Archive for January, 2013

Malachite – Chapter 2 – Leaving Home

He stood up, picked up his coat and helmet, and moved farther away from the water. He didn’t register at all that he had been moving up the gravel floor since he had first entered the cavern. Hell of a tide. And he didn’t know what he was doing there; just that staying in the apartment seemed pointless. The water continued to rise. Slowly, but certainly. Oblivious to what the rising water might mean, he moved again. So, if they somehow swam thru the pool – a pool that ‘trained professionals’ said was impassable – they wouldn’t have had dry clothes or food with them when they got outside. Would they? The water continued to rise. Damn! I’m going to get wet even if I don’t want to go swimming!
It was then that he noticed that the small tunnel that he had come thru to get into the cavern had disappeared under the rising water. Too early to panic. But, I should keep that option open.

More time passed – how much, he didn’t know – the water level increased. I wonder how far it goes up? I wonder if I will be alive long enough to find out? How long can I tread water? He grabbed his coat and held it close, though he didn’t know why.

When the water level reached his waist, it occurred to him that it was not particularly cold. In fact, it was warmer than when he first got there. So, how hot does this get? He had to release his coat to scull the water with his arms, for the rising water had lifted him off the floor of the cavern.

He had stayed active his entire life, just for the joy of feeling good – or, at least feeling better than everyone else who complained about how bad they felt. The thought that all those hours of sweat might have been a waste crossed his mind.

Probably a little late to be looking around for a way out? But, he looked around anyway. Eventually, he looked up. Huh? A small opening in the ceiling was appearing. Had to pretty much be right under it to see it, and it was glowing brighter and brighter. Some kind of phosphorescence? He had that effect on rocks.

Mal’s watery prison was getting smaller and smaller. Unfortunately, the hole that apparently penetrated through the rock would not allow any air to be trapped while he waited for the water level to recede. Whether or not he could have stayed afloat that long was a question he never got around to asking. He paddled over to it and looked up into darkness. I wonder if I will have the arm strength to climb? Climb to where? Well, it’s not like I have a choice…now.

Soon he was in the vertical shaft. He stretched out his arms. The shaft was wide enough he couldn’t touch opposite sides. He was going up; that he could tell by having to reach out for new hand-holds. In fact, it seemed that he was rising up in the shaft faster and faster; barely able to keep his nose above water. So, is this a one-way ticket? No, wait: Jaz came back, didn’t she? But, did she come back in the same way? What would she have done, abseil? Without ropes? And what happened to Jade? Jaz didn’t seem to be the brightest person he’d ever met – although she figured out a way to use the pool to get out. Evidently. If she wasn’t making the whole story up, that is.

He stopped, and just seemed to float; the sensation of going up was replaced by one of hovering. The rock walls had stopped glowing. Yes, he was sure of that. Just hanging there was a bit unsettling. Not so much because it was effortless, but because there was no feedback: no footsteps, no sound, nothing to touch to give his brain information. It was frightening because he was so absolutely out of control.

But, he hadn’t stopped moving. True, he was no longer going up; of that he was certain. Yes, he was certain, wasn’t he? Now, he was being carried horizontally by the warm water. And much more gently. Yes, his boots were still on his feet; his coat just a memory. Helmet? What helmet? He relaxed. Then tightened-up again. Perhaps because he feared that his vertical flight could have instantly changed from up to down. Though why he no longer feared that this watery medium would suddenly cease to exist, he didn’t understand. Paranoid? Yeah. Probably afraid of my own shadow, if I could see it. But, at the same time, somehow this felt better. At least it was less turbulent, more peaceful. Floating on his back, at least he could look around, up even. No clues. It was as dark looking up as it was looking anywhere else. Would be nice to have the light on my helmet about now. He was used to the dark, he grew up in the dark. But this dark was different. This whole thing was different. Very different. Too different.

That’s when he heard a very low roar, presumably at some distance. But then again, “distance” had very little meaning when you have no visual clues. A feeling of moving, but how fast meant little when you had no way to measure, no way to gage how fast.

His breathing had slowed. Moving horizontally was less traumatic than moving vertically. But still, no idea where he was moving to. Very sure he was moving further and further away from home, however. Moving somewhere he had never been.

The roar was getting louder. His clothes had trapped some air and helped to keep him afloat. He was on his back, his legs extended, ankles crossed, his arms folded across his chest, looking straight up and seeing nothing. He was relaxing and that was dangerous: complacency kills. If not from falling asleep – for he was tired – then from making mental errors. Yes, errors in judgment could kill. Something else to be sure of. He had to keep his wits about him. Fine: wide awake, ready for anything. Knowing nothing. Pretty much the story of my life.

And that’s when the roar became deafening and the bottom dropped out. Simultaneously, the roar became painfully loud and he was falling. The water that had carried him up and gently bore him along now violently pounded him down.

He was fighting to breathe, but it felt like he was underwater. Or, almost. Not quite completely submerged; but every breath brought water into his nose and mouth. He flailed. He kicked. His fingers opened and closed on the water, reaching for anything, grasping nothing. He fell a long time.

Suddenly, he was very definitely completely under water and that wasn’t good. He kicked. Harder. He grabbed at the water. He knew this underwater feeling, and he knew he needed to find air. He fought panic as much as he fought the water. Panic meant death. Of course, to be under water too long also meant death.

He could hear the roar again, and it was diminishing. He also discovered he was breathing. When had he surfaced? He took deep breaths. Yes, he was breathing. But this air was different. It smelled different. Or was that the water he was smelling? He didn’t feel like he was falling, which was good. Was he in an underground river that he didn’t know? There were no clues. It was still just as dark as it could be. Or was it?

No, it wasn’t quite that dark. Not black, not the complete absence of light; more of a gray, a really dark gray. Looking up, up seemed lighter. If he was in a cave, it was a huge cave, the likes of which he had never been in.

He was tired. Physically exhausted. The adrenaline having served its purpose left him. He needed to get out of the water and to something solid, and that probably meant swimming across the current. Swimming with the current, in a river, would never get him to someplace where he could rest, catch his breath, and begin to figure out what had happened. Swimming against the current was a fool’s errand. He rolled over on his stomach and began a breaststroke. Slow and easy, for he had no idea how far away something to hang onto would be.

Looking up, the total darkness was now a layered palette of cobalt blue-to-gray, a uniform gray. His strokes became slower. This, whatever this was, was too big to be underground. Wasn’t it? There couldn’t possibly be a cavern this size. Couldn’t possibly. He had to be on the surface. Who you tryin’ to convince? On the surface? On Top?

There was now a jagged horizontal line where light gray met black. A black darkness that was now not quite as dark as it had been. Not as black as he was used to.

He was on top! He had made it to the surface! Rocks found his boots. Thank God I kept my boots on – and they stayed on! He was able to stand and walk. Using his arms to swim, he began to walk against the ebbing water. Everything got lighter and lighter. He could see the water’s edge. He could see something besides water in front of him. He looked over his shoulder to see a very large river behind him.

Dawn was giving way to day before it struck him that the sun – that unbelievably bright light that would first blind him, then burn him – was rising over the horizon. He had never seen the sun before. No one he knew had ever actually seen the sun. He had read about it; everyone had read about it. Many dreamed of seeing it. But, if he didn’t find shelter quickly, it would kill him – slowly. Generations of living underground had made their eyes very sensitive to low light; and completely unsuitable to the intensity of the raw, unfiltered sunlight On Top. Having spent his entire life underground, he was on the surface, for the first time. Ever.

The warming sun began to make his skin itch. He was already trying to shield his eyes. Gotta find shelter, or I’m gonna fry. Probably fry anyway – one way or another. His coat was a forgotten memory; his shirt and pants were thin and frayed. Yeah, gonna fry.

Obama’s Untermenshen

Well, Adolf Hitler had his, why can’t Barak Obama have his? ‘Course, Ol’ Adolf was able to murder “only” about 6 million or so “subhumans”; and his good friend Uncle Joe Stalin, “only” another 20 or so million; and who can forget Mao and his untold? But, we Americans, home of unalienable rights have managed to make those guys look like Boy Scouts (with apologies to the Boy Scouts); we have, in the 40 years since the Supreme Court managed to one-up their reprehensible Dred Scott ruling with Roe v Wade, murdered in excess of 50 million. 50 million human beings who are somehow judged as being not worthy of any rights at all; rather, a Untermenshen conclusion, wouldn’t you say?

And if that wasn’t enough (yes Virginia, the hits just keep on comin’), we Americans use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. Yeah, yeah, I know: the dollar doesn’t buy as much as it used to. But, seriously: what is the difference between the Big Three and THE BIG ONE? Sure, Obama didn’t single-handedly make Roe v Wade the law of the land, but neither did Hitler, Stalin and Mao – they all had their flunkies.

50 million human beings, murdered, before they ever saw the light of day. Why? Well, for the most part, because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; i.e., they were inconvenient. Damn! That brings us right back to the Big Three, oops, I mean the Big Four.

America, you embarrass me.

The Edmonds Group

My mother and I have a standing joke, or rather, a common topic of conversation. There is a group of small-in-stature, elderly-in-years women (aka “little old ladies” – tho the “ladies” part is debatable) that attends her church. It seems this group comes to church to socialize, somehow mistaking a church building with published hours of service, for a bus station or football stadium. In fact, it was a friend of my mother’s that provided the moniker. Sad to say, the Edmonds Group has a chapter at my church.

I’m not really complaining that their idiotic prattle, especially at a time when I am trying to get close to God, is somehow offensive; or that I am “holier than thou” (them?). For they are teaching me patience. You see, although the Church is very clear about the purpose of Mass (in a nutshell, to worship God), I go to Mass for penance. So, the Edmonds Group is really doing me a favor, because I have so much joy in my life, I need them to bring me down to the reality that life really does suck.

But, what I don’t understand is why they feel the need to flap their tongues (at all), let alone immediately before a religious service, while the very slow, like me, are trying to leave the worldly crap outside so I can concentrate on why it is I am there to begin with. Frankly, I never want to hear the chatter of the chattering class anyway (noise is simply that: noise – it is not music to my ears). But, to have to be subjected to their noise is so…infuriating. No, no, I take that back: it is not, it is liberating and rejuvenating and reassuring. Yeah, I don’t believe any of that, either.

And, don’t get me started on those that come in late and leave early. I don’t want to go there.

But, I will scratch my head at the usher who insisted on interrupting my praying (I was kneeling, with a rosary in my hands) to let some folks into the pew. Hey, they had two little kids – arriving just before the processional is perfectly understandable. Even when one of the little kids threw a fit just before the recessional and daddy took him/her out. I got no problem at all with little kids acting like litte kids, i.e., acting their age. I do have a problem, a really huge problem with adults acting like little kids.

I am starting to ramble, but I am desperate to end this on a positive note.

Oh, here we go: I am positive that I love the Mass. It’s just that I don’t love all the people who would rather be someplace else, and act that way. Wow! I did find some common ground with my fellow man (that would include the old-fashioned, sexist, “little old ladies”): I don’t want them at Mass, either!

A video worth viewing

French envy

Obviously, I’ve got it all wrong: I never – and I do mean not in this lifetime – thought I would envy the French for anything, much less (way much less) than the recent demonstration they held in Paris to support the thousands-of-years old definition of marriage. Next thing you know, I just might buy French wine.

Parenthood

So, my 18 yr has this bed that needs a little TLC: one leg is definitely not square or plumb. I’ve given it a little persuasion once already. Do I continue to straighten it up? Or, do I wait until she does something (actually, fairly likely – but she would have to notice, first)? Or, wait until she says something (I would bet money that will never happen)? Furniture with live loads like beds and chairs will all get looser before they get tighter, at least, on their own. So, pretty safe to say I can predict with some certainty where this situation is going. But, do I intervene? Do I sit back and wait for her to (a) discover something needs attention, and then (b) do something (anything) about it? Or, do I stick my nose in where she has repeatedly made clear it is not welcome (what am I doing even LOOKING in her bedroom, eh)? I think I will go read…

Vaticantwo.wordpress.com

Yeah, I know I am way behind (not news), but I found out about this site because I went to Mass yesterday – dunno how else I would have become aware of it; but have only one thing to say: JOY!

Well, if there was only one thing to say, there wouldn’t be much point in me having a blog, so:

Perhaps Blessed John Paul II felt a little like Philip explaining Scripture to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26+) when he wrote Dei Verbum; but it sure would be nice to have somebody explain the documents of Vatican II.

Second thought: Thank God I am a Roman Catholic!  To have nearly 2,000 years of “Philips” to help out rocks like me!

Final thought: I had embarked on a study of the Book of Revelation this year, using the Ancient Christian Commentary (InterVarsity Press) as my guide, before I was introduced to The Vatican II Challenge – dear God, when am I going to find the time for this, too???

Yeah: JOY!