These stories were posted on Mastodon in September 2021.
The flying saucer landed in my back yard, and two figures descended to the ground from the underside. I approached them. “Do you want me to take you to my leader?”
“No, we already have one of those,” spoke their translator box. “Our world has completely eliminated friction. We have come to see a—“ (the translator paused at the unfamiliar word) “—knot, and to hear a—“ (another pause) “—violin.”
“Humans are the only animal to make tools.”
“Ok, but only humans have theory of mind.”
“Fine. Only humans make art.”
Every time someone makes a bold claim like this, a chaotic god ensures that we soon discover a counterexample in the animal kingdom.
So I’m saying it here: humans are the only animals to rick-roll themselves.
It might have just been a thought experiment about infinity to David Hilbert, but it’s my reality.
The night after I died, I found myself in a sumptuous hotel room. Room 1, I read on the door as I left the next morning.
Next night the hotel had to make space and I was put in Room 2. Next night, Room 4.
8, 16, and so on. It’s a mite inconvenient. Is this heaven or hell?
Plenty of room at the hotel Hilbert thought of.
Humanity has unified and colonized Mars, and I am the first to scale Olympus. Now, as I near the central caldera, I pass through an invisible veil, and see … a different Mount Olympus.
There is Aphrodite, and Artemis, and Dionysus. All the major deities. Except one. “Where’s Ares?” I venture.
“You’re standing on him.”
I look down and realize I am standing on a grave. What…?
“We had no use for a god of war here.”
Everyone knows rosemary‘s for remembrance. Shakespeare also knew that fennel is for infidelity and columbines for insincerity.
What he didn’t know is that every flower stands for a state of mind. Some are quite specific.
Pohutukawa symbolizes the joy at seeing a friend totally own a celebrity on Twitter. Jacaranda is for the awkwardness of being too tall for an old cottage ceiling. Rafflesia is for the embarrassment at saying “you too” when a waiter tells you to enjoy your meal.
I travelled to 1730s Leipzig to hear the original organ of the Nikolaikirche. Bach himself played it. It was like the voice of god.
Finding the seat temporarily empty one day, I succumbed to temptation and played it. I fumbled a few baroque pieces and then—you would do the same—snuck in the instrumental from “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. I didn’t think Bach was listening.
Now, back in my own time, that melody is classified as BVW 1181, and the Procol Harum song has changed.
I bought a game. Celestial Mechanics. It’s one of those kinetic puzzles where you flick tiny balls (“asteroids”) in just the right way to hit four moving targets (“planets”) in the middle. I sucked at it: I kept hitting the negative-point “gas giants” instead. I put the game in a box and forgot about it.
Today I hear beeping from the box. The game is flashing “Level 2” and one of the “planets” is launching things back at me.
Be right back; gotta practise my asteroid flicking.
Our church has eight bells so it can play rudimentary melodies. Over the years certain melodies came to correspond to certain broadcast messages. “Time for worship.” “It’s a girl.” “You’ve been rickrolled.”
But this melody the Bellmaster is playing now, I don’t recognize. I rush to the church. “What’s happened? War? Alien landing?”
The Bellmaster smiles. “That is my melody for summoning the curious. It works.”
My mate is such a prankster. When time machines became affordable, he went back to Rome in the time of Julius Caesar, and convinced the senate to rename the month of Quintilis to July.
Then he went forward a generation and got them to do the same to the month Sextilis for Augustus Caesar.
Now I think of him every time I look at a calendar. And so do you. My mate Jason plays the long game.