Monday, December 31, 2018

Fireworks on the New Year

Between the present, the past, and the future, he was sure he preferred the past. Perhaps all people on occasion feel the same pangs of nostalgia, and that he differed only in degree. It was thus surprising to see him at the bay on New Year's Eve, awaiting the fireworks at the knoll of the bell.

He smiled as a courtesy, but said little. When the countdown ended, fireworks rocketed through the sky and crackled with their multicoloured intensity.

It was only much later when I learned, entirely by coincidence, that the reactions within fireworks are not instantaneous; rather, it takes some time to fire. Thus, if the fireworks appear to immediately after the countdown, it could have actually been fired in advance at some known interval.

He wasn't celebrating the beginning of the new Year as we all did, but the passing of the old. But then again, perhaps we all were, simply that we didn't know it.

Friday, December 28, 2018

And We Shall Never Surrender

The slaughter was senseless, but slaughter always was. Privately I had sometimes suspected that things might have turned out better if we were a little more cowardly, or a little less determined. But we never surrendered, even in the face of utter defeat. We fought with our planes when they came from above. When the skies were lost, we fought on the ground with our tanks and our artillery. When our armies arrayed on the field were charred and ruined, we fought on in the streets with guns. To the very end, we found ourselves fighting in our homes with knives and bare hands.

Humanity never surrendered. But it was also that surrender was impossible. The aliens had no interest in anything we could offer that they could not simply just take. Their technology was boundlessly superior. Any surrender would be unconditional and entirely unfavorable. We simply had nothing to bargain with. So we fought.

As we grew more desperate, we pulled every trick we knew, even those which we had thought unthinkable to use. When nukes failed, we turned to chemical and biological weapons. But our inferior technologies offered us no advantage, and every attack was quickly neutralized. Therefore, some of us turned to mysticism, which the aliens did not know.

Necromancy, as it turned out, was always real. It was merely that the sacrifices were considered unthinkable.  We crossed that line weeks ago, and then some. For a price, an army was created to replace those we had lost. An army of the dead, manned with soldiers from wars long past. An army without number, to fight an enemy from beyond the stars.

We lost. In hindsight, was there any other outcome? The army of the dead was large, but at the same time the musket was considered advanced technology to half the army. It was at this point that we surrendered. There was nothing else we could conceivably do to win.

It was only later that I learned that necromancy saved us. We didn't win, but that was a foregone conclusion past the first few hours of the invasion. We simply didn't lose... everything. All we had fought for were some bargaining chips for a conditional surrender.

Did I mention that the aliens did not know about mysticism, in particular necromancy?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Only Silence

Turn on the television and there is music. Perhaps it's a melancholic piano score, an uplifting pop tune, or a jarring electronic track. Sometimes it's roaring applause, or a cacophony of jeers. But if there is drama, there should be music.

In her words, art imitates life. She said to listen more carefully. More carefully, not harder; the distinction was important. If I did so, then I could hear, perhaps very faintly, the music in people's lives.

Of course, I didn't hear a single thing, only silence.

She let out a laugh, then a sigh. People have no music in their lives, she mused. All that plays in the background is a dull silence. No background soundtrack, no musical accompaniment, not even a laugh track.

Most of the time anyway, she added on as an afterthought. A movie, however good it is, can't be equally riveting all the time. There has to be a build-up to the climax, and that is when the music plays.