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Darkness Falls

25 Apr

Some of you may have seen that Mauna Kea is in the news lately because of an ongoing attempt by protesters to stop the construction of the Thirty-Meter-Telescope. The issues in question can be found by searching the web carefully, but be careful to research thoroughly as there are many conflicting viewpoints out there. As an employee of one of the existing observatories on the summit, I have been counseled by admin to keep an open mind and be professional in the expression of my opinions. And so I have. This weeks story for Friday Fictioneers is based on my own photo prompt and speaks my mind quite clearly.

It is longer than normal by 58 words and for these I make no apology. I have been spot on for months and will be absent from the mix for some time to come so I hope you will tolerate my overage. If you do not want to read more than 100 words, you’d better stop 68 words ago.

Thanks to all who read on. See you down the road a bit. Aloha, D.

 

Darkness Falls

(Copyright Douglas MacIlroy)

A mob is coming to destroy what might have been their salvation. They listen to reply, not to understand. They want to watch the world burn.

Mauna Kea is sacred. But not for the reasons they claim. The Universe unfolds, light dances eternally and the majesty of Nature gives not a tinker’s damn about man’s gods. The mountain was here long before they arrived, guided, ironically, by their elder’s knowledge of the stars. It will endure long after they are dust.

Mauna Kea is sacred. Unlike the mob, I have learned this through direct experience over five years of glorious sunsets, cold, clear nights and solitary dawns. Cloaked in false pride and righteousness, ignorance is on the march against the inexorable tide of knowledge.

I lock the doors and wait. Someplace has to be the backwater of science and education in the world. It might as well be Hawaii. This will be their legacy.

If you listen carefully you can hear the stars laughing.

 

 

aaaaaaaafondly

To all my followers

Five after Whatever

15 Oct

100 words for Friday Fictioneers based on the photo prompt below.

Five after Whaever

(copyright Douglas MacIlroy)

 

I was building a cuboctahedron when a packet of hot peppers fell from an opening and onto the workbench. I peered inside and found myself seated in a restaurant opposite a beautiful woman with sparkling eyes and a sunny smile. Across the street sea met sky beyond a pristine white sand beach.

“I was strolling on the boardwalk when a craving for Calimari alla Griglia came over me.” she said.

“And I was….Oh, never mind.”

“This is going to be an unusual relationship, isn’t it?”

We meet at Scalini’s in St. Heliers every Thursday at five after.

Scalini's

Joint Venture

16 Jul

100 words for Friday Fictioneers, an organization of writers (Est. by Madison Woods in 2011) whose current CEO is Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The mission statement of FF members is to write a flash fiction piece based on the photo prompt below, to be audited by their associates.

 

Joint Venture

Copyright Adam Ickes

 

 

“Physical inventory?” I texted.

“Yes.” my partner replied.

I thought about the changes I’d demanded. He preferred vertical analysis of inflation rate and dividends in arrears with the ultimate goal of immediate liquidation. I wanted a horizontal analysis with emphasis on non-routine transactions, double entry bookkeeping and asset manipulation and had had enough of staring at last year’s invoices because he liked a specific installment method. The intent was a friendly merger, not a split offering.

At the storeroom door I query him.

“Couch?”

“Installed.”

“Ram?”

“Pawn shop.”

“Then let’s get to work.”

 

 

 

Sign

 

 

Just Another Night at the Office

29 May

My office is ten feet from the edge of a cinder ridge on the west side of the summit of Mauna Kea, 13,522 feet above sea level and forty miles from the nearest town. I can see that town, Kamuela, my home, from where I sit, for my office is outside, exposed to the elements. When there are no clouds blocking the view the orange lights of the main street are plainly visible. I can even make out the softer green lights of the observatory headquarters building where the astronomers I serve work.  My hours start when the sun goes down and end just before it rises again many hours later.

The only piece of furniture in my office is a sturdy reclining beach chair securely mounted to the top of a motorized revolving turntable. From this spot I have seen the canvas of the atmosphere painted by the master in sunlight and wind and cloud. I have watched Maui floating on a silver sea of cumulus that turns to red and fades in glory as the earth rotates eastward into darkness. One by one the stars appear as dusk gives way and the curtain rises on the night. The constellation’s brighter stars tell me time and date and allow me to place myself in the grand scheme of things. Full dark comes in an hour and the night is revealed to be not truly dark at all. The sky is alive with stars and their light fills the air with radiance.

My office.

Scorpius rises around an hour before midnight, its curved tail hoisting with it the thickest part of the Milky Way and the Galactic Center. During the next five hours it will climb to zenith, skim the top of the dome of Keck-1 and the Subaru telescope and then dive into the Pacific just before dawn. In the darkness before sunrise I will see satellites and shooting stars and watch the eastern sky begin to brighten as the terminator races west.

I wear a special suit of clothes to hold the cold at bay and sit holding a pair of 25×100 astronomical binoculars in my thick gloved hands. As the hours pass I imagine myself a Mayan priest or a Druid studying the skies for signs and portents, when in fact I am only there to watch for airplanes overflying the summit. If I see any my job is to press a button, shuttering our adaptive optics laser and then reset it after the plane is gone. In the long course of many nights I have slowly come to see the night sky as though there were no Earth rotating in space and me upon it. I am beginning to become conscious of our place in the Universe.

In the deepest night I talk to my father who is two years dead but by no means gone. I talk to his new companions, the ancients who have gone before and who still listen if you but speak. I talk to myself and imagine beauty and I think of Haiku. Life is grand and the view grander.

I am not bored. I am not cold.

I am grateful.

Just another night at the office.

Aloha,

Doug