Ah, cave hunting. Last refuge of the industriously suicidal. Sure, there’s the chance you might end up finding some hyperancient raretech and become rich beyond your wildest dreams, but you have a far greater chance of finding some mutated, radiation-mad hybrid beastie or one of thousands of nigh-undetectable traps or a virulent swarm of pestilence nanos or an equally stupid but more intensely homicidal fellow cave hunter, all of which will be more than happy to end you in a dizzying array of hideous violence.

Or, something far more mundane could happen to you. You could get lost, or your light could go out, or the ground could give out under you and you could fall hundreds of feet to the sickening crunch of your doom. Really, the opportunities in the caves are endless.

The problem is that so is the wealth available to you if you should somehow beat the incredible odds of your obliterating failure. And the problem behind that problem is that, if you’re even vaguely considering cave hunting, you’re probably so crushingly impoverished and so dizzyingly far away from any more feasible solution that this actually seems in some way reasonable.

I mean, I do understand.

The caves have probably been around for as long as the earth stopped being lava. They’re endless tunnels and caverns and subterranean lakes and pitfalls and voids all laced down into the rock of the earth like ever so much swiss cheese.

The thing is, throughout the eons, humans have kept finding reasons to use them.

First, there were the catacombs – places for dead people, with the occasional hidden grotto for the keeping of secret treasure or sacred knowledge. Then there were the mines, and that didn’t stop with time. It just kept getting deeper and deeper as we figured out bigger and better machines and found larger and more compliant masses to trek below in search of whatever precious material the age found most interesting. Then there were the disaster days, when plagues and rogue machines went wrong and people had no choice but to hide, building whole cities down here in the blackness, and even once they moved out there were labs and cults and shadow sects that found a life more prudent under the ground.

Most of those are gone now, of course, after earth’s tectonic petulance rebuilt the underground topography and set free things never meant to exist outside of vacuum cells and control zones; after voraciously corrosive energy leaked out of broken generators.

If you believe everything you hear, the offspring of some who stayed are among the dangers happy to finish your life for you should you be unfortunate enough to cross their path. According to those stories, you’re better off dying than rehashing the memories of those gristly things forever after you see them.

But! Let’s say you’re desperate enough. Let’s say you’re foolhardy enough. Let’s say life has left you in deadly urgent need of a few thousand credits and thanks to some pernicious concoction of low birth and less than prudent life decisions you’re fresh out of legitimate or even survival-oriented illegitimate means of generating a little revenue.

They left in a hurry, once the earthquakes started. For a long time, no one could get down there. The earth itself added its own players to the chaos belowground. Subterranean infernos burning through abandoned lab complexes, magma flows filling convenient corridors, toxic gasses, radiation, aftershocks… there was an awful lot left behind, and no way to go back for it, until these last few years when a few foolhardy souls made it in and out again with treasure.

And now, well, that’s not the kind of thing you un-know.

And, like I said, maybe you’re desperate…

There’s been sort of an industry growing up around the caves. Not a savory one, certainly, but data jockeys with access to old records and half a mind to turn a few quick bucks have pried their fingers into ancient records and dredged up the occasional hopeful-sounding intel on something someone had down there, and maybe even where it was last supposed to be. Armed with that knowledge and prodded along by life-or-death circumstances, you might find yourself convinced that there really isn’t any excuse not to go after it.

Humans had their many ages.

They began in an age of grass and trees, little running creatures in tiny knotted groups, and then to their ages of wood and stone and then taller stone and metal and glass and plastic followed, always building their cities higher, their walls stronger, their fires hotter.

They made their own age of sickness, when this planet couldn’t hold the weight of them anymore. The continents began to die from the inside so they pressed on ahead of the drought and the storms, stacking up their new cities on their coasts and out over the water, hoping the ocean could still carry them when the land would not. This one was called Cisco Bay, when it was alive. Its towers dwarfed mountains.

They built into themselves, with wetwire and augments and mighty nanotech. They changed their bodies but they never really changed their ways. The world around them kept dying, and when it became clear that it wasn’t going to stop, they tried to find new roads to survival. They moved up beyond their towers, to space, or the very rich and well connected did. They made it beyond the atmosphere, but none of them were ever heard from again on earth.

Those that stayed behind turned dwindling resources to their body machines, hoping that nanotech could feed them, that augments could let them survive where their fragile flesh would die unaided. For a tiny few of us, it worked. We survived the procedures and staggered into the ever-more-hostile reborn fronteer, our bodies swarming with particle robots, newly exoskeletoned with panels to take in the waning goodwill of the sun and keep out an environment that writhed to shake us off.

I’m not sure what they hoped we would accomplish. There certainly weren’t enough of us to save the human race, and after their tinkering we, more machine than human, were left no means to replenish it. We could continue our own lives, but were powerless to stop the end of humanity’s final age.

I’m not sure why they made us. It seems a futile gesture, and an incongruously altruistic one for a people in their death throes. I have had many, many long years to turn this over in my mind.

I think we might have been their suicide note. Their last will and testament. Their “John was here” scrawled on the bathroom wall of history. I think we were their last desperate bid to cling to some tiny scrap of immortality. By leaving us behind, humanity left something that would remember they existed, someone who could carry their memories forward into the future.

Not everyone shares my opinion, but this world is very large, and very empty, and even nanobots and surgical steel break down eventually, and I have not met anyone who could agree or disagree in a very, very long time. Maybe there aren’t any left.

Cisco Bay. A lot of it is crumbled now. Most of it. When the tides began to break, they bucked free of the structures built over them, throwing sea towers back at their counterparts on shore. Fires and storms and age have melded the ancient hulks together, leaving a tangled, sagging skyline. Of the hundreds of miles of wall that once insulated this place from the badlands beyond, only staggered bits and pieces remain in the wake of buckling earthquakes; odd monoliths to a former sense of false security. Sand drifts in now, desert taking new bites out of the eastern edge of this graveyard every year. Farther in, the moss-choked undercity streets are littered with the bones of machines they used to fly, when this place was a hive of activity and life.

Here and there are pieces of the stories left behind. There’s a statue in this open place that I think used to be a park. It’s a woman propped against a long rifle like a staff, pointing up. The plaque below her feet says only “Glass.”

Tearing down an old city. Sorry I wandered off. I will try really hard to be back. 

I can’t think about losing you, so I’m thinking about this fish.

It was a housewarming gift.

He was a housewarming gift, I mean. We had a huge party (Shark Week themed, everyone dressed up) and two of my friends, covered in latex and fake blood shark bites, showed up and said ‘Oh we got you a present’ and she pulled out of her purse a big plastic bag full of water and a tiny orange gold fish with two tails.

I sort of felt appalled. He’s an alive thing I didn’t ask for and I’m not ready to take care of him but I guess he’s my alive thing now, so…

The biggest bowl we had was a little piece of tupperware, so I put him in that and gave him some food and we tried to think of names and someone (there was a huge crowd by now, and party games, and music, and food. Lots of chips, you would have hated it. You would have hated everything about it I guess) yelled “Name him Shark Week!” and we knew that was his name.

I fed him and told everyone not to mess with him and the next morning there you were in my phone, telling me you were quitting, that we didn’t have a future…

…that’s what I don’t want to think about.

So I checked on Shark Week, and he was still alive. I gathered up all the cups and plates and trash and I was worried I would break the dishes because my hands were shaking so hard but I washed them all and nothing broke.

And I gave Shark Week some breakfast.

And I smelled like beer so I took a shower, but that just turned into me staring at the wall and losing track of time and running up the hot water bill, so I stopped that, and I stood in the living room and I needed to do something. If I did nothing I was going to lie down on the floor and cry and that is too dramatic and I am stronger than you not wanting me and I don’t have to care about this if I don’t want to and I am a Kurtz woman, damnit, and Kurtz women are tough and resilient and Kurtz women don’t cry on the floor and if I can just find some kind of distraction I will be okay and I will get through this.

And there was Shark Week sitting in a tupperware full of murky water on the kitchen counter and I figured I needed to take care of him. I promised I’d get him a castle.

Maybe I didn’t ask for him, maybe I didn’t want a fish, but I had him now and he was my responsibility and maybe I feel abandoned and loveless and lost but that doesn’t mean this fish has to.

Probably I got him a lot more stuff than he needed. I got him the third bigger tank from the one the pet shop lady suggested, and I got him the nice rocks and plants from the top shelf, and a filter with a waterfall, and fancy food, and this water gunk so he can start growing an ecosystem.

And they didn’t have any castles, but I drove (with the radio off, all the songs are too dangerous) until I found one. Because I promised him. I promised a brainless little fish a castle and so help me God, that fish was getting a castle. Someone was going to get what they needed that day, even if someone was a fish, even if the fish didn’t really need a castle, even if he couldn’t tell the difference between a fancy tank and a tupperware bowl.

I guess that’s transference. I guess I was hoping that if my world had to fall apart, but I could build a perfect tiny world for some other tiny alive thing, then maybe I would feel okay.

I don’t feel okay. But I also don’t cry when I look at Shark Week swimming around his little castle. So I guess that’s something.

Now for something completely different. In the wake of a sudden breakup, I’m feeling a little creatively bankrupt. So this is more of a journal post than a real creative writing post, and it’s needlessly emotional, and it’s not even trying to be good. But it’s Monday, this is writing, I wrote. 

Drawing Day 6

It’s a spiderwolf…

(Yeah, Night Vale)

Drawing Day 5.5

Just a doodle, but I owe from last week, so here’s this, scribbled during work. Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaa~

I started watching Night Vale… it’s impossible for me to not love it! This is some sort of Cecil type person.

Updated!

Drawing Day 5.5

Just a doodle, but I owe from last week, so here’s this, scribbled during work. Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaa~

I started watching Night Vale… it’s impossible for me to not love it! This is some sort of Cecil type person.

It wasn’t that AJ didn’t like fishing. She did. It was the annual fishing trip she didn’t like. Every year the five of them loaded up onto a plane and headed for Australia’s northern coast, where they’d dump their suitcases in a shabby little house in a dilapidated beachside town and start every morning for six days piling into an invariably dubious fishing boat, catching fish occasionally and hangovers usually.

Six long, cramped days of feeling vaguely claustrophobic, marginally seasick, and a bit drunker than is probably advisable while floating precariously over several thousand feet of water was far from her idea of an enjoyable vacation. Every year, she suggested an alternative. We could go to Sidney, she’d say. Or, Look maybe we’ve done Australia enough times, what about somewhere nice in Europe?

But the other four loved the fishing trip, and she loved the other four, so every year after her token, halfhearted arguments for alternate destinations, she’d buy her plane tickets, sigh, and remind herself to not, under any circumstances, forget to pack SPF 80 this year.

This year had gone exactly like every other year. On day four, nursing a headache and a skittish stomach and what somewhat passed as a Long Island Iced Tea, AJ was on camera duty. At the present moment, she was trying to get the most artistic possible shot of Franco leaning forward against the starboard railing, keeping half an eye on the fishing pole and the rest of his eyes on Clem, who was doing his best figurehead impression by hanging by his fingers and toes off the bow rail.

Because of this, he was the first one to fall overboard when, out of nowhere, something massive rammed the boat from below.

This is a teaser. Stuff happens after this!

I don’t actually know if there are shabby coastal towns in northern Australia.

Hey, all! 

Mondays 9am – 11pm schedule is proving to make getting a violin video up in time really dang challenging! That in mind, I’m changing up the schedule a bit. 

Henceforth, Monday will be writing day, and Wednesday will be violin day! As nothing got posted yesterday, today will be writing day. 

This should work a bit better!

Drawing Day 5

This is supposed to be my Skryim character, Trell… but her face ended up looking all sweet and cute instead of tough and mean. :p

Pose modeled from:

http://random-acts-stock.deviantart.com/art/Sword-pose-stock-35-159323432 <- This lovely stock image!

Thank you!

Whew, all caught up!

This one was kind of grueling! I couldn’t get that high B to G switch right and I was out there for like an hour and I wanted it to sound perfect and it refused to sound perfect and oh my goodness. So frustrating.

The thing about me is that if I can’t do something well, I kind of don’t want to do it. Which is exactly how you don’t get good at something new. If it weren’t for the fact that I owed an overdue video, I probably would have stood out there for five minutes, gotten real frustrated, and left, not to pick up the violin again for weeks. SO I guess this blog is kind of working, at least!

(There will also be a drawing post tonight, of course!)

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