rock up in red

Humans and Sense of Place

As humans most of us have a sense of place. We get attached to the places we live. Home is a sacred thing to most of us. It may not be the place we were born or grew up, but if we live in a place long enough we start to develop feelings for it. Some good, some bad. The longer we live somewhere, the more we learn about it. About the people and animals that live their, the plants that grow and what they all do as the seasons progress. We know the places we call home, sometimes too well. We get attached to features in the landscape, rivers, hills or woodlands, and get upset if they are despoiled or desecrated.

Every human knows that home is more than just a roof over your head or a place to spend the night.

And what if we go into space. What if we settle there. What if children grow up walking on red rocks and start calling Mars their home. What if we spread farther? We leave our star system and distant homeworld behind and make ourselves new homeworlds on other planets.

What if some are better than others. What if some planets prove easily habitable to humans and accept our terraforming with ease. But what if others reject terran life, and force every human that lives on them to stay in protected shelters while it slowly kills them with heavy metals and toxic compounds. What if despite all this, humans still call this planet home. What if generations grow up on that planet, developing history and love for their home, even if it slowly kills them.

And what if humans meet other life in space? What if that life looks at these planets that are so hostile to human life and instead see a world that is perfect for life-forms like them. What if the very heavy metals and toxic compounds that kill us slowly are actually vital to their very life and wellbeing.

What if they make a deal with humanity? What if they have many planets that they cannot live on, but are perfectly habitable to humans. And what if humans have planets that are death to them but havens for the aliens. Its very logical that the two should swap. For both sides have something the other wants.

And what if, when the news comes, many of the human settlers choose to leave the planet they grew up in, for a planet that will not slowly kill them. Some leave and never look back, while others still feel a sense of loss in their hearts when they remember.

But what if some refuse to leave. What if the fact that the planet is killing them slowly is not enough to convince some to abandon the place they call home. What if they stay, even when the alien colonists arrive, step off their ships and breath the air with relief instead of choking death.

What if they are still there as the aliens go on to colonize their new home with a vigour even the most determined human could never replicate on that world. What if they still live in contained shelters and know the planet is slowly killing them, even as those who left prosper on other worlds.

And what if to the aliens they become a part of that place. What if the contained complexes and the sight of humans in environmental suites becomes as much a part of that planet as its mountains of heavy metals and its lakes of toxic chemicals.

What if the aliens that call that planet home, come to regard the humans as being simply another part of that home. Something that would be noticed and missed if it were to disappear.

Maybe some humans leave that planet. Maybe many leave to seek a better life on another planet that will not slowly kill them. But maybe some always stay. Maybe to them home is something sacred and the fact that it is slowly killing you is not enough to leave it.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) by Gil Junger

Book title: Like Mother, Like Daughter: How Women Are Influenced by Their Mother’s Relationship With Food-And How to Break the Pattern (1997) by Debra Waterhouse

Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives (1998) by Laura Schlessinger

Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva (1994) by Martha Reeves and Mark Bego

The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock: Trouble Girls (1997) by Barbara O'Dair

Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors (1997) by Judith M. Redding and Victoria A. Brownworth

show low, forever ago

i split open the desert ground greedy &
drink all the splendid sun. cow skulls,
rhyme of the ancient hawk,
formidable grimace of a
late night cactus — arizona is a
living thing shivering inside my chest.
if you’ll recall, i drove the car all night.

red rocks like spun sugar calling me
up, up and away; you cried
on the phone and it felt
like the end of the world.
i woke up in your bed today,
not knowing how i came to be there;
a second coming where
the angels save the holy but I burn & burn.
a dry heat yonder, never quiet dark.
what, i the valley, is my place in this place?

an unanswerable magnitude rises
at dawn. i don’t think im
coming back from this.


My fluorescent rocks under a UV light! 🔦
The dark red (which ended up orangey on camera) are rubies/sapphire, the blues are fluorite, the pale yellow is amber, the ghosty-white ones are chalcedony, and bright pink one is mangano calcite.

Snowdrift (fRyder x Reyes)

@atrilial @for-the-grey-wardens

No angst!? Uh oh. 

Reyes had never been to Voeld before, and he didn’t think he’d ever been this cold. There was cryo, of course, but he hadn’t really felt that. There was also that one terrifying suit breach back in training, and that was an experience he never wanted to repeat - but it wasn’t really comparable. The cold up here wasn’t sharp or fleeting. It was dense. It was pervasive. It made his limbs feel heavy, like there were icicles hanging from his sleeves. Still, it was a pleasant kind of cold. It made his heart beat faster to make up the difference. He had a helmet on, but his lips still felt a little numb.

Sara was barely visible through the haze of whirling snow, but she was somewhere above him. If he squinted up the mountainside, he could see her clinging to the slope. Slope was putting it mildly, though. It looked like they were climbing up the side of a fucking world.

How had she talked him into this?

She twisted around to wave at him - and Reyes’ heart lurched up into his mouth when she wobbled on her perch. She caught herself, though, and Reyes could hear her laughing through the comm in his helmet.

“You’re crazy!”

Sara gave an exaggerated shrug - and removed both hands from the rock she’d been clutching. Reyes was sure his heart was going to give out right here. Maybe he’d fall off the mountainside and finally find out what was so great about a jump jet.

“No hands,” Sara said cheerily. She waved them both in the air - and if Reyes could have seen her face through her helmet, he’d have definitely found her grinning. “You doing okay down there?”

“Just fine,” he grumbled. He was trying not to look down. He stretched for his next handhold, carefully checking its stability before he hauled himself up higher. This wasn’t rock-climbing, precisely, but it was close enough. Reyes didn’t want to find out how this would go without something to hold onto. “What about you? Want me to take a turn carrying those things?”

“Nah.” Sara turned back around and gave her hips a wriggle, shaking the two bundles of hardened polymer slats that were strapped across her shoulders. “I’m good. Scott and I used to take turns carrying them, and Dad’s weighed a ton.”

“Yours was an awfully athletic family, wasn’t it?”

Sara chuckled - or maybe she just exhaled loudly. Reyes hadn’t yet sorted through which parts of Sara’s family life were still sore to the touch. This seemed to be one of those memories she hadn’t made up her own mind about, either. She turned her back and reached for another rock.

“We’re nearly there,” she breathed into the comm. “We’ll rest at the top.”

“You can’t mean the top.” Reyes was aghast. “That is a very tall peak, Sara. I can’t even see it from down here.”

She did laugh, this time; full-throated and gleeful. “Not the top top. See that slope?” She pointed with her left hand, and Reyes followed the line of her arm to an outcropping about twenty metres higher up. It was a steep approach from where they were, but it gave way to a smooth slope on its western side. “We’ll go from there.”

Reyes barely made it. He’d always thought he was in pretty good shape, but the Pathfinder’s lifestyle was turning out to be more than he was ready for. Sara had made this little trip to Voeld sound much more romantic and much less exhausting than it had been so far, and Reyes’ legs were wobbling when he finally clambered up onto the ledge she’d pointed out. She grabbed his forearm to help him up the final few steps, tumbling back onto her haunches when he was finally kneeling beside her.

Sara tugged off her helmet and plonked it onto the ground. Her hair spilled across the rock, picking up snowflakes as it went. Her cheeks were red. She was grinning, but she was breathing hard - and that helped with Reyes’ embarrassment when he lay down flat on his face. He pulled his helmet off and lobbed it into the snowdrift behind them.


Sara laughed, the pitch climbing steadily. Her voice turned breathy as she tugged on Reyes’ arm. “Look,” she urged him. “Look.”

Reyes grumbled as he picked himself up - but in the end, he was glad he obeyed.

The snowfields spread out below them like a sea of melted stars. Ice, snow, rock, sky; they were everywhere and nowhere, wrapped in an orb of pale blue and white. The sun blazed high above them, brilliant but somehow cold, its pale light bathing everything in a piercing, peaceful glow. Reyes felt his mouth fall open. He forgot the cold. He forgot the wind. He forgot the ache in his muscles and the sweat on his skin.


Sara beamed at him, her hand snaking down his arm. Their gloves made it difficult, but she twined her fingers through his. “Your mouth is open.”

“I know.”

She turned his face to hers and kissed him, teasing his lower lip between her teeth. Reyes could taste ice water on her lips. “Thank you for coming with me. I haven’t done this since I was a teenager.”

With that, she slid her burdens off her shoulder. The heavy slats clacked loudly as she emptied them onto the rock and set about clicking the pieces together. Reyes watched uncertainly as the first sled slowly took form. The view was beautiful, but his awe was quickly fading. Heights were fine. Speed was fine. Descending a height at speed, though, without a good pair of wings beneath you - that was insanity.

“I know you said this wasn’t dangerous -”

“It’s not.”

“- but I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to back out.”

Sara chuckled, and she snapped the next pair of slats together with glee. “Having second thoughts? There’s no way you can be scared of heights.”

“I’m not.”

“Falling, then?” Her words were punctuated with snaps; clacks; scrapes. “Seems like a difficult fear for a pilot to have.”

“That’s not it.” Reyes would never have admitted it, but he wasn’t just uncomfortable. He really was starting to feel scared.

Sara clicked the last component into place, surveying her work critically. The two sleds were plain, but apparently serviceable, because she gave a satisfied nod. She tucked her hair under her collar and pulled her helmet back on, then retrieved Reyes’ from the snowdrift. She handed it back to him, smiling through her visor - but something in his eyes must have given him away. Her smile turned soft and careful.

“We don’t have to do this,” she said gently. “I was glad just to walk up here. It’s beautiful.”

Reyes shook his head. He knew a white lie when he heard one, so he prised his helmet from her hands. He slid it back on, grateful for the little hiss that sounded when the latches resealed - because he suddenly needed a very deep breath.

“We’re up here, aren’t we? Let’s do this.”

Sara’s next smile was a thousand watts. Her movements quick and careful, like a child sharing her favourite game, she positioned her sled at the lip of the hill. She sat down atop it with her feet braced against the forward corners, taking pains to ensure she faced the gentler side of the incline. Craning over, she patted the snow beside her.

Reyes’ heartbeat was rattling his skeleton. He was definitely numb, now, but he could feel a throbbing between his shoulder blades. It was probably just his heart - and it was probably trying to flee.

He dragged his sled over and sat down just like she had. He copied her stance, but he couldn’t still his shaking hands.

Sara clapped him on the shoulder. “Just stay with me.”

Then she was over the edge - and she was gone, streaking away across the snow like a probe through a glittering nebula. For the length of half a heartbeat, Reyes remained frozen.

Fuck it.

He pushed his sled forward, and the decision was suddenly out of his hands. Gravity took over, and he was flying - not really flying, of course; not in the sense that Reyes always had - but the world was eroded in a blur of ice and snow. His heart ceased battering against his spine. It clung to it instead, hanging on for dear life - and Reyes hung on too. He could hear Sara whooping through the comm. He could hear his blood rushing in his ears -

But there was no sudden disaster; no abrupt but expected end. His adrenaline ran its course. Gravity ran its course, too, and the world slowly resumed its shape as Reyes began to slow. He could see Sara waving at him from the bottom of the hill, helmet once again discarded. She was laughing; yelling; cheering - and by the time Reyes slid to a halt beside her, he was laughing too.

“That was great!” she hollered. She was beaming at him, her cheeks even more flushed than before.

Reyes ripped off his helmet and flung himself into the snow beside her. “Shit.”

Sara laughed, clambering over him to lie down at his side. A snowflake landed on his nose, but Sara kissed it away. “Again?”


Creepypasta #1126: Australian Gas Station Horror

Length: Medium

My good friend Julian and I were on a year-long backpacking trip in Australia in 2008. At our starting point in Cairns, high up on the Queensland coast, we’d bought a beast of a car - a 1995 Ford Falcon Estate - and were planning to drive it all the way down the east coast to Sydney and onwards to Melbourne and Adelaide. An long distance, but a well-worn travel route for backpackers.

A couple of months into our trip around October time, we were preparing to leave Airlie Beach where we’d paused for a few weeks to earn some money glass-collecting at a local bar. We’d chosen Hervey Bay as our next destination, where we’d tour Fraser Island. With very little in the way of sights on the 10-hour drive, we planned to stay over in Rockhampton, about 4-hours closer.

We set off from Airlie Beach - sun blazing, Led Zeppelin on the stereo, full of our usual over-excited exuberance at the prospect of the next instalment of our adventure. At one point we even stopped at the side of the road just to dance around the car to John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boom Boom’. We were in great spirits.

A few more hours on the road, however, and things began to change.

In the late afternoon, it became heavily overcast - dark clouds hiding the sunlight. A few drops of rain became a torrential downpour. We were used to spontaneous short-lived outbursts from the tropical weather systems, but this was unlike anything we’d experienced; rain lashed at us, streaks of lightning strobed almost continuously across the sky.

Slowing the car to a steadier pace, window wipers straining hard against the deluge, the highway merged from open bushland to densely-wooded darkness.

Then came the first mysterious incident. I noticed, quite suddenly, in the passenger-side wing-mirror a motorbike approach quickly and tailgate us closely. There was plenty of room to go around us, and nothing in front of us, but it continued to follow for a good mile or so. We didn’t speak of it until we went over a gradual hump in the road and, almost as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone.

Let’s be clear, there were no turnings on this stretch of highway, it was just one very long, very straight road. I turned the music off.

“Did you see that?” I said to Julian, driving.

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