There is a tradition of saying goodbye to the old year like a guest who has long overstayed their welcome. Hit the bricks Old Year, we’re sick of your nonsense! Come on in New Year, you HAVE TO BE BETTER! WooHoo! While that is absurd, one tick of the clock doesn’t erase the sins of the past, it feels as though all those previous ‘to hell with this past year’ this has been a dress rehearsal for where we are now. In the interest of being candid with you and myself, thingsmight be even worse this go around. Let’s hope not. Happy New Year!
Rather than dwell on the horror show that 2021 was, I’m going to tell you about a highlight. My friend Angela invited me to see Neal Brennan’s new show, Unacceptable. While that was an excellent show with equally delightful company, the highlight I refer to came as we walked to the show.
About one hundred feet from the front of the Cherry Lane Theater, we passed two gentlemen talking. One of them looked familiar to me. I turned back and asked one of them, “Excuse me, are you, Adam Savage?”
“Why yes I am,” he replied.
For those who are unfamiliar with Adam Savage, he is a special effect designer, one of the hosts of MythBusters, currently the host of Tested, and an unofficial ambassador of the maker community. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, he is as kind, funny, and gracious as you would hope he would be.
For ten or fifteen minutes, he spoke to Angela and me about making and other subjects. She showed him pictures of the table she made to his delight and they discussed techniques of building. As I said, just as you hoped he’d be.
While I had seen him speak at New York Comic-Con many times, and would do so again the next day as it had arrived, I had never been able to ask him a question as the line for that filled up rapidly, though there was one I very much want to ask. Here was my chance, no lines required.
“Is writing making?” I asked.
“Yes!,” he replied, “Anything you put out into the world, any act of creativity is making!”
It was of course, what I wanted to hear. While I knew, in my heart of hearts that was true before I asked it, hearing it aloud, it became an affirmation. Words were my materials and my laptop was a workroom. I am a maker.
We all went into the theater, Adam sat a few rows in front of us and saw a superb hour of comedy and self-reflection by Neal Brennan. All in all, an outstanding evening.
I would also to thank my constant readers whose existence gives me that extra push to continue. You are all gorgeous, amazing geniuses with exquisite taste. I wish that everyone could be like you. Really, I need more readers.
Let’s go into this year with optimism, despite everything that has happened. Perhaps cautious optimism. Also, remember that if you appreciate something that has been done or made, let people that are responsible know. External validation shouldn’t matter but it does. A lot.
Happy Guarded New Year to all!
For those who think the above tale fictional, here is photographic proof. I should’ve smiled but I still was stunned by this chance encounter.
Today is Star Trek Day, honoring the anniversary of the first time it was broadcast, fifty-five years ago. This is a short story I wrote that is, let’s call it Star Trek adjacent. I’m a big fan and this is my way of paying tribute. With the serial numbers filed off.
Live Long and Prosper and… Engage!
Ensign Edward Park’s Personal Log-StarDate 8720.73
I have been tasked with transporting Atlas, favorite pet of Captain Buhle of the U.S.S. Centurion. While some of my shipmates have dismissed this is as a dull errand, I see this as an avenue into the Captain’s good graces. I’ve wanted to serve on the Centurion since I was a child and read about their exploits.
I don’t see this as brown-nosing, (Lieutenant J.G. Pillington I’m looking at you!) but rather as an opportunity to show Captain Buhle that I’m a responsible officer with much to offer. She apparently dotes on Atlas so this can only help my career.
Hard to believe that no one else volunteered for this.
End of Log.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate 8721.11
Have arrived at the Altairian outpost and taken possession of Atlas. The name must be ironic as the case he came in was very small. Some sort of miniature dog? Atlas is sleeping now so I can’t really tell. The Lieutenant who passed him along to me advised me to not fly too fast in such a small craft. Apparently, it would upset up Atlas, which he said was dangerous.
I’m supposed to rendezvous with the Centurion tomorrow so I have plenty of time to make it. Atlas, you are in the safest of hands.
This is easier than I could’ve imagined.
End of Log.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate 8721.56
This is bad, very bad. I’m currently fleeing from a Gorgorian Rapid Raider. There’s supposed to be a cease-fire after the conference at Mantok-Prime. I hailed them to remind them of that fact but frankly, they were more interested in mocking me and firing upon the shuttle than in any real diplomatic solution.
Shields are holding but since they gave me a shuttle with no weapons, I will have to outfly them. Why don’t our shuttles have weapons? Right now it feels like they should.
End of Log.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate 8721.89
We escaped! I suppose that’s obvious since I’m here to record this log, but it’s kind of a miracle. The Gorgorian Rapid Raider had hammered us, alarms were blaring to tell me the shields were about to fail, and then Atlas began to whine. Honestly, I couldn’t tell right away, as he was harmonizing with the alarms.
Then suddenly, he stopped. Then the Gorgorian Rapid Raider exploded. We, and by we I mean the shuttle, started spinning out of control. Fortunately, I am a fully trained star pilot and had no trouble steadying the flight path. Eventually.
Sensors indicated that the Gorgorian Rapid Raider suffered a massive quantum engine failure. Maybe the Gorgorian Rapid Raider passed through a micro singularity. Those Gorgorian Rapid Raider need to hire some more qualified engineers.
Am I saying Gorgorian Rapid Raider too much? No. An Ensign’s logs need to be thorough and accurate. I mean, a Gorgorian Rapid Raider is a formidable foe.
That ought to be worth a commendation. Fingers crossed.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate 8722.24
Well, the engines are damaged and I had to drop to sub-light speeds. This is very inconvenient. If I can’t repair the problem I won’t make my rendezvous with the Centurion. I’m reluctant to send out a distress signal as it might attract more attention from the Gorgorians.
Also, it would reflect poorly on my abilities as an officer and damage my chances of getting assigned to the Centurion. That, I refuse to let happen. Time to roll up my sleeves and get working.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate 8722.73
Well, that took longer than I anticipated. I ran half a dozen level one diagnostics, realigned the crystalline shunt, and hand cleaned thirty-seven isotronic chips and the damned thing still didn’t turn over. It wasn’t till I re-polarized the power coupling that it worked again.
At least now I can get back on schedule. Apologies to Atlas but I am NOT going to be late.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate Unknown
A good officer has to be ready for the unexpected. That’s what they taught us at the academy. It’s the first thing they say on the first day. Be ready for the unexpected. It’s a fine sentiment. Except how in holy hell can you be ready for the unexpected? That’s crazy! CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, I screamed and feel a little better. Not a lot, but I’ll take what I can get.
We were flying at top hyper factor, at least as fast as this shuttle can go, when Atlas started to howl. Except it wasn’t a howl, exactly. More like a keening wail. I tried to get him to stop. I sang him a lullaby, then tried talking to him in soothing tones, telling him that we were on our way to his mommy, and finally, I shouted at him to just shut up!
I’m not sure why I thought this creature would understand the Galactic Standard tongue, because it did not. The sound it made got higher and higher pitched until there was a burst of bright light and then I passed out. I dare anyone, ANYONE to not pass out in these circumstances.
Upon awakening, I found the familiar sight of rushing stars outside my forward viewport replaced with a swirling sea of colors and fractals. The navigation computer has thus far failed to locate where we are. But it gets worse.
Atlas is missing.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate Still Unknown but later
Having searched this tiny shuttle fore to aft, I have found no sign of Atlas. I’m not sure what is worse, being trapped in an unknown region of space or losing Captain Buhle’s beloved pet. If I can’t find a way home, I’ll never know. That’s not better. Probably worse.
Time to start scanning and see what I can find out about where I ended up.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate Who The Hell Knows
So the sensors were no help. Outside the shuttle is what the computer calls a “Pocket, pan-dimensional matrix of unquantifiable energy readings.” Thanks. For. Nothing. In other words, you have no idea. Also, no sign of Atlas. Ugh.
At least the nutritional dispenser is still working but all it can produce is a chicken sandwich and coffee. Some good news, that’s a perfect lunch.
I’m going to see if I can find a way out of this “Pocket, pan-dimensional matrix of unquantifiable energy readings.”
I mean, how big can it be?
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate Who Goddamn Cares At This Point?
So, a pocket dimension can be pretty damn big. I’ve been flying for what the computer tells me is one week, three days, seventeen hours, and forty minutes. I have no choice but to believe it.
Why would a computer lie?
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate No Idea
My Chicken sandwich was a little dry today. That should be impossible, given it is made from a static formula. But I swear it tasted like it had been sitting out on a counter for a bit too long. Strange.
On an unrelated note, my beard is coming in nicely.
Personal Log Supplemental-StarDate Infinity Plus One
While time seems to stand still, I have not aged, for some reason, my hair and fingernails have continued to grow. Does this make any logical sense? Nope, not at all.
While I have perfected my braiding skills, I fear that this is some sort of personal hell. There are no Rigellian monkey bears with my father’s voice, forcing me to sing in public. Still, it feels pretty personal.
While I sleep, the sounds of Atlas echo through my mind. I try to find him but I find myself stuck in a pool of butterscotch. Let’s be clear, in my dreams. I would kill for some butterscotch right now. Anything except for damned chicken sandwiches and coffee.
All scans have yielded no life sign reading. I’ve lost the Captain’s pet and I can say, with a high degree of certainty, I’ve had lost my mind as well. Log entries that back that up have been deleted. No one needs to read all those quantum limericks. Honestly, not my best work.
In retrospect, I should’ve sent out a distress signal. That’s on me.
Also, whatever Atlas is, I hope he’s lost in his own personal hell. I’ve no idea what that is, but I wish with all my heart he’s there.
So, since I have nothing to look forward to, except more of this endless nothing, I have chosen to employ the self-destruct protocol. If anyone finds these logs, please think kindly of me.
Wait. If I self-destruct, no one will ever read this. So suck a singularity Atlas. You are the worst.
Captain Buhle’s personal Log StarDate 8722.67
I am relieved to find the shuttle transporting Atlas intact. He is alive and in good spirits! I was worried about him traveling on a shuttle, it disagrees with him so, but it seems to have worked out.
Unfortunately, Ensign Edward Park has suffered some traumatic side effects from his trip. It will take a few days for him to get his synaptic responses in sync with normal reality. Doc says with some rest, he’ll be right as rain.
The engineering team has told me that the shuttle gave off pan-dimensional radiation but that that was well below any danger levels. In another piece of bad news, all logs were corrupted by the radiation.
When Ensign Park recovers, he can file a report about the incident. He must be a remarkable young officer to have made it through in one piece and keep Atlas safe. I have already requested his transfer to the Centurion, which the Admiralty approved immediately.
And on a personal note, it seems Atlas has taken quite a shine to young Mr. Park, when I visited sickbay, the little fella got quite excited. If I can trust anyone to look after Atlas, it is Ensign Park.
My environment as a child never lacked any of the basic needs. We had lean times, but I slept in a bed at night. I was sheltered from weather. At 14, I ran away and learned a little about what it means to be homeless — but only a little. I was more uncomfortable than I had ever been in my life, but help was everywhere. After a week, I returned home.
Twenty or so years later, I learned about homelessness again…