short story

Final Report and Review Log of Science Team Executive Lieutenant Dr. Lana VanDavis - June, 2035 - by D.M. Jerman

A week from the green light our team set off in the Santa Volta IV (SV-IV), the largest of four modest ex-navy vessels, for three days off the coast of the Azores to get to the North Atlantic Gyre. The Santa Volta fleet had their hulls painted thick with POP neutralizer. Active polymer disruption that made the minute plastic decomp easy to pass in digestive systems. This was important because over the course of the next six weeks we intended to oversee the "baking process" of this massive island of plastic from a free-floating swirling mush pile into a dense land mass capable of supporting infrastructure and using as a way station for ocean preservation and wildlife rescue. We couldn't beat it, so we were in the process of joining it.

About two months prior a preliminary crew set out for the berg of trash on a projected week-long mission armed with sonic deterrant, airplane cable and depth coagulant in order to float as much detritus as possible at the surface while keeping the sealife population at a safe distance. All had gone accordingly, and now we were operational as engineering set to install the cage perimeter and peripheral entrapment units which would more solidly collect any garbage that came within 8 to 10 meters. If this worked, we surmised, the Santa Volta fleet could very well quadruple and become a household name overnight.

But things turned out a little differently.

Functionality within mission and crew of SV-IV for the first week had proceeded as planned. We then discovered that we were the first humans to "come down" with what was later simply termed “Gyre Syndrome." On a small recreational fishing expedition lead by Captain Max Goldwell, we discovered more advanced stages of Gyre Syndrome had already occurred in some populations of larger sealife- turtles and whales specifically. It sounds like a terrible thing, but instead it managed to be an extraordinary physiological phenomena tantamount to a mid-21st century evolution. The last collusion in the name of the pursuit of perfection between man and nature.

Very quickly we understood that we were to remain unafraid of 'Gyre Syndrome' and its effects, namely because it made us happier. I believe this is so for a few key reasons.

Firstly- we were becoming maps- semi-holographic mosaics. Broad spectrum reflectivity at the subcutaneous level. Our temporary time-susceptible physical make up was being replaced with something we then understood to be much more beautiful. We began to notice that the searing days and bitter cold nights on the SV-IV were more tolerable and required less protection. When exposing ourselves to these drastic elements, we soon required only POP neutralizer boots, and the tools our daily workload required.

Finally- as a team we felt even more impelled to continue the tasks relevant to our ahead-of-schedule mission. To collect the Gyre in the name of creating a living landmass. To date, several additional expeditions have been made by our peers to the Gyre's new centralized lookout and command post. Our bodies have begun to take on the saturated and reflective grey-pinks and blue-greens which currently indicate to us that the landmass is becoming viable as organic food.

In consideration of all of the above, it is now our firm assertion that the sinking of the Santa Volta fleet has been the right decision.

We have become the Gyre, and it is our home now.

Eighties Night Feels Like Halloween by D.M. Jerman

Eighties Night feels like Halloween. The dishwasher girl as Madonna. She swings her ass in fishnets around the dance floor busing tables. Hall and Oats are begging everyone to ”Say It Ain’t So.” Back in the kitchen two industrial fans push around air at 110 degrees.

Her boyfriend is serving kamikazes dressed like a zombie from Thriller. All his carefully orchestrated fake old blood trickling from his forehead to his cheek.

Later they take his motorcycle across downtown in a summer drizzle that seems so cold.

In the wet, the city is like a shining toy. Or a barricade flashing. Battery operated.

She gets in the shower with some wine. Breaking the slippery glass, she nudges the pieces into the drain with her toe.

He leans half naked into the railing of their 5th floor apt. Makeup off, contacts out, glasses on, bloodshot. His thick cigarette enduring soft drops plunging from the August black.

The bartender and the dishwasher. They go to bed early and make wishes into each other’s warm hair, into the three-paddle ceiling fan, out of their window that looks out to other windows.

Out on the street they left only moments ago, the light pollution makes the stars into squinted pinpricks. Anti-reflections of amber streetlight in a prostitute’s tar-dark eyes as she sits low in the passenger seat of a car that belongs to a man whose name she does not know.

The city is like an awkward teenage boy who wants a first kiss, or that same attention. The city is writing a letter to itself on itself. Each letter in the shape of a drop of rain. The littlest prayer for the certain hope that tomorrow keeps becoming today.

Halloween Story c. 2005 (For Aloma) by D.M. Jerman

For halloween last Jennifer was Rosie the Riveter. She took on the idea of keeping with a theme for all Halloweens to come. She would have her costumes represent 'Important Women thruout the Ages'. This year she got stuck somehow on wanting to be the Delphic Oracle. But only up until the time I told her she'd have to dress in an old sheet and carry a stool she could sit on while also holding a laurel sprig. Also she would have to “inhale” ethylene and pretend to go into a trance.

Within an hour, the new passion was "Godzilla". Godzilla went thru a gender change real fast as you might imagine.

Halloween was on a Thursday night. She had decided on Godzilla on Sunday. So there was lots and lots of time to build a costume out of slabs of cardboard and other things stapled together before being spraypainted forest and neon green.

She had decided to make maximum noise. She was going to strap tin cookware to her feet and mash around the neighborhood. Our 'hood wasn't that big to begin with. But it was a great tradition to trick-or-treat at the 7-Eleven and then leave an offering of your favorite candy at “Pumpkin Rock" which sat high on the hillside adjacent to the episcopal church graveyard and was, each year, painted like a Jack-o-Lantern.

The Jonesons kept up this tradition. An ancient couple that lived just beyond the church property, who served as its landscapers and security force all at once. They had a mean german shepard named Barry that they would dress up like a fuzzy white bunny for the holiday each year. The costume did somehow take the edge off the snarling, drooling animal.

Mary and Rayanne, our neighbors from a mile out, were going as a drug dealer and a unicorn respectively.

I laughed when Jen told me. Then I got puzzled. A drug dealer? Kind of sounds like a less-than-wholesome persona for a 10-year-old to be portraying...

Jen came back with "Man, her dad couldn't afford to buy her a costume, so he let her borrow his clothes." I couldn’t seem to break her of the habit of calling me “Man” instead of “Mom.”

But I had one of those gleaming moments where I realize again that my daughter is socially aware & tactful & that I am often a bumbling nut full of questions.

Jen and Mary are the same age. Rayanne is 7. They made a good match in the end, the pair of them: Mary thugged-out. Holding the hand of her sister, dressed in fuzzy purple with a big gold horn. She had been a unicorn last year, too.

The night of, a few hours before we dressed to leave, we planned our route.

I issued a challenge, as I do every October 31. This year was 100 pieces of candy. Averaging 2-3 pieces per house, I deemed that we were going to hit approximately 55 houses. At about a minute a house, it should take us one hour. Mary seemed very pleased.

Down Main street we ran into Benny Cho who was also in the 4th grade, dressed like a piece of popcorn. And Karen Motley, who had made herself into a creative rendition of the Empire State Building. They joined us, and I told them our last stop was Pumpkin Rock.

Rayanne had never been there before, she admitted. She couldn't hide her excitement.

Too, the littlest one was quick to compliment my costume. Even tho' she couldn't guess out just who I was. My answer:

"A character I watched in my Saturday morning cartoons growing up... Rainbow Brite!"

Obviously, I had dated myself. She had no frame of reference.

The kids had reached the challenge goal by about 42 houses, so I cut it short and we went up to the Jonesons for cider.

Jen, the female Godzilla, and Mary, the drug-dealing gangster, were hanging out and keeping it low key when they were together. I watched them hold hands and whisper. When I'd realized they'd gone up to the Pumpkin Rock by themselves, I waited a moment. Then followed. Rayanne was deep in conversation with Mrs. Joneson and managed to make friends with Barry.

Mary was crying. I let Godzilla tell me what was wrong.

"Her dad lost his job and she's afraid they're going to have to move out and be homeless. And that she might have to leave Rayanne."

"Why would they have to leave each other?"

"I don't know. She's really scared, tho'."

I moved over to Mary: "Everything will be alright baby. You'll see. Maybe while your dad finds a brand new job, you can stay with Jen and I for awhile."

Godzillas eyes lit up. 

I continued: “At least we could eat all our Halloween fare together and get fat!!"

Mary giggled and I squeezed her close. Her tears resolved and she wiped at the rest. We all smiled then, and howled at the moon as it arrived out from its veil of grey clouds.

The youth in these girls made all the possibilities in me glow with heedfulness. A likely lesson for Halloween.