Tag Archives: death

Chapter 8: A Stitch in Time

Cadmus opened his right eye just a slit. He saw a tall blue woman bending over him. A slice of sharp pain slashed through his chest and stomach. He winced and lost consciousness.

Sometime later, he couldn’t tell how long, he heard a detached voice asking someone, “how do you feel?”

He opened his right eye and then his left. The young Rational couple he had seen at the park was standing near him. He hadn’t realized before how tall they were.

“Where’s … Lonesome?” he asked with obvious concern.

“If you mean the dagu,” the blue man answered, “he’s right here beside your bed.”

Cadmus tried to move his head to the right to see for himself but the pain in his neck was intense. He inched his right hand toward the side of his bed and felt Lonesome’s cool damp nose and warm breath nuzzle his hand.

The words came to him slowly, as if from a great distance. “What … happened … to … me?” he asked.

They looked at each other and the woman softly explained, “You entered a place you shouldn’t have entered, failed to see the hyper-bridge, and fell down a worm hole.”

“We have so many of these holes around here and I’ve told the others we should put doors over them or plug them up,” the young man interrupted. “This one isn’t good for much besides providing a local gravitational lens vector to view the surface of the planet 3 below.”

“Galen,” she stopped her partner, “he is not concerned about that. Turning back to Cadmus she continued, “and you died.”

Cadmus turned pale and stuttered, “Do … you … mean I’m dead?”

“No,” she corrected him, “I said you died. Nothing is forever and nothing is immutable. Death is just another state that organic molecules can transition to or from at the cellular level.”

“I … don’t understand,” Cadmus began to find his voice.

She went on, “Galen and I picked you up from where you fell and carried you back to our cave, as it was closer than the hospital …”

Galen interrupted again, “… and, besides that, Remi here is just as good as any of our hospital doctors.”

Remi went on modestly, “it’s a simple enough procedure. Everything natural in the universe exists symmetrically in all dimensions, the ones you know about and can sense as well as all the higher dimensions. Only Sapien-made things are three dimensional because you can’t make what you don’t know, but your natural Sapien bodies are all-dimensional.”

“I still don’t follow you,” Cadmus confessed. “I don’t know much about this higher dimensional stuff. Most of us just know how to use the hyper-space vectors that you and the robots created. None of us have the technology to build this.”

Remi said, “The fact is you were in pretty bad shape when we found you. We had to take you home, reprint some of your internal organs, get your cells to stop dying off and start living again, and insert a codec or two and a few transducers … oh, yes, and stitch up the rupture in your local temporal dimensions.”

“I thought of it,” Galen said proudly.

“Sounds really simple,” Cadmus said somewhat sarcastically.

Remi smiled at Cadmus. “I was joking about stitching up your time. There’s no such thing as time. So how do you feel?” she asked once more.

“Like I fell off a cliff,” he smiled back. “I guess Lonesome and I will pay better attention to the signs from now on. What about the hotel?” he asked.

Galen answered, “We called them, told them what had happened, and that you would be staying with us until you felt better, Cadmus.”

“Would you prefer us to take you to a hospital?” Remi asked. “You and your dagu are welcome to stay with us until you recover.”

Cadmus wasn’t really sure what he should do under the circumstances. Should he politely refuse them? On the other hand, it might be an interesting experience in his otherwise inconsequential life. “If it’s really not too much trouble,” he tried to remember to smile, “I’d prefer to stay with you here until I can get back on my feet and get around a little.”

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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The Other Side of Consciousness

It has been said that nobody has ever come back from death to tell us in any really credible way what happens to our consciousness after we die. Of course there have been a lot of near death experiences or experiences of being flat-line technically dead and then revived. People have described a tunnel and a brilliant white light at the end of that tunnel or floating over their dead bodies and watching the people standing around, listening to them. Then they are gently pulled or yanked back into consciousness and our banal daily world.

I would venture a guess that the reason some of us experience these phenomena is that we don’t always die all at once. Once the signal is passed down to all the cells in a body that it’s time to die, the cells start to power down, to stop their functions that differentiate them from non-living organic matter, functions like organization, using energy, growing, responding to changes in the environment, and reproduction, but it takes time to shut down all the cells in a body and, while some of the cells might be dead, others might be still alive and at least partially functional.

If the brain were the first to shut down before the rest of the body, then dying would be a lot easier on us. People often say that it’s a blessing to die in one’s sleep. I think that people are more afraid of dying than they are of death. We mortals don’t seem to be equipped with the ability to conceive of our own deaths, the end of our consciousness forever and ever, in spite of the fact that we all die and many of us have seen someone else die.

But the brain is not always the first to shut down. Imagine for a moment that your conscious mind is trapped in a brain that is trapped in a body that is in the process of shutting down. Our minds are used to being in control of our body functions. Whenever we are in unpleasant situations we try our best to overcome them or to escape them. This experience of entrapment goes against our previous experience and programming. “What can’t be, is happening to me!” screams silently in the outer space of our minds. Maybe we think to ourselves, “This is finally it! I’m really dying now. But I don’t know how to do it or even what to do. I wonder how long it will last.”

But the body has its own logic. Dying is a natural consequence and part of living. The body doesn’t need the brain to tell it how to die. All the mind has to do is to relax and record what is happening for as long as it can.

I am certain that the mind achieves some wisdom or understanding in the last moments before death that would benefit all living mortals if only that dying mind could somehow pass on to us that wisdom, what it’s like to transition to the other side of consciousness.

But nobody really has, have they?

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under & Philosophy, Dilemmas, Essays

Chapter 51: Happy Days

Time stood still for Ellen and the young man, and cupped its hands around them, protecting them, but only for a moment.

 

They slept and woke in each other’s arms. They took frequent walks through the valley of the Refuge and even into the forest above the cliff, but not very far for fear of getting lost. Their days were as large as the uninhabitable blue and green world moving slowly across the sky from the western mountain range to the distant eastern hills.

 

One morning Ellen suggested they go for a picnic in a clearing near the edge of the forest. Yani offered to make sandwiches for them. When their back-packs were filled with sandwiches, fruit, bread, water, and a blanket to sit or lay on, the couple thanked Yani and left the cave, turning up the path to the cliff and on to the forest clearing.

 

When they entered the clearing, the young man could see the vague outlines of the cliffs through the sparse growth of trees. He gently removed Ellen’s back-pack from her shoulders and then his own, laying them on the grass at their feet. He pulled out the blanket and spread it over the grass. Ellen laid out the sacks of food and water. They ate without speaking, listening to the sounds of the forest, the breeze in the treetops, the insects’ incessant tzick-tzicking, and the animal hoots.

After they finished eating, Ellen reached into her back-pack and pulled out her notepad and pencil. “I never got to interview you,” she said with a wry smile.

“You’ll spoil our picnic,” the young man said.

“No I won’t,” she countered. “I promise.”

“Yes, you will,” he said good-naturedly. “But ask your questions anyway.”

“Do you promise to answer them truthfully and completely to the best of your ability?” she asked.

“Yes, I will,” he promised, “but I may need to hold you in my arms from time to time.”

“Fair enough,” she smiled, pausing before her first question.

 

Ellen pulled the photocopy of the news clipping from her notepad and showed it to him.

“This is you, isn’t it?” she asked him.

He looked at it, turning it over in his hands trying to make sense of the picture and the cuneiform on it. “Yes, I suppose it is,” he answered.

“And your name is Phillip Appleby, isn’t it?” she asked him.

“Do I really need a name?” he asked. “After all, it is my story, isn’t it? Everyone else needs a name but me.”

“No, it’s not your story,” she said. “We decided that the other evening in the valley by the creek.”

“Good parry, my dear, but I don’t know,” he answered. “Maybe. I guess it may be, if you think it is. My memory isn’t what it will be.”

She looked at him strangely as though he’d said something out of the ordinary.

“When I attended your lectures in introductory journalism, you were much older. This photocopy is an old picture of you, yet you look younger now than in the photocopy,” she said slowly. “What’s going on here?”

“Lem told you that I’m going backwards in time,” he answered.

“I know he said that,” Ellen said, “but I don’t understand how that can be. Please make me understand that.”

“What do you want to know?” he asked her.

“Well, for starters, do you mean we all are going backward in time?” Ellen asked him. She had a ready answer for that. “If you think …”

“Do you have memories of the past and anticipations of the future?” he asked her.

“Why … yes, sure,” she said unsure where this might go. Ellen had stopped writing his answers in her notepad.

“So do I,” he said, “but my past is your future and my future is your past.”

“What about everybody else around us?” she asked.

“I guess they are all going in the same direction in time as you,” he said.

“What’s it like for you?” she asked.

“Well, it’s not like walking backwards in a vidcom with special effects applied. I walk forwards in space, just like you and everybody else. It’s just that I go backwards in time.”

“What do you mean by that?” she asked a second time.

“You know that age-old philosophical debate about determinism versus free will?” he asked her. He didn’t wait for an answer. “The universe is deterministic. If you have a rational mind, you must conclude that the universe is economical. It doesn’t have a single resource to waste. The universe doesn’t have time to decide “what will I do now?” every moment of every day and night of its existence. So it is more economical for it to be deterministic. Freedom can’t be planned in advance.”

“What’s that have to do with time going backward?” she asked, to tell the truth, losing her patience a little.

“Everything, actually,” he said matter-of-factly. “The only way one could go backwards in time is if the universe is deterministic.”

“What does that mean to you?” Ellen asked him.

“Effect precedes cause,” he said simply, “or I suppose you could say that the effect pulls its cause into existence. It’s the opposite of entropy. For you things tend to fall apart over time. For me, they tend to come together.”

“I’m sorry,” Ellen said, “but this all sounds too philosophical, too sophist for my tastes. It doesn’t relate to any reality that I know of.”

He reached over and held her in his arms for a long time. Ellen could feel him trembling against her skin. She didn’t know what to say or think.

“Your cells split apart and become new cells, which split apart, growing and dying,” he said to her. “My cells fuse together, decreasing in number and …”

“Dying?” Ellen asked, not wanting to hear his answer.

“No,” he answered, “but just as bad for me …”

“What could be just as bad as dying?” Ellen looked into his eyes.

“Birth,” he said.

Ellen lowered her eyes.

“When I first saw you in my class and fell in love for you, I was seventy years old. You were twenty years old, if I remember correctly. When you came to my cabin on Mount Delfinore, I was forty and you were thirty-five. Now you are thirty-six and I am twenty.”

She said nothing.

“I’ve probably got twenty years or so left,” he continued. The air was beginning to cool and the light wane. “It might be possible to prolong my life another nine months, in utero or in a petri dish, but then I will cease to exist.”

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Soon We Will All Turn into Poems

Every year just before the Day of Remembrance for Israel’s Fallen the Army radio station broadcasts a two-hour program (http://shir.glz.fm/), called in Hebrew “עוד מעט נהפוך לשיר” (soon we’ll all turn into poems), of the poems or songs that soldiers wrote before they were killed in battle. Although some of the songs or poems may be about bravery in battle and esprit de corps, most are about love, the possibility of death, and the sadness of unlived life. Most of the poems and songs were written during a last leave at home and hidden in a bedroom drawer or recorded in a notebook when none of his friends were looking and found in a blood-stained pocket. Whether you were gung-ho or not inside, you were always gung-ho for your buddies. I remember that too back in ’83 before going over the border. This day, the Day of Remembrance for Israel’s Fallen, which always comes the day before Independence Day in Israel, always adds a twinge of sadness to our insanely festive celebration of independence.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to write about. I was just suddenly intrigued by the title of the radio program, “Soon We’ll All Turn into Poems”. For a poet, you know, it’s not a bad way to go — to turn into your poems.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under about writing, Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy, Poetry, Prose

Uncollecting Myselves

This is just to bring all of you up to date. A lot has been happening since my last post. First off, it appears that the name I selected for my blog is becoming increasingly appropriate, since I published my third book, “The Rats and the Saps”. Undaunted, I am moving onward with, not one, but two literary projects in parallel! You may expect the blog to develop a split personality.

The first project will be the compilation and publishing of my father’s four journals, which he kept religiously during the last years of his life. His journals were his most loyal and constant friends, who were always more than happy to listen uncritically to his every thought, emotion, and pain. I remember when I’d come to visit once a year, all the way from Israel, Dad would show me his writing, which could range from triteness to bitterness (although some were gems), and I would try to explain about engaging one’s readers, about consensus and acceptability, and about how they made me feel, or I would ask him why he felt the need to write what he wrote. He could never explain it to me satisfactorily. Then Death came and underlined his writings with a poignancy I could have sworn was never in those pages until it arrived, that said “understand!” and don’t ask for explanations, because you’ll never get them. This is what I will have to deal with in the coming months.

The second project will be a third book in my Rational Series, including “The Tin Man” and “The Rats and the Saps”. The third book will be called “Whirlpool”. I have already started writing it. It will be a different genre from the other two books in the series — an experimental psychological science fantasy, involving the major characters from the previous two books, along with the author as character as author. If I succeed in what I want to achieve, I will have your heads spinning around like the cute little girl in “The Exorcist”. Hence, the title.

You will be seeing blog posts from each project intermixed, along with anything else zinging through my head from one universe to another.

It wouldn’t hurt you to write a comment or a review from time to time… but, hey, don’t worry about me. I’ll just sit in the dark and spin my yarn. 😉

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Part 6: Choice; Chapter 32: Some Chose Death

Sangor looked across the table at the Rat. He had never seen an adult Rat in his life, only Rat children. Even though they were both sitting, it was obvious that the Rat would tower over him, standing up, though Sangor was not considered short by any means. Small head, long neck, lanky muscular body and arms, dark blue skin, blue eyes, and blue hair. He looked like he’d come straight from the mine his father had worked in, the mine that had eventually killed him. This Rat would have been invisible in the mine if he’d have stripped off his clothes and closed his eyes.

Sangor calculated the odds in his head: there was just him and this Rat. Maybe Sangor could take him. Maybe not. Anyway he wasn’t sure how he’d find his way back to the river. His best bet was to check out the lay of the land. Funny how they had no maps of this part of the world. He wondered about that. Sangor should try to find out what he could and then, when the time was ripe…

“Where are my friends?” Sangor asked Lem testily.

Lem responded after a moment, “Are you feeling any better now?”

Sangor said cautiously, “I suppose so… What about my friends, the other captives?”

“They are facing the same dilemma you are facing at different tables in different parts of the forest,” Lem answered.

“What dilemma is that?” Sangor demanded to know.

 “Whether your time line ends abruptly or extends into a future that you cannot imagine,” Lem answered.

“What do you mean?” Sangor asked his captor.

“Whether you choose death or life,” Lem explained patiently, “but you’ve already chosen, haven’t you?”

Sangor had already chosen life. He had concluded from his captor that the Rat army was vastly superior to the Sap army and, one on one, they seemed quite formidable. It was also clear that the Rats knew the Uncharted Areas far better than his friends and he ever could hope to know. The smart thing to do would be to bide his time and wait for an opportunity to present itself.

As it turned out, the choice was not so obvious. More than half the captives chose death; well, they didn’t actually choose death per se. They decided they’d be damned if they were going to play nice with the stinking Rat sitting across the table from them. They’d overcome the Rat and make a break for it or die trying. Almost before the Sap captives thought about lunging across the table at their captor or running away from him, the Rats reached across and snapped their time lines, almost as easily as snapping their necks.

All the Rats were Lem.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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