I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:
Tree removal is a violent act, even when done by a skilled arborist. There’s something hardwired into me that knows we shouldn’t destroy something that provides for life on so many levels. When I was a child, I would cry and obsess over the sight. Imagining the tree in pain, and the animals being hewn down along with it.
I especially worried about the birds that’d made nests in the tree, imagining them cowering as the machines whirred, watching the blades get closer and closer. I couldn’t conceive of the fact that the noise and the movement and the vibrations triggered an innate avoidance of danger in them, and they flew away.
I listened to chainsaws every day and tried to survive them by being very quiet and sitting very still.
The stars are a fragile constant. Their permanence only an illusion. A trick performed by size and scale and time. Ghosts in the sky.
Our sun is in main sequence. Main sequence means our star is of average size and luminosity. A flickering candle, glimmering in a cathedral at midnight. It’ll take billions of years for it to decay to the point that, when swollen, it absorbs us.
Our minds aren’t made to contemplate time on that scale. Our lifespan, laughably short, stunts our comprehension of it. It becomes an abstract. Knowable but unknowable. Unreachable epochs looming in the deep. Shadows and cinder forever on the periphery.
Light takes one hundred thousand years to reach the surface of the sun from the core. The density inside of our “average” star slows the progress. From the surface it only takes eight minutes to reach us. Standing outside on a sunny day, you are the recipient of something ancient, your skin bathed in relics.
You are also created with them. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, carbon, hydrogen, billions of years in the making. The ruins of a long dead star with breath and pulse and synapse and neuron. A cataclysm that laughs.
Neutron star - “a celestial object of very small radius (typically 18 miles/30 km) and very high density, composed predominantly of closely packed neutrons. Neutron stars are thought to form by the gravitational collapse of the remnant of a massive star after a supernova explosion, provided that the star is insufficiently massive to produce a black hole.”
Magnetar - “A magnetar is a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field. The magnetic-field decay powers the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays and gamma rays. The theory regarding these objects was proposed in 1992 by Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson”
I read once that a magnetar’s magnetic field is so strong it could pull the iron out of your blood from a thousand miles away. It frightened and thrilled me to consider that sort of power. The Cosmos is an unimaginably vast sea full of silent and efficient machines churning and devouring.
I’ve seen people address the universe as if it is some benevolent being with their best interests in mind. “I asked the universe…” they say.
If asked, the universe would answer by atomizing, then ionizing the matter that comprises you.
Existence is the exception, not the rule.
Though the universe may not be vengeful, it is apathetic. That is somehow more frightening as we hurl blindly through space.
We cannot command the universe, bend it to our will, or expect it to be considerate of our desires. What we can do is acknowledge the source of that iron in our blood, the way it was formed.
Over billions of years, as a star burns through its gaseous fuel, it fuses it into heavier elements until finally it produces iron. Iron is the death knell. Iron causes a collapse. This collapse causes a supernova.
The star killing elements are then ejected into space, carried over light years, and deposited in places it can be used to produce complex matter like the blood in your veins.
It is not the universe’s will that you get the job you’ve been hoping for, the love you’ve given reciprocated or that you even exist. But you are part of a stellar life cycle. A sentient artifact of the universe itself. The bloom in the ruin.
So, I’m reading about the potential end to theoretical particle physics. One quote struck me about the discovery of the Higgs Boson:
“According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Higgs Field should either have a value of zero which would not give particles mass, or it should have an extremely great value which is likely to give particles too much mass.
But this is where physicists are confused.
Instead of viewing a value of either extremely high or non-existent, experts have noticed that the Higgs field is just slightly on”, which is not as low or high as it should be.
Mr Cliff said: “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than it’s fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position.”
The article went on to mention dark energy predictions and potentially proving the multiverse theory to account for such wide variations, other universes having either too much mass or none at all, never coalescing or collapsing under their own weight.
How many times Have you fucking felt Like a light switch that Got stuck just before the off position?
Just slightly on
Ten thousand trillion times weaker than your fully on value
Time is considered the fourth dimension. A force of nature. It is also interwoven with the fabric of space, warped and wobbled by the gravity of heavy celestial objects.
Loss makes us acutely aware of the passage of time, the weight of it like water pouring over us and carrying us away.
The last time I saw my father is at a fixed point in spacetime. That moment hangs suspended, immovable, immutable, and a part of me with it. We have sped away from that point at 130 miles per second for 18 years.
We are now 73794240000 miles from the last I love you. The Milky Way flung from the singularity, inexplicably, irrevocably.
Loss leaves us separated not only by time but an unfathomable distance. My grief, our grief is the long walk back.