A Years Long Endeavor

The story I currently call Feral World was born out of a day dream I had when I was in middle school and the first two years of highschool. My young mind raced with what if scenarios of what an apocalypse would look like. Surrounded by movies like; The Matrix, Pitch Black, Space Cowboys, Titan A.E., 28 Days Later, Cowboy Bebop’s Movie, Minority Report and Resident Evil among others, I was immediately drawn to stories of outlandish and amazing, if not equally horrifying, premises.

Something life changing – world ending ocurrs.

damaged building interior

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What do you do after? What do WE do after?

How would people really pick up the pieces? There’s always the hero who seems to be right in step with what’s going on but I also came across something else around that time. A pair of stories named The Iliad and The Odyssey.

boat island ocean sea

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My main take aways from them, besides the morality stories of character flaws and essentially human nature, was that you don’t need a perfect lead character. Life is chaos and if you strip away the Gods and Goddesses there’s a story there that is just as real as reading your facebook timeline(minus the fakenews but including the shitposts). He did this, she said that, this cousin or friend is mad at the other because of some reason. Drama can be a wonderful read if it doesn’t become full of itself, like an an attention whore who causes drama to validate their existence.

It was all those years ago that I made a decision that would pull me through a low point, that decision and friends and family would help me persevere.

lighted candle

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I wanted to write a story like the Odyssey and the Iliad but I wasn’t sure if I could. To be honest I knew I couldn’t. Every so often I could string together a few words and sound insightful but to be able to do that for page after page and hold someones attention, THAT would take some practice, a LOT of practice.

There’s a point to this post, I swear.

I’d start my journey with two tasks. If you want to be a writer you should write. A simple concept I kept coming across and decided to just do it. Not too long after that this Blog was made. I’m sure I’ve written a post about it’s name before but in short, I needed to make myself less ignorant. As an introvert and someone who doesn’t really do well socially the best thing was to write my thoughts down for others to read, but more so to make myself ok with putting incomplete or inaccurate thoughts out there. Trust me, reading something you wrote years ago and seeing how stupid or ignorant you were is tough but it’s useful. The second thing I would do was write a story. A simple throw away story that I’d put together off the top of my head at a friends birthday getaway.

Aurora Cave is something I wrote about frequently on this site and it truly allowed me to see how writing a book would work. Things like narrative, and creative choices are amorphous things but to understand their intent, and purpose, that’s why Aurora Cave was born. When I finished the 3rd draft I gave a copy out to a few people. My Ex girlfriend whose opinion I still respect told me she hated the way the characters spoke in the beginning. It was jarring and over the top. But that taught me something. I was capable of delibrately drawing something from a reader. I had made the choice to make the brother and sister sound so over done. Like so many movies I’d seen where characters’ forced accents were just as annoying for others as it was for me. I’d finish that book in about a year, a dealine I set for myself. Could I still do work on it? YES. God yes, it’s really bad. But finishing that book taught me a bunch of things, most importantly it told me I could commit to writing a story. That I could follow through.

 

But I wasn’t ready to write Feral World.

15956180 I had to put the mindset together with the skills I’d yet to cultivate.

Over months and years I’d write all sorts of things on this blog. It was less of a diary and more of a set of assignments about writing and what made sense to read and what didn’t. What was annoying and full of itself and what was relatively mundane and boring. I’d also share various stories that came to mind for one reason or another that I thought would be interesting.

Then I got to my second book Flummox. My goal was to write something I wouldn’t mind having other people read. Compared to the other books on the market what would I be comfortable with asking money for? I may have gotten a little ambitious writing a psychological, Alice in Wonderland kind of story with reality constantly switching but the process just flowed. This story lead me to the hardest thing I’d have edited thus far. Many writers better than I would say I didn’t do enough and they’re more than likely correct. But I learned so much from Flummox about editing and that no matter how badly you want something in the book, it just won’t fit and you need to get rid of it. It also taught me that I had to improve my outline process. With only around 200 pages of content, the rewrites and edits came and went and in about another year I’d written another book.

What did I know now? I’d have to spend multiple years on Feral World and I wanted and needed to get a literary agent. Probably in that order… definitely in that order. Feral World will take a decade or more to get published but that was alright with me because I realized that as much as I wanted to finish this story, more than anything I wanted it to be something that others would want to read. I wanted it to be something someone could read, whom was in a low place, and they could come away from it feeling like they have another chance.

shallow focus of clear hourglass

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I formally started work on Feral World in 2015 and since then I’ve finished the book and rewritten it 3 times. I’m currently doing a major rewrite and am very happy with how it’s gotten better. However I’m not naive enough to think that when I’m happy with it that it’ll be perfect or that I’ll land an agent immediately. I’ve already gotten silently turned dow by at least 20 agents so far. The non-responses lead me to ask questions, why didn’t I get a response. Was there a narrative issue in the first x-pages? Was it boring? Was it predictable? I took everything I’d been reading that other authors avoided asking themselves and focused in. I had to be determined to write this book and get it published and that means I can’t give up. Could part of the problem be my robotic and cold way of speaking to people professionally throught email? Yes, but that’s just how I am and there have been many an author far more introverted than I who were able to get an agent.

design desk display eyewear

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So, the point? It’s cliche and I love to annoy my brother with it. It’s a phrase: Strength and Perseverance. If you want something, keep trying. Trying means looking at yourself objectively and improving what you can and getting used to that which you can’t. If something keeps failing, ask yourself why it’s failing. It’s easy to put blame elsewhere and in some cases it may not be anything wrong with you but when you’re trying to do something and it seems like an uphill battle you either need; to get yourself a truck, work out them legs muscles or start with a smaller hill. You don’t have to turn yourself into Sisyphus.
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Sometimes, you just can’t.

Today I mourned the death of my previous life. I’m not talking on some ethereal, ‘past life’ thing, I mean the life I lived and had set up before the day that changed everything for me. One day while driving back to set from a supplies run from Target in the bronx, I had a sharp, stabbing pain in my chest. The costochondrial joints on the right side specifically. It felt as if someone had grabbed a few sharp objects and decided to store them, blade-first in my chest. But today, 8 years and 11 months after October 4th, 2011, I finally cried.

They say the best way to make God laugh is to show them your plans and dammit, I had mine all laid out with neon signs and magnets situated around the most vulnerable points to draw the weapon fire in nice and precise-like. I had a few avenues I could take but they all lead included working, paying off the trade school loan I got so I could save money to go to Polytechnic. I was offered something which I can’t even remember what it was called but I’m pretty sure it had something like “deans admission” or some shit. My grade in the sciences were ok, never below 75 for the things I had trouble with. But like I said, I had a few paths. Automotive repair, working on film and television sets, and I.T. I’d get a shitty car first so I could drive to whatever job I landed but life had other things planned in 2008, the year I graduated my trade school training in the automotive field.

Remember that thing about having plans? Shit got so bad the entire school was basically lined up for half the day so we could fix our financial situations since one of the major lenders that Wyotech worked with folded like a deck of card made from wet loose leaf. That was a big blaring sign that I’d made the wrong decision. But it was a sign I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for; I mean, I’d just graduated highschool, spoke with the financial counselor and trusted that they’d actually help me with grants of some kind, “Yeah sure I’ll get a packet sent over to you right away.” Well, 28k of loans ended up being my burden. No grants existed I was told. Meanwhile to get me to sign up I was told, “There are quite a few grants for kids fresh out of highschool.” I got sold a large pail of lies by a man with a nice smile just like everyone else who went to that trade school.

When I finished and got my certificate no one back home would hire during the great automotive crisis, not even for a shop janitor for 2008 minimum wage which must’ve been something between 7 and $8.25/hr in NYC. The automotive thing was going nowhere but then my sister handed me a flier. This flier said there was a program to train people to work on film sets, to be in the film industry. I never thought about it before but I was ready, able bodied and needed a job. I took the training course and finished with all the skills I needed to start in film and television. In January of 2011 I had a new set of skills and I’d start my first year in a field I found entirely intriguing. I had a month or three of no work but I generally had work every week. 125 a day, 250 a day if I landed a G&E position and it was the Grip and Electric departments where I felt at ease. Helping to set lights, rigging the set, checking safety, I felt like I was made for it. I’d even gotten a few jobs as transportation and those paid well. I was at the point where I had to figure out if I wanted to work towards the transpo union or the G&E ones. My last job was in transportation. It was cushy, I sat in and stood around the vehicles most of the day waiting to bring a crew to set or pick up talent. It was the epitome of easy.

Then October 4th came.

I was chillin, it started to rain. Me and my work buddy were driving back to the hotel with the groceries and art department supplies when those sharp pains I mentioned before slammed into my chest. Work buddy was freaking out, asking if I’d felt anything like that before. My breathing was shallow because any actual breaths made the pain 100 times worse.

I had to call my 19 year old brother to come pick me up because standing on my own was difficult and I couldn’t ask anyone from set to bring me home, I didn’t want to disrupt the schedule. I never worked beyond my capability but if I could do something I would. I prided myself on doing the job I was assigned efficiently.

Anyway, my brother brought me home, holding me up the whole way and I barely left my bed for weeks save for the obvious actions. I did eat in bed and those trailing 6 months were a blur. Nothing but wrenching pain pulling at my chest and now my back, slowly bending me to the right as my body tried to offset the pain by curling in the position that reduced it in any possible way. The days when I wasn’t blackout exhausted from being in pain I’d see a doctor but I missed more than a few visits. Public transportation when you’re in your early 20’s isn’t so kind when your face doesn’t translate how you’re feeling well to other people. “Can I sit there please.” had me met with looks as if I was asking them for their first born child, or “you don’t look like you need a seat.” Progress was slow with the doctors: Orthopedic, rheumatoid, arthritis, Neurological. Cat-scan, cholesterol tests, mri, eeg, ekg, sensory response, somatic response. Costochoncritis, not costochondritis, inflammation, not inflammation, inflammation, probably not inflammation.

Before I aged off of my parents insurance I’d finally met with a neurologist who believed I was actually in pain and gave me a new word: Neuralgia. And I quote:”

Neuralgia is a stabbing, burning, and often severe pain due to an irritated or damaged nerve. The nerve may be anywhere in the body, and the damage may be caused by several things, including:

  • aging
  • diseases such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis
  • an infection, such as shingles

Treatment for the pain of neuralgia depends on the cause.”

Thank you https://www.healthline.com/health/neuralgia

The best part about this was from that point on I wouldn’t be able to find out what caused my intercostal neuralgia. It was just the best guess at the time. Now imagine thinking you might have Multiple Sclerosis and not being able to do anything about it. I got one word which only had possibilities and hundreds of questions attached to it.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease caused by the deterioration of myelin, the covering of nerves. Trigeminal neuralgia may occur in someone with MS.

This is something that can either completely destroy your body or just partially destroy your body. But of course that’s just a worse case, it could just as well be pressure on my nerves, diabetes, or an infection. But I can’t afford to find out which if any of those are it. I may not even have neuralgia but another condition I found recently, referred to as “Central Sensitization“, which is, in short,

“The role of sensitization in several common diseases34 has been well-documented, and could even be provoked by an irritant as unremarkable as muscle aches.5 It can also persist and worsen in the absence without apparent provocation. And there’s peripheral sensitization too.6

All of that is to say, being in pain all the time can increase the pain that I’m in, causing my body to overreact to things that would normally cause a quick “oop”.

But now we get to today. I took a bath because I hadn’t had the energy to do so for more days than I’m comfortable with sharing. Taking into account all of what I’ve just typed, things just take longer for me to do.

When I was still in there, I’d started getting tired after about 30ish minutes of a podcast. I get out and the rest of the energy I’d had, left me rapidly. My legs were shaky, and my thoughts went from thinking about the podcast to, “Keep standing, you need to get to your room.” I get out of the bathroom and my brother says to me “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” I tell him I’m about to pass out and he rushes to get me some water. It’s only a few feet to my room. Where as I normally at least hang my wet towels to dry I just drop them and unfold onto my bed.

I’m pretty exhausted sure, but no water works. Then, my brother gets back with some water for me. I try to tell him to just put the water by my hand but faint sounds are the only thing that leave my mouth. “It’s fine, I’m just tired.” I think to myself, until I realize he has to move my hand so I can grab the bottle. I try to lift the 28oz stainless steel container but there’s no movement in my arm. “I’ll just drink some later. My legs start to feel a little numb, nothing unusual but then I feel something. My brother goes back to his room and after a few seconds my face twitches. “That’s odd. It’s not an itch.” Then the thought enters the forefront of my mind, “All you did today was take a shower and you’re this exhausted.” My face scrunches up, and… that damn quiver races across the corner of my mouth. “Am I really gonna cry?”

Yes

I’d spent a good amount of time reading about how to deal with your feelings and how to help others who have trouble expressing theirs. I try to cry in silence but all the psychology books I’ve read and talks with my friends who deal with all sorts of patient smash me in the face, “Don’t be an idiot, you have people in the house who always tell you to speak to them in times like these.” It takes me a few tries to call my brother, but I finally say his name loud enough but by now the sobbing has started. The past 8 years and 11 months of frustration with myself, not being able to do what I want, not being able to work, not being able to put food in the fridge, the tiniest bit of independence I had when I was away at trade school in 2008, then working in 2011, was all I’d experienced and more than likely would not experience again. No matter how much I wanted to believe it was all in my head, laying there in my bed, trying to lift that container of water to drink, my legs going numb and my arms following, I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

I’m lucky enough to live with family who genuinely cares about me so of course, when they all showed up, looking at me sad and heart broken because I was just losing it, I apologized, multiple times. I told them I was angry with my body, with myself. I’d read up on everything that’s supposed to go through your mind when you feel like that but it didn’t help in that moment. I continued to cry and mumble out my frustrations. I said I shouldn’t feel this way because I don’t have cancer or ALS. I’m lucky, I shouldn’t have this body. It should do what I wanted when I wanted.

All the things people with chronic pain are told to not say to themselves, it just fell out of my mouth and I hated every second of it. I was making my family feel helpless and as much as I grunted and gritted my teeth, I couldn’t stop crying.

Today I mourned the life I had. Now, I hope I might finally be able to move on even though those thoughts, those feelings are still here. I have to move on. I need to move on.

Infelicitous Travelers

Sometimes we get this feeling, deep within us, that something is out of place. Like when you get home and look at the living room only to see the chair has been moved. “Oh” you think, “the kids are home”. But sometimes, the cause isn’t right in front of you, or worse, it is and you ignore it because the truth may be worse than you’re ready for, worse than you are willing to comprehend.

The crew stand in front of the cameras smiling. They will be the first to travel to a different dimension. Unsure of what they will find their suits are designed to guard them from the vast nothing of space and the centre of the hottest star. Basically everything but a black hole.

They each wave, filled with excitement and curiosity. Each is tasked with cataloguing everything they come across. Light phenomena, physical laws that may be broken or subverted. There are also two ship engineers going with them and enough materials to rebuild their vessel 4 times over. Redundancy in the face of the unknown is next to godliness.

The captain walks forward and the speaker built into their suit connects wirelessly to the microphone in front of them.

“Today marks the crowning achievement, this technology will be what sends us into the stars and beyond. This is more than a giant leap. After this day, we as a united human race, will begin to sprint into the beyond. This is the start of the human race of Earth becoming a galactic society.”

They each turn away from the podium, letting their captain walk first into the house-sized ship. This particular model is designed to move sideways. Meaning it doesn’t have to lift off, it doesn’t even need an area of clearance for the safety of those nearby. This is truly clean transportation with no side effects on the people around or in it. The engine has been thoroughly studied and examined for 30 years since the first prototype was built. Needless to say if this test brought them to another dimension as it did the test probe years before, flying through the stars will be as simple as pointing at an object, letting the system lock onto it and pressing go.

The crew pile in and sit at the center console in the middle room. A circular room with a dodecahedron enclosing it. Here they are suspended by a closed circuit, magnetic lift mechanism that will shield them from any abrupt impacts or changes in velocity that would otherwise liquefy their internal organs from the immediate change in g-forces.

The coordinates were derived from studying the reverse cosmic radiation that now routinely emits from Antarctica. The countdown begins and the outside cameras capture what looks like the world moving away from them in every direction. It was as if they were shrinking into a black sea that spread out from them and ate everything else. There is no shaking, no vibrations to speak of. Those sort of dramatics are the realm of science fiction. This is real science. This is real exploration and they are the first explorers to an entirely new, alien world.

The outside cameras catch something. A band of light seemingly bisecting each one at their exact halfway point. A curious phenomenon that they are here to log and study. One of them furiously starts logging the visual data and accesses the various sensors built into their ship.

Another array goes off, reading pressures of dichotemic scale. In excess of 1000G on one, -360 on another. Negative gravity would indicate a repulsive force to use the most simplistic explanation. But really it’s total repulsion. Like a magnet pulling another off the table but they never actually clash. The pulling magnet here is essentially moving into infinity and the other can’t catch up.

“Wild… ”

Gyroscopic measurements are also off the scale. The ship is supposedly spinning faster than a certain hot blue giant star, VFTS 102, but also in three directions – simultaneously.

“Imagine if we didn’t have this room, huh?”

The researcher says showing the readings to the others. They each chuckle lightheartedly. The data from the trip alone was mind blowing and they were as comfortable as a bug in a rug. One of the engineers looks over to the researcher studying the camera feeds and notices something impossible. They split into two versions of themselves and one is a ghost-like facsimilie but their face is missing. They look towards the engineer and smile a ghastly white grin. The engineer screams as the visage fades and the others panic.

He explains what he saw and the others take him seriously. They pull up the internal cameras to see if the phenomenon was picked up and indeed it was. It was not just happening to the visual feed researcher either. Similar things happened to each of them. A distorted visage of themselves seemed to split off from them and vanish into nothingness. This visual forces them to all start speaking out loud to each other. As if they’re trying to prove they are indeed still alive and real. Then a warning sound plays but stops immediately.

The feed from the outside cameras are put on the central holographic screen and they see before them a forest clearing.

“I didn’t think we’d end up on a planet, let alone one with… trees?! Those are trees right?”

The environmental scientist gets to work studying the trees make-up. The ship checks the atmosphere on it’s own but the uneasy conversation continues between the group. Hours go by before they finally unstrap themselves and get ready to venture out into the alternate dimension.

There are no weapons with them or on the ship. The chances of running into life are extremely low. They walk to the loading bay and the door opens. Before them stretching outwards is an alien forest with trees none of them have ever seen yet which seem familiar. As they stand there in aw, something grips them. A feeling that something is horribly wrong.

“We shouldn’t be here.”

One of them says before realizing it. It’s a feeling they each have but the mission is important. Earth needs the information learned here if any of the damage done to it is to be reversed. They make their way out to set up an outside camp.

For days they gather samples of strange new elements that seem similar to ones from their world but are slightly different. The bark seems to curl off the trees, giving way to new bark-like scales underneath. The leaves each resemble small fractals, never falling off their branches completely but instead in large clumps from the group. The water flows the same however, and the air wisps around them just as gently as back home. The bugs, insects and other creepy crawlers are just as bizarre as they are back on Earth. Segmented bodies, long legs, carapaces, all of it very similar just in different forms.

On the outskirts of the forest someone looks through the trees with a pair of glasses magnifying their vision automatically.

“Hey get a look at those nature types.”

Their partner squints through their own pair of visual enhancers.

“They certainly love camping, those people.”

Back at the settlement one of them gets a reading of the people whom are more than 30 miles away. The reading sets everyone in stone. Was that possible? This would be the best type of information to bring back home. Whether this was a different universe or not, humanity was not alone. They each stop and turn it over in their minds. The house gets a picture of the couple and they look like normal people. The clothing is definitely weird, a mix of hard and soft materials. No technology of any kind to be seen besides their simple looking glasses and the clothing, which is complex in nature and not something that would grow as it was a combination of various materials.

“Their clothes are manufactured! This is…”

The researcher stops dead. One of their companions is rushing towards them with a shovel in their hands. They scream for the others but the attack starts viciously, desperately, cracking and then destroying their helmet. As the others look on in horror at their compatriot attack themselves with a shovel they act too late. They’re on the ground and drive the shovel through their neck.

“Oh no honey, they’re from an anti-matter universe. Quick, we have to tell the authorities before they all kill themselves!”

They rush into their car, which has no wheels and call the proper authorities. However by the time they arrive the researchers are all dead. A cursory study of the scene with the latest in non-invasive technology shows each of them died by their own hands.

“Yep. Looks like they were anti-matter folks alright. It’s a damn shame, they shoulda just travelled to their nearest planet, That’s what we did. Well, guess there’s nothing to do but put them back in their ship and send em home. It’s a damn shame though.”

The robot assistants help to stop the bodies from bleeding and set them carefully in what seemed to be the central room. Preparing them for an easy burial when they get back home. The authorities stay away from the ship but are sure enough to keep in sight of what they think the cameras are. With the bodies they include the customary explanation guide which contains the breakdown of their language, mathematics, and other useful information so that their people can decode it into their own language to read what it says.

The robots figure out the telemetry and set the ship to go back whence it came.

At the facility the alarm is triggered and the staff prepare for the return of the ship. When it arrives and no one comes out they are immediately worried and suit up to go inside. As they find what remains of the crew they also are surprised by the information neatly wrapped up in a box. Over the next few months they will decode and learn how to read the note left by the people from this other planet.

Hello fellow explorers.

This note is a bittersweet one to give but this happens a lot here.

You have indeed figured out the key to travelling across

vast distances. However you did not account what travelling

to a universe with matter opposite to your own would do to your minds.

If you believe in a soul, it’s because the energies are antithetical

to your existence. If you are people of science then it’s simply the result

of a matter – anti-matter collision. On the microscale it results in an

explosion. However on the macroscale it causes extreme faults in our

brains, our thought processes. Unless one leaves an anti-matter universe

immediately our minds will be driven to self termination because of the

very makeup of the universe in which we’ve travelled to. Information can

be exchanged but please, do not send any living entities again.

With love, your neighbours.

You are not alone,

We are not alone.

Focus and Intent

These are just my personal understandings, i’m not looking into a dictionary cuz clinical accuracy isn’t the point here.

Focus and intent, these two words have been ringing in my mind for a few weeks now. Previously I would have strength and perseverance as my personal directors. Strength of body and perseverance of spirit. However when maintaining physical strength became painful and uncharacteristically exhausting I had to change my perspective of those two words. Inner strength, the ability to accept and move past things which cause us stress and bring on negativity. The strength to keep going when you really don’t want to which leads into perseverance. A stubbornness in the face of oppressive forces. Having the fortitude or finding it, when factors from without and within conspire to stop you in your tracks. All of this isn’t to say that I’ve completely ignored the physical but I’ve come to understand I shouldn’t be so one dimensional in my approach to existing in the world.

Then I started trying to figure out what I was still doing wrong, be it in trying to learn new things, or improve my personality or feeling less separated from society. These things and many others require focus and intent. Focus is the ability to direct your thoughts and feelings to a specific purpose. To keep your mind centered on something or a group of things which are connected in order to control your attention and ability to direct your actions. Intent is the other side of the coin upon which focus resides. Intent is what you mean to accomplish; one’s true goal. Why do we breathe? Why do we cough? Why do some people lie when the truth would not propel them forward? We want to live, our bodies are hardwired to keep working thus most people breathe automatically, barring defects of course. We cough as a form of debugging, something in our windpipe that needs to be cleared. People lie when the truth is disadvantageous to their situation. People lie to advance at work because they want the money, or the prestige that comes with that advancement. These things are intent, an underlying want, driven ahead by our focus where the end goal is to create or allow a certain outcome. However morality dictates that lying to enact some form of advancement is where the “house of cards” metaphor comes into play. Intent can also lead you to uneducated action.

All this pseudo deep talk is centered around me trying to re-frame my point of view when querying and contacting various publishers and agents as well as writing my current novel “The Ship in the Desert”. It’s all pretty self evident when you’re trying to sell something, it’s small scale marketing and without a clear outcome in mind you obviously won’t have the correct impact when you send out that letter, email, or packet. But the way my mind works, when something I already understand is unveiled to me in a new light, the words I use when communicating, change. This is what my new found understanding for the words focus and intent have allowed me. So with all that verbose introspective brain vomit released into the world now, I’ll get back to making my packets for email and snail mail.

Focus your intent on what you need and allow yourself to look away from the road you’ve charted, there might just be a better path available or you might conduct yourself in a better manner. Don’t be an asshole.

Coordinates

On the Eve of technological innovation the first ever inter-stellar astronauts of Earth learn that they didn’t know anything about space at all.

The first inter-stellar travel capable ship had just taken flight. It’s crew consisting of 22 of Earth’s most accomplished astronauts. Collectively we have more than 10 years in space. Half of us worked on this very ship which is currently sitting in orbit ready to leave our home system.

“Just take a minute. It’ll be a few years until we see The Marble again.”

The Captain spoke as he entered the parameters for the first leg which would take us into the Kuiper belt. The AI looked them over and asked for input from each of us before the engines would start. First, we took our moment. All of us gathered by the front window of Longshot, looking down at our home planet.

“We’re the first.”

“Take it easy Cap, we haven’t even left orbit yet.”

“Yeah but Okoye, we are the first.”

She chuckled at our Captains giddy jest. We all were excited. By the end of this journey we’d have traveled to Alpha Centauri, measured it with the most clarity we’d ever been able to have on a star that wasn’t our own. We’d be back in about 6 years time and then Earth could truly start it’s space age.

We each looked at each other filled with excitement as we all sat at our stations and the countdown began.

Helmets on. 5.

Belts tightened. 4

Engines still green. 3

Ship pointed in the right direction. 2

Hopes and dreams of the human race in our hearts. 1

Adventure. 0

We’re immediately pinned to our seats and the strange pitch we’d heard from the test probes surrounded us as we raced to the Edge of the Kuiper belt and the solar system. The sound dampeners worked flawlessly and we were able to hear the AI read out the various ship statistics. The forces being as they were, we had special control consoles by our hands so we didn’t have to fight the G’s to make any in-flight changes. The suits helped a little but we weren’t given the nickname of Super Human for nothing. The intense training and Crisper treatments made us tougher than most anyone else on Earth, save the next batch of astronauts. Mars was tough to make out, but Jupiter was hard to miss. It was basically all we could see. As Saturn went by it’s rings stretched out across the windows like they were slicing them in half. Then the whitish blue-green of Uranus slipped by and bled into the beautiful purple of Neptune. The AI magnified Pluto and his moons, Kerberos, Hydra, Nix, Charon and Styx.

The immense forces start to relax as we seemed to fly just meters above Styx and before we knew it, Pluto was hundreds of thousands of miles behind us and a message appeared on our HUD’s.

FIRST Destination reached

First destination, the boundary between our solar system and Deep Space. Our hearts stopped as reality hit us. We rallied off our reports and the AI confirmed our numbers. We’d done it and the Pegasus Drive had done what it was designed to do.

“Next stop, Alpha Centauri.”

The Captains words were met with excited cheers. We couldn’t contain ourselves and were hooting and hollering in our seats. A jubilation that was picked up on in the recording we sent back to Earth. After we gathered ourselves we did our final checks before we heard the pitch of the Pegasus Drive kick in and we left everything we were used to behind.

“Um Captain?”

The silence that followed those two words was anxiety inducing. We’d expected to feel some kind of acceleration forces for a bit longer a minute or two but almost as soon as we started towards Alpha Centauri we only felt about 5G’s for maybe 4 seconds before the only way we could tell we were moving was the super imposed star chart on the windshield. When he finally spoke his voice cracked.

“We – we need to check our velocity measurements and relative gravitational affect.”

Everyone immediately tore off their gloves and got to crunching the numbers. The AI needed no further prompting and pieced together 5 different scenarios for us to work with for the next 12 hours.

During those hours we had all removed our suits and were just in our normal clothes. Helmets, gloves, inner jackets and sweaters were strewn about as we frantically tried to figure out what happened.

“How is it possible for velocity to vary this much out here?”

“Well the good part is if we slow down we’ll still arrive there in the time we expected. If we keep this pace we’d get there faster but we haven’t set in parameters for that.”

“Right. So, we’re all in agreement with that assessment?”

We all said our various forms of yes and I altered our velocity. We were still on edge but we were on the right track.

Save for the terror at the start and that year we were traveling through a non threatening radiation field, our voyage was calm. Our sensors seemed to be able to stretch out farther than we ever thought possible and we picked up signals and readings that were like candy to a child. The sun really had sheltered us from all sorts of universal bombardments it was truly fascinating.

We all got our suits on and made preparations to arrive at Alpha Centauri. As we reached 150 a.u. we felt a tug. The ship slowed and as the windshield tinted we expected to see the bright light of Alpha but instead we saw nothing but darkness.

“It’s probably behind us. We over shot the star.”

Our Captain chuckled and some of the others did as well but when the AI scanned for it…

We are currently 1.4 light-years away from Alpha Centauri.

“That can’t be right. Bring the ship around and put it in the center of the windscreen.”

We did as much and it was just a speck on the screen.

It’s been 2 years. We should be much closer than this, at least!”

I voiced our anger but the Captain kept us calm.

“We expected to run into issues. The probe was much smaller so we should have expected our destination to be a little off. As long as Home is to our right we’re fine. AI, bring up Earth on the windscreen and it’s heading.”

“Local East. Travel time 2 years and six months, Earth time-scale.”

“See we were traveling fine. Just one more light year and now that we have the new inter-stellar calculations figured out we can get there in no time at all. But just in case when we lock in we should all run over the disparity and confirm notes en-route.

We all nodded as I set the new course and everyone okay’d the heading.

This time a week went by before we had to get ready. When we came to a stop we were again met by darkness.

“Where’s Alpha?!”

The question left my mouth before I could think to stop myself.

“A.I. Point us at Alpha. And what’s our distance?”

The ship turned.

“We are currently 1.4 lightyears away from Alpha Centauri.”

“This doesn’t make any sense. Ship Full speed with new theoretical parameters. We should arrive in 5 hours. Crew, numbers check.”

We all ran the calculations as did the AI and they seemed to check out. Just like last time. The AI even ran some calculations with the previous unforeseen errors and everything pointed to ok.

5 hours passed and this time we were met with a localized radiation field just like the one we had spent a year in but much smaller.

No one spoke for minutes, it must have been at least half an hour before someone managed to say something.

“I know we don’t want to hear this but, I think we should just return home.”

Our Captain agreed and we set in our coordinates, taking into account the extra distance we’d traveled, we finalized the galactic model and made our way home.

2 years, 6 Months, 1 week and 5 hours later.

We came to a stop and we finally weren’t met with darkness. We were just outside the Kuiper belt and in the distance we could see our Sun. The Captain wasted no time. Everyone check the final coordinates, we’re heading home. We did as much, for an hour, and we set them in.

A few minutes later

We came to a stop but we were still outside the Kuiper Belt.

“… How – have we not moved? I felt the G-forces.”

“Keep calm everyone. Earth is right there. We’ll just engage the Pegasus Drive manually.”

The process took around 5 hours for coordination and modifications. The countdown was cold and distant.

5

4

3

2

1

0

A few minutes later

“No. This isn’t right!”

The Captain had finally lost his cool.

“AI. Jump again, immediately.”

We’ve tried 247 times by this point. We don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know how many of these I’ve sent but everyone, please know that we tried. We’re running low on fuel but please I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough. Until you can figure out what’s going wrong, Don’t. Send. Out. Another. Ship. Good bye for now Pale Blue Dot.

pia00452

Pale Blue Dot That one tiny pixel to the right in the image, that’s home. That’s Earth.

 

“This was the last transmission from Longshot. We are still tracking them at the edge of the Kuiper Belt and it would seem that any attempt to send care packages out to them or any signal at all have failed. The scientific community has been working hard for the past 2 years but time is nearly up for the crew of 22 brave humans who sought to take us into the next age… “

Unavoidable Attention

     The Felsuron test vehicle was supposed to send back a confirmation signal then wander into the star of that system. We got the signal at least. Sub-space travel had been confirmed and we never thought to double check it’s velocity. Hubris got the better of my team and I.

     We’d finally joined the inter-galactic community and since that day our knowledge as a race exploded exponentially. We found a more efficient sub-space design with help from our neighbors and even gave insight into some chemical compounds others had been having trouble with. All of our successes were built on the belief that our test vehicle had done it’s job and was nothing more than a memory, having been consumed by the star known as “Sun’ by it’s sentient race.

I was on a scientific ship when I got the news.

“Reil, there’s something you need to see. There’s something wrong with the test vehicle.”

“Which one? Helthen? Jarlis?”
“Proto 1.”

     My heart stopped and my eyes lost focus for a second as I saw the confused looks on my colleagues faces.

“Wasn’t Proto 1 the vehicle you used to start your journey?”

My eyes raced from face to face in that room while my mind struggled to weasel it’s way out of there.

“It definitely is not the same. He probable means Protone. Just a typo, I’ll be right back.”

     A few nodded their heads in belief but the Head Director gave me a sideways glance before I bowed my way out of the room. The door closed behind us and before he could continue I put my hand over my mouth and motioned him to take us to a secure room. We walked 5 minutes through the planet sized station until we got to one with secure comms and he blurted it out.

“Proto 1 sent a new signal. It’s been detected by that sentient race.”

“S… so what? It will just be a rock to them.”

“That’s what they believed at first but now they’ve developed the technology to capture it…”

The edges of my vision slowly turned white as his voice became more and more muted. My life was over. We had given impossible technology to a race that wasn’t ready for it.

Black Knight STS088-724-66

Nasa Photo ID: STS088-724-66

             Earth, 2045

A reporter is standing at Cape Canaveral with three large symbols behind them. Nasa Grummond, Space Origin and Virgin Boeing Aerospace.

“With the combined efforts of the Big 3 what many believe to just be a space rock has undergone extensive study up there in orbit. After it’s successful capture 3 years ago not much has been heard about it but now in a joined conference We will finally learn the truth of the rumours and spec…”

     A low rumble shook Cape Canaveral that was followed by something that sounded like a horn burbling an arrival. A bright light with no origin point slowly grew over the crowd. The light got bigger and seemed to be tracing something out. Silence rolled over everyone in attendance as the light dimmed and what could only be described as a ship settled down on the rocket launch pad. A loud, piercing tone shot out followed by another horn blast and the bow of the ship seemed to change shape. A gang plank stretched out from it and a small group of people were standing at the top, One looked specifically alarmed and spoke, an unseen loud system amplifying his voice.

“Hello. My name is Reil and it seems you have found some of our technology. We can’t allow you to have it.”

The shocked silence turned into dread as a large number of ovals lifted off of the ship.

Another Excerpt

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(image from pixabay)

Even space ambassadors just wanna get home and relax. The following is an excerpt from my work in progress novel, Feral World.

A fractal-energy-field appeared around the ship before we hit atmosphere but it was barely visible, just like when we left. There was no shaking like in the sci-fi movies, no red lights, it was just like a plane coming in for a routine landing. When the drop-ship sat down on the dock I was partially surprised. The counsel we set up was waiting for me with Catty and Nik. Mei-lin spoke first.

“Welcome home.”

“Mutha Fucka!” Catty said with a grin on her face.

“Ambassador.” Nik said with a mock bow.

“It’s good to be back.”

An Excerpt

adult alone black and white dark

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Here’s an excerpt from my current love and obsession, “Feral World” (Working title).

“A fireball shot over the crowd, cutting off the Wolf as he spoke and while everyone’s attention was off of me I took the opportunity. I leapt over the 10 or so people between me and the ship-lobby entrance, landing with a thud not at all characteristic of a cat’s dexterity. I scratched at the ground, trying to get up frantically as Nik continued to play fire juggler.

I clambered into the elevator and the doors slid closed, which did nothing for my current mental situation.

‘Panzer, you seem to be having a panic attack, do you want…’

‘My room. I can’t… I don’t know everything. They want everything!’ 

The elevator rose quickly and all I could do was continue to try and squeeze into a corner of the elevator, gasping for air. The elevator slowed and my eyes went wide, my head was a mess and I’m not even sure I was having coherent thoughts.

The doors opened and I only saw a figure. I leapt at it with my maw open and grabbed its arm. We fell to the ground in a lump.

 

Not sure what to say but here, Panzer is having an anxiety attack which is compounded by his amnesia. Dealing with the end of the world is harder when you’ve also been turned into an animal.

The Legion Repair

This will be a broad look into how Marvel could go about reconciling their
time-lines, assuming the Fox absorption is allowed to occur, based on the
success of the FX show “Legion” and the titular character’s powers and history.
Spoilers for the television show will follow.

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First, a basic overview of Legion a.k.a. ‘David’ which will incorporate
both the television show and the comics simultaneously:

David is the secret child of Prof. X. Having inherited the X-gene from
his father, whom himself was a particularly strong mutant with psychic abilities,
David ends up becoming a strong psychic. His ability, simply stated, is the
absorption/creation of other [people’s] psyche’s, (usually at their death but not
specifically) into his own. Upon absorption David(Legion) gains their abilities, even if they are not Psychic/mental in nature, e.g. electricity, super strength,
shape-shifting (centaur), etc.

It is then stated that after an unspecified amount of time with his powers/getting used to them, his real power manifests which is one reason for his “Omega
Classification.” Legion has the ability to warp reality to his wishes. If Legion
wants the oceans to be pink he could make it happen. Often times this reality
bending takes the form of pocket worlds and side universes but usually end up
breaching mainline reality. Some ways he has been dealt with in the past are: he
was essentially erased from existence… twice. Once when he accidentally killed
Prof. X after time traveling (grandfather paradox) and the second he erased himself from existence because he hated the horrors he’d wrought on the world.

Secondly it would be remiss of me not to mention the parasitic entity which latched onto David from a very young age; we’re talking basically baby status. Shadow King is an ancient entity who has been fighting against David’s father since long before David’s birth. Shadow King feeds off of all the bad stuff you’d expect an evil entity to feed off of: sadness, fear, anxiety, depression etc. as well as psychics. Like its name, Shadow King is basically mysterious and no one really knows much about it beyond the theory that it’s been around possibly longer than humanity. When the first strong psychic caught it’s attention, named Amahl Farouk, Shadow King often would assume that visage after taking control of him and most people came to know of it by that name.

Preamble out of the way I think you have a basic idea of how Legion can help stitch together the disparate parts of the Marvel Live Action Universe. I say MLAU instead of MCU because we have not seen the Fantastic 4, Deadpol or any other X-Men mentioned in the MCU movies. Not to mention any connection with the upcoming Venom movie which seems to hinge on box office success and Sony’s willingness to play ball with Marvel proper and the Spider-Man characters. Sony is technically another article but I digress.

The Meat

Shadow King often antagonizes Legion and in the television show is still existent inside of Legion. As far as the viewer knows, Legion has locked it away deep inside of their psyche and now that he believes he has control over his powers he’s not taking anymore shit. People have been messing with him and lying to him in the entire first season so he’s not necessarily a good guy or a bad guy. I’d say he’s more in the “chaotic” classification, based on the D&D alignment scale. His prior experiences make him distrustful of others and he seems to be relying on his ultra powerful status to basically big-dick his way around; no one can stop him.

When Shadow King breaks free (because we know he will), David will have garnered even more control over his abilities and we will likely have met a few other personalities whom reside therein. Seeing as the next upcoming season is airing in April this year and is assumedly finished or close to being so, I would wager the arc is about David coming into his own and possibly finding a way to expel Shadow King from his mind and body or Shadow King gains total control, which would leave us on a great cliff hanger for the next season. I could be wrong either way but just use those ideas as a generality more than a fact. The third season could revolve around reality bending more than the second seems it might. It is this third season which could lay the ground work for cohesion in the Marvel Live Action Universe if they don’t hint at it in season 2, which they most likely will not do because healthy logic applies.

Mainline Characters and Movies from Marvel-Disney

The events that are culminating for Infinity War and Avengers 4 are in and of themselves world breaking already. The MacGuffin that is the Infinity Gauntlet is being wielded by a character whom most of the viewing public is unaware of his actual power level and abilities. We just know he’s stupid strong. How do you top a being of that magnitude? You tie-in someone who could will Thanos out of existence just by farting. Be it Shadow King in control of Legion or an angry and mentally distraught Legion himself, you start peppering into the Marvel movies, seeds of the chaos that is ensuing on the Legion show.

scarlet-witch-vision

One example of this would be you have Vision (Whom houses the mind gem) ask one of the human characters ( Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Falcon, Ant Man etc) something that the audience knows about but the character looks at Vision like he’s crazy. Another possibly much cooler thing to do would be have Wanda a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, whom also has reality warping powers, start to have episodes similar to something in the comics like House of M. You set up the movies, and thereby the audience, to believe that Wanda is turning evil and either doesn’t know it or is lying to us. Which fits thematically seeing that her twin brother Pietro(Quicksilver) was killed because they decided to fight against Ultron whom Iron Man created. In this regard you would have Legion/David played by Dan Stevens appear in small cameos in the movies, as he looks in the show, visit Wanda in dreams/visions and intentionally mess with her.

Now for this to work Dan would have to be not just a great television actor but also a great movie actor as well and I believe he can do it. However, given the nature of Legion and Shadow King you could just as easily have another actor play the movie version. The movies could play off the idea of Legion’s multiple personalities, specifically “Gestalt” so Wanda has no solid idea of who it is she’s really dealing with. Either way, the character himself is highly flexible in how he can be portrayed, yet if written correctly any portrayal would hearken strongly to the television version and not be cheap.

Now how would one write David/Legion into  messing with reality in this manner? It could be easy to set it up so that Shadow King wants to get the good guys off its back in the show by trying to change reality so he can achieve a higher goal. But you could also use a prior story arc to set David off which would help to retcon even the X-Men movies of years past.

You have David dream/see the Prof. being killed by Phoenix. Upon witnessing his father’s death he’s set on a path of trying to change things so that never happens, much like many people wish that movie never happened. This seems far-fetched as it is but with Deadpool humping the fourth-wall with jokes like “McAvoy or Stuart”  you can start to see how it’s possible. In the comics, Deadpool’s fourth-wall humping is attributed to him talking to himself because his character has had mental health problems even before he got his abilities. Someone with a mental space that is already as twisted as Deadpools, who seems to be aware of other time-lines can link very cleanly to a story where David/Legion is messing with reality in order to prevent his father’s death so he can finally meet him and squash all his daddy issues. Add in the fact that Cable is a time traveler and Josh Brolin is both Thanos and Cable and it allows for wonderful hilarity for Deadpool movies. “Hey Cable, I keep having a dream about this television show where the Professor’s kid has daddy issues. It answers, SO many questions and you’re there… TWICE!”

Long story short, Legion along with the Fox acquisition can open up possibilities that have before now been impossible for Marvel-Disney. We can have X-men, the F4, and others make appearances in the movies which will allow for more involved (not convoluted, there’s a difference) stories that have to rely less on basically 10 characters but a pantheon of interesting characters and personalities whom can prevent the Marvel movies from becoming stale affairs that meet all our pre-expectations at the end of our movie visit. It also allows for characters to actually die and have the stakes be raised before 17 movies go by (at the time of writing 01/21/2018).

What is this article beyond a bunch of over-thinking and fanboyism? Not much but I had fun thinking about it.

 

Blacker than Energy

 

A story of caution by Javier R. Romero

 

It wasn’t long ago that physicists ramped up efficiency numbers for solar panels. It seemed to be a material engineer’s dream. Exotic materials were being created based on nano-technology that had just been prototyped. Bleeding edge technology for a bleeding edge world. Like software, video games, and cellphones, now the energy sector was releasing “Developer level” technology to the public. What’s cooler than being in on beta testing? Well… alpha testing obviously. The newer the better! Who cares if you get cancer? There’s a new experimental drug for that out now anyway.

 

But I digress… solar power!

 

Triple-junction cells were just the beginning! While studying what the energy transfer looked like in those cells they found something strange happening. In areas of the cell that were darker than others things seemed to be bi-locating. That is to say in layman terms one particle was in two places at the same time. Even more fascinating the waveforms were harmonizing in these areas but as soon as they left the darker regions the waveform collapsed. What did it mean? It didn’t take too long for the fringes of society to start worrying that scientists shouldn’t study the phenomena. If we listened to them we’d still be sitting in caves because fire is dangerous.

 

Needless to say, everyone got to work on making a perfectly even distribution of those darker areas until they managed to produce a perfect 350mm x 350mm panel. The scientific world rejoiced just because they were able to create the panel, it would be 7 months until they were able to test it but that was the hard part. In order to pull energy from the panel we had to rethink the way we interface with solar panels. Unfortunately the only person who had come close to explaining the process was a disgraced electrical engineer. He was the guy who blew up a power-plant because the “gnomes” said it was bored. Don’t ask me how a power-plant can be bored. Normally no one would’ve paid attention to him but he locked himself in on one of the meetings and forced everyone to listen to him… at gun point.

 

After a 2 day hostage scenario the scientists came to see that Englebart knew exactly what he was talking about… this time.

 

After coaxing 5 million dollars out of the federal government for “Renewable Energy Technology Development” Englebart got to work. He locked himself away in the warehouse and any attempt to get inside by the scientists was met with frantic yelling about disturbing the “Quantilis”. Even when the power went out he calmly walked outside, started up the generator trucks and went back to work. The phrase, “A man possessed” was too perfect. At the end of it all he wheeled out a 10 foot tall behemoth of wires, glass tubes and a board with at least 14 different knobs on the front.

“Don’t touch the knobs they’re for the song. You have to sing in tune or else it will get dark. Not colour, dark in, in, in, feel. Everything will change… feel different. Change isn’t good, not this kind. Don’t touch the knobs. Gotta sing in tune. A…A sharp should be good. Sing once, first song, final song. No change.”

 

He only agreed to and was able to get one interview despite the constant push for him to become the face of this new technology. The other scientists said he would be a sympathetic personality for people to connect to. Englebart knew they were making fun of him.

 

“So, finally Mr. Englebart…”

“Please, Timothy. Call me Timothy, I like Timothy.”

“Well then, Timothy. Why is it that you’re so intent on having your… tuner set to A sharp?

“Energy is important. Runs through the wires like a, like a hum. 60or 50hz. Boring sound but ok for cavemen. A sharp is alive and happy.”

“I see. Well Timothy, is there…”

“Music makes people happy. When you hear a good song you smile. When you hear a bad one you feel bad. Electricity is waves. Waves have sound. Make good sound, make good energy. Make bad sound… Bad sound bad. A Sharp happy.”

“Tell me this Timothy, what would happen if your tuner fell out of tune?”

 

It was at that point that Englebart started crying uncontrollably. Newspapers would go on to call him a freak and a weirdo. The other scientists were quickly branded as “The minds behind the future.” No one ever understood what he meant. All they needed to know was that he made the tuners and once the first one was set the others were automatic because of his “Quantilis”, whatever that was. No one knows because they’re locked inside the tuners.

 

Needless to say, with the oil reserves nearly dry, the world was holding its breath when the first test occurred. In actuality the theoretical numbers were so good they were already in talks for retrofitting existing solar farms and manufacturing single home units. It was impossible to stop the machine of commerce now.

 

On the big day Englebart was nervous. He kept saying the weather was bad, but that’s because he was struck by lightning in the past, hence his mannerisms. Clouds always made him uneasy. He made sure everyone was standing far enough back as not to disrupt his tuning. After 4 minutes of him humming to himself on national television he yelled in triumph, startling some of the people around him. He said before they started that “When I say you can make toast it’s a success.”

 

Everyone held their breath as the numbers on the power meter rose, 30 volts, 60, 120, 240. The camera pans over to the other side of the tuner and the screen said 30 amps. When the numbers stopped rising a reporter walked up to Englebart curious about what the readouts on the myriad screens meant.

 

“So Englebart, what do these readings mean? Is it a success?”

“Well these numbers are for each line and when the lines are used there are 14 in total. Cut one of them in half and you have the others singing fine through the wires to, to, to, to your toaster. We just have to let the tu, tu, tu, tuner… You can make toast.”

 

It was at that point the reporter slapped Englebart on the shoulder in congratulations. The reporter walked in front of him and motioned the camera to zoom in on the screens.

“Please be careful. It has a few more seconds to set.”

The reporter waved at Englebart and walked back down the stairs talking into the camera as everyone else was rejoicing. Finally, we have an alternative to oil that was cheap and easy to access. The wire on the reporter’s backup mic was now coiled around Englebart’s feet. With each step the wire was pulled taught, eventually making Englebart lose his balance. His hand landed on one of the knobs and a look of horror fell over his face. However the cameras were now focused on the more photogenic faces of the scientists Englebart had held hostage. His tuner made the sound to let him know the frequency had been set and Englebart fell to his knees.

 

It wasn’t until 4 years later that Englebart had his last interview.

“… Don’t you love how everyone is smiling now because of the green, cheap and affordable energy you helped provide them?!”

“Smiles hide mean thoughts. I don’t like the smiles. Everyone mean outside now not just inside… I said A sharp… this isn’t A sharp.”

 

It was slight, only visible for a flash of an instant but it was noticeable. The interviewer glared at Englebart with a murderous intent.

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