Three Excerpts from Quantum Entity Trilogy

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Aug 16

How Micro-Farmers Could
Potentially Transform Rural Area

[Excerpt from Quantum Entity | we
are all ONE
By Bruce M Firestone

All rights reserved]


In this part of the trilogy (circa 2047), engineer
and physicist Damien Graham Bell is onboard California-based performance artist
Miss Nell’s private plane on their way to a mysterious place in Four Corners
called Third Mesa.
He tells her a story about how micro-famers could potentially transform rural
areas by pooling lands and tools much as Russian dachniks did for many years
after the Bolshevik revolution of 1919. Damien references attempts to get such
things off the ground in his native Ontario.
It is only a matter of time before old regulatory regimes change to allow this
form of rural development in Damien’s opinion so that land can be used to their
highest and best use.

purrs a happier Nell, “Got any other stories?”

has a million of them. “OK, one more, and then you have to sleep. And I need to
get some sleep too.

is another Russian story,” Damien says.

“Do you
only know Russian tales?”

me a break, Nell. I’m into Russian fables just now.

Damien turns to look more closely at Nell’s face, now resting companionably on
his shoulder. “Come to think of it, you do kinda remind me of Margarita from The
Master and Margarita
, by Mikhail Bulgakov, a beautiful novel banned in
Soviet Russia for many years. You look a lot like I visualized her and as
Bulgakov described his heroine. She was gutsy like you too.”

“How do
you know I’m gutsy?” asks Nell, always interested in talking about herself.

isn’t sure how he should answer her. He had Pet3r do a complete workup on Nell,
and he read it furtively on his iPhone 40 whenever Nell was busy talking to
someone else like her pilots or the big silent guy, Dekka. That’s how he knows
a lot more about her than she does about him.

didn’t tell Ms. Weinstein about us, and she’s pretty scary, Nell,” is all he

“I need
Dafne—it’s a tough old world, Damien.”

Anyway, Margarita is a witch—or rather, she is turned into one by the devil and
his entourage, who are temporarily visiting Moscow. But she is a good one,” Damien hastens
to add, knowing that Nell is sensitive to criticism like most stars are.

tell you Margarita’s story another day. Now I am going to tell you about a
group of people called Dachniks, who saved Mother Russia during the Communist

that’s a great word,” says Nell.

Russian dacha and the Dachnik Movement,”
Damien begins, “have been around for more than a 100 years. The dacha is
typically a one-room cottage perched on one hectare of land that’s large enough
to grow fruits and vegetables on to support a single family via intense, mostly
manual labour.”

big is a hectare?” Nell asks. She’s interested in real estate; she owns a bunch,
so she wants to know.

“It’s a
metric measure of area that’s about 2.47 acres, which is—”

“I know
what an acre is, Damien.”

“OK, alright.
So there were 35 million dachniks,
which is another word for gardener. During 80 years of Communist rule, they
produced more than half of that nation’s agricultural output. The productivity
of their land was far higher than the industrial farms organized as massive
collectives under Josef Stalin. The Dachnik Movement is a model of sustainable
agriculture—localized, mostly organic, and built on an economic model of social
norms rather than market norms.”

that mean?” Nell asks, now mostly just to encourage him to get on with it.

norms in this context means that dachniks helped each other or traded with each
other without money. Maybe they got the concept from the Bantu, a South African
tribe. The word they use is ubuntu,
which means ‘Today I share with you because tomorrow you share with me.’

“An archbishop—I
think his name was Tutu—helped unify South Africa using this as a
rallying point for all races living there. Wherever they got it from, it was a
good thing for the Ruskies since, under Communist rule although there was no
shortage of rubles, there was nothing to buy with them.”

mean they had money that no one trusted?” Nell is sharp when it comes to money.
She always insists that she be part—the most important part—of the decision
tree when it’s time to determine where to invest her money. She remembers what
it was like to be poor and is surprisingly conservative in her outlook on
spending and investment, except when it comes to spending money on herself.

They had rubles but there was nothing to buy in Russian stores. You had to have
hard currency, mainly the old U.S.
dollar, to actually buy anything worthwhile.”

“So how
did ordinary Russian people get by?” Nell asks.

used queuing to ration everything. Russians would see people lining up outside
a store in, say, St. Petersburg,
and they would just join the lineup without knowing what there might be to buy,
but working on the assumption that there must be something. It’s kinda like the
red paper clip guy in the early days of the Internet. He kept trading stuff
until he turned that one red paper clip into a house. It didn’t take many
trades to do it either. I think it was fewer than 15 or 16, and it took about a

“What was
his house like?” Nell asks. Like most women, she has an instinctive interest in
people’s nesting places.

Nell. This story is like 50 years old. I don’t know. I suspect it was a pretty
cheap house. The guy was a Canadian, and the house was somewhere in the
Prairies—I think Saskatchewan.

Damien goes on, “Russians did a lot of trading and dachniks relied on a gift
economy—trading without money.

“In a
gift economy, many people will happily work harder than if they are paid.
Lawyers asked to work legal aid cases won’t do any for a discounted wage of,
say, ND$30 per hour. They find that insulting since most corporate types these
days are charging ND$950 per hour and up, but they willingly line up to work on
a pure volunteer, pro bono basis.

“So dachniks
needing extra labour for a short period, a tool like an old Allen scythe to
help with haying, advice on a weed or pest infestation, and whatever else can
expect to get help for nothing—or, at least, without monetary exchange. Of
course, their neighbours anticipate they’ll get the same consideration in
return one day.

addition to being more self-reliant, enjoying the company provided by a
community of like-minded people and eating food of known provenance, dachniks
also benefit from Japanese-style forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, which I told you about in my last story about

didn’t use the term ‘Shinrin-yoku’,” Nell points out. At least she’s listening.
In fact, Nell loves stories—her mom adored reading stories to her beautiful and
happy child, and even long after Nell became a prolific reader on her own, they
still sat together for hours with Mom reading to her as if she was performing
for an audio book—both recording and acting out stuff. Mom is a frustrated
actor, Nell thinks, ground down by poverty and lack of opportunity and

imagine the Shinrin-yoku effect,” Damien adds for emphasis, “on dachniks who
spend an average of 17 hours each week during the season working their gardens.

grandfather knew a group of Russian immigrants who came to Ontario after the fall of the Communists at
the end of the last century. They wanted to introduce the Dachnik Movement to Canada.
Pops tried to help them—holy smokes, he had an interesting time trying to
explain the concept to OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and
Rural Affairs).

“The dachniks
planned to buy 140 hectares or so of derelict farmland within an hour of where
they lived and worked so that they could access their tiny plots on weekdays
during crucial growing and harvesting seasons. In Ontario, no problem—there is plenty of some
of the world’s least expensive farmland within an hour of most cities and
towns. Plus the area is famously home to thousands of lakes, streams, and
rivers. Water is everywhere and available in all seasons from surface water
bodies, huge underground reservoirs (via wells), and the heavens as well.

problem wasn’t availability of land or water; it was regulatory. OMAFRA defines
agriculture and farming as exclusively industrial—only massive industrial and
chemical-based farming operations are, in fact, recognized as ‘farmers.’”

the governor of Ontario,
Damien? Any chance it’s a guy named Stalin or someone channelling him?” Nell

don’t have governors. We have premiers,” Damien answers.

didn’t they used to call the top Communist, ‘Premier’?” Nell responds.

point, Nell. Never thought of that. So, our premier, channelling Josef Stalin,”
Damien says to a now smiling Nell, “gives those big industrial farmers access
to subsidized diesel, cheaper inputs (seeds and fertilizer), free labs for soil
analysis, no-cost advice on pest infestations and diseases, marketing boards,
as well as other forms of market and price support including income subsidies.
And they get significantly lower property taxes as well. But OMAFRA refers to
the Dachnik Movement as a bunch of ‘gardeners,’ a pejorative term to OMAFRA.

these ‘gardeners’ can’t get access to any of OMAFRA’s services or other forms
of support. It puts dachniks behind the eight ball. They also pay way higher
property taxes. Now if you allow your competition to start at the 80-metre mark
in a 100-metre race while you start at 0, you cannot beat them. The problem was
further compounded by the fact that Dachniks and their representatives just
could not explain to the local mayor in a way she could understand that they
planned on sharing their 140 hectares amongst 100 families, each with their own
little cabin or dacha.

weighed in too. He told some local bureaucrats, ‘What’s wrong with having your
own one-room cabin on your own one hectare of land where you can take shelter
in inclement weather? What’s wrong if a tired dachnik, after a long day at the
office and a few hours of manual labour in his garden plus an hour or two of friendly
company around a campfire with fellow gardeners, drinking a bit of vodka and
playing their balalaikas, decides to sleep there overnight?’

from the fact that they are gardeners and not industrialized farmers, the power
structure rejects the concept because it is just too strange and too foreign for
their bureaucratic pinhead-sized minds. Plus they are gonna break practically
every one of their zoning codes, (called local ordinances here in the States),
Nell. Those codes prohibit the breakup of larger parcels into small plots—it’s
all about retaining the existing political and economic power structure and a
land ownership pattern that favours industrial combines.

“It was
impossible, impossible, Pops found, to get such a thing approved in Ontario and, he suspected, pretty much everywhere else in
North America. But it was the dachniks that
saved Haiti.”

knows a bit about Haiti; she
has a home in the Western Caribbean. “I think
I heard about them. Hundreds of thousands fled to the countryside or

They were led by a Russian ex-pat, Yana Domracheva. She emigrated there from Ontario after a big
earthquake. Who knows why? Maybe she was moved by the suffering of the people
is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Disaster and privation are
something a Russian would understand in a pretty fundamental way. She found it
a lot easier to start a movement there, where the institutional framework, the
dead hand of government and industry, had been cleared away, in this case, by
natural disaster.”

practically emptied out Port-au-Prince
or something,” Nell says.

not really, but a lot of people did go,” Damien continues. “It pretty much
saved their nation. Anyway, Pops felt that if they had gotten these micro farms
approved in Canada,
they could have traded for significant amounts of money—there would be a lot of
demand for them and not just from people in the Dachnik Movement.

be worth a lot more than just their economic value too. Their social value—everything
from hanging out with congenial friends to improved health from Shinrin-yoku—would
factor into the value that each plot would trade for.

thought that bringing hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of would-be dachniks out
of cities into nearby rural areas and small towns would immediately have a
positive impact on these smaller communities in terms of direct and indirect
economic spin-offs. Property values would increase, and jobs would be created,
not to mention that young people would have the opportunity (possibly) to stay
there. At least, it would give rural communities a chance to hold on to their
most valuable resource—their kids.

“At the
end of the day, Pops told me that the only way to actually build such a
community in Ontario and places with a regulatory framework much like Ontario’s
(which is pretty much everywhere these days since the British system of land
ownership and development is nearly universal) would be to do it using
Nemawashi, the Japanese art of gaining consensus by stealth.”

is everything, Damien,” says perfectionist and now very sleepy performance
artist, Miss Nell.

I buy that. So anyway, if you are really determined to get something like this
off the ground, you might actually have to do it under water, out of view, and a
little bit at a time.

“But if
somehow you were able to successfully establish a farm made up of a 100-family
community of micro farmers, then, Pops felt sure, the next minister of agriculture
and food (whoever he or she was), and maybe even the premier, would one day
visit it and proclaim it as the future of farming in Ontario. Politicians love
to run to the front of an already formed parade as long as it has been proven
safe to do so.”

By the
end of this long story, Nell is fast asleep and, moments later, so is Damien.

Aboard an Airship over the Pacific

[Excerpt from Quantum Entity | American
By Bruce M Firestone

All rights reserved]


In book 2 of the trilogy, new president of the
Commonwealth of the United States,
Ellen Brooks, is flying on a vast Danish-built airship (Princesa Agnes)
purportedly for a leisurely holiday trip from San Fran to Auckland
after guiding the US
through a revolutionary period. However, she has secretly pre-arranged a meetup
with General of the Army Farrar Staubach.

90 minutes later, the
two girls sweep into the dining salon. Ellen is looking positively regal and

Princesa Agnes,
cruising at just under 1,500 meters in lovely early evening weather, is heading
out to sea, turning south for a leisurely voyage at 135 knots to Auckland. It’ll get warmer
as they go.

The ship’s Captain, a
tall Nordic woman, her first officer and other senior members of her staff are
there to greet the President of the Commonwealth of the United States. They exchange
pleasantries but Ellen’s heart isn’t in it. Her head is on swivel.

Finally, she sees him.
He’s in civvies, a muscular man in his mid 40s, terribly handsome and, no
question about it, the most debonair man she has ever seen.

He comes striding
purposefully over to her. “Madam President,” he says holding her right hand in
both of his and looking into her blue eyes with his dark ones.

“Good evening,

Mary’s face tells the
whole story. Here stands General of the Army, Farrar Staubach, no doubt about
that. He’s an incredible male presence in this room. Mary realizes instantly
that Ellen is using her as political cover. ‘Holiday,
my ass,’ Mary thinks.

“Would you care to
join me for dinner?” Farrar asks looking at Ellen but doing his best to include

“General, may I
introduce you to Ms. Mary O’Regan,” Ellen says not wanting to introduce the
General to anyone except maybe her stateroom.

“Umm, nice to meet
you, General. I, I forgot something in my room. Please forgive me for not
joining you right now. Perhaps later?”

This is unaccustomed
territory for Mary. Diplomacy is not a usual part of her vocab. What she really
wants to do is give Ellen an elbow in her ribs and wink at her. The naughty
girl! But she can see that Ellen is so nervous that perhaps she’ll puke on her
beautiful emerald green, full length evening gown. She is wearing a diamond
bracelet on her tiny right wrist that would sink this ship if it had any more
stones in it. She is also wearing a matching small diamond tiara to tie back
her fantastic blond hair and emerald green high heels so she is the same height
as the General.

Let’s do dressup.
Right. Sure. Mary wonders how long it’s been since her friend was with a man.
Especially one like the General. Mary thinks, ‘Like forever and nevverr,’
as she walks out of this immense dining salon.

Farrar is in their
living room, looking relaxed and fit. Ellen has excused herself and Mary is
making small talk with the General. He keeps glancing at Ellen’s stateroom
door. But it doesn’t open. Maybe the President’s called it a night and gone to

Mary excuses herself.
She’s off to check out one or two of the 72 all night bars and eatery places on
Agnes. She has no intention of coming back before dawn.

Farrar knocks softly
on her door.

“Come in.”

He enters her room
(which is well lit by a full Moon and LED lights that sparkle in the floor of
their balcony) but just far enough to see that Ellen is wearing an Agent
Spéciale full length Kimono of the finest material he has ever seen. It is
predominantly black and has lovely orange orchids on it. He gets a glimpse over
her shoulder of golden lace underneath with a Waspie look (that’s a cinched
waist). She doesn’t turn around when he enters. She is looking out over the
ocean through her transparent shutters. The ship has been sealed as they gain
altitude heading towards 6,000 meters.

“Do you want me to

“I don’t know, Farrar.”

“Do you want me to


Farrar, not usually
stumped, is stumped. She is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Oh,
there have been younger ones, perkier ones, but never one more beautiful than
this girl. She’s even taken off her ever-present glasses. But he is certain
that if he makes a wrong move, it’s over. He’s wanted her from the first moment
he put eyes on her.

He’s pretty sure she
wants him—he can feel waves of wanting coming off her.

He goes over to her
but does not touch her.

Softly he says,
“Ellen, we have more than two weeks on board. I’ve waited for you for a few
years now. A few more days, a few more months even, is fine with me. I’m not in
a hurry.”

“But I am,” she says
turning to him and coming into his waiting arms.

He kisses her gently
and lets his hands find her beautiful ass. He has powerful hands and he kneads
her ass cheeks releasing copious amounts of endorphins in her. She moans loudly
and absolutely melts into his body. Her moan causes a response in Farrar that
is amazing even to him. He runs his hands through her long hair and smells her
down to the microbe level. She is wearing Nell Perfume, the one with Ambergris
in it. But he can also smell her shampoo as well as her slight female odor and
it’s like the General’s just received another round of incoming artillery fire.

He picks her up and
takes her over to her bed. He places her there. He starts to get undressed but
then she is there, helping him. She wants to help. She’s a bit clumsy, it’s
Ellen after all. But she gets him undressed and pulls him to her.

He runs his hands over
her sheer mesh demi-cup bra careful not to let his hands touch any part of her

Then he places them on
her high waisted satin elastic strapping, again making sure not to touch her
skin. She is still fully ‘clothed’ and he is making her wait.

He understands that it
has been awhile, maybe a long while for Ellen and he wants to make sure she is
open and ready.

He is driving her

Finally, he allows his
hands to move from her lingerie to her skin, her stupendous breasts, her
marvelous ass and her most private parts.

She cannot wait, not
another minute, not another second. She reaches for him and guides him into

Still he is careful to
go slowly. She moans once more, a long almost mournful sound that reaches from
her soul into his.

He moves slowly, bit
by bit, inch by inch until his full length is in her. Still she feels that she
can do more, that he can do more and she reaches down, places her hands on his
ass and pulls him further into her. He compresses his buttocks so his penis,
which is already substantial, expands inside her even more.

Then he grabs her
around her torso with his amazing strength which he was born with and which
years of military discipline have increased even more, folding her completely
in half and thrusts into her for what seems like an eternity to both of them
but couldn’t, at this point, be any longer than three more minutes (which is,
frankly, amazing given the state they are both in by this time). She lets out another
moan as she explodes at precisely the moment he does.

‘Wowza, Wowza, Wowza,’
Ellen is thinking a few moments later using that crappy left coast expression
she’s picked up while in San Fran.

“Have you been with
many women, Farrar?” Ellen asks with her head on his chest. He has some man
hair there but not too much. It’s nice. She’s playing with it.

He sees no use in
prevaricating with this woman, “Yes.”

“It shows.”

“Have you been with
many men, Ellen?”

“Ah, that would be a
negative, General.”

“It shows.”

They both laugh.

Ellen’s skin is the
most amazing thing he has ever touched and, like he said a moment ago, he’s
touched quite a few females in his womanizing career.

She uses an expensive
Murale system every day—first she uses their all-natural cleanser, then toner,
serum and finally moisturizer on every part of her body. She’s been doing it
since she was 22 and she’s glad she’s kept it up during her lean years of which
she’s had many up until about a few hours ago. Seeing its effect on the General,
she is totally pleased with herself.

Soon, they are putting
Farrar’s experience and her Murale system to good use again. He knows all the
right buttons to push with her and it isn’t long before she is trembling all
over and her limbs are shaking.

Ellen’s finally
getting to be a bad girl and, this time, in a proper bedroom even if it is six
kilometers up.

“Umm, are we being
careful?” Mary is asking at breakfast the next day. It’s near noon as far as
the sun is concerned.

Ellen blushes beet

“Oh come on, you
weren’t playing croquet with the General last night, were you?”

Knowing Ellen the way
she does, she wouldn’t put it past her to substitute Pinochle for sex but the
blush tells all.

“So are we being

As President of the
Commonwealth, Ellen is regularly examined by several doctors. They analyze her
to bits and then some. It takes her three visits before she can get up the guts
to ask one of her lady doctors if, ah, there would be a possibility, just
saying, ah, to have, perhaps, a BPI insert.

This is the latest in
birth prevention—it’s inserted into her forearm using a syringe. It’s really
tiny but contains quadrillions and quadrillions of nanosites. These are purely
mechanical devices, quite heavy despite their tiny size, that track down and penetrate
the Perl acrosomal space (the head of a male reproductive cell, i.e., sperm) to
lodge themselves in the nucleus thereby increasing its density. Basically, they
slow the little swimmers down so they can’t get to the gamete (female
reproductive cell) aka ovum or egg.

Like most well
engineered devices, it has a backup. In case some of the swimmers keep moving,
there’s another type of nanosite that latches onto the hardiest spermatozoon
and once attached to their axoneme (tail), they sprout little hooks. They’re
like sea anchors and they stop the little devils in their tracks.

The nice thing about
BPI inserts is it’s all mechanical so the days of fucking up women’s bodies
with chemicals is over. The nanosites flush out through the body’s natural
systems when their mission is accomplished.

You have to put a new
insert in every once in a while depending on how many of the little vermin the
particular woman is dealing with. For Ellen, until recently, a BPI insert—a)
wasn’t needed and b) if she’d put one in, it would have lasted to infinity. But
now she’s equipped. She’s got her own little Strategic Defense System to use on
the General.

But Ellen is not going
to share this story with Mary. All she’ll say for the moment is, “I’m taking

“OK, so how was he? As
good as he looks?”

Ellen is mum about
this subject.

Magellan Bell on his way from Port
Isabel in Texas
to Quetzaltenango in the Guatemalan highlands on a bicycle

[Excerpt from Quantum Entity | The
By Bruce M Firestone

All rights reserved]

In book 3, after the invasion of the USC
(Commonwealth of the United States)
by Imperial China and Germania, the resistance is fleeing south. Nina has
betrayed Magellan with Paolo so he leaves her in Tampico Mexico
and goes on alone. Magellan (earlier nicknamed “Ian” by Nina) is an artist, one
who is destined to as famous as any in prior history, does not drive. No, he’s on
his bike, which he calls “Lani Tutu”.

“Think about how
important fire is to almost all human technology,” Magellan says to his new
friend. “It is amazing to me that modern humans, even those who know they are
going to be on what used to be called reality television, that is back when we
had TV, who knew for months that they would be on a show, could not light a
fire with stone age tools after days of trying. Now how can that be?”

Ian is talking to
Pico, his northern treeshrew hitchhiker, who has been making a home in one of
his satchels since after the first night Magellan hit the road. Pico is a male,
about 8 and ½ inches long but looks bigger because his tail is almost as long
again as his body. He weighs nearly 8 ounces, which makes him Bart-sized and
heavy for a treeshrew. Pico, like all males of his species, left home early
(when he was 36 days old) in search of his own territory and a potential mate.

Treeshrews are
smart—before they have kids, they build two nests—one for parents and one for
babies. It keeps the adults sane. Mom visits the babies’ nest every 48 hours to
feed her brood (she’ll have 1 to 3 babies at a time) but the rest of the time
is hers. Dad’s only job is to watch out for predators—snakes, birds of prey or
other males in his species trying to move in on either his territory and/or his

Pico figures that hitchhiking to Guatemala
with Ian ought to put enough distance between him and his daddy to satisfy even
the most aggressive treeshrew male. When he gets there, he’ll be on the lookout
for a female Guatemalan broad-clawed shrew to mate with since there are no
northern treeshrews in Akna.

Treeshrews look like
rats to some people with their brown fur, long tails, big black eyes (made for
nocturnal feeding—they are omnivores), pointy snouts and protruding ears that
look like they need an ear fold implant to plaster them back closer to their
skulls so that school bullies don’t get after them during recess because they
have sticking-out ears. When a treeshrew opens its mouth, you’ll see a frightmare
set of razor sharp teeth; it’s like a vampire bat coming for you about to open
your throat and tear you another aperture to breathe through. To Magellan, Pico
is the cutest thing and good company. He feeds his treeshrew some of the beef
jerky he’s made and is carrying with him but without the hot sauce. Treeshrews
in the wild live for two or three years but Pico is special, he will live much
longer but that’s another story.

“See, Pico, these
people had months to prepare; they had access to books on how to do it; they
obviously had read them because they put the tools together—but they got smoke
but no fire. What do you think, brother?”

Then Magellan answers
for Pico in a higher pitched voice, “Well, Ian, imagine how valuable someone
who could reliably make fire would be on one of those teams!”

“Right!” Magellan
answers in his normal voice. “Do you want to know how to make fire from
scratch, huh, Pico? What d’ya say?”

They’ve made camp in
another arroyo about 200 meters from the highway. It’s day 7 or maybe it’s day
8 (Magellan’s not sure; he’s definitely not living up to his namesake’s
navigational abilities) out from Brownsville and, without realizing it, his
solitary travels have brought his mind onto another plateau, one where his
inner voice that has all his life been telling him he’s a fuckup has stopped
tormenting him. He’s happy, a state that is completely foreign to him except
for the few times he’s been with Nina where she isn’t making fun of him or
putting him down. When he thinks about Nina, he gets mad—at himself. But it
doesn’t last long. He goes quickly back to living in the moment and being

It’s near dusk when he
pulls off the highway. He takes himself, Pico and his trick bike into the
arroyo where he can hide from everyone. At this point, Magellan doesn’t care if
he ever sees another human being again except he is missing his son. That’s the
reason he’s going to Akna. That and his promise to his dad to record in the
caves above Akna the history of the Quantum Era in paintings that will last
36,000 years.

It’s a dry wash but
there is lots of kindling and brush to burn. Magellan is going to make a stone
soup, essentially made with whatever Ian can scrounge.

He teases Pico, “Naw,
I’ve already decided against it! Since you eat meat, pieces of treeshrew in my
soup would be yucky. So don’t worry, brother, you’re safe for another day.”

Ian is proud of himself. He can fix a flat
(two so far), make fire from scratch and safely discharge the pulse rifle Nina
gave him and like she taught him.

 “So Pico, here’s the deal. If you have a
pocketknife like this,” Magellan brandishes his small army knife for the
treeshrew to admire, “and a good flint, which we don’t have, but we do have
quartzite, ta-da,” Ian holds up a chunk of quartzite about half the size of his
fist, “you’re set. ¿Comprendes so far?”

Pico appears to nod.

“Good. Do you know
what quartzite is? No? Well it’s a hard, metamorphic rock, which was originally
pure quartz sandstone.”

Magellan knows
materials science because he is an artist. It’s his one true calling.

“So, brother, after
you make a nest of dry char, you strike the steel against your quartzite like
this a few times…” Magellan finally shuts up and concentrates on his smoky
char. It’s hard to talk when you are huffing and puffing and creating fire.

When the char bursts
into flame, Magellan holds it aloft on a branch like Chuck Noland did in Castaway (a film Magellan’s mother made
him and Finnegan watch when they were little, which bored the twins psycho) and
says, “LOOK WHAT I HAVE CREATED!” He runs around their makeshit campsite, glad
now that he saw the movie. He got the term “makeshit” from Nina who got it from

All Pico knows is that
it’s almost dinner time.

Pico bites down softly
on Magellan’s thumb. The tall man just turns over and goes back to sleep so
Pico tries his ear next. That gets his attention.

Magellan sits up. It’s
about 4 a.m. He can feel blood dripping from his left ear. He can see Pico
sitting there pleased with himself showing off his vampire bat jaws-like teeth
again. Pico is screeching and agitated. Maybe he’s hungry?

Magellan hears a twig
break. He wonders what kind of predators other than 8 inch treeshrews might be
around. Then he hears another twig snap.

He freezes for a
moment. All his life, there’s been someone around to take care of him. He was a
miserable failure (at least in his mind) as a partner for Becky, a father for
Sebastian, a brother for Finnegan, a friend to Sean and, above all, a potential
Nina lover. He realizes, of course, that he is alone and, if anyone is going to
save him, it’ll be up to him. He slowly, noiselessly, pulls the pulse rifle
towards him. He opens his mouth without thinking consciously about that. When
he breathes like that (through his mouth), it helps sharpen his hearing. There
are at least two of them—animal or human, he’s not sure—coming his way but from
different directions. It’s a three quarter moon so there is plenty of light.
Magellan waits for the universe to unfold as it will.

“¿Qué estás haciendo
aquí? Esta es nuestra propiedad?” one of the men asks.

Magellan’s natural
instinct in response to this question is to apologize. It’s apparently their
property and he’s trespassing. But then he looks at the condition of the two
men—they are pitiful scarecrows, it’s the middle of the night and they are
carrying ugly looking machetes—it’s obvious they want his stuff, especially the
pulse rifle, which will buy these guys a life on easy street for at least two
years when they sell it on the black market.

“I’m leaving now.” His
Spanish has deserted him so he walks two fingers in front of his seated body to
show them his plan. He smiles at them. Quite a relaxed smile actually in spite
of circumstances.

The leader of the two
banditos decides to take Magellan’s arms off, careful not to damage the pulse
weapon. But Ian is faster than the guy expected; he brings his weapon up and
fires it in the general direction of his attacker at full power, which
extinguishes the man into nothingness faster than his dad and Nell left Earth
to travel in style inside Q-space. On full power, pulse rifles punch a hole in
Earth’s ozone layer and cause the cells of the bandito’s body to fly to the
other side of our universe. It also flies out of Magellan’s hands since he
forgot or didn’t have time to brace it against his shoulder like Nina told him
to. Darn.

The other guy moves to
strike at Magellan’s head but there is something else about treeshrews you need
to know. They’re like flying squirrels, they can jump like hell. Pico is
currently hanging off the guy’s nose tearing out a hefty chunk of cartilage
while he’s there. They also have slimy looking pink hands that are very adept
at clawing things so while he’s swinging from side to side as the attacker
tries to fling Pico off his nose (he is afraid to use his machete in case he
takes his own head off), the treeshrew badly scratches the man’s right eye,
which he won’t be able to see clearly out of again during his lifetime, however
much longer that might be.

Magellan spins away,
grabs his pulse rifle up and brings its butt end down on the man’s cervical
spine (the part of the spine that starts at the base of your neck). He’s out
before he hits the ground. This man will never walk again.

Ian drags the man to
the roadside and props him up under a shade tree. He has nothing to tie him up
with unless he uses some of the straps from Lani Tutu, which he isn’t willing
to do. He needs those. There’s also the twin facts that he’s more than a foot
taller than the bandito, and the guy is in terrible condition since it looks
like he is paralyzed below his neck.

Magellan crouches down
and asks, “What is your name? ¿Cuál es su nombre?”

If he says “Paolo”
Magellan thinks (meanly) he’ll put him out of his misery just on general

Lucky for him, the guy
says, “Raúl.”

“OK, Raúl, here’s
what’s going to happen. I can kill you with this rifle,” Magellan brandishes it
for a moment, Raúl winces, “or I can leave you here. I take it the wince means
you favor door no. 2. Right Pico?” Pico puts his snout out of his comfy nest (a
satchel full of twigs and branches stashed there by Pico with some assistance
from Ian), which he has returned to after recent exertions, and nods. Magellan
isn’t sure if Pico is agreeing to leaving him there or shooting him.

Magellan, showing that
his galoot days are not yet fully behind him, offers Raúl his water bottle.

“Guess you can’t help
yourself, right Raúl?”

Magellan helps the man

“Pretty thirsty, huh, Raúl?”

Magellan is used to
carrying both sides of any conversation now.

He lies Raúl down and
puts a bowl of water near his mouth where he can reach it with his tongue. It’s
the best he can do for him.

He gets on Lani Tutu;
he and Pico start anew down the long road to Akna. If Nina ever sees Magellan
again, she might find he’s quite a different man after this night.

Magellan never looks

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.