Tagged: technology

That Time I Saved Us All

Dear Planet Earth,

I wish I had seen a trail of smoke arching toward the devious drill snake from my Shoulder Mounted Ass Wiper. A translucent line leading up to the gaping hole under the beast’s belly — that’s all I would need to truly know that the shot came from me. That I killed it.

The way it really happened, there was just a loud hiss and then a big BOOM a second later. The mole man weapon groaned and twitched. It moved and sounded as though it weren’t a machine at all, but something alive, something conscious. It fell to the ground with an earth-shaking THUD. Sparks and smoke came out of its many new openings.

I struggled to get up under the weight of the SMAW and the shock of just shooting a freaking missile into a freaking tank equipped with drills, saws, and Gatling guns. My allies quickly surrounded the drill snake, keeping their rifles drawn on it. They yelled things out to each other that I didn’t understand, if I heard them at all.

A small door opened on its side followed by a small man. He landed on his back and began coughing through his red-eyed mask. The soldiers yelled louder now, slowly inching toward the writhing mole man. He reached at his leg and pulled out a strange-looking pistol. It was huge compared to him, covered in blinking lights and steaming pipes. He was riddled with holes before he could get a little finger around the trigger.

When it was all over and my last drop of adrenaline had gone, I fell back to the ground. I looked at the grey Seattle skyline and the iconic Space Needle framed on all sides by fire and testosterone. And then I passed the fuck out.


An Excerpt

Dear Planet Earth,

For your perusal, an excerpt from A History of the Inheritors:

“The upworlder year of 1629 was a turning point in the ever-shifting truce between the layers. The humans developed the steam turbine, a technology that had already been in widespread use by the Inheritors for centuries.

“It appeared the upworlders were creating new tools at a more rapid rate than first predicted, and the possibility of true coexistence among all of the planet’s sentients seemed likely at long last. There were serious discussions among The Wise Ones contemplating whether or not upworlders had achieved a level of communal intellect worthy of the Inheritors’ recognition.

“All dreams of such a symbiosis quickly crumbled as humanity entered its so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’ 100 years later. They brazenly ignored the ill-effects of overusing steam and coal power on the upper crust. The environmental damage from their hasty, unnecessary innovations were drastic enough to be observed by even the most naive human, yet their unfiltered greed and arrogance blinded them to the inescapable truth that they were destroying the Earth beyond repair.

“The Inheritors, by contrast, carefully measured the changing states of the crust and mantle, taking great care to maintain the most prime of conditions — and prepared for the day when they could finally liberate the planet from its most dangerous parasites.”


Dear Planet Earth,

A blinding spotlight envelops us. I frantically search for the source, fighting in vain against the formless whiteness that illuminates our exposed figures. The light fades, and in it’s place, realization, shame. The countless alien structures of pipes and steampunk dreams that we swiftly maneuvered past before now shined down on us, fulfilling their roles as intimidating guard towers. They begin to emit a high-pitched siren noise, the kind you might hear during an air raid in World War II, only adjusted so as to completely shatter glass.

Lieutenant Halston raises his rifle and manages to get off a few rounds at the towers around us before a short burst of flame turns him into a pile of ash. Linares tries to follow suit, but he suffers the same fate without even getting to touch the trigger.

And me — I fall to my knees. I drop my rifle, my head, and my pride on the sandy surface and wail like a baby. I cry at the friends I’ve lost, I cry at at the prospect of becoming lost myself, I cry at futility.

Then a mole man knocks me unconscious behind the head, has his homeless human underlings question me extensively, and throws me in this underground cell, forced to reexamine everything that’s happened and find even more mysteries than I saw before.

And I also lost a tooth.


Dear Planet Earth,

We were about a mile away from the drill, scanning every inch of the landscape as carefully as a Where’s Waldo picture. The horrors we saw were universes beyond the colorful illustrations of children’s books.

“Jesus,” Karter said before passing the binoculars to me, the last but determinedly not least.

I saw a concave bowl of desert sand encircling the enormous drill. Random groups of people were scattered all around. I adjusted the focus to get a better look. I saw hundreds of people — maybe thousands — bound together in lines with large chain links connected to thick neck braces. The heavy steel covered so much of them it was hard to make out their dirty, tattered clothing underneath. Their faces were gaunt and emaciated, dead faces. Maybe some of them were dead.

At the front and back of each line was a short, round person, someone I might have mistaken for a dwarf or child five months ago. They were wearing gas masks of some kind, with glowing red eyes. They carried ornate rifles as tall as their bodies, covered with countless switches and pipes. This was my first real good look at one of them. The mole people. The enemy.

I’ve been calling all of this an “invasion” since the beginning, without really understanding what that term entails. But after seeing my fellow man shackled and forced to build their captors’ complicated machinery that would later be used on themselves, I felt just in my use of the loaded word.

This was an invasion. This was a full-scale attack on our entire world by a technologically advanced oppressor, their ultimate goals now abundantly clear — humanity’s complete submission and enslavement.

I took the binoculars away from my face and rubbed my eyes.


The Apple Valley Massacre

Dear Planet Earth,

We’re still playing cat and mouse. We’ve been playing (and losing) for the past five days. The nine of us left.

It started when we felt some tremors from below. Our first thoughts went to the October earthquakes that heralded the entrance of the mole people’s massive drills. They got more and more intense the closer we got to a city named Apple Valley. (I dare you to try to think of a city that sounds safer and more unassuming than “Apple Valley.”)

Just as we reached some decaying factory at the city limits and got out of the trucks to search for supplies, the ground broke apart and the monstrous behemoth drill snake appeared. Women screamed. Soldiers screamed. Shit, I probably screamed. I was face to nightmarish face with a weapon I could never hope to comprehend. My years and years of dutiful study of alien invasion movies hadn’t prepared me in the least for interacting with this very real — and very fast approaching — threat.

We sprinted back to the trucks. I lost my cane somewhere. I didn’t care — I couldn’t care. I could hear the vibrating hum from the drill grow louder and louder as the ground tossed me up and down and backwards. The serene, albeit decrepit, scene I had walked past only minutes earlier was now transformed into a full-fledged war zone. Bricks crumpled like Legos on all sides of me. Cars exploded in swift yellow clouds, the heat and smoke determined to engulf me. And all the while, the unforgiving earth was steadily pulling me back towards the torturous death machine.

I don’t know how I made it onto the truck. I don’t know how we starting camping out in this mall. I don’t know how we keep putting off the inevitable.

Complex Recondition

Dear Planet Earth,

The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.

So begins H. G. Wells’ famous novel The Time Machine. My father used to read it to me every night. It’s one of the few books I really like, and I figured I might as well read something here if no one will talk to me.

The first words seem so simple — well, if you skip “recondite.” They lay out the whole plot right there in the very first sentence. We know who the characters are. We know how the story will be told. We know how complex it will be (did you look up “recondite” yet?).

But in the real world we know nothing. We don’t know why the mole people are attacking us. We don’t know how they have such advanced technology. We don’t know how to fight back. If we can fight back.

In the real world there are no time machines, no easy answers to conflicts beyond our normal understanding of how the world works. We just have to wait for the next chapter.