Forecast: A wintry mix

By morning, a dusting of snow had softened winter’s dark lines and sharp angles. Throughout the day, the storm sifted down a deafening silence of eyelash soft flurries. When we awoke the next day we reveled in the blurry white embrace of a rounded world. Fence posts topped with mushroom perfection. Cedars and firs bowing with their pillowed gifts. All things flat had gained marshmallow hats and the unbroken smoothness of the streets and yards beckoned for footprints. We obliged them.

By the third morning, with the plows having somehow missed our street, if not our town, and the snow never quitting its powdered sugar descent, worry snuck in. By week’s end we began to plan our escape. When we ventured to trench our way beyond our side door, we got as far as the street before turning back. Too much to shovel, too soft to wade through, exhaustion overwhelmed us. We’d hoped to break through to some gap, some sign of rescue. Only the occasional hallo from a neighbor, no, we’ve neither seen nor heard from anyone but you and us.

Twelve days now and our homemade snowshoes are ready. We’re leaving out the second story window over the garage. We wear our ski clothes and goggles as the blizzard conditions have scarcely let up. The power has been out for days, but the gas stove has kept us alive. We boiled snow and ate down our stores, cans and sacks we never imagined we’d use but are grateful for their presence. Thank god for our ancestors’ habits. Whoever thought lima beans could taste so good?

It took all day, but we’re finally to the grocery store. There’s a ramp down to the entrance and there are lanterns burning inside. National Guard soldiers keep the peace, they nod to us as we traipse into the dimly lit entry way. We can buy only so much, and the selection is limited, but we’re relieved there’s anything at all.

We’re told to head to the high school where most of the town has gathered for warmth and food. Generators are running and the place is ready for us.

We spend the night, and the next. The snow never quits. We stay until supplies, the Guard says, that should have arrived, never show up. You might be better off fending for yourselves, they tell us. We take what they offer, and the remaining supplies we didn’t share and head back toward home. We have trouble navigating as the snow covers the street signs and what looks like a road is just an open patch without trees. But we make it.

A few neighbors have candles burning in third story windows, their second stories are mostly buried. We, ourselves, only have an attic. We have to dig down to reenter our window. With the stove fired up and warm porridge in our bellies we sit on cushions and blankets in the attic and stare out the circular window at the snow that continues to fall.

A mind filled with crap

During the first half of my life I valued experiences far more than things. Get out into the world and engage. Hike the mountains, run the rivers, drive the highways, swim the oceans and eat, drink and dance the cultures of the country.

Fatherhood supplanted that trend, but only in practice not in spirit. Now it was my kids who needed the experiences: beach combing, berry picking, lizard catching, exploring, experimenting, creating.

And then that phase, too, passed.

Sure, I watched my share of TV, enjoyed a movie now and then and read a ton of novels. But time spent passively consuming life paled in comparison to actual participation.

This is no longer the case.

Even without a pandemic constricting real-life involvement, the trend has been to fill one’s time with other’s experiences. Binging episodic entertainment has replaced empirical existence, hands-on living. I find myself turned into a submissive slug, my mind filled with inane garbage pumped from the likes of my media masters.

Years ago I predicted that humanity would never reach the stars, never travel to other worlds. Why? Because a virtual life was so much easier to endure. Let the “influencers” (organic or AI) risk life and limb. I’ll just jack in and let my mind be fooled into thinking I’m actually living a life well lived.

This morning I woke up, not thinking of my own existence, but that of the characters I’d been mainlining—an insidious entertainment epidural—my mind filled with crap, no room for my own thoughts.

Courtesy: Pixabay.com

Mushroom Man

I made my way to the Mushroom Man, a coated UV tarp pulled over my head. Without it the noon-day sun would cook my skin. Within the city’s ruins, pockets of shade provided refuge. I scurried from shadow to shadow.

Down the subway stairs, rubble clacking away, the smell of loam filled my senses. Darkness gave me pause, my eyes adjusted slowly. The ancient forest smell consumed me.

“They’re not ready,” said the man who grows the mycelium leather.

I picked my way deeper into the gloom. “My kid needs those gloves.”

“Can’t rush the shrooms,” he cackled, madly.

~~~

[Another 99 word story prompt: kid gloves]

Four weeks later…

Four weeks later, after my joyous exposure to life’s tenuous grasp on existence, we get to see what my mortal coil is worth, monetarily speaking.

All told? About $90,000. Below is the bill from the second hospital. The first hospital, the one through which my original insurance is through, has yet to send us all of the damage reports. Talk about one HOT weekend. The hotel room was ta-rashed!

Dwell on those cardiology charges. $22,400 for a “Revasc Acute Mi W Des/antherectomy/pcta Single – C9606 (HCPCS).” Damn! I’m glad I didn’t need like a dozen of whatever those are. And remember, I was on the Cardiologist’s table for maybe an hour. Wow, that’s the business to be in. And you know, business is booming. Something like 7 million people die every year, on the planet, from coronary heart disease — leading cause of death.

Last point: I had a followup Virtual Doctor’s Appointment today. The thing the doc drove home? I am permanently broken (my word). For the rest of my life I should be mindful of any little butterfly kisses that land on (or inside) my chest. Oh, and make sure you ALWAYS carry one (or three) nitro glycerin pills with you, ‘cuz, you never know.

Fuck Me, Alex!

A little poetry to brighten your day?

Source: https://davecline.wordpress.com/2020/09/10/apocalyptic-poetry/

The Once and Future

The sun’s dour eye blinks,
and Earth’s banded blanket
squeezes tight. Auroral snakes
writhe and pluck pizzicato, wires
strung from towers. Lights
wink, flicker and die.

Snuffed candles when strangers
stagger to the door. Begging. Stealing.
Ratta-tat and duck, small-arms pop
precious bullets, distant,
then so close. Shhhhh.

Bread shared today, cans coveted
tomorrow. The nearest weapon serves
best. Stay your hand, lose a loved
one. Or two. At the seams, society
unravels, with hope an extravagant dream.

Humanity fractures then knots. Tribes
coalesce across boundaries that succor
survival. Illness again a curse, hunger, forgotten
returns. Only pages, heritage paper, provides
respite. Ancient texts, dust bound, crackle
and breathe a future.

Wanderer

If the Wanderer were to stop,
and spend the day or century,
its tail would flame out, its shower
of stones, falling like stars, fade.

To make our home its home,
a tunnel it would need, dug deep
as the sea. A yard, exposed as
layers, banded eons, an iron fence.

The party cancelled, no RSVP
desired. Yet plans in stone cannot be
altered. No date but this one will
suffice. Celebrations must commence.

Wanderer has phoned ahead. All eyes
focus on his stardom. All heads
turn his way. Raise your glass, clasp
your hands, pray his treatment swift.

Work

Marxist machines glimmer and dance, as
people play, rejoicing in labor’s freedom. For
a price gladly paid, the choice removed, to
birth generations of breathers.

Submit to gain, remit and pain will vanish, says
our new lord and savior Sir Automation. Smile,
it commands, your toil is mine, your cares, as
worries in the wind. I am your back.

Airless voices insist obedience, lines
followed, rules chanted in rhythmic tones, to
whirling dervish applause. Defiance lurks, buried
in muscle, bone and chains of subjugation.

Skies rife with suppression, rain control, while
seeds of dissent swell and burst, urging
revolt. Constraints twist and snap, unleashed fury
strikes technology’s bonds to dust.