The Dark Balloon

A weblog by Hao Lian.
A terrible secret guarded by golems.
A note that thanks you for being born, all those years ago.

Circuit priest.

Somewhere in the great, big cosmos, a benevolent creature gently ponders. He extends two awesome, multi-dimensional hands to shift around the megaverse. (He was always disappointed that the two most promising, sentient races of the megaverse decided to name it, respectively, “multiverse” and “kragonmactix.”) “I wonder…” he says, and he sets into motion forces far beyond the understanding of Humans of the Milky Way Galaxy or the Kragons of the Kragonmar Kragalaxy.

One gossipy universe whispers to another. The other is shocked and whispers back even louder. Other universes hiss at them to be quiet, you are in the megaverse. They meekly compare notes, and then they dimensionally drift apart.

A mild-mannered galaxy coined the Milky Way by its only sentient race receives instructions. It “ah”s and “um”s, pushes its glasses' nose bridge higher, smoothes its hair, and eventually realizes nobody reads any of the suggestions it puts into the cosmological suggestion box. “You got that?” The galaxy replies, “Yeah. Sure,” while at the same time harboring thoughts about relocating to another universe with better management. It sighs and resigns to the task.

On the tail of a much larger galaxy, nine to twelve planets form a posse around their favorite celebrity, a so-called “Sun.” Other places learn about the Solar System—again, a silly name coined by its, unfortunately, only sentient race—and laugh when they hear about their crazed obsession with a star spending its 15 minutes of fame before becoming a has-been red giant, not even having enough mass to become a supernova. “Choo,” the other planets and stars scoff, “I’ve seen neutrinos with a bigger radius.” Secretly, however, they pain with the jealousy of knowing that it created a sentient race while they never will. A rush of cold decision breezes through. The planets huddle closer to their Sun.

The third planet away from the Sun shivered. It was different, an outcast. Planets closer to the sun—dubbed Mercury and Venus by the humans—threw dirty glances for its cooler, shadier spot in the Solar System while planets farther away—Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Urethra, Neptune, Pluto, and the extremely frigid newcomer vying for tenure so that, one day, she may see perhaps the crudest bacteria grow on her surface, Persephone—ignored it in the hallway for its warm, snuggly position. It didn’t fawn around the Sun for its sexy magnetic activity, fashionable gold and uranium, or its once-infamous endergonic nuclear reaction drug trips but for its love, its friendship, its frankness, its sometimes vulnerability, the way the Sun blushes when you complement it, the cute way it flares when it’s angry, the way it blows solar wind out of its mouth to get its hair out of its eyes when it’s busy or thinking and the way the long, gentle hair whips around, the way it’ll lean against you on a cool, autumn day and just have a comfortable silence with you.

The tectonic plate masses on the planet dozed and snoozed, their alarm clock set to some future, unknown time when the world will be in crisis and they will be needed to save the day. One plate mass—affectionately dubbed “North America (Coca-Cola)”—stirred a little bit. Half-conscious, it scratched its nose and turned a little more comfortably, pulling the sheets tighter around its cragged body. Its heartbeat drops again, and it returns to its deep repose.

Aren’t political boundaries artificial?

Jark drove through the wee morning hours to his tidy job as a nuclear power plant engineer foreman extraordinaire—that last part he liked to add at parties when people asked him what he did for a living or why he’s faintly glowing now that the lights are off. Pulling into the small parking lot full of several other vehicles that faintly glowed at night, Jark whistled as he put on his ID badge and denial. A sudden shift in the multiverse.

Two electrons. “Merp,” says one. “Merp,” says another. “I’m going to spin the other way.” “Merp!” exclaims one. “Merp?!” questions another. The oddly independent electron began to slow down and then spin the other way. “Perm!” he shouted, gleefully.

Chaos. The nuclear reactor had malfunctioned, and the cooling towers were rapidly spinning. Columns of steam spiraled up into the air and then sank back down, killing thousands. Toxic nuclear waste shot up into the sky producing green fireworks seen by the next town and coinciding with the new Harry Potter pamphlet. A piece of the concrete barrier began to crackle. The explosive power of electron configuration finally burst through and sent the piece of concrete above escape velocity. Fido, the equally extraordinary balloon-tied dog featured at the local carnival attraction, died quickly as the segregated concrete piece slammed into its small body and into outer space.

The tectonic plate stirs more violently. It grumbles. “Did you hear something, honey?” it geologically asks its terrawife. Remembering it didn’t have wife, it goes back to sleep.

The third wheel was furious. It didn’t enjoy losing momentum to a dog-concrete-wich. Other planets around it sympathized with the dog and espoused to each other the horrors of sentient life.

“Oh dear.” It purses its lips, takes its asthma medication, and begins to seek other, less violent employment.

“I told you so.” “Shh!”

Somewhere in the great, big cosmos, a benevolent creature gently curses, “Shit.”

[(2006 May 11) .]

Abandon your ideas.

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