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Tag Archives: Earth’s End

Can Melting Antarctic Permafrost Help Push Global Warming?

How did ancient global warming occur and are we heading that way again? First, let’s just state the obvious and not carp on is it or isn’t it true. Our Earth goes through its own life-cycles, and it does grow warm and cool depending on so many variables that we, humans, can’t yet contemplate. Our scientists do the best they can with the information they can “see”, but there are so many other factors that play a part in these Earth changes. One example is the tilt of our Earth. Every twenty-thousand years or so, the earth wobbles in its orbit; this wobble tilts the Earth just right and wham! The Sahara Desert is now a tropical oasis. I was so excited when I first learned this, but we have at least another fifteen thousand years to go before the next ‘wobble’.

So is there a global warming. You bet there is. But, I do not believe it is caused just by humans, although we may play a small role in it, I honestly think we are entering one of Mother Earth’s changes. Such an event took place some fifty-five million years ago. During that change the world abruptly warmed by 5 degrees Celsius and turned the oceans acidic.

But how? That is the question scientists have been working on for over fourteen years, and may finally have an answer. The green-house gases needed may have gushed into the atmosphere from thawing permafrost in an ice-free Antarctica. Although this is still a theory, it is possible that extremely large stores of methane hydrates, created by rotted plants stored in coal, the mud in oceans and lakes and in soil can freeze and become huge storage vaults. As the permafrost melts, the gas is released.

So as we thaw permafrost today, it is releasing these greenhouse gasses back into the atmosphere. Once the tipping point is met and substantial melting occurs you can have a sudden explosion of methane gas gushing into the atmosphere.

The problem with this theory, just like any other, is how do you prove it.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Earth Changes, Global Warming, Science

 

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Earth’s Melting Land Ice

In the first comprehensive satellite study of its kind, a University of Colorado at Boulder-led team used NASA data to calculate how much Earth’s melting land ice is adding to global sea level rise.

Using satellite measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the researchers measured ice loss in all of Earth’s land ice between 2003 and 2010, with particular emphasis on glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica.

The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep.

“Earth is losing a huge amount of ice to the ocean annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet’s cold regions are responding to global change,” said University of Colorado Boulder physics professor John Wahr, who helped lead the study. “The strength of GRACE is it sees all the mass in the system, even though its resolution is not high enough to allow us to determine separate contributions from each individual glacier.”

About a quarter of the average annual ice loss came from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica (roughly 148 billion tons, or 39 cubic miles). Ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica and their peripheral ice caps and glaciers averaged 385 billion tons (100 cubic miles) a year. Results of the study will be published online Feb. 8 in the journal Nature.

Traditional estimates of Earth’s ice caps and glaciers have been made using ground measurements from relatively few glaciers to infer what all the world’s unmonitored glaciers were doing. Only a few hundred of the roughly 200,000 glaciers worldwide have been monitored for longer than a decade.

One unexpected study result from GRACE was the estimated ice loss from high Asian mountain ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually. Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in these high Asian mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually.

“The GRACE results in this region really were a surprise,” said Wahr, who also is a fellow at the University of Colorado-headquartered Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “One possible explanation is that previous estimates were based on measurements taken primarily from some of the lower, more accessible glaciers in Asia and extrapolated to infer the behavior of higher glaciers. But unlike the lower glaciers, most of the high glaciers are located in very cold environments and require greater amounts of atmospheric warming before local temperatures rise enough to cause significant melting. This makes it difficult to use low-elevation, ground-based measurements to estimate results from the entire system.”

“This study finds that the world’s small glaciers and ice caps in places like Alaska, South America and the Himalayas contribute about .02 inches per year to sea level rise,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “While this is lower than previous estimates, it confirms that ice is being lost from around the globe, with just a few areas in precarious balance. The results sharpen our view of land ice melting, which poses the biggest, most threatening factor in future sea level rise.”

The twin GRACE satellites track changes in Earth’s gravity field by noting minute changes in gravitational pull caused by regional variations in Earth’s mass, which for periods of months to years is typically because of movements of water on Earth’s surface. It does this by measuring changes in the distance between its two identical spacecraft to one-hundredth the width of a human hair.

The GRACE spacecraft, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and launched in 2002, are in the same orbit approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Earth Changes, Global Warming, NASA, News Article, Science

 

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Large X-class Flare Erupts on the Sun

Good thing it wasn’t aimed at Us! If it was we’d be gone, gone, gone! Just image a blast of plasma hitting earth at temperatures greater than 100,000 degrees!

On Jan. 27, 2012, a large X-class flare erupted from an active region near the solar west limb. X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events. Seen here is an image of the flare captured by the X-ray telescope on Hinode. This image shows an emission from plasma heated to greater than eight million degrees during the energy release process of the flare.

Image Credit: JAXA/Hinode

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Earth Changes, Global Warming, NASA, Photo, Science, Space

 

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Return of a Killer Volcano

I have been following volcanoes for awhile now, and we are long overdue for a large explosion from several monsters around the globe. Yellowstone happens to be only one of them. I often wonder if humankind can survive such a catastrophic eruption as it would mean banding together, helping each other, giving to one another. In such an event would we be able to tear our inner walls down and help someone despite their race, color, sex, sexual preference, religion? I know I could, and many of the people I am close to. But I worry. . .

Photograph by Sigurdur Hrafn Stefnisson

 

What if one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recent history happened today? A new study suggests that a blast akin to one that devastated Iceland in the 1780s would waft noxious gases southeastward and kill tens of thousands of people in Europe. And in a modern world that is intimately connected by air traffic and international trade, economic activity across much of Europe, including the production and import of food, could plummet.

From June of 1783 until February of 1784, the Laki volcano in south-central Iceland erupted. Although the event didn’t produce large amounts of volcanic ash, it did spew an estimated 122 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the sky—a volume slightly higher than human industrial activity today produces in the course of a year, says Anja Schmidt, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Historical records suggest that in the 2 years after the Laki eruption, approximately 10,000 Icelanders died—about one-fifth of the population—along with nearly three-quarters of the island’s livestock. Parish records in England reveal that in the summer of 1783, when the event began, death rates were between 10% and 20% above normal. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy reported episodes of decreased visibility, respiratory difficulties, and increased mortality associated with the eruption. According to one study, an estimated 23,000 people died from exposure to the volcanic aerosols in Britain alone. But elsewhere in Europe, it’s difficult to separate deaths triggered by the air pollution from those caused by starvation or disease, which were prominent causes of death at the time.

To assess how such an eruption might affect the densely populated Europe of today, Schmidt and her colleagues plugged a few numbers into a computer simulation. They used weather models to estimate where sulfur dioxide emissions from an 8-month-long eruption that commenced in June would end up. They also estimated the resulting increases in the concentrations of airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers across, the size of aerosols that are most easily drawn into human lungs and that cause cardiopulmonary distress. Then, they used modern medical data to estimate how many people those aerosols would kill.

In the first 3 months after the hypothetical eruption began, the average aerosol concentration over Europe would increase by 120%, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The number of days during the eruption in which aerosol concentrations exceed air-quality standards would rise to 74, when a normal period that length typically includes only 38. Not surprisingly, the air would become thickest with dangerous particles in areas downwind of the eruption, such as Iceland and northwestern Europe, where aerosol concentrations would more than triple. But aerosol concentrations in southern Europe would also increase dramatically, rising by 60%.

In the year after the hypothetical eruption commences, the increased air pollution swept from Iceland to Europe would cause massive amounts of heart and lung disease, killing an estimated 142,000 people. Fewer than half that number of Europeans die from seasonal flu each year.

At least four Laki-sized eruptions have occurred in Iceland in the past 1150 years, Schmidt and her colleagues say. So the new figures are cause for concern.

The team “has done a good job of showing where volcanic aerosols would end up, and the human health response to such aerosols is well understood,” says Brian Toon, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “This is all very solid science.”

Icelandic volcanoes shut down European air traffic for more than a week in April 2010 and for several days in May of this year. But those eruptions are tiny compared with a Laki-sized eruption, which could ground airplanes for 6 months or more, says Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Such an event would have a huge impact on crop yields and, by affecting shipping and air traffic, would also affect Europeans’ ability to import food, he notes. It could even have a dramatic effect on daily life, he says. “If there are sulfur dioxide clouds over Europe, people with respiratory problems can’t do much about it except stay indoors.”

*This article has been corrected. In the first paragraph and in the image caption, compass directions were originally misstated and should have read southeastward and southeastern, respectively.

by Sid Perkins

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in News Article, Photo, Science

 

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Escape – Story

Hover Craft 1 drifted over the continent emitting a soft hum. Dion sat beside the window waiting for dawn, he was sure the sight would be incredible from this height. Seeing the sunrise was the only thing he had been looking forward to. A minute later the huge fireball poked its blazing crest above the distant mountain tops. Dion gazed at the climbing orb in awe, shading his lavender eyes in an attempt to see the golden chariots that guided its ascent.

The light was blinding, “how was anyone supposed to see chariots?” he thought. “If,” he contemplated silently, “that is, If, the chariot legend is true.” His world was full of lies.

The windows tinted themselves, making the inner pane reflective. He could see his ghost-like image in the glass. His pure white hair fell in layered waves to the center of his shoulder blades, the common style for men. Women wore their hair twisted in a long elegant braid, hanging like a rope to their ankles. But where the others were stocky and short, Dion was tall and slim with well-developed muscles. At twenty-one he had yet to find a Mating Couple, very uncommon for one of his great age.

Nineteen other men and twenty women of the same age filled the craft. In the front sat an old man in flowing black robes. The man’s eyes were red, darker than blood and much darker than the color of the sun as it faded in the evening sky. The pupil was green, like spring grass. Although old, his face was youthful. His features could have been chiseled from marble, so perfectly molded, yet so cold and distant. He was Alion, the ‘father’ for their small clan of forty people.

“Aren’t you excited, Dion?” Quest asked in a hushed whisper, risking the ire of Alion.  Casual communication was forbidden during their Holy flight across the world. Never before had Earth’s Children been allowed inside one of the majestic ships; only the Alion were permitted to fly.

“I am . . . I guess.”

“You guess? Dion, we are the very first humans to establish life in the New Land!”

“People lived there before. We are not the first.”

She folded her arms across her chest, looking at him in contempt. “That was before the Sundering.”

Almost majestically Alion suddenly appeared beside them, his penetrating eyes nailing them with dull fury. “Did I not express how important it is for silence? Why do my children disobey me?”

“Oh Alion, it is my fault. I am overjoyed with anticipation. I tried expressing my excitement to Dion, but I fear that he doesn’t share the same feelings. I would ask the Great Alion to move my seat.”

“At ease my precious child, you may take a seat up front with Devon.” Quest lightly brushed her lips against his gloved hand. Alion’s red eyes swivelled in Dion’s direction, blazing with barely controlled anger. “Dion, please accompany me to my cabin.”

“Yes, Alion.”

Once in the cabin Dion was directed to sit on a pale yellow mat while Alion sat in his polished marble chair. “Why can’t you understand and accept the way of life?”

“I did not say anything wrong. Quest said we are the first to inhabit this new land, but we are not, people were there before the Sundering.” He spoke bitterly, he hated that everyone just accepted whatever Alion said without question.

“What do you know of the Sundering? You are a mere child, you never saw the Sundering, you are naive and arrogant! Does not every Alion know what happened? We are older than the Sundering.  We witnessed what those barbaric humans did to the world! Why do you continue to dwell on them?”

Alion’s agitation showed.  His eyes turned so red they seemed to bathe the room in a crimson light. He never felt fear in the presence of Alion before, but he did now. For an instant he saw two Alions’ trying to occupy the same body. The fainter image resembled Alion but with worms crawling all over a gray skinned body. Dion shuddered, his lunch heaving to his throat. A second later everything appeared normal.

“Will you not answer my question?”

Dion cleared his throat, swallowing the acidic bile with a grimace. “It is true that I was not there, but I—” He bit his words off, realizing he almost mentioned the book he found.

“But?”

“But from the legends we hear, I guess I sometimes feel memories stirring. Almost like I was there.”

“I see,” Alion murmured and leaned forward, never braking eye contact. “You were always different. So tall and fair, strutting around thinking you are better than I,” his words dripped with sarcasm. “I am your Father.  You will obey me—always!” His gloved fist flashed out, knocking Dion to the floor. Alion’s eyes seemed to grow threateningly large and powerful.

Mystified, Dion watched the red expand and fill Alion’s eyes, in the back of his mind something tingled and tugged. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, but frightening as he felt himself losing his sense of self. A spasm shook him, and he felt something leave his mind.

Alion flinched, his eyes looking normal in size but large in rage. “You are to move your belongings into the rear of the ship and you will stay there until I decide what to do with you!” Yellow saliva flew from his dry lips. Dion watched hypnotically as the saliva bubbled on the floor. “Now!”

The air outside the cabin smelled sweet in comparison to Alion’s room. Divine, Dion’s blood-sister, escorted him to the hold without a word and locked him in. He was shocked to see Trinity sitting in the furthest corner of the small room with her forehead pressed against the window. “Hi.”

Trinity was thirty. That was old for someone to still be seen in public, he doubted if he would see her again once they landed. Dion always wondered where they went. They did not die for there was never a burial. They just vanished in the night, never to be seen again.

“Are you in trouble again, Dion? I am surprised Alion lets you live.” Trinity said. She kissed him on each cheek. “You must have done something very unpleasant to be locked in here with me.”

“Why are you locked up?”

She laughed. “Why, why, why? Now I know why you are in Holding. I should have known.  You should watch yourself, Dion. At my ancient age I’ve seen people killed for questioning the Holy Ones. It makes me wonder at Alion’s motives for keeping you in the clan.” She placed her hands on his shoulder. “You’re tense. Come, let me help you relax.” She pulled him over by a small wooden bed. She unwrapped his robe and pushed him down on his stomach. Her fingers worked magically at his knotted muscles.

Dion rolled over breathing heavy. The small Hold smelled of the sweet odor of sex, their bodies glistened with perspiration. He stood, stretched, and walked over to the small sink. After bathing he dressed in his informal green robe. Children were encouraged to share their essence often.  It pleased the spirits.

“I see you still do not believe in S’Neila, you have many more spots than the last time I saw  you.” Trinity said as she pushed herself upright.

His face burned in shame. S’Neila, their goddess, blessed each child with a large white patch of discolored skin on their left shoulder. Dion had discolored skin scattered all over his body, a sign of his dishonor for not putting his faith in S’Neila. In fact, another white patch appeared on his arm since his run-in with Alion.

“You should submit yourself. It is why you have no Mate Couples.”

“I will never put my faith in a lie. S’Neila is not a goddess.  She is a demon!”

The color drained from her face. She glanced at the door, “you should not say such things. It is death to voice such an opinion.”

“You don’t understand!” He shouted, “no one does. We were brought up believing a lie.  The legends are untrue.”

She frowned, “you were not there.”

“I wasn’t but this was.” He cried pulling out a large yellowed book from his travel pack. “This is the truth, Trinity. This book talks about the world before, a world of free choice, a world that doesn’t acknowledge Alions’ or S’Neilas’ anywhere!”

Her brown eyes opened wide with shock, “where did you get it? How can you read it?”

Dion noted the change in her expression, “I see no disgust in your eyes. You look as if you believe me, and yet, I’ve seen no growing white on your naked body.”

Ignoring him for a moment she peeked out of the small square window in the door, then washed and dressed in a robe of rainbow colors. She slipped gracefully into the chair across from him. “I will tell you all I know, but only after you explain that book to me.”

He caressed the worn cover, not sure where to begin. “Mother used to send me into the forest to collect herbs for her garden. One day I wasn’t paying attention traveled further than ever before.”

“It didn’t seem like I had walked far, but when I looked around I couldn’t find anything familiar.” He chuckled, “I became quite lost. First I headed in one direction, then another, and suddenly the oak forest ended. All around me were dense feather trees.”

“I pushed my way forward, tripped over a root and fell onto a hard flat stone that extended in one solid sheet in front of me. Lining this odd rock was Pre-Sundered houses and stores.  I heard stories about some buildings surviving the storms, but not so close to home! It probably remained untouched because of the feather trees, their tightly knitted leaves made a complete canopy over the entire village.”

He stood and paced the room like a caged tiger. “I suddenly realized how late it was and  ran all the way home, wondering if I should tell someone, but in my heart I didn’t trust Alion. When I got to our clan, I met a group of people who were ready to search for me, you were also there, Trinity. Do you remember?”

She nodded, her brown eyes filled with wonder.

Dion stepped up to the small window with his hands clasped behind his back. The sky from this altitude looked empty and barren. “Alion scolded me for upsetting the clan, and locked me in Holding for a month to teach me a lesson. By the end of my confinement he advised me not to walk so far in the future. I did though.  Every day I traveled to the small town.”

He turned away from the window. “Two months later I found a library. Our minds are more advance than the Ancient Humans.  I quickly learned their languages. A new world opened up right before my eyes and I had only skimmed the top!”

Trinity took his hands and clasped them tightly, “didn’t you get frightened by what you were reading? I mean the Ancient Humans killed, murdered, rapped. Great Waters, what gore you must have seen.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I learned a lot about the Pre-Sundered world. Here, let me read you a passage:

Since our earliest ancestors man has been a wanderer. Every century man has made journeys’ exploring new regions, finding new ideas and learning new cultures. In the late twentieth century most journey men retired for lack of unexplored regions. We turned to the heavens, searched the planets and distant solar systems, wishing we could travel to those far off places. Finally, in this year of 2033, man has left Earth to begin a new home on Mars. But this year marks not only our settling on a distant planet but also our first contact with extraterrestrial beings. These space faring aliens claim they are from a far distant solar system and have been wandering aimlessly in space in search of other intelligent life-forms. But what do they really want? Although the creatures are very human-like, their eyes are red and glow with an eerie light. They also speak perfect English but many the words they say backward, perhaps it is just a speech impediment.  But why do they want to live among us? At this point we can only guess about their motives.

“What a strange language.” Trinity breathed, “I can almost visualize what they are saying, and that one word ‘alien’ sounds so much like Alion. May I see the print?” He handed her the book, she quickly scanned through pages, stopping at those which had pictures imprinted on them. “Now I will fulfill my promise. I do not believe in S’Neila either. I haven’t for many years. Do not interrupt me, I will explain about the spots.”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “In my teen-years Faith had her first baby. We both fell asleep early that night, but around high-moon I jerked out of sleep. Immediately I looked in the cradle.  It was empty! Outside a twig snapped and I hurried to the window to catch a glimpse of S’Neila’s spirit.”

“Instead I saw several black shadows, sneaking away. Naturally I followed them.” She tightened her grip on his hands and she swallowed. Her breath rushed in and out of her lungs as if she just jogged a mile. “An hour later they disappeared in a cave. I followed cautiously, for I could hear them whispering in a strange language and wasn’t sure if I would accidently bump into them. They entered a room and closed the door but not all the way. By now every bone in my body quivered like a rattlesnake’s tail, I have never known such overwhelming fear. My instincts told me to run, but I forced away my fear and managed to approach the door.”

Trinity buried her face in her hands, “Inside was hundreds of Alion along with our Ancient Brothers and Sisters! My mother was there too, hanging from chains. Alion laughed at something, a hideous, grating laugh that frightened me—then they changed.” She paused, visibly shaken, and took a sip of his water.

Her hands trembled as she placed the wooden cup on the table. “One minute they looked like us, then suddenly they were horrible monsters coated with white worms. Their smell was overwhelming, like the reek near an active volcano. They grew snouts and a yellow puss dripped from their teeth. A few Alions didn’t even have eyes! Slimy slug-like things crawled in and out of their empty eye sockets. I almost screamed! For a moment I thought I had for a woman did scream!”
“Great Waters help me, I pushed the door open and saw my mother withering from the chains. She was pregnant! The Alion-monsters clapped and chanted. Mother’s stomach swelled, retracted, and swelled again. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  I couldn’t look away, Dion!”

“Trinity,” he interrupted hesitantly. “You don’t have to go on. I believe you.”

“I don’t want your belief! I want you to know what they are.” She leaped to her feet and flicked her long hair over her shoulder like a whip. “Like yourself, I have held these feelings in for so long, dying to tell someone and knowing that if I did I would end up like . . . like those people. You were correct when you said they were demons, but you have no idea how accurate you are.”

“Okay,” He said softly, “go on.”

“The Alions picked up the tempo of their chilling chant. Mother screamed as her stomach exploded. Yellow ooze seeped from her mouth, it was like acid, it ate away portions of her face. The blood, there was so much of it. Still, I stared at her, praying that she was alive. Praying to S’Neila! Can you imagine?”

“Anyway, something began to move inside her, it pushed away the remaining tissue and flopped onto the floor with a wet slopping sound. Worms completely covered its skin. Someone cut my mother loose, and the baby Alion began to lap up her blood. I felt like vomiting but something held me rooted in place. I guess I was too terrified to move.”

“One Alion left the room and returned with three recently vanished sisters. They were screaming and crying—not that it did them much good. One Alion ripped off their cloths and forced the girls to lie on some type of table. It took only one Alion to hold one girl down. The other Alion strapped her down and started some type of machine. These long silver needles came down and pierced her stomach. The women shook violently, almost as if they were freezing. Only then did the Alion stop forcing their needles into her. After the women were done, they did the same to the men! It was too much for me. I ran all the way home fearing with every step that an Alion would grab me.”

“The next season a group of us went to the King’s Holy Waters to fish. I noticed Alion never went by the water, wouldn’t even touch it! He told us that S’Neila put a curse on the water and any that touched it would die. On the fifth day I was collecting rocks while the others fished, and I spotted an unusual one in the water. The white gem seemed so elegant. Without thinking I unwrapped my hand, white spots covered it, including my finger nails, and plucked up the stone. Pain flared in my fingers. My flesh began to bubble and ooze a clear fluid. I quickly wiped my hand off and saw that all the spots were gone. Not just faded, but gone. Completely!”

“Before we left, I collected a bucket full, no one asked me what was inside because they were used to me collecting rocks. At home I bathed in the water, taking extreme caution to leave only my birth marking. I have the water with me, would you like to get rid of the worms that poison your soul?”

Dion nodded, unable to believe that water made it go away. “I never heard of the King’s Holy Waters. Where is this place?”

“Alion forbid us to go there a few years later when someone accidently slipped and fell in, but by then I had several buckets of the water stashed away. Anyway, the water is found deep inside Slender-Peak Mountain.”

“Where is this water?”

Trinity smiled. Under the bed she withdrew a tightly woven basket, “I was going to carry this with me everywhere I went in the New Land. If Alion even attempted to capture me outside the clan I was going to pour the water on him and see what would happen.”

“Why didn’t you do it before, when you first found out about their dislike for it?”

“Because too many of them were around, but now I only have one to contend with. Take off your robe, Dion.”

He stripped, standing naked in the center of The Hold with his eyes closed. Trinity walked completely around him, looking at the hundreds of white patches. They were not the same size or shape, some were small, some large, and scattered about sporadically. One spot surrounded his left nipple, another spot peeked out from under his arm, the nape of his neck, around his pubic hair and down both legs. She tugged a heavy wooden chair over to him and climbed on top. “It’s going to burn, try not to scream.” She dumped the water over him.

He tossed his head back, his lips shrinking back from his teeth, but he did not scream, although the cords in his neck popped out and throbbed. He looked down at his arms, the white patches were foaming, hot burning pain raced through his nerve endings, racing to his brain with urgent orders to move, scream, to do something!

Suddenly another pail of water washed over him, a sensation of coolness followed closely by a tingling sensation. It felt as if he jumped from a fire into a mound of icy snow. Looking down he saw his skin, a creamy olive color without one spot. Behind him someone gasped.

The cell door slammed open, Trinity and Dion jumped back, startled. Divine walked in, eyes wide with wonder as she looked at her brother’s skin. “How?” She choked out, barely able to breathe. “I-I heard what you were saying and was going to tell Alion, but after that,” she pointed at Dion, “there is no way I cannot believe. Forgetting what we were taught is difficult, but if you are right-” She trailed off, battling conflicting emotions. “What are we to do? Is it true that our children and elders are nothing but food?”

“Yes, Divine. This I swear to you as a fellow sister. I saw them with my own eyes.”

“What are we to do?” She repeated.

“I have an idea.” Dion said, “what is the scheduled landing time?”

“About sun down.” Divine said.

“This is what we’ll do . . . ”

Alion’s cabin looked much different now, than when Dion saw it a few hours ago. Alion disrupted the illusion shortly after his ‘son’ went into holding. Red light illuminated the room, green fog lazily floated on the floor. He felt comfortable sitting in his polished marble chair, altering his appearance to look human drained his energy, and the form was uncomfortable to maintain. If one of his ‘children’ saw him now, they would probably die of shock. His nails were long black razors, pearlescent worms crawled, wiggled and slithered across his creamy gray skin. The parasite although gruesome to look at, kept him alive.

His true name was Pleistocene or Pleist for short. Right now he was the anxious to arrive to the New Land, once known as the United States. Once established he would begin creating more of his kind. Trinity would finally fulfill her destiny. It would be a pleasure to fill her fragile body with the seeds of his flesh. His kind did not have sexual intercourse as humans did, but they did need to inject a host with the eggs from the parasite that kept him alive. The sensations he felt watching the injection process could almost be classified in human terms as an orgasm.

But now he had Dion to contend with. Both Dion and Trinity were products of a rare mixture between the two species. Their DNA was unlike anyone else. It was a fluke of nature, an accident. Pleist was warned long ago to execute the couple because they poised a danger to all Alions, but he refused, hoping that this strange twist in the DNA strand would be the right combination to create female Alions, known as Onails. Unfortunately, Onails perished before Pleist’s people could flee from their dying planet.

If even one survived when they reached earth things would be different, they could have used the humans for food until the weaker species died out. As it was, it took the Alions a year to find a way to impregnate a human female and in time they could impregnate the males as well. Still, only male Alions were born.

Pleistocene’s father had made a discovery four years later, exactly when the human’s discovered the Alions’ plot for taking over the world. It came as no surprise that the humans declared war. It was expected. The human’s thirst for blood however, was not expected.

For all of their preparations, the Alion never knew just how barbaric and bloodthirsty humans could be. If the Alion research the human’s past, they would have known. But when they found the planet, the earthlings were in a rare time of peace. They were gentle creatures and easily manipulated.

Pleist’s father was the first Alion slaughtered, and with him died any hope of creating Onails. It still amazed Pleist that a specially distilled solution proved to give the humans a tremendous advantage over them. As paradox would have it, the water was found in the Himalayas, and in those same waters were fish, fish that contained the right amount of chemicals for Alion longevity.

During the war the council decided their only salvation would be to kidnap human children and raise them on their ships in outer space while twenty of their kin remained below to begin World War Three.

They divided the human children into two groups, half for breeding, and half to breed on their own. Alion stole new born babies just after birth in hopes of having the babies grow to accept them in their natural form. It didn’t work, no matter how the humans were raised, the Alions otherworldly appearance repulsed them.

The Alion’s had no choice but to remain in their altered physical appearance whenever around the humans. However, they discovered that by implanting the children with worms—the same parasites on the Alion body—acted on the human brain making it easier for the Alions to use their advanced mental powers on them. It worked wonderfully until the birth of Dion and Trinity.

A shrill scream suddenly shattered his thoughts. For some inexplicable reason the scream sent an icy ripple of fear down his knobby spine. Altering shape, he stepped out of the cabin. Divine was running up the aisle, tears glistening like diamonds on her cheeks.

“Alion! Oh, Alion!” She collapsed by his feet, panting.

“What is it child?” Dion and Trinity appeared at the other end of the ship. “What are you doing out!” Pleist thundered. “Are you disobeying your Father?”

“Yes!” Dion shouted back bring a gasp of surprise from his brothers’ and sisters’. “You are not our father.  You are a stinking beast! You are an Alien!” Another gasp issued, Pleist glanced around in shock. How could it be possible that they knew the word? Somehow they were recalling the meaning of a word that was not spoken in more than a thousand years. Pleist ordered the parasite on Dion’s body to poison the boy’s brain.

Nothing happened.

“It won’t work, Alien!” Dion whipped off his robe bringing startled intakes of breath. His skin was clean, untainted.

“No!” Fear of the human’s natural killing instinct distracted him, making it difficult to concentrate on his altered shape.

“Look at him, look at him closely and you will see his other side, he’s evil. Can you feel cold waves of ultimate evil roll off him? CAN YOU SEE HIM?”

They did. Suddenly they could all see his true shape, but the shock was too great, not prepared for. Discarding his altered form, Pleist summoned his mental powers, he would kill them all and be damned!

The surprise was his. He had unintentionally discarded Divine from his mind, a mistake. He felt the water bite into his skin, his back began to hiss and bubble, Trinity and Dion rushed down the isle with slopping buckets. He lashed out, beheading three people sitting beside him. The buckets upturned, and Pleistocene watched God’s Holy Water funnel out.

There was no time for his brain to react, the water sloshed over him, biting into his skin with millions of microscopic teeth. The parasites exploded, squirting acid blood onto his skin. The pain was incredible. His skin melted away. Black blood pumped out of the wounds. Pleist screamed, tumbled to the side and landed on the laps of the people unfortunate enough to be sitting there. They began to scream as well. The parasites continued to explode, splashing them, eating away their skin, muscle and bone.

Divine picked up a sharp wooden sword, a shudder rippled through her as she thought of what she was about to do. She brought the sword down on his neck. Black blood flew in all directions.  The remaining parasites exploded, drenching everyone in a three-foot radius. The seats melted away, the hull began to burn. Electrical cables concealed in the floor erupted in blue flames.

The Hover Craft shuddered as an eight-foot section of the frame fell away. Pleist, Divine and eight passengers fell to the ocean below.

Dion quickly activated the gliding wings, saving them from plummeting to the ocean.

“Will we make landfall?” Trinity asked.

“I don’t know.” Gracefully the ship drifted closer to the water, “by dusk we will be very close to land, I can see it. Go treat everyone with the Holy Water. We will enter this land clean, untainted, untarnished.”

Trinity returned minutes later. The ocean seemed to rise to meet the ship, Dion held her in his arms, looking at the bright yellow orb of the setting sun. “Will we make it?” She asked.

“Yes. We will. The book I read mentioned something about a God. Our ancestors said he was all powerful, that he helped create the world. I will think of him when we land, and when we all reach the shore, we will search for an ancient town. Someday we will return to the east and free our kin from the S’Neila, the Aliens. We will have children and teach them, especially not to trust those who come from the heavens.”

“I love you,” she breathed and held him tight.

Hover Craft 1 crashed two hundred yards from Long Island, drenching the children in crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Dion thought of birth water, they would enter the land untainted and start again—and make it right. By God they would make it right!

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Fantasy, Sci-fi, Short Story

 

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Earth’s End – Story

Doomsday.

One word, yet filled with such dreadful power. Just speaking the word is enough to bring forth disturbing mental images. Perhaps I should circle that word, caging it in like a prison for that is exactly how I feel.
I am sitting at a school desk beside a window overlooking the street and a portion of New York’s Central Park. The world has settled since earlier, although the wind continues to howl against the window in frustration. I’m quite sure it would like to shatter the glass and send its sharp wedges into my skin. The candle I am using for light dances before me, the wind is so blowing hard that invisible currents have penetrated the window frame. The draft I feel caressing my skin is cold and damp and it frightens me. The blizzard started hours ago and shows no sign of stopping.

In the next room the teacher’s voices are a murmur sometimes raising in sudden bursts of anger, sometimes falling into a whisper. Images of the day stabbed at my mind. I look out the window at the darkness beyond that fragile piece of glass.

The fire alarm rang between classes and the crowded hallway became congested as teachers joined the flow of students. A prank, I thought because I did not smell smoke and knew that a scheduled fire drills only took place after students were safely inside their classrooms.

“At least we’ll get out of math class for twenty minutes,” my best friend Shane said as the two of us were shoved forward.

“Good, because I never got the chance to study last night.” He ran his fingers through his hair, paying special attention to the abnormal gray patch of hair toward the top back of his head. I never fully knew if Shane purposely messed up that portion so it stuck up, or if he tried to mentally rub the abnormality away.

“You would have aced the exam and you know it.” I said to Shane.

“Yeah, we both know I’m the smarter one.”

We were walking side by side in the center of the hallway.  A surge of seniors bulldozed me to one side of the hall and Shane to the other. They moved through the crowd like bulls among sheep. The resulting bottle-up shoved me up against a window, the other kids eddied around me. I stood on my toes but couldn’t find Shane, I searched heads to see if I could find a gray patch in the flowing sea of hair.

Mrs. Schroder leaped from room 313. “Up against the walls. Everyone, this is not a fire drill!” The fire alarm went dead in mid-ring. All around Manhattan, sirens were blaring. A dreadful silence settled among us.

“Everyone!” The teacher shouted. “The Government has issued a State of Emergency. We need all of you to line up against the walls and tuck your heads between your legs. This is not a drill. If you cannot find a spot I suggest you go into the nearest classroom.”

My mind screamed for me to run and hide, but my legs remained firmly cemented to the floor. I was paralyzed like a deer transfixed by the sudden glare of headlights as it watched a car speeding toward him, heart thumping furiously, mind pleading with the body to move. It was exactly how I felt. The skin beneath my watch began to grow uncomfortably warm, almost hot.

I turned away from the crowd and focused my eyes outside the dirty window, my blood solidified, every muscle locked, except my eyes, I could feel them growing wide.

It was the sky.

Something wicked was stirring up the atmosphere. Black clouds were boiling as they raced across the heavens, gobbling up the blue as they went. Sharp bright lines of lightning shot from these clouds like arrows of death. It was a dazzling display, mesmerizing the senses. An instant later, threads of grayish-black clouds passed beneath the sun, they were joined by denser clouds. I could see the sun as a silver glistening orb as if I was looking at it through a curtain of fog and then it too, was gone.

A sharp pain in my wrist brought my eyes down. The hairs on my arms stood straight up in the air. The watch seemed to be burning a hole into my wrist. The very air around us seemed to be charging up. People’s hair began to stand erect like weird statically charged balls. My wrist was burning so badly, I had to pull off the watch and tossed it aside. My skin was red where the metal of the watch rested. The hair on my arm immediately collapsed against my skin. Was this phenomenon related to the electrical storm in the sky?

The lights flickered, dimmed, snapped back on, then went out, leaving us in darkness. An iron vice of cold fear clamped around my heart. I have never seen darkness so complete, or so terrifying. All I could do was wait for the shock wave of intense heat to boil me alive. Waiting for death is not easy. Time passes too slowly.
I looked outside again. A red mass of smoldering matter was speeding toward us. It lifted buses into the air as if they weighed less than a cotton seed, it engulfed people. Everything in its path vanished. A woman was running away from this mass when a bolt of lightning sliced out of the air behind her. It made contact with the back of her neck she was thrown into the air, and as she flew I watched as her skin disintegrated, her bones turned to dust. Within two beats of my heart the woman was literally gone. Her empty clothes fell to the ground still smoldering.

Shoving myself away from the window, I dove for room 313. Just as I crashed onto the floor the window where I was standing exploded, driving sharp wedges of glass into the kids I left behind. The force of the wind lifted them into the air like dolls and pinned them against the brick wall. Lightning balls appeared suddenly and jagged bolts shot off in all directions, vaporizing all of those statically charged. The metal! The lightning was only striking those who were wearing metal.

Screams filled the air as I slammed the door closed with my heel and crawled across the room toward the closet. Behind me the door blew off its hinges, flew through the air end over end and smashed its exit through the north windows. The wind whipped around me, but it was not hot as I first assumed. Grabbing onto the leg of the teacher’s desk, I gasped as the desk slid across the room with me in tow. Then it was gone. Shaking in fear, I released the desk, taking deep slow breaths.

The emergency lights flickered on. I got unsteadily to my feet and looked around dumbfounded. Outside it was still dark. I stepped into the hallway and noted other kids were just getting to their feet. We all shared the same dazed expression. Some kids were touching themselves and the things around them as if they expected to wake from a bad dream.

Emergency lights bathed the hallway at even intervals, leaving sections of the hall in grim shadows. All the students who stood by the window were dead. My stomach felt loose and watery and I had the sudden urge to pee.

Further down the hall something caught my eye, a brown head of hair with a patch of pure gray. “No! Oh, God no.” I dashed forward, slipping on blood and tripping over bodies, and sank to my knees beside the head. I knew of only one person in the entire school who had a gray patch of hair, and yet I refused to believe it, hoping against hope that I was wrong. I rolled the bodies off the still figure below and felt tears sting my eyes.

Shane’s eyes were open and glazed, staring at something only he could see. Thrusting up from his chest was a large piece of twisted aluminum, torn loose from the window. Memories of the two of us coursed through my mind. Shane was my best friend, my only friend. He and I shared one thing, our intelligence, in a world filled with jealousy and hatred it was enough to forge us into a treasured friendship.

I don’t know how much time passed, probably not much, because only a few people staggered past me.

Mom! I’ve got to get home! What if . . . if—

I forced the thought away. Before leaving I pulled off my sweater, and draped it over Shane’s face. “I’ll come back for you.” Stumbling to my feet, I hurried down the hallway.

We stopped on the school’s steps. It was totally dark outside. A bitter cold wind rushed past us. I looked up into the murky black sky. The sun was gone!

It started snowing then and hasn’t stopped since. The temperature continues to drop. The end is near.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Sci-fi, Short Story

 

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