Archive for November 20th, 2022

2022/11/20

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Six

The cabin of the unthinkably-fast sharpness that is called Alpha is not a roomy place. But there is, at least at the time we are describing, room for the Pilot (also known as Alpha, like her ship), the Presence known as Tibbs (a being with no well-defined size or shape, being primarily a shimmering in the aether, and therefore not requiring much space), and the three young humans Colin (sitting next to the pilot, in what might be a co-pilot’s seat if there was a co-pilot, which there has never been), Kristen, and Steve (the latter two lying side by side supine in the rear of the cabin, looking upward through the transparent canopy at the impossibly pure colors rushing infinitely by, and talking now and then in low tones).

“So if the universes are connected by tendrils,” Colin is saying to the Pilot Alpha, “and we can use the tendrils to pass between universes–“

“Some can,” the Pilot says, her voice coming from somewhere amidst the shiny intricate surfaces of her face or helmet, “we in the Alpha and Omega do not pass to other universes, we only skim into the interstices when we can, for speed.”

“But some can, others can. And that is the difficulty!”

“The difficulty?” the Pilot echoes politely. She has not had passengers, not up here in the cabin at any rate, for a good two thousand years, and although she hopes they will not be with her long, she is rather enjoying the novelty at the moment.

“Yes,” replies Colin, “if the universes are possible worlds, or alternative realities, but we can travel from one to another, well, so — take this universe, say, and imagine that someone arrives in it along the tendrils, from a connected universe.”

“As you four did.”

“Um, yes, however that worked, if that’s what happened. But then! As soon as someone arrives in this universe from elsewhere, there must be another universe, identical to this one up until that point, where they did not arrive, where they changed their mind at the last moment, or simply ceased to exist just before arriving.”

“People do not simply cease to exist,” the pilot says, and small lights within her helmet or her head flash on and off, possibly with amusement, “not everything conceivable is possible.”

“Sure, okay,” Colin responds, enthusiasm undampened, “but it must be possible that they didn’t arrive, so there is a universe where they arrived, and one where they didn’t. There is even an interstice where they passed through from one universe to the other, and then another possible version of the interstice where they turned back half-way. So the interstices themselves are universes, or parts of universes, and have alternates. The entire set of universes, channels, and interstices that I am able to reach, are a single universe, which must exist in an infinite number of alternates, in each of which I make different choices, have different experiences.”

“If I understand you,” Tibbs says, shimmering from where the canopy meets the control panel, “you want separate universes to count as separate only if the two cannot interact in any way. So no being can touch more than one, because otherwise they would themselves link together all the universes that they touch, and they would collapse into one.”

“That way of seeing it matches the mathematics as well,” Pilot Alpha agrees, “at least some mathematics that I could show you. It is not strictly correct to say that the universes are connected through tendrils passing through the interstices; we should say rather that the universe, this universe, consists of innumerable planes or realms, connected through tendrils passing through interstices.”

“Right, right!” says Colin, “exactly what I’m saying. All of these universes, or things that we call universes, are just one universe in fact. The unthinkably huge number of other universes are, by definition, out of our reach. We can conceptualize or model them, some tiny fraction of them, but we can never touch or change them. When the mycelia and gravity channels connect the planets and stars, and the reality tendrils connect the … the planes, as you said, they bind them all into one, causally, into one transitive closure.”

“God, he’s so Colin,” Kristen laughs quietly into Steve’s ear, and he pulls her a little closer as they watch the colors of time speeding past.

“He always is,” Steve says softly back, and lightly bites her ear.

Beside Alpha, and sometimes briefly coming into view as Steve and Kristen gaze upward, the sharpness Omega speeds in parallel. When they’d first met the Pilot Alpha after emerging from that last portal, they had asked about Omega sitting in the other service cradle, and its presumable pilot; but Alpha had only shaken her head, and hinted darkly that those were questions whose answers they did not want to receive. Their one glance at the being in the Omega’s cabin had been unsettling at best.

“Are you happy, babe?” Steve asks Kristen now, and immediately regrets it.

“How could I not be? This is amazing. The most sophisticated virtuality ever, or some crazy quest through the true nature of reality, or something,” she says. She turns and looks at him, wondering what’s in his mind. “And with the best boyfriend ever.”

He blushes.

Now Tibbs and Colin and the Pilot are discussing their most promising route from the next service stop (in a day? a week? a year?) to the multiple confluence that Tibbs insists they should find for unstated but interesting reasons. She wonders how long it will take to get there, and what time is about here, anyway.

“I do worry about our bodies, and our friends and parents, back in the real. If this isn’t the real. Or… you know?”

Steve nods. “I know, me too. But here we are.”

“Here we are.”

Fling Thirty-Seven

2022/11/20

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Five

As the twilight began to deepen, the middle-sized grub, the one that had some ability to speak, had indicated, with gestures and a voice that Alissa thought held fatigue in its rough halting tones, that they would be burrowing into the large pile of bark fragments at the rear of the clearing, to spend the night. She replied, as best she could given the creature’s limitations, that that was a very sensible idea. The three pale creatures, or people as Alissa tried to think of them, had slowly turned away and vanished into the darkness of one of the holes in the dank-looking pile.

“Such very odd people,” she said to Sonorandelan and Glomorominith when they had returned to their own shelter, concealed cautiously among a thick growth of stems, and now made comfortable with layers of supple leaves.

“Indeed! You are generous, I think, to grant them that title, my friend.”

“They did have the gift of speech.”

“To some small degree.”

“Yes, well. Their voices are so slow and deep and odd. Perhaps they have their own language, which they use among themselves, communicating by groans and booms.”

“Their own language! Groans and booms! A novel thought, dear storyteller.”

“There is a story about that.”

“I am gratified to hear that.”

So Alissa told the others, as they all settled down in the twilight to eat tender seeds and shoots that Glomorominith produced from somewhere, the story of the invention of language.

In ancient days, the story says, there was no language; all people were as infants or aphids, thoughtlessly eating and mating and dying, huddling away from the rain, devoured by predators and mammals, each generation discovering the same few facts about the world and expiring to no purpose.

Then the ants (in different versions of the story, Alissa noted softly, different peoples are described as beginning the process, but the ants are commonly named), who were by brute nature gregarious and able to lay and follow fine scent-trails by instinct, began to signal to each other with abstract gestures, and even with sounds. Other peoples observed the ants and tried to copy them, most without success, and the ants became more efficient and successful with the seasons, as their speech became refined and symbolic; certain gestures or sounds would be made in certain circumstances, and other sounds or gestures made in return, depending on the individual’s mind.

In time every people developed their own ways of signaling with motion and gesture and speech, and between the peoples all was confusion, and even war. It was a dark time, now mostly forgotten.

Then the meslieres, certain individuals from each of the peoples, who gathered at certain times and places for reasons forgotten in the mists of time, had begun to communicate between each other, each sharing the motions and speech of their own people, and learning those of the others, and taking them back to burrow and hive, to earthen gathering and hollow trunk, and this had opened up the hearts of the world.

Before long, all peoples spoke the same language, and the meanings of motions and gestures, as adapted to each shape of mandible and antenna, were universally known. Each generation taught language to the next, and knowledge could finally be passed down rather than re-invented with each cohort. And gatherings of storytellers and teachers spread through the Cuer da Verai, to ensure that language and wisdom would last from season to season, and the people would be bound together.

Alissa finished the story and fell silent, and the others, who had been listening happily and intently as listeners should, settled deeper into the leaves to allow the silence to linger.

“That is an excellent story,” Sonorandelan finally said, and the others motioned in agreement. “It draws me to wonder if my own small efforts in the classification and study of certain leaves, could also be shared from generation to generation. I have thought, over the seasons, if everything that I do has been done before, by some other person in some other trunk or hive.”

“I know few stories involving the types of leaves,” Alissa said, “it does not really strike me as a topic that lends itself to storytelling.”

“True,” Sonorandelan nodded, “but it comes to my mind that there might be ways to pass the work from generation to generation, other than the stories of the storytellers.”

“What sort of ways?” Alissa asked in surprise.

“I am not certain”, the other replied, “it has only come into my mind.”

“I wonder why only one of the grubs seemed to know language at all. Could they be from some small people that somehow or for some reason kept their own language in the time of the ancients, and learned only a little of the world’s?”

“Perhaps they have come from a great distance, where there are more grubs, and even the language is different.”

Alissa found the idea unpleasant.

“I can barely imagine a whole gathering of slow soft grubs, groaning and booming at each other! Could they even survive a heavy rain?”

“A good question! Perhaps that is why we have never encountered them before. Are they known to your stories?”

“Not to any story that comes to my mind; they resemble grubs but are not grubs, resemble larvae but are not larvae, resemble mammals in some ways but are not overall, I do not think, the legendary mammals.”

“What of these mesliers? I very much like the sound of that, those who gather and mix and share knowledge.”

“They are in many stories! It is said that they gather at certain times, at special places, where stones are set in circles and songs and ceremonies are carried out, and stories told from before there were storytellers.”

“Stones set in circles, you say? This brings something to my mind,” Sonoraneldan said thoughtfully.

“Stones, yes, circles, yes,” said Glomorominith from under a couple of leaves, “What have we here?”

“At the second dawn,” Sonoraneldan said with an eager but contented tone, “perhaps we will see what stones and what circles we can find nearby.”

Fling Thirty-Six

2022/11/20

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Four

Welcome, traveler. It gratifies me that you have found this place, and this volume, however long it may have been since I sat down to write it. The longer the more gratifying, in fact; I flatter myself that my little work may have effects for some modest time beyond my own existence in this plane.

I have built this comfortable house, as a repository for this and my other volumes of writing, at the confluence of many channels on multiple levels of reality. This may not have much meaning to you, but again I flatter myself with the notion that at least some of my readers, some of those that reach this place and this page through the layers of time and space that make up the universes, will come already possessing some knowledge of these matters, however esoteric. These places have always drawn certain people; it may be that you are one of them.

And if not already conversant, you may find this knowledge in the other volumes that I have stored in this snug cellar, such as my The Degrees Of Reality, and my Notes On Those Who Gather.

In brief, this house is constructed over a great intersection of this world’s leys, lines of semantic or immanent energy leading through the flesh of the ground, which correspond to major trunks in the great mycelial network that underlies the world. It is a truism that every world which is host to life, inevitably has such an underlying network, uniting each part into the unavoidable whole, and that individual lives on each world are influenced, to whatever degree, by the form of that network and the energies that through it course.

Further, this world itself, the world called by the ancients Cuer da Verai, lies at the center of a vast confluence of star-channels, those connections weakly guessed at by the first astrologers, and centuries later confirmed by Les Physiciennes and their gravity-wave telescopes and gauge field equations. So the delicate hyphae tendrils of the holy saprophytes carry thought through the mycelia to the earth node, the earth node resonates with the stellar node, and truth flows onward to every world and star beyond, touching every life between and within.

Do you begin to understand, traveler? To comprehend this place, cet tere, that you have reached? I wonder, as I sit and pen these words, whether it is more likely that you have come knowingly seeking that which you have found, or if you have wandered here by chance, and if so whether you will be able to appreciate your good fortune. The more I have come to understand these matters, the more I have come to believe that whoever and whatever you are, reading these words, your presence here has meaning beyond coincidence or meaningless chance. Perhaps others have been drawn here as well; I am gratified in contemplating the meetings that may occur here, between les meslieres, those who gather.

I must ask you to follow me through one more gateway of wisdom. You are in the circuit of a great joining of the earthly and stellar webs; now, know that you are also in the circuit of those still greater webs that join one reality to another, one universe to other universes, one possibility to all else that has been, that is, and that may yet be. As the hyphae connect in the great fungal network, and les vrilles d’├ętoiles span the vastnesses between the stars, so each reality extends tendrils, threads of existence, into the interstices, across the dimensions, between the realities, and those threads twine and connect in the great infinitum rete universale that finally links every smallest thought of the humblest creature on the most distant planetoid in the emptiest universe, to the heart of the greatest Empress in the most glorious city in all the realities.

And in such a place, which I have journeyed and studied so long to find, what enterprises, what stories, what contes gaiantes, might not begin, or end?

Next, to the house itself. I have built it in this place using means of my own, and linked it to the universal flow of time; the means are of no concern. But if you find the house in disarray, or seemingly touched by the years, avail yourself of the apparatus in the lowest level of the cellars, and it may be restored to good order without trouble. I expect that the nature of the location and its good virtues will make neglect a rare thing, but still I take precautions. I would have it that this house of mine might outlast anything else in this universe that has come from my hand.

Another thing that you must know. Although the interstices between the realities do not exist, outside of the infinitum rete of connecting tendrils that pass through them, they are despite the fact inhabited. How a place, a reaume, may be inhabited when it does not exist, is a subtle topic for which I refer you once again to my modest volume The Degrees Of Reality. But for our purposes here, you need only know this as a brute fact, and know additionally that these inhabitants include a variety of being yclept Interstice Hawks. Like terrestrial hawks, les oisel de proie dez champs ancienz, the Interstice Hawks are fast and wild, cutting through the non-existence of their realm as our hawks cut through the air, glorious and mad.

You may not ride an Interstice Hawk, the notion is itself an oxymoron. But with the aid of certain esoteric formulae and procedures, for which I refer you to my Notes On Those Who Gather, their comings and goings may at times be predicted, and the bold practitioner may synchronize hier own energies with that of the Hawk, and in this wise gain knowledge, and travel to realms, hitherto unimagined in the wildest dreams of humankind. This is my final gift to you in this brief page, traveler, and I bid you use it with the greatest care. I myself have flown with the Interstice Hawks perhaps a dozen times, and after each flight I found myself not only wiser, but changed. Perhaps only a fool or a foux would attempt it, but who is to say what is foolishness, and what is wisdom, when we stand at the edge of so many secrets?

Fling Thirty-Five

2022/11/20

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Three

Partial transcript, Kristen Lewis, prepared remarks, rough draft

So hi, I’m Kristen, Kristen Lewis, age, height, weight, eye color, blood type, bla bla bla. I live on Onondaga Nation land.

Apparently I’m the one that remembers this part the best; a subjective time differential like we had while we were stuck in the virtual messes with the memory, it turns out. Who knew?

I’m the most virtual one of us, I guess; Colin’s too in love with his physical books, and Steve gets too much of a rush from the actual risk of actual death, which I understand in a way but is also crazy. Give me the safe creativity of a virtuality, I say. Well, safe, heh heh yeah.

Steve and I are a thing, if that matters; he’s an idiot in a lot of ways, but he’s also kind of adorable and really sweet. Colin is too, in his way, and we were also a thing, back in school. He thinks we broke up because of his whole neoteny issue, and that I thought it was too strange to be with someone that looked like a nine-year-old kid, and that was probably part of it, although it was pretty hot, too (and I’m going to have to do a lot of editing on this aren’t I?) but also he just lives so completely in his books and in his head, and sometimes two people can be perfectly fine and just not be compatible in that way. I still love him like a brother, a hot little pervy brother, even (edit edit edit).

And just like Colin is always going off into long asides about the limitations of language and the illusory nature of the past and future, I’m going off in a long aside about relationships and is that gender-normative or what?

So anyway. The way I remember it, just as we were noticing that the giant bugs had left (as we thought of Alissa and S and G at the time, and for sure I’m not going to try to pronounce those two names), there was another sudden noise and they were back. I know there’s like a whole committee studying why the bugs move so fast, or we move so slowly around them or whatever. I think it’s just because insects move fast, but then also insects can’t possibly be that big, or people that small, because of the square-cube law, so good luck to that committee.

Anyway, when they came back, they were carrying some big flexible leaves wrapped around some pieces of paper. They sort of flashed around in front of us, putting a couple of the pieces of paper down closer to us, and then flashing most of the way back to their side of the clearing again. From sort-of talking to them later, I’m guessing they were trying to move slowly so as not to frighten us furry little monsters or whatever they thought we were, but it was still just about blindingly fast.

Steve wondered if it was some kind of present or offering, and Colin of course went carefully forward to look at the papers. For someone who’s always on about how this present moment is all that exists, which is a fine Buddhist saying, but he takes it way too far, Colin is also always trying to relate everything now to everything else, and to find explanations for things in terms of other things.

He said “It’s got writing on it,” or something like that, and we all went forward, keeping an eye on the bugs (Alissa and S and G as it would be more polite to call them). The pieces of paper were pretty large, but also seemed like they’d been torn or broken off of something larger. It’s possible that they were really big leaves that had been treated somehow, that’s what Steve thinks, but they looked like paper. Functionally.

Part of it looked like a map, hand-drawn and scrawly, showing a path through some blobs that might be hills, a big blob that might be water or a lake, and some squiggles that might be other things. There was writing on the map and lines of writing on the other parts of that sheet of paper, and writing that was even older and more smudged on the other piece.

We all frowned at the papers for a minute, and I noticed that some of it made sense as some dialect of Old French or something else in that general family, and I could sort of almost read it from knowing some modern and medieval French. I happily shoved the boys out of the way. The writing in the bigger blob on the map said I think Lack which is Old French for “lake”, so that worked.

The longer text said something like, and remember about the time differential and memory, so this isn’t at all exact, but something like “I am the last, now, and my time is short. I will send [some crazy name] to the [some place] with the map and this letter, to leave with the storytellers, as a last gesture to what was. They may do what they please [something like that anyway]. I have kept the faith here out of some vestige of honor, but the idea of bringing up a successor is still repugnant to me, and I do not regret that there is no time. If you follow this map, and you find the [something] beneath the [something], the consequences [results?] are what they are, and nothing owing to me [that is, don’t come crying to me about it]. I know that most likely this will never be seen by any [something, maybe eyes] that are capable of reading it, as reading is another thing that has been lost in this fallen world [that was a great phrase, and sounded amazing in the dialect; I’m working on a virtuality build around it, so cool] but in sending it out, I have completed my final duty, and may go to [some place, maybe a metaphor for death, or who knows] with a clear conscience.”

There was other stuff, but as far as I remember it, or remember figuring out at the time, it was older and smudger and made even less sense out of context; to-do lists or household accounts or something, full of nouns that I couldn’t work out.

While I was reading the stuff, and it took a lot longer to work out than I’m saying here, not having a working phone or anything and having to rely on my memory, excellent as that is, Colin and Steve kept an eye on the — on Alissa and S and G, who seemed to be, they told me later, interested or excited that I seemed to be reading the map and the letter. It turned out that they couldn’t read them, of course, so the writer of the letter was right about that, and that reading itself was a crazy concept to them, and even figuring out what a map was had been a big intellectual breakthrough. (Apparently having more than two eyes actually makes some things harder, or at least less natural, which is a pretty amazing thought.)

We thought we might try communicating to the — to Alissa and S and G in writing, but we didn’t really have anything to write on or write with, and that was a good thing as it turned out, since they wouldn’t have been able to read it. Colin was going cutely mad, wanting to look for a basement in the ruined house that we came out of, because of the letter talking about the something au-dessous the something, but also wanting to try to talk to the bugs.

I tried just waving my arms and saying “Allo, Allo, Bonjour” and I don’t remember just what else in their direction, and that’s what eventually worked, she said modestly, once I tried it in a really high and fast voice.

So that’s that part, I’ll stop for a bit because my mouth is dry and everything, back soon. Don’t forget to Like and Subscribe, haha I’m a riot.

Fling Thirty-Four