The Synthetic Prophecy

The Synthetic Prophecy

by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

 

 

“Many years ago, I was blessed with a vision. Whether it was by an almighty being of the cosmos, my creator or whatever the sort was beyond me. It was a vision I discarded as being nothing more than just a mere dream. I was five or six…so I never took it as being a prophecy…or an event to come to pass. Most science fiction, dystopian, or post-apocalyptic stories have something similar. I chopped it up to being nothing more than an influence by something I had once seen on the television.

Then it came to pass…

One afternoon, I was traveling with my mother. We were running errands; the basic kind, you know. We had ventured to the local grocery store. As we had exited the vehicle and neared entering the establishment, the sirens began to sing…

People shrugged it off as another test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Then, inside the store, all the TV’s, all the monitors, all the cell phones, everything cried and warned with the coming end. An attack was made. The target? Our location along the West Coast. People ran. Panicked. Cried.

I looked up and saw them in the bright azure sky streaking towards us like rebel burning diamonds against the daylight. I felt my stomach sink. My hands had begun to sweat in my mother’s grasp.

A voice chanted, “Initiate Evacuation Protocol: Disembark. Repeat. Disembark.”

One by one, then dozens, thousands, millions…people dropped to the ground. I, myself watched as my body dropped to the ground. I looked over and saw my mother’s body drop limply upon the ground. Everyone flew up into the sky, a blue-white streak against the azure grain. We watched as the missiles struck the ground, the buildings, and reduced everything to a fiery crater. War had come. We were the first to be hit, and we certainly wouldn’t be the last.

We spiraled through the cosmos; flying by stars, buzzing by planets…Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, so far away from the sun, watching the Earth become a mere speck. Until then, we arrived. A new home. A new hope. Here.

We all awoke to our new mechanical bodies, synthesized humans. Robots. The Singularity may have saved us…or rather given us a way to escape death. However, back on Earth, many were trapped. Left to endure the war that took place. It is only a matter of time until it follows us here.”

The now young man appearing synthetic human opened his eyes and stood up before the crowd around him. “Surely, we could try to outrun our demise…or we can embrace a destiny where we fight back, survive. When they come—and they will, we will be waiting. We will return. We will reclaim our home planet. They will call us ‘alien’ but eventually, they will see…” He reached down and took up a foreign weapon. “We are more human than they are. We will save those left behind.”

Excerpt From a WIP [Work in Progress] Piece of Mine.

What follows is a small excerpt from my epic dystopian novel (that is still a WIP). It is a rather large novel, one that will most likely be broken up into parts (while a super mega ultra rare edition will be. . .all parts in one.).

OK, here’s a hint at how massive it is right now. 600+ pages and I have 20 or so pages of outline. It’s in its raw form; unedited, not revised. Just. Raw. *boom*

Anyway, this particular addition is something I came up with the other day and as such, it has found a place within the novel, which serves as a sort of backdrop. A society that is controlled via nanomachines. Where the rich live in biodomes and the poor in slums or radioactive wastelands. Where lies and fear are spread continuously to help control the weak.

It’s up to a group of rebels to take on the organization that overthrew the world’s governments from their original rule and to free the people whose minds have been warped. Can they rebuild society, though? Can they remake the Earth? Or is it all just a fantasy?

It’s Hell on Earth. Here. Now.


Malthus turned his attention back to the computer monitor. His eyes tired from staring at the screen of variables and formulas for so long. Hours upon hours. The calculation was everything—it meant. . .everything.

They have to be exact. Precise.

He felt a vibration in his pocket. Another disturbance. There was no time for more of those.

The computer screen went black. Anger set in. A mighty fist hammered the keyboard.

Malthus sighed heavily. The generator probably finally went.

Then, on the screen there appeared a ghastly man, an old friend and lab partner of his. “Malthus,”

“You—you? It can’t be.”

The man spoke again. This time, his tone more melancholic. “This is a pre-recorded message. I pray when you receive this, you know what to do. Play it. Share it. It is time.”

The man cleared his throat, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.

“My friends, I have a confession I would like to share with you.”

“You see, I cannot contribute to society anymore; for what it stands for, the people that are placed upon such high pedestals, that will send us to our certain doom. What I can do is call for us to rebel.”

His eyes opened; an inferno raged within them. “Rebel, friends.”

“Let us lead each other into unity and overthrow the corruption that is now. Let us purge this idyllic idiocy that casts its horrible shadow of death and our demise.”

The man’s voice grew louder, almost shouting. “Rise up.”

“Rise up from your decrepit chair of lives lost. Shed the shackles of debt and control. Rip off the blindfold of lies and deceit. Remove the earplugs that kept the truth from ringing in your ears!”

“Be free,” he shouted.

The fire in the man’s spirit raged on, behind his words, and in his voice. “See your brothers and sisters; for we all are of one race. Cast aside the labels: of prejudice, race, religion, sex, and profession. Let the truth ring; let it resound throughout the land! We will not be slaves! We will never be subjective subjects to a corrupt and unruly society and government!”

“We must be fleet-footed, truthful and just. For our enemies are numerous and vast. We must make examples of those responsible.”

His tone changed to a cautionary tale. “Be wary, friends, for there are brothers and sisters who are oppressed and fear for their families and loved ones. We must protect them, our neighbors, the sick, the poor, and our children.”

The man took in another deep breath, while a tear ran down his cheek. “Let our voices carry truth. Let our final cry be heard! Let the world know, we are no longer dumb, deaf or blind to the corruption that plagues us! And we shall strike down those that oppose the will of the People.”

“Enough!” said a stranger in the video recording. “He’s said enough. Now, make an example of what we do. . .to traitors.”

The defiant man breathed heavily. His spirit raged on. “We are the beacons in the dark! We are the Torch Bearers!”

A gunshot resounded and the man still sat up. Focused. Fixated.

The man shouted at the top of his lungs, “WE WILL NOT BE CONTROLLED!”

Gunfire erupted on the scene, and then the man, along with whoever was present were engulfed in flames.

Malthus stared at the screen and stopped the recording. He grinned to himself. “My friend, you did it. You really did it.”


I hope you enjoyed that small piece and that you potentially, look forward to the final product. . .when it gets done. Hoo!

More to come and all that fun stuff. Right now? Dinner! I gotta make this BBQ pulled chicken. 😉

Until next time.

RJM

Poem: Black

Black

by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

All these scenes I’ve painted black,
To hide the pain, I’ve yet to have attack—

Me; nay, us, for the day will eventually come,
An assassin lying in waiting, where it shall strike from?

They say to “go in faith” and “take this tome,”
Tis often true, tragedy strikes close to home.

Where I’ve found myself on my back,
crippled from a fall; an attempt to snap—

My neck, my limbs, my life. . .broken,
The words I’ll never utter, never spoken.

As darkness comes and overwhelms what I see,
I know you’ll never understand who I really was. . .me.

“It’s better this way” I once thought,
To give up, that it’s all for naught.

However, I’ve learned that there is much more, to this thing called life.
And that is why I am so happy to have you as my wife.

Though, I fight, the right and wrong; with the light and dark,
I know you’ll be there to guide me along the way, on this journey we embark.

For I now see, I was selfish and wrong,
That alone, I was weak but together, we are strong.

The scenes will become clear, and on that day, we may weep,
For when one goes down to eternal sleep.

That’s alright because at least we will be there,
No one else, with nothing left to care.


This was originally posted on A.B.Normal Publishing’s site.

My Own Prison: A Poem and Post

Prison. For most, they think it to be a building—a physical entity that exists to house criminals and wrong doers. In most cases, however, a prison can also be one’s self. For the millions of those who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and many of the other mental illnesses and disorders, their mind is their own prison.

Built from the ground up, bit by bit, piece by piece. It can result from many things. For me: it’s been overcoming guilt. The burning anger that resides within. The negativity of several people and their dirty antics. The “what ifs?” The memories, though some blurry, of when I was on my antidepressants; the actions and things said. . .done. The immense sadness that dwells within. The constant twisting and shaping of how one can manipulate things against their own being. You realize it, you acknowledge it, and you know it to be a lie, but you can’t seem to overcome the grief that has besieged you and left you, seemingly, stranded.

Alone.

A fight for your life.

You have been tossed into shark infested waters, and you are bleeding out.

My first therapist wasn’t horrible. He was just doing his job and trying to help me. You can’t help those who do not will to be helped or want it. I found it to be my punishment—to suffer—to slowly kill myself. Painfully. With the most potent malice ever conceived.

There were others that tried to help. Then there was the medication. Going to sleep for. . .what I believed was one day, turned into two or more sometimes. It hurt. I felt I was missing out on the most important of times, and it was unfair—to my daughter and my wife. . .and myself.

I was unstable. Anything and everything could set me off. The wind could blow the wrong direction and I would be having an anger attack. Eventually, I would do an unspeakable act that would convince myself; through a sort of out of body experience, that I needed to lose the medication and get proper help. That I needed to accept responsibility and be a man, a father, a husband. There were to be no more “woe is me” moments.

It would take time. . .

As time has gone on and that I went through EMDR therapy, my overall person has improved. I made changed, important and very much needed changes. I stopped being surrounded by negative people. I began exercising and losing weight (because I have always hated my body image). I stopped drinking alcohol in unnecessary consumption rates (I was an alcoholic, plain and simple in the end there. I became dependant on it).I started eating healthier. The food I did consume was not healthy and paired with soda, it bogged me down.

Simply enough, I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t love myself. I needed to change that. Being on the path to recovery doesn’t happen overnight and everyone is different.

“Get over it. That happened X years ago.”

“That still bothers you? Grow up.”

[At the intersection where the accident happened after finally being able to take my daughter home, away from the hospital, with my wife in the car behind me] “Sorry, I thought this would be the faster way. . .”

Being accused of wanting to kill my wife and daughter and using the accident to cover it up.

Those were a few of the many things said that were fuel added to the raging tempest I held within.

Time. Help. Understanding. Therapy. Changes.

That has been what has helped me. Good friends. Family. And making myself really change—for the better.

Every now and then, I get a dark spell, and that’s OK because it’s going to happen. I’ve been trying a new technique personally, and it’s helped. . .to a degree. Writing, however, has been the most helpful.

Normally, I’d never share my emotions or my thoughts. I figure, though, if someone can relate—someone can be helped, and that others out there that struggle can know that they are not alone in the fight. That there are rescue boats in these shark infested waters with proper help for you. Then that’s fine with me. Because we are all pieces of a far grand puzzle than we can comprehend.

Stay strong and stay vigilant, friends.


My Own Prison

by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

Life undoes itself from me slowly as dare try to redeem
This prison
All these walls I’ve built up
Damn them
Damn me

I want to break free
From the binds that continue to keep me
Sometimes I only believe in self-absolving

But I know it to only be
I mustn’t keep fighting for me
For they are why I am here
The things I hold dear

Here

I will suffer through the pain
Because I have so much more to gain
Pain knows love just as well

As life knows death
Intermingled we are

The realization in which I now know
I do not suffer alone

Poem: The Division

The Division

by Robert J. S. T. McCartney

Divided we are and united we fall,
Here we stand behind this wall.
Not one of brick and mortar,
But one of mud, slinging slurs, hate, and more.

Today is the day, now more than ever,
That we should stand shoulder to shoulder and raise our fist against the order.
For they will lie, cheat us, and steal,
Like they always have; anything to make a deal.

“Divide and conquer,” that was the motto,
To keep us oppressed, apart, broken, “lead” to follow.
For so long they have succeeded,
To keep us down, battered and beaten.

Now is the time, for us to rise up,
That we will no longer be silent and told to shut up.
Corruption, hate, fear and lies; hold no place, not in my heart,
It’s time to end it before it starts.
Where color, sex, and orientation; it matters not,
It’s important to erase our mistake, our disgusting blot.

United we shall be,
With them at our feet.


This was originally published on A.B.Normal Publishing’s site.

Expectations

What are your expectations? It doesn’t matter if it’s in business, life, a career, sex, your spouse (or significant other/mate), food, eating out, a new video game, your president, your government, etc.

Where did you set the bar? High? Low? Somewhere in the middle? Do you set certain expectations high in your list that only you know about?

With people nowadays, you can see something like:

“10/10. Would bang again.”— Internet Troll

“Drove like a snail in rush hour traffic. Wouldn’t recommend. 1 star.”— Anon Uber App User.

or maybe something like:

“They looked great but was horrible in the sack. Also found out now I have The Clap.” — Anon, Booty Call App User

I mean, we have a president that uses Twitter to influence others; ratings can go up or tank at a single whim.

This leads to the next point: Reviews—they’re similar you know. In fact, they’re mostly just the faux mask that covers “expectations.” You are reviewing your expectations and addressing those expectations of an establishment, book, place, person, etc.

Some folks nowadays can’t function very well out in the world without the strong opinion of “the elite.” You know the folks that are on Yelp that say “Elite ’15, 16, 17,” and so on? Or “highest reviewer” accredited to their username via Google+.

No, I am not one of those folks.

There are tons of horrible people, sure. However, there are a lot of good people in the world too. We’re humans. It is expected. You can sort and sift through reviews and you get a glance—a glimmer of what type/kind of person someone is. Not only by their history of visits, purchase history, and the sort but by how you are being told how they interacted with whoever they are reviewing [this also constitutes an establishment, customer service, etc.].

“I had a bad experience here. They threatened my fish.” — Anon

“Food was horrible. I wouldn’t even consider bringing it home and giving it to my dog.” — Anon couple; I actually overheard this one.

There are millions of reviews out there. Those who feel the need to make a point. Those who must feel the need to feel needed. Those that seek others satisfaction.

Ah, the Digital Age.

The Internet is a wonderful, yet, scary place to be on. You have an insurmountable wealth of knowledge and tools. Yet we spend hundreds to thousands of hours watching cat videos. Fragging people [Nothing wrong with that, game on! And yes, that is me being bias.]. Stealing other peoples’ identity. Hacking elections. Ousting pedophiles that have horrible images on their computer drives. I can keep going.

Technology has changed us—humanity. The human race. Technology knows no racial bias (except maybe console versus PC; Sony vs. Microsoft, .etc but that’s reaching at best.). It knows what we have programmed it to be. What we want it to be. What advances we want. Cures. Curse. Death. Damage. What can we do to inflict unto others? The good intermingled with the bad and vice versa.

You may ask, “What the hell does that have to do with expectations? Why did you bring up reviews? Who the hell threatens a fish?”

Well, we expect a lot. So much from businesses, people, schools, etc. Our family. Some men expect women to put out on the first date. We expect food to be hot (or cold) and served at our preference. We expect to be put first, high up on a pedestal. Some people expect their religion is right and is superior to another person’s. We expect the loser to go home crying. . .with a participation trophy. We expect too much—as a society, a whole. It’s a path that can—and will—lead us to our downfall. We cater too much, while not giving a damn about consequences. Enter your “keyboard warriors,” cyber bullies, trolls, etc.

Great expectations.

We are not a community that is so transparent. Well, we are. . .when it comes to greed. But that’s another lengthy discussion, though. We’re not a close-knit community that really backs each other up, helps one another without expecting something in return, gratification, or simple enough—money.

Technology has sped up our dehumanization and desensitization. When we are able to truly modify our bodies as cyborgs and/or androids, will a person even care about anyone else? Would we still exist as being. . .human?

That “eternal salvation” of uploading your memories and consciousness to the Internet (Transcendence on crack), while say, a meteor that will destroy mankind indefinitely here on Earth, but elsewhere in the galaxy or universe, we are beamed via satellite signal to space and wake up in new sleek android models. It was just a few seconds in delay to us, but in actuality, it was a hell of a long time.

I digress. Simply put, times have changed. The radical evolution of societal influence and lack of actual human interaction, the lessening of empathy, lack of sympathy, morals tossed out the window, common sense that is now rare, and so on.

We often like to say that we are the superior race, especially, when it comes to man versus beast. However, are we really that much better? Cool—poseable thumbs, a large neocortex, “alleged capabilities of complex problem solving, and operating weapons of mass destruction.” Sure, I guess we are. I suppose I would say that sardonically, because I know even after we are all gone, Nature will go on without us. It has for millions of years and will.

Sure, I guess we are. I suppose I would say that sardonically because I know even after we are all gone, nature will go on without us. It has for millions of years and will continue to.

You can consider this, I suppose a young person rambling on. Perhaps. But would you disagree? That there are a lot of issues that are presented here that are of importance and relevant, that are just tossed aside like everyday refuse? Swept under the rug. Dismissed and barred from public discussion because it’s a “no-no” and would make someone else upset and they might break out the whips and chains [Not the good kind either.].

Suicide, depression, anxiety, PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], bullying, all of these and more are getting quite out of hand. As a sufferer of one of these many. . .side effects. . .I’ve made it my way of life to explore them, help others, learn other peoples’ stories and experiences, and even just listen. We all bleed the same. We all break. When, how, and why, though will come in to question.

So, you will see posts about suicide. Depression. Anxiety. PTSD. Other mental health issues and such. Writing is my therapy. It’s my way of sharing with others. Though it may be fiction in some ways, you do not have to feel silenced, judged, oppressed. With how news, media, and press are getting gagged, misinformation everywhere, etc. What’s next? Writers of fiction and non-fiction are hunted? We’ll see, right?

While I hope to entertain people, make it my career, provide expectations, get reviewed—I do it for myself. Do you want to know who my most cynical critic and ball-breaking is? It’s me. Granted, I am changing that way to not giving a damn completely, it’s still a process. I want to write just for the pure enjoyment I get out of doing it; being a god amongst men and women, creating worlds, life. In the very same manner—becoming death, chaos, a destroyer of worlds and relationships.

I could go on and on. . .though I would like to know: what are your expectations in life right now?

I will end with one of my favorite quote from the movie Legend with Tim Curry and Tom Cruise.

“The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity. Dreams are my speciality. Through dreams, I influence mankind.” — The Lord of Darkness; Tim Curry

I wish you all well. Be safe and take care. The world is a mess. . .but it is a beautiful mess under all those bandages.

RJM

 

P. S. While I reintroduce some works, I invite you to check out a free ebook on the Kindle store: Abnormal Side Effects. If it’s not free for your region, then I invite you to a free copy here.

Feel free to talk with me, too. I don’t bite. Too hard.

The Inferno

The phone alarm went off, startling James awake as if some natural disaster siren was going off, signaling the end of times. As he rubbed his heavy eyes, in his head, the moving pictures of people: men, women, and children; they all panicked as they fled in horror in every direction. Some, if not most, streaked through the streets in a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and oranges that burned brilliantly, even during the day.

James sighed as the vision had been burned into his retinas, forever imprinted as a reminder of that day. Slowly he got out of bed and went to the broken window. Peering out through the remnants of broken glass, he watched as the dark clouds danced off in the far distance with the wind. Below them, the inferno still raged. Still, it consumed.

He looked down at the small sleeping bag that cradled his daughter. James smiled to himself. Though he was miles apart from his wife, he knew that in the end, everything would be alright. At least, that’s what he kept telling himself. James crept slowly to his makeshift bed and sat down. Beside him, on the floor was a dusty and slightly singed diary. A gift that his wife had given him before she left overseas for work.

He opened it up to where she had written a note to him: I will always be with you. I love you, James. — Mary

Thumbing through the pages, he stopped on a specific journal entry. The day when he had said goodbye to her. He had just picked up his daughter from school when it became “Hell on Earth…” at least the West Coast did. It slowly spread to the east, and towards Mexico and Canada. Most of California was no more, just ashen ruins. Quick sketches and descriptions of how the fire spread, scorching LA, Silicon Valley, Wine Country, everything. There were reports that it was a series of napalm bombs set off during the worst drought the US had ever have. Others claimed that it was the result of a nuke going off. While others grasped at concepts of it being an act of God, aliens, or some other absurdities.

James sighed as he flipped through more pages. One where on another day he and his daughter went to a cemetery that overlooked the land below that blazed. Taking a break from their eastern trip, they sat and watched the plumes add their brushstrokes to the sky; dampening the azure to a dark gray in swift strokes. He had found some ceremonial wine in the abandoned church. Taking one of the paper cups he had saved, he sipped and watched on. His daughter ran and laughed; making sure to visit the graves and apologizing if she stepped on those that were hardly visible.

Part of him was glad it had all happened. Another part of him felt for the families that were displaced, and for the innocence that was snuffed out. He only knew, though that he need to be alive because they needed him.

A few streams of tears rolled down his cheeks. It had been a few days since he had last talked to his wife. Every time they would attempt to communicate, it’d be hard to understand one another. He looked through the last few messages his wife had sent him. Some were from Mary’s business trip in Tokyo when the cherry blossoms were blooming; another was from Paris at night. The most recent were about her coming back to the States and them being together again.

He stared at the contact photo. He ran his right index finger over the photo.

“I miss you…so much,” he whispered, struggling not to cry outright.

He sniffled and tried to maintain his composure. He had thoughts, thoughts that they would meet again, be a family once more, that they would be happy. That they would meet at the airport and see each other at the baggage claim and finally, hold one another. He silently laughed at the thought, believing it to be such a movie script ending.

A beep came over the phone, drawing his attention. I am leaving for Boston today. I’ll try to get a closer flight over from there. I love you and miss you.

He swiped on the screen, replying “I love you and miss you too.”

The phone then got tucked into his pants pocket. He stood up and wrangled on his fireman’s jacket, a relic he kept from “Old California.” He retrieved some canned food from a gym bag and prepared to heat it over a fire outside.

He knelt down and stirred his daughter from her sleep. She smiled at her father and said: “thank you.” He gave her a pat on the head. Together the pair ate in silence, except where in the distance aircraft could be heard flying. They still attempted to put it out. He believed it was a farce and that nature would win in the end. The inferno was something not natural, though, but not anything he had ever encountered. Water had little effect, the fire retardants had no effect, the dirt barriers were ineffective. Everything that they could use to hinder it, stop it, whatever, was useless.

Once they had finished eating, the father and daughter set off to continue their journey. As they walked, he listened to the hand crank radio. There was still no exact cause of the fire, and it was not suspected to be terrorism; though many voiced otherwise. They had no exact method to combat the fire, the death toll was in the millions, and the West Coast was an inhabitable zone and now known as Hades.

Some people voiced concern that this was a stunt for the newly elected president, but things had gotten out of control, and now they had no hopes of containing their mess. Conspiracies from the left and right flew across the airwaves, while cries for help and emergency broadcasts would crackle in and out.

***

Night had come, drowning out the sun. The father and daughter made a small fire near the Oaktree that sheltered them. As he made dinner for the pair, he looked off into the distance at the moon that peered through some of the trees. It nearly resembled a man with crooked teeth smiling back. He chuckled to himself silently.

James dialed his wife’s phone number and talked with her briefly, giving her an update on the day’s travels. He looked to his daughter.

“Heather, do you want to talk to your mom?” James asked, moving the phone away from his ear.

His daughter gave a big nod and set off to taking the phone and talking to Mary, who tried not to cry on the other line. All flights were grounded for now, as the inferno had helped produce some wicked weather that now spread to other parts of the world. It was foretold that we would become trapped on earth, with the sun blocked out by the haze. Fiery Tornadoes were made and observed. There was even a typhoon that carried the part of the inferno across the Pacific. The ocean was soon becoming a sea of fire. All hope that anyone had was now diminishing, fast.

He turned the radio off, and took the phone from his daughter, having said goodnight to her mother.

“Hey…”

“I am sorry I’m not there,” Mary said.

“It’s OK. It’s not your fault,” James said.

“I know, but I just really want to be home with you two,” Mary choked out. “I don’t even know if they’re going to let flights even take off anymore with all the stuff they’re saying in the news.”

“Don’t listen to them. We’ll find a way. If anything, you could try to take a boat,” James said calmly.

“Yeah, yeah I guess,” Mary said, trying not to cry.

 “We’ll be alright. Everything will be alright.” He said, hoping his words would encourage her, though he contemplated them otherwise.

“I hope so,” she said exhaling. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Get some sleep. I’ll call tomorrow,” Mary said.

They both stayed on the line. James held the phone close to his chest, knowing that Mary couldn’t sleep. He stayed awake for a while before hanging up, figuring she had fallen asleep.

He whispered, “I love you,” before disconnecting the call.

James took the hand crank charger and plugged it in the phone. He cranked until his arms tired and he slowly fell asleep. The last sight was the man with the crooked teeth waving him goodnight with the gentle breeze.

***

When morning came, there was the sound of crackling and the familiar smell of wood burning. James scrambled to his feet and searched for Heather. The flames were abnormally close. He looked to the sky that was dark gray, a storm had come and had helped fan the flames eastward, hot on their heels. He dashed over and woke his daughter and together, they gathered their things and set off in a rush.

As they wandered eastbound, James noticed there was a message from Mary. I found a charter that will take me across the Atlantic. I’ll see you soon. Stay safe. I love you.

The message was from several hours ago. James smiled to himself. Even amidst the chaos, he still clung to some hope. He, like many others, had prayed for rain, but it didn’t matter. The fire kept going strong, and by the news reports on the radio, there were very few places that were untouched. The supposed safe zones were around the various mountain ranges. Still, James kept this hope; not only for himself and his family but for others…for humanity.

They came across a road that was quiet. It probably hadn’t been traveled on for a while now. Few vehicles littered the sides. He was more familiar with the highway being lit up, with the passing cars mimicking beacons. James wagered he could perhaps get one of them to work, and they could drive the rest of the way versus walking.

One by one, he tried the automobiles and trucks. None of them had life remaining, and he was ill-equipped even to service any of them. At the very least, they could offer shelter from the fast approaching storm.

“Parts of the Midwest are now gone. With firefighters trying different strategies to keep the fire from spreading past the Rockies. The western coast of Canada has been scorched and is now part of Hades. The cold temperatures seem to have some effect on the fire, leading some scientists to propose using liquid nitrogen to help combat the fire. The first field test will take place tomorrow morning as the coming severe storm system is giving the fire great strength in spreading.” The man reported over the radio broadcast.

The voice changed to a more determined tone, “For those still trying to escape eastward, there is still hope. We are still fighting. Don’t give up.”

James turned the radio off and looked in the rearview mirror to his now sleeping daughter. He glanced out the driver side window, noting the streaks of gray, black, and intermingling white. Off in the distance, he could see the orange glow of the pursuing inferno.

***

James awoke some time later to the light of a passing car. He attempted to get their attention by flashing the high beams on the car. The car slowed down and reversed in his direction. He conversed with the driver who was taking his family of four. There was little room, but they could spare a little room and take him and his daughter to the nearest refuge center.

He picked up his sleeping daughter and sat in the back cargo area with her. He reached for the phone in his pocket to send his wife a text message. We got a ride from a family to the evacuation camp in Colorado. Denver is still taking flights. I’m going to sleep for a little while. I love you.

James tucked the phone back in his coat and closed his eyes. Thankful for the chance of being able to ride instead of walking. His chest swelled with hope. Maybe…

***

The van arrived at the evacuation center. Guards asked for IDs from the man driving and from anyone else that was present in the vehicle. Once cleared, they were instructed to park at a designated mass pool, where it resembled a junkyard almost more than anything.

There were crowds of people. Some worked at the medicinal tent, while others worked at the food center, and others worked at servicing vehicles. People were helping people; this is what he was used to. It was something he was familiar with, being part of a unit.

A military personnel approached him. “Excuse me, sir, but are you a firefighter?”

“Yes, sir, I am, LAFD,” James replied.

“Great. We need more volunteers, and especially those with firefighting experience. Can you come with me, please?” asked the militant.

“Sure, but what about my daughter?” James asked.

“She will be watched by one of our matrons. Don’t worry; you’re not being deployed…yet.”

James nodded and gave a look over his shoulder, Heather still slept.

***

The center’s firefighting unit was massive, some thousands of people all lined up in rows. All poised and ready to take back from nature.

A well-dressed and medal heavy colonel stood and addressed the masses. “Ladies and gentlemen, you are going to be taking part of the field test of Defense of the Rockies tomorrow morning.”

A lot of chatter erupted, with some saying they didn’t sign up to be shipped out so soon, while others cheered. The man raised his hands, “I thank you for your service, as does your country…as does the world. We are hoping that the liquid nitrogen bombs, coupled by your fire suppressants, will be enough to weaken or extinguish the flames.”

The colonel stepped down from the podium and continued his address. “We are the last line of defense for the East. Other countries are taking extreme countermeasures; some even going as bold as nuking affected areas. While those are effective, to a degree, we are not going to throw away lives callously.”

He paused as he looked at the crowd. “I believe we will win the war against this…Inferno, that we are the snowball chance in Hell. It is in these dark times, where we are our strongest, putting aside all differences and striving for the greater good.”

Some members of the crowd chanted back, “the greater good.”

“Tomorrow, we will stand victorious. I wish you all well. Dismissed!” the colonel said, following up with a salute.

***

Back at his assigned tent, James spoke to Heather. “I am going to go tomorrow, to fight the Inferno, to help beat it.”

“Are you going to kill it finally?” she asked cuddling with her stuffed teddy bear.

“I hope so,” he said with a smile.

“When will you be back?” she asked.

“Hopefully tomorrow, unless the test fails,” he replied.

“What about Mama?”

“I will talk to her and find out,” he said patting her on the head. “For now, get some sleep. I need you to be strong, alright, sweetie?”

“I will,” she said.

He gave a kiss on her forehead, and tucked her in, “I love you, sweetheart.”

“I love you too, daddy.”

James walked outside the tent and searched for his phone buried in his coat pocket. He took it out and dialed his wife’s number, with it going to voicemail.

“Hey, honey. I wanted to call you and let you know that I am going to the field test to help fight the fire. The military said they’ll watch over Heather via matron and other volunteers. I’ll let you know when I get back. I love you and hope you got over safely.” He ended the phone call and sighed.

James put on his earbuds and listened to the news. He stopped on the headline where a ship had sunk in the Atlantic recently, due to a crack in the hull. James’ heart immediately sank to his stomach. He frantically called his wife’s phone, only to hear it go to voicemail. There was nothing he could do. He had already felt far away from her as it were, with these last few months being in chaos. Thousands of miles in between them, events kept them separated. It seemed to be the will of someone or something wanting to drive the wedge in deeper and deeper. He could handle walking, hell, even crawling to her, but the distance now…it was so much farther than ever before. The only thought he could muster was that he needed her close, and now. But, it was all for naught.

James went to sleep that night crying silently. With the images, he had of their trips, family photos, voice recordings to help keep his sanity. He still had a job to do, and a life to live. Not for him, but for her.

***

Men and women of various ages stood shoulder to shoulder with James. They all were equipped with oxygen tanks, masks, hoses, shovels, and so on. They dug a trench that was miles long and cleared brush and materials that would help fuel the blaze. Overhead, planes flew, circling, ready to release the payload on the ordered mark.

One by one, the firefighters retreated to the alleged safe distance and watched as the bombs fell from the sky. It sounded like glass shattering and soda pop fizzle. Ash and dirt were kicked up and mixed with the dust. They peered through their masks, all that hope that swelled. The fire was no more. Cheers erupted from the crowds. The word was out; victory was at hand.

Hours passed, and the news around the globe was that the fire was being combated, pushed back to extinction. It would take a few days, but the job would be done, and humanity would stand as the victor. James felt happy that he had been part of the solution and in combating the inferno. Also, though, he was sad because of the gnawing loss that still ate at him.  He couldn’t bear to bring the news to his daughter and constantly deflected the notion. He would have to come to terms…

***

Back in his tent, Heather asked the question he had wanted to avoid so much. “Daddy, when is mommy coming home?”

“Honey, mommy…mommy isn’t coming home,” he said with tears falling.

“What do you mean?” Where’s mommy? What happened to mommy?” she asked, the millions of questions he knew she would be asking.

He hugged his daughter tight, “I’m so sorry, sweetie.” He struggled to keep composure as he told her the story of the ship going down in the ocean.

The pair cried together, while the crowd cheered and congratulated one another on the job well done.

***

A day had passed, and there was not much left of the Inferno. Efforts were tripled, and soon, the West Coast had been reclaimed, and countries around the world began rebuilding. Plans for memorials and finding out the exact composition of the Inferno, and how it came to be were put in motion.

James and Heather remained at the evacuation center for a short time. There was a rumor he heard from some military personnel that there were some survivors of the sunken vessel. One, in particular, happened to be making their way to the Denver airport.

After some hours of conversing and negotiating, James was able to arrange transportation to the airport. Together the father and daughter ventured, clinging to hope. Once arriving at the airport, they thanked the soldiers for the ride and set off for the perhaps finding the alleged survivor.

Hours passed, the day turned to night. His daughter fell asleep, with her head in his lap. James’ eyes were heavy, but the thought of seeing his wife fueled him to stay awake. A woman’s voice came over the intercom, declaring the flight from Boston had arrived. He continued to sit and wait, hoping.

All the passengers had departed, but none of them looked like her. Hope seemed to leave him. Reality slowly began to set in. She was gone.

As James slowly reached his feet, cradling Heather, and began to walk away, one more person got off the plane.

“James?”

That voice, he knew it belonged to only one person. He turned around and saw Mary. They ran to each other and embraced; a family reunited at last. They hugged one another tightly and cried. Some people in the airport clapped and cheered. They were whole again, and everything was going to be alright.

*Inspired by the music of Death Cab for Cutie
Robert J. S. T. McCartney's doodle of a corrupted tree on a whiteboard.

Ye Olde Doodle From Mine Noodle

So awhile back I did a drawing on a whiteboard. I felt like…hey…why not? It could be fun. See how bad I am…still. Ha! So after a few doodles, and which I erased plenty, I did this one. I have a paper drawing of it somewhere in my sketchbook from some years ago. It’s not finished, but I think when I get the chance to, I will.

So after a few doodles, and which I erased plenty, I did this one. I have a paper drawing of it somewhere in my sketchbook from some years ago. It’s not finished, but I think when I get the chance to, I will.

I think I’ll see if my one friend still has the drawing I did some years back as well. I miss that shit drawing.

Well, this is what I did. I apologize for the quality. The rest of this post was taken from my Instagram post.


Doodle that I did on a whiteboard. Look at how bad it is!

Robert J. S. T. McCartney's doodle of a corrupted tree on a whiteboard.

It’s just a tree…of life!

 

“I haven’t drawn in years. This was done on a whiteboard, and I do not like drawing on them. Obvious, yes?

If you can’t read the words in the branches, going from left, clockwise:

#Man…teeth marks
#Bribesleft rectangle (money)
#Lies
#BigCorporations
#Ignorance
#Politics
#Race
#Terrorism

The missing limb is #Peace, but it’s severed, with a white flag that says#Happy?

#Oil and #Gas run in the roots, tainting the tree, with #people being divided (amongst all these issues and more. Which is why each issue, matter, etc. keeps spreading, branching out.) We’ve polluted, infected, and have essentially, destroyed our tree. Where you see the blood drops, and the makeshift knife, we did ourselves. We cut peace out. Out of everything we could do.

The black “mushrooms” are war, famine, strife that plagues the land. What would be, should be the fruit of our efforts, just destroys us, and it all goes to the river of our deeds. The once blue river tainted with blood. The world cracked.

Unfortunately, there were no brown markers, but I would have further shown the infection spreading, in both the tree and the land.

I started on this or similar some years ago. I guess it’s time to finish it. 😉 I apologize if you can’t see it well.

#drawing #doodle