Entries in yellow (2)

Tuesday
Sep162014

The Earth is not Afraid

By chance I have slipped into a curious job with a company on the bleeding edge of technology. For now that job takes me to the edges of society: elite research establishments, game shows, special forces in training and now this. We trundle across a rough road deep in the nameless High Plains, passing rows of huge derelict warehouses cut with overgrown railway tracks. They soon give way to bunkers. Mile upon mile of bunkers made of re-enforced concrete, covered over with the rough earth and then forgotten. Some are full of air and spiders, but some are filled with sick and brutal things that someone, once, thought was a good idea. Our mission is to delve into these secret places and do the tiniest part to rid the world of the abominations that lurk there, in those shadows.

I have seen a few of these places now. They are secure. No wandering hunter comes here. No itinerant tree-feller. No one will eat the meat of this land or burn its wood, even if they could. But nature takes advantage of the quiet and slips its gentle fingers over these lands. In an hour we saw two bobcat kittens at play, a badger, a village of prairie dogs, an eagle, jackrabbits and a kangaroo rat. All tame as can be. There are human predators here, but they hunt other humans, not rabbits.

We move along. The front range of the Rockies glows in the distance and the late sun lights their snowcaps and distinctive grain in fine detail. The last of the High Plains roll up to them, dipping away and shimmering. The plains are a mile high, the air is dry as ash. The foreground burgeons with blue-green sagegrass edged in liquid yellow. sun. The Earth covering the bunkers has been reclaimed by the slow but nail-hard bushes. Tumbleweed rolls up their slopes and softens the yellow concrete. From the rear, against the distant mountains, under the ice blue afternoon sky, a herd of tiny gazelle mount the bunker, clustering like soldiers raising a flag, conquering this most highly guarded of human lands.

No. The Earth is not afraid of humans. No artefact of man can touch it. All our bombs combined might bruise it for a while, but the worst of our weapons would simply drive the evolution that would sweep our works aside. No, the Earth is immortal and we humans, we are not.

Monday
Nov052012

Trapped in an Album Cover

Dessicated in mind and body by long flights I wake at 4.00am.  In my underlit hotel room in one of those endless urban spaces between Californian cities, I pace away an hour.  At the first hint of dawn I walk to the end of the corridor and look out of the window there, to find that I have woken up in the cover art of Hotel California. The morning light has a dusty haze, but one flushed with acid yellow, both sharpening and blowing out the edges of the leaves of the fray-leaved palm trees lifting their arms like some dust-washed street-corner messiah exorcising chemical angels on a hope-parched, car-washed intersection. Right by the window, where the dust cannot catch the light before it reaches me, the matt lime leaves of the old pine tree are washed with the colour of maple syrup. A little further still a maple in all its autumn majesty splashes red against the walls of the corrugated canyons like the uncleaned residue of a drive-by shooting. The muscular light seems to pause in every layer of distance, as though the entire view is filled with slightly unclean panes of glass. In the distance the sunlight lies like dried brown sugar on the tops of the small folds of the hills, but leaves the furrows dark, making the bald landscape look like the neck-folds of one of those good old boys leaning out of the windows of their trucks. Strange trees mark the skyline like straight-line cracks in a scarred perspex sky. Leafless citizens of the electro-magnetic forest, irrigating and eroding the long dead watercourses with data. I look, wondering why the scene seems strangely desolate. There are no people here. Every living soul, encapsulated in a metal box, from the tiniest cars, to the grandest malls like termite hills, is hiding from what remains of nature here, and well they might. The light remains but the legend of California sits cross legged in the malls with a cardboard sign around its neck, begging for cash.