Archive for animals

Multi-Sensory

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama was curious about the word sensitive. Was it a combination of sense, meaning the ability to perceive, and –itive, denoting a characteristic? Someone inclined to be ruled by their senses and doing what felt right, rather than someone who ignored these subtle messages and always stuck to rules?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t all good, at least for Zadam. This strange man with reversed facial features, a nose where it should be, but upside down, and mouth and eyes reversed, was just too sensitive.

He picked up people’s finer feelings, often hidden – their beauty, love and kindness – but also their grosser feelings, buried deeper – their anger, stress and hate.

Their outing together to the museum had been a disaster. An old man’s pipe had caused Zadam to dwell on death, and after that he didn’t want to go out again.

Shama said, “Come on, Zadam, let’s meet up today. We can go for a coffee, or to the park. What do you say?”

He said, “I don’t say anything. I want to stay at home by my own. I have to, to keep my ten senses safe, and the other ones.”

What did he mean by his ten senses? Did he mean the five identified by Aristotle, plus five others suggested by science but not added to the official list? Or did he mean the five main senses, and their inversions?

Zadam sometimes called himself “Upside-Downy” because he could see, taste, hear, smell and touch things in a way that others couldn’t. He could perceive the stimulus, or outcome, of senses in a way negating their immediate message. Rather than a sensual experience, he knew origins and results.

Furthermore, what were the others ones?

Zadam took a while to feel comfortable with the outside world again. Shama supposed it was shock or a form of agoraphobia.

Time spent in the park seemed to work wonders. Zadam sat beneath a tree, like a modern-day Buddha, except with a mouth where his third eye should be. People kept their distance, but animals didn’t. At first butterflies and squirrels, and then cats and dogs, came and nestled around him. He played with them all day.

Eventually people stopped by too, but Zadam preferred animals. One day he mentioned his “infinite senses”. Shama asked “Which ones?”

“The animal ones. They know things first. Birds sense fires, fish sense earthquakes, deer sense volcanic eruptions. They can tell from air pressure, current direction, polarized light, and mechanical strain on things.” Zadam rocked back and forth.

He is getting fired up about this, thought Shama. Maybe he is picking up on the dark clouds rolling in, and humidity building. A storm is predicted for tonight.

Zadam began humming loudly. His sound seemed to bounce off trees in the park, nearby buildings, and around the valley.

Zadam began to spin around. It was like breakdancing, but smoother. It was hard to say how he did it.

Sparks flew from this body; Shama shielded his eyes.

Squirrels ran and butterflies flew, but dogs and cats stayed, and more came running. He was surrounded by a hundred at least.

Zadam began chanting. Words about the whole world becoming unbalanced by overpopulation, wealth inequality, fossil fuel depletion, water shortage, pollution, food inflation, climate change, media brainwash, unquenchable thirst for things, terrorism and nuclear war. He said he could sense these things. He was the upside-down hub of a world spinning and about to break.

Muldvarp

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by javedbabar

Was the mole always there? thought Dimpy, or had it appeared overnight? There was a black Knobby just above her top lip, to the right of her nose. It sat there quite well, like a dark jewel in a fine setting, but she knew she was no Madonna or Marilyn, just a plain-looking single mom living in a small town. The only Museum Director’s job going anywhere was in Lucerne Village so here she was, but she worried constantly about the Museum losing its funding and her losing her job.

The mole looked good though, and added interest to her face. In a world of models with unblemished skin, photoshopped to banality, here was her distinctive feature, like the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, or flawed beauty, where asymmetry is appreciated as the essence of natural change. This is derived from the Buddhist tradition of impermanence, revealing wisdom in natural simplicity.

“Little mole,” Dimpy said to herself, fingering her strange squashy tumour. “Where have you been hiding?” She’d had moles on her body since childhood but none on her face. Had this one appeared because of sun exposure, or age? Was it black, or dark brown? She moved closer to the mirror to see. It pushed out a few millimetres with an irregular border. She had a sudden horrible thought and held onto the sink with both hands. Could it be a melanoma? What if she had skin cancer?

Wabi originally implied the loneliness of living in nature. Over time its meaning mellowed to simplicity and freshness. Sabi meant chilled or lean, and evolved to mean the serenity that comes with age. So its meaning now was that of sad beauty.

What if it was cancer? She would die and her five year old daughter would become an orphan, and be sent for foster care, where she would suffer all kinds of abuse, and become mentally and emotionally unstable. It was unbearable.

There was scratching outside. Was it those jays nesting in her roof again? She was glad they’d found a home, like she had with her daughter Sasha, but did they have to get up so early? She didn’t like that their movements scared the hummingbirds away. She loved seeing their green and red flashes, little songs in the air.

The scratching wasn’t coming from the roof though; it was coming from the garden. It couldn’t be her landlord’s horses, as they’d been sold last month. Too much poo and too much trouble. Maybe a coyote? Dimpy peered outside. There was a molehill in the garden, right in the middle of the lawn. Damn that critter! There were plenty of areas that would benefit from digging, but the lawn wasn’t one of them!

Dimpy forgot about the molehill and went to work. When she got home it was dark. She was tired and went to sleep early.

In the middle of the night she heard scratching again, except now it sounded more like shovelling. As if large chunks of earth were being moved. Dimpy put on her dressing gown and went outside. Oh My God! The hill in the middle of her lawn was now taller than she was!

The shovelling sound became louder, and the dirt on the hill trembled and slipped. Had an earthquake caused this strange upheaval? thought Dimpy. She suspended thought as huge pink paws with foot long claws thrust from the top of the hole, to be followed by a pink, sniffing snout, and tiny eyes and ears. The giant mole Muldvarp “mud tosser” sat up in his hole and stared at her, blinking. Was this because the light was too strong, or to clear mud from his eyes? Dimpy turned and ran, but a message caught her mind.

“Don’t go,” said Muldvarp. “We need to talk.”

Dimpy felt speechless but managed to say, “What about?”

“You worry too much,” said Muldvarp. “You shouldn’t. What’s the point? What do you think would happen to me if I worried constantly? I mean, because of my tiny ears and eyes I can hardly hear or see. That means I must remain underground to stay safe from predators. But there’s not much oxygen down there so I make do by re-using what I inhaled above ground. There also isn’t any good food down there so I eat earthworms. They fall into my tunnels and I run to catch them. What if I’m hungry and there’s no worms? Well, I paralyse them with saliva whenever I catch them, and store them in underground larders. And what if I get grit in my teeth that ruins my meal? Well, I hold the worms carefully between my paws and squeeze out their dirt before dining. What if my tunnels collapse? It’s my duty to keep them clear. They keep the energy of ley lines, chi, and kundalini flowing, not to mention soil aeration. So you see I have plenty to worry about, but instead I just get on with things and everything works out.”

From where Dimpy stood, the molehill looked bigger than distant Mt. Negra. She realized then that it was all about perspective. As an art historian she should have known better. Her mole wasn’t malignant, and she wouldn’t lose her job, and her daughter wouldn’t be orphaned and become emotionally scarred.

Muldvarp waved a giant pink paw and eased back into his hole. The next morning Dimpy saw that the mole on her face had disappeared.

Invisible Horses

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , on January 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Ben used to hear the horses outside his bedroom window. They snorted with surprise and delight, and the earth would shake as they tore across the field. He didn’t see them much in daytime, but at night he heard their strange language of frothy laughs and hoof clicks. He didn’t know much about animals, but the horses seemed happy here. They were rescued horses; who knew what horrors they had endured? No longer whipped at a circus, choked in a mine, or stuck in a filthy basement. Now a field in the Lucerne Valley – surrounded by forests, rivers, mountains, and glaciers – was their home.

But a beautiful location attracts attention. The owner made the mistake of mentioning to a real estate agent at a Christmas cocktail party that she was thinking of selling. The agent had “motivated” buyers on his books already, and the listing attracted many more. The bidding war was won by an Australian couple who wanted the land but not the horses. So the horses disappeared with the previous owners – but to where was unclear. Thankfully Ben, the tenant, could stay in his cabin.

The field outside Ben’s window was soon leased to a farmer. It was ploughed and planted – initially with clover, next year with alfalfa, and then there would be spuds. Ben got used to the silent field outside.

“Did you hear that?” he said to his girlfriend, visiting from the City.

“What’s that, love?” she whispered, moving her head slightly towards him.

“I heard the sound of running.”

“Well go join ‘em, Road Runner, I’m staying in bed.” Then she added a sleepy, “Neep-neep.”

“No, not a person,” said Ben. “A horse. I heard a horse running.”

“I thought the horses had gone, love.” He loved how she always continued conversations, however tired she was. She was especially sweet when half-asleep.

“They have,” he said. “That’s why it’s strange. There aren’t any horses there.”

Ben pushed himself out of bed and went to the window. The moon was almost full. The tight rows of the field shone silver, like a mountain Zen garden. But there was nothing to contemplate but invisible horses.

Another night, Ben heard the horses again. This time their hoof clicks were more pronounced, and echoed along the road. “Can you hear them?” he said to his girlfriend. She liked getting out of the City, and was visiting again.

“Go ride ‘em cowboy,” she said in a manner so drawn out, it became a lament.

Ben threw on his dressing gown and ran outside. He was right! A dozen horses were ambling along the road. They gathered around his neighbour’s magnolia tree, tearing off petals. Some fell like big shining teeth. Ben recognized these horses – they were the wild ones from Lilly, which grazed freely on reserve land. But he had never seen them in the Meadows before – only causing mayhem on reserve roads. He watched them wander, and sometimes canter, up the road, moonlight gleaming off their glossy backs, seeming unexpected lone waves. The next day he heard that they were rounded up, and finally put in paddocks.

Once while cooking, a little drunk, Ben left a bunch of beet tops on a fencepost. He forgot that the horses were no longer there. But in the morning the tops were gone. He wondered if the neighbour’s cow had somehow gotten to them. Would she now produce red milk?

Another day there were muddy hoof prints around the field, but it had rained plenty, so their shapes were hard to define. Large patches of clover had been grazed. Ben wondered if this was by migrating deer.

As well as hoof clicks, there were other sounds. There were long blows, like greetings; vibrating snorts, as if sensing danger; a sort of snickering, like sharing a joke; a loud whinny to attract attention; a squeal of surprise; or a scream of aggression. It must be the wind carrying these sounds, thought Ben, from stables way up the road.

The neighbour’s dogs were always barking. One night they howled, and after that only whimpered and cowered. Had they been scared by a bear?

Ben spoke of these strange occurrences to an Old Cowboy he knew. The Cowboy said that he would come over one night, make a fire, cook some rice and beans with bacon, sip whisky, and watch. “There is more to horses than you’ll ever know,” he said. “Tell me when your girlfriend’s visiting. We can show her something special. Mind you, I’m not sayin’ you don’t already.”

When Ben’s girlfriend next came, they joined the Cowboy around the campfire. He was making lots of food. “Why so much?” asked Ben.

“You’ll see,” he said evasively.

Ben wondered if they would be feeding the invisible horses. When four pickups arrived, he realized they were feeding cowboys. They ate and drank and sang all night. The campfire talk was pretty rich, and Ben’s girlfriend said she was going to bed. What a waste of time this has all been, thought Ben, and followed her in.

“You’ll miss the show,” said the Old Cowboy, slurred and smiling.

“Well, why don’t you wake us up for it?” said his girlfriend.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

There was a dark tapping on the window, blended with light thundering. Ben and his girlfriend went outside.

“Look,” said the Cowboy, pointing to the sky.

Subtle shapes slipped across the heavens. Within these moving patches, the stars shone more brightly, as if cut out of the sky. Ben saw that there were many of these patches, and as they drew together, their thundering became intense, and neighs and whinnies echoed through darkness bejewelled. Brilliant stars glittered at the front of each surging patch. Ben gazed in wonder at these leaping constellations.

“Those horses hadn’t finished their healing yet,” said the Cowboy. “Their souls were stuck here; they couldn’t leave. We stroked them with the Old Songs and sent them on their way.”

Creature Features

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, World Myths with tags , , , , on January 14, 2012 by javedbabar

George jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. There on the table was his present! It was the right shape and size! They had really got him one!

His mom smiled and said, “Happy Birthday, George. Go ahead, open it.”

His dad had been pretending for weeks that they were sold out; that he had tried his best, but was unable to get one. But here it was – a Creature Features: Canine headset. Yipee!

“Can I put it on the Dog?” George asked his dad. They had always named their pets this way – Dog, Cat, and Mouse. After all, they weren’t human.

“Sure, son. Go ahead. Just switch it on. It should be ready to go.”

George called over Dog. He was a rescued Husky, all white with electric blue eyes. He came immediately. He wasn’t sure when the patting turned into attaching, but just presumed it was a new kind of collar, though rather high up. He forgot about the headset immediately, and ran off to chase Cat.

To ensure there was sufficient data for conceptual cross-referencing. it was recommended that you download the headset only monthly. It was also recommended that you limit interaction with your dog. Too much excitement and it would be difficult to set a baseline brain pattern.. So difficult though it was, George was kept away from Dog. At the end of the month, George removed the headset, and plugged the headset into the computer. The family gathered round. The huge file took an hour to process. A dialogue box appeared which said simply, “Woof!” George clicked it. The text file that appeared was surprisingly small. It began:

“I like it. When rubs head. What’s that, doing? Hat-collar. Good boy. Good dog. Where’s eat? Where’s Cat? Find her. Chase her. Funny fun. I am Dog. Big house, my house. Before. no house. Warmth fire, good. Thank you, make warmth. When’s eat? Crunchy lumps. Meaty lumps. The Water. Good boy. Good dog. Rubs head. I like it. When’s eat?…”

George started clapping. Mom and dad too. They had a loyal, simple, satisfied dog like they hoped. They called Dog over and rubbed his head, and gave him treats. His eyes sparkled.

A month later, they received a “special free offer” from Creature Features – an adjustable package for their cat. It comprised a smaller headset and software patches (for only $99 to cover tax and shipping). All they must do was send Creature Features their Canine file to help with product development. They ordered one.

Cat was less happy than Dog about the headset. She snarled and tried to scratch it off with her paws. Her yellow eyes flashed in black fur. But the headset was fixed firmly;  there was nothing she could do. At the end of the month, they removed and downloaded the headset. The text file called “Miaow!” began:

“WTF! Why are they touching me? Get off! Get off! Keep your smelly hands to yourself. Don’t you know who I am? I am Queen of this hovel. How dare you touch me! Is this some sort of crown? I’m not sure I like it, but you’ve jammed it on my head. But you can’t just do what you feel like. To me! I’m going to the neighbours. Their house is better than yours anyway. And their food’s better. I might even not come back. You should be grateful to have me…”

The level of Cat’s superciliousness was quite surprising. But it delighted them just the same. They tried to stroke her, but she pulled back and hissed.

Two months later, there was a further offer. If they sent Creature Features their Feline file to assist in product development, they would receive a “Free Mouse kit” (for only $99 to cover shipping and tax). They sent off for it.

The mouse headset was hard to affix. George’s dad came up with a plan. He gave Mouse a nip of brandy – mum said he shouldn’t because it would affect the results – but he went ahead, and it did the job beautifully. A month later, they read the file called “Squeek!” It began:

“Whoa, Man! That was some headache. I don’t remember anything at all. Why am I behind bars? What have I done? I was just here, running on my wheel, minding my own business, that’s all I remember. And then… did someone grab me? Damn it! It was a set up! Someone’s got it in for me. I better sniff around, look around, poke my nose around. Maybe I’ll catch a whiff of something. A lead of some kind. It’s not right that I’m locked up like this. There has been no due process. I am an innocent party. But I remember a big hand grasping me. The hand of God. I thought I was done for. But here I am still. Maybe reborn for a higher purpose…”

The Mouse file made them gasp. They had assumed that the smallest of their pets would be the simplest, but it was the reverse. Dog was docile and accepting. Cat was pompous and scheming. Mouse was aware both of justice and of a higher power.

They received word of Creature Features’ new premium model – where an animal could learn your thoughts also. The idea was to promote inter-species understanding, and thus harmony in the natural world. George’s family sent off their Mouse file plus $99 for their People kit. But before they received it, disaster struck.

Creature Feature’s developers had studied all the files returned to them by customers and arrived at the same conclusion as Georges’ family. That the smaller the creature, the greater its intelligence. They had abandoned their research into horses and tigers, and the whale project was on hold. Instead they focussed on wireless transmission to insects. How much they could learn! And someone had the bright idea to combine the People kits with the Insect kits. This was a step too far.

The group awareness of insects ensured that if one individual learnt something, it was soon transmitted throughout the nest, and from there to all other nests, hives, and colonies. There was sufficient interface between insect species for knowledge to spread to every insect on earth. So when they learnt that constantly on the minds of these cumbersome, fleshy beings was the capture of beasts and their spaying and castration, raping them repeatedly to keep them pregnant and then taking their milk and stealing their babies, burdening their backs with senseless goods and their own foul corpses, pumping them full of poisons, cutting their beaks and cramming them into cages before stealing their eggs daily, force feeding them till their organs became grossly dysfunctional, and their bodies so big they couldn’t walk, raising them knee deep in their own faeces, slaughtering and hanging them upside down in agony, killing and cutting off their heads for fun, making medicine from their genitals, and making coats from their skins, the insects drew one great shared conclusion. That this world would be better without these cumbersome, fleshy beings. Creatures were also cruel they knew, but only when needs must. People had a choice and should know better. Insects attacked humans everywhere. Within one week, half of humanity was gone.

The Bear Truth

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , on January 6, 2012 by javedbabar

[The following is a transcript taken at the village circuit court.]

“There were mud flecks and wet smudges around my cabin. No respect for private property, bloody brats. The builder was on a two-week holiday: skiing-snowboarding-snowmobiling, and paragliding-canoeing-mountainbiking, all readily available in ‘Super, Natural’ British Columbia. I was annoyed with him for not finishing the job before taking off, but recreation comes before creation here. Bastard builder.

“During construction often there were things out of place, but nothing untoward. Things blown about – could be wind. Things distressed – could be sun. Things softened – could be rain. But the day the builder left there was evidence of tampering, someone trying the door. The handle was jarred from being forced too far, and hinges loosened by a jolt. Someone was trying to get into the cabin!

“The next day all the flyscreens were torn. Their slides were jammed and runners twisted – dried insects revealed, their corpses falling apart. And upon the glass were wet nose probing and stiff hairs. So not a brat after all, it seems, but a beast. Now to figure out the nature of this furry felon.

“The third day, the walls were battered. Something had to be done. A monkey I realized would not have behaved in this way. A famous experiment at Berlin Zoo had shown that they were methodical. They would have picked off the batts, one by one, and stacked them up nicely. And a dog would have just humped the walls or pissed on them, not tried to destroy them. So it was certainly a bear.

“The fourth day’s target was the floor. The usual entry points had proved invulnerable. Now, like great generals before him: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam – the bear was trying flanking manoeuvres. He was broadening the battlefield and busting boards. Dunes had appeared across this beige expanse of tongue-in-groove desert, but the invader had been repulsed.

“The fifth day was another day of vertical thinking, but this time, higher up. A torn-off maple branch had been used as a lever, prying off a roof panel. But the position of the snowstop had limited leverage. There may have been further jumping on the roof to mimic the effect of an avalanche, but the roof was built for a Coastal Range snow load, and didn’t buckle.

“The sixth day, the bear tried to trick its way right under my nose. My firewood is cut and bagged for the year in 100 lbs bundles. The bag I chose seemed heavier than usual, and there were no hard edges or clacking sounds. Something’s up, I thought, and left the bag right there. Later I heard canvas tearing, a burst of sneezing, and something padding through the dust.

“On the seventh day, I was relaxing in front of the fireplace, sipping Hoffmeister beer, when I sensed something was awry. Smoke was swirling in the firebox where there’d been none before. And it wasn’t just swirling, it was forming. Flames were stretched out, concentrating into sharp points, and clawing. There were sudden sparks, and the glass door flew open, raked marks on the soot inside. A plume paw reached out of the firebox towards me. I slammed shut the glass door, damped down the flue, and watched the claw rake ashes in anger and disappear.

“This was clearly a declaration of war. I realized I must be on the battlefield now, always bear aware. So at the beginning of the builder’s second week of holiday, I decided to initiate a programme of ‘Super Cultural’ lifestyle additions. First up was a camping stove. My pot of local veggies was soon ready, but something didn’t smell right. Gas was escaping unburned. It held a sweet, sweat stench – that of a dirty jungle animal. I quickly turned off this smell of bear. I would rather go hungry.

“My eco-friend from the City came up on the ninth day, and helped to install a 200 watt polycrystalline solar panel on the roof. However, even when the sun was shining all day, quite enough to run a bush hot tub, no power was generated. No photons could reach the carbon, for it was blocked by an earthly constellation, the blackness of the Great Bear.

“The most basic need of the human body is water. So on day ten, I banged a drain onto the edge of the roof, set a pipe off it into a barrel, and laid down layers of grass, charcoal and gravel. A simple filter to remove traces of bird and bat shit. After a hot day’s work I took a long, cool mouthful of the blessed holy water. But its gamey undertaste of fur-dripped liquid made me retch.

“Day eleven I called BC Hydro. They came and hooked me up that day. With the latest technology, I would surely be invincible. I put sensors all around the cabin. That first night I sat back smugly, only to have one sensor trip off, then another, then them all. How could that be? The transformer was humming strangely. I laid my hand upon it, and a shot of juice tore up through my arm – sharp tingles like stiff hairs were pushed through my veins.

“I’d been struggling to survive for twelve days now, and realized I needed access to emergency response. Telus sent an engineer immediately to fit hard-wired certainty. No more shifting signals. I saved the numbers of RCMP, Dow Security, and Pony Espresso. I was ready for anything. The phone rang – my first caller. ‘Hello,’ I said. There was a moment of silence and shuffling. Maybe it was a test call or wrong number. Then came a pop, scrape, grunt, and growl.

“There must be others like me, harassed by bears. But where could I find them? Thirteen days alone, I said to Shaw, who immediately sent someone to fix me up with broadband. He added wireless for free. Tucked up in my loft bed, I searched for bear tips. One website in particular – Unbearable Bear – gave advice on the local area. I emailed the webmaster, who responded immediately: ‘Why don’t you ask me yourself? I’m downstairs on your desktop.’ I was too scared to sleep, and frozen in a terrible trance. What happened after that I can’t remember.”

“Is that the end of your statement, Mr. Mehl?”

“Yes it is, sir.”

“You have nothing to add – or detract?”

“No, sir.”

“And you are saying this under oath, you recall?”

“Yes, sir.”

“This is your truthful explanation of why you were found by Mr. Collins – your as-yet-unpaid builder – within his house? Upon returning from his holiday, he saw that you had broken down the front door, ransacked his freezer, were naked and smeared in honey, eating Very Berry cereal straight from the box, listening to the Elvis Presley single ‘Teddy Bear’, watching Grizzly Adams on cable, viewing pornographic materials on barebear.com, having scat in his bath, eaten his goldfish, and were about to escape with a bagful of domestic goods – to get you through hibernation, you say?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you seriously expect me to believe that?”

“Sir, you must know something. I was living in a delusion, always thinking that the bear was breaking in. Then I realized the truth of the matter, that the bear was breaking out. I could no longer hide from myself. For I am The Be..!”

[The transcript ends here. Neither the judge nor court recorder survived the incident. The guard is still in a coma. The suspect escaped, and Lucerne RCMP and Lilly Tribal Police have broadcast an All Points Bulletin for his capture. Also present in the courtroom – it is believed for behavioural analysis – was an adult brown bear, which was sedated and later released by rangers into the Upper Lilly area.]