“First Act”

By Gregory JM Kasunich

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We are of this thing-

This dirt and shit and sun and sin

Organic and manic / depressive and recessive genes and memes silicon beaches and perchance to dreams

We are of this place-

These measly stars and bars

Vine rotten fruit and silk suit sweet and tendered tender reaches accolades and Everglades and Escalades and pubescent promenades

We are of a mind-

Tank thinking neural mural nets defendants descendant from form and function over time Mask matte and matter spat and spittle brittle bone and burnt ember owned and owed another revolution and rhyme

We are of a kind-

Raw and unkind kindred kith and loyal swine bit lip and stick the landing farther time

Tell tale beats / receipts check the feed

We are but one funny wonder sparked and sputtered brutes and brine

We are of a grace-

Manic manicured pace

Obsolescence and reframe repeat back each echo chamber a chatted charted container a soul shaped hole in torn up space

We are of this stuff-

You and me and he and we and she and all of it all of it all the same carbon arranged and harangued hanged and banged into shapes shots sex and thoughts into lies and loss and and perfect present imperfect thoughts past and pending and sending all we got into the voice and void of some unbroken unknowing spot at the tip top tippity top of it all, all, all of it the same.

We are of this thing

A place and mind

We are grace and stuff

And all that but

We sure don’t act like it

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Oh, Telescope! We Sing Your Praise Eternal!

By Gregory JM Kasunich

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Once, in time, (but what does that really even mean anymore? Time, an antiquated and vestigial measurement, like calling the length of digitally captured images “footage”, or referring to a point of latitude and longitude as “here”. Now, only evocative of an understandable notion, but useless in defining practice or purpose…)

Anyway:

Once, in time, the virginal Earth was simultaneously a place of immeasurable beauty and relentless savagery.

The sphere of our world, that is the world of mankind, burped and farted and spat and oozed into existence all manner of flora and fauna and ravine and sound and mountain and eddy and swamp and sinkhole and on and on and on.

And among the rage and rattle of this barbaric symphony emerged Man, who made it its work to destroy all things natural and beautiful, including itself, and immediately set off burning and building and warring and procreating and littering and launching and digging and dumping and on and on and on. Before long the Earth had had enough of all this bullshit and, like a sub-dermal splinter, began to slowly push the diseased shard of humanity out from under its withering flesh.

And this is where we begin, at a time (apologies again for the use of the word) when Man had well worn out its welcome like a drunk and unruly guest, vomit covered and unapologetic, two hours past midnight, insisting on one more round of slurry, off-pitch, karaoke.

Now, it should be said that during its time on the planet, man had done some saving for retirement so to speak, knowing that one rainy day the piper would come a-knocking, calling in the tab and demanding interest for the reckless and ruinous behavior of the past centuries.

Small developments, breakthroughs, and discoveries gave the fledgling species a leg up on the old piper when the bill came due, and humanity once again got the drop on destiny.

Through language and math and ground glass and electricity man devised ways to look beyond its own front porch into the vastness of space. First rockets and satellites and those poor Russian dogs and American monkeys. Then came moon golf and Martian frisbee. Then the resorts of IO, swarmed with wealthily debutants beaming bikini pics back to those still tethered to the increasingly inhospitable home world.

But it wasn’t enough.

With each New World came new rules and new rulers, which inevitably, led to new revolts and new revolutions. One by one, each eden was reduced to rubble.

No one likes to talk about the lightless, empty, cement capillaries of the Martian Mega-Highways, cracked and caked with rusty red dust. No one hears the once roaring crepuscular din of insects anymore, now only half remembered in the silent twilight of Alpha Centauri. And so man, once again, began to get after the problem with science and cunning, unsatisfied with the dour simulacrum it had devised for itself here and there.

You see, life-spans at this point, were, intimidating, biblical in way, stretching out for a few hundred years thanks to advancements in antibiotics, probiotics, herbal supplements, elective surgeries, nutrition, and weaponry. Man is nothing if not preservationist, which, of course, was part of the problem. These long lives did provide the crucial benefit of perspective. Looking back, these patterns emerged and became obvious follies that needed to be remedied. But like the first law of thermodynamics which states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant and cannot be created or destroyed, so is that of mans hubris and ego. So, instead of humbling itself before the

limits of the physics and making good with the wounded universe, man instead set its sights on conquering one more frontier: Light.

The idea of mounting rungs of photons and climbing out beyond the oppression of time had been around since, well, a long, long while. The notion was ancient at this point, and had been explored by poets and pundits ad nauseam, but science was only ever so good, or so funded, as to make any real progress on that front. But, with all inhabitable land made uninhabitable, and its back against the proverbial ropes, Mankind, concussed and contused by a prize-fighter named Physics, sharpened its teeth and dug deep for one, final, nail- biting round with nature.

These things always have a funny way of working out. It was not on some new world, or colonized rock that the breakthrough happened. It was back home, if one could even call it that anymore, on Earth, many years after most had left, in the once-lush, now-parched and pock marked desert of Arecibo, part of the area once known as Puerto Rico (renamed Akróasi sometime in the late 50th century, most likely to be renamed again) that a shrill, antisocial and idiosyncratic man called Vihaan Zhao along with his small but dedicated team of physicists, had The Revelation.

The mechanics are too arcane and inscrutable for even those with an advanced proclivity for science to understand. If you want to know more about how the dang thing works check out “Elementary Quantum Electromagnetic Refracted Field Manipulation for Mass Transportation”. A dense tome of facts, figures, charts and graphs resting half-thumbed and mostly unread on the bookshelves of college students and semi-intellectuals alike. Sufficed to say, an apocryphal understanding of the science is enough to impress at any cocktail party. Digression aside, and lead sufficiently buried, the point here is that Light Travel had been, not so much invented, but happened upon and exploited for vast financial gain. Zhao and the 12 men and women of his team became the among the wealthiest individuals in history.

Once The Revelation was made, it all happened so quickly, or instantaneously, depending on your point-of-view. A few dogs and monkeys later and Man was off to the races, strapping on his spurs and slipping his boots into the stirrups of space-time. At first there was enough time to go around. Look, there were still millennia on either end of the spectrum to be explored, conquered and claimed. Sure, maybe your Alpha has got a steak in about a few hundred years here or their, but your Delta might find a nice place to set up shop four- thousand years before then. It is, in more ways than one, all very relative.

But as things go they go, and as history unspools, it does so upon itself, repeating back like a stack of funhouse mirrors, sliding over each other, distorting its surroundings into grotesque reflections of what once was and what is soon to be. Man found that things were beginning to get a bit crowded and so, when once it was soil and rock, it became time and space, into which the invisible lines of state, and country and territory and providence and principality and so on and so forth were etched.

What came next you surely already know. War.

Oh, how we like to fight. Given even the most expansive battleground and the longest, unending horizons, and days without beginning or end, we still fasten bayonet to muzzle and fling ourselves into the fray for god or gold or principle or pastime. This civil war, spanning across every era and all places was like almost every war that preceded it (and in fact became part of every war before and after itself) except for one horrible and perpetual difference brought on buy its essential nature, that is, this was a war without beginning or end, for ever and ever, amen. It was a war where each battle won left an army of ghosts to rise again from just moment before defeat and claim victory, only to be swarmed by those they had just conquered moments before. Soldiers did not only fight their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, but also themselves, spawned from any moment in time to return and reap revenge. And the sad truth, the fact that most of us don’t know ourselves at all, only made treaty negations that muchmore difficult. No time was free from the ravages, no place was untouched by anguish. It was always suffering. It was always triumph. It was always victory. It was always defeat. It was always then. It was always now.

 

News spread after Zhao and the 12 men and women of his team became among the wealthiest individuals in history to commit group suicide. They wanted out, and through their own immolation perhaps they thought they could send a message across the light to all those embattled souls, that they were wrong, or at least sorry, for their Promethean pride. They spat in the eye of the universe and suffered its wrath. They quickly, or instantaneously, depending on your point of view, discovered that the universe can be one fickle bitch. The rest of humanity had come to the same conclusion and they wanted out as well. One by one the outposts were dismantled. The lines that were drawn in blood, erased. The ships and boats and vessels smashed. The weapons rendered harmless. And since time carried the weight of humanity a voluntary purging took place. Every version of every man across every time and every place followed the example of Zhao and systematically offed themselves.

When the once great flame of humanity had dwindled to a small, flickering, ember the last remaining philosophers and clerics gathered in discourse and discussion to determine the fate of the species. They piled the sins and virtues of their kind upon the proverbial Roberval balance, and although the sins tipped the scales against the continuation of man, they decided that we deserved at least one more go of it. Humbled and humiliated, perhaps some good could come from one last spark flung out into the dark.

The decision had been made to elect two hormonal teenagers, one boy and one girl to return to that once savage and beautiful place. Earth, in the intervening centuries, devoid of humans to muck it up, has undergone a little bit of a rejuvenation, an environmental facelift, and was again the lush garden of life it was before the first ape straightened it spine to strike a flint or fling a spear. The last vessel was readied. The couple was stripped and cleaned and forced to consume a hefty dose of memory cleansing drugs before they were permitted to board the small craft. The course was set and the shot was fired, aimed right for the heart of their former and future home. The final men and woman of the past drew their final breaths as they stood watching the basket float away, through the reeds of the milky way, back to the fertile sphere from once they came, hoping, praying, wishing, they never ever have to see them again.

 

A Farewell to a Pub

Today I went to my favorite place, except it wasn’t any more. It was a foreign, fractured, failed state,
a facsimile rendered poor
by my unrelenting expectation
or anticipation to be something more.

A sanctuary, taps and trundled battered fare, trumpeting my ever-presence, thick and austere, and bars tendered tenderly draft deepened in frigid air.
But as captioned athletes glowered and glowed, an uneasy unfamiliarity began to grow, and roots (thought deep under soil) were just lacquered planks under toe.

And so, in my retreat I slinked a silent Irish goodbye, tipping change and cap to that familiar neon sign. This door I once warmed, I shall darken no more, for this once was my favorite place, except it wasn’t anymore.

A Short Trip 

by
Gregory JM Kasunich
______________________
I’ve never been to Papua, New Guinea
Don’t know if I’ll ever go
Figure, I’ll sleep on it as ambivalence metastasizes into despair
despair resolves into action
Not quite knowing where it is,
I:
pour over digital maps
prevaricate and price compare
sort reviews by star rating
select a hostel hovering at 3.2
I pack poorly, in artificial haste, for a conjured adventure
an attempt at Lachesism – hoping for the worst
The priceless porcelain of my edgeless days
pushed to the precipice,
praying a ponderous gawker sends it floorward
Over ocean now – soft shades of blue perdition
Sibylline in my seat, predicting disaster.
Maybe it’s just the recycled air, the cabin pressure,
the inability to know what I’m doing here.
We descend into heat and humidity,
fat drops of moisture impossibly suspended.
I’m greeted by a kiss– a never felt sip from a native mosquito,
(taking his fee from the tourists and travelers.)
The itch and bump materialize in the aging cab,
all fumes and friendly questions.
In the Genesis I take in a hard pull of the musty hotel air.
I don’t unpack, and fall into an uneasy slumber.
My malarial mind swims in untaken Atabrine dreams. A million minor tragedies play out and I awake—
Alone, in my studio apartment,
the keys of my computer keyboard have waffled my cheek.
I see the digital maps, the tabs of hotel reviews.
I begin my bleary shuffle to my bed.
My pre-occupied mind fails to see the
opened,
unpacked
suitcase
lurking on the floorboards.
A misstep.
The short slap and crackle of my skull on the tables edge, unheard by my neighbors. The warm bath of leaking blood.
I close my eyes and attempt to return to Papua New Guinea.
This was not the trip I had planned.

A Brief Vist to Mississippi

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Mississippi – my pen delights in inking the word

The repeating curls of the S’s

The staccato breaks of the I’s

The looping double back of the P’s

All evocative of the delta tributaries 

To speak it out loud – Mississippi

An almost buzzing/hissing onomatopoeia

the din of 100,000 mosquitos, 

blood lust in stagnant swamps 

Mississippi – a syrupy welcome to the South

a patina of hospitality painted upon 

the decaying bones of a prideful past

Confederate remnants stitched and fluttering

tattered but holding fast, flying 

above gas station fried chicken

above pugnacious okra

above the twang and thrum of a billion Blues lamentations 

above backyard celebrations 

above racial provocations 

Mississippi – my heart delights in thinking the word

The mysterious green sprawl 

The river’s rise and fall

I fear I really don’t know you at all. 

Awake The New Year

By Gregory JM Kasunich

_________________

In this breath restored

(drawn in and waiting)

floral and budding– sour in it’s newness

Will we awake with a start? 

A Jolt! 

Oh Joy!

An exaltation! 

Deploy! 

Revere stirred [and slumber stamped out]

Sharp and stretching into–

the trench?

the hill?

the perpetual argument?

the till? 

Will our exhalation be a bellicose cry upon an ashy wick,

re-lit and flickering against the bitter winds of the same?

Or will we drip languid from our downy warmth?

Languishing and tepid in torpor state? 

Stillness lacerating ventricles (breaking down the proteins)

A same sort of indifference, time defiled and fleeting. (easy come/easy go)

Stretching into the still lit sun

a yawn?

a thought?

a fight?

un-fought?

Comfort and joy (abound and surrounding)

In this breath restored- a demarkation hardly worth noting- 

A moment between then and now we rise, once again, and choose to face  the thing, any thing, new and again 

repeating forever for the first time. 

The Estimated Elastic Lifespan Expectancy Timeline: Also Known As “The Death Clock”

[Hypothetical Fables from Past Futures Pt. 4]

By Gregory JM Kasunich

_________________

 

In the Future every human being, man, woman and child, knows when they will die.

The technology had been a long time coming and, like most technology, evolved through a series of incremental innovations, becoming smaller, faster, and more socially accepted with every incarnation and update. Now, every new bouncing baby boy or girl is fitted with their very own, state-of-the-art, ineloquently named: Lifeline Predictive Bio-monitoring Unit. In most developed countries, this has become a legal requirement, similar to the public welfare and safety policies surrounding the legal implementation of seat belts, fluoridated water, and carbon monoxide detractors. The near ubiquitous nature of the unit is a result of law and common decency in an effort to reduce unhealthy lifestyles and suicides and increase lifespan and productivity.

The system consists of three parts: A thin film of silicon infused with flexible circuits grafted to the skin just behind the ear lobe that collects data points on UV radiation exposure, quality of sleep, stress levels, brain chemical ratios, and so on. A pellet, lodged next to the pancreas gathers information on enzyme releases, metabolic rates, internal organ function, and endless metrics related to diet and exercise. A wrist display attached to a powerful microcomputer processes the input from the sensors and comes with a customizable band that is available in several trendy colors and styles. Although the data can be sorted and filtered in any combination and rendered in beautiful, interactive, animated charts, most ignore the bulk of useful information collected on their bodies and instead focus on one, single, metric: the estimated elastic lifespan expectancy timeline, or as it has come to be known colloquially, “The Death Clock”.

Although the background computations handled by the processors are inscrutable, the concept of the Death Clock is seductively simple. Using the information on lifestyle and genetic makeup, barring unpredictable accidents and cellular anomalies, the computer calculates an estimated date and time of expiration. At first, this number was wildly inaccurate and was seen as little more than a digital bagatelle. Sundry complaints were lodged early on with users reporting that they had out outlived their clock by several years, while others, expecting a long and healthy life, where disappointed when met with an abrupt and unexpected stroke or heart attack or kindly failure. Then, of course, the requisite thought pieces appeared online with opinions on everything from privacy to reincarnation. Comedians mined the lack of precision for cheap amusement. A few people were inspired to finally take that vacation. Mostly, the clock was an afterthought, a half-baked beta feature tacked on to the ever trendy bio-monitoring gizmos that were becoming an increasingly common fashion accessory. Eventually, after years of user feedback, refinements, medical breakthroughs, and the formulation of an algorithm that in-andof-itself was a miracle of math and quantum computing, the clock went from a disregarded piece of cruft to an instrument that was so precise, so accurate, that it was able to zero in to a moment within minutes, sometimes seconds, of one’s demise.

There is one very important aspect to the Death Clock to understand. It does not simply spit out one, immutable, date and time of expected expiration. No, instead, the point of death is constantly shifting, adding and dropping days, years, minutes, and seconds like a capricious stock market ticker. In this way the Death Clock is more weathervane than timepiece. As changes occur to lifestyle and health, the clock adjusts to give the most accurate estimation as to when it is time to shuffle off this mortal coil. Perhaps a man turns forty and decides to resume that jogging routine, his time grows. Or perhaps a woman in Tacoma takes up smoking, the number pitches down sharply, slicing decades off the clock. An aging clerk in Munich quits that seething pool of cortisol and regret he calls a job, his number stretches over newly minted years. A pale teenage girl stands in the sun for too long, the number shrinks like a midday shadow. Every meal, every party, every sexual encounter, every vitamin, every sit up, snort of cocaine, meditation session, intramural sport, infection, illness and recovery all affect the clock. It is this mode of operation, this specific aspect of the functionality of the clock that has had an interesting effect on society. It turns out after a few generations of living and dying by the clock, people began to alter their lifestyle based on the clock and soon society divided up into a number of discernible groups with distinct and predictable traits. Sociologist have identified a few.

The Methuselites: The Methuselites approach the inevitable march into the sunset not as a foregone conclusion but rather as a challenge. Although they know that in the end Death will come to collect the debt all life owes from the moment of conception, they refuse to go quietly into that good night. Many Methuselites have a predilection for competition. They have an inane desire to achieve, to excel in the face of absurd, and seemingly unassailable odds. Within each Methuselite, there is a need to press up against the boundaries of the universe and leave an impression, proof of their existence. Several athletes become Methuselites, training their bodies to prevail in the face of the unrelenting, life-long, challenge of existence. Ex-Military, disciplined and driven, turn their attention to defeating the enemy of time. Wealthy iconoclasts, captains of industry, use their wealth to employ other to keep them floating above the unknowable depths of the great beyond, shielding them from any danger that might diminish their remaining time, the one commodity they cannot purchase or create. The Methuselites have lashed themselves to the prowl of time and have made outliving and outlasting all others their singular ambition in life. There even exists a record book containing the names of those who have lived the longest as well as a gold and emerald cup held by the most senior human of the lot. The unfortunate reality of living this way is that, most report, in the very final defeating moments, that it is not much fun. All the time spent staying alive, they had forgotten to truly live, to dance, to drink, to fall and rise again, to love others deeply, to sacrifice for a friend, to sleep in on a rain filled morning, to stay out way too late, to allow spontaneity and joy to seep into their tightly wound routines. They lingered the longest, filled with a sense of regret and victory as they watched others around them perish. But not them, not them, not them, until it was their turn, and then as they finally relent and take the first and last step across the great divide, they recognized the small glint of victory in the eyes of young Methuselites attending their bedside.

The Attenuates: The Death Clock has also been used as a barometer in ascertaining ones value in matters of vocation and heart. Applicants seeking a profession that requires specialized training are, legally, required to reveal the current readout of their clock during interviews. The justification being that a company cannot possibly be asked to invest time and money in a person who will not provide a decent return on investment. Those with a disappointing amount of time remaining are given simple, menial, jobs like scrubbing the perennially reappearing profanity laden graffito from the concrete facades of downtown high-rises or extremely dangerous jobs like installing seasonal decorations outside the top-floor balconies of said high rises. The Death Clock has also become an important instrument on the dating scene. One of the most attractive qualities in a mate is a huge set of digits on the readout display. That and of course wealth. Those lacking the longevity to see a relationship though to full term, but still desire love and physical intimacy, are relegated to certain clubs and online dating forums where causal hookups are permissible and generously available. So for those seeking to have it all, a decent job, a stable family, and a loving and committed partner, a significant amount of adolescence and formative years must be invested into building a good looking clock. Unfortunately, the strain and expectation of maintaining such an attractive timepiece causes many to become Attenuates later in life. The Attenuates numbers begin to decline once they have obtained the family, the job, and the life they wanted. They settle into a happy and fulfilling routine spending less time checking their clock and worrying about finding love or a decent job. They take pleasure in their frequent and filling meals. They exercise less, and in some instances begin to seek escape and release in clock-draining drugs and alcohol. Of course their numbers deteriorate, but they don’t seem to care, taking consolation in their achievements. When their diminished numbers are noticed, at work or at home, threats are made, arguments are had, and ultimatums are issued. For some, there just is no turning back, no way to reach down and find the motivation or change. For others, too much damage has been done to return to form. In this very common situation, Attenuates hire skilled forgers to generate a fraudulent display clock to falsify the numbers and allow The Attenuates to continue with the routine to which they have become accustomed. The ruse is rather advanced and generally avoids detection entirely. It is only when, after a light game of catch, a man unexpectedly falls to the ground clutching his chest in agony and dies, or, a seemingly healthy woman slips into a diabetic coma shortly after a round of sampling gelato that the sham is exposed. When questioned about their deception, most claim they just couldn’t chew and swallow the enormous bite of life the had bitten off when they young and hungry and wanted it all. But then they smile and do find solace in those all too fleeting, very-good years.

The Orpheuns: Most people spend a good deal of their lives avoiding death. This is not the intention of The Orpheuns. The Orpheuns seek out a high in the face of death. They look for Death in the corners of their homes, in frayed wired and sharp utensils. They search for it on the edge of cliffs, in cocktails of homemade narcotics, and on the rails of the subway. Whereas others attempt to curate a reasonable collection of decades, The Orpheuns derive their rush from watching their numbers plummet, careen towards zero, then at the last possible moment, joyfully wrenching themselves back onto the plateau of existence just out reach from the reapers boney grasp. Since the Orpheuns know they will die, they taunt the ferryman and find elation in riding the line between the warm light of life and the eternal night. What could be more exhilarating that staring into the visage of death and denying him, peaking for a moment into the prohibited oblivion without falling into the abyss? Of course, when one pushes into the abyss, the abyss pushes back, and many Orpheuns have met an anachronistically untimely death in the pursuit of their high. They miscalculate when to throttle back and end up incinerated, squashed, dismembered, deceased. All too often, Orpheuns witness their compatriots in carelessness suddenly depart and swear off their reckless behavior, only to find hours later with a purloined set of defibrillator paddles or a Percocet Pimm’s Cup attempting to scratch the incessant itch. For The Orpheuns the larger the number on their clock the more they feel trapped by the tyranny of possibility. With time comes expectation, disappointment, decision and responsibility. With life comes grief and hardship and compromise and boredom. By living in the moment, pressed against the now and the hereafter, The Orpheuns fill their days with excitement and elation, avoiding the useless business of societies expectations and regulations. What The Orpheuns failed to discover is that in their attempt to feel something, anything, and avoid the true stuff of life, they miss out on the joy of ice cold water in mid-July, the smell of their newborn in their arms, the soaring tones of a Stradivarius, the serenity of an undisturbed hammock. They have traded away a lifetime of joys, a sum greater than its parts, for temporary and fleeting moment of manufactured enlightenment. That being said, they do seem to enjoy it.

The Purgers: As with any technology there will be those who distrust it, who will level accusations of surreptitious government espionage, of insidious societal undermining, of unknown serpentine corporate interests, and want no part of it. These are The Purgers. It would be fair to say that although not unified by cause they do agree on outcome; the eradication of technology from the body. Some cite religious reasons, believing that their god or their selected coterie of deities never intended for humans to enhance their given vessels with technology. Commentators have questioned weather or not it was hypocritical to get tattoos, piercings, and cosmetic surgery, to which the religious detractors often reference some selected scripture or psalm to justify their contradictory behavior. Some are burdened by anxiety. The precognitive knowledge of their own death is enough to cripple individuals of a certain constitution. Still others feel they never were given opportunity to opt out as an infant and do not want to be saddled with the decisions of their parents. This type of revelation usually comes about around the time they leave for university. People have objected to the The Estimated Elastic Lifespan Expectancy Timeline on the grounds of woman’s rights, human rights, information overload, techno-slavery, fear of cancer, fear of surveillance, genetic injustice, denial, and many, many others. Ultimately, The Purgers all come to the same conclusion: the Death Clock and all of it’s components must be purged from the body and destroyed. Several illegal clinics have cropped up, housed inconspicuously inside false storefronts, abandoned shipping centers, and a myriad of other brick, steel, and mortar hosts where they can operate unmolested by the government. These clinics vary in cleanliness and quality and many are fly by night operations taking advantage of those without the means of legal repercussion. The better ones often end up getting uncovered and shut down for attracting too much positive word of mouth. Some Purgers attempt back yard procedures, dubbed Autotechnodectomy on themselves. These amateur internet-taught surgeons generally end up doing more harm than good to themselves and are ostracized for their crude and highly visible scarring. But, for the most part, barring any unfortunate infections or mishaps during the procedures, Purgers go on to lead fairly normal lives. They do tend to end up in the hospitals a bit more often, they do perish unexpectedly, and they do admit that if they had just known about this cyst or that blood disease they might have enjoyed a little bit more time in the body they suffered to reclaim.

The Glancers: Then there are the Glancers; a somewhat marginalized group of people who elect to focus their energy on quality, rather than quantity, of time. So named for their tendency to lazily glance at their clocks with an infuriating indifference. They are viewed as a feckless and voluntarily ignorant bunch, interested more in allowing their attention to dwell on the salty-sweet fragrance of a late dawn marine layer than the annoying reality of reduced visibility impeding the rest of the world’s morning commute. While others pull their weight, toiling to serve the community at large and build a better future, The Glancers remain intentionally myopic. Their vision shortened to the immediate present. They float through society, avoiding politics, competition, and arguments, achieving nothing of significance, refusing to wear any of the various shades of need and desire that consume the more driven elements of modern life. When they are sick, they seek medical council. When struck with hunger, they eat. When amorous, they make love. They meet their needs but do not exceed them. In times of suffering and joy it is common to witness them checking their wrist more frequently. When hurting, perhaps they are hoping the number will mercifully drop. In times of joy, their faces betray their astonishment and despair at how little time remains. There is a resignation about these people, an acceptance of what cannot be stopped and a quiet celebration of what remains. Their names cannot be found in history books. Their faces will never be rendered in marble or steel. Their stories are only told to each other. Their lives small and simple and mostly serene. They have been accused of missing out, and in many, many, the accusations ring true, The Glancers do miss out. They never feel the pride and election of crossing the finish line first, or winning the heart and hand of someone out of their league. They never retire home, full of sweet soreness after a long day worked at a hard-won vocation. They never get the rush or thrill of testing the limits of life. They never know the freedom of being devoid of technology or information.

For all the things The Glancers miss out on, they do gain one thing; a special kind of peace, a happiness derived not from what is missed but from what is gained by making friends with persistent specter of death. A calm and fulfillment only felt after inviting him in for tea, calling Death your friend, and allowing him to sweeten the bitter root of life.