I was 13 when it happened. Here’s the thing though. 22 years later and I’m still not too sure WHAT exactly happened, I remember it was a bus driver. I remember the smell of garlic on his breath. I remember he had a goatee (similar to the one I’ve got. Does that even mean anything?) I think there was pain. I know there was shame. I know I carried that shame with me like some sort of fucking fucked up cross. I know it twisted me for the longest time. Because I refuse to look at what happened to me that day…because what if I liked it? Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I shouldn’t have been on the bus when no one else was. But I was 13 and I wanted to be a bus driver when I grew up. And he bought my bean. I’ve tried to kill myself twice. And both times, it seemed to be about other stuff. But, at some level I know that my world changed that afternoon. I went from being this super smart, studious kid who loved school to this fucked up kid who had this anger inside that burnt like fucking acid. I know that you’re supposed to confront shit like this…but… I can’t. And don’t get me wrong…I’ve left those feelings behind…I hardly ever think about it. I know that’s probably not the best method but the last thing I want is to open this box. I’m like the opposite of Pandora. Writing helps though. You pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard and it comes gushing out…the anger and the hatred and the soul searing scream inside you that wants to fight god…that wants to say to the man upstairs “You let this happen to me? And don’t claim free will…you made us in your image and then you left us to let little boys get…whatever it was happened that day.”
I’m fucked up. For the longest time, I felt dirty y’know? Just ugly. Just not good enough. All that shit every teen goes through exacerbated by the blank spot in my mind. And the wet spot on the back of my pants. These days…things are better. I may not know what exactly happened to me but I’ve made a peace with what I am. My ex, the mother of my children, taught me to love myself, ironically by leaving (but that’s another story). My kids…the ones I walk through the darkness so I can hold them up to the light. My friends…who stood by me. And that’s what I try to do these days. I count my blessings. I number every day I’m given 1. A fresh start. That little boy is still there. He always will be. He’s a part of me. But he’s not all I am. My name is Alex Elbourne and I survived…something when I was 13.
We found a planet almost 4000 light years away that’s made entirely of diamond. No bullshit. We found that shit. There’s a huge cloud a few millions times the mass of our sun floating around near the center of our galaxy. This cloud is basically a giant river of raspberry flavored rum. I’m fucking serious guys. I wouldn’t lie about booze. The biggest collection of water in the universe is 10 billion light years away. It has 140 trillion times more water than our oceans. We (emphasize) stand on a planet that spins on its axis at a thousand miles per hour while orbiting a G2 star at 1.5 miles a second. All this while our entire fucking solar system hurtles towards the star Lambda Hercules at 45,000 miles per hour. The Universe guys. That shit moves like the love child of Usain Bolt and a leopard. We live in a time when our science is giving us the ability to witness the magic in our universe. There are nebula shaped like unicorns, there’s a Mickey Mouse looking logo on the surface of Mercury. There are cold stars with a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. And I read about this shit and I get excited. Y’know. If the Universe is infinite then every single point in the Universe is also the center of the Universe because every single point is surrounded by an infinite number of other points. We are the center and the end and the beginning, the alpha and the omega. That shit is mind-blowing. We build instruments that allow us to gaze into the farthest abysses of space. We’re about to launch a project that will scan 1million stars over a span of 10 years in an effort to detect signs of alien civilizations. Exciting times people. We live in them.
Every star in the night sky is a look back in time. We bathe in light that is sometimes older than us. Light that’s traveled an almost incomprehensible distance to fall on a little planet third from its own parent star on the arms of a spiral galaxy. Think about it for a moment. The closest star besides the sun is Alpha Centauri and light from there takes a little over 4 years to reach us. Your 3 year old child is younger than that light. There are stars in the night sky whose light hits your eyes after travelling hundreds, even thousands of years. Our brains fucking struggle to comprehend the vastness of the universe around us. So we blinker ourselves. We make up little nursery rhymes like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to shield ourselves from the heart stopping largeness of it all and our smallness in it. Twinkle Twinkle talks about a flaming ball of matter powered by nuclear fusion over a course of billions of years and there you are singing it to your child. We create our gods and we make them figures that can protect us. Because the universe is scary. The universe is dark. And in the cold light that falls through our atmosphere to hit your eyes we can see that the universe doesn’t care. But we have to have something to believe anyway because that helps keep the darkness away. But that terror is also laced with strands of wonder at the correctness of it all. On both the micro and macro level we keep wondering why it all works so well. We wonder… on our pale blue dot.
They want to chain your mind.
And they want to shackle your thoughts.
Be this they say.
You can’t do that they say.
A black girl.
Straighten your mangy
But don’t act too kai valagi
That’s how they’ll tell
Not to your face
The fuckers are more subtle
Be a lady they’ll tell you.
What the fuck that even means
I don’t know
Don’t listen to them baby
Be a rebel, be a geek
Play rugby or play with dolls
Shit play with dolls dressed as rugby players
Be straight, be gay, I don’t give two shits
It doesn’t matter
Laugh, cry, get angry, be sad
Whatever happens you will always
Have my heart little Empress
With the flowers in her hair.
Bird and bear and hare and fish
Grant my child her fondest wish.
Ah life online in the 21st Century. Listen I’ve been reading sci-fi since I was like 8 years old. And I never knew the future would be so full of whiny little children getting offended by, well, everything online. We’ve got conservatives getting offended over gay rights and a world that’s seemingly becoming too complex for them. We’ve got liberals being social justice warriors and attempting to ensure that any single human activity that doesn’t toe the party line has to be either sanitized or shamed into oblivion. Every fucking person online is getting offended by some shit or another. It’s like there are people who go online looking for shit to be offended by. People, grown ass adults getting offended like that’s an actual thing that causes actual physical harm. “Someone said something about Jesus and I was offended”. Someone said something about gay people and I was offended”. So what? Did the statement that caused you offence also cause you to contract leprosy or some shit? No? Then do a Frozen and let it go. You wanna live in a diverse society made up of people with vastly different worldviews? Then be prepared for other human beings to say things you might not agree with. And this is where both sides of the political spectrum liberals and conservatives piss me off. Conservatives want to control your beliefs. Liberals want to control your thinking. And each side is acting like the other is nothing less than the spawn of Satan or the scum of the Earth. Liberals, conservatives, atheist, theists, gay, straight, blah, blah blah. It’s messed up how too many of us are still stuck in 20th Century ideas of duality in the 21st Century. In a time where our hardware and software keeps upgrading while too many of the species are just too lazy and full of apathy to upgrade their bioware. Because that’s the only one that really matters…our brains are where the falling angel meets the rising ape. Applying a moment of critical thinking will tell you how ridiculous it is to put limits on our freedom of speech. Being offended is subjective. It has everything to do with you as a person, with your religious beliefs or lack thereof. With your moral conditioning or lack thereof. What offends you may not offend me. I’m offended by Matt Damon’s amazing physique in The Martian. That and his full set of teeth if I’m being honest. What am I gonna do about that? Call the fucking cops? It’s like we reached some critical mass a few years back where each side of any debatable issue just said you know what “fuck it” and decided that there was nothing left to debate about. Just more things to take offence and get hurt over. There are way too many damned people these days who are all for free speech right up until that moment someone shows up with a different opinion to theirs. And suddenly they go from championing freedom of speech to some sort of online thought police. So there it is. Be offended by shit all you want but don’t act like that that gives you the right to dictate what other humans can and cannot be offended by. This life is too damn short for all that shit.
Alex Elbourne is a Radio Personality who began writing at age 12. Unrestricted by theme or inspiration, he says that his love for science fiction and the reality of life in Fiji influence his writing. He identifies a layer of anger in his writing that he believes comes from an underlying rage regarding human fallacies, both his own and that of others. He reveals his sarcasm as influenced by Terry Pratchett’s “rising ape meeting a falling angel” analogy of beast and spiritual being.