Wed, 11 September 2013
Sometimes it looked like we were dancing.
There was nothing for us to hear, we could not verbally communicate anything. And so we
watched each other. We watched each other dance. The slow motion twirls and spins. We
found we couldn't speed up to reach anyone else, our only means of communication being
found in glimpses when we managed to catch eye contact when our spinning matched up just
The planet below became the center of my vision. I closed my eyes for this. I always do. It lasts
for about an hour, until the blackness of space comes into view again. I sometimes imagine that
the planet below is one I've never seen before. That it's inhabitants did not send me and my
kind into the depths of space.
Suspended in the shadow of the planet. Freezing. But even the burning of the veins of ice
creeping beneath my skin was relief compared to the hell that met us under the hateful glare of
Leo was nearest to me, perhaps twenty feet away. He was still in his suit from the job he had
on the planet below. Possibly the least violent of any of us, Leo had created an extraordinarily
stable life with the mortals. He had even convinced one of them that he had feelings for her.
Finishing off the picture. Past him were the others. Veronica, Leland and Tobias. The mortals
had sent out a larger group of us before, much larger. Perhaps ten thousand. We had managed,
using pure luck, to avoid their advanced detection methods. The world had calmed until groups
of citizens, conspiracy theorists, convinced that their neighbors and co-workers and mothers-inlaw were our kind, started using homemade versions of the methods used by each government.
It was the mist that did it.
The garlic mist.
Some of them flew little remote controlled planes around town, spewing the stuff into the air.
This was effective enough to get one of us when it went out of range of the owner’s controller
and began dropping low near a crosswalk. It was close enough for her skin and eyes to react -
enough for the people around her to know.
As for the others, they caught us by leaving the stuff everywhere. The entrance of every grocery
store and coffeehouse. Doorknobs of houses and clothing hangers in department stores. No
one was happy about the stench that eventually built, but after they got Veronica, the complaints
fell silent out of fear and curiosity.
The mortals couldn't kill us, they couldn't trust us, they couldn't throw us in a cage somewhere;
we'd be meat taking up space many places couldn't afford.
And so they sent us into space.
The first group was sent in a few pod-like things. Just stuffed in, really to the brim. One of them
was kept on earth, to supposedly be sliced and diced. Good luck to them - they’ll never break
Later on, they decided that even the pods were too merciful, since they protected us from the
harsh vacuum of space. They designed small ships that were designed to disintegrate in the
later stages of its flight through the atmosphere, leaving us exposed as we are now. To the void
outside that made the pressure of every pulse agonizing. That made it impossible to breathe.
That left us with no insulation from the biting cold. And no protection from the sun.
That horrible burning star. And so our immortality becomes our greatest curse.
I would give anything to breathe again. To feel air in my lungs. Wind. Solid ground under my
feet. Anything. Anything but this freezing void.
I feel a heat at my back as my dead eyes are still fixed on the planet. This isn’t normal; the sun
won’t find us for another hour. An impact. Solid, excruciating, but not enough to break me. It
sends me spinning out of control, but I catch a glimpse of the culprit: a small meteor. I watch
it falling, a fiery tail growing behind it, the rock slowly grinding away as the atmosphere tears
it apart. Eventually it disintegrates completely. Only then to I realize that I was not watching it
descend below me.
I had been falling next to it. It had sent me on a path back to the planet’s surface.
I start to feel warm. The ice in my veins is thawing as the friction of the atmosphere tries to
break me apart as it did the meteor. Tries, and fails. I will not die. I will survive the fall. There is
so much to do on the surface. They will be made to regret what they did to us.
Finally, I will have my revenge. I will bleed them dry.
Direct download: HEP_-_Short_Echoes_6_-_Suspension_by_Caleb_Newell_and_Hannah-Elizabeth_Thompson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02pm EST
Fri, 6 September 2013
In this, the fifty-second episode of the Human Echoes Podcast, Tony and Al pay off a long-running joke and review Man on Fire (Albert felt cheated by this title as Denzel Washington is not immolated by the end of the film). Also featured in this title is the wonderful story "Suspension" that won the Vampires in Space flash fiction contest.
[Retraction: Tony stated during the discussion of Tony Scott's suicide but, according to the coroners official report Tony Scott had no such illness at the time of his death.]
Fri, 30 August 2013
This week, Al and Tony do battle with found-footage zombie diesel-punk cyborg war film Frankenstein's Army. Then, Tony holds up his boombox and it is awesome.
Fri, 23 August 2013
This week, the guys follow the river on down Arkansas way and see if this Mud movie is all its cracked up to be. They discuss the importance of a complete breakfast; Albert thinks about moving to Colorado.
Fri, 16 August 2013
In this week's episode, Al and Tony go fishing with Bait, a surprisingly good movie about a shark loose in a supermarket (yes, you did just read that correctly.) They also dig into tales of the great men of history and the great women who made their conquests possible; Tony catches Albert doing his sexy lady voice.
Links to Things:
Clarkesworld Podcast (with Kate Baker!)
In Brightest Africa: the autobiography of Carl Ethan Akely (this file contains some tpyos and formatting issues due to being a scanned work, but it's still totally worth your trouble.)
For Delia (Carl's first wife) Akeley's perspective you might also enjoy a book she wrote about her exploits in Africa called Jungle Portraits.
Beyond Dinocalypse by Chuck Wendig
(Correction: Albert was wrong about Cortez dying on some conquest or other. He died in Spain of pleurisy. Albert's version of it is better though.)
Fri, 9 August 2013
In this episode Al and Tony geek out about the first English-language film from Korean director Chan-wook Park, Stoker. Later they talk about the wonder of old graveyards, and get hyped up for the final season of Breaking Bad.
Letters for Zachary Dear Zachary
Thu, 1 August 2013
This week its a gore-fest as the guys discuss the Evil Dead remake, chainsaw deaths, and the proper handling of ancient books of forbidden knowledge. Tony checks out the SCP Foundation; Albert screams a lot; dinosaurs continue to be awesome.
Retraction: Albert got his facts wrong when talking about Eragon in this episode. It was Carl Hiassen who "discovered" Christopher Paolini, not Orson Scott Card.
Fri, 26 July 2013
On this week's show Al and Tony break down the bizarre South Korean revenge movie Oldboy. They also break down the new 3D printing boom, and seek out the connections between Napoleon Dynamite and The Prestige. Stay tuned after the sponsors for a nerd out on the film Pacific Rim.
Wed, 24 July 2013
I want you to imagine that we are alone.
That on the biological spaceship we call earth, we drift through the void as a ship would upon quiet seas. On all horizons, there are no shores to be seen. In the deepest night, only the stars shine to share the lonely burden.
In our own sea, the solar system, we have found isles, but no refuge. Some planets seem suitable at a distance, but are toxic underfoot. Others, volcanic and turbulent, devoid of life. Some are even devoid of surface.
So we look outward, out to that currently insurmountable ocean. Centauri beckons. A mere 4.27 light years. An instant to the cosmic scale, or 165,000 years in our most advanced space vehicle. There is a chance of an exoplanet here. A planet that humans could call home. A place where the skies are blue and the soil rich. Where the only major difference is that the familiar night sky gives way to new stars and constellations. Where our own home star is just a glinting mote in a crystalline sky.
But only a chance.
What if we reach this world and still find ourselves as the only intelligent being in the universe? Do we look outward to our galaxy? There are an estimated 10 billion earth like planets in The Milky Way. Are we so lucky that only Earth had the chemical composition to spawn life? That we are 1 in 10 billion? Do we push this further and consider the quintillions of star systems in the known universe?
Is it empty?
Are we alone?
Are we the only instance of the biological epoch? Are we the only sets of atoms that are even aware of atoms?
Our vessel drifts through infinite black, embraced only by the mass of a finite thrashing from the basest elements in our star.
Yet we are one of billions in our own cosmic neighborhood. One of billions of trillions on far off shores in galaxies further than comprehension. Less than a single grain of sand in a great desert, or a piece of spittle falling into an ocean.
Does this make us more important? Or less? Are we simply a temporary anomaly so far beset in the depths of the void that it will never matter, or are we the only matter that matters because we understand ourselves to be matter? Or is our consciousness just the conduit for our delusions of grandeur?
Is it blind arrogance to think that with all that is, only we exist to understand it? That our one rock is somehow the center of all. That we do not share this common cosmos with a single other microbe or form of life, except for what is on our little blue ball. That an entire universe is dead except for us, who are to this planet little more than bacteria.
It cannot yet be said for certain, but smart money disagrees. Life thrives in every nook and cranny on this world, often in places said to be near impossible. If we can go 1 for 8 plus a Plutoid on our own block, then what’s to say that the same vitality doesn’t grip the rest of the universe? Even if the odds are 1 in 100, 1 in 10,000, hell, one in 10 billion for a heavenly body to contain life, that still makes for a staggering amount over the course of an entire universe.
Do I believe we are alone? Not a chance.
Fri, 19 July 2013
In this episode, Al and Tony dig into the documentary Dark Days, and discuss the manifold problems of homelessness, and tenacity of the human spirit. They also discuss medical nonsense and Albert is outed as a Sharknado hipster.
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