jimagain

Rants & ramblings of the disaffected

Archive for the tag “science fiction”

A Guide To The Perils Of The Multiverse

Beneath the cloak of the mundane and the routine, I have discovered a multiverse of incomprehensible multiplicity filled with the arcane and the obscure, inhabited by aberrant and anomalous phenomenon. What I have stumbled upon is no less than a bizarre underworld beneath our very noses lurking inside our own homes. Some will no doubt call me crazy, others will scoff, and a select enlightened few will grasp the significance of what I’m about to tell.

Read at your own risk. I fear you may never be the same. This is not for the squeamish; go and never return! Do your laundry, mow your grass, watch re-runs of Family Feud; go back to the comfort of your boring and mundane lives while you still can!

Not since the days when ships routinely sailed off the edge of a flat earth has something so ominous, so nefarious been revealed. In a time before recorded history, when ancient aliens visited our suspicious prehistoric progenitors, when knights fought off fire-breathing dragons indiscriminately ravaging entire villages, these tales all pale in comparison.

Malicious, foreboding, menacing…

Brace yourself!

Many bizarre discoveries have been discovered at great peril to the intrepid or the inadvertent…journey to the center of the earth, lost in space, becoming stranded in a parallel earth frequented by giant insects and voracious dinosaurs roaming vast unexplored jungles locked inside a hidden valley – in most cases I would be the guy that gets chased by the tyrannosaurus and eaten.

How can this be? The typical home contains a multiverse of the irrational and the inexplicable. Anomalies abound, such as hauntings, the lone missing sock, the empty sink mysteriously filled with dirty dishes, the un-ending laundry basket, the car keys that are never where you left them, children mysteriously teleporting in and out of your home…how else can you explain your children’s behavior when they suddenly turn into – gasp – teenagers…need I go on?!!

I speak of a dark and sinister place, an alternate reality, a parallel universe that exists inside my own house…and perhaps yours as well.

Dread discoveries, inconspicuous phenomenon occur routinely around us . . .you may not be aware your attic might be occupied with goonies – did I just hear a thud in the attic followed by giggling??? Maybe aliens have burnt yet another crop circle in your unmown lawn . . .perhaps a grotesque wrinkled old troll lives under your footbridge…excuse me. Honey?!! I found your Aunt Ethylene – pause – under the bridge in the backyard on her walker. Sorry for the interruption. Now where was I? Oh yes! It all happened innocently enough, going about the mundane affairs of life when….wait! Is that Twilight Zone theme music I hear in the background???

Under the bed is a parallel universe…

It’s a dark place, where ‘dark matter’ of the universe fills, a veritable black hole that sucks objects and small pets into its clutches, never to be seen again.

“My sandals are under there,” she tells me.

And she expects me to reach my hand under the bed? Fear of being pulled under never to be seen crosses my mind or – gasp – draw back a nub of once what used to be my arm. Is that the theme music from Jaws I hear???

“Oh, sure,” I say “let me be the sacrificial offering.” Suddenly I feel so…expendable. not only can she survive without me, she would be much happier than she is…and I’m not sure I like the prospect of her being so happy after my terrible and gory demise.

“Wuss,” she calls me.

Nope. I’m not falling for that one either. They always resort to tactics of coercion to overrule your common sense. That’s how they prod the curious but reluctant kid to stick his head inside a crashed alien space ship, right before the aliens snatch him. Not me.

Suddenly I remember all those irrational fears of monsters lurking beneath my bed, the ones that came out at night, when the lights were turned off which is why for many years I refused to sleep without a night-light or my stuffed monkey to protect me. Finally my wife scolded me for being an overgrown ninny.

Whatever you do, don’t look under the bed!

“Uh, uh,” I say. I’ve seen this before in most intros into horror movies; they start off with innocent endeavors by unsuspecting persons in peril unknown to them while the rest of the movie audience screams & squirms in their seats, hoping to catch grody scenes of gory dismemberment between tightly clutched eyelids.

“Oh, sure! Something horrible happens to me and you collect the life insurance. You stick your arm under there.”

Anybody got a broom handle?

Still don’t take me seriously? You’re talking to a budding astrophysicist here. I watched too many episodes of Star Trek to be unaware of the perils. Thanks to great scientific minds like Spock, Data,, and the grand guru of future knowledge, Gene Roddenberry. “What?!! You were thinking Carl Sagan? Isaac Asimov?!! How many episodes of Star trek did they write? See my point?”

Have you noticed that Kirk, Mc Coy, Spock…never get vaporized by the alien. It’s always those unnamed security guys they beam down with them. They must have worn the shirts that said, “Disintegrate me, I’m the underling!” In every episode, when they beamed down a couple of security guys on some alien planet, I immediately knew some terrible thing would happen to them and they wouldn’t be returning to the Enterprise. It was some immutable law of sci-fi plot writing.

I was not a wuss. I’m wary.

Once a crazy unsubstantiated theory that rapidly gained credibility after initially being rejected by disbelieving scientists; dark matter is now an accepted fact despite that it sounds like some ‘corny’ phrase invented from the fertile imagination of a 1920’s sci-fi comic book writer.

Dark matter exists in the universe. We know this because it neither absorbs nor emits light and therefore is not detectable by normal scientific means available. The inescapable evidence is that there is no evidence to explain the discrepancy, when the relationship between the mass versus the rotational speeds from galaxies light years away is calculated. Theories make convenient bridges to gap the unknown with plausible speculation. If this makes absolutely no sense to you, it’s because you aren’t intelligent enough to believe in something you can’t prove, therefore you can’t be an astrophysicist.

Everybody knows that black holes suck light in, never to escape, which explains why my flashlight never works. Think about it. The batteries are always dead because the black hole sucks the light right out of it as soon as I turn it on. Battery manufacturers know this but don’t tell you so you will keep buying their products.

And what about black holes? Rotating gravitational vortexes of indescribable density, compressed elements so heavy they implode upon themselves until all the normal empty space in atoms has been expelled, leaving incredibly dense matter with exponentially strong gravitational forces to suck you in…and you want me to stick my hand under there?

If the 83 per cent of the universe is filled with dark matter, you can’t tell me there’s not some of it lurking under my bed!

“There is nothing you can say that will make me do it.”

“Fine.” She threatens. “I’ll go buy me a new pair at the…” I interrupt. “Grab me by my feet,” I tell her. “I’m going in.”

Shoe stores are another black hole of the universe, sucking all the money out of my wallet She goes just to look and returns with twelve more pair of shoes that don’t fit. And every time women go there, something happens. The same person never comes back from those places; they exchange personalities with a myriad of denizens of feminine persona that inhabit those places. Think of it like an ectoplasmic bus stop, a busy terminal for incorporeal  passengers in transit. It’s an alien body snatching, murrain-seizing portal where roaming spirits randomly quantum leap from one estrogen inhabited corporeal habitat to another…which explains why you end up with a different wife every time she returns from shoe shopping. I’ve been married twenty-eight years to the same woman, whom I barely know. Her identity has quantum-leaped into so many alternate personas, every time I think I know her, she changes.

So what is a woman’s fascination with new shoes? Allow me to explain. Remember the cartoon where Elmer Fudd’s personality changed whenever his hat changed? That’s what happens when women change shoes. Don’t laugh. Those Looney Tunes cartoons were a carefully encrypted encyclopedia of female psychology delivered to mankind by a sympathetic alien culture that visited us in eons past. Left to mankind to help us decode the enigma of the estrogen-impaired gender. Watch these episodes often, let its wisdom sink into your soul. As you observe how the other side of the gene pool think and behave, you too may become enlightened.

Don’t call me a coward. Call me wary! The multiverse is no place for the squeamish or the naive.

Good Night, Bob!

So much for normal…

Another night at the office working late. Twilight is falling, the sun is tottering on the horizon as if it were precariously perched on the brink of nothingness. Azure beams of sunlight stab between the blinds before surreptitiously fading into oblivion ten minutes later. I’m alone. As usual. The other career underachievers that share my office have long given up the appearance of effort, retiring for the day. It should come as no surprise as most my co-workers have opted to abandon productivity for a ride on the corporate welfare bandwagon all the way into retirement.

For them, work has become a vestigial appendage cast aside on the trek of corporate evolution.

Alan is always the first out the door and the last in. Counting down the minutes at the office from the moment he pulled out of his driveway this morning; his entire day was spent terrrorizing productive employees with random acts of unsolicited socialization. His arsenal includes personal matters, mundane questions, or any other pursuits of a trivial distraction not related to work that he can pursue; buzzing from cubicle to cubicle pollinating every conversation with his well-honed repertoire of irrelevant pander.

‘Eeyore’ has left as well; that’s what I call him. Don is the office gloom-monger-er. Parked beneath a perpetual black cloud, he patiently waits for something to go wrong. From there he typically launches into an extended tirade against technology before digressing into what’s wrong with society and politics and the rest of the world in general.

Two hours earlier you would have heard a spontaneous outburst erupt across the office, a shrill, high-pitched laugh that could only be described as a cackle. That would be the receptionist flirting with the deliveryman. This time next week, he will have been discarded as emotional flotsam for the next available fling. Not that we keep count but we’re already on no. 37 this season. Refer to the chart behind the door in the break area, the one with the stake through the heart.

Last to go was, Cynthia. I’m not sure I can explain how a ninety-eight pound female in heels can make such a clatter? Coming down the hall, she sounds like a Clydesdale on a cobblestone street; clop, clop, clop. She’s the overpaid Human Resources guru whose job it is to redefine success to an increasingly lower state of expectation thereby boosting morale. She cheerily spouts sporadic bits of pop-psychobabble like a jack-in-the-box wound too tightly and regurgitates them to employees at meetings or splashes them across bulletin boards.

It turns out we’re a random collection of dysfunctional misfits that researchers studying abnormal psychology dream about.

Welcome to my world.

I’m a draftsman pretending to be an engineer and this is our dysfunctional corner of the galaxy. In our cubicle zoo, a dysfunctional Dilbert-esque psychology has long since seized the occupants of this office like a grievous murrain. Ours is a place in the corporate universe occupied by chronic underachievers where now we subsist in an incapacitating state of sub-par mediocrity. Once we had ascended those lofty peaks of corporate success before slowly lapsing into a collective employee stupor that dissolves neurons, leaving us the impaired assortment of office zombies we are today.

Forty minutes earlier, I had looked at my watch. “About that time,” I announced to myself. “Any moment now…” Alan suddenly ducks his head into my partition. “Anything I can do before I leave?” It may as well have been a prerecorded messaged played back. We both know he doesn’t mean it. It’s just his signature exit before he departs the building. I utter some rhetorically random retort involving sheer absurdity just to see if he will respond.

And then its silent.

Back to the present…under the garish glare of a flickering fluorescent light, the office is cast in a surreal ambiance of artificial light.

I digress for a moment to that troublesome light. Earlier this week…I complained we ought to get that thing fixed. “I think the ballast is going out.” “Put in a work order,” they said. The last time maintenance checked it out he said, “can’t find nothing wrong.” I argue there is. He dryly states, “turn in another work order if you want it checked out.” And they will, four to six weeks later. That’s how we play the work order game here; a perpetual version of procedural musical chairs; a cyclic chase-your-tail series of pushing papers from in-basket to out, generating forms and excuses. Solving the problem has no legitimate place in the work order game.

Where were we? Oh, yes. Back to the abandoned office where now I can get some work done.

I sit fuming about that light as I plod on under the luminescent glow of the monitor beneath the flickering light. The light worsens to a phosphorescent stroboscope, an oscillating mental metronome of rapidly flashing light pulses with the intent of brain-washing that lulls me into an unnatural rhythm. Soon I lapse into a lethargic stupor. And I sigh out loud.

And that’s when I hear that familiar sound.

From within the employee break area, I hear the sound of a refrigerator door slowly creak open. The faint glow of dim refrigerator light scintillesces from the darkened room, followed by the sound of a hollow metal door being sucked shut as it closed.

I hear it coming. Like a lumbering run-a-way amoeba, lumping along tediously across the tile floor.

I can only describe the visitor as a gelatinous mass exiting the fridge, an amorphous blob of stray cytoplasm that oozes and wobbles and slides across the room. Toward me. It’s a bit unnerving the first time I admit when I encountered this phenomenon but I’m not fearful of the bizarre occurrence. Running away from a gelatinous blob isn’t a major concern should it suddenly turn malevolent. I have real feet and a musculo-skeletal structure; the blob only has pseudo-pods. The primordial protoplasmic creature lumbering along has no teeth but I suppose if you were to lay motionless long enough, he might eventually be able to engulf you by the process of exocytosis.

“Hello Bob,” I say casually as I continue to work, not bothering to look up.

Maybe I should explain more, in case you’re still freaked out a bit. Bob is a spore spawned from leftovers that have been leftover again in the employee fridge. Lurking in the stale, musty air on the back shelf which he shares with the fuzzy blue macaroni.

I simply call him, Bob. What ‘Bob’ is is a matter of taxonomy; you may prefer to categorize him a mycelium or some mutated form of spontaneous generation, an example of punctuated equilibrium; but I prefer ‘Bob’. I will leave that question up to the zoologists and the philosophers.

Bob slowly, tediously pulls himself up into the chair beside me. And he sighs. “Man. You guys have really got to clean out that fridge. Its getting rank in there, even for me.”

He slurs his words slightly but for an amoebic creature with no larynx, I think he articulates well.

“I told the cleaning lady to take care of it”

Bob has one appendage, a tentacle like protrusion he uses for grasping and occasional gesticulation for emphasis when making a point. “Jim,” he wraps his tentacle over my shoulder, “I think it’s time we got rid of Myrtle.”

Maybe you don’t routinely take advice from gelatinous masses inhabiting your fridge, but Bob’s opinion carries a lot of weight with me.

“It’s not my call, Bob. Somebody else has to make that decision.”

“They should promote me to office manager. I’d fire some people around here if I ever get the position.”

This whole scene isn’t nearly as bizarre as you may think. And Bob is actually a pretty nice guy, once you get to know him, in spite of being a mutated form of leftovers. Must have been those additives; some synthetic chemical reaction or something…or some random case of evolution, spontaneously generated. After all, a refrigerator would make a perfect incubator for evolving life with it’s controlled environment and a plethora of nutrients, and an ample light source to initiate a photosynthetic jump-start of bio-synthetic processes. And despite having jello for brains: No, literally, he has gelatin for brains; for a discarded, mutated leftover, he’s very intelligent.

We have frequent conversations when I work late. Tonight is no exception. We discuss things for the next hour before Bob yawns and announces he’s retiring to the fridge. “I’m starting to thaw out.” And then he adds, “Jim? Go home. You look like crap.”

It’s hard to argue with logic like that. “I rub my eyes and hit the save button before shutting down my laptop. “I think you’re right, Bob. I’m outta’ here.”

“See you later”, he says as he plots a course toward his habitat. “Oh, and leave the TV on, will you. I’m trying to catch up on my current events.”

“You got it, Bob. Good night.”

“Hmmmmmph.” And with that I hear the sound of a hollow metal door being sucked shut as it’s closed.

“Good night, Bob,” I say affectionately.

Around The World In Eighty-eight Minutes

What does a French science-fiction writer have in common with a Russian girl and a cosmonaut? What event could reach across the span of nearly a century to give their lives continuity?

Let’s start with the writer. His name is as recognized today as the titles of his many books. He wrote several science fiction stories that seemed outlandish, even preposterous, in his day. When we consider the time in which he lived, and wrote, his work was remarkable. If for no other reason that they were presentient of things to come, almost prophetic. His fiction became our science. For instance, he wrote about submarines traveling under the water before they became a viable reality. He also wrote about an expedition to the moon long before the technology existed. He wrote about traveling around the world in a balloon at a rate unheard of in his time; this particular fictitious journey took place in only eighty days. If you haven’t already guessed, the writer was none other than Jules Verne.

But what about the others, I alluded to earlier, the cosmonaut and the Russian girl? How do they fit into all this? I mentioned three people at the beginning, we disclosed the first. What of the other two?
  
Pause here momentarily while we go to another period in time. It is June the 19th, the year is 1963. The cosmonaut, let’s abbreviate the middle name of this intrepid pioneer in space to “Vlad”. Vlad has been inside the cockpit of the Vostok VI for nearly three days orbiting the earth up to one hundred and thirty miles above the surface of the planet. Before the mission is completed, Vlad will have orbited the earth for seventy hours and fifty minutes, a total of eighty–eight times around the world. The cosmonaut, and the Russian girl, are the same. They are, or should I say, she is “Vlad’, her full name is Valentina Vladimirova Tereshkova.

What did Jules Verne have in common with this Russian girl born in 1937? Almost a century prior, in 1873, he wrote of a fictitious “Phineas Fogg” circumnavigating the globe in a hot-air balloon, the book was titled, “Around The World In Eighty Days.” Ninety years later, this 26 year-old Russian girl had obliterated his then incredible time of eighty days. What he wrote of, she surpassed literally going around the world at the rate of once every eighty-eight minutes. Valentina Vladimirova Tereshkova lived the sequel to the Jules Verne classic. Perhaps we could title her contribution to the race for space as, “Around The World In Eighty-eight Minutes.”

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