First Chapter: Untitled

This is the first chapter of a book I’m writing. It’s a rough draft, but it’s below Hope you enjoy!:

James swiftly moved in circles around the room, like the chalk in the drawings of the magic officers, looking from one painting to another. “This is language,” James thought.  “It’s almost as if they’re talking to each other. These aren’t paintings. This is a conversation.” “And James, you will learn their stories, their language,” came a voice. James turned around to see who was speaking. In the open door stood Claire, resting her shoulder against the wall of the door. “I told you there were no goodbyes,” Claire said. 

The light hit the leaves of the canopy into bright shafts of radiant light, and R76-8723 walked in the clearing until arriving at the specific location. There was the work at hand. Her sensory vision called up the temporal display unit divider, she activated the visual display from a grid of images, from previous experiments. The data indicated that the green lower canopy had yet to be analyzed. Her reverse silver auxiliary six-armed grappling mechanism swung her to the lower branches: each arm grasped at the branches in the higher unit. Not that she could tell the differences between the facility and positive or negative aberrations. After all, she was a cybernetic being with little regard, if any, for any sense of fatigue, with the exception of what might require system maintenance. If she ever had any instances of disruption of the mobility mechanisms, she wouldn’t be able to repair them and would need to return immediately to the central repair unit, and she was very careful not to overload the system. 

James looked up at the door, took a deep breath, and walked inside. The hallway was enormous. It’s white halls softly lit by the sun of the afternoon, through two windows above the door, and on the right side of the wall, leading to a large opening, to where James did not know. James stood in the hallway for a moment, and then walked up a small flight of stairs to where a door was open, leading to a small room. James walked inside. Inside, there was a small kitchen, a screen, and four windows, with yellow window blinds, through which a warm glow passed through into the room, creating an almost sunset haze in the glowing environment. There was a bed, with brown bed coverings, and a small desk. James put down his things and sat on the bed, looking up, and then he saw it.

The canopy had a light wind, her sensory mechanisms informed her. Taking samples of the plant forms at the green canopy form, in places, she could see through the leaves to the floor of the forest. It was a far drop, as tall as a deep canyon. If she fell she would break her system, and shut down from the power unit disruption, her memory databank informed her in a lower visual system. It was designed to assist her. 

I spent the entire night in a raptured daze as I worked on each of the paintings, fall, winter, spring summer, and I remember this exactly because of what happened when I finished the last one. My phone went off, the alarm bell set for the time I had programmed to be how I would wake up every day. The phone started playing a music piece that sounded like the sunrise, and I watched this moment pass as the waking sounds allowed me to see that the last piece I was working on was an abstraction of the sun, which I chose for summer.

James may have stood in front of it for hours, he just didn’t know, and then turning around he looked at the rest of the room. He didn’t notice before that directly across from the orange figure, on the wall, was another painting, seated like the one he was looking at, yet this time, this color was blue. He knew this one. This was one of the images of the constellations, the color of the night sky, for healing, as night often does, at the end of the day. The room was completely silent. At least he thought it was. He may have just imagined it was, but either way, there was nothing blocking him from being lost in thought, of these images.

The cybernetic beings of the science and ecology division relied on the visual system to process information data. It wasn’t visual, necessarily, but the original designers devised a system that would reflect the reality of the visual world. Since the identification of test samples required simultaneous analysis, it was imperative that the data would be visual. It was a way to compartmentalize and analyze multiple sensory units. R76-8723’s sensory mechanisms and camera unit were almost impossibly detailed. Simultaneously a stereoscopic sub atomic microscope and what, historically, could be called a telescopic lens that could detail the entire atmosphere and the nearest reaches of space, she could constantly see both the most subtle workings of the deepest levels of visual inquiry that could see a holistic view of the universe and the deepest workings of the atomic level. 

Focusing on the task at hand, R76-8723 focused on one part of one leaf in the canopy that had alarmed the science division. There was a strange colouration reflected in the morning light. The effect of the reflection of the transparent view across the green surface, with areas of gentle light from the light reflectors above the atmosphere of Gaia, was in a way, it’s own atmosphere. Cloud forms moved across the interior. She focused on that area, and the display recognition system shifted into subatomic mode. She was, in human terms, surprised. The data that came back indicated that there was a strange consistency within the cloud forms within the green and yellow color form reality. There was nothing there, and then it happened. A soft wind parted the ceiling of branches, and the reflector light shone directly, brightly onto the deepest reaches of the plant extensions deepest unit. It was a limitless sky. She had never indicated in any tests, as she rapidly searched all visual databases in a matter of less than a second, that there was any record of such an occurrence. 

Central informed her across the atmospheric communications system for her to retrieve a sample; she removed the sample from the branches and then it happened. The leaf immediately became a sky of colours, and then shattered in her hands, but there, in the interior what was left was like a subatomic glowing sun. This is what we came for, her division informed her in her communications system. Placing the sample in her storage compartment on her back, she swung across each branch until she was at the forest basin, and headed back toward the science division center. There was a soft blue colouration of the forest floor, like an impossibly clear visual indication system of the reflected light from the forest’s arching branches of soft, impenetrable light. 

Heading back over the forest basin and back into the central system, the life forms gave way to the chrome and pale white city as it reached toward the distances. It was so familiar that R76-8723 shut down the auxiliary visual systems and allowed the automatic drive systems to begin. The next moment R76 was awakened was in one of the storage and retrieval libraries, moving the compartment from her back, she placed the enclosure on a table. 

“What did you find?,” came a voice. R76 turned around. An identical unit walked toward the room, and R76 recognized that this was one of the interior scientist aberrationists, AB-782, and she opened the container. “I was surprised, I have no idea what I found. It was like a shattering glass of energy stored within one of the canopies. It was encapsulated into a kind of circular form. Could you take a look?” The aberrationist looked inside for the sample. “There’s nothing here,” the scientist said. R76 looked inside. “Maybe it was lost?” she said. “Maybe”, said AB-782 “Or possibly it didn’t exist.”. 

A small painting was on the wall across from him. He gazed into it deeply, until time stood still. At the center of the painting was a seated, orange figure, framed in yellow, blue, and brown, appearing on the surface, yet seeming to exist in real space. James expected them to move, but they were silent, seemingly for infinite time. He got up and walked toward it.

Lets shut you down for system repairs and I’ll look inside. The visual sensory displays went into a low hum, and within moments she fell asleep. When she regained visual system activation, and she realized she was inside the central systems consciousness. She heard a voice. “R76,” came the voice, “We’re temporarily gaining control of your consciousness simulator took look at the data you may have obtained,” this wont take long. Luckily you won’t be bored, we’ve removed the time simulation from your generation of science units. “Thanks, but the impatience simulation was left on by mistake,” she said. “No it hasn’t,” said central consciousness. “We just activated your sense of the absurd. You may find you need it.” 

In what seemed like moments, her eyes opened, and she saw the room around her. “We have your report,” said one of the assistant drones. “Central has detected an aberration of your power systems. You may not believe this, but you may never need to be recharged. Something has happened that has altered your electromagnetic sources. What was the sample you were retrieving? Central couldn’t detect a record of it in any of your auxilliary system controls.” “It was a bright light,” R76 replied. “From what we can tell,” said the assistant, “That may have been a source of pure energy. We don’t know where it came from. It’s not one of ours. It’s changed you.” “But what happened to it?”

“Ok,” Claire said. “We’re here.” James and Claire stepped off the caterpillar and onto the broken pavement. The Caterpillar making a sound like a stream of air, as it lifted up and curled up in its first motions to its next destination. As always, James was distracted examining the lines of each break in the ground, until he finally noticed how close they were to the door. James had been to the magic officers center before, but only in dreams, and, physically, in the remote viewing systems within the Research facility where they worked. “They taught me everything,” Claire said. “This is a new moment for you, James. I think you’re ready for this.” James smiled, “I hope you’re right Claire, and by the way, you never told me why you thought we were in danger.” “James, I don’t know,” Claire said. “I only know fragments. They may want the solar research we’ve been working on, but I don’t know. I’ve thought about it over and over for days, in stolen moments in the research center, which I will never get back.” “I always wondered what you were working on,” said James “No one ever gave you any assignments.” “There’s so much I can’t say, though I’ve told you everything,” Claire said. “Not in words, but in the moment I fell apart, and you put me back together. In your reflected light.”

R76 asked. “R76,” said the assistant. “That light is you.”

As it is in each of us, inside of all of us. A limitless, open sky.

It was a beautiful morning. The crisp autumn air whispered into the last weekend of summer, and in the hills of the valley, James woke up, this time not too early, not too late. He walked through the small apartment that was lit not quite by dawn, not quite by night, but somewhere balanced in-between. In the morning silences, he carefully walked throughout his daily chores, enwrapped in the quiet promise of a new day. The sound of the coffee maker, the wind through the trees, the echoes of memory, from memory, to the beckoning of a season to come, tempered with hope tinged with anxiety, dream against fear, gentleness within the opening air. He walked to the window.

As Claire spoke, James paused, and then suddenly looked at his surroundings. They were standing a few inches from the door. Claire was leaning on the side of the building, almost becoming one with it. “OK, I’ll see you when you return,” Claire said. James reached for the door handle. “Claire, I’m scared.” James said. “Just go in,” Claire said.”You’ll find yourself in here.” “Well,” James said. “I guess this is goodb-” Claire stopped him from speaking. ”No it isn’t.” Claire said. “There are no goodbyes.”

James looked up at the door, took a deep breath, and walked inside. The hallway was enormous. It’s white halls softly lit by the sun of the afternoon, through two windows above the door, and on the right side of the wall, leading to a large opening, to where James did not know. James stood in the hallway for a moment, and then walked up a small flight of stairs to where a door was open, leading to a small room. James walked inside. Inside, there was a small kitchen, a screen, and four windows, with yellow window blinds, through which a warm glow passed through into the room, creating an almost sunset haze in the glowing environment. There was a bed, with brown bed coverings, and a small desk. James put down his things and sat on the bed, looking up, and then he saw it.

After a while she had woken up, placing bowls of water for the cats, the sound of joyful laughter. With each rising and falling of her voice, James smiled, into a gentle peace. Then the time. 

A small painting was on the wall across from him. He gazed into it deeply, until time stood still. 

Entering into the steadiness of ground in the valley, James found an open space in the parking lot, parked the car and moved toward the field, He had a small map telling him where to go, James thought, looking into at the small mainframe computer that was his phone. Once he arrived to the edge of the baseball field, because it was a baseball field, and that’s where the town picnic was, James quickly found where he was supposed to be: one of the small booths on the edge of the field, and James looked around the far distances of the outer field edge. There were at least tens of booths around, each dedicated to something, but James wouldn’t even know exactly what. He was working, and he didn’t have time to venture out into the distances. He was firmly planted in the ground. 

He found a particularly shade sheltered part of the tree and sat down. It was silent. Occasionally he could feel the sunlight as the winds shifted the shadow patterns. A blank wall nearby seemed to be speaking in a silent language that James tried to listen to for awhile. He went over his notes, and sent them to his supervisor.

James may have stood in front of it for hours, he just didn’t know, and then turning around he looked at the rest of the room. He didn’t notice before that directly across from the orange figure, on the wall, was another painting, seated like the one he was looking at, yet this time, this color was blue. He knew this one. This was one of the images of the constellations, the color of the night sky, for healing, as night often does, at the end of the day. The room was completely silent. At least he thought it was. He may have just imagined it was, but either way, there was nothing blocking him from being lost in thought, of these images.

There was a large painting by an unknown artist behind them. The wind hit like waves, at times calm, but imperceptibly, rising, uncontrollably, he never know when, or why, but was always watching for. Not for a level of distraction, but calm, steady listening. James’ only job was to hold the canvas back from the rising winds so that it didn’t fall over. If James left his seat, the entire booth would be destroyed, and that couldn’t happen. Their booth (there were five of them) only existed to point the way toward the end of the California drought. That was the job, but in between the moments of action, they all talked, and there wasn’t a single subject that was ignored. Each conversation was a book, not restless, not calm, but a portal like a diamond, of the mind, of the heart, of the spirit, as they talked about the local politics, the possibility of future worlds, the balance of things as they are, the edges of consciousness. And in their view, out into the open field, was, as one of them said, life. And like life, moments in the booth were not easy, there was fear there, and they met each moment with an open heart, a cry like a question, the hope against fear. Five hours went by.

James swiftly moved in circles around the room, like the chalk in the drawings of the magic officers, looking from one painting to another. “This is language,” James thought.  “It’s almost as if they’re talking to each other. These aren’t paintings. This is a conversation.” “And James, you will learn their stories, their language,” came a voice. James turned around to see who was speaking. In the open door stood Claire, resting her shoulder against the wall of the door. “I told you there were no goodbyes,” Claire said. 

Suddenly, it was time to go. The crowds were running thin, the band had packed up, the games were over. There was a silence over the baseball field, the only sound the impossible shape of light. Only days ago James was almost killed. He forgot that in the afternoon. He tightened the baseball cap around his head, almost inseparable now from him. Sometimes he felt different, too different, indifferent, without it. He was given some food. He was grateful.

It was something the magic officers had taught him. By building this system of open spaces in his auxiliary drive, he was able to compartmentalize and hold the fear. In Ondolor, nothing like this remained, but as one of the earlier orders of system memories, it was still there. Sometimes as light rain. Not painful anymore, but audible. He thought about this for a few seconds. James continued to look at the light.

Walking back to the car seemed like a year. James scanned the environment constantly. The sound of birds was gone. All was gone, and James found his car quickly. Surprised that he did, he started the car, and within minutes had travelled up the mountain and back to the apartment. She was somewhere else. It was quiet, the air was cool, and James still listened for every change of sound. But all he heard this time were the sounds of his own footsteps, the turn of the handle, the sound of objects, the impossible sounds of peace. In the kitchen came a quick motion of metal against metal, water and steam, pressure and rumbling sounds, into the quiet space; and that was what making coffee was like. James listened to every moment as if a symphony, which, in a sense, it was.

It was a beautiful afternoon. The crisp autumn air whispered into the last weekend of summer, and in the hills of the valley, James woke up, this time not too early, not too late. He walked through the small apartment that was lit not quite by day, not quite by night, but, somewhere, balanced in-between. In the morning silences, he carefully walked throughout his daily chores, enwrapped in the quiet promise of a new day. The sound of the coffee maker, the wind through the trees, the echoes of memory, from memory to the beckoning of a season to come, tempered with hope tinged with anxiety, dream against fear, gentleness within the opening air. He walked to the window. The air was clear. He could see for miles, within and without, and somewhere in-between.

Our dreams are important, the world is mysterious and beautiful, and we can always find a place of calm and hope, if we just let go and see the world for what it is, and why it’s worth saving.

I don’t know why I work like I do. Of course I do it to get by. I have very little extra to spend on even giving to political donations and even local food shelters. I love to help things in any way I can. Whenever I have any kind of outside funding to my art projects I end up helping out other people, or helping my nonprofit get a donation directly from me. I do it because I love it. I love waking up at 3AM, and just trying everything I can. I post and make art, and today I did it for almost 14 hours. It’s been like this for weeks. I finally had my first bid on an NFT that would give me some extra to put aside in savings, or even give that one $1 donation to a nonprofit cause.

“If I wrap my report up quickly,” James thought, “Maybe I can find a way to watch for the solar jumps later this evening.” He noted in his reports a system of graphs and moved them slowly through the index until they had become a floating cloud of information. He beamed the cloud back to his supervisor.

While there are so many crises affecting our time, the climate crisis might surpass them all. It has to have the first priority, out of any other issues, so that we all have a beautiful planet that is not only critical to our foundations, but the entire world. How can any of us survive while the planet is in such dire need. We need to safeguard life at all levels, and the beginnings of this would be meeting the standard of the emissions standards being placed today, but this policy addresses the most central foundations, re focusing on the source of the issues, the energy grid. 

James thought of the researchers on the mountain and wondered what they could possibly be doing. He had a view in his upper right visual field of the moments of interest, and then he saw it. The silver field pulled inward, and within moments had returned to its original form. Several then sprouted side by side into a small meadow, and the scientists stood and just watched it, amazed.

Looking out from this dream, he wondered why the system override was happening now. The snow stopped, and James was back in the present reality, however real that was. James would never know how much of his world was truly real, and to his everyday world, it didn’t really matter. There was never another way to know. In truth, he didn’t know for certain really anything. He just had to trust that the ground he walked on was real, simply because he walked on it. It caught every part of his fall. He remembered his first week learning to walk, around ten months previously. “Walking is a series of falling and catching yourself. Just trust with each step that you won’t fall, you’ll get up thousands of times a day, in all you do,” He remembered her saying.

I don’t pretend to understand the situation in Afghanistan, I know there are historians and peoples who have lived there for centuries, yet I pray for peace. So many of us know what it’s like to live in fear, and I will always do all I can to offer peace in my art. It was so important to me that I took the day off, saying very little, and just allowing my presence to be in the service of others. To hear voices and all that they feel. Tomorrow I’m getting back to work on my projects, but giving a day of silence to all wars, to just be a part of humanity, just in the ability to listen, I found an uneasy peace. Not everyone can feel that way, yet I will tirelessly do whatever I can, which is through the arts, to imagine a better world. I hope all are able to get a bit of rest from the weariness of the struggles we face, and today will be with me for a long time. It’s made me more aware of each step, each part of the way, as I move through the days of my life. I’m sure we’re all a little tired. Rest easy tonight, if you can. I’ll light a candle tonight, for even when the night sky is cloudy, there is a bright star in each light.

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