Sunday, December 25, 2011

Paramour, Part 8


I jerked upright. I’d dozed off in front of my computer. Shaking my head, I got to my senses and glanced at the screen. Nobody had posted to Facebook. Grabbing the mouse, I moved the cursor up to the refresh button.

I paused, though. I almost clicked it, but for some reason I held off for a moment. Glancing outside, I could see it was bright summer day, with the wind ruffling the leaves in the trees. Cirrus clouds were draped across the sky, indicating good weather. It looked like it would be a nice day for a walk.

I glanced back at the screen. After a moment, I moved the cursor away from the refresh button, and instead, closed Facebook. Pushing my laptop away from me, I got up and slipped my sneakers on, going outside.

It was the perfect climate outside, with the sun coming down but the wind blowing enough to keep it from being hot. Taking a deep breath of the outdoors air, I started walking, just wandering and exploring. Around me, college students reveled in the freedom of the weekend as they got out of classes. I threw my head back as I walked down the street, the wind blowing through my hair.

As I walked, I passed a beautiful girl walking back to her dorm from the college. I didn’t think anything of it, and I passed her without a word. After a moment, though, something clicked in my head. Stopping, I turned around and called out to her as I ran to catch up to her.

“Hey! Do you know what paramour means?”

“Umm. . . no?”

“It’s funny, really. Generally it means love that’s illicit or out of the bonds of marriage, but it occurred to me that you could view it another way, one without as much stigma - paramour, or secret love. Something that’s not necessarily bad, but just hidden. Say, do you like to play chess?”

“Yeah, actually. Do you play?”

“Uh huh! You want to hang out?”

“Sure. Hey, did you see that?”

We looked up, staring up into the sky. Way up high in the sky was something that looked like a ship, sailing through the sky. As we watched, it drifted into a cloud and disappeared.

“Weird. . . that was pretty cool.”

“Yeah, I know. . . I wonder what it was. Hey, let’s go grab some ice cream. I’ll show you the best way to eat ice cream out of a cone.”

“That sounds great. Say, have you ever been sailing before?. . .”
Secret or Hidden Love
>^. .^<

Friday, December 23, 2011

Paramour, Part 7


I was disappointed to see that over the last trillions of years, nobody had posted any new status updates. Still not without hope, I moved the cursor up to the refresh button.

I never got to click it, because someone socked me in the back of the head, hard enough for me to do a sitting faceplant right into the keyboard.

“Don’t you dare click that!” I heard a feminine voice threaten. Prying my face off the keyboard, I stuck it back on my head and looked around. Standing behind me was a beautiful girl with a dangerous expression on.

“Who are you? By the way, that really hurt. And how’d you get here?” I said.

“I’m here because I dragged your out of your place and time to help you get a grip.” she informed me. “The whole purpose of ripping a hole in reality was to get you away from that stupid website.”

I looked back at my computer. “What, Facebook?”

“Yes, Facebook! Did you reflect on how much time you wasted on it? That was the whole point of getting you to wander the cosmos!” she asked.

“Yeah, I thought about that a lot.” I admitted. “I did waste a lot of time on it. Okay, wait; who are you?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just the girl you eventually meet, fall in love with, get married to, and stay with for the rest of eternity!” she said. “I dragged you out of your stupid dorm and away from your computer to help you get a grip on what’s important. Did your trip through the universe show you there are more important things?”

“I get married to you later? No way. I’m way out of your league. And if - wait, how - that’s a quantum improbability-” I stopped for a moment. “So wait. Are you from the future, or the past. . .?”

“I’m outside of time, and I dragged you outside of time too so I could help you understand.” she explained. “I was watching the timeline, and I realized that if you didn’t get off of Facebook, you and I never meet. So I took you out of the timeline so you could get some perspective.”

I tilted my head to the side. “Isn’t that kind of. . . cheating the laws of the universe and time uncertainty?”

She shrugged, opening the photo album of the universe I’d kept. “So what? For all we know, this has happened before, and it’s just a time loop. But here’s the point: look at all these pictures you’ve taken, all the people you’ve met. Look at the different things you’ve done, the different places you’ve been. For heaven’s sake, look at the library belowdecks on the Paramour! Could you have done all of these things, gone all these places, seen all this stuff if you had been on Facebook?” She stopped and took me by the shoulder. “I’m here to remind you there are more important things. There’s a world outside Facebook, outside your routine. Get out and do other things; go explore. There’s a whole universe out there, and exploring it is the only way you’re going to find me.”

“She’s right, you know.” Paramour told me, licking a paw and dragging it over his ear.

After thinking about it, I closed my laptop and hefted it in my hands. For a moment, I kept a hold on it, but after reconciling myself, I reluctantly threw it out into the void, and looked back at the girl.

“And all this. . . my ship, Paramour, my galaxy maps, everything I recorded. . . was it all for nothing?” I asked her. “What happens now?”

She smiled at me. “Your ship will keep sailing. I don’t know where it’ll go, and you may or may not catch glimpses of it from time to time. But everything you’ve done here, it’ll keep existing. Paramour will stay with the ship; you’ll see him again one day.”

“Good.” Paramour muttered. “I didn’t exactly like the thought of being forever forsaken on this scrap of tree bark.”

I looked at her hard. “Has this happened before? Did you try to take me out of my timeline to get a look at what really matters? Because this feels kinda familiar.”

“Umm. . . I need to get you back into your timeline now.” she said quickly.

“You have tried this before!” I exclaimed. “Why didn’t it work?”

“Because I told you what I just told you without sending you through the journey first and we ended up making out and you didn’t remember or learn anything when I sent you back and I really need to get you back to your timeline now and hope that this lesson sticks.” she said really quickly, grabbing me by the arm as if we were going somewhere.

“Wait, we wha-”

“Sorry, gotta send you back now!” she said, socking me in the face. Paramour waved goodbye to me with his tail right before her fist made contact with my face.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paramour, Part 6


When we regained consciousness, the Paramour was drifting through an endless blue void of undulating colors and textures, ranging as far as the eye could see. After regaining our senses, Paramour and I documented and stored all the pictures and videos we’d taken of the end of the universe, and stored them away in the library. And then after that, we went out on the deck and sat there for a long time, watching the shifting colors and textures of the spectral abyss about us. 

Image Detail
The Library of the Paramour, and through the window above, the Ethereal Abyss

As I sat there, staring in the seemingly meaningless haze of stuff that was both something and nothing at the same time, it seemed to me as if I had been here once before, a long, long time ago. It was like a barely remembered dream, a memory long forgotten and just now recalled, albeit in little detail, so uncertain of a recollection that it may not have happened at all. This hazy feel stayed with me, and the memory gradually cleared and returned: this was where I had first started my journey. And yet did I care? Hardly. It was here that the journey of uncounted eras had begun, and here that it was ending. But if it held any meaning, it was lost to me; all that mattered was the Paramour and its library, chronicling the journey I had made with Paramour, and the memories we had made, in our venture across the universe.

My philosophical wanderings eventually fell still, disappearing like ripples disappearing in a calm pool. When the silence finally got the better of me, I pulled out my laptop, pulled up a chair, and logged onto Facebook.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paramour, Part 5


As Paramour and I got back on our way, sailing the endless reaches of space, I took up a ukelele I had picked up on the ruins of earth. While stars, galaxies and novas passed us by, I learned Israel Kamakawiwoole’s “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” blend and played it for Paramour and myself as we glided through a colorful universe. Paramour would bounce and weave to the beat, waving his tail in time to the music.

During our excursions through cosmic anomalies and oddities, Paramour noticed the growing prevalence of black holes and the continuing expansion of the universe. As years passed us by, the lights of the heavens began to dim as entropy was approached. Stars would scatter their ashes far and wide, but failed to give birth to new stars; galaxies began to lose their glow as their stars died, and fell into the voracious black holes that were ever more present in the universe. Paramour and I were troubled by this, mainly because all of our favorite vacationing spots were being eaten by greedy gravitational anomalies. But it also troubled us because it appeared as if the universe moving towards a cold, dark, and cataclysmic death.

Image Detail

The time finally came when the universe ended, the fabric of reality stretching and ripping, yet at the same time collapsing in on itself. Paramour and I watched as galaxies unraveled, slinging stars everywhere, and planets went careening around as the laws of the universe threw in the towel and gave up. Enormous black holes sucked in matter like obese American children feeding off consumer culture, while white holes, whose existence Paramour had proved and smugly rubbed in my face, spat out that same material like stubborn partisan politicians refusing to compromise and accept new concepts in order to reach any sort of solution. For a short time, the universe played Pong with its stars, and Mario the plumber, on his off shift, fought the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who was evidently real. GLaDOS got a taste of her own medicine as she was endlessly thrown through black and white holes, while Schrodinger’s cat got out of its box and clawed up the laws governing its existence. As can be expected, the Cheshire Cat also showed up, briefly reveling in the chaos and uncertainty before disappearing again. In the absence of the laws of physics, the laws of poetry briefly took over, forcing everyone to hedge their sentences in iambic pentameter. After massive protest, the regulations were switched to free verse, allowing everyone to scream, albeit poetically, about the end of the universe. The angels in heaven fretted as everything fell to pieces, but God assured them that all was well, and this was the promised Apocalypse. Christ wryly remarked that it was about time, while the Holy Ghost, in his guise as Death, flew about the galaxy, collecting souls for the final judgement.

As the universe came to an end, all the greatest bands, led by Coldplay, sang their final farewells to the reality they knew before the Flying Dutchman took them to heaven. Huge reality chasms appeared, devouring everything. The stars and basic elements of the universe were drawn into the chasms, which finally merged into a lone singularity that devoured everything, including thoughts. The Paramour was drawn into the reality chasm, and in the moment before we fell in, I thought I saw, in letters as big as light-years, the word Facebook scrawled all across the chasm.

Image Detail

Paramour and I fought hard to keep our ship from falling into the singularity, but it’s pretty hard when it’s a reality chasm, consuming all of reality, which you may or may not be stuck in. As we were drawn into the void, black as the blackest black, I thought I heard the angels gasp, while God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost said, “Oops. . . looks like we forgot a couple.”

Unable to escape the pull of the reality chasm, I hung onto the helm of the Paramour as Paramour the cat clung to my shoulder, both of us grimly facing down the end of the universe. As we slid into the reality chasm, we hit turbulence, for which American Airlines can probably be blamed. Darkness enveloped us, but not really; there wasn’t light, but somehow we could still see color, even though all around us was dark. As the reality chasm closed on us, having eaten everything in the universe, both of us lost consciousness.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Paramour, Part 4


One day while Paramour and I were sailing between galaxies, just relaxing and staring up at the starry sky, we happened across the remains of Earth. Our home planet had been flung out into the far reaches of space, and as it hurtled by us, I took the Paramour down into what remained of its atmosphere to see what it looked like now.

The oceans had dried up; the land masses were littered with mountains and mountains of trash. Nothing had survived; everything was grey and formless, ruins without memory. War vehicles were strewn across the land, while giant, gaping crevasses marked where humanity had dug for resources and renewable geothermal energy. Lastly, there were ports and launch pads where it looked like humanity had pooled the last of their resources and left, abandoning their planet as the Sun went nova. Now empty and lifeless, the planet was colorless and quiet, ruined and used up.

I was about to leave, but as I sailed through the noxious skies, I could hear strains of music drifting up from the surface. Curious, I took the Paramour down to an indistinct patch of ground on the surface. There, standing in a court of twelve carved angels, was a kid in black jeans, a soft grey hoodee, and travel-worn sneakers. It turned out that his name was Moth, and he was one of twelve angels created to protect the virtues of humanity. He was so sad and all alone, because he was the last of the Court of Angels; the other angels had faded, leaving him all alone.

Image Detail

I anchored the Paramour and got out, with Paramour sitting on my shoulder. He and I sat and talked with the angel for a few decades, and I wrote down the story of Moth, the last of the Court of Angels. When it was finally done, I didn’t want to leave him there on his own with no hope, so I as I was leaving, I went down into the library and grabbed a flowerpot filled with dandelion and clover. As the Paramour began to drift away, I threw the flowerpot to him, shouting that hope springs eternal. The Paramour continued to drift away, but as we left, I saw him smile, and beside him, a faint form begin to shimmer into existence, as if something that had faded was coming back.

Image Detail
"Hope Springs Eternal. . ."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paramour, Part 3


EVE Online Wrecked ship drifting through Space - EVE Online, Shipwreck, spacecraft, Spaceship, Wreck

On rare occasions, I would come across space travelers that were hopelessly drifting, their crafts damaged and their lives coming to an end. For a time, I would bring them aboard the Paramour and take care of them, writing down their stories as they told them to me. I always made sure they had a peaceful end, and when they died, I would put them back aboard their vessel and let them drift away into the void, lighting a candle for them when they had disappeared. Once done, I would take their story that I had written, and put it in the library belowdecks, in a special section where I kept such stories. 

In between times and galaxies, I would take up the guitar and learn to play it, playing classics from memory. Paramour would sit up on the mast and listen while I played up on the bow end of the ship, strumming to the stars that passed us by. Those seemingly endless times when we simply sat and played music for years on end were both beautiful and regretful, mainly because they were such beautifully lonely times, and we couldn’t always have them.

Throughout the course of our journeys, Paramour and I would take a risk every now and then and do wild things, like swing by a black hole just to see if it was really black, or drop by supermassive stars about to go nova. Concerning black holes, Paramour posited the existence of white holes, the reverse of black holes - holes in space that spit out matter and energy instead of sucking it in. I told him this was ridiculous, but couldn’t help thinking about it myself.

Image Detail

When we could, we tracked down red supergiants and watch them go supernova. I would set up the camcorder and take pictures while the star exploded, and Paramour would simply watch, the light of exploding stars reflected in his deep eyes. The pictures we took were amazing, and I thought to myself that if I could sell these back home on earth, I’d make a fortune.

Image Detail

Just as the library of the Paramour was continuously expanding, the photo album I kept also grew. It had pictures of civilizations, of galaxies up close and seen from a distance, of beautiful clouds of ionized gas, of strange and inexplicable sights, planets in the far reaches of the universe, and so much more. The collection was just huge, but somehow all of it managed to fit into one photo album, the same way the Paramour’s limitless library managed to fit belowdecks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Paramour, Part 2


After drifting another few million light years at the speed of a few kilometers per second, I remembered that I had a pencil in my pocket. Pulling it out, I drew myself a chess set and started playing against myself to pass the time. Not that I didn’t enjoy the view or anything; it was just nice to have something to do. Slowly flying through the endless reaches of space, I played countless games of chess while stopping every now and then to enjoy the view. I drew myself a camera and took pictures along the way, creating souvenirs even though I didn’t know who I’d share them with.

As time passed, I would take moments from my chessboard every now and then to reflect on life. Usually these moments occurred while I was sailing by galaxies; I’d just take time to sit and think about all the useless or pointless things we spent our time on in life as I watched the majesty of a galaxy pass me by. In life, it seemed we made excuses for not doing things, or for doing things that really had no relevance in the greater scheme. And as I thought about it, it occurred to me that in reality, there were few things that were really worth experiencing. In the end, all that really mattered were the memories.

I eventually drew a ship, so I had a place to sit down and a place to keep my camera and chessboard. The ship was the traditional kind, with sails and everything, only the sails were a pale, shimmery gold, and caught the solar winds and the breezes of the interstellar medium. Now able to control the direction of my wanderings, I started exploring the cosmos and mapping them out, writing down the location of each and every galaxy, playing chess while I did so. For company, I drew the ship a cat and named him Paramour, after the ship. Paramour had the tendency to walk all over my universe map while I was mapping, and he always stole my pieces when I was playing chess. But he was a good companion, so I didn’t complain.

Image Detail

Hundreds of million years probably passed; I didn’t keep track of them. After I mapped all the galaxies, I mapped all their stars, going into solar systems and watching planets with life on them. Occasionally I’d take a few books from those civilizations, keeping them in the library belowdecks. Which, I might add, was unreasonably large for having so small a ship as I had. The library I kept defied dimensional physics, but I’m not a math whiz or a computer programmer, so it didn’t bother me that much. At any rate, Paramour enjoyed having so much room to run around in; the library of the Paramour added uncounted nooks and crannies as it continued growing, and had plenty of armchairs, beanbags, and recliners for Paramour to laze around in.

When I had the chance, I’d take the opportunity to soar through nebulas, letting the ionized remains of stars sweep through my hair as the Paramour cut through the warm dust, leaving a trail through the nebula. Sometimes Paramour would join me on the the bow of our ship as we spearheaded our way through the ashes of stars, both of us tourists to a dying solar systems and their stars. More often, though, Paramour preferred to remain up on the mast, watching the nebulas pass him by with dignity. 

Image Detail

Every now and then, while exploring galaxies, I’d stumble across a space battle. For the sake of later entertainment, I drew myself a camcorder and recorded the battles as I sailed past them. Sometimes I’d figure those battles into the histories of the civilizations I encountered. Other times, passing spaceships would try to attack the Paramour, but no matter what weapons they had, it never marred the Paramour’s well-worn wooden hull. I would always sail on by, wondering what it was that motivated others to attack passersby without provocation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Paramour, Part 1

Okay, Christmas is here early! Today, I conked out on my computer while surfing Facebook, I had the world's strangest dream. Like Stephenie Meyer, I had to write it down, and it took the form of a short story. After finishing it, I came up with a number of titles, but I eventually settled on one that thought fit.

So my Christmas present to you will be the posting of my short story, titled 'Paramour'. Since it's six pages long, I'll post it in bearable segments (I wrote it almost as a stream of consciousness piece, so it may get a little monotonous if read all at once) every few days. For me, this was a nice reflection on the meaning of things, and thought it would be nice if I shared it with my audience.

So, without further ado. . . Paramour!

It happened one day while I was on Facebook.

I was sitting at my desk, staring blankly at the computer screen waiting for someone, anyone, to post a status update. My cursor was seemingly perpetually stuck over the refresh button, and a half-eaten bag of Chex Mix sat in front of me, along with some lukewarm chocolate milk. My dead-eyed, desperate attention to the screen was akin to that of a zombie. To this day, I still have a working theory that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, it’ll be because social media has eaten our brains, not other zombies. The end result is naturally an entire zombified population stuck in front of their computers, staring into the screen like it contains their world.

But that’s besides the point. On this particular day, I sat mindlessly clicking the refresh button every 27 seconds, hoping someone would post something that would light up the dopamine receptors in my brain. This hope went unanswered, yet I still persisted, just as I had persisted for the last few hours. I was vaguely aware something was wrong with me, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was, and it didn’t seem important enough to distract me from my devotion to Facebook.

On approximately my 2,854th click of the refresh button, the wall beside my desk just kind of ripped open like notebook paper stabbed by an errant pencil. Through the rip there was a vast blue abyss, an unfathomably endless terrain of shifting colors and textures that went on for as far as the eye could see. I stared at it. Perhaps my senseless, constant, and inane clicking of the refresh button had worn a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum.

At any rate, I finally shook myself out of my daze, tore myself away from Facebook (though not without clicking the refresh button one last desperate time) and approached the rip in the wall. Peering in, I trepidatiously entered the rip in the wall, leaving my dorm behind.

Within the ethereal abyss, I found myself floating aimlessly through space, time, color, texture, and homework assignments. The last item of those five quickly faded as I drifted away from the rip in the wall. Alone in a vast void of uncertainties, I wondered what the grand purpose of this hazy existence was.

At length, I crossed some unseen barrier into the universe as we know it. Drifting in the emptiness of space, I wondered how in the world I managed to survive when there was no air to breathe. I was busy contemplating this question until I was treated to a panoramic view of a spiral galaxy, all the stars and nebulous clouds of gas constituting a strangely fascinating sight that was sadly beautiful. In an instant of melancholy fatalism, I reflected on the fact that not even galaxies are eternal and they, too, after trillions of years, eventually grow old, turn cold, and die.

As I continued floating through the great void of space, watching galaxies pass me by, I took to relaxing and enjoying the view. If, by some unfortunate chance, I had stepped out of my place in time and space and was now stuck as an eternal wanderer of the cosmos, I reflected that it wasn’t that bad of a fate. There were worse ways to go. I recalled a news story about a guy that slipped in the shower and hit his head, then bled out while waiting for 911 to come. Did you know that on average, a pizza will reach your house quicker than an ambulance?

Image Detail
"The Ethereal Abyss. . ."