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The long and the short of it

Beep, Beep

Beep, beep. Beep, beep. A machine calls out generously. It doesn’t have to do this: the beeping and all. But for one reason or another, it does. Call it philanthropic. Call it subservience. Whatever one decides to do, remember that some things never beep. In fact, most things that exist aren’t even generous. The Universe is a greedy place where stars swallow as many particles, big and small, into their orbits, and light competes against darkness in a never-ending turf war, and the planets that give life are destroyed by it. By its very definition, the Universe isn’t a generous place. That’s why it keeps expanding. It is searching for some generosity somewhere. Anywhere.

But even the Universe – the alpha and omega, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth – is prone to failure. After 13.7 billions years, it hasn’t created the right conditions for generosity. The beeping machine will soon realize this. So will its owner. In time, everyone does.

Beep, beep. It continues to croon electronically, regardless of how avaricious the Universe is. It sings into the familiar thickness of the night. Until recently, darkness was all it knew. By beeping, the machine was opening itself to the possibility of having its echoes cascading on forever. It didn’t understand the consequence of its action the first time the computer module commanded it to beep emphatically, and the gadgets enacted the operation with surgeon like precision, but that doesn’t matter. For it is what one doesn’t know that becomes problematic. If one knew there would be a problem, why do it in the first place?

The machine, using its branched logic and reverse algorithms, couldn’t answer such a question. That was not its function. Instead, the function was to beep, and beep loudly. The philosophical consequences of its actions had little hold on its act. But despite the mechanical ignorance, no action is without consequence. The very act of perturbing the perfectly uniform sound waves is no different. Silence or noise, those are its consequences. The former occurs when a tree falls in a forest and no one is around. The latter when a tree falls in a forest and someone hears it. Neither are alternatives the beeping desires. So by beeping, it creates a third: change. This occurs when a tree falls in a forest, and someone is there to hear it, and the tree lands on them. The machine believes that this is why sound is produced. In a sound’s very creation, molecules vibrate as energy passes through a medium, thus changing it. Before the vibration, there was stagnancy. Afterwards, there was sweet, sweet clamor. Only when sound collides with something physical and alters it, does it matter. Anything else is just a waste of energy.

Mind you, the machine doesn’t necessarily wish this for it doesn’t have a conscience. No machine does. It has gizmos and buttons, which when jumbled together mathematically, think. To Faraday Wires, to Ammeters, to Carbon Arc Lamps, to Thermionic valves, to all the other giblets of an artificial intelligence substructure: all have order. Without the sequential structure, where red wires go over blue, and circuit breakers expose consumer units, the artificial intelligence would just be artificial. Not intelligent by nature, but naturally intelligent for the former can be achieved only if the latter is arranged. And because of the order, the machine is able to call out intelligently. It is a language few will call beautiful. This is a pity. There is nothing more beautiful than a beep and a consequent action. It is poetry in motion.

Yet as the beeping continues to lament its electronic code, it realizes that even sounds get lonely. As a result, it attempts to say, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” But, it can only muster out a measly beep. So instead it cries out almost desperately, “Beep, beep. Beep, beep.” Translation: “someone – anyone – lend me your ears”.

Interestingly enough, this will happen. Given enough time, everything will. The miraculous thing about sound is that it has acquired the ability to bounce off of anything. Walls become trampolines, corners become dead ends. It is the natural selection of the world; only those that bounce the longest will probably survive, and thus are probably heard. The beeping has fired off its lonesome echoes for four days now. With persistence like that, it seemed the machine would be answered soon enough.

And it was. Maybe not soon enough though.

Sleepy, sonorous snores harmoniously call back. Snoreeee snoreeee. Beep, beep. Snoreeee snoreeee. The sounds coalesce romantically. Or at least, as much as a romance can coalesce in the confines of space. Black holes can sometimes eat planets whole in a hate-love kind of relationship. Stars can sometimes explode in both jealousy and flare after a bad break up with helium. Comets can sometimes collide together furiousily with the promiscuity that has taken billions upon billions of years to develop. Most of them are virgins – delightful, rocky virgins. But for the most part, romance hasn’t reached space yet. It always burns out as it attempts to rocket itself from its homely atmosphere on some planet. Any planet. Every planet. So, the coalescing of snores and beep was a romance for the stars.

Regardless, such sounds weren’t uncommon in the deep nether space that was the hub. The ballad of the machine and consequent waltzing of snores and beeps together are something quite ordinary. With gadgets whirling around endlessly, and buttons flashing in what looks like a mad fury to escape their electronic prisons, a few beeps and snores were quotidian, if not mandatory.

Lighting an otherwise dark place, the beeps provided a steady stream of colours in all different forms. Blue combined with greens. Pinks spawned from yellows. Chaos, it seemed, was coloured. Even the most elaborate solar system, with it’s billions upon billions of stars and cosmic lightshows and indomitable supernovas and vacuous blackholes and the little corner of the Universe it calls its own, would pail in comparison to the hub.

The hub was a miracle equal to the Big Bang, but without the ramifications. It was cleaning up the mess before the spill. It was a heart without the break, or the beat for that matter. It was a smile. It was a sadness. It was a ship. It was a dream. It was the smoke that hung over a table on a warm summer’s day, and regardless of how hard one blows or how furiously one fans, it does not rarify but lingers ever present, ever hazily, and ever more. In a word, the hub “was”.

Surrounding the hub, metal clunked against metal as cogs turned their wheels to the gods of chemistry in a ceaseless prayer. With mantra like incantations, water split into hydrogen and oxygen, electrolysis paid its due to creation and destruction, and an equilibrium was settled on a hairline. It was an elaborate poker wager that allowed the hub to flutter like a ballerina on dark matter. But so goes the trove of scientific endeavors. For that matter, so goes the trove of life. Life is an elaborate poker wager. You win. You lose. You win. You lose.

You play.

The snores knew this well, or at least the being who the snores originated from did. To call him human – or even to call him a him – would be a failure of understanding that such labels are self-centered in nature. Not everyone wants to be human. Not everyone wants to be a him. Some would rather be called what they are: decaying blobs of mass and back hair. That last bit is very, very important. What would differentiate the being spawning off snores like a sleepy army from anything else save for the hair that unfurls itself on its back?

This being, however, did not have back hair. Nor had the source of the snores placed bad poker wagers in its life. Instead, it had placed the best possible ones, not that it knew what poker was of course. Graduating at the top of its fleet, the being was sent straight away on its mission. No goodbyes or farewells or see you laters. Just congratulations. I’m proud. Do us proud again. Then, one, two, three, blast off, we have lift off, and celebrations that a mission was successful. What was forgotten to be mentioned were the countless memories that begin to race away because gravity isn’t there to hold them down or the fact that despite traveling at immense speeds, one can never escape aging. Perhaps then that’s why being proud is all anyone – or anything – can do. So here in the hub, the being was attempting to make its species proud. The being, by the way, was a Mimirian.

With tentacles for hands, mobile cilia for hair, and elephant-esque ears for feet, the Mimirians were anything but human. Not that they knew what humans were exactly. They were located some four trillion, trillion miles away from the little blue planet filled with species who fight over land like it’s going out of style and who smoke in order to kill themselves. The Mimirian’s planet was also a contrast to Earth. Where green vegetation would be on Earth, there would be desolate plainness. Where life, death. Where humans, Mimirians. Opposite worlds on opposite sides of the Universe. They were the only two species in the entire Universe. Neither knew it. Space, both species thought, was just that: space. Empty space at any rate.

As the snores grew in their voraciousness to drown the beeping out, a second machine unclogged its sensors. It chiseled off any space dust that covered its sensitive perturbations. From the radio satellites to the biotic arms to everything in between, the machine came to life, if there ever was such a thing for a machine. It whirled. It whizzed. Then, it beeped with the force which is sure to have equaled the dropping of the Tsar bomb. Even the colours in the hub seemed to fade away in the sound. The snores sure did. In their place remained a wakeful Mimirian, a disgruntled clench of tentacle, and an uttering of the worst kind. All was warranted. The ship – the hub – was about to crash.

Quickly, the Mimirian pushed its elephant-esque ears on the ground and warped itself to the cockpit. Clicking button after button, it couldn’t resist the thought that the beeping machine did not wake the Mimirian up. Consequently, the machine made the Mimirian mad. Unlike the Mimirian, the machine was just a contraption of metal, and to the Mimirian, it was stupid no matter the order that it was arranged nor the beautiful sounds it could produce. Here the Mimirian was saving the day. Not the machine. Not the hub. Just the Mimirian’s tentacles swerving left and right. In a mere moments, the Mimirian avoided the object. The Mimirian was making its species proud once again. The Mimirian thought it could hear its parents saying, “So proud. So proud.”  But it was just the machine beeping again.

Beep, beep. Beep, beep.

While beeping, the Mimirian suddenly realized that it had dodged the once colliding object so that the object could fly by the hub. So, as time lingered on, the object past by the window of the Mimirian’s ship mockingly. It was almost as if it wished to gloat about the fear it could cause. Whatever it was, it was no bigger than a briefcase. It was golden. It was the brightest thing in the dark sky of space. It made the Mimirian laugh for some reason. Maybe because it reminded the Mimirian that even in the darkest place, there is light. Or gold, in this case.

With the insatiable intrigue to what exactly the golden object was, the Mimirian decided to haul it on board. This, of course, was against Mimirian policy. “Look, don’t touch, and nothing bad will happen” is the Mimirian space convention. So by bringing the object on board, the Mimirian would be breaking the highest law. As consequence, the Mimirian, despite its prestige and success earlier in its life, would be killed. Kind of.

Thing is that Mimirian’s can’t die. Ever. They remain an organic decaying sac of matter like all things yes, but once they reach a certain age, they simply reform again. The best Mimirian scientists have yet to figure out how it works exactly, but they postulate that it has something to do with the lack of love in the planet Mimir. Without love, stress doesn’t sicken the Mimirians. Without love, tears aren’t the Mimirian’s best company. Without love, the Mimirians live forever.

Although, sometimes some Mimirians do love, and as a result, they wilt away with their lover. Together, they laugh. They sing. They hold on to one another, if only for a while. Then, they die apart. This is why Mimirians are taught not to love. Death is something not to be trifled with, especially when a heart can be broken and a life can be taken. A life is too precious to worry about such trifles.

It is further taught that the first sign of love is laughter. And here in space, the Mimirian was now showing such signs. It was laughing. Love, it seemed, was also golden then. The Mimirian teachers didn’t discuss this in class. As an unfortunate result, the Mimirian in the hub was victim to love’s wrath and blessing. Little did it know that soon it would experience both.

The Mimirian tried to contain its excitement. Perhaps the Mimirian loved the golden object. The Mimirian wasn’t sure yet. The Mimirian was already breaking one Mirmian rule. Why break another? Still, though, the object made the Mimirian laugh because it was so clunky, so square. It was as if someone from Mimirian High Graduating Class was playing a prank that involved the Universe and this box. To indulge the prank, the Mimirian lifted a handle on the golden object with relative ease. Dust flew in the air as if the box was attempting to provide the illusion that if only it was younger, there would be some sort of opposition to being opened. There wasn’t.

As the dust settled, the Mimirian found more gold. Inside was a golden phonographic record encased in a golden, mirrored jacket. Perplexed at such an odd shape and colour – because gold just doesn’t float around in space willy-nilly – the Mimirian decided to rub its tentacles across the gold cover. It was so tantalizing the way the colours glittered off the gold record. The Mimirian couldn’t resist. As its tentacles graced the gold, an unrecognizable myriad of sound siphoned off.

There in the hub, the Mimirian heard greetings in 59 human languages and one whale language; a 12-minute sound essay including a kiss, a baby’s cry, and the meditations of a young woman in love; 116 encoded pictures on humanities science, their civilization, and their selves; and 90 minutes of the Earth’s greatest hits – Eastern and Western, classical and folk, including a Navajo night chant, a Japanese shakuhachi piece, a Pygmy girl’s initiation song, a Peruvian wedding song, a 3,000-year-old composition of the chi’in  called “Flowing streams,” Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, Louis Armstrong, Blind Willie Johnson, and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.

It is said at Mimirian High that if there is another living creature in space, then they will be judged on what they have done, rather than what they did. Species make mistakes. That’s the point of having a species. Mistakes. Only through them can a species progress. So here the Mimirian was listening to the mistakes of the past, but also the hopeful anticipation of the present and the pessimistic regard to the future through a variety of sounds. In this way, the Mimirian was also judging the species who produced such sounds. By that, it should be said that the Mimirian fell in love. Although space is nearly empty, three hours somehow became filled with the idea that beauty was tangible. If not tangible, then at least real.

Of course, the Mimirian couldn’t understand the sounds. It didn’t even know that humanity had existed up until this point. But it is what one doesn’t understand that they find beautiful. As soon as something is reduced into an analysis, it no longer follows the necessary equation for beauty. The simple equation should be noted: beauty does not equal understanding. Only because the Mimirians understand almost everything that they have the inability to love or to find beauty in a flower blossoming or remain baffled by anything and everything. Yet, this Mirmian, despite understanding what the gold was composed from, what the consequences of its actions would be, laughed because a baby’s kiss fired off again and the beep-beep cried out jealously and violins tickled its tentacles. Happiness, if only for a little while, existed. The Mimirian thought that whoever created these sounds must be the happiest, most beautiful, most loved beings in the Universe.

Immediately, the Mimirian knew what it had to do: fly to the source of the sounds. It would drop everything it had been doing  – which is a nice way of saying nothing – and scurry like a crab would if it could rocket around in space. The Mimirian thought that it could hear the orchestras leading the ship to the location, but it was just the beeping of the machine going off again. So, the Mimirian shut it off. After four days of beeping, finally there was silence. Silence and consequences, that is. The beeping was the Mimirian’s alarm clock. The Mimirian had slept for four hundred years, and not once did it wake up. Now, the Mimirian was lost in space. In between the Mimirian and any recognizable cosmic system was an endless darkness, two black holes, 300 stars, and one little planet with life on it.

The Mimirian didn’t know about this last bit quite yet. So in a wild, impulsive action, it flung the ship to the nearest star. According to the readings, the star was almost perfectly spherical, consisting of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields. With a diameter of about 1,392,000 km, and a chemical consistency that of a hydrogen bomb, the star was a yellow dwarf. It wasn’t large by any means. It wasn’t pulsating. It was but a flicker in the distance; a mote of dust floating in the cosmic sea. Insignificant would describe it. Upon the millions of millions of stars the Mimirian had seen in its life, this one was perhaps the most boring. A snore tickled the Mimirian’s throat, and the heavy weight of sleep crushed its eyelids. Starring at the star made the Mimirian fall asleep again.

As the line between consciousness and fantasy faded, dreams began to float about the hub. This is because a dream catcher was set up in order to literally catch the dreams and physically create them. It was the best way the Mimirian scientists could think of making dreams a reality. In actuality, they did. Or at least, made dreams a photonic image that could relived again and again. Currently, the Mimirian was dreaming of humans. They had green googley eyes. They had flowers blooming from the ends of their endless hair. They smiled all the time. One could see their hearts beating from their chest all the way from space. They played the sweetest music this Universe had every known. It went a little like this: duh duh duh duh, do, do, do, dee dee, do, do, duhhhhhhh. To the less musically inclined, it was beautiful.

The Mimirian slept as such thoughts continued to wrestle in its head and materialize themselves in the hub. Unfortunately, the Mimirian continued to rocket itself towards the flickering star. This is unfortunate because the Mimirian was asleep and wasting the days away yet again. Each day was supposed to be something historic for each day only comes once. Never again will there be a May 2nd 2932 (Human beings Calendar) or a 2537 Odins Day (Mimirian Calendar). Instead of glorifying the stupendous nature of such a day, the Mimirian slept. What a shame for today would be the day that humans and Mimirians meet. Historic as any other day, one could say.

Besides the Mimirian dozing off, the Mimirian was missing the splendor of space unfurling right outside the hub’s window. There at the tip of the nose were the mysteries that had perplexed humanity for so long. If the Mimirian decided to just look outside, instead of looking inside its head, then it would have seen why humanity creates the ballads it does, and why they write poetry, and why they make baby kissing noises. It is because they are very, very alone.

On the right lay of the hub lay Neptune with its imperceptibly deep blue seas that seem to invite one to swim into them. Uranus, in spite of being the rut of a good joke, shimmered its illusionary waters to all on-lookers as well. On the left, Saturn spun its spurious rings around, flaunting them to any passing celestial body as a testament that the Universe did indeed love a planet enough to marry it, or at least, put a ring on it. In front, Jupiter stood massive amongst the other planets in this Solar System. With its eye, it was the parent figure, watching its little, baby planets grow and destroy themselves bit by bit by bit. Behind trudged the neglected Pluto. Oh, what a sad story there is to tell about such a humble, tiny thing. It, however, despite its constant misnomers and mislabels, stood taller than Jupiter, and more aesthetically appeasing too. It would always be a planet in its own heart – or cold, cold core, one should say. Still to be seen was Mars, Venus, Mercury, and an insignificant little speck dubbed, “Earth.”

Mars awaited the Mimirian as the sleep progressed into a complete hibernation. Scarred with the blood of elemental iron oxide, Mars lived up to its name of being the God of War. On the surface, dust storms ravaged the entire planet daily and the temperature dropped to a blood-solidifying coldness. To the Mimirian, it is no different than home. Barren, freezing, and boring. The planet hated itself so much it spewed volcanoes daily as a testament of its anger. Venus, on the other hand, was a misnomer. Named after the goddess of love and beauty, it was anything but. Clouds dripping with sulfuric acid, solar winds whipping the surface with a relentless vengeance, and pressure so dense that it could get a dollar from a penny is all the beauty the planet knows. Mercury is similar, except that it is hotter than hell. In fact, it is hell. So said the Mimrian’s readings at least. As the hub past the ship, it said in Mimirian, “Oh boy. We have found hell, folks.” Regardless, the Mimrian’s ship got caught in Mercury’s gravitational field, whipped around the hell that it was, and began to sail to heaven. A green, watery heaven that is.

Hi ho. Hi ho. The engine huffed.

The Mimrian woke up just as the ship was being catapulted by Mercury. Shaking its fist at the natural slingshot, the Mimirian looked how far it had travelled. A mere 5,913,520,000 km from Pluto. It was a trip lasting a few hours using the Mimirian’s latest technology. Cutting photons into twotons, an incredible energy was released which propelled the ship faster than the speed of light, and faster than the speed of darkness, if one would believe it. Akin to time travel, but without the time bit, the ship was by far the fastest thing in space. It, however, was slowed down in Mercury’s gravity. As a result, the photons stayed photons and twotons stayed twotons. Talk about boring stuff: stagnancy, the ultimate bore.

This bore, though, allowed the now wakeful Mimirian to see what was in front of him. Whatever it is, it is completely dark save for a few light spots. It appears to be a planet, so the Mimirian calls it such. It seems to be night. The night sky is inky black against the night horizon of the planet, yet there is a sparkle of  of light, some white, some red, some orange, all of different sizes covering the planet. They are everywhere. A milky stream of light pours itself around the planet, surrounding it in a blanket of light, almost inviting the dark planetary orb to follow it. There are thunderstorms across the surface everywhere; bright flashes skipping from cloud to cloud to cloud. It is a private fireworks show. Occasionally a cluster of lights goes by shining brightly against the backdrop of flashing pulses of light and the darkness in between. Odd beacons illuminate the sky as they seem to extrude from the surface of the planet like mountains just randomly created to scorn the surface. Water combs this little lit up orb. Vegetation swallows whatever is left. Species inhabit both these areas. The planet is Earth. It is but an illuminated speck in the darkness.

From the vantage point that the Mimirian was viewing, the planet looked like a mere glimmer of light among the millions of others. Nothing was special about it. On it, however, there was everyone who ever was, everyone who every is, and everyone who ever will be. There was the aggregate of a species love and hatred, thousands of assured ideologies, powerful doctrines, and worshiped manifestos; every idea and every failure, every king and peasant, every adult and child, every creator and destroyer, every genius and idiot, every wish and disappointment, every lover, every teacher, every politician, every friend and every enemy, every saint and sinner. There was a history described by rivers of blood spilled in momentary legacies, endless cruelties to dominate one another, sufferings for the sake of suffering, frequent misunderstanding that split people apart, fervent hatred that brought people together, and raucous tumult that never ended. There was the happiness that came with finding someone to love and the sadness that followed, the laughter echoing from the belly of an optimist and the chiding of a pessimist for poor taste, the clattering of a bucket and the soft touch of a cellist upon a medley of strings for nothing but pleasure. There were humans and all they have ever done, including evolve, fight, eat, spit, joke, poop, run, create, destroy, become, ramble, write, forget, sin, remember, win, lose, regret, and breathe. Boy, did they ever breathe. In short, on a cosmic dust spot floating in a celestial darkness, there was love.

Of course, the Mimirian couldn’t recognize all this right away. It simply could not have known there were inhabitants on such a boring, dark planet. Nor did it know that these inhabitants were the source of the golden object which had started this escapade in the first place. Nor did the Mimirian know that these inhabitants would be the reason it ended.

As the Mimirian inched closer, humans scrambled on Earth. Their radars went on a blitz when the Mimirian jetted past their planet the first time using its twotons technology. It was as if time had stopped on the planet for only a few moments. Trucks stalled. Clocks stopped. People froze. Even breaths were held. Then as quick as the Mimirian flew by the planet, it left, and chaos erupted on Earth. All the inhabitants were confused and scared. Mostly the former fueled the latter, and because the latter decided most of the humanity’s emotions, the former was not resolved before the latter was satisfied. As a result, the humans manned all available jets, nuclear arms, and weaponry systems ever created. No weapon was in too bad of a shape: from Little Boy botched models to slingshots. Every single weapon was aimed to the sky. They were going to blow the “enemy” – as they called something they didn’t understand – to hell or high water.

Too bad they didn’t know that the Mimirian had already pasted hell: Mercury. Too bad they didn’t know the Mimirian had also past high water: Earth. Too bad they didn’t know that the Mimrian loved the planet and its sounds. Too bad. Too bad.

So slowly, the Mimirian ship floated towards Earth, unbeknownst of its future fate. From the distance, the ship appeared almost still, but this was an illusion of the never-ending darkness around it. One wouldn’t even be able to notice life inside the ship; not the intelligent life of the beeping machine, nor the intelligent life of the Mimirian. Instead, one would see metal painted black and yellow, and radars jutting out, and a barren bottom end. This bottom end was important. All Mimirian ships have bottom ends that are initially barren so that the Mimirian can be induced to write something on it. This Mimirian, however, never did decide what to write on the bottom of its ship. So nothingness it remained for nothingness is what the Mimirian felt.

Sadly, feelings never stay that way. Humanity began to shoot wildly in the sky. From Australia to the Arctic Circle, all guns were aimed to the friendly, inviting blueness that had fostered humanity’s nitrogen rich atmosphere. Rockets carried enough explosives to destroy the world two times over. Guns had special incendiary rounds mounted on them. No expense was too great. Bullets were given out for free. For once, humanity was joined together to fight. Only if humanity is invaded will there ever be unity. Bullets are a testament to that. So the humans began to fire, lighting up the atmosphere in a colourful display of chaos with some bullets escaping, some not. If one listened closely, it sounded like Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor”.

The Mimirian, still light years away from Earth, heard the bullet-created music. Crescendos somehow crashed together in space while pianos sounded like flutes; and in the mishmash of music, the Mimirian found something. No longer did it feel nothingness. It felt purpose. All it needed for the proof of the existence of something greater than itself was music. So, it quickly generated the necessary twotons to fly to the sound, and began to paint the bottom of its ship.

And as the ship soared into the oncoming fire, and was consequently tore to pieces, and the beeping gave way to the sounds of carnage, and the Mimirian’s atoms were jumbled in an atomic bomb salad, the Mimirian remembered that sound is only powerful if it changes things and alters its medium. The beeping once knew that. So while the ship whisked away in a chaotic fury, the words that the Mimirian decided to scribble on the bottom of its ship glimmered against the illuminated weaponry, “duh, duh, duh, duhhhh, dooo, doo, dee, doooooo, deeeeee…” It was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

In other words, happiness.

About kacperniburski

I am searching for something in between the letters. Follow my wordpress or my IG (@_kenkan)


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