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The Alien Car Dream

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There are these black electric cars, opaque, a couple of white LED lights. Silent. One day they are just there, dotted all over earth. The impression is of those Google Street View periscope cars. Except they are not of this planet. They are alien.

They move around in groups of two or three. Cruising along country roads, then parked and unmoving for days. Nobody can get inside them. They are not hostile in any way.

Mostly out in the countryside, gliding across highways, fields. They don’t do anything. People are curious. Mom and dad and I rent a cabin out in the country. Up on the hill above us are three cars. Stationary for days now, a tourist attraction. People park right up close that night, headlights streaming over the motionless black contours.

Next day; people picnicking on blankets along the river bank, glancing over at the cars, expecting something to happen. Everyone's real friendly. Nothing happens. A group gets up to leave, gives us their blanket to sit on.

Later. Even…

JRI

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I'm standing with Anne in the kitchen. The windows are flung wide open. It's a beautiful evening. We're sipping wine and we're staring at the gate buzzer.

Right on cue, the little white speaker crackles.

“We're here!”

Anne presses the reply button and returns a tinny “Coolbeans.” She looks at me and says, “It's going to be so classy” and I grin at her. Tongue sticks out the corner of her mouth, she’s digging in her pockets for her gate remote. I beat her to it. A gaggle of students duck under the gate as it’s rolling upwards. One of them turns back and waves. A mom in a white Toyota says Be Good and pulls out of the driveway.

Smell of warm cheese. In the lounge it's me and Carry and her guy friends of friends from Durban and Jill Rhodes and Anne and Darren Waters the housemate and also copious amounts of bubbling cheddar.

I feel like an adult. Usually when we host a gathering it involves beer spills, broken glass, and at least one chunder in the garden. But not…

Luck of the draw

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Over here, stone is packed on stone, and the wall of our city rises. We are proud. Another year dries against the Ages without end. Men and women pass rustling on into autumn. Forever. Whatever.

It is a year like any other.

Over here, peace. But over there, none. Listen. Mortar burst from seams, the walls are breached, they crumble. Swept across the dunes, listen, the soft suffering of all those caught in the claws of Chaos come again. Oh how they wail. How they choke on Fate and ashes.

It is a year like any other.

Ancient ocean of the possible ever ebbing into the single cave of the real. Into our actual. Here; peace and plenty, but There; there they have none. Girls and boys are born. Whatever. A thousand, thousand, tiny heartbeats in the dark. Forever.

Two hearts. Beating their first at precisely the same time. They'll never know, because one is over here and one is over There. Lucky. He who has a home. So very, very, lucky.

You see, we are here too, we just happen to be. And so his 

The Tides

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.:.

Travel teaches you...

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Travel teaches you more about you and how you work than you ever learn about them. You learn very little about them, really.

Globalization. Everywhere's the same now. The internetting interknitting of our cultures and our cities and our stories. You can't get lost anymore anywhere. You have GPS on your phone.
Travel shows you how to get totally, utterly, wordlessly lost.



If you're lucky you learn how people are the same everywhere you go. If you're lucky you learn how  people couldn't be more alien.

You return home from your travels. Tired, content, ready for a new adventure. Perhaps then you finally see, I mean really see, where you came from. You see your home. Feel it, even. If you're lucky, and your eyes are open. You start to see people.

You realize that actually you saw very little about where they live. Where they really live.
You wake up in the middle of the night in your own bed and it hits you: I eat rice at every meal, three times a day. I've done this…

GenYsiX ---1

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The driverless car drives itself to the hosp—to the Medical Facility. Come on, Max.

“You’ve been reading too much.”

Cathy. Cathy is my wife and I love her.

“Mmm.”

“Hello in there—Max? You. Reading. Too much. Again.”

I put my book down and I look sideways at her. She’s reclining in the passenger seat next to me. She is my wife and I love her.

“I’m reading about Earth.”

She scoffs. “Max. Come on. It’s not real.”

“What do you mean?”

I slide my hand under her hand on her stomach.

“It’s not real, that.” She gestures. “What’s real is this.” She squeezes. “Here. Now. Us.”

Under my palm I feel the material, the cool synth without texture. What she wants me to feel is the warmth of her skin beneath the lifeless synth and also the life we’ve made together. I think. But what I feel is…well, an entirely a different matter.

“You keep reading about the Earth but this isn’t the Earth. It isn’t real. Not to us.”

She is, of course, pushing my buttons. I know this. It is understandable. My hand is on her stomach. U…

The man, the boy, and the flat little girl.

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"Daddy I want this one."

His son stands looking up at him with the picture book held above his head like an offering. Earnest little face. Such trusting eyes.

The man knows all about this book. He's read about it, its alleged effect on children. In it are nonsense rhymes and painted images, fantastical creatures worked into everyday scenarios. A surreal cast to it all. Things of shadow behind doors. A lion curled around a little boy's leg under the breakfast table as he eats his eggs. The boy's eyes are glassy, doll-like. A little girl pulled through the slit at the bottom of the door so that she comes out the other side a flat little girl. It's creepy as hell.

He looks down at his son. The boy is mesmerized. What has hooked him? What does he see in this, what is it that calls to him? The man can only think of the dark thoughts to which these images lead (to which he is lead), and how all this fantasy can only muddle a developing mind, confuse what is real and w…