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Month: August, 2014

In Search of Elves

This has been a big day for me in a lot of ways.  First, it’s the 30th Anniversary of the disappearance of a good friend of mine from my childhood.  He was a big influence in my life and I’ve been mourning his disappearance all morning.  The anniversary is a big reminder to me that life is too short – for us mortal humans at least – and I have to make the most of mine.

Another big piece of news came to me a couple of hours ago.  My good friend Paradox has been secretly prepping to shoot a feature length documentary.  He has his bags packed and he leaves for his first destination later this week.  He’s been keeping up with my current life journey and he thought now would be the perfect time for me to spread my wings and fly.  He has asked me to join him on his quest to unlock the secret lives of the Elves.  

He has asked me to keep the specifics of our journey under wraps.  He believes that if we say too much it might tip off the wrong people.  I am lucky he has permitted me to say as much as I have.

Because of confidentiality I won’t be able to give you a play by play account of what we are doing, for that I apologize.  I can say that we are bound for destinations around the world.  We will be gone for at least four months and probably longer.  I’m going to be very busy in that time but maybe I’ll be able to toss in the occasional post as an update as to how I’m doing?  I’m not sure yet.

For all of you who have followed my blog I’d like to thank you.  I also want you to know that I will be back and I’m sure I’ll have a lot to report.  Wish us good luck.

– Bear Hunter

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A Lost Friend

Tomorrow will mark the 30th Anniversary of the disappearance of a close childhood friend of mine.  He vanished one night never to be seen again.  I knew him since the age of five, he was my best friend.  When I felt all alone he was there to comfort me.  When I felt like there was no one who would listen he was there to lend an ear.

I remember the last time I saw him.  He was afraid and I didn’t know why.  I have thought about him from time to time over the years, he was never far from my heart.  I’ve seen him in my dreams alive and smiling.

My life is changing drastically and his memory has a lot to do with that.  He vanished out into the unknown and I shall follow.  The mystery behind his disappearance isn’t the only mystery that haunts me.  I need answers.

To my long lost friend, I hope to see you once more.  I believe that you are still out there.  Till next we meet.

– Bear Hunter

Christmas Intruder: Part 2.

When I left off a 5-year-old Space Case had snuck out of his room on Christmas Eve to grab a glass of water from the kitchen.  When he entered the hallway between his bedroom and the kitchen he was struck by a mysterious wall of thick air.  For an instance the boy felt as if time had stopped.  He stumbled into the kitchen as the air thinned out.

Space Case stood still, body tight against the stove which supported his weight.  He turned his head slightly as he heard the thuds of boots cross the length of the living room at the other end of the hall.  He wondered if it could be his father, still drunk and stumbling around lost in search of the bathroom… then he heard the cough.  Deep and raspy, nothing like his father’s surprisingly girlish squeak of a cough.

Scared, Space Case continued to hug the stove.  He couldn’t understand why he hadn’t heard anything outside of the living room, the house was as silent as a cemetery.  He heard the cough followed by a deep clearing of the throat and a whispered “fucking mucous.”

The voice resonated through Space Case’s small body.  All he could remember, while standing alone in that cold dark kitchen, was his father’s protocols.  With all of his might, SC forced himself away from the stove and began a brisk tiptoe back in the direction of his room.  He needed to reach his sister; once he found her the both of them would climb through the window and make their way to the muster station.  There they would meet up with the rest of the family.

Luckily, the path from the kitchen to his bedroom didn’t cross in front of the living room.  SC snuck into his room, cautious not to shut the door completely lest it make a noise and tip off the intruder.

Once inside Space Case rushed over to the side of Sally’s bed.  He carefully folded back Sally’s blanket and sheets.  He gave her a gentle nudge, she didn’t move.  He gave her another nudge and nothing.  SC ran over to his bed and reached underneath it.  He came out from under the bed with a flashlight grasped tight in his little hand.  He rushed over to his sister’s bedside and flashed the light in her face, it didn’t wake her.  All he could do was stare at the blank expression on her face.  She was still, her face was still, her chest was still; Sally wasn’t breathing.  In a panic SC attempted what little CPR he could remember.  He was five, how was he supposed to remember how to resuscitate someone?

Space Case tried to breath into his sister’s mouth but the air merely blew out in every direction but the one he intended; it was as if there was a force of bubble in her throat preventing air from entering.  SC shined the flashlight into her mouth and peered down her throat, there was no visible obstruction.  All SC could do was to stare at his lifeless sister as tears ran down his face.  There was no protocol for this, he had no idea what to do.  He could hear objects being moved around in the living room and all he could think to do was weep.

The only idea that came into Space Case’s mind was to run to his parents.  In order to reach their room he would have to walk straight past the living room.  His mind was in a panic, he broke into a mad dash out of his room and into the hall.  His legs took on a life of their own… as did the carpet.  His right foot hit a wrinkle in the carpet and his feet became snagged.  With the full momentum of his body behind him SC dove into the floor face first.  He slammed into the floor at full force and was launched into a roll.  Space Case lay flat on the floor in pain but was too terrified to let out of single whimper.

Space Case kept his eye shut tight.  He could hear boot steps drawing closer.  They stopped and Space Case braced himself… nothing happened.  The sting of tears forced his eyes open.  The first thing he saw where the outlines of thick leather boots a mere foot away from his head.  The lamps in the living room were turned on bathing the stranger in a halo of faint light.  Space Case slowly looked up the length of the man.

The stranger was tall and had broad shoulders.  He wore a long red cloak and a red hat atop his head.  A long greyish white beard hung down to his mid-chest.  A long straight scar ran vertical across the weathered skin of his cheek.  The man looked down at SC with an unblinking stare.  SC had a hard time remembering what he saw in the man’s eyes.  He can’t be sure but he believes it was confusion.

The aging man began to learn forward as he bent down.  His face drew closer to Space Case’s, his eyes narrowing into a squint.

The young boy let out a scream that made his throat burn.  He pushed off the floor with all limbs and ran in the direction of his parent’s room.  He slammed against the door but recovered quickly.  SC yanked the door open and ran into his parent’s room.  As he swung the door shut SC caught a glimpse of the man staring at him without emotion.  Space Case locked the door and ran over to his parent’s bed.

He ripped the blankets and sheets away from the bed as he screamed out to his parents.  He scream and he begged but neither of his parents would wake.  He knew the man was still out in the hall, he could hear him coughing.  He ran to the bedroom wall and flipped on the lights.  Like Sally, her parents laid stiff; neither of them let out a single breath of air.  A cough from outside the room caused SC to leap away from the wall.  He ran over to the closet and threw himself inside.  He closed the door, threw his parent’s clothing down on top of himself, and closed his eyes tight.

Space Case lost track of time as he laid there alone shivering.  He does remember that strange thick air filling up the closet and being unable the breath.  The rest of the night was a blur.  The next thing Space Case remembers was the blinding light of the sun when the closet door was opened the next day.  His mother stood above him looking down in shock.  His father was still in bed and was snoring away.  SC described the events of the previous night to his mother.  She tried to convince SC that he was only having a night terror, that everyone was alright and that it was Christmas.

Space Case would have believed his mother had it not been for the look of shock that returned to her face the moment they walked into the living room.  Under their small tree was a massive pile of presents.  Space Case can’t remember what items laid beneath his tree because the moment his mother laid eyes on that pile she pulled him out of the room and ran to wake his father.  By noon the living room had been cleared of all items not purchased by his parents.  He never did get to see what was in those packages or learn what his father had done with them.

That night remained a mystery to Space Case up until a few years ago.  Before the passing of his father Space Case would visit him at the nursing home.  His father was not well physically and the sharpness of his mind would come and go.  During one visit, when his father was reasonable lucid, SC decided to ask him about that strange Christmas and what had happened to those presents.  The simple mention of those presents caused his father’s skin to lose it’s colour.  His father remembered that day like it was yesterday.

There had been no sign of a break and enter when the Captain had entered the living room that Christmas morning.  The police found no fingerprints.  The Captain – who was very hungover –  had panicked before the police had arrived.  In his disoriented state of mind he had loaded the presents into his wheel barrel and wheeled them out into the nearby bush.  He dumped them into a fire-pit and lit a match.  The presents caught fire quickly.  All would have been well if not for the piercing wail that shot forth from the flames.  Cries of agony.  The Captain turned towards the fire and saw a small form attempting to climb free from the rubble as it let out a horrible screeching wail.  The Captain didn’t hang around to see what it was.

Shaking in his seat the Captain told his soon the tale.  Till this day, Space Case often thinks about that Christmas and wonders what was in those packages.  He is one man who has never stopped believing in Santa Claus, only he isn’t sure if the reality matches the myth.  What was in those packages?  I would like to know that exact same thing myself.

– Bear Hunter

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Christmas Intruder: Part One.

The tragic events at the end of my trip to Korea and the heavy workload that met me on my return have kept me really busy.  Luckily, my contract is up in a week and 99% of my work is complete.  Construction on the bridge has been scheduled for six months down the line.  They wanted to extend my contract to help oversee the construction but I declined.  Let another engineer take on the stress, I’m done.  After a lot of soul searching I’ve decided I’m destined for greater things.  That’s all I wish to talk about that.

The stress of everything that has been going on has taken it’s toll on me.  Last night I contacted a friend of mine by phone and just sat back and listened to his stories.  He’s also a member of the community and he likes to go under the alias Space Case.

Like Paradox, Space Case has lived an interesting life.  Like me, he’s experienced events in his past that he can’t explain and that has lead him on a path few dare fellow.

His stories kept me both distracted and intrigued.  One amongst the rest hit a nerve.  I can’t fully express why.  It had to do with his childhood, a Christmas like none other.  Space Case was five-years-old.  He grew up in a lower-middle-class family.  He had three sisters and he was the youngest child.  His family lived in a small house in a port town not too far from the town’s ship yards.  With three girls and a young boy, Space Case’s parents were particularly protective.  SC was trained in the arts of caution and avoidance.  His father would hold drills three times a week on emergency procedures with strict protocols, all four children were tested.  SC’s father was a Captain on a fishing vessel and he only felt secure taking leave with the knowledge that his family could take care of themselves under any circumstance.

The 5-year-old Space Case prided himself on his diligence.

Christmas that year was as somber as most.  SC’s family did the best they could to endure the holidays.  SC’s mother did the best she could to spread cheer throughout the household.  She was deafly afraid that her children would suffer from envy towards more fortunate children if she didn’t give them reason to be grateful.  What she didn’t realize was that her kids found her faked enthusiasm to be exhausting, all but SC, he enjoyed any cheer he could get ahold of.

The reason for the gloom had to do with their small town’s poor yield of fish over the last couple of years.  Even a ship’s Captain could barely pull in enough of a share to see his family through.

That Christmas Eve SC’s mother read her children a condensed version of “The Christmas Carol” while his father indulged in enough egg nog to cause him to pass out in his seat.  Maybe a story about redemption and spirits on a cold and dark winter night wasn’t the best choice but the cheery ending was enough to create a feeling of comfort and wonder in the kids.

Once his mother had completed the story she sent the kids off to their respected rooms.  Space Case returned to the bedroom he shared with his 7-year-old sister Sally.  Sally tucked her little brother in, kissed him on the forehead and jumped into bed herself.  They could hear their mother in the other room struggling to help their father back onto his feet and drag him off into bed.  SC figured it would have been a real buzz-kill for the kids to run down the stairs in the morning only to see their father passed out on the floor with a thick coat of drool plastered on his face.  He was grateful that his mother spared them that much.

The young SC couldn’t sleep a wink.  He laid up in bed, he imagined all of the amazing toys he would wake up to.  Deep down he knew it was nothing more than hopeful thinking, a fantasy.  He didn’t care, if he couldn’t dream what could he do?

Hours passed and nothing happened, no jingling bells or reindeer hoofs.  He imagined that Santa would appear to the music of his own unique sound track.  He looked over at his sister and her breath was shallow but peaceful.  Bored and wired all at once, Space Case decided to head down the hall to the kitchen for a drink of water.

The hall was dark so SC had to navigate the length of the hall by running his hand along the wall.  All he could see was a faint gleam of moonlight reflected off of the smooth surface of the stove.  As the kitchen drew closer SC began to feel a slight tingling sensation in his feet.  The sensation began to travel up his small body.  He breathed in deep as the air around him began to grow thicker.  SC described his walk through the thick air as “a space walk through a wall of jello.”  SC held his breath as he fought his way through the strange haze in the dark hall.  The air returned to normal as quickly as it had first changed.

He nearly tripped over his feet as he slid across the kitchen floor as his slippered feet hit the smooth tile.  He reached out for the stove which brought his slide to an end.  SC’s breathing was rapid, he had no idea what had just happened.  He tip-toed over to the wall to flip on the kitchen light.  Before he could light up the kitchen he heard a noise, like boots grinding against stone.  Space Case froze…

I’ll return to the story when I have the chance.

5

 

 

 

 

Short Circuit

I arrived home from Korea on Monday. I was originally meant to stay an extra week while the trials continued. I wrote my last post the night after the last successful trial, the day my mind was connected to the drone. Having my consciousness transferred into the drone was a life altering experience. I thought I was witnessing an event that would change the course of history. I’m still having difficulty processing what I discovered the next morning.

Last Friday the 25th of July, 2014 was a long day. All of the crew as well as myself got to test drive the Drone “Son of Road Block” which had been modelled after the combatant “Road Block” from the 90s tv show “Robot Wars”. All systems were a go. I even accidentally discovered a mechanism that allows the driver to operate SORB’s rear saw. I just had to put some “gas” into it, lol. I know, I shouldn’t joke.

That night the entire crew went out to celebrate over drinks. The project’s founder – he still wants to be referred to as Victor – stayed behind to further calibrate the saw. We tried to convince him to take a break but the man’s mind was fixed.

We all settled down at Kwang-Sun’s house for a night cap of Cheongju – a rice wine – and conversation. Most of the conversation revolved around the trials and which super models they would like to pose beside the drone in magazine publications. Even in Korea, men are men. Even with the stories and the laughs I couldn’t settle myself. Maybe it was the excitement of the trials or maybe it was this strange and eerie feeling that had been building up inside of me ever since that first night I had sat down to dinner with Victor for the first time. That conversation about Frankenstein, it shook me up in ways I didn’t understand at the time.

My dreams where full of robots and beautiful women… at first. A faint memory of being trapped inside the body of a rampaging battle drone and feeling the void in his confused programming still sits with me.

I couldn’t sleep very long so I called up Kwang-Sun and offered to come in early and help him set up shop. He was more than appreciative. The lab is located in an old run-down industrial district. None of the crew fancy arriving early or closing up late.

I arrived at the lab at 6am, I had to bribe the cab driver with a fat tip to convince him to drop me off right at the gate.  I knew the area was run down – I had spent days at the lab already – but I hadn’t seen anything suspicious in that time.

I met Kwang-Sun at the front door.  He laughed and commented on my dishevelled appearance believing that I couldn’t hold my alcohol and that I was hung over.  I laughed it off and I didn’t bother mentioning the dream.

Inside, everything looked as it did the night before.  Kwang-Sun entered each room systematically as he activated all of the systems.  My mind was still fixed on the day before.  I yearned to “ride again”.  Impatient, I decided to visit “The Bridge”.  The moment I entered my heart nearly stopped.  Hooked up – how I don’t know – to the throne was Victor.  He had somehow managed to fasten himself into the machine.  His body was as still as the dead.  An expression of terror was frozen onto his face, his eyes wide open.  My first thought was, “The poor man must have had a heart attack.”

I stood there unable to speak as Kwang-Sun entered the room.  The expression on his face was of instant urgency.  Kwang-Sun is a mechanic and “The Bridge” falls outside of his expertise, still he knew the emergency procedures.  He punched in some commands on a nearby console and the restraints on the throne loosened.  We both stood by as the computers went through their procedures and a green light went off above the helmet on Victor’s head.  What I had believed was a corpse blinked at us.  I assisted Kwang-Sun remove Victor from the machine and we carried him to a couch in a nearby office.

In a couple of hours Victor finally came to.  By then all of the crew were present.  It took a while for Victor to regain his composure.  He told us all what had happened.  I will attempt to re-tell his story as best I can.

When we had left, Victor had gone about the exact thing he had mentioned, he began to re-callibrate SORB’s saw.  It only took him an hour to adjust the algorithms.  Once the programming was complete Victor sat at the console for a few minutes just staring at the screen.  As time passed his hunger to test the saw grew.  He wanted to feel the blade spin, to feel the steel screech as it chipped and hacked away at wood.  Victor knew how many men it took to monitor the drone’s systems but he didn’t care, he was riding an enormous high.  He wanted the experience and he wanted it then and there.  Like an addict he took the plunge without a second thought.

Victor set all of the systems in “The Bridge” on timers and went to work.  He sat down on the throne and lowered the helmet down onto his own head – out of procedural order.  With helmet on head, Victor sat still as he waited for the timer to finish its countdown.  When the timer hit zero the restraints automatically fastened locking Victor to the throne.  He closed his eyes and started to breath in deep.

In mere moments his mind was once again inside of SORB.  He could feel the engine revving up inside his very being.    He drove around the lot at top speed relishing in the rush, adrenaline transformed into electricity.  SORB came to a stop as Victor concentrated on his rectal muscles.  He felt something… a release of sorts… a tickle.  It was the saw, it was spinning.  Victory!

The lot was fairly empty.  In his haste Victor hadn’t consider what exactly he would test the saw on.  SORB has no arms or legs and can’t open the gate either.  All SORB is equip with is a lift and the saw… the saw.  Victor had an idea, he would cut a hole in the fence and set off on his search for test objects.

He backed up to the fence and he went to work.  Victor prides himself on choice of materials and equipment and the saw didn’t disappoint.  It slid through the fence like a hot knife through butter.  He compared the sensation of the saw cutting to his experiences of riding on a farm tractor.  I’ve never ridden a tractor so I’m taking his word for it.

Once he cut through the fence he used the lift to bend it back and drove on through.  He sped through neighbouring lots like a demon of speed.  He did donuts, he jumped pallets and he flipped over random barrels with SORB’s lift.  By the sound of it, he was out of control and loving every minute of it.

The moment came when he finally found what he was looking for, something to cut down.  He spotted a tall pine tree growing in an overgrown field not too far from an abandoned factory lot.  Cutting down random trees is never a good idea but Victor was drunk with robotic power.  He raced  backwards at full speed towards the large plant.  His saw made contact and wooden splitters filled the air like snowflakes in winter.  The SORB saw thrashed through the wood with ease.  Once the saw had cut all the way through Victor could feel the resistance on the blade melt away.  Since the saw was in the rear – no cameras back there – he couldn’t see his handy work nor could he see what was crashing down on top of him.  The trunk of the pine crashed down on the SORB’s body.  What Victor didn’t anticipate was the pain that accompanied it.

Victor attempted to hoist the tree off of himself with the lift but the weight was too much.  He couldn’t get the blade to work either.  He attempted to call out the abort safe word but SORB’s audio system had been damaged and it only came out as an inaudible garble.  His mind was trapped in a machine that was trapped under a tree and he couldn’t escape.

A couple hours had passed and Victor had long given up on the abort command.  All he could do was stare out at the dark emptiness of the lot.  Without warning something caught Victor’s eye or lens.  A lone man in a black windbreaker was jogging across the lot.  Victor called out with an incomprehensible mumble in a hope to get some aid from the stranger.  The stranger froze.  A moment passed and the man looked around the perimeter in a panic.  Victor continued to call out.  He blinked SORB’s headlight causing the man to jump.  The man turned towards Victor confused.  He took a deep breath and slowly began to approach the drone.  He knelt down in front of Victor.  Victor let out another loud garble.  The man in the windbreaker put his finger in front of his lips and shushed the little bot with Victor’s mind inside of it.

Victor could only stare at the man.  He was covered in sweat and was breathing heavily.  A deep voice echoed through the lot causing the man to jump behind the tree trunk.  More voices answered.  Victor couldn’t yet see the sources of the voices.  They all spoke in Korean.  Victor later told me that they were members of a local gang and the man they were searching for had been a deserter.  The man they were searching for was the man in the black wind breaker.

It didn’t take long for the men – a half dozen of them – to enter into Victor’s line of sight.  A flashlight glinted in the drone’s lens which caught the attention of the men.  Dressed in leather jackets with hoods the men rushed in Victor’s direction, he couldn’t see their faces in the dark and he was afraid to use his headlight, for all he knew his headlight had attracted them from a distance in the first place.  One of the men spotted the windbreaker stranger crouching behind the trees and yanked him to his feet.  The man in the windbreaker pleaded for his life but to no avail.

Windbreaker Man was thrown to the ground right in front of Victor’s line of sight.  An argument broke out followed by many swift kicks to Windbreaker Man’s stomach and ribs.  They continued to assault the defenceless man as he pleaded desperately for his life.  Victor sat their paralyzed and helpless as the man was bloodied to a pulp.  In a desperate attempt to scare off the gang Victor let out a piercing garble.  All the men became startled minus one.  This one tall man pulled a knife from out of his jacket pocket and thrust it downward into Windbreaker Man’s throat.  The leader then instructed his men to remove the tree from atop the drone.

Once the tree was lifted, half of the men lifted the corpse of Windbreaker Man and the other half lifted the immobilized SORB.  They walked them a great distance before tossing both in the back of a black van.  Victor has no idea how long they drove for, all he knew is that he was wedged in a dark trunk with a dead man and he was too afraid to turn on his headlights.

When they finally stopped the men were quick to open the trunk and reach in.  Once again, half the men grabbed the drone and the other the corpse.  At first Victor managed to see a dark and empty road.  As the men switched direction Victor could now see a stone wall approach.  As the wall drew closer  he suddenly realized that there was no land on the other side.  They were carrying him to the side of a stone bridge.  The men lifted him up high and all he could see was the sky.  In moments the sky was replaced by murky water.

Victor felt fortunate that the drone’s sensors couldn’t detect the cold.  The bottom of the river felt peaceful to him and he figured he would never have to see any of those men again including Windbreaker Man.  That thought didn’t last long as the water around Victor began to waver.  A large lump crashed into the water and sank down to the bottom right in front of Victor’s camera.  It was Windbreaker Man’s body.  His dead eyes stared right into the lens.  Victor was unable to look away or close his eyes.  The two remained locked in eye contact for hours, until Kwang-Sun and I managed to disconnect Victor from the machine.

The tale I was told that morning after sent shivers up my spine.  In fiction or on the news it all sounds so exciting but when you are so close to it… it’s surreal.  Kwang-Sun asked Victor if we should report the missing drone, Victor told him to leave it be.

The next couple of days were rough.  Victor stayed clear of the lab.  On the Saturday I sat down with Victor one last time and I asked him what his next step was.  He told me that he was done trying to play God – I didn’t see his intentions as such – and that he now knows how it feels like to be completely helpless.  For half an evening, he had been unable to move while inside the damaged drone.  He had no arms, no legs, and the fucking saw wouldn’t turn back on.  He now had an appreciation for what paraplegics live through every day.  He thinks now is the time for him to venture into the world of prosthetics, to get away from vanity projects and help people who are in need.  Pretty amazing change in one’s life purpose for sure.

I am now back home.  The experience has affected me in ways both positive and negative.  I have seen how different the world can appear through a different perspective and how one’s direction in life can change on a dime.  I have a lot to think about.  I might take a break from blogging for a while while I clear my head.

– Bear Hunter

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