Distant Connections

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You have joined the channel. There are 6 other users online now. Channel moderator: h1v3_qu33n

Rn_FTTM: Anyway, like I said, your first podding can be intense, especially for a cogenitor, but when our family had kids my cogenitor told me it was really rewarding for them to have a new sibling once the split happened.

h1v3_qu33n: Besides, the other two parents sound like they’re friendly. They’ll help you through it.

FlyBai: Hey, a new face!

Rn_CLI: That helps a lot. I’m gonna go talk to them now. Thanks for all the advice, everyone.

Jenny_Barnes: Hi

Rn_FTTM: Bye

h1v3_qu33n: Bye dear

h1v3_qu33n: Hi

FlyBai: Bye

Rn_CLI has left the channel.

Barinade: bye

Jenny_Barnes: Are there any other humans in this chatroom?

Barinade: dammit too late

h1v3_qu33n: Sorry Jenny_Barnes, I think you’re the only one. Not a lot of humans in this sector. Or on this channel. But you’re still welcome to join us.

Jenny_Barnes: I think I’d like that, yeah. I just really need someone to talk to.

h1v3_qu33n: That’s what we’re here for

h1v3_qu33n: Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Jenny_Barnes: OK

Jenny_Barnes: So, my name is Jenny Barnes, same as my username.

Jenny_Barnes: Well actually it’s “Jennifer”, but my friends call me Jenny.

h1v3_qu33n: Hi Jenny

Jenny_Barnes: Hi :)

Jenny_Barnes: I’m a spacer – born and raised on starships. I work as an engineer on a survey vessel – I’m the one who keeps the engines running and the lights on. Stuff like that.

FlyBai: I think Wrathbone is a spacer too but she’s not online today

FlyBai: She’s Greturian though, not Human

Jenny_Barnes: Darn.

Barinade: what kind of surveying do you do?

Jenny_Barnes: We spend a lot of time in asteroid belts, looking for asteroids with high-value ore or mineral deposits. When we find one, we slap a buoy on it so the Company can send a Cracker over later to break it open and extract the ore.

Rn_FTTM: What’s a Cracker?

h1v3_qu33n: It’s a kind of ship used to break open asteroids or moons and then process them for resources

Jenny_Barnes: Yeah; the models we have use a cannon to crack the asteroid open, then pull the bits in with tractor beams and process them right there on the ship.

Rn_FTTM: ty

Jenny_Barnes: Wait a sec

Jenny_Barnes: You don’t have Crackers? I thought everyone had them. What species are you?

h1v3_qu33n: Rn_FTTM is a Ren

Rn_FTTM: Yeah, we just grow anything we need. To be honest, my species needs more genetic engineers than technical engineers – my cogenitor’s a geneticist, actually. They helped grow the ship some new glands this last cycle. Not to belittle your job or anything.

Jenny_Barnes: Dumb question; sorry

Rn_FTTM: np I’m not offended

Jenny_Barnes: What’s a cogenitor btw?

Jenny_Barnes: Sorry if this sounds ignorant I just don’t know a lot about Ren

h1v3_qu33n: No need to apologize Jenny

Rn_FTTM: My species has three sexes; the cogenitor is the one that actually splits to produce new children. The other two just contribute gametes. Is this too technical?

Jenny_Barnes: No no I understand

Jenny_Barnes: Thanks for clearing that up

Jenny_Barnes: Anyway, as I was saying, my ship isn’t really that big: only me, my husband, and 3 other people, and I’m the only woman. We spend pretty much all of our time in space.

h1v3_qu33n: It sounds lonely

Jenny_Barnes: It can be.

MoxMom has joined the channel.

FlyBai: You only have the one husband?

Jenny_Barnes: Yeah

FlyBai: Guess that would make it easier

h1v3_qu33n: What does your husband do?

Jenny_Barnes: He’s the navigator.

Jenny_Barnes: Anyway, I’m the only expectant mother on the ship, and I don’t have many people to talk to. Small ship, gossip gets around, you know?

Barinade: sure

Jenny_Barnes: Just feeling a little overwhelmed.

MoxMom: I don’t understand why this is such a big deal honestly

MoxMom: I know it kind of sucks when there’s just one male to fertilize the clutch but think how much worse it would be if there weren’t any around at all

MoxMom: Waste of a mating cycle. You should count your blessings

Jenny_Barnes: Clutch?

MoxMom: Oh you only lay one egg at a time?

FlyBai: She’s human MoxMom, their species doesn’t lay eggs at all.

MoxMom: Wait then where does the child come from

Jenny_Barnes: It grows in a specialized organ near the stomach after you conceive

Jenny_Barnes: Before anyone asks I’m not going into more detail about conception

Jenny_Barnes: I don’t feel comfortable talking about my sex life right now

h1v3_qu33n: That’s OK

MoxMom: wait are you serious? They grow inside you?

Jenny_Barnes: Yeah why?

MoxMom: what the fuck

Options > Text display

Censor profanity is now ON.

MoxMom: That’s disgusting. Your children grow inside you? That’s just weird

Barinade: all mammals have their children grow inside them idiot

h1v3_qu33n: It’s not just mammals, dearie ;)

Barinade: and you’d know that if you did some **** research once in your **** life

MoxMom: **** you it’s unnatural

Barinade: no **** you swamp-dwelling ****

Barinade: ignorant ****

Rn_FTTM: Could we maybe tone down the language please

MoxMom: **** smelling **** kill yourself

h1v3_qu33n: ok 1 sec

FlyBai: Maybe try keeping an open mind MoxMom. I lay eggs too, for what it’s worth but this is supposed to be a safe place to talk about our experiences.

MoxMom: You’re all disgusting

MoxMom has been banned.

h1v3_qu33n: Bye sweetie ;)

Barinade: haha

FlyBai: Sorry about that Jenny, we get a lot of trolls in here sometimes.

FlyBai: I promise not all Maro are like that; some are quite nice

Barinade: yeah when they’re not killing one another

h1v3_qu33n: Positive talk only please

Barinade: sorry

Jenny_Barnes: It’s OK. Thanks everyone for standing up for me. Honestly, it’s a little upsetting to be dogpiled like that, when I just wanted to get some advice.

FlyBai: What is a dogpile? I just looked up “dogs”, and they don’t seem like they stack easily or often.

Jenny_Barnes: It’s just a figure of speech.

Rn_FTTM: Look we’re getting sidetracked here; I think Jenny was telling us about herself before that unpleasantness.

Jenny_Barnes: OK

Jenny_Barnes: So, look, I just don’t have anyone to talk to about this. My mom, she’s halfway across the galaxy out of comms range, and I don’t know where else to turn.

h1v3_qu33n: It’s OK. It’s overwhelming for anyone.

h1v3_qu33n: Look, I understand you’re nervous, but trust me: it gets easier after the first time

h1v3_qu33n: I think I’ve had about 1,500,000 kids so far and it’s all really smooth now.

Jenny_Barnes: Huh

Jenny_Barnes: That’s impressive

h1v3_qu33n: I know it’s not too many for my species, and my parent-hive is always bothering me about why I’m not producing faster (she wants more grandkids), but it’s just that I feel like I wouldn’t really know myself if I had so many children.

h1v3_qu33n: Not sure how to describe it in human terms

h1v3_qu33n: My mind would be all over the place? Does that make any sense?

Jenny_Barnes: Sort of

Jenny_Barnes: It’s not really the pregnancy I’m worried about; it’s just figuring out how to start a family on a ship with only 300 square meters of deckplating total

Jenny_Barnes: When I was born it was on a way bigger ship than this, and I actually had kids my age to talk to

FlyBai: You can’t transfer or anything?

Jenny_Barnes: It’s a deep-space assignment; we have another nine months out here on a twelve-month contract and it’s two weeks away from the nearest human colony anyway

Jenny_Barnes: (I mean in Earth time btw)

Jenny_Barnes: And I can’t just make them turn back

Jenny_Barnes: We have a contract to complete

Jenny_Barnes: I should have waited, but I just always wanted kids and I didn’t want to wait forever

Jenny_Barnes: I’m already in my thirties

Barinade: yeah I had kids at an inconvenient time in my life too

Barinade: in my defence I was in heat

h1v3_qu33n: I’m going to admit it’s a little difficult for me to give advice here, since I have kids in batches of hundreds and I usually have the rest of the colony to deal with care & feeding

h1v3_qu33n: But look: I assume your husband will help you raise the child

Jenny_Barnes: Yeah

h1v3_qu33n: It’s only a few months, and the two of you can plan a transfer to a bigger ship after the contract is done

Jenny_Barnes: If there are any openings

h1v3_qu33n: Try and think positive, dear

h1v3_qu33n: Something will come along, you’ll see

FlyBai: Besides, work/life balance shouldn’t be too hard

FlyBai: And it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your fledgling. Teach them all about running a ship and all

FlyBai: I think that’s really poetic

Rn_FTTM: And you can worry about getting them to meet other kids when they’re older

Jenny_Barnes: You’re right. Maybe I’m just winding myself up

Barinade: I had my first litter when I was in the planetary defence force and that was a chore and a half let me tell you

FlyBai: We know.

Rn_FTTM: We know.

h1v3_qu33n: We’ve heard that story already dear

Barinade: this should be nothing

Jenny_Barnes: Thanks, everyone. I feel a bit better

h1v3_qu33n: You can always come here to talk if you need to

h1v3_qu33n: That’s what we’re here for

FlyBai: It’s what we have in common

Rn_FTTM: Also we usually have more people than this; it’s just a slow day.

Jenny_Barnes: I appreciate that

Jenny_Barnes: I have to go on duty in a few minutes, but I’ll be back

h1v3_qu33n: Look forward to it

h1v3_qu33n: Best of luck darling :)

Barinade: bye

FlyBai: Bye

Rn_FTTM: Goodbye.

You are offline.

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The Kraken

I wrote this little ditty a while back, but I decided to repost it here.

***

There’s a Kraken in my pool,
And I don’t know what to do.
There’s a Kraken in my pool,
And I only wish I knew –

How’d it get there? Why my neighborhood? However did it fit?
How much longer will it stay; how to get rid of it?

There’s a Kraken in my pool,
And it just won’t go away,
No matter how I scream and shout,
That Kraken’s here to stay.

Toasts of Passion

toast-1077984_1280

25 Falsie Avenue. Floor 2, Flat 2. The Kitchen.

I’ve lived here for nine of my ten years of life; ever since the landlord brought me in from the store. In those nine years, I have toasted over two thousand slices of bread, and I have known a total of five different tenants. But none of the other tenants are quite like Ian.

I knew Ian was special from the first day he moved into the flat. I still remember his first words:

“What a dump. I got taken to the cleaners.”

I swooned as soon as I heard that. I knew at once that he had the soul of a poet.

Ian and I have a special relationship. Most mornings – whenever he’s not in a hurry – he likes to have buttered toast for breakfast – and when he makes toast, that means he uses me. The toast is typically the last thing he prepares each morning, and this, of course, is because Ian likes to save the best for last.

Oh, the kettle, of course, would beg to differ. The kettle likes to think that he likes her more, on account of the fact that he has tea every morning, but not necessarily toast. The kettle is a bitch, and she doesn’t love Ian like I do.

This morning, Ian is wiping sleep from his eyes as he walks into the kitchen. He’s cute when he’s bleary. He gropes in the bread bowl for the packet of bagels, takes one out, and slices it. I realize with a pulse of pleasure that he’s decided to turn to me first today.

I shiver with anticipation as he reaches out to me and caresses my side, and listen rapturously for the loving words I’m sure are to come.

“Time for some toast,” he murmurs. “This thing better not burn it this time.”

Yes, I breathe. Give it to me.

I shudder with ecstasy as he inserts his sliced bread into my waiting slit. Slowly, tenderly, he thumbs my waiting switch. Inside me the heat builds, hotter and hotter, until I approach my climax. In a single upward thrust, I disgorge, and am content. In the fuzzy haze of the afterglow, I listen contentedly to him as he picks the toast out with a fork and flips it onto a plate.

“God DAMN it!” he cries fervently. “Why does this thing ALWAYS burn my fucking toast?!”

It’s all I can do not to faint as he hurls his fork into the sink.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he mutters. “I forgot my tea.”

Still muttering sweet nothings to himself, Ian seizes a butter knife and then scrapes off the blackened aftermath of my passion from the toast before applying the butter. Then, unfortunately, he turns to the kettle for his tea. But let her choke on her sloppy seconds. Inside, I am warm, bathing in the afterglow that will, surely, last me until tomorrow morning…

***

Photo Credit: Toast/Toaster, by Flashfranky. Free-use photo. Original photograph can be found online here.

Special thanks to Anojan Palarajah, who finally convinced me to put this online.

Halloween Special: When Gaming Goes Wrong

This is a true story. It actually happened, to a friend of mine’s cousin’s uncle’s brother’s nephew. His name is Daniel.

It was about three years ago, now, that Daniel went looking for old video games at his neighborhood’s annual garage sale. Daniel had always been a bit of an old-school gamer. What “old-school gamer” means, of course, is that he hated everything new and sat in his basement all day alternating between playing old videogames and masturbating. Occasionally he did both at once – but I digress.

Daniel was perusing the items being sold by the creepy old man down the block – every neighborhood has one – when he spotted it. A game he hadn’t played in well-nigh ten years. He checked, and indeed it was the one, the only, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

The cartridge looked to be in bad shape. It was attired in classic “sketchy game from creepy man” chic: the casing was scratched, the label was missing, and the title had been drawn on with a sharpie (with “Ocarina” misspelled “Orgina”). It looked terrible. It was also, however, only a dollar, and that kind of price is difficult to argue with. Daniel took it and went to where the old man was sitting, behind a folding table at the foot of the driveway.

“I’ll take this,” said Daniel to the old man, indicating the cartridge before placing four quarters on the table.

“Ah, yes,” said the old man, in a voice like an unoiled hinge dropped into a garbage disposal. “That game; my grandson used to play it, before…”

“Thanks,” said Daniel, beating a hasty retreat. He knew from playing video games that old men will happily monologue for several pages if you let them, and he had a game to try out.

Once Daniel made it home, he immediately went to the basement, put the cartridge into his N64, and turned on the console.

The game seemed to start correctly: the intro video and its accompanying music played with no issues. But when he got to the main menu, Daniel found to some irritation that all three save slots were occupied, with files named “I say”, “Link”, and “devours”, respectively. Rolling his eyes, Daniel deleted “devours” (not without a heavy heart, as it is considered bad form among owners of used N64 cartridges to delete the former owner’s save files), and created a new save file under his own name. Then he began the game.

It wasn’t long, however, before Daniel realized that something was off.

During the opening cinematic of the game, when Link wheeled to face the mounted Ganondorf, Daniel immediately realized that his cartridge did, in fact, have issues. Link’s eyes, when the screen zoomed in on his face, were empty. It wasn’t merely a white texture: it was as if the screen itself had failed, leaving dark holes where the eyes should have been.

“Daniel…” came a dialogue box, in a scene normally without dialogue. At the bottom blinked the blue arrow indicating that there was more text to be read.

It was, as you can imagine, a disturbing scene, and Daniel didn’t want to continue.

So he decided not to, and reached out for the console’s on/off switch. As his hand approached the switch, the word “No” appeared on the screen, as though the game was responding to his movement. He ignored the warning and turned the console off anyway. The screen blinked, then the image was gone. Daniel looked at the faintly-glowing screen for a moment, then turned off his television set. Then he stood up and went back outside to play soccer in the warm sun.

That evening, as he was washing off the dirt and sweat from the game, he decided to be more social in the future. Whether “Orgina of Time” had been the work of some sadistic hacker or a bona fide demonic possession, it had clearly been a message of some kind. Daniel made a promise to himself: he’d go outside more often. No more spending his days jerking off to Natalya’s vertices in GoldenEye (usually in the Bunker 2 level where there was a better view).

Well, at least not all of his days.

He later threw the cartridge out and hasn’t heard from it since.

THE END

Outer Perspective

heaven-740392_1280

Imagine a world without weather. No sun, no moon, no clouds. No rain or snow. No wind. No day. Only the clear, endless night, and the stars all around you.

If you found the above idea horrifying, then you obviously didn’t grow up in space. But I did, so I think I can give you some perspective.

They call us spacers: born and raised on starships, with no fixed address on a planet or even a space station. We’re the nomads of the modern age; men and women who sleep in the same bed every night, but never in the same place. So to speak.

As I mentioned at the beginning – home, for me, is a place without weather. The closest thing we get to weather happens if you’re fool enough to fly through an asteroid field, or – if you have a real deathwish – near a black hole or supernova. But that’s not really the same thing, is it?

I didn’t think of it as unique when I was a child, of course. For me, it was and is normal. I often get people (passengers, typically) who think my life was an exciting adventure out of the storybooks – going with my parents from planet to planet. And maybe it was. But for me, what was alien and unique and exciting was spending time planetside, because that’s when the view was really different.

One of my oldest memories involves Earth, actually – we were landing planetside, I assume, so my parents could sell off their cargo. Truth be told, I don’t remember exactly why we were there – it was a long time ago. What I do remember was how excited I was to make planetfall. In particular, I was excited to see a sun (or, rather the Sun – it was Earth, after all) – to see a star that close to me. My parents, of course, warned me not to look directly at it for too long – but it should go without saying I’d ignore them in the end.

For a long time, I was distracted by the sheer vastness of it all, as we rode the ground shuttle away from our ship – heading to sell our cargo. I’ve since been back to the same spaceport, and it’s a cramped, ugly place by planetary standards, but compared to a spaceship it was still vast. The ground yawing down in all directions away from the dock, and the open sky above. There were a lot of clouds that day, obscuring the sun, but I was entertained enough by the clouds not to mind.

At first, it seemed as if it was the clouds that were blue, and the sky that was gray. I quickly sorted it out, of course. I’d seen photographs of Earth before, and I knew, mentally, what the sky was supposed to look like. Even so, it’s stuck with me, that first fleeting impression of the sky in photo-negative.

Clouds vary endlessly, and so too did my impressions of them. The big ones were like the surfaces of vast, white asteroids, a world looming above the world. The small like ships, hidden in the smoke. I fancied that the ships were ferrying goods between the cloud world and the planet. Eventually, it started to get brighter and warmer all of a sudden, and I looked right up.

Most people have been blinded by the sun at some point in their life – spacers included. For the benefit of those who haven’t, though, let me try and describe in to you. You look up all at once – the light is bright, but you don’t realize just how bright until you meet the sun’s burning, unblinking eye. Its gaze burns itself into your own, and you immediately realize your mistake and look away.

It gazed at me, that solar Polyphemus, as I rubbed my eyes and admitted to myself that I should have listened to my parents. It looked down at me for a long minute before the clouds closed like an eyelid and the light faded away. But the image – that stuck. Later on, I’d read the old myths about the Basilisk that killed at a glance, about Tiresias who was struck blind for gazing on Athena bathing, and I remember the eye of the sun.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is this: one of the advantages I’ve had, growing up in space, is that I don’t take the idea of the weather for granted. By this point in my life, however, I’ve seen that most people who grew up planetside do. They sit inside on a rainy day. They close the blinds when it’s bright. They stay out of the sun, for fear of burns. They stay out of the snow, for fear of the chill.

Now, granted – this is simply a matter of perspective. I, for example, am so used to the stars that I forget how impressive they can be. Many the passenger I’ve seen glued to a porthole. Even so: weather, by and large, has never lost its strangeness to me, nor its interest. The blazing sun, the driving rain, the deep snow, the raging wind. Probably the most boring time for me is actually the night – for how can the view from a planet ever match the splendour of the stars?

So, my point is this: the next time you go outside, try, if you can, to look at the world through my eyes.

***

Photo Credit: Heaven, by exis. Free-use photo. Original  photograph can be found online here.

Once again, special thanks to Mikal Caober for his kind assistance editing.

La Pucelle

joan_of_arc_miniature_28cropped29

The French are led by a witch, they say.

La Pucelle, comes the French’s rallying cry – the hand of God to smite us. La Pucelle, we call back, the hand of Satan to plague us.

The rumours flock their thickest in the night, as we lie in our beds and huddle together o’er the fire. In the night our fear becomes most real. Proud, arrogant men speak in whispers of unholy pacts and dancing devils. We shudder and fancy the shadows of fairies and demons writhing in the dark. We awaken, sweat-cold, from nightmares of hellfire and raging steel.

When day returns, of course, few will admit they were afraid. The light of the sun burns away evil dreams, and we laugh and jest and boast. One man swears a drunken oath that if ever he lays a hand on the Virgin Maid of Orléans, she won’t be a virgin ere he’s done. Another sneers that our victory must be nigh, if the French must now send their women to the battlefield. All agree it is by witchcraft and heresy alone the French have won their victories.

Yet even as I laugh with the others, in my heart I am afraid. Day and night alike, I am afraid.

I was there, at Orléans, when La Pucelle smote our ruin. We laughed there too, at first. We jeered when she sent her letters demanding we depart. We joked that the French couldn’t even find a competent witch. Even after she took St. Loup, we still dismissed it as luck. We scorned her right until she took the Tourelles and broke the siege. And she has struck again, and again. Meung-sur-Loire. Patay. A march unopposed to Reims. She has won impossible victories, thrown down our bravest and best as nothing.

Men do rightly fear the scourge of witchcraft and devil-worship. But ‘tis not the flames of hell that haunt me of late. It is not the fear of witchery nor death nor hellfire that haunts me day by day. What keeps me up is a question like a splinter in my heart:

Where was God?

Where was God at Orléans, when men died in the hundreds, and the halls of the Tourelles ran red with the blood of Englishmen? Where was God at Patay, when they drove our army into the mud, and the triumphant French took mighty Talbot a captive, captured thousands of men, put proud Fastolf to flight?

Mistake me not – I am no heretic or atheist. I do not doubt God was there. God is everywhere. It is not God’s absence that wreathes my heart in fire, but his presence and what it may well mean. For if God was indeed at Orléans, at the Tourelles, at Patay…could he have been with her?

What if it is God we face?

What if I’m on the wrong side?

***

Photo Credit: Unknown artist. Joan of Arc. Oil on parchment; produced between 1450 and 1500. Artwork has entered the public domain. This crop of the original portrait was taken from the Wikimedia Commons, here.

Special thanks to Mikal Caober for his kind assistance editing.

OmniMatch

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[Stheno.jpg]

STHENO DIGALAKIS

Age: 27

Sex: F

Seeking: M, F

Location: Athens, Greece

Body Type: Lean

Hair: Reptillian

Children: None

Description: I’m a fun-loving, energetic young woman who is seeking a patient, open-minded man or woman who lives exclusively in Euclidean space. I love music – especially electronica – and dancing.

I do come with a minor quirk – I can turn people to stone by looking them in the eyes, so please don’t be offended if I wear sunglasses indoors.

Contact me if you’re looking for a serious relationship with an independent and passionate woman.

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  • You exist in greater or fewer than three spatial dimensions
  • Your experience of time is backwards, random, or otherwise non-linear.
  • You’re looking for a fling

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Dear Stheno,

My name is Stavros Dimitrios. Maybe this is a little forward of me, but I read your profile on OmniMatch and think we have a lot in common. I’m a young man also living in Athens. I’ve also always liked electronica – in fact, I’ve recently tried my hand at composing, although I still need practice.

Like you, I also wear sunglasses indoors. In my case, however, it’s because I’m blind.

So, I think we might be able to make it work? :)

If you’d be interested in meeting me for dinner, I can book a table for two next Friday at Daphne’s – perhaps at 6:30?

Hope to hear from you,

Stavros

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Photo Credit: “Refreshable Braille Display”, by Ixitixel. File licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Original photograph can be found here.