bridges

the deep strange requires mediators, translators, slightly less strange and more relatable ideas that bridge the span.

 

dungeons and dragons probs works.

i’m really torn between publishing my outline and saving it for the campaign. spoilers.

 

so here’s just the beginning, part of what my adventurers will know as they begin.

 

 

green foaming mushroom cloud of a tree explodes into the sky

 

runaway bioterror, kills most people, changes the rest

 

The giant umbrella tree. weather systems flow underneath

 

the strange gray grasslands in its shade, and the flaming wild horses who roam it

 

the caverns and tunnels at its roots and the huge blind moles and voles that live there

 

And beneath the roots, the slow giant worms

 

pastoral 2, outline1, the garden

the villages are cut into hills, with a giant crack that is also the front door and courtyard. A crack is cut into the dome of the hill, all the way through.  

 

 

at the top, the crack has rails across, for hanging plants in summer, and drying clothes.

 

 

the boy leaves with his first herd, with his solar buffalo bcs that hes made some modifications to.

 

the buffalo caries many supplies, feed and water for man and sheep, grain and grass seed, and herbs for planting by creek sides, and a secure rabbit warren

 

when he leaves to place the rabbit warren, something happens.

 

he activates remote eyes, counts sheep, activate feed sound to attract sheep, but some problem, activate robot chopper remote

 

find sheep with drone, activate sheep beacon, use scare sound, sheep return, training reinforced,

 

lead step to sheltered location, erect portable electric fence, go to mountaintop to repair comms beacon, clean solar panels, fix fencing, remove birdsnests check for squirrel damage

 

another clan, something scary, intimidation, erratic retaliator? -> high level communication, trade

 

Major weather event

 

survival, highlight the village design features, wind protection, drainage, earth heat, community response, humans are rabbits, humans are wolves, the alpha to sheep, the beta to the weather, genes, and…

 

everyone in the giant kitchen, cooking, salting, boiling (need water heating features, giant woodstove?)

 

light tubes (security weakness?)

 

vehicles parked in the Crack, bamboo windbreaks on one side

 

repair

 

emergency caches deep into the Garden.

 

 

 

what we once called the Wild is now the Garden.

pastoral 2, outline 2; the ram

the herds normally circle, spiraling out and in around the hillsmadehomes. then, when they’re ready, they sprint away like sparks

initial conflict of the solo herdsman, is he too young? disability? feels somehow obligatory, an initial rebellion

set out along the herb road, the thick tall hedges, his giant solar motorized alpha sheep (the Ram) with it’s blinking signal lights communincating with his psychedelically programmed flock.

This drive was a dash out, during calm season, trot the first 50 miles, away from more heavily grazed settlements, along the herb road, a road literally made of herbs, and build more herb road, graze, move south.

storms

stretch herb road,planting plants from home carried on the ram, propagating at the edges, digging up plants and spreading them. weeding, harvesting tubers, cooking (cooking energy modality? rocket, twig? solar hot water?) seeding sochan and alfalfa and clover from home, plants that feed the sheep but get heavily grazed, so benefit from extra attention

hot shower

buffalo descriptions, in drips. solar slow walker, with backup biofuel?

the nightmarish training of the sheep.

flashbacks to hobbit homes?

conflict, wild cats? trained sheep attack

interactions with wild humans. Distant, peacefull guarded.

Into the wilder zones, where he patrols grazing sheep all night, sheep sleep by day in hollows and copses, the ram stretched out for solar gain.

to the cities of the river. great slaughterhouses, tanners, fiber mills, livestock yard,

buying circuit boards, circuits, wire, solder, servos – now theres the loot.

Return trip is the danger, now drone tech battle. dramatic fight scene. Dogs engage, death, damage, success.

optimal 2; russian space tentacle

chapter 1: optimal

 

the green tendril lengthened. thickened. foamed and stretched and swayed. dark green and gray in its trunk, but translucent at the edges, slime and fizzing chlorphyllic froth. algal hydrogen.

 

the root mat stretched through the understory of the forest. ropy and pulsing. cords pull taut between the stalk and the roots, stretching out and firming into buttressing tendrils that would grow a fat pad on the ground, then knife through the humus and grapple into bedrock,

 

 

as the stalk stretched upward, the slime would slide in the wind, reactively smoothing itself into the turbulence, ailerons or coverts. the flower pod head swole and swole, swirling layers of translucent bubbly colors and the shadows of hidden petals to unfold.

 

in its second week, it grew a mile a day, straight up, like a balloon. not so much climbing and pushing into the sky, as a barely restrained freefall upwards. snotball balloon on its snot string, a jizz stream shot into space. by the end the trunk was a mile across at the base, more or less, it was a jungle of dripping tendrils wrapped around and through the existing trees, using them and feeding them, and covered with birds and bugs eating the rich slime.

 

ten miles up the balloon was ready to pop. the hydrogen soaked foamstuff had reached neutral buoyancy, at the end of the stratosphere. the translucent bulb was filled with iridescent fractal tracery layered into its depths. from it a shining dahlia the size of a football stadium unfolded to catch the sun. the petals continued to unfurl, flattening and blooming into a rippling silver film a hundred miles in diameter, floating on the outer edge of earths atmosphere.

 

 

down the gravity well, slime continued to crack hydrogen and carbon from where the air was heavier, making more slime which would schlorp and slide upwards along the stalk up to the flower. the filmy petals filled and grew thicker, until what had been gauzy swelled into a thick mat.

 

the stalk, too, grew and changed. the viscous snot string condensed into regular ropy tendrils, viney tubes growing in a great spun helix, which tightened and coalesced until it separated and hollowed completely in the center. so the stalk became a straw.

jellyclouds

 

being a jelly pilot was a good gig during the dry times. at least there was plenty of water up there.

the jellies were created to “aid in the reconstruction of natural atmospheric hydrologic patterns.” no one had any idea what they could do, but with algal hydrogen manufacturing and sequestration, along with advanced algal polymers, it was straightforward to create a flying, growing algae blob. and once they achieved a certain mass, they were also an easy place to store individuals of excess enthusiasm. in flying green jellyfish; here to save the world.

the clouds were conceived fundamentally as moisture bulldozers. they were intended to follow prevailing winds and herd moisture, by cleverness and weather modelling, or just by shoving vapor, as a giant floating mountain range of green jelly.

the 3d blooming algal forms were endlessly growing, so the system gained power steadily, if slowly. thunderclouds are large, it takes quite a bulldozer to push one, much less an entire weather front.

it was haphazard at first. designs required experimentation. eventually there was a vaguely regularized jelly design that looked like a lumpy arrowhead, or sometimes the flying-v of geese. when things were working well, a string of jellies would fly in formation across a warm ocean, gathering moisture, and push it all into the interior of the continent to fall as rain, as regularly as they could manage.

meanwhile, each jellycloud was it’s own tiny homestead on oversized, high-altitude acreage. a little cabin on a mountain of floating algae polymer and deeply gooed hydrogen.

 

(treeintospace)

dark seed

seeds sprout slowly in deep space. the seasons are measured on a cosmic scale.

about a trillion miles out, you’re still orbiting the sun. winters are very, very cold. spring is precipitous, accelerating exponentially down, towards the sun. summer may see you pinballing around the solar system between stellar and planetary gravity wells, or perhaps in this pass, you miss the plane of the ecliptic and you slip right through the bright lights of the solar downtown with barely a course change.

fall is a long flight into the dark, and winter will be an ever so gradual slowing, and turning back round.

a seed ripens unpredictably. sometimes it’s roots find purchase in ice, sometimes in hard rock, or worse, stellar alloy. but seeds are patient. roots push.

chemistry is slow at best in cold space. energy sources are rare. even the sun is far away, little chance of much photosynthesis.

but life is clever. information is dense. there are almost endless strategies to attempt, given ridiculous amounts of time. life finds a way.

and so it comes to be, that, occasionally, cosmic snowballs are consumed by alien viruses, and gradually metamorphose from slush to snot, with a more regularized structure than the previous mishmash of ice and rock and dust, and of vastly stranger potential.

what’s yet more special and rare, is to see this life burst into flower, when a snotball shears itself internally in long spirals, and unfolds, blossoming into a hollow rod a couple hundred miles long, and descends in a gently falling, spinning orbit to make a strange touchdown on your home planet. a standing tree, fallen from space.

 

(treeintospace)

backlog

there’s the story about the salvage barge that plugs around the gulf, dodging mega storms, gathering scrap, building greenhouses, propagating bamboo and mangrove and azolla fern, and leaving baby tidebreak forests in its wake, turning trash into floating oysterbeds that filter the hot polluted waters.

 

thats one leg of the tree.

 

theres the story of the heartland revival. community values in long tornado proof earthship bunkers, and the long rows of perennial vegetables. the humans stay tightly clustered around central community kitchens constantly overflowing with refugee hands pickling starchy roots. rabbit farms that repopulate the hills with improved leporidae genetics, and turn huge quantities of grass into lean meat and earthworm feedstock. a little geothermal power and you’re a food exporter, with root crops that dont fail, that dont fall to wind, or water, or no water, or pests. people that put roots back into earth, and become the windbreak.

 

thats another leg of the tree.

 

one leg of the tree comes from the outside in. deep space is reaching towards us. sharp cold green crystal carbon arms spinning outwards from asteroids, growing, but who put it there? did we put that there, to reach back towards us? or has it come from somewhere else?

but that’s for later. that’s act 3. we’ve barely begun the dumb show.

 

 

(treeintospace)

from underneath

the aliens invaded from underground.

 

they were us all along, which,i guess, counts for something?

 

the symptoms were the last thing you’d notice. weeds. really big weeds. but who looks at weeds?the riot and tangle looked no different even to planty types for a good while, though more vigorous than usual. blame global warming, all that c02 is good for something.

 

after a couple years, though; them that was paying attention noticed these faster weeds weren’t an artifact of the aging gardener slowing, or some rampant whathaveyou in the climate. whole fields of different forms started to show the same root, grass and vine and moss were eruptions along the same woody mass, lying just under the soil.

 

just here and there, at first. there was no connection, at first between the carbonaceous protrusions, scattered over the globe. for a year more or sometimes years, they were just local oddities. known to a wanderer or two in isolated spots. when they started getting talked about on the internet, it was just too implausible and strange. plants were, what? teaming up? forming communist colonies? the were suddenly defying all clades and clans and becoming unified, like a dream of a hippie love fest in one root?

 

well, yeah, no, maybe, kinda. no one had a better idea or explanation, and they were right there, to touch and taste and poke, and more and more regularly spotted and recognized, and unavoidably accepted. still small but rising mounds of wooden root mass, covered in a diffusion of plants, but with all stalks and stems leading directly, bizarrely into the central rising trunk.

 

some got cut down, for science, or because they were in the way of progress, or sometimes out of simple fear of invasive species. sometimes they’d re-emerge, more often they’d shoot sideways underground, a hundred feet, or a thousand, and then come up in a dozen spots, or a hundred. almost universally, they’d simply exhaust and outgrow their attackers, growing fast, and tall.

 

and fast. and tall. they were measured to grow faster every year, five feet in a year, then ten the next, and twenty the year after. they’d grow right up to cement sidewalks, and roads, and buildings, and then slowly through them, pushing  over poured stone with slow force measured in newtons per day, over weeks and months and years.

 

on a mountainside, they’d grow giant mats of woody planking covering hilsides. beneath their photosynthesizing mats of greenery, grasses and herbs perviously understood to be different species, were now growing in sprawling unified homunculi.

 

humans were simply outgrown. the powers that be could form no real response whatsoever to the bizareeness of the woody mounds, the fbi had no arborist corps. local libertarian anti-arboreal-aberation corps simply couldn’t get traction. the things grew too damn fast. they were everywhere, and not doing anything exactly. you could, with a little effort and denial, just go about your business. so people did.

 

so we lived, cohabitating with our new guest, who didn’t talk much. there was nothing said. explanations ran dry. the quasi-trees grew taller, like strange vertical meadows of herbs and miscellaneous flora. species now completely impossible to classify or quantify, since they were all evidently the same entity, growing at bizarre and unbelieveable speeds, upwards.

 

but still, it takes a long time to go up. after ten years, there were mounds that rivaled sky scrapers, but only just. and we fought back, in our way, carving into the giant woody stalagmites. the housing bubble crashed, but there were houses everywhere, almost ready-made for anyone with time and a chisel.

 

it was a time of great plenty for the hungry. vines tumbled down the strange wooden mountains, and the experimental found it all edible; starchy, sweet nodules and tubers, plain hardy fruit and crisp leaves. many people walked away from the cities, from debts and families, from everything, in those days, into the freshly generous wild.

 

for a while, the world seemed a New Eden, the carbon-sequestering sequoyah-like forests-protuberances were like a gift from the divine, a panacea for the problems of civilization. for a while. until the mounds started to move together, swaying and reaching together towards some unseen point in the sky…

 

(treeintospace)

ober apoc: a million ways to die

the center of the problem is this: we’re headed for the bullseye of worst possible apocalypses.

libertarian egoic greed-pocalypse is the single worst apocalypse. think of the end-times hipsters of mad max. humans turned to individualist locusts. fighting for the right to consume. without doubt, the worst conceivable scenario. we die by our own hand, by a thousand, thousand, thousand cuts. the total failure of humanity as a species, more loathsome than cancer.

asteroidal impact has the egoic apocalypse beat by miles. sure, we may have ignored the copious forewarning by ancient peoples, with their obsession with the skies (observatories being frequently the ONLY THING they leave behind) but at least we can say “we weren’t looking.” “it took us by surprise.” not like dying with your knife in your neighbors back. not at all.

personally, i like the esoteric apocalypses. something cosmic and mundane and invisible, like a solar flare big enough to turn all those high tension power lines into antennae that overload and explode every power transformer on earth. not a leaf has stirred, but your civilization just got ctrl-alt-deleted.

and then where will you be? 7,000,000 people and all you can talk to is your neighbor? no more truckloads, no more deliveries. goodbye humanity, thats what. 65% dead in four weeks, 80% dead in 8 weeks, and then where are you? dying of lack of oxygen as firestorms eat your cities, that’s where. tsk tsk, and you seemed so promising.

of course, if i had my druthers, i’d take a nice humane apocalypse, like plague. 30% (2.1 billion) dead in the first year, but we can struggle on. no one is to blame, no human hand caused this, we are not monsters. 60% (4.2 billion) dead after five years, but we are united. your neighbors have saved your life, and you’ve saved theirs. governments per se are forgotten in the ongoing ad hocracy, but hoarding is abhorrent, and life is truly revered. we’re learning lessons. the greatest generation isn’t in the past, it’s the children we’re raising.

 

(treeintospace)

pastoral 1: drone herdsman

civilization continually entices it’s hostages with the idea that it can really honestly stop screwing up and turn over a new leaf, if only people will act different/be better/whatever. this has yet to pan out. verbal monkeys remain remarkably immune to attempts to “improvement” (though they’re remarkably willing to go in the other direction). ungulates, on the other hand, turned out to be quite programmable.

after a just a handful of seasons of training, a hurried generation or two for relatively short-lived animals, it was shown that with some intention, lots of attention, and the regular addition of DMT laden grasses to their diet, you could radically alter the instincts, or “culture” of a flock of sheep.

effectively, we used electric shock and psychedelics to teach sheep they were only ‘safe” when they were flocked closely to the Big White Sheep. the BWS, was, of course, an ATV with an oversized sheep-like cowling. we drove the BWS, slowly, aimlessly through the fields, at a sheeps pace, regularly stopping in shady spots for the sheep to rest and regurgitate. pacing was a minor challenge. so was making the BWS pilotable as a drone.

with it’s camera stalk, it was a simple matter to herd from a laptop, across town or anywhere at all. in fact, it was easy to pilot a dozen, simultaneously, or even a hundred. the BWS carried and dispensed water and feed, and when it’s tanks ran low, it simply herded the animals to a refilling depot. predator attacks, even on the open plain were rare, and when they occurred, heavy surveillance made tracking the offenders straightforward.

with on-the-ground tracking of pasture regrowth, herd rotation and grazing patterns could optimized down to the day. the grass grew faster than usually possible, and it’s repeated cutting combined with hoof aeration and manure fertilization meant that it was socking away huge amounts of carbon each season.

seasonally, the BWS would lead the flock to the slaughter house, to harvest a percent of the flock, then it would continue on its way.

 

(treeintospace)