Things are not going well with the Spider Woman. In fact, the latest development was nothing short of disastrous.
As an amusing gesture in honour of the circumstance that brought us together, I booked a table at The Entomologist, a trendy little insectophile bistro. The food was good, if bland and a little woody, but we both have excellent teeth. She was carrying on with her usual affected cynical schtick, which is always amusing. After few glasses of wine though, she got a little loud. I normally don’t mind, in fact I like it, she is, or was, a fine counter balance to my introversion. However, this was not the venue for it, with subdued lighting for that nocturnal I’m eating inside a rotting log effect, and she started to draw a little too much attention. That is fine as well, I enjoy her being noticed and I like being seen in her company. However, that night it was a bit too much of “‘Trevor this” and “Trevor that”. I grew uneasy. You never know who is listening. I like to think that I am not superstitious (and not just because it is illegal), but I do not believe in tempting fate.
“Trevor” she said, loudly, but I heard no more as the klaxons started. I jumped in my seat and spat out something squishy. She stared at me stricken with guilt, which is just dumb, there is no “Trevor alarm”, that I am aware of. I looked about. One couple fled the restaurant, which was also stupid. What if the alarm was to warn that all people exiting restaurants in a hurry will be shot by very particular terrorists? You can never tell. I just know that doing something is seldom a good idea in these situations. “Just wait” I said, pulling out my smart phone. I started flicking between screens. Despite her panic, the Spiderwoman raced ahead of me. “Here it is” she said, showing me her screen. “Blue gamma S-26. What does that mean?” People all over the restaurant were doing the same thing. There would be an announcement in plenty of time, but we all needed to know first what was going on. “Its not on the news screen” she said, getting a little excited. “Don’t worry, I have the app.”
There. I knew blue would be something to do with water. “Blue gamma S-26. Sounds like a baby formula, doesn’t it?” She did not respond. “OK. All atmospheric air is about to be spontaneously converted into water.”
“How can that be right?”
“I don’t know. Fortean phenomena, like fish falling from the sky, or finding a living toad encased in a piece of coal. Things happen.”
“That’s ridiculous. Things just don’t happen.”
“Of course they do. Its quantum physics. Everything just happens. Causality is so 21st century.”
“That makes no sense.”
I shrugged. It was no biggy. I was prepared.
I realised before I popped my single piece of oxy-gum into my mouth that she was not prepared. She saw it in my eyes, and knew that I knew. “What’s wrong?” I asked, still chewing, “don’t you have any?” Even then I could have pulled it out and shared it with her, it would have had some efficacy. I knew she would not have baulked at that, it was nothing after having wrapped and sealed me in her web.
Minutes later, following her in the street as the last few drops of rain fell, I tried to justify my actions, drawing an analogy with those old science fiction films of oxygen masks dropping in aircraft, with the message to put on your own before looking after your children. “You’re pathetic” she yelled. “I’m not a child. You’re just making it worse, you know flying is impossible.”
I stopped and watched her go. I though something good was starting the day she tried to eat me, and now it was over.
Damn you boy scouts! You taught me to be prepared, but not to share. Damn you evolution, you took away from human beings the ability to breathe under water! Damn you Steve Jobs and your apocalyptic apps! Damn you Trevor!
Why do I always get everything wrong?
(The Joe Chip portal has been updated here.)
News of the bus misadventure in the Canutes caused me to reflect on an incident from my school days.
Those of a certain age will remember the tightening of the curriculum, when a scientific fine tooth comb was drawn through the hippy length hair of what in those days passed for the imparting of knowledge to the young. How bracing we found the shock of the new, when the wool was pulled from over our eyes and we saw not through a glass darkly for the first time. I remember our science teacher, nervous, looking around, perhaps unsure of how we would react to the “New Learning”. Then he opened his mouth:
“Children. Here is something interesting that I have to … need to tell you about. Did you know that flight is impossible?”
How intrigued I was. I recall the brand new text books that were handed around that day. I had never had a new text book before, unsullied by the eye prints of ancient children. One quote has stuck in my mind.
“Flight is not possible, and never has been possible. It is a scientific fact, that despite the widespread availability of extension ladders, no part of the fossil record has ever been found in the air.”
That clinched it for me. Magical thinking dropped away. Years of superstitious nonsense gone. Evolution proved it.
“But sir” piped up one familiar voice, and even in those days, the teacher dared not ignore it.
“Sir, I dream of flying.”
The teacher was flustered, and he looked around more, sweating. “But that…”
“Sir, I dream of flying. I’m up in the air, looking down on all creation. Without a care, I stretch my arms and just fly over everything. It feels wonderful.”
“I’m sure it does.”
“But its not true, is it sir?”
The teacher was silent.
“Dreams are stupid, aren’t they sir. We dream all sorts of ridiculous things, don’t we.”
“Yes that’s right Trevor. Flight is not possible. We dream all sorts of nonsense.”
“So sir, when you say all the time that we can achieve whatever we want, and that we should follow our dreams, you’re full of shit, aren’t you sir.”
I like to remember that day, on nights when I hear the screeching low over head, when there is the illusion of scrabbling at my roof tiles, when something unseen triggers the alarms in my fortified compound. It comforts me to know that the desperate screeching above, the whooping, the unearthly howls, are all an illusion, for flight is simply impossible. It pushes thoughts of military experiments gone awry from my mind, so that images of crazed scientists splitting open the space-time continuum are restricted to my dreams. Which, as we now all know, are full of shit.
Then tonight on the news, the story of the dreadful bus crash in the Canute Peaks, and the loss of 30 or so scientists as their bus plummeted into the unplumbable depths of the Siegfired Chasm, as they were trying to achieve the State of Bliss. They were crazy themselves, of course. They had been at a conference where they had been discussing whether the lack of fossils in the air was not because flight was impossible, but because over time, the ground has risen and absorbed the aerial fossil record. Some things just should not be discussed.
I like to think that some of them survived the horrible, horrible fall, and that they will eke out an existence in those depths, surviving on the flesh of their comrades who died on the way down, but of course, I am an incurable romantic.
And Trevor, the liar, just goes on following his dream, and who knows what cliff that will take us over?