Thomm Quackenbush, author

04.09.05 12:34 a.m.

If you are confused, there are a thousand differentiations, ten thousand distinctions. If you are enlightened, everything is the same one family.  

-Wu-chien

 



Previously in Xenology: Xen met Emily, and it was good.

Choices and Chances
Ninja M  
Phantom

Emily called me from Georgia, where she has been sent on an all expenses paid by her humane shelter trip to learn that throwing Chihuahuas against the wall - while satisfying - is not good public policy. She knows this of course. Like on so many paths in this world, people are lectured to for credentials.

This is not the point of the entry. The point is, as often goes un- or understated, that I miss and love Emily quite a lot. I have been a feverish insomniac for the past few days. While the credit for this is not wholly her absence (instead, it is teaching jitters, because I am lame and predictable), having the whole bed to myself did nothing to discourage my fretting and tossing until the wee hours.

It has been four years, very nearly. My longest relationship, though I may well have found such unimaginable a lifetime ago. I am told that she and I fit together like a very strange puzzle that could be no other way. Perhaps like a tessellation. I do not know this; it is not the sort of thing I would think about. I only know that I do love her and that I ache for her when she is gone for any duration of time. She is the phantom pain by my side, but in the best possible sense. The lost limb I should be absently fondling.

I couldn't really know what I was doing when I met her, but I was just so utterly taken with this blonde cherub bearing a pentacle that twinkled in the pre-noon sunlight. If not for dozens of different choices and chances (that I would decide I didn't wish to wait to register, that Kate hadn't very recently spurned me again, that someone wouldn't steal my seat on the other side of the room while I was in the bathroom), I would not have seen her and certainly would not have gotten up the courage to ask to sit with her during lunch. I figured it would be a few dates. I couldn't have imagined four years later.

She has altered her trajectory to be by my side and I am grateful. Now if she could just come back from Georgia a bit sooner.

The genes of eternity squirm indifferently in my cells.

I kept seeing shapes by the bushes, the sort of shapes that are usually seen out of the corner of one's eye. I see them dead on.
The Fae  
Caught one!

"I know that I am not literally seeing you," I inform a low creature peeking out from a bush, "but that doesn't mean you aren't real."

I would try to take pictures of them, but for two pronounced problems. One, flash would be too shallow and I would be left with a slightly gray square that would reveal nothing. Two, and most importantly, my camera batteries had gone from full to empty in the matter of a minute. As I watched at the battery low screen fade to blackness, I frowned and stuck out my tongue at it. I had long heard of people looking at paranormal occurrences discovering their electronics drain and always felt it was a lame bit of evidence. I still do. You would think Duracell could make ghost proof rechargeable batteries.

I suppose it did not help matters that I was in a cemetery - my cemetery - trying to photograph the newly opened bough of the tree at whose roots I was initiated into Paganism almost a decade ago. A decade. I had not realized that it had been so long until this night. It is not the sort of thing I would spend much time considering. It was a simple and unfortunately media influenced undertaking. If you have seen the horror movie "The Craft," I am chagrinned to admit that you likely have a pretty good idea of what we did, less the uncontrollable supernatural powers. It was just a couple I knew at the time (the girl whom was living in a van next to a river somewhere is Delaware last I head from her) and their friend who thought he was a vampire. (I wonder if even people in the fifties had friends who thought they were vampires, or if the preponderance is due to the early works of Anne Rice.) It might seem trivial and like teenagers playing, but it felt real to me then and it just as so to me as a twenty-four year old. High school student to high school teacher and I can stand in the place where I made my theosophical path solid.

I was not in the cemetery that night for any religious reminiscence; it was just a happy side trail. I was there because I had decided that the night was too temperate not to take a walk and this had happened to be where I ended up. The entire walk there, I listened to Flea and danced through the streets, not really caring if anyone saw nor trusting the endurance of memory of anyone who might.

The cemetery holds no morbidity to me, nor did my presence there in the gloaming signal any nefarious plans on my part. I would not more hurt a graveyard than most people would pee on an altar cloth in their local house of worship. Graveyards are convenient sacred place; something that is largely undeveloped and universally revered. I can ignore that I once found a bag of Doberman feet at the base of one of the trails. I can ignore the not unrelated fact that perennial teenagers with a penchant for darkness play demon worship and sodomy in the outlying forest, the land of the floating graves. To me, this ground is holy.
Grave tree  
A lot like this one, but different entirely

I wandered the lands, watching the flaming plum of the sunset settle over the Hudson Valley for ten miles. I felt cozily insignificant and utterly integral to the world. Billions of people and, going back far enough, creatures had to couple at exactly the right moment to eventually produce me. The genes of eternity squirm indifferently in my cells. I note aloud to any lingering sentient vesper that the people beneath my feet are my kin, if we go far enough back. You, reading this now, are in some way my cousin. The lights of the businesses twinkle to life, whites and yellows and the neon spectrum, as I watch from my sepulchral perch in St. Joachim's cemetery.

"How do you all feel about the urban sprawl?" I ask my cousins.

Aside from the peeps of copulating frogs, a language I cannot interpret but as "It's spring and we need tadpoles," there is no noticeable sound. Unlikely this is the message my subterranean siblings sought for me.

"It is very pretty," I agree and I mean it. Humanity, in this form, is quite young. Alligators and sharks were present for the conception of our greatest grand monkey. Most species are in their death knell right about now and we are literally due for another Ice Age any day now. We may not be long for this world, or we may be much longer than we could anticipate. We have come this far. Trillions of couplings and conditions have been just right to create intelligent life out of primordial monkeys and there is nothing closer to a miracle than that. Of course, if conditions were not as they are, I would not be here to note such.

I spend a good hour explaining this from atop a maroon marble grave marker and then I go home, utterly thrilled at the chance to exist and with an ear full of Jill Sobule from my PDA. It's going to be a good spring.

Soon in Xenology: I can climb any mountain.

last watched: Sin City
reading: Carrie
listening: Hello
wanting: Spring nights.
moment of zen: talking to my departed kin.
someday I must: finish writing a book.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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