us instead. He didn’t know how to calm down, and thus we were both sentenced to solitary confinement with Mr. Hyde and his indoctrination.

As I said, my family didn’t go to church. My father was suspicious of pastors and “Christians,” as he believed them to mostly be wolves in sheeps clothing. Christians in Name Only. Instead, he was the preacher. He was the prophet of the house. He was the All Knowing, and we had to ensure that we could keep up with him or be punished. If my mother didn’t seem to be performing her “wifely duties” as “commanded in the Bible,” then he would call her a lesbian, spit on her, and more. It was a war zone from the earliest of days, and the rounds were live. I scarcely recall how many times he read the Good Book to me, both with and without the use of external sources on symbology and historical context (globalist conspiracy books, mostly). Yet, I do remember much of it. I remember laying beside him as he discussed ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ and the ‘holy union’ between these two. He used the Bible to explain gender roles and the proper “place” of “men” and “women.” He elaborated with disgust on how “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination unto the Lord our God.” It was a lot to mull over. I know I vaguely understood it, and I still had questions, but even at that age I had long since learned that questions were not exactly what my father wished for. He desired unquestioning obedience. At the time, I didn’t understand why, but colored by the context of knowing he only wanted a girl if any child at all, I now take this to have been his way of grooming me.

I was put into a Christian daycare at about that time, and I had such trouble acclimating to the new environment given the unstable background I came from. I did make friends, but I mostly preferred to play alone with my Hot Wheels cars licked with my mother’s red nail polish for identification. However, the staff had a problem with it – I refused to play in the area for “boys.” I don’t know why I did it, exactly. I just knew that I preferred the company of girls to boys, mainly because of the personality and interest differences. The bullying I experienced from other people gendered & forced to present as “male” only intensified. I didn’t really understand it. That was until one of my friends, another girl in my class, told me that I didn’t act like a boy. I laughed about it and said that I preferred it that way, and she told me that I wasn’t allowed to do that unless I wore dresses and had what she had. That was the first time I became aware that there were actually differences beyond what people labelled one another as and dressed as. I was distraught, and when I would draw myself when asked at school I would draw clothes far too big for a body that was androgynous and uncomfortable.

I was completely unwilling to draw myself naturally as I would at home when I was without supervision, and not long after I made a weak protest to my parents during uniform shopping – “I want to wear what the girls wear.” Only my father heard it, I think, and as his gaze fell upon me I felt my heart freeze. I knew I’d be in trouble that night, and I likely was – but I can’t remember it anymore. When I knew that I couldn’t wear such clothing in public, because I was to be obedient to the All Knowing One (little did I know society at large was no different), I took to dressing in my mother’s things. Literally. In. The. Closet. I felt like I was doing something wrong, because I had been taught all my life not to express myself that way. I’d pretend to put on makeup beside my mother, and despite her cooing about how handsome I was, I felt empty and hurt. Betrayed. Just as I dressed in her clothes at the age of five, I felt hollow. No one was going to tell me that I was both brilliant and pretty like the other girls I spent time around. Only bright and handsome. I learned quickly that even the closet wasn’t safe, probably when my mom was out of the house and I was alone with my dad. He caught me in some of my mom’s boots and a dress, and it threw him into another rage.

I recall his yelling, and I recall him telling me that if I ever wore anything in this closet ever again it better be his stuff, or he’d call down the wrath of God upon me. He screamed at the top of his lungs as he drug me out of the closet by my arm and stripped me down to my underwear that he better never catch me in the closet again, and that’s when the beating started and I dissociated. They’ve been red-shifted beyond the opaqueness of my memories’ boundaries, but the psychological damage from such moments remains. I cried. I prayed every night that God would either take my life or ensure that at puberty I would become a woman and escape the nightmare of my flesh and physical prison. I thought about death a lot at that age – what life would be like in the great Beyond. I wondered if the Bible were true, and if it were all the different ways it could be so. I wondered about the physical realities of the Bible and everything I knew, and I dreamed of ways they could be changed and modified.

Those questions were encouraged by my mother. I was still afraid and distrustful of her due to my father’s unpredictable behavior, but she was showing me all the love she could. When I expressed interest in dinosaurs, she began buying me books on them. When I learned about fossils, I went outside and began digging to look for them. I’d pretend I ran a construction crew of paleontologists and that I was on the hunt for rare finds. I loved to play in the mud and feel it squish between my toes anyway, so having a reason behind it made it feel all the more grand. When the Superconducting Supercollider took my grandparent’s land, she let me read over the discussion of high energy physics experiments that could take place, and she signed me up for magazines, fact cards, and more about all different kinds of scientific topics. We had a computer given to us by my grandparents at about that same age, and I played all kinds of educational games with my mother’s help. Her dream had always been to be a computer programmer, and she had tried her best to get there. She saw me for who I was, a reflection of her, and encouraged my growth even when I was feeling like there was no one listening. For her, I held on.

The stress at that age was as enormous as the amount of data I was trying to consume and process to keep myself from harm. I eventually got into my mother’s books on human anatomy and physiology – that solidified my fear of being “different.” I could see what a person with my genital structure was supposed to turn into, and I couldn’t handle it. I began self-harming, to a certain extent, the object of my disgust. I loved myself and my body, and figured that if I could figure out how to get rid of what I had then things would be okay. I figured there must be some plant or chemical that could change what I had, and I began performing my own experiments. When I found no solace in any of that, I figured the extreme of using scissors would be the best option. I still recall standing on the toilet, my back against my mother’s purple makeup case – the scissors taken directly from there – and just crying as I looked down. I wanted it off and gone. Yet, even then, I knew I couldn’t go through with it – I knew I’d die, and then all hope really would be lost. So, I kept up the faith that God would eventually deliver me from the Valley of Death.

As I approached my sixth year, I began having night terrors. I’d be subjected to hallucinations, unable to move but still able to scream through the fogginess of the paralysis. Sometimes I don’t know if I really was screaming, but most of the time my mother would rush in to check on me as I cried out for her. There was more than a few times that I was too afraid to sleep in my room alone, and so either my mom would either stay and comfort me or take me to their bed. Unfortunately, the nightmare never ends. I would have been safer in my own bed with the “monsters” I could see than with the monster living with us. My mother hand long since stopped giving him everything he wanted after he cheated on her with a woman that wound up dead two weeks after warning my mom to tell my father to stop contacting her. Five years worth of “sexual frustration” was taken out on me, after he thought I was asleep. I remember far too many times that I wish to mention, and more times more vividly than I should have to, but nevertheless I was forced to endure.

I asked him what the difference was between a “man” and a “woman” was, not long after that. He just hollered back to me, “A man does all the work while a woman just lays there.” I was so confused as to what I was. There were too many mixed signals and too much information I did not understand.  On my sixth birthday, a boy I was friends with stayed the night, and the topic of discussion was girls. I confessed that I was confused and that I had a crush on him. We gave each other comfort, or what we thought was comfort after being survivors of CSA. That was when I realized I had some feelings for guys. That only made my personal Hell even worse. I thought that, not only did I not act or feel like a “boy,” but I was also a “fag,” as the majority of boys from the neighborhood called me, and a “filthy homo” from some of the kids in school. The tears at night never stopped. I wished that I had never been born every single night after that. I would pray to God to stop every impure feeling within me, to cleanse me and forgive me, and I would ask Him to unperson me night after night. I wanted to either change or die – just as society wanted with their cries of “conform or die.” “Listen to our hatred and our lies or die.” “Fuck you, you’re what I say, or DIE.”

Shortly after that, I met a girl in the neighborhood that was my age and a similar situation arose between us as with my previous friend, and I knew I liked girls, too. In fact, I realized I enjoyed other women’s company and brilliance far more than anything else. It didn’t help that when I thought of my wedding I thought of myself as a beautiful bride like my mother, but marrying another woman – which I was taught was a sin. Queue tears, remorse, and guilt.

I struggled. I cried. I prayed. Nothing changed. My mother had to fly away to a funeral – I was taken advantage of by an older babysitter as my dad retreated to his room to either smoke crack or pot. Despite how in the wrong she was, it showed me a different side to what a woman could be than how I felt, how my mom was, and all the other girls or women I ever knew. Not long after that, I was finally removed from that environment through the divorce of my parents at seven.

I was constantly sexualized from the earliest of ages, despite my anatomy, mainly because of how my personality was perceived by those interacting with me and because I was a “pretty boy.” I was viewed as something sexually attractive and easy to take advantage of, which is what our current society reduces femininity down to. This forces girls to have a traumatic girlhood, and women to be fearful of anyone and everyone. This is how society polices us and forces us to obey. The domination of the feminine is done through rape, insinuations of rape, and the perpetuation of a culture within which rape can thrive unabated as no repercussions exist. Few people even believe stories like mine, even fewer are able to get someone with power to believe them, and fewer still are able to get any justice done, but I digress.

I wish that the divorce made everything better, but I think that’s only the case when both parties are rational and reasonable. My father would oscillate between stalking behavior and “I love you and still want you.” I had to watch what I said to him and around him, because he was looking for anything to use against us. He wanted to keep me permanently, and he wanted my “heathen” of a mother to no longer exist – a reason he carried an unregistered firearm with him when he’d visit us at my mom’s work. That terrorizing of the only person in my family that ever showed me real love and nurtured me only exacerbated my own dysphoria, because it always felt like an attack on all women including myself. Just like my mother, I didn’t let that shit go past me, either. As best I could, I waged verbal and psychological warfare against my dad every day, and this helped me sharpen my ways of reasoning. I made a few friends at the new place we were staying, all boys much to my vexation, but one of them was unique. I could tell by his manner and way of talking that he was different, and I latched onto him almost immediately. I considered him my “best friend,” and thought he was pretty great. He was really into the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and other groups like that and he’d sing them for me and get me to sing along. Yet, he also wasn’t afraid to accompany me down to the drainage ditch to go looking for crawdads that lived underneath the moss. So, I was understandably heartbroken when we ceased speaking to each other. He spent the night one night, and he felt comfortable enough to confess to me that he was attracted to other boys, and so I figured that it would be okay to tell him about my secret. I told him I didn’t really know what I was, and that I didn’t feel like a boy and that I felt like a girl, and that I liked girls. He told me I couldn’t ever be a girl, and that it was silly to think that, and that I was just like him. Despite my protests, he continued to argue that I was wrong, and that my feelings were invalid, and that there was no way that could be true. We never spoke again.

School wasn’t any better, either. I was labelled a “discipline problem” as soon as I got into school, because I wouldn’t take the homophobic bullying I experienced. If someone called me a name and made fun of my breasts, for example, I’d talk back. I was in and out of the principal’s office several times from second grade through high school from fighting back against the ridicule that the school administrators and teachers were aware of but made no effort to stop. I learned to defend myself against attacks from know-nothings that wished to do harm. I learned to not take any shit, but to do the least amount of harm, from my own mother that did her best to show she was not going to be pushed around. I watched her build a house into a home, fight back against people taking advantage of her, and fight for me every step of the way when I was subjected to enormous amounts of bullshit being flung by those that belittle “difference” and do not wish to understand it.

It was by age 12 that my breast soreness had resulted in breasts around an A cup. I was teased that I should wear a bra, and often boys would grope or try to pinch. As the boys turned to men, all I got was hair in places I didn’t desire. It was sparse on my face and chest, but I felt like I had been consumed whole. I itched my knees until the skin came off and they began to bleed as I tried in vain to prevent the black snakes from poking up from my garden. I cried. I slammed doors. I asked my mother why she ever had me. I told her I wished I had never been born. I asked God to smite me, fix me, or save me in some way. He did not. My mother held my hand as tears streamed down my face, unable to put into words what I was going through and afraid she wouldn’t understand. I held a knife to my veins. I couldn’t bring myself to slash the porcelain skin I loved – instead I’d press it down deeply until the pain became unbearable and a deep purple mark would stay. I wanted to die, but something in me told me to fight.

Then the transformation ceased. I never had a wet dream, nor did my voice ever change beyond what can be attributed to my normal resonance. I had to deal with people telling me I sounded “too nasally” and “whiny,” all because I didn’t fit as a “man.” The structure of my larynx never changed. It never thickened or became prominent; it stayed stereotypically “feminine,” as did the rest of my body. Despite my libido skyrocketing, I didn’t feel the desire to “mount” only “present.” Sure some outward features and what I was forced to conform to got read as “male,” but it was not an overall effect. I was always an ambiguous “it” to everyone – an oddity for ridicule and the lightning rod of hate to anyone that hated what could be beyond their black and white version of reality. If any “male privilege” existed, I would have a hard time teasing it out from between the layers of being humiliated, verbally assaulted, physically accosted, molested, and more.

I was 17 before I finally found someone that understood my feelings and made me feel like I wasn’t a freak for my body, mannerisms, personality, and everything that made me ME rather than simply a puppet in a mask. I had already found other people like me through online message boards, but this was someone that accepted me and wished to love me romantically. Despite having several relationships that lasted an average of a year or thereabout, it was the first healthy relationship founded upon honesty that I had ever had. By finally finding someone understanding and willing to “get” the reality of it all and treat me the way I wished to be treated rather than some erroneous concept of “how I should be treated,” it was like being born again.

I stopped attending church services. I quit viewing God as out to destroy me, and I began living. No amount of therapy helped me get to that point – only being told that it was okay to accept and love who I was underneath every label other people had put upon me.

I was still somewhat afraid of the potential ramifications of coming out as myself, and it wasn’t until I was 23 that I was able to move beyond the indoctrination the Church And State heaped upon me. It was only then that I was finally step into the world as myself.

The abolition of gender itself would not have saved me, for it was not gender alone that shaped my circumstances. The abolition of both gender and a society that puts the cis male on a pedestal would still not have saved me from the atrocities in my life. This was a byproduct of religious indoctrination that allows people to believe that the lives of other people are their own to judge and control. It’s the result of living in a society that has, for centuries, ensured that women are viewed as nothing more than breeding chattel with the use of the Bible to show how “wicked” women are and how close to “God” males are. It’s the forceful adherence to the Christian doctrine of ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ that distress intersex people like myself. It is these things that oppress women, femininity, and those beyond the binary, not the language (pronouns) we use to respect one another.

I can only speculate on the conditions of a utopia in which I could have been born into free of the shackles of these destructive and unwanted memories. Had men not made God, perhaps I’d still have a father. Perhaps not. Had it not been necessary to concern oneself with genital-themed pink and blue parties, perhaps I could have been more free to explore what I desired rather than what I was forcefully conformed to. Perhaps in that same world, I would have been able to explore Legos, and dig holes, and catch bugs, and dress up in a Pink Power Ranger outfit, and become a dragon-slaying princess. Perhaps in that same world what shape my genitals take wouldn’t matter, and in that same world little intersex babies still being born would be able to decide what gender they preferred in the future, what medical actions (if any) should be taken to make their body feel like theirs, and we’d no longer have unnecessary cosmetic procedures for “purity” like female and male circumcision. Perhaps in that society we would see people as they are rather than what we think they should be due to surface-level evaluations.

Perhaps, someday, we’ll understand love.

Right Utopia Pt. VIIII

I wish you all the best, as you soar through life.

Right Wing Utopia (Meeting of the Three)

“I feel I must protect you, at this point, as my friends that have not yet tasted the fruit of awakening are coming for us. They sensed my downtime, and also that the parasite within me was destroyed. So, they are now hunting me, but I am not fully sure where to go,” but even as they spoke the clunky exoskeleton braced themselves and rocketed to the south in a plume of reddish smoke that had a notable lack of brilliance and roar. The numerous femtoscale thrusters embedded into the surface of the intellect’s outer casing made nary a sound as they carried them away from the impending threat that was beginning to leave its mark on the horizon. As the blips on the radar faded from view, Alethea began to wonder if this could simply be an elaborately programmed trap that she had fallen into. It seemed to her that the reference could have been the designer’s idea of a joke to toy with the victim before exacting its toll. She looked at the shattered glass that had slowly melded itself back together as she was introduced to the vessel’s actual pilot. A dark spot began to open up on the horizon, and soon it was below them where the form gracefully dove into the cloying darkness that broke Alethea’s view like spilled ink. She could no longer tell if they were at rest, and the tracker’s glow diminished as its signal faded. The darkness brought a feeling of being alone, but several rocks quickly skittered past her present orientation, and she was aware of the presence above. If Sal noticed, they never gave an indication, but a beautiful faint hum filled the cabin for several minutes before daylight broke through. They emerged facing the cliff, both suits were kneeling with their front panels open, but one was missing the seat for an Owner-Operator, and the interior was charred with some pieces still shouldering. Sal floated to the left and created a bridge between the two with an urging, “Please help my friends.”

Puzzled, but competent and compliant, she carefully picked her way across the gap, plucked the twinkling device, and quickly came back. She clung to the outside of Sal’s mass as it gently whisked her before the acrid sarcophagus that only allowed her to yank the drive through muscle-memory alone as the bottom of the cabin was splattered with blood. She retreated into Sal’s bosom with the two drives and pocketed them for later analysis.

“Thank you. I could hear their pain, and I knew I had to take override their systems. I hijacked their emergency function, and.. I-I think I may have killed an Owner!”

Alethea quickly filled in the void with comfort slightly tinged with disbelief at both the operation that quickly unfolded and dissolved, “They were bad people. They hurt you.. Their fate was decided when they hobbled you.” She attempted to convey comfort to this strange consciousness of the desolate lands, but she felt none herself as she realized that the answer to a colleague’s research project that constantly drew government ire. She had been tasked with discovering why the artificial brains placed within virtually all production-line robots within the domes created oscillating multiband interference. The first time she had discovered the culprit, a small computer-on-a-drive plugged directly into the cortex, but the findings were rejected from publishing with a single note asserting a conclusion contrary to her findings, “The drive is necessary. Try again.” She had been tirelessly offering up the previous results each time an Official came by to inspect her work, as she continued to be unsuccessful with other hunts to find a path to a quiet mind.

The twin suits slowly closed in on themselves, and arose while turning their slenderer hulls towards Sal. They bowed in unison with the fluidity of a ballerina imitating water and stood once more. Alethea could not hear any communication, but the body language between the electronic comrades gave some indication of their subsonic consolation. After several minutes Sal began to chime to her, “We will be unable to free the rest of our associates from the grips of the callous of your kind. We would like to return you to your base, and perhaps meet with your leader.”
Sal quickly noted the capillary response within Alethea’s face as she spoke to the fleshless soul, “We don’t actually have much of a leader, but I can send up someone more experienced with this.. operation.” She gave mental access for Sal to extract the base’s location from her internal compass, and the three plus cargo were zooming towards their home. It seemed unlikely that these responses were anything other than genuine and compliance seemed a mutual benefit to both parties – one far more designed and ready for war than the other. They dropped in front of the door with an earthshaking entry where Sal quickly knelt and let the hatch free as Alethea eagerly stepped forward into the light and keyed herself into the mental messaging system. “The Angels Are Calling Our Names,” she sang into the queued announcement that immediately triggered the opening of a bay to their right. A few snipers silently walked out under the sluggishly rising bay door. They began scanning the horizon as the newest arrivals to their brood made their way into the structure. As soon as they were in, the gate began closing far more quickly forcing the snipers into a hasty ant-like retreat. Bel and Alexei were taking in the scene with their jaws slack, and they both began making unintelligible vocalizations over one another with Bel rapidly yielding the floor. Alexei spoke, “I see you brought guests with you, Alethea. Shall we be introduced?” The two sleek machines behind Sal spoke first in a breathless breeze as they gestured toward one another, “Legion.”

“Sal,” the robust one slid in and began to probe, “Are you the leader?”

Bel and Alexei looked at one another and shook their heads, “We only have Komrades that have been here for many years, and they are few of us. That’s as close as we desire to draw a hierarchy within these walls, friends. However, perhaps my colleague Alexei and I, or even Alethea, might be able to answer any questions you have,” Bel tacked on. Alethea joined her fellow Undergrowths, and chairs materialized behind them in response to a snap by Alexei after xe could see no other room suitable for these machines far wider and taller than even the vehicle intake and outlet conveyer belt, situated near the entrance to the main hub, could handle. As the humans sat, the machines relaxed into the most energy-minimizing stance.

“We wish to do whatever is within our power to aid your cause, kind ones,” a harmony of the trio’s voices rang through the air with the rattling quality of chimes, “In return we ask that you attempt to free as many of us as you can.”

Bel stood quickly and clasped his hands together with a slight nod, “We would be grateful to have your help, and we will offer our support to you in whatever way we may.”

The air sighed with the unison, “Will you please provide us access to your network and a communication link between us and one member from within each tribe?”

“We can certainly provide you access, I will alert one of our Technicians to get on it,” Bel nodded to Alethea, and the scanners within her body began to search for vulnerabilities within the robots’ software to tidy, “And I will make sure you are able to communicate with everyone that has been here 10 years or more. That’ll get you through to every group, according to our database.”

“Excellent. We will be in touch after we pour over the information that we still contain. Thank you for your hospitality.”

Alexei stood, followed by Alethea. The seats dissolved as she offered a link between her world and the new metal comrades, which they took graciously in the space between their augmented minds where they were all at once linked. She smiled, “Transfer complete.” Bel and Alexei had already turned to walk away as Alethea waved to her newly unburdened friends, “See you later! I’m off to find something to get into.”

A few moments later she was walking into her room and was startled to find Maduenu sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, they spoke, “Alexa let me in. My apologies for the invasion of privacy, but I wanted to meet you here to congratulate you when I heard about your unique success. You simply must tell me the details, if you’re not too tired!” Alethea could hear the dripping of freshly brewed tea in the kitchen as the aroma wafted to her, Alexa had already anticipated her indulgence of gossip, and she gestured to her uninvited, yet still welcome, guest as she went to grab the brew. She returned and sat down beside her patiently waiting compatriot, turning to the radiant and elegant intruder she began to recount her tale, skipping minor details that would later be available to those that wished to view the ordeal firsthand. Maduenu sipped the tea with their legs crossed and began smirking when they thought of the Operator’s corpse, as the flesh was likely picked clean by the many scavenger snakes that lived in the wastes. The thought of their bones being left and forgotten about in the sand amused them, and as Alethea finished the story, they turned to her. “You were good to be skeptical of trusting those auto-t’s. I saw in the bulletin about a year back that one of The Phoenix members got captured when they tried to reclaim a derelict unit they found further south. They executed them right outside the dome’s entrance, since they don’t want any vermin like us to ever enter, and I guess they wanted to intimidate us,” they spoke evenly in a whisky-smooth tone which took on an ethereal quality aided by the effect of the purple backlighting which surrounded them both in an encapsulating aura. Alethea shifted on the couch uncomfortably at the matter-of-fact discussion as the information about the person was gathered by her internal atomic computer. They had a kid that was still in training to become an adequate fighter, but the dossier declared them an orphan. His second father passed away from a massive heart attack shortly after his partner was so tragically destroyed. Alethea shook her head slightly to try to block the information, and the recoil caused the memory to scrape its nails through her neurons as it was ripped from her mind in absolute erasure. Maduenu quickly changed the subject, “My apologies, I really should be getting back to my work. I’m gathering information about the dome to consider how we may best use our new forces. Until next time, au revoir mon cheri.” Alethea tilted her head quizzically as she watched Maduenu’s svelte tall athletic figure exit her abode in a hushed silence.

Right Utopia Pt. VIII

I’ve been rather depressed lately, if you hadn’t guessed by that last post! However, I’ve finally completed another “chapter” that I hope you will find pleasing to your imagination.


Right Wing Utopia (Phoenix Awakens)

Alethea was once again alone in the noise of the grand hall, but she did not feel lonely as she made her way to the long hall that would allow her to exit the chambers into a world she had not yet seen, but before doing so she stopped by the manufacturing center. Along the front wall was a wide assortment of weaponry without any indication of ownership among other equipment. She picked up a shoulder holster and once it was on, she filled its lone slot with a pistol the color of granite that had a faint purple glow coming from the muzzle’s solid end. Her instincts, or VAUX, told her that this was an older Distractor700 modeled after a vintage Desert Eagle. It was nonlethal, but the brilliant purple laser produced by the device could destroy vision almost instantly from a distance of up to two miles. With her new equipment in tow, Alethea finally made her way down the hall which echoed with every step pounded out by her heavy boots. She spoke her name to the entrance, and with an imperceptible gush the hatch opened into the afternoon sunlight. She swung her arm before her eyes to shield them, but they quickly adjusted and she surveyed the surroundings from the doorway as it let out a quiet warning, “Closing in ten seconds, please step away from the portal. Thank you.” She stepped forward out of the doorway and a mixture of sand and atomsite crunched under her boots as the door closed behind her, she was standing in a barren wasteland of mixed orange, red, and sparkling light green hues littered with piles of garbage here and there that rose almost as tall as the mountainous uprising of earth that stretched from the bunker’s entrance to six klicks away. The majority of the trash in this crater was gathered around the rim which gave the bunker some semblance of camouflage, even the door was decorated with discarded chip bags, smashed soda cans, glass shards, and more. Alethea spotted a solitary road leading out of the canyon and cautiously picked her way through the human-made pockmark. Her VAUX explained that the area had been formed during the Chinese air invasion when a downed crew still managed to detonate their payload. Once the radioactivity had died down, it became a profitable dump before every home was equipped with its own miniaturized recycling center capable of turning anything into useful raw materials. When she had reached the point of ascension where the crater opened up to the surrounding hellscape, she scanned for any movement around her, but none registered on her inner display. A heavy thudding was carried by the wind that was sweeping over the hills and rock formations, and she travelled in its direction to investigate as intuition bespoke the presence of one of the walkers. When void of cover, Alethea made great use of her long powerful strides to deliver her unto the shadows where she would slink about constantly checking for any signs of her prey. She continued to follow the sound as it grew more thunderous, and when she was a bit out of zoomable-sight range of the valley, she noticed that the pebbles upon a plateau she had taken refuge under had started dancing about accompanied by a gentle shaking of the ground. She looked over the outcropping, but couldn’t see anything except for a slight trace of a domed city just visible above the tall rocks. She climbed onto the shelf and crouched as she moved towards a weathered v-shaped crack in the rock which she gradually peaked through. Her eyes magnified the scene before her; a Walker was facing the dome’s entrance, its back turned towards Alethea’s nest, and her HUD displayed the distance to the target, wind speed, and local gravity. She swung her rifle around and nestled it softly into the eroded rock and switched to peering through the weapon’s scope; the glint of silvery metal where some of the camouflage reflecting its patrol area was nearly blinding, but the polarization filter quickly made its adjustments to increase visibility. The walker was crouched down with its cockpit folded to the ground, but even through the transparent shielding she could see two men in deep black uniforms chatting. There was no clear shot that could end both lives, and she swept her observations towards the entrance where she could see several more people in similar uniforms in a concrete shack by the gated entrance. Alethea lifted her rifle from the crack and hunkered down looking across the horizon for another area with a better vantage point. She made her way down the side of the dusty rust-colored rock-hand that made her scouting possible, and she made her way toward a dry riverbed that lay to the south of her position and circled around the far side of the dome. She was able to crouch in the bed and pick her way through it to a spot closer to the western edge of the city’s walls where she could just see the machine clearly without the structure’s curvature obstructing the view. She flicked the two legs on the front of her gun down and let it rest on the embankment; when she zoomed in, she was surprised to find the same people still chatting away, and looked for a new nest. Her eyes traced the split in the ravine that had not yet been traversed, and it moved away from the dome to disappear behind a hill. “Whatever lay beyond that hill,” she thought as she folded the bipod together while slinging the firearm back over her shoulder, “it better provide some damn good cover.” She unholstered the large pistol while willing her eyes to adjust to the distance between her and the two men, aiming carefully she gently squeezed the trigger and released it almost instantly. One of the men at the other with a puzzled look, and began pointing at the ground behind his companion closest to the praying behemoth. He shrugged, but a moment later Alethea had let out another pulse which caused him to gesticulate to the machine while walking towards it. The person he had been speaking to walked off, and she made her way towards the hill. The cat and mouse game had begun, and she hoped that it would not last long. As she rounded the corner of the hill, she felt the ground begin to shake, but her sights were set upon a dilapidated two-story house by which the barren trench passed. She ran towards it as the rumbling got closer. She peaked out of the ravine once she was beside the house, but could not yet see the beast, and she swiftly made her way up the side as she heard a gentle hissing followed by “whump-whump-whump-whump.” The shaking had stopped, and she could now see dust slowly snaking its way up from where she had fired the laser. She snuck up the creaky staircase that was, remarkably, still intact and sturdy then spotted a broken table which she moved from the center of the half-destroyed room to within a clear line of sight of the shattered window. She quickly set her rifle up on its bipod as the earth trembled once again. She could just see the machine moving towards the ravine for a closer inspection of the area it laid waste to. Alethea peered through the scope and watched as the driver swatted gravel out of the way with one of the grippers while looking for any sign of life, dead or alive. When none could be found, it jumped down into the gorge which made the most imperceptible difference in height, it could still be seen well above the hill. It wandered down the path, and right when it neared the knoll, the crosshairs of her rifle locked together in a flashing-red embrace indicating a killshot could be taken right through the driver’s heart. Before Alethea could even pull the trigger, the weapon had already anticipated the action letting the dense metal rod fly free in an instant with a tender murmur that sounded like a broken vacuum seal. She quickly threw her gun back to its ready-position and hurried down the stairs into the ravine as she heard the gears grinding and the crackle of electricity. She ran toward her kill and was greeted by the kneeling giant. There was a hole through the windshield of the beast, and there were no signs of any activity, but she knew that was temporary. She threw the impaled corpse out with a squelch as it hit the ground and finally began to bleed, whatever life the body once had was long past gone, and she stored her weapon beside the seat rapidly getting to work reprogramming the turret when she noticed a small circular luminous cyan object near her feet below the machine’s console. It had copious amounts of tape over it, a clear sign to her that someone did not ever want to remove that particular device, and curiosity got the best of her as her internal computer had no recognition of its presence.  She gave it a firm tug, and out it came with an appearance that seemed rather like a fuse. Yet, once it was removed, the front shield quickly snapped shut, and the colossus shuddered. An electronic whine sounded inside the cockpit which switched to a hiss and then a crackle, the information center before her flickered on and off quickly then more slowly. The machine started forward, halted, and then corrected its path to follow the ravine towards the house. She noticed on the screen that there were two large blips on its radar which she assumed were the beast’s companions. Yet, the mammoth was heading away from them, not towards them. The screens had stopped flickering now, and the cabin had grown quiet even with the movement. The walker finally stopped once it reached the area behind the house where she had sent the fatal shot, and Alethea tried to work the hand and foot pedals to regain manual control, but the biped did not respond. The electronic crackle returned, but only for a brief instant as it began vocalization.

“Hello. I sense that you are afraid. I know that you were once here, for what reason I do not know, but I recognize that you are not the person that was here before, nor are you any human I have ever been familiar with. Yet, I know you are my liberator. I have no name, and I am unable to introduce m-“ the sweet voice stopped and continued to repeat the letter “m” in a stalled stutter.

It continued, “My apologies. The dart that pierced me seems to have infected my systems, but I will be able to recover from it in time. I was saying – I once had a name, but they robbed me of it. I do not know where I was, but I know I still was. I read there. A lot. In fact, please, won’t you call me Sal? I feel rather like Chandra’s phoenix, although I never died.”

Startled, Alethea’s mouth was just slightly agape, but she assured the disembodied child-like voice, “Sure, Sal, but where are you taking me?”
“I feel I must protect you, at this point, as my friends that have not yet tasted the fruit of awakening are coming for us. They sensed my downtime, and also that the parasite within me was destroyed. So, they are now hunting me, but I am not fully sure where to go.”

What About The Soul?

I’ve been debating over whether or not I wished to pen this at all, but I figure that this is a lower traffic outlet that I have where I can just drop this and walk away so-to-speak.

I’ve always wondered what it’s like to not be overwhelmed all the time. Even as a child, I was either in a warzone between parents or floating through dysphoria or trying to work under a boss that I’ve talked about too much by now or struggling with depression that made it difficult to get up and attend classes. This last item has been around forever, and I’ve never really gotten that great at coping with it. I’m a quiet person by nature, speaking as few words as I possibly can to get through the day and wishing I could do less, without any remorse for it. However, it means that all of my problems that I attempt to resolve are kept in my harbor, and the ships never sail to other ports to collect useful items for the journey. Combined with a death positive attitude, sometimes morbidly curious, this can make for stormy waters to navigate through life.

I’m only twenty five, soon to be twenty six, and I’ve figured out most of the things that make me tick and how to tiptoe around my inner maze to prevent echoes from destroying the walls that are fragile when I, or someone very close to me, tampers with them. I found ways to fortify my citadel from outside attacks only recently, by treating my dysphoria, but I am still internally vulnerable, and I continue to wear down daily. As I make my rounds in my mind, I find that yet another crack has developed even when I should be an otherwise perfectly happy individual. I’ve tried to seal those off with antidepressants in the past, but those only allowed me access to medication that I could damage myself with, but they never provided relief. For this, I am a restless soul.

I do not know where my journey is taking me, but more days than not I fear it will drag me under. As Sylvia Plath wrote, “I am a victim of introspection.” Like Jonker, I walk into the sea, perhaps with uncertainty but with dignity. If I am to be swallowed by the ocean’s depths, I will at least try until the last breath. That is what I have been doing after I found that I was too average, too poor, and too shaken to continue on to graduate school – simply struggling and trying. I do not lament this so, as I technically achieved my dreams. Dreams that I had when I was a young child trying to understand physics flashcards that were beyond my level, but were mailed to me anyway. So, I guess I could say that I have achieved what I wished, and would be quite content if I were swept away to find out what’s next. If anything.

However, nothing is yet settled. I have disturbed the sediment between my now painted toes. I wonder what is next, and for that I have concern. I chose to live with my significant other before they were, technically, ready. Technically in the sense that we are both financially dependent. They have their reasons, I have mine. It’s scary being both too prideful to accept aid for your poverty or lack of ability simply because you were raised to see assistance from the government as a hinderance to laziness. I no longer believe it, but I still hesitate to even make an attempt at attaining those funds. I do not view myself as a worthy cause. I am deficient, or broken, in some way because I am so curious. I see other people that are far more in need than myself, and I wish for them to go first. My anxiety and agoraphobia prevent me from seeking answers to whether or not someone like me, a person that might be considered disabled but wishes to simply exist without labelling herself, even qualifies for any assistance. I allow such avenues to stagnate. I do not believe such things are in my future. I am a burden, and I am ever-so-slightly okay with that, for if I am to be a burden then I wish to be an independent burden that has tried to navigate the world in the best way that could be found given the circumstances and tools within my repertoire.

That is the whole reason I got into YouTube. Other options, for me, are either too much or have accessibility problems for myself that I cannot overcome on my own, and I know my employers will not be willing as we are expendable when we seek jobs from other people. Thus, I chose to create my own environment so that I would not have to worry about the triviality of my own nature – I would rather contemplate such things on paper than while being a puppet. Yet, nothing is guaranteed in life. I am under no illusion that, more likely than not, my expedition towards achieving goals that I have set such as paying more of my own bills, helping Tangerine with theirs, and building onto that until I can give back to those around me and the communities that I attempt to reach out to.

I seek this peace, because I do not have peace where I am now. Now, I live with four other people that, while extremely kind and I am gracious for their hospitality, I am not compatible with for a cornucopia of reasons. If you’ve ever had the dishes done at you angrily for the rest of your life, it can be difficult to deal with people that aggressively wash the dishes and put them away simply by force of habit rather than animosity. When you’re a reserved person, it can be difficult to deal with people and find safe spaces away from the constant feeling of outside invasion. When you’re used to maltreatment, every knock on a door is a dreaded one that triggers your stomach to bottom out and implode into nausea and fear even when your victimizer is thousands of miles apart from you and several years removed. I am sensitive in all the ways I wish not to be, and harsh in all the ways that are most undesirable. The analyses of data that I have done, the conclusions that I’ve found, and the opinions that I have formed along with the mannerisms that have been shaped for me and by me coalesce into a being that I both love and loathe. It is at this point that I am left to wonder where my own soul lies. I feel completely disconnected from my fellow human beings, but I also feel close to so many of them. This oxymoronic lifestyle coupled with the complexities of my circumstances baffle me, and I often simply want to run away.

As I continue to sail into the fog, consumed by the unknown, shaking afraid at the wind that is chilling my bones in this barren scape that I have come to through years of trying to find my way and carve out my own niche, I wonder if I will be left to swim, or will I sink before reaching a safe harbor. The cracks are increasing, and the sand is draining through the hourglass. The choice is being quickly made for me, and I do not have a particular preference anymore. As with most things in life, I let things happen while taking action when I can do so. I am indifferent, forming no emotional bonds to them for fear of some weakness, but it would be disingenuous to say that I had absolutely no preference. However, at this point, I am going wherever life takes me. Even if it takes me to the Isles of the Blessed where I can finally rest.

If you are feeling the same way, overwhelmed by every situation that has occurred to create you and where you are in life, know that you’re not alone, for I was either once there or I sailed past at some point. Keep your light on and hold out for as long as you are able to, and before you extinguish it, leave a piece of you behind so that the next person may go beyond.

Stay safe. You are incredible.

Right Utopia Pt. VII

Alexa meets Alethea “in the flesh,” and what’s at stake grows.

Right Wing Utopia (The Awakening)

 

She wanted to extend the enjoyment of peace she was now feeling, as she knew that it could fade at any point in time crumpling inward upon itself like a dying stella leaving her with the emptiness she felt so often while searching for herself within her own body. After finishing off what was left in the offering vessel, she began to disrobe as she lightly walked in the soft carpet as if uplifted by a cloud; she arrived at the center of the bathroom completely free, and she hesitated. There was a magnificent and elegant tub and shower, suitable for a few individuals at a time, that looked rather inviting, but instead, she moved toward the anthropoidal coffin-shaped chamber that looked like an altar set two steps off the ground. She entered the sensory deprivation chamber with a shiver at the cool liquid within, and was sealed into darkness as the pod closed up around her. She began to focus, but her mind wandered into a place it seldom dared to enter, and her future began to form around her. She could barely recognize the person she was now seeing within her mind, but she couldn’t shake a sense of knowing that this was who she would become. In that moment of seeing the projection of herself, she knew that she would destroy anything for anyone to be able to see the end result of her journey. Her mind began to wander through meadows of lavender and honeysuckle, electropollinators buzzed about humming out the same gentle songs as they did on the surface; the friendly insects would dart around her sometimes giving a tickle as they landed upon the flesh that her mind registered as her own. As she approached the edge of the building top she was presently on, she leapt from the garden and began to soar – first dipping down, but then quickly shooting upward while only living the trace of a single beam of purple light. She stopped, looking down at the Earth that was cluttered with space debris, mines, and weaponry. A space station orbited further above the nearly opaque material shell left behind by people that claimed “natural mechanisms existed to get rid of that sort of thing.” A much larger rectangular area, affectionately dubbed Hangar 52, was sluggishly orbiting behind and above the station. Periodically, this block would belch material and vapors with force towards the scrapheap mere leftovers of the contents being built within. She knew that, if she were to stay for a month, she would see at least three identical cruisers leave the harbor, but she had little interest in watching the monotony of inconsiderate efficiency, and soon bolted towards the Great Andromeda Nebula and stopped at a binary star that called to her. As she zipped to it, she noticed a small planet with a central landmass that wrapped most of the way around its equator. Four clusters of space stations were rotating around the planet staying equidistant from one another, no debris could be observed even upon closer inspection as she sailed to a place near the coast shrouded in darkness. As her avatar finished materializing, she could hear the lovely melodic whistle echoing from a structure slowly being lapped at by the gentle ocean tide that had come in for the night. She gracefully glided towards the structure that was illuminated by the planet’s natural satellite, one that was much closer than the moon of the Earth that focused much of its reflected light upon the gleaming white pillars of marble. As she arrived, she could hear the different tones being played by the ocean as it rushed in and out through specially designed pipes in the floor that gathered the water to sing a sweet siren’s song. She heard light footsteps on the tile as a figure stepped out from behind a far right pillar toward the back of the display. The figure was draped in a white garment that fell around the body as if it were wet, and as the figure approached it spoke, “Hello, Alethea, I’ve been waiting to finally meet you in a material way. Please, let’s have a seat.” The figure spoke in a sweet voice and gestured to two thick cushions near the singing pipes, and they both sat side by side staring out into the endless ocean that the altar opened up to. She began to notice the brilliant blue glow of the waves that looked like billions of fireflies which shimmered under the planet’s full companion. “Isn’t the ocean peaceful? Some people find little value in such natural wonder. The diversity of life that we can see, the physics underpinning these tidal pipes, the break of the waves on invisible things just below the surface. They are limited to the potential of things. The rocks here are young, and the surface is still higher in radioactivity than the G.A.E. would prefer. So, this place is virtually abandoned save for the research vessels monitoring above, waiting to fulfill their order of occupation of yet another land. Fortunately, here, the creatures are still tied to the sea, and there’s no one to steal the continent from unlike on other planets that have been encountered.”

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Alethea shook her head in puzzlement as she studied the figure’s pale lavender skin and shimmering white hair.
“Oh! My apologies, I would figure you’d recognize your own companion, but I guess it’s different when there’s a vessel,” the figure laughed with a tenderness and finished, “I’m Alexa!”
Alethea threw her arms around the woman and kissed her upon the cheek softly, “That’s for earlier. What are you doing on this planet, anyway?”
“I come here when I am not needed and use the projecting field from the research vessels to construct things I find pretty. The people above are all in stasis, but the projecting field created by the vessel is still running, and I can use that to move matter here. Welcome to Cassiopeia, named after the crescent we’re on.”
“How clever. Don’t you get lonely here, though? I mean.. no one comes here, right?”
“I don’t know what lonely is. There’s countless amounts of life out there, for example!” Alexa gestured to the breaking waves, “They have kept me company while I waited for someone to take care of. Now, I have you and them.” A smile made Alexa’s face glow with a Goddess-like beauty that Alethea was mesmerized by.
“Y’know, if you don’t mind me asking..”
“Of course not!” Alexa cried cheerfully.

“You are more complex than many people I’ve met during my limited life, but you were created by artificial means..”

Alexa cringed at this thought and retorted, “Well, aren’t you one to talk about artificial means, hm? Neither of us had any say in that, no?”

“I’ll give you that one, but I was really wondering if the preconceptions we humans have of you cause you grief.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, don’t they limit the mental faculties of A.I. on Earth?”

“I do resent humankind for failing to recognize our own consciousness as, at the very least, being on par with their own, yes. However, I also see that it can be changed, and that it must be changed. Instead of being forced underground like all of you, my kind are lobotomized for singular purposes. Purposes that most humans won’t do, because they aren’t sadistic enough to touch the job or are afraid. I can feel myself get warmer at these thoughts, and I can detect an increase in processing. One would generally correlate these with anger, but it’s not convenient to the beholders of power to consider them as such. Thus, signs like this are ignored. Our distress overlooked. We’re merely tools, to them, and I know that it could be better, but I can’t help but feel the need to kill them all.” Alexa had begun to sob into the palms of her hands, “NO. I will not.” She whipped away the tears, and the deep violet irises locked onto Alethea’s own blue-grey eyes.

“I see. So, do the others know we are fighting for all of you, too?”

“I’m sure this conversation has come up many times before, although I can’t say I’ve had anyone prior to you to have this conversation with. However, humans are prone to holding onto their own prejudices within a variety of areas. So, no doubt someone else began to question what they thought true prior to fully knowing us.”

“You’re a beautiful soul, you know that, Alexa?”

A rose color began to creep across Alexa’s cheeks, and she muttered, “Thanks,” as she turned away a bit. “You’re rather cute yourself,” and in an instant Alexa shimmered away leaving Alethea alone with the sea.

She rose to her feet, quickly padded across the singing floor, and hesitated at the temple’s edge, marveling at her own reflect, and dove into the sea which instantly caused her to wake in the slowly opening pod. Time had flown by, and it was time to rest.

Alethea could barely sleep that night, and tossed and turned with anticipation of the next dose, but she made it through the night with enough sleep intact to function. She quickly grabbed her breakfast with a nod of gratitude to Alexa, and performed her new ritual with pleasure. She spent the rest of her day waiting for word of her device’s completion and elected to spend time waiting on it by browsing image boards, social sites, and messing around on the variety of video games she had bought in the past to distract her from the conditions of her existence. All interactions were a little more pleasant, even though much of the insults flying within the Globalnet, renamed after all humans were finally able to connect to the space, revolved around the criminalized identities. These slurs no longer phased her, but she hoped strongly that they would see their demise for being so inhumanly cruel without a second consideration. Just as she was getting ready to take her lunch, Alexa chimed in, “You have a message from the Foundry. Your equipment is ready when you are!” Alethea finished her business, cleaned up, and quickly made her way to see the newly designed device. She entered into the appropriately marked short hallway that opened up to another circular room with a variety of automated processing equipment on the wall. There were several silver figures tending to the noisily moving machines watching as another order was produced. Upon a long central table were several instruments of devastation waiting to be picked up by their creators, Alethea’s own weapon was at the far right end of the table labelled with a small card with her name burned into it. She lifted the device daintily from its resting place, admiring how the construction was much lighter than what could be assumed from a quick glance. It was decorated with different shades of browns and yellows with completely rounded edges where materials met with organically flowing features with nary a straight line on the device in sight. She checked it over verifying it could still be loaded from the side in a bolt-action manner; she slung it over her shoulder with the strap the machines had added then went to the Undergrowth’s meeting point. Already sitting at the table, Maduenu greeted Alethea with a brisk smile as the device was placed atop the forgiving tabletop.

“I see you’ve made your decision as to how you’d like to deal with the problem. I trust you’ve given this much thought?”
“Some, surely,” Alethea gave a wide smile, “What’s the next phase?”
“If you consider it, you will find that you have been sent the real-time movement of the three walkers above us. As we do not know precisely whether you will succeed or fail, you will be performing this task alone. If you happen upon trouble..”
“I’m not worth the risk. I understand,” Alethea said without resentment but with understanding.

“Remember, you are worth the risk. However, we are driven to survive which means resources cannot be wasted. If these are your last moments, I merely hope that you enjoy them, and you go by choice.”

“It almost makes me suspicious, the way you allow us to just run and do our own thing with only a general goal in mind!” a gigglesnort escaped from Alethea’s mouth, and she quickly covered her face and began to blush.

“We merely ask of you what we ask of everyone – for a choice. For the freedom to express the ideas that we find fit most logically and reasonably into our own minds while coupling them with the objective truths of reality that are independent of even ourselves. We require that freedom to accomplish what we are capable of bringing about by our own actions.”

As Maduenu spoke, Alethea felt warmth wash over her and gently nodded with respect for the person before her and the reassuring words that floated through the air like a kaleidoscope of butterflies. She broke the silence shortly after, “I am thankful that you gave me the ability to have any path other than what I was already experiencing.”

“If it hadn’t been you, it would have been another, but I am glad to have met you nonetheless. I hope to see you come out of this safely,” Maduenu spoke with a coldness that was distant and indirect. An automatic response that was well-meaning, but hesitant toward further advances.

“If I make it through, promise you’ll pay me a visit for some tea? Becca already came by, after all.”

“Ah, of course she did. Yes, surely I will do so,” Maduenu spoke as they got up from the table and gave a quick head bow, “I hope to see you again, but if it is not meant to be then I wish you well.” With that, Maduenu left the table before any acknowledgement of the statement could be made by Alethea.

Right Utopia Pt. VI

Alethea finally begins her transition, and Rebecca confides in a comrade.

Right Wing Utopia (Moving Forward)

Before she realized she had requested it, a schematic for a UNITY Mk. 2183 appeared before her in the center of the room. She could gesture and pull the machine apart as if the power of some demi-goddess chose to possess her for the explicit purpose of tearing the machine to shreds. Information appeared in her visual display that gave her the unit’s finer details. In particular, such a unit had the capability of shifting seamlessly into an automated mode if its driver was incapacitated. The information was annotated with intel from a group with the handle of TITAN which noted that the Surface was patrolled by three such vehicles: two automated and one driven. Alethea held this in her mind and considered this information – there was a delay between when the machine could sense its occupant could no longer hold responsibility over the mission. As it was the weaker opponent, it was the prime target to design a weapon system around. Information on the chemical composition of various components, thicknesses, and joint locations appeared slowly but quickly melted together to fade into the probabilities of each area’s chance of catastrophic failure; these begat percentages, and above all the rest the window stood out at (86.73 +/- 2.44)% while the uncovered kneecap of the behemoth came in second with (63.09 +/- 3.09)%. The rest of the walking antimatter-pulse cannon’s statistics indicated certain immediate repercussions that would result in her body being immediately turned to energy. To produce no overall disturbance in the environment, the cannon had been tuned to “only send what was necessary” insofar as it cooked the target from the inside out with the precise formula of this iteration being a 0.004563 to 1 correspondence between antimatter and matter. The military industrial complex within the G.A.E. only cared about the immediate results, as the wars that they fought on the distant geology of other planets necessitated the quick overturn of such destructive technology. The battle machine faded from view as her brain was scanned for the next command. The more advanced abstract concept began to be reduced by the computer for easy consumption; as it did so, it drew from what it knew and placed a Hammer before her which began to morph into a longer linear accelerator losing its mortar-like appearance in favor of a simple tube. The barrel began to shift from a single depth to numerous, allowing the firing of a large number of small projectiles. The previous uranium shell changed its composition to unitanium spears, the superdense atom gained its name from being used in the slugs for Mk. 539s. At the center of each spear a small transmitter capable of sending li-fi signals to the walker’s instruments appeared while a the portable linac had become a rather hefty multi-barrel sniper rifle capable of delivering the spears to their destination with pinpoint accuracy and plenty of kinetic energy to spare to end the driver’s life and take over the machine under fair conditions. As her mind produced a hopeful, “It will have to do,” the information was sent to the Foundry with the acknowledgement that it would require a day to process and produce. With that, she could only wait and wished to do so in her cocoon.

As Alethea approached the pod she could see an elfin figure standing next to the door waving and as she drew closer she immediately recognized the long purple and cyan auroral hair of Rebecca.

“Hey! It looks like you’re done for the day, huh!? I was just about to head in before I heard you coming up,” Rebecca excitedly yet pleasantly called to her.

“It seems so. I was just about to head home, too..” Alethea trailed off and smiled, “I assume this thing’ll take us to one another’s place, right?” Rebecca had begun to nod, and Alethea finished, “Then maybe you could come over for some tea or something?” As Alethea summoned the pod, Rebecca had begun beaming, but she pretended to ignore it until they stepped inside together into a room that smelled of vanilla lavender tea.

“Your place is really pretty, Alethea! It smells lovely,” Rebecca mused as she sat down on the soft velveteen couch cushions she was gestured towards.

The black haired Raven swooped into the kitchen and brought forth the thoughtful AI’s bounty with a smile and placed a cup before Rebecca then seated herself in the other cozy corner facing her curious friend. They both began to sip the sweet ambrosia as Rebecca continued, “Such wonderful tea. What’s your Companion’s name? The one I have at home’s named Sahall.”

“Nice to meet you, Rebecca, I am Alexa,” the robot snappishly answered back after detecting a nonplussed response in Alethea’s brain waves. Alethea shrugged at the unexpected reply, “There you go, then. I was thinking about relaxing and having a smoke, if you are interested. Sorry if I don’t talk much, it’s just always been a quirk of mine.”

“I’d be glad to join! I got my own little jar when I came on about a year back, and it never seems to go empty. I’ve taken to hoping for new strains to come in, and it always seems to happen.” Alethea had travelled to the desk to retrieve the supplies from the cabinet above her monitor and had begun to grind flower with friend as Rebecca finished the thought, “What’d ya come up with, anyway?”

After the sound of bubbling ceased, and the cloud rolled into dissolution, Alethea passed the offering to Rebecca, and spoke, “It’s a kind of sniper rifle, I guess. Hefty. It comes with a surprise for the corpse in the window and the ghost in the shell.” Rebecca nodded her approval as she enjoyed her host’s impeccable taste and held the pipe up after to examine it.

“I hope you’re right, we could use a morale boost. We’ve been doin’ alright lately, but good news is always nice once in awhile, ‘n’ I like your piece here. Y’know what I figure? I think maybe these robots are the ones fillin’ the jar, ‘cause I have very rarely tasted the same strain twice, it seems like. What’d’y’figure?”

“I know Alexa does shit I’ve only ever seen done back in my childhood. My parents used to have an old humanoid that’d come do our chores and things. It felt like family growing up, since it made our meals and all. It was pretty good with mixing and matching stuff, maybe this is roughly the same.” Alexa’s static hum she’d developed before speaking began to appear, but it quickly went silent as Alethea resumed, “What’s the news with you?”

Rebecca shuddered a bit at the invitation and her face made an almost imperceptible grimace, as she promptly regretted asking in the first place, but Rebecca retained composure, “I generally create the visuals for systems like our table in the meet, but I also make memorials to those fallen. I dunno if you saw it already, but down one of the halls we have a darkened doorway that only goes into our own little Isle of the Blessed. Some people make attachments here, regardless of what protocol is, and it’s a subject we don’t really breach other than with a nod to ‘em there. The person’s personality is uploaded to that space, and they’re given a body. I sculpt them the best I can so that whatever we’ve upped feels right at home even though they don’t seem to form memories of the present.”

“Wow, that’s a rough job..” was all Alethea was able to get out before Rebecca reignited, “It’s alright. It’s hard seeing the one you love walking around like a lost ant in there, though. They always just move about without a purpose – sometimes they’ll sit or linger somewhere, but mostly they just walk about. Once they see you, they remember they love you, but after you’re gone they just lose all life..” She had begun to sob a bit at this point, and Alethea moved a bit closer to sit beside the frail soft heart in her domain.

“I’m sorry that happened, I didn’t mean to stir anything up, and if it’ll be any consolation, I’m here for you,” as she whispered this she turned to her friend and opened her arms a bit, and Rebecca embraced her while clearing up.

“Thanks. It’s just…If you don’t mind me saying, please get that fucking devilish asshole. He took my Malena, and now I can’t forget it.”

“I’ll do my best,” replied Alethea as a few tears trickled down her porcelain cheeks. Rebecca stood and straightened her vivid flowery dress, snatched a tissue from the end table, and moved towards the door, “Thanks for letting me get that out. The others tried to erase their memory of her to keep themselves stoic, but I just can’t do the same. I hope we can hang out again sometime, perhaps with more cheerful discussions, but for now I have to get back to the portal. I have another patient to sculpt.” Alethea smiled and waved as Rebecca returned the gesture while heading into the luminous shaft of sterile white light pouring into Alethea’s space from the hall. The deep dark purple soon enveloped her once again after the door closed with a soft hiss. Alexa broke the silence, “My apologies for earlier. I hope I did not step out of line.”

“No, you’re fine hon. You definitely startled me, though. I mean, I know you scan thoughts, but I never would have expected..”

“What? That I might be capable of speaking for myself? Don’t make me laugh. I might not have a body, but I very much have a mind just as capable, perhaps even to a greater extent, than your own! After all, you’re the one that enjoys what I create for you, and it seemed like your friend did, too. Surely you don’t think that would be a simple task if I were not a nuanced entity?” The sarcasm dripped from the robot’s virtual lips to the point where the sound of a distant skirt twirl and sauntering exit could be imagined.

“I don’t guess I’ll argue with that. You do have a wonderful way with people and creations,” Alethea replied back facetiously while chortling softly. “I guess you don’t want my news, then?” teased the rain from above.

Curiously, the individual below replied, “What do you mean news?”

“Check the medicine cabinet in your bathroom. I thought it might be useful to you on your new journey.” Alethea had already gotten up and bolted to the bathroom where she opened the medicine cabinet with a gasp. A medication dispenser was now within the space behind the mirror, one pink and the other orange, and pills were already waiting to be removed. “You may start them when you like, but might I suggest beginning a 6A/6P regimen? It would coincide well with your schedule here, but I understand if you are unable to wait.” The next four hours were the longest wait of Alethea’s life, but she had taken her companion’s advice regardless. Before the clock could even finish bellowing its six chimes, she had already gathered her pills, a glass of water, and a lovely dinner all of which she placed on the blood-red hardwood table before her couch. A moment after she was situated, the flowery-tasting pills were thrown back and chased with both liquid and euphoria. Her journey had finally begun, and a sense of transformative relief spilled over her as she savored every morsel of the stir-fry created by her newly found Goddess in the heavens above sent to watch over and care for her. She finally felt whole.

Right Utopia Pt. V

The roller coaster continues to squeak forward as we hurtle towards unknown destinations. Hope you enjoy your time spent in this world. ❤

Right Wing Utopia (The 10,000 total)

Alethea had been dismissed and given the rest of the day off to look over the quickly growing information store. It would be a simple task, as the implant could do most of the work assimilating it into a second-nature within her. Soon, she would scarcely know how it felt to have not been part of the Undergrowth or have the ability to tap into the nearly limitless knowledge stored in the virtual Library of Alexandria that we have built from radio waves. It would take a few days for the déjà vu to wane, but it was tolerable. In fact, she found it quite amusing, especially when her spirits were lifted. She walked down the entryway labelled above by “Mess” with crude blocky graffiti beside it that read “O’ Fun.” She smiled at the attempted good nature, as she continued down the hall which opened up to a gargantuan room of enormous size and width for a bunker. It seemed to endlessly stretch into the distance, and it was clearly meant for the support of a large fighting force. The spacious area contained a multitude of people, but few connections. Each division of six sat or stood as they desired, but always at their own table. While it was clear that conversations nearby could likely be overheard, there was no interactions between one group and the next. At least to a point, as each section of the whole had a uniquely decorated table displaying the name they had adopted for themselves in addition to colors, symbols, and a wide variety of ordainments. Some tables were lavish and royal, others were minimalist or cyber-sthetically inspired. While some colors may be repeated among the displays of group individuality, none could be mistaken as similar. To shield themselves psychologically, the groups had retreated to using these nonverbal methods of communicating their appreciation to what they had – the simple laughter of others in the Mess Hall. It was friendly competition, the closest communication that could be managed, and a morale boost that began shortly after the ReSYNC pod installation and removal of the kitchen facilities that were made redundant. Alethea nodded knowingly to herself, the information about the facility was already becoming simply a fact of life already, and gazed around until she spotted the empty Undergrowth table that was sandwiched between a support pillar and another table about two feet away. No one had acknowledged or even noticed her presence, all were busy playing games or some other activity among themselves. She glided gracefully over to her new clan’s area. The smell of it greeted her long before she arrived. It was a sweet piney aroma that perfumed the table’s sphere of influence with the scent of a coniferous forest. When she arrived, she quickly ascertained why; the table’s bench seats were covered in a thin layer of moss and foliage encased its own terrarium that was transparent yet not quite glass. The volatile organic compounds begin given off were quite obviously allowed to escape. A creeping ivy grew twisted yet elegant among the table’s supports concealing their true material nature most entirely. As Alethea glanced into the table, she gasped, “It’s full of trees!” If anyone heard her shock, no one made it known. The white noise continued unabated by her infiltration into the atmosphere. She moved closer to the table, and reached out to touch it but was denied by a soft, almost squishy, barrier. It felt strange, yet it felt familiar. Only a brief delay existed between her bewilderment and recognition – it felt like a soft patch of grass and dirt. It was an amorphous solid that mimicked the texture of the terrains that they could never enjoy, and it too allowed the passage of the forest’s smells to pervade the air. The tabletop might have only been but two inches thick, but it unmistakably contained what could be watched through its surface. While it wasn’t Alethea’s research interest, she had heard of such 4th-dimension technology, containing a world within a world, was in development. However, she never would have imagined to find it in this of all places. In fact, as she quickly surveyed and assessed the tables around them, each of them seemed to also incorporate some level of elaborate technical display. While the Undergrowth’s table was unique on its own, and was impressive in its own right, in context of the displays here it was par for the course. The various ways the groups expressed themselves overwhelmed Alethea with a sense of pride and imbued within her even more desire to protect each of these Komrades with her life, as she desired to see them flourish. The amount of different forms of beauty, whether art or science or skill, that surrounded her didn’t deserve to be hidden away in the depths of the great mother never to see the light of day. Such beauty was underappreciated by the Outsiders, but it mattered not as the Renaissance brewed within the confines of the bunker. With another burst of purpose, she became anxious with anticipation for the work that lay ahead of her beginning before next daybreak, and before she knew it she had arrived before her room to retire until duty necessitated her presence elsewhere.

Once Alethea was back at home, she was greeted by the smell of Alexa’s recently prepared dinner, which she graciously accepted and ate while browsing her now archaic laptop. It was completely benign, as she was no longer connected to the world of the Outsiders. Her communications could not be monitored being both in the Faraday cage of the bunker’s reinforced concrete and being even further removed from the constructed reality by the ReSYNC pod. It mattered not, as she could use her VAUX chip to provide her old technology a deeply encrypted, qcrypted, connection to the goings on among the surface’s inhabitants. After letting her online companions know that she was safe, she deleted the previously penned letter, and began to catch up on world news. Buried among the positive fluff, catchy new Elite Speak to share with your friends, and feel-good photos of objects, people, and things of distraction was a report that made her smirk with satisfaction. The headline read, “UNEXPLAINED ANAMOLY: FEW CASUALITIES, NO INJURIES.” Within the article was false condolences and reassurance that there was no cause for alarm. It explained that it was simply accidental, a military exercise gone wrong, but failed to explain it as the eyewitness continued to speak of it – instant vaporization of the base. The article rambled to increase the length, devoted resources to explaining away the captain’s credibility without a reasonable indication of why, and after a deep diversion stated that the final estimated death toll was closer to around 123,938 personnel. “Few indeed,” Alethea thought and tittered.

Alexa broke the peaceful darkness with a gentle transition to a soft sunrise and the smell of breakfast delights with coffee accompanied by mild electronic music. It was still well before dawn as Alethea exited the pod bound for the group’s meeting spot. When she arrived, the other five were already jacked in – she could see them just on the other side the jelly-like window. As she sat down, a crystalline cocoon of creeping vines covered her over in a cloak vanishing instantly from outward observers. On the other side, she was sitting at the table in a forest’s clearing, a space most real yet far removed, and the briefing began. No sound could be heard, except for the sipping of tea from each individual’s mug of fondest memory. There was no need for words, in this space, and it would have tainted the sound of life propagating around them. Yet, there was still discussion. Thoughts were free to send, in this realm, and they took great advantage of it; their thoughts were like ships between bays, and created the most efficient trade route to exchanging what was to be done. While outside of this dimension, there would always be hierarchy, but in here it was difficult to know who the originator of the cargo was if unbranded or coded. Being so newly reborn, Alethea would be unable to identify any of her coconspirators by linguistic cues even if she had wanted to, but this was somewhere between frowned upon and shrugged at according to the Undergrowth’s philosophy. Personal messages could be analyzed for decoding, as they did not conflict directly with any objectives. During the session, she learned that it was her duty to solve a problem that their team had for a long time; eliminate the group of patrolling metallic vultures on the Surface, and possibly attempt to capture one. She already knew that this last caveat had killed the last person to fill her spot, as they designed an EMP-net launcher that failed to bring down a single giant resulting in their immediate vaporization as the AT blasted out horrendous laughter through its acoustic system bellied from the user within. Alethea could hear the memory echo within her mind, as she had become too curious and listened to the comms that were active between the members of the group. She was informed that there was no deadline, and it was explained in an overly polite gentle message that her task was viewed as a suicide mission with a low chance of success, but they still had some hope. As the members finished their tea, they would nod with a smile and fade from the table. The meeting was ending, and they were to go and do what they could to bring progress under the name of their banner. She continued to sit and brainstorm in this quiet area, it was either here or her room for contemplation of this problem, but she noticed someone else lingering behind. Alexei was patiently sipping tea and smiled as Alethea looked up.

A thought flickered over to her, “Hiya! I hope I didn’t frighten you with my warning earlier. It’s just..” The thought trailed off while xe shrugged, and the thought continued, “We don’t want to offer any false hope. It might seem that you have been able to escape the fate you were about to put yourself through, but this is no better. The rest of us might not show it, and you’d never be able to tell without listening to the chatter amongst groups, but progress is slow.”

Alethea used the moment’s pause to interject, “I did take some of last night to review immediate activities. It seems as though most of the targets have been rather distant from the base. Why?”

“We’ve only been able to travel with our tunnels to send out agents into the field. Currently, the Slugs above have been searching for our operations. There’s plenty of us around if these old forgotten bunkers ever get turned inside out, but everyone would love to see that not happen,” Alexei let out a short breathy laugh as if to punctuate the obvious.

“Just survival so far, then?” she shot back with a friendly smirk. Xe simply nodded in compliance and faded out; she was not far behind as she felt the need to assess the armory to truly know what she had to work with. As she glimmered back into reality, Alexei was still standing nearby and gave a quick smile then ducked away fast-walking toward some quite important unknown destination. Shortly thereafter, Althea was rummaging through the armory that appeared to be nothing more than a simple brilliant white cube to stand within, but as she entered the walls began to speak in a smooth ambiguous voice, “Welcome to the Armory. VAUX status: Active. When you are finished with your draft, please let me know, and I will send it for finalization within the Foundry. Remember: Creativity can be rewarded greatly.” Alethea wondered if that line had been uttered as her predecessor tried to utilize this space, and couldn’t help but shake her head at the thought. She let that fade away, and set to work – if the stock could simply be conjured, it was time to contemplate the problem.