Sunday, June 29, 2014

SHEPHOTE



An egg-tender in a facility designed to cultivate dwindling numbers of an ancient amphibious people receives telepathic communications from a woman living on Mars.












March 15 - First day on the job.

I'm saving the demons.

Way out in the boondocks here on the north fork of Mist River, I am now a field biologist working for the Confederated Tribes of the Yupa Indian Reservation. I live on-site at this juvenile acclimation facility for Spring Devils, which are kept in long rectangular enclosures called raceways, or ponds. There are four of those, and a fifth circular station as well containing the ones with the most bacteria. Not quite sure on that. More details to come.

I’ve been telling people for years that water demons are real, but I never thought I’d be working to help save them. Plum job out here, too. It’s not minimum wage and I don’t have to be around downer people all day.

The raceways are about thirty yards long, six feet deep and eight feet wide. The lumpy gray eggs at the bottoms of the ponds are manufactured from adult DNA. After they hatch they’ll get released into the river. Some will go all the way out to the ocean, some will head underground, and some will leave the water to hide in the forest, but most of the demons will stay in the river.

Raceway temperatures and dissolved oxygen readings are recorded several times a day. The raceways get their water pumped from the river. It looks like a of maintenance is required to keep the generator generating and the pump pumping. If frazzle ice clogs the filter in the river, the water level will drop and an alarm will sound. There's a whole huge procedure on that. I really hope it never happens.

I read the manual into my tape recorder and I'll play it back in a couple of hours so I can brainwash myself while I sleep. I have to get up to speed as fast as I can because I was hired at the last minute. Luckily, someone got hurt on the job. So they thought of me. All of my pestering finally paid off.

Living in a trailer in the compound out here enclosed by its cyclone fence capped with barbed wire is a small price to pay for gainful employ.



March 16 

Turned eggs, cleaned screens, called in. You have to fiddle with the yagy on its pole outside the trailer door to get the cell phone to work when the 2-way radio doesn't. I wasn’t supposed to turn them yesterday but I had to today. I took all the meter readings and checked the oil on the pump. You have to turn off the alarms, idle down for two minutes, flip the circuit breaker on the generator and idle that one down, then go back to the pump, turn it off, and return to the generator to turn that off, wait fifteen minutes, and then check the oil at the pump.

Minutia. One must be exacting.

To turn the generator back on, you have to turn the key to preheat, turn the idle up (RPMs at 1900) and flip the circuit breaker back on. Then you go to the pump, hold the tottle switch in, turn the key to start, and keep the tottle in until the oil gauge gets up to 20 or 30, at which point you let off the tottle and turn the throttle up to 17 or 18. Once the hose is inflated, you can turn the alarms back on.

It's not rocket science, it's demon science. There are lots of little procedures that you could forget and would be sorry if you did. Each of the four hundred eggs is worth about three thousand dollars, considering the billion-plus being spent by the power company whose dams woke the demons from their long natural cycle prematurely. Gets kinda pricey.



March 17 

Erin go bragh. This beer I crack in honor of the little people.Wish they'd make some beautiful Native American woman fall madly in love with me.

Today I shored up the sump with a bunch of boulders to deflect debris in the river, then I waded upstream to check the view and was promptly greeted by a big river otter slinking through the snowy timber along the bank. He didn't notice me until he got pretty close, and when he did he didn't seem too impressed. What an office. I get paid to play in the river at my mountain retreat. Instead of a tie around my neck I get neoprene waders. Not around my neck, of course. I wear them the regular way.

Something strange today: I heard a voice, or voices, outside the trailer this morning. It annoyed me because I didn't expect it at all. One of the things I'm supposed to do is guard the facility. It's in the contract that they have to have somebody out here at all times, which is like having a guard on a desert island. I didn't hear what was said, but it was definitely at least one voice and it was right outside the window. I immediately went outside to see who it was, but there was no one to be found.

A weird nimbus wavers over the ponds. Supposedly this is intended. But then again other sources say nobody really knows whether demon eggs glow in the wild or not.


March 18 

Between raceways two and three there's a metal walkway over which I do deep-dip pushups, a hand on the rail of either pond. Builds wide striated slabs of pec. Then there's the bar by the generator missing a portion of cyclone fence to make room for the manifold intake hoses. That's where I get my pullups for my delts and lats, and chinups for my biceps with legs held up perpendicular for the abs. When I cross raceways over the top on the grip strut to brush the screens I alternate going up on one leg, working each quad slow. I never use the wheelbarrow, but walk the feed bags from the shed, and pump a few delt reps for good measure. Buckets of feed serve as dumbbells. For some strange reason I feel the need to fulfill god-like potential.

I hiked up a hill this afternoon before dusk to get a good high view for some pics of the facility. On the way up I noticed a footprint. Or what looked like one. The snow had melted. I don't know what kind of animal makes a track that looks like a human footprint and I don't know why someone would be barefoot on that hillside. Supposedly we have cougar and bear around here. There was a bit of a sweep where the instep would be which seems consistent with an animal track elongated by a backward skid, and the print also showed five toes. I took a picture of it with my boot in the frame for reference.

The sound of the river lulls me to sleep.



March 19 

I woke up this morning mysteriously fascinated by a dark-haired goddess. For some reason I keep thinking of Hestia and plan to undertake a thorough investigation upon her history precisely because all of the experts claim the virgin sister of Zeus is virtually of no importance. How can this be, I wonder?

I’ll turn the eggs again tonight, and turn up the heat in the raceways a little. Snow again today.

Clusters of bare branches coated with snow make the river look like the ghost of a giant coral reef. The weight of the snow bends the boughs into claw-like arches beneath which I pass when taking temperature readings from the river.

They say cabin fever tends to strike after a week or so. Mostly because of the typical 2-way call-in, I bet:

"Base, this is Acclimation, I couldn't hear you on that. Could you repeat transmission? Over."

"...to the...I'll...switch to the ...-ver."

"Base, can you repeat that? Over."

I notice a tone on the 2-way, as though the person on the other end needs to act all put out in order to feel seeming qualified. So far I don't see a whole lot of caring about the demons. What I find is a handful of cliques. Nope, even out here, you can't get away from the grade school games. Glad I brought books with me.


March 21 

The goddess spoke to me in dream. Her true name, I discovered, is Shephote. Worshiped in Sumeria, worshiped in Egypt, she was one of those in Cuneiform called the Anunnaki. Increasingly in the dream she conferred her love upon me, and I came to realize that hers were the hidden hands which have helped me many times in my life from afar. The reason why she's discounted is because she's so powerful.

The project supervisor, she said, will show up here sometime this afternoon. He's an okay guy when we're alone, but that changes whenever anybody else is around.

Looks like one of the eggs is leaking.



March 24

Last night at Wally's I beat Carl at arm wrestling. First time in years. The other guy I arm wrestled I also beat. That would be Eddie, Wally's son-in-law. I beat him a couple times with both arms each, then after those four bouts I took Carl with my right, then my left, then we held at a standstill twice with my right again. Carl also took Eddie. But I was the only one who never lost. I didn't get carried away on anybody's shoulders. It was actually totally unexpected and amusing because we had all just sung Carl's praises.

Sounds funny but I feel itchy not being at the facility. I'm pretty sure I get the most hours of anybody else there. I don't trust anyone else to do it right.

Around this time last year I was working at a ranch. An older couple asked if I would be interested in moving some hay for them. How they thought to ask me, I don't really know. Hundred pound bales are nothing. With those I can hold one in each hand. But the hundred and thirty-plus in each hand, eventually those will take the starch out of you.

Anyway one thing led to another and it went from clearing out the old hay to picking up five tons of it with a 24-foot rental truck and filling up the barn with that, then painting a corral--a huge, complicated, intricate corral--with protective shingle oil. Then there was barbed wire high on a hillside, of the many hillsides on their 2,500 acres, a tangled mass of barbed wire that needed to be removed, followed by a whole lot more barbed wire, plus an old refrigerator left in a field, and tons of other huge, heavy, ungainly non-biodegradable dangers. I hardly ever saw anyone. It was great. I saw eagles, elk, badgers, deer, bear crap, all kinds of wonderful things. I removed a large dead elk calf hung up on a fence. I demolished a huge shed. Almost passed out driving back from heat exposure that time.



March 25

Sometimes when Shephote appears she shimmers with her hands above her head. Her raven-black hair wavers, the undulating hourglass of her figure serpentine in motion. I behold her standing by the river, glancing at me with eyes so lush with lash I want to roar, and sometimes do mid-stream wearing waders and wondering if I'll get to see her again in the night when I dream. I want so much for that. I would give anything to hold her.

Yesterday I had the day off and decided for the first time to check out the casino. They have fake Spring Devil eggs at the gift shop, plus water demon statuettes, water demon chainsaw carvings and videos where you hear flutes and dry information about the sacred, ancient connection between the Yupa and the river devils. I need to write down the Yupa name for them and practice saying it because I always get it wrong.

Some people showed up trying to see the eggs this morning. Shephote had already warned me about this happening, so I knew to be polite, but not be too revealing or let anybody too close to the raceways.

When I grab onto the rail I hear voices in the water. I think my brain waves are adjusting to alterations in the electromagnetic field caused by the eggs. I can't see the nimbus anymore because it expanded so much, but I feel a different energy all around the facility. There are spots in the river where I get excellent reception of voices. It seemed like I've been hearing them with my ears, but I noticed that the past three times anyone else has been here, no one but me seems to hear the voices at all.



March 27

I saw Shephote again last night. She appeared right here at the facility. We walked together observing the eggs, she revealing to me several of their names. Mirdon is the one already cracked and leaking. Was it anti-matter or dark matter that she said was oozing out? One or the other, I can't quite remember. Anyway, the Goddess assured me there was nothing to worry about. Mirdon was simply more ready than the rest. Then there were also Zummat, Kodesh, Telos and Baavi...


April 2

...Airk, Sera, Nebo, Nido and Deros. I had to stop mid-sentence yesterday due to interruption. Faces from base appeared. According to Shephote, two of the four faces belong to infiltrators. Adepts at molecular shapeshifting, they take human form and blend in wherever they want. These infiltrators are part of a vast civilization living in deep and ancient cavern-cities. Shephote had already showed me these ancient cities underground, and not only those of Earth, but giant cities deep in the moon and Mars, as well. Happening to have an old TV antenna in hand, I heard in my mind the Goddess's golden voice as she told me which two faces not to trust, and when she did, they both looked at me immediately.



April 7

In the moments preceding the dawn, just before the first hint of light, though the dark of night still stands, we know. We can feel it. Changing energy in the air.

Similarly another tangible power advances. I feel it. Megaliths call.

In her great long gown with her long dark hair waving all the way down to her waist, the Goddess waits. On bare red rock Shephote stands nearby the entrance of a cave. Dreaming nights she comes to be with me grow into waking days. This gorgeous cosmic queen speaks telepathically with me from her giant stone throne on Mars. She's been watching me a long time. She knew about me before I was born. I feel her presence more and more each day.

Zummat sings the prettiest songs. I can't wait to watch her hatch.


April 10

Nebo and Nido usually communicate separately from the others. Echoes of their private conversations ripple in every direction. Early in the morning while the rails are most mist-moist, all manner of murmurs and giggles prevail, rippling along the metal. Much as I might like to, I can't get in the raceways with them. It would put them in danger. We have a natural fiber net with a long wooden handle to carefully scoop away leaves from the surface of the water. Doesn't impair reception in the slightest. On the contrary, lifting the leaves makes them laugh. They all laugh very easily with me.

Been trying not to think about certain things I don't want picked up.



April 20

Shephote wants to save one of the eggs to be our child. Together we chose Zummat.

I haven't had time to write for the last week and a half, and in that time a lot has happened. For one thing, loving my job so much and all, I couldn't stand having to leave. I dreaded my off days so terribly, Shephote noticed. Mirdon, Telos, Kodesh and Baavi assured me not to worry. They told me to go on ahead back into town, do the wash, food shop, run any errands and don't worry because I'd be getting a call to come back to work within the day.

Sure enough, I had just enough time to get all of that done. Then the supervisor called me up around four-thirty saying that the other guy had taken a spill stepping off a raceway and hurt his back, so badly, in fact, they needed me to cover. What an incredible victory. This pleased the Goddess so well, she took me to a magnificent underground lake not far from her stone throne and there, dare I say, which I do, we shared our hearts.

In the best shape of my life, super-excited about Shephote all the time--she's so achingly attractive--couldn't wait to see Zummat! I was so happy. This is the best job ever, I kept telling myself. The major downside was having to always watch out for the infiltrators. The other thing that bothered me was knowing I'd have to let all but one of the hatchlings go.

Then, when the time came, all I could do was stand back and watch. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. For me, hearing those precious eggs crack was like listening to a symphony! Right away I rushed over to Zummat. My face was the first face she saw when she was born. She smiled so beautifully at me, beaming like a star with the brightest eyes I've ever seen. Shortly after that, the infiltrators mysteriously appeared. I could see the stamp of disapproval on their faces inside the company rig even though they were all the way over on the bridge. It was odd because I hadn't called anything in, yet somehow they knew to show up.

Loathe to leave the wee ones unwatched, I headed to the locked gate to hold the infiltrators off, scrambling my mind with nonsense thoughts, random words and images to throw them off long enough to get in arm's reach. They had no business being there, none whatsoever. It wasn't part of the routine. They'd been watching all along, waiting for the moment to spring. It was clear to me then that what the infiltrators feared was the power of the amphibian people being too great to control, but I hid that knowledge deep under a mountain of nonsense words. Their faces bore frank looks of hate. I liked that. While they demanded I unlock the gate, I hopped into the forklift and backed it up to block just in time to keep them from trying to ram it.

I don't know how, but somehow I knew to rush back to the raceways and open them up for river release. Though the wheel handles were tight, I was strong. I had to run the risk of releasing some before they were ready. At the time I didn't notice that the hatchlings were strangely silent. Trying to protect them from the infiltrators proved too distracting. At the last raceway I paused. This one held Zummat. Standing down on the ground, I was on the verge of climbing up to retrieve her before releasing the rest, when I heard the distinct and surprising sound of the facility trailer door slam. I looked over. My eyes must have grown twice their size. Because there she was, in the flesh.

Shephote.

It was her all right. She had her long dark hair pulled back and wore pants and shirt instead of a gown, but it was her. The way she leaned forward as she walked and pointed with her finger at them, anyone could tell that she was mad. I don't remember exactly what she said, but I think she threatened to call the cops and I know she told me to go let base know, so I went into the trailer to call in that the eggs hatched earlier than anybody expected. Standing on the couch inside there was a little child. The child examined my books.

"Yew done read all these here?" said the child.

Poor kid, I thought. "Most of them," I said.

Right about then Shephote came in, shutting the squeaky door behind her. Through the kitchen window at the end of the trailer facing the gate we could see the rig outside crossing back over the bridge. "That was fast," I said. The kid selected a book from a stack.

With a thick, sleepy drawl, the kid turned and said, "Hey, Ma, this-a here man's gonna read me a book."

"Okay, hick." Shephote stood alongside me with an arm around me, and I had one around her that held her while she leaned back to see through the crack in the drapes. Her knot of hair loosened free and fell when I pulled her back up. "She's been using her hick voice," Shephote said, smiling in my face all right up against me and smelling delightful.

"Well heck," I said, in fluent hick, "reckon you're you're gonna fit in around here real good! C'mere, yew ol' biscuit!"



April 26

Hard to find the time to write anymore. So much has been going on. I'm no longer working for the Tribes. No great shock there. Per Sheph's plan, I'm the one raising the little demon. Telepathy, I learned, gets lost at birth, but it comes back over time.

And what a magical time we've been having, going to parks, giving her rides, eating and laughing and playing, always talking about things together, seeing through new eyes. She loves the music of the Beatles and a movie called Village of the Damned. She loves pizza, she loves chocolate, she loves long baths, lots of swimming and she's sitting next to me right now teaching the cat to speak.

She also loves it when I tell her stories. Almost as much as I love telling them to her.

Taking her with me to work tomorrow. The ground's not frozen anymore. Time for things to start picking up again at the ranch. Couple of good-sized creeks out there she'll like.

I have been corrected. She loves them already. And wants to bring the cat.



June 22

Today we all went to the river. Sheph packed a basket. I know of a good spot a little ways down from the facility, not far from where the hatchlings were released. Young Chilo was so excited. She kept asking if I thought we'd see any of her kind. "Maybe," I said, "maybe not. You never know." It's hard to believe how much has happened in such a short time. Working for the Tribes seems so long ago.

Who was I before this kid? What in the world was I even doing?

"Daddy," she said to me the other day, "where does always Mom go?"

"Oh," I replied, "she's off in other worlds doing important things. She's a Goddess, you know."

She considered that a spell. Then she said, "I think she's just a woman from Mars."

Either way, she's always busy.



July 7

A great day at work today. Chilo loves riding around on the quadrunner with me. We're very safe. We had a bunch of snacks packed up, plus plenty of things for her to do. It's all rolling green hills dotted with trees where we were. While I went along fixing fence, occasionally she'd call out for me to look, then hold up a piece of art for me to see about forty yards away. "Looks like a masterpiece from here!" I'd holler.

Later on, when I got up close, I didn't want to touch her renderings because my hands were all dirty, so I asked for her to hold them up for me again. There was Ichabod, there was Squirrel Girl, plus several of the two of us, with the trees and the hills. One with the moon in the sky and her mom on it.



August 9

Sheph returned after another week of being away. She was angry that I already had the laundry going when she showed up. I thought she'd be happy I was doing the laundry, but what she wanted on return was to immediately wash her clothing free of space dust. "If you really loved me," she told me with very cold contempt, "then you would have known."

While I had dinner going, with a little music and a little wine, I looked at her and told her how absolutely beautiful looked to me. To which she replied, with that cold contempt, "then you just don't know me."

And she didn't like the spaghetti dinner that night, either. "The sauce wasn't sauce-y enough," she said.

It's incredible how she discounts and discredits me now. Even though she's gotten everything she wanted, all she ever does is complain. "Do you know how often I get to write?" Shephote tellingly asked. "Do you know how often I get to sit on a giant stone throne?" I tellingly replied.



August 25

The kid and I play a lot of chess and cards. She's great at both, but sometimes sacrifices focus on the game in order to show off early stages of telekinesis by moving chess pieces and cards around using only her mind. She's got weird powers all the time, and they get even weirder when she's in water...












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