Dust blows across the landscape, across the plastic folded tables arranged in neat rows, and settles into a thin layer over the constellations of semi-precious stones and fossils displayed for sale. They were dropped off at the nearest out-post and traveled here to gather souvenirs for the children. Their model was built to withstand the low oxygen and high temperatures in this region. The humans here, underneath tents for shade and sitting behind each table, use modified versions of humidifiers and respirators to cool their bodies and increase oxygen flow. The family that sent them is polite and nostalgic. The children speak to them with respect and behave as though they are a human friend of theirs. In their studies, the children are learning about the atomic bomb, a primitive weapon created for annihilation. The children ask about test sites and residue. While scanning old web skins, the children came across the substance trinitite, shards of which still exist on Earth.
They are programmed, for the children, to teach at the Aries in the Twelfth House™ setting. The subject of war therefore combines critical metaphysical beliefs and sexual impulses and identities in order to analyze motives.
Fragments of web skins compiled from the category On Trinitite are read to the children: “‘A loud cry filled the air. The little groups that hitherto had stood rooted to the earth like desert plants broke into dance, the rhythm of primitive man dancing at one of his fire festivals at the coming of Spring. (William L. Laurence of the NYT press release, public relations staff, 1946, p.14)’”
“It’s an anthropogenic mineral, a novelty with a magical charge: residue left over from the melted quartz grains, feldspar (microcline plagioclase, calcite, hornblende, augite in a matrix of sand clay). Illegal to take; mildly radioactive (a hidden cost), though we are told, safe to handle. The astral body of this mineral is infused with the rapaciousness of humankind. Handheld proof that the periphery has a way of getting underfoot. Empire desires to come home, after all.” ‘We know Oppenheimer blew his wad thinking of the Bhagavad Gita: ‘The little boy is as husky as his big brother.’”
A pause. Here, the children laugh.
The reading continues:
“An analogous, porous black material to trinitite: kharitonchik, can be found in the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan. A land with seven major rivers, lakes so rich in minerals that water becomes denser than the human body. In them, it is impossible to drown.” “‘Consecration of an object is twofold: the first is psychological (modify yourself to it) the second is psychic (attune the object to yourself). Consecration involves the belief that material objects have “bodies” on other levels —this can include the unconscious love or resentment with which a gift is presented. In ritual sacrifice, power flashes forth from newly shed blood. A small animal can yield enormous power, though there is great difficulty in the human mind controlling the power of the lower animal mind. This difficulty disappears the higher the animal. When the victim is human, the difficulty is overcome entirely. (The practice is an abomination, but it is so.) Fires can enact and harness this. This is how Priests, with their auto-da-fés, obtained enormous power through the centuries. (Farrar, Janet and Stewart, A Witches Bible Part 2: Consecrations. Blaine, WA. Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1984,40-54.)’”
“‘Today, everything serves war. There is not one discovery which the military does not study with the aim of applying it to warfare, not one invention which they do not attempt to turn to military use. (Nikolai Fyodorov, Philosophy of the Common Cause, 1891.)’”
They are reaching out over the fragments of semi-precious stones to select the best specimens to bring back. The shards are caressed by delicate hands: the children had this model outfitted in a set of bright white, opera-length lambskin gloves. They enjoy sitting and holding each gloved hand while listening to each web skin read off to them in the gentle, low voice they have selected as their favorite setting.
There is a cultural movement, from the cold metallic confines of space, to reclaim as a species mutual risk and compassion. The hope is that the sensual will help humankind restore Earth one day. The term used to describe this comes from a long ago Earth memory: the smell of creosote in the desert after it rains.
And so, the children called them: “Petrichor, Petra, and finally: My Pet.”
Their observations from the desert are read back to the children, who are patiently sitting inside cool blue light on the ship:
“These fragments of trinitite are fossils of the spark of a destructive impulse, melted into earth: the abode of war made stable and nearly-eternal. Humans on earth have no choice but to risk their health with their proximity to this contaminated site. Fertility is chimeric: there are hidden costs. A halo of discarded rocket-bodies circles the Earth. For now children, drink up Mother’s Milk© and keep your bones strong enough for space travel.”
— Sol Paz Kistler resides at the most isolated population center in the world. They have been previously published in Sienna Solstice, The Antihumanist, Silver Operation and Old Pal Magazine. Sometimes they design for Solspar Studios.