REPORT A PROBLEM
THEY’RE NOT COMING back for us.
— They are! You fool, they are!
No, they’re not. You’re logician enough; you should know this. If they were going to come back for us, they would have by now, fait accompli. You’re in denial.
— Look, God damn you: the equipment was wrecked in the explosion. They’ll have had to rebuild. They might not have our precise coordinates. Maybe it’ll take a day, maybe a week, maybe a year. But they’ll come back for us.
I don’t share your optimism.
— No, you don’t. You miserable paleontologists: we’re all dead, dried bones to you.
FIVE MORE IN triage.
— Related to this?
— This is insane. Hold that.
My brother bought a pair.
— Distal right. ... Yeah? You tell him he’s a damn fool?
Wants to fly.
— I’m gonna want 7-0 Prolene. ... “Wants to fly.” What can you say to that? How old is he?
Jeremy is sixteen.
— That’s the age. ... OK, let’s turn down the flow; I call it five-zero percent. Crossclamp off. ... Give me that sidebiter. Thank you.
Could you talk to him?
— Jeff, keep an eye on the obtuse proximal. I’ll take the acute marginal.
Could you talk to him?
REMEMBER THE DAY we met?
At Río Grande de Arecibo.
— I remember.
You were swimming. So beautiful. So lithe.
— You were so handsome in your uniform. A proper Navy man. And you waded right in.
To be with you? I jumped.
— We’re still on that river, aren’t we?
Yes. Though we sail far, we’re always home; though the Sun urges us on, she never leaves us. She sits siddhasana, radiating oneness, completion.
— You were always the poet.
As I get older.
— I’ll check the shielding.
Be careful. Nine’s wobbly.
— I will.
I love you.
— My sweet, serious poet. Yes.
FEEL THIS SOIL.
What’s it feel like to you?
— Uh. Soft?
Yeah. It’s velvety.
Nothing. It’s the lichens.
— So why did you want me to feel it?
— Why did you want me to feel the soil? I mean —
I don’t understand. Are you —
— It’s no big deal. I’m not... Did you just think I’d appreciate —
Yeah. I thought you’d appreciate the, uh, the sensation.
— OK. Cool. Thank you.
Did you not like the soil?
— No, I did, I did. Thank you. Soil. Nice job.
Nothing. I just thought....
— You thought what?
Nothing. Nothing, I guess.
Book for what?
— Just for book.
— Just because! It’s book for book! Go way!
— Go way!
Mama says heat’s off.
Mama says we can go uptop.
Mama says heat’s off.
Do you wanna go Soundwall buddies?
— I’ll bleed you. I'll bake you!
I bed you’re not scratching anything, either.
— Go. WAY!
Just stupid old badbook, stupid old drybook!
Stupid old bonebook!
Oh, now he boiling! Pool, I’m sorry!
Mama not home. Now you wanna go Soundwall?
— Where at, Mama not home?
Mama goes to Broken.
— You lie!
THIS IS JUST like him.
— Shh. Evelyn.
No. This is perfect. Perfect Henry.
— Evelyn, it’s just a processor glitch.
Look at him up there, jittering! Can’t someone pull a plug? Throw a blanket over him?
— Evelyn, please. They’re working on it. Come, I’ll pour you a cup of tea. We’ll come back when they’re ready, when he’s ready again.
I don’t understand! He was a billionaire! And how he’s reduced to this! This ... circus sideshow!
I want it off! I want it to stop! Pull the plug!
— There are no plugs, Evie; come, come.
Pull the plug! Pull the plug!
I admit, I am surprised to find you alive.
— Ha. I’m surprised myself. It has been ... I am not convinced you’re real.
No, I understand. I do.
— Are you real?
Yes, I believe myself to be.
— What was your name?
It was ... I was ... Benson. I was Bruce Benson.
— I was Michelson.
Michelson. Of course.
— They haven’t come back for us, Bruce Benson.
No, Michelson. Not yet.
— Not yet.
We were at M.I.T.
— M ...
We were at M.I.T. And it was spring!
— I ...
My God. Spring.
— I remember.
Oh, Benson, do you? Gentle rain, blossom breezes?
WE GONNA DO this?
— Hang on. Don’t rush me.
Dude! Now or never!
— Fuck you! Let’s wait for the wind.
— Dude, you don’t have the wind!
— Jesus. Jesus.
Dude! Wooooooooo! Ha ha!
— Holy shit!
Yeeeeee-haaa! Dude! Jump! You gotta feel this! Yaa-hooo!
— I’m waiting ... northwest, three knots. ... Just wait.
What are you fuckin’ waiting for? Spread ‘em! Yaaaa-hoooo!
— OK, OK, OK.
There you go! You got it, man! Ha ha!
OK, now pull up!
— I’m ... I’m trying!
Dude! Pull up! Pull the fuck up!
Jeremy, oh no! Pull up! Pull up!
JUMBO BUILDER SET
Creative and Educational
The classic SNYDERTOY construction set
The construction toy that’s been a favorite for generations!
This SNYDERTOY set features easy-fitting, durable, real CeraMock and PolyPour pieces to create all kids of great designs! Build a ghostwriter or family man using the enclosed design guide or use your imagination to make lots of new and different creations!
Combine this set with other Snydertoy sets to create even larger structures!
Not suitable for children under five years because of radiation hazard.
“I built a circus!”
“I built a dinosaur!”
“I built a whole daddy!”
BENSON, I WANTED to apologize.
I don’t know whether you can hear me.
There was something I wanted to say.
All those years ago, when we arrived...
Benson, can you hear me?
Benson, don’t go. Don’t go.
I’ll be all alone, Benson. With these monsters. The last man.
Ten thousand bites. A hundred thousand stings. Vomit and hallucination and monsters. My headaches; my arm. Don’t make me the last man, Benson.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I never had your... Don’t go.
Oh God! You don’t exist yet! You’ve not been invented yet! Don’t take Benson! Don’t leave me here alone!
YOUR HEART SOUNDS fine.
— It does? I don’t feel a beat.
I just listened to it. Do you want to borrow my stethoscope?
— Yes. [...] I don’t hear anything.
Well, I can assure you it’s beating. Seventy BPM.
You don’t “feel” it, you said?
— Right. Hear or feel.
Well, your ear canals are clear, but there could be something happening with the middle ear, or maybe the nerves... What do you mean, you’re not feeling a heartbeat?
— Like in my chest. Or, like, a pulse.
— Plus... Is this normal? [Lifts examining table]
Uh, no. That’s unusual. Be careful.
Dr. Godin said he wanted to rush me into Baystate for tests, but I said no: I had the kids coming over, and it’s a tough week generally. I promised to schedule something.
I Googled it: a Hausmann Maximum Value Exam Table with Side Drawers [4423-HAUS] weighs 349 pounds. It might as well have been a Styrofoam box. I felt I could have raised it over my head, but it was a small room and I didn’t want to bump the walls or ceiling.
Says here the mighty 4423-HAUS has a 350 pound weight capacity. That’s its limit.
TENDER IS THE shopper’s urge. You have to want it. Did you not know this?
— Forcibly, yes.
OK then. You have what you need.
— I thought I needed that; maybe to hear it.
You’ve heard it twice. Go for it.
— I should, I should.
This is the sensible art, the provincial turn. Does that make sense?
— Halfway, sometimes. To me, anyway. Yes.
A strong yes?
— No, but neither a weak yes. A lemon turn. I get it.
— “When drier, like in summer, you have to go where the lesson takes you. You have to eat well.”
WE CAMPED THERE sometimes, where the markers end, and thereabouts 10 miles in.
— Was it rich?
It had water. It had leaves. There were spines. Tents. We camped, as I said.
— This was when?
In the times when camping was. I was young then, so I don’t remember much. There were dogs. I hunted. We hunted.
— Tell me all about the dogs.
Whiskers and tails, boy! Teeth and toes. They were dogs.
— OK, OK, I like dogs too.
Do you? Do you know what dogs know?
— Hey, now. Don’t get sore. I was asking. This is for the news.
I’D LIKE A moment of your time.
— I'll be with you in just a moment.
This will just take a moment. I just need —
— I'm sorry, sir; I'm with somebody.
I understand. Pardon me. I just have one quick question.
(That's all right, he can go ahead.)
(Are you sure, hon?)
(You don’t have to. It’s your turn.)
(I don’t mind.)
(You're an angel. Stay right there.)
I can go now?
— Yes, the lady is letting you in line ahead of her.
(Oh, thank you.)
(That's all right.)
(This won't take long.)
ENTER ALL THAT into the system.
— I did.
No, you entered those facts, those figures, that range. You didn’t enter “all that” into the system.
— All that?
Yes. How you feel about those facts. Why those figures, and not others? Why this range, and not the distance from one peach to another?
— I have to enter all that?
It would help. You’d get a stronger poem.
— I have no way of knowing the distance from undefined peaches to undefined peaches. That’s ridiculous.
No, you approximate. This isn’t about peaches. This is how you feel about things: everything.
WOULD YOU TELL me if you loved somebody else? Somebody other than me?
— Would I tell you... Why? What kind of a question is that?
I’d like to know.
— Are you asking me if I’m in love with ... I can’t even complete the sentence. I love you. I love only you.
I know. I know you love me. But would you tell me if you ever found yourself with strong feelings for another?
— It’s a crazy question. It would never come up.
But would you? Tell me, I mean.
— I refuse to entertain this. Please, let’s drop it.
SO YOU'RE ME.
— Yes. Sort of. I'm from a "sideways" world, relative to you. Another dimension. An alternate history. I'm you, but only a potential you, one that didn't become you. We have different memories, different histories, and different destinies. My world is the same as yours in certain respects — we share a language, evidently, and we must have the same parents, at least genetically — but for all intents and purposes we are entirely separate, unique beings. My people’s scientists figured out a way to breach the dimensional barrier. So I’m you, but not you.
Yeah, like I said.
IS THIS HIM?
Is he doing it?
— Yes; please be quiet.
Can he hear me?
— We don’t think so.
So why do I have to be quiet?
— It just ... we believe it would help.
But he can’t hear me.
— No, I realize that. He’s not supposed to be able to. He just prefers we keep very quiet out here while he’s concentrating, while he’s working.
Uh huh. Maybe what he needs is a little noise: he’d come up with them faster.
— That’s not how it works.
How do you know unless you try?
— Please, Mr. President.
THEY WANT TO see what you can do.
— I don’t ... I don’t wanna.
Henry, maybe they can help. They came all this way.
Henry, look at me... Look at me... I’m not going to let anything bad happen. I’m not. I promise you. No matter what you show them this afternoon, no matter how scary it feels, I am right here with you. I am not letting anyone take you away. I promise.
Yeah. And what do we call a promise?
— “A promise is a promise.”
That’s right. That’s right, Henry. My big boy. I’m so proud of you.
IT’S A NEW kind of sound. We call it Property Aleph.
— A new kind of sound? I don’t understand.
It’s like this: you’re familiar with the tesseract?
You must have seen this as a child: Dr. Sagan explaining the tesseract.
— Sagan? What? I am familiar with it.
If we imagine we’re Flatlanders: we live in a world of length and width, but absolutely no depth, no up and down...
— I tell you I entirely grasp that concept. Please, do go on: Property Aleph?
It runs along the same lines of logic. We can’t hear it. But we hear its shadow.
POOR MIKE, HE rapped his thumb with the hammer again.
— Is that what that was? We were startled. We thought it was a maniac. I said, “Irving, get the police!”
That was Mike. He was hanging a picture.
— He has the worst luck with tools.
I know it. He was always like that. I’ve given up. He promised me a deck for our anniversary; he wants to build it himself.
— Oh, don’t let him!
I know! I told him, “Mike, you’re not handy. Pay a carpenter! I’ll love it just as much as if it came from you...” No sale.
I’M AN OLD MAN, and my time is at end, so I want to write this down and have it out of me. I don’t see the harm in having it known.
At 10 a.m., March 11, 1974 I flipped a switch in a secret laboratory in New Mexico, intending to send my best friend, Dr. Leonard Petts, one millisecond into the past, and two meters to his right.
I spent the rest of my career teaching undergraduate physics at Princeton, and obsessed with the “event” at Tunguska, 7:14 a.m., June 30, 1908.
His eyes, as he left: Terror.
THEY RETIRED THE last of the Virgin Universals today, making room for Phasic. It’s the end of an era, and a bookend for my life. I was born a week before the first of the Universals, The Pepsi Armstrong, took flight on her maiden voyage: an out-and-back of all of two AU.
Now, with the Daytona 500 Tereshkova en route to the Guangzhou Air and Space Museum, I behold my hundred years as though they were a moment: I creak, yes. I groan, yes. But I burned, goddammit. I was a pilot, and a father, and a boy.
HE’S DOING IT wrong.
— I know. It’s ... you hate to see that.
Is there something we can do?
— No, you know; he’s on his own down there.
He’s so close. That’s the thing.
— I know. He just doesn’t see it.
He’s not —
— He’s just not looking at it. I mean, it’s right in front of him.
You hate to see this.
— He’s what, 44?
— Tick tock. ... Oh, I feel bad. I shouldn’t joke.
We gotta do something. Look at him.
— We can’t. We can’t. There’re billions of them. We start here —
— You know?
Yeah. Fuck it. Let’s get lunch.
YOU TAKE THIS end, and run it across to West End Avenue. Someone there will run it the rest of the way, through Riverside Park and into the Hudson. We still need a permit to anchor it there, but we think we’ll have it by the time you arrive.
— West End? Where the hell’s that?
Easy. Straight shot. You’re going from here, from the FDR — you gotta hop this — right along 97th. There’s good pizza at Madison. Then keep hauling ‘til you get to West End. Look for Jeff. He’ll take it from there.
— This is insane.
Yeah? The ad said “travel.”
YOUR JOB IS to stand here and wave frantically, and try to get people to give a shit. These are all the people who’ve said they want to create something with you, and these are their phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
— They supplied this information?
Yep! They all like the idea.
— So why am I flailing? What’s that about?
I don’t understand.
— Well, wouldn’t these people just want to help? Like, follow through on their interest and build the thing they said they want to build?
You’re overthinking it.
— I am?
Yeah. You just wave like an ass.
OK, SO THIS is the book. You can use my office. I can only give you a half hour, and then I need the book back, and you can try again.
— A half hour? That’s not enough time. I need more time.
Well, we give a half hour. It’s enough time if you don’t get bogged down in every detail. My advice is to skim. Speed-read. Look for key words, and get the gist.
— You don’t understand. I botched it. I need to know where I went wrong.
It’s not as bad as all that, John. Half an hour.
Dis da place?
He don’t look so tough.
Dis really da guy?
OK. Well, dat’s dat den.
How come dat’s all you ever say?
“Yeah, no, yeah, I dunno.” You never say nothin’ inneresting.
— I dunno.
You did it again, with the “I dunno.”
— Yeah. You’re right.
I am right.
What is dat?
— It’s the way I got raised.
What was you, raised by a parakeet?
— Yeah, right.
Not a parakeet. Duh udduh one.
— Duh udduh what?
Da boid. That talks back to ya.
— Let’s go.
WHAT IF I could tell you, Mr. Snyder, that you could live to be 100 years old, and have all the candy and toys you could ever want along the way?
And what if I could ALSO tell you, sir, that by signing your name on this nice piece of paper, right here — you know how to sign your name, don’t you?
— Yes. I can print it. Plus I learned the S in cursive, and all the others too. I’m good at the S, but —
Fantastic! Ha ha! Fantastic, Mr. Snyder. Neatness doesn’t count, ha ha. Just sign here.
SAN JOHN IS a town and municipality in the Antarctic province of Coats Land. The town is located 12,992 km from the capital of the province, Furr. Population is around 25,000. The village was founded in 1959 by Carmichael Scruggs, but attacks by indigenous people destroyed it. The present village was founded in 2002 by John Snyder.
The area is known for ice sculpture, which generates moderate revenue to the economy due to polite interest from Antarctic and foreign tourists. The town has a paperback library of approximately one thousand titles.
The mean temperature year round is 1°C.
The Tip Jar