Firecracker

In this issue sent out September of 2015:

  •  Volunteer Big Board Deadline!

  •  Science Fiction Short Stories

  •  Work Weekend Update: we need your help

  •  Principle Opinion: Radicle Inclusion

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    NEWS

    While the sign-ups for volunteer opportunities have been rolling in the last few weeks, we still have plenty of holes to fill and we need your help... filling the holes... in the coverage for volunteer shifts. If you make your volunteer commitments by tomorrow, (Sunday, Sept. 27th) your name will appear on the giant BOARD OF AWESOME VOLUNTEERISM (unofficial name) and be forever emblazoned for all to see and by forever I mean until the end of the event. This helps you too, because you can check and verify which shifts you signed up for in case you forget when you get out to the land.

    Q: If I don’t make the deadline, can I still sign up to volunteer?
    A: Hell yes and please do! The only difference is we’ll have to handwrite your name on the BOAV(unofficial acronym of unofficial name) when we get out to the land, so it won’t have that sweet emblazoned look to it.

    Q: I forgot where to go to get all the volunteer sign-up info. Can you remind me? A: You bet!

    Head to the Volunteer page and click on the link to “fill out a form”

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    Work Weekend: The Final Round!

    October 2nd is the final work weekend before the event and there’s still plenty to do. Steve and Abby Roberts, who oversee land ops, are asking for any able-bodied burners to come out to give our favorite wooded area one last kick in the face to prepare everything for the burn. If you are interested, please check out the facebook event page here

    Or you can reach out to Steve directly about it at: stevenalexanderroberts@yahoo.com

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    Principle Opinion: Radicle Inclusion (get it?)

    Disclaimer: The 10 principles of Burning Man do not belong to anybody, nor are they universally accepted by the burner community and no individual has any authority over them except as to what they mean to him/herself on a personal level. That is to say, nobody can tell you exactly what they mean, but the more you participate in Burning Man events, the more you will realize for yourself what they mean to you. But, as we are a community of thinkers and dreamers, we can’t help but share thoughts with one another, so this is just one burner’s unofficial opinion over one of the ten principles.

Radical Inclusion -

Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

That’s it?! That’s all it says?!! Yep. This is the shortest principle in the list. It’s one of the easiest to understand, but also one of the easiest to misrepresent and abuse.

We welcome and respect the stranger because every individual has the potential to bring something spectacular to our grand experiment. It doesn’t have to be physical; I mean, sure, you can bring some neat lab equipment, but you could also bring and share your hypotheses, your methodology, your scientific intrigue, or your helping hands to hold somebody else’s test tubes. Whatever it is, everybody has the potential to participate and contribute. But if we put up borders and shut people out without first getting to know them, then we limit ourselves and what we can achieve by excluding those that may have otherwise sparked another big bang.

While no prerequisites exist for participation in our community, there are some guidelines you might consider if you wish to stay. Sometimes people who introduce a little too much entropy into the system may not receive an invitation to return. Radical inclusion doesn’t mean I can sleep in your tent, eat your camp’s food, or invade your personal boundaries without your consent. It doesn’t mean anybody/everybody has a right to be included in all your activities during the event. In other words, radical inclusion is not an all-access pass to imposition those around you without recourse. For every action, there are chain reactions.

But the reactions typically resonate with the initial action. E.g. If you do something positively charged, you can expect positive reactions from those around you. If you do something negatively charged, your experiment might blow up in your face. The easiest way to know whether or not you can participate in a particular activity at the event is to take up a scientific mind and ask questions.

“Hey, that looks fun, may I join?” “Yeah, sure!”
“Hooray!”

or

“Hey, that looks fun, may I join?” “No, thank you.”
“Cool, glad I asked.”

No great experiment succeeds by random chance. It takes open communication to make sure everybody is on the same page. We want new scientists to take our theories and transform them into something wonderful, even if it’s an unexpected result.

But don’t be the animal running loose in the lab.

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Sci-fi Short Story #4
A Life Lived Recklessly, by J. Grant

Just another day, another morning jog through Valmoor Park. It was one of the safer places in the big city to run. Muggers very honorably stuck to only robbing people at night, and left when the sun came up. The kind of place where city workers picked up the empty beer cans, used condoms, and broken glass pipes every day at 7 am sharp. I usually went jogging at about 7:30.

They couldn't do anything about the homeless, though. The ones who'd found bushes or hidden culverts in the night, and woke with the sun. They sat on park benches, holding either full cups of coffee they'd bought at 7-11, or empty ones, held out ready for your pocket change. My running shorts had no pockets, and no change. I ignored these folks. I was on a mission. My waistline was the enemy, and at 38 years old, the battle was being hard fought. A new clash of calories versus movement, every morning.

And then, one day in the summer of 2014, my battle was interrupted.

I was rounding the trail bend where there's a children's playground, about 400 yards from the lake. Didn't really notice her as I passed. Just another homeless old gal, sitting on a bench, staring at me when I ran past. At that moment, I couldn't have even told you what she was wearing. I was in the zone - 1 mile down, 2 more to go. Alice In Chains pumping in my earbuds. Feet thudding the paved jogging trail.

She yelled it loud enough to be heard over the music. "CHRISTOPHER!!!"

I stopped, turned. She stood next to the bench, eyes and mouth forming a trio of wide circles. Looking at me not just like she knew me, but like I was some kind of celebrity. I knew immediately that I'd never met her in my life.

One earbud popped out. "Excuse me?"

Tears spilled out of her eyes like a waterfall as she blinked, struggling for words, and started walking toward me. One of her dirty hands was outstretched.

"Chris," she said, voice cracking. "Oh my god. It's... what are you doing here?"
"Do I know you?" I refused to take a step back, but realized I would soon if she kept reaching for me like that.
"I..." She stopped. Her arm dropped like a flag when the wind suddenly quits. "Oh god. I don't know how to answer that. You will?"

At that second, this story might have stopped. I was tempted to say something like "Whatever, lady," and continue my run. She could have guessed my name, and she was probably just another homeless crackhead.
But as I looked at her, I realized she wasn't decked out like most homeless folks. Her hair was shoulder-cut, brown with a fair heaping of grey. The shirt she wore, although soiled, looked like something out of a designer boutique. Cream colored, with cutouts in the arms that showed her shoulders and elbows. What I'd first thought were dirty jeans, on closer inspection, were rayon women's slacks in dark blue. Rather than sneakers, she wore some strappy pumps that might have cost a lot, in good condition.

I stared into her face for a good fifteen seconds. No bells ringing. I was positive of that. In my job, it was absolutely vital that I remembered names and faces.

"How do you know me?" I asked, taking the other earbud out. My pulse stayed high. Sweat dampened my various parts that get sweaty on a run.

"I... we were lovers. Will be? Fuck." She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, finally looking away from me. Her smile was sardonic. "This is really hard to explain."

"Oh really?" I couldn't keep the sarcasm out of my voice. This chick was somewhere between fifty and eighty, in that way a lot of homeless women look. No way in hell we'd ever been in bed.

"Not now. Later. Fuck. Please. Don't run away."

"Look," I said, glancing at the smartwatch on my wrist. "I have to be at the office in two hours." "Christopher Emmanuel Hodgson, I know you well. Please just hear me out?"
That one sent ripples down my spine. I never tell anyone my middle name.

"You snore," she continued. "It's one of the reasons your first wife, god, uh... Casey? Left you. That and the not wanting kids thing." She started walking toward me again. "You take your coffee black when you can't get espresso with milk. You... you only eat steak cooked well done, although you never told me why. And you love scuba diving. Especially in New Manchera Bay."

"No, ah, wrong," I finally sputtered. She was three feet from me. Close enough to stab me, if she was a lunatic. But there was nothing in her hands. "I've never scuba dived in my life."

"Right. But you will." Carefully, as if approaching a wild animal, she reached out toward my hand. "I'm not from here, Chris."

I snatched my arm away. "What?"

"I'm not from now. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I'm from the year 2039."

I laughed. I couldn't help it. It wasn't that her words struck me as funny. The situation was just nuts, and I let out some tension in that laugh.

"Okay, freak, whatever," I said.

But her eyes had gone cold. Her brows furrowed together, and she squinted in a way that brought her crows' feet into sharp relief. The edges of her mouth tilted down in disappointment.

"You don't believe me. I get it."

"Nope." I backed away, reaching up to put my buds back in.

"But I know all about you Chris," she continued. There was a knife edge to her words. "I know about what you did in San Jose."

I froze.

"Yeah," she said, nodding curtly. "I know. Everything."

"Lady, I went to college there. Is this some kind of stalking thing? Did someone..." I looked around, trying to fight the ice in my chest. "Who put you up to this?"

"Nobody put me up to anything, Chris. And I know all about that night. The party. And how you fucked up."

It's rare, in life, to be in a situation where you honestly freeze up and have no idea how to respond. Panic and fear fight your brain into a solid state of lockup.

"Did..." I took a step forward, angrily. "Did she put you up to this?" "No."

"Cuz if she's trying to get more money, she can suck it. Why's she sending you after all this time? I paid. She dropped the charges. It was all fucking stupid anyway."

"I don't want your money, Chris. I'm from the future. A future where we met." "Yeah, okay, whatever. Prove it."

"You want proof?"
"Of course I want proof. This is fucking insane."

She moved fast. Faster than I would expect a woman her age to move. One moment, she was three feet away from me. The next, she was all up in my business. Body pressed to mine, face to face. One hand clutching the hair at the back of my head, pulling my face next to hers. The other hand slid between our chests.

"I know this is your button," she said quietly, tweaking my nipple. Uncomfortable electricity arced through my nerves, and I tried to pull away. Her grip on me was strong. "Yeah. That. This is your 'cum right now' button. The left nipple. And you like it when a lover is fucking you, and she does that. But only if you've been deep in her for a while. Only after you've gotten her off a few times."

I finally managed to wrestle her off me in one giant shove. She didn't quite fall over backwards. "How..." was all I could manage.

"Like I said, Chris, we were... we'll be lovers. Not here, not now, but later." She smiled thinly. "I know you. We... will meet in about... I think, nine years. At a hotel on St. Thomas. How I got here is a long story. And I only have another hour or so." She eyed me in a way that made me even more uncomfortable. A way that felt condescending. "God, you're cute when you're young. You never told me you used to live in Evansville."

My mind was a storm.
"I don't understand," I finally spat, lamely.

"And you probably won't. When I get back, I'm going to ask you about this meeting. But first I'm going to collect on the challenge. How weird will it be if you went back, and meet me in this year as well?"

"What?"

"The challenge. Game show fun. Ugh," she said, raking her snarled hair back with both hands. "Trust me, it wouldn't make sense to you right now. If everything goes right, sometime in the next hour, I disappear back to then. And you do too, after your own challenge. And we rake in gobs of dough after they transfer the data from this stupid shit," she said, patting a small earring on the left side of her head.

"Wait, sorry, I just... what's your name?"

"I can't tell you," she said gravely. "Part of the rules. Sorry. It's probably just coincidence that I even ran into... or... hm." She chewed one dirty fingernail. "Maybe not. The program directors can be some sadistic shits."

"Hold on. You're from the future?"

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, Chris. God, you never listen, I swear."

"And I meet you? In this future?"

"You're a lot smarter then," she chuckled. Then she suddenly jumped, ramrod straight, and slapped at her earring. "Oh. Oh, there it goes. Oh shit."

"What?"

She moved fast again. Both her hands to the back of my head, pulling my mouth to hers. I kept my lips clamped shut, but she smooched me hard before pulling my ear to her mouth. "Goodbye, Chris. Game's over, gotta go. See you in a bit."

"Who are you?"

She began to vibrate. Not tremble. Her whole body suddenly vibrated like a sex toy, and a hum filled the air. Kind of like when an earthquake is about to start. I tried to shove her off again, but this time she was clamped too firmly to me. She took a deep breath, and then the words poured out in a flood. Right in my ear.

"I'm your girlfriend, but we laugh at that term, because we're a little too old for you to call me a 'girl.' Fuck it, I lose the game. I don't care about the prize anymore. It's amazing to see you with two working legs. So fuck the rules. If you win the game, we'll have enough money to retire, and then some."

"WHAT?"

"Shut up and listen to me," she hissed. The vibration in her body intensified, as did the hum around us. "First off, watch out for stairwells. Don't use stairs while you're drunk. I mean that. Second, stay off motorcycles. And finally," she said, drawing her head back enough to look me in the eyes, "My name... ugh. God." Her whole face shook for a moment. "My name is Jill. Jill Mitchel. I'll see you soon. And I love you, muffin." She shook harder as I tried to disentangle her from me.

The last thing I remember was one hell of a bang. Like lightning had struck the ground next to me. And she was gone. Just gone. No sign of her.

I walked home in urine-stained running shorts. Very fast.
Since then, I've learned that there is no place called New Manchera Bay. Not on any map.
I checked. Checked my address book, checked my retired little black book.
I have never met anyone named Jill Mitchel. I've paid some pretty big sums of cash to find her. No dice. And I stay the hell off of motorcycles, and out of stairwells.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Firecracker?

A periodically pushed-out publication pertaining to public propaganda about Myschievia penned by people who purposefully provide their time.
(it’s a volunteer gazette, ya’ll)

I have an idea for an article/announcement/short story/art work to put in the Firecracker, may I submit it for consideration?

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