Cathartic Marching: A Protest Virgin’s View of “Not My President”

I often write to cope, but the recent election left me feeling like I needed something more. This was my experience.


The crowd of marching people flowed up the street like a river, forceful, energetic. But viewed from the outside, they are like a wall. How can you go from walking down the sidewalk, on your way home from an errand or work, to shouting in the streets? How can you go from holding your partner’s hand, to making a fist and pumping it in the air? There’s a barrier there.

I wanted to join in, but did I have the right? I’m not a protester. I don’t volunteer regularly. I donate and vote, but I don’t speak. And I don’t shout.

“Off the sidewalk, into the street!” seemed at once difficult and dangerously easy. What would I become if I took that step?

I became a whirlwind. A sweaty, screaming, jubilant, hopeful, stomping whirlwind. I screamed “Black Lives Matter”, “A rapist, a racist, he doesn’t represent us!”, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, misogyny has got to go!”

I met Betsy, who chanted “My body, my choice!” in Roe v. Wade marches over forty years ago. I met a girl who had posted a piece of paper that simply said “NO” to the head of a Swiffer mop. A guy we marched next to passed us a bottle of Jameson. For the first time, I was among my community and making myself heard.

And it felt so good. After a day of feeling a hazy mixture of fear, disappointment, and like I’d had the rug swept out from under me, marching and shouting crystallized my existence for a moment and made one thing very clear.

This is necessary. Protest is this nation’s prophylactic against the birth of civil war. I know I can’t change what happened. I probably can’t even change your mind. And that’s fine.

Because this is my healing. This is how I’ll cope. When I shouted “My body, my choice!” I meant it. When I shout it in the future, I’ll mean it. When I stand in front of armed officers, with their batons held ready, I hope you see my bravery. I hope you see that this means something to me, that I would go out into the night and march until my feet hurt and my throat is raw. I’m not pouting. And I mean you no harm. I’m simply telling you, this is where I stand.

The election wasn’t won or fought with silence, and it won’t be laid to rest in silence.

Because now I know where I can put all those words I feel rush into my brain when I see the people living on the corner of my street, when I hear people I know talk about ‘them’, when I feel the helpless knowledge that what you are telling me is reality isn’t what I see.

I’ll put my words into the air and catch others up in the whirlwind.

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040 – Crystalized Breath

You can read the next chapter of Children of Invention here.

This chapter sees the incursion into the Governor’s arboretum get a bit hairy. Hopefully it opens up some interesting ideas on the runaway science of this world and what sorts of creatures might have come about because of it. You’ll be seeing more of the Sharkteeth in the future.

Stay tuned for more stuff from Children of Invention and for some previews of my latest project, Arcane Machines.

If you like what you’ve read, you can make a one time donation through PayPal or support me at Patreon. Your patronage gets you additional scenes, sketches, drafts, and notes. Your support will allow me to keep writing. Read the next chapter on Friday, April 29th, 2016.

039 – Mission of Flowers

Read the next chapter in the Children of Invention series for free here.

This chapter includes more antics with Rice, Ben, and Jun. I love the way these guys interact. Hopefully this whole plot to capture a flower doesn’t go awry for them ;p

Stay tuned for more stuff from Children of Invention and for some previews of my latest project, Arcane Machines.

If you like what you’ve read, you can make a one time donation through PayPal or support me at Patreon. Your patronage gets you additional scenes, sketches, drafts, and notes. Your support will allow me to keep writing. Read the next chapter on Friday, April 29th, 2016.

Chapter 38     —     Chapter 40

038 – Frequency of Flowers

The sun rose and managed to fend off the clouds, but it spent all its heat on the fight. Ben shrugged his coat tighter around his body and expelled a breath, which puffed out in front of him and hung on the still air. He slowed, running his eyes along the strip of green dotted with garbage below the bridge. His muscles tightened when he heard footsteps behind him.

He looked up as Jun approached. He frowned. “Did you follow me out here?”

“Yeah,” Jun said slowly. “Heard you leave. Wanted to thank you for giving me your bed. Haven’t slept in one of those in ages.”

Ben shrugged. “It’s no problem. I can’t really tell the difference between sleeping on a mattress and sleeping on the floor.”

Jun chewed his bottom lip and stared at Ben for a moment. Ben continued looking at the greenery. Jun cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when Ben climbed up on the bridge railing and shimmied over the side. Ben held on and then lowered himself down so he was hanging about five feet from the ground. He dropped.

“What are you doing?” Jun asked, hurrying to the railing.

“Looking for flowers,” said Ben. He scrambled on the damp earth and over moldy mattresses and discarded metal, the smell of cold, wet dirt, mold, and green things wafting up out of the loam. He used his arm to sweep aside some thorny branches and peered into the dark crevices of a nearby bush.

“Why do you need a flower?” Jun asked.

“It’s for Zee,” Ben said as he searched the loam. “I can’t make a shape unless I study a physical representation, and I’ve never studied flowers. Never noticed them, you know.”

“Dude, it’s February,” said Jun.

Ben looked up, a confused frown on his face. “So?” he said.

Jun sighed and leaned against the railing. “Flowers don’t come out in February, man. At least not around here. And they wouldn’t be hiding under a bush anyway. More likely to find townies and cannibals that way.”

Ben lowered his arm and stepped back from the bush quickly. He looked up at Jun. “Where can I find flowers?”

Jun held out his bare hand in the air. “Feel that?” he said.

Ben copied him and stared at his own hand for a moment. “No,” he said finally.

“Dude, not with your skin. Feel it with your…you know…the frequencies? That funky mojo.”

“Somatic instinct?”

Jun blinked at him. “Sure, man, if that’s what they’re calling it these days.”

Ben stared at his own hand again, pupils constricting. “Calcium, carbon,” he muttered. “Iron.” He paused. “I’m not sure what I’m looking for.” His eyes returned to normal and he looked back up at Jun. “What, exactly, am I supposed to be feeling?”

“Man, you’re too concrete. Frequencies can tell you more than just the solid stuff. They can tell you possibility…potential.” Jun held out his hand. “Delta T, man, delta T.”

Ben blinked in confusion. “Temperature?” he asked. Jun nodded enthusiastically so Ben closed his eyes and dove into the somatic instinct. Observing frequencies cost him little energy, changing them cost a lot. He could look without much worry of having to spend a week in bed. Seeing the potentials, as Jun described, required that he defocus his mind and look past what he already knew.

Gasping, Ben opened his eyes. He looked up at Jun, who grinned from the bridge. “Cool, huh?”

“Cold,” Ben said, smiling back.

“Flowers like warm,” said Jun.

 

Read the next chapter.

If you like what you’ve read, you can make a one time donation through PayPal or support me at Patreon. Your patronage gets you additional scenes, sketches, drafts, and notes. Your support will allow me to keep writing. Read the next chapter on Friday, April 29th, 2016.

037 – Beaten

Ben stood outside Boss’s door for five minutes, clenching and unclenching his hands, before he raised his fist and pounded on her door. Boss opened the door, saw the expression on his face, rolled her eyes, and turned away leaving the door open for him to follow.

“Let me guess, if I hit the robot again you’ll be angry?” she said, plopping down in a cushy chair and facing a large screen. The screen displayed schematics. A glance told Ben it was of Arena. He blinked in surprise, but shook his head.

“It was an accident,” said Boss.

“Sure it was,” said Ben. He stood in front of her, blocking her view.

Boss took a swig from a bottle. She craned her neck to see the screen and zoomed in on a section of the schematic, her fingers tapping across an interface tab. “What do you want me to say?”

“Say you’re sorry,” Ben said.

“I already did,” said Boss.

Ben continued to block the view of her screen. “It’s not good enough,” he said.

She sighed. A chain of titanium snaked around his arm and pulled him out of the way of the screen. It wrapped around his torso and arms before he could react and dragged him to the floor. The weight of it compressed his chest. Ben gasped.

“Pathetic as usual,” said Boss. “You didn’t even try to resist. Where’s that crowbar you’ve been practicing?” She shook her head. “I think you’ve got too many distractions. Maybe I should put you in isolation for a few days. It’s been a while.”

The titanium melted and began spreading over his entire body. Ben struggled, but Boss increased the mass of it. He snarled and a heavy piece of tungsten carbide buzzed towards Boss’s head. She swatted it away with a piece of titanium.

His snarl turned to a panicked cry as the titanium completely encased his legs and arms, then abdomen and chest, leeching up towards his head. “No, stop, I’m sorry,” he said, breathlessly. “Please don’t. I’m sorry.”

Boss narrowed her eyes, but the metal retracted reluctantly. She shook her head. “Pathetic. Metal dispersal may be cool, but it doesn’t do you much good, does it? You can barely even fight back. Still just like a pathetic little boy.”

“Right,” Ben gasped, struggling to his knees. “All my methods of fighting back would kill you.” He glared at her, eyes snapping up angrily.

She returned his glare, the metal slowing, and he lowered his gaze. She released him from the titanium. “You need to learn some decent half measures.”

“I’m not the fighter,” Ben said. “That’s Rice’s job.”

She shook her head. “If the Arena wasn’t just violence theater, you could do well there.”

“I don’t want to do well there,” Ben said. “And I don’t want to hurt you. I just want you to stop being an asshole to Zee.”

“I lost my temper,” said Boss. “I’ve been under a lot of stress and she questioned my methods.”

“Your methods are sometimes questionable,” said Ben.

“How long has it been since you’ve had a time out?” Boss asked. Ben fell silent and looked away. She nudged him with her foot. “How long?”

“Three years, five months,” he whispered.

She nodded. “Sounds about right.” She looked back at the schematic of the Arena. “If I asked you to kill someone for me, what would it take to get you to do it?”

Ben stared at her.

“I used to be able to get you to do it for sweets,” she said.

“Why can’t you do it?” Ben asked, a tremble in his voice.

“I’ll be busy, and I want it to be untraceable.”

Through gritted teeth, Ben said, “I thought we were done with the power grabs.”

“This one is fool proof,” Boss said.

Ben glanced at the Arena schematic.

“Tell you what,” said Boss. “If you don’t do it, I’ll send the robot back.”

“You can’t—”

“I can,” said Boss. “And I will.”

“She does good work,” said Ben quickly. “This whole situation with Jun would not have been possible without her.”

“She’s an analog and replaceable.”

Ben gulped. “What do you want me to do?”

Boss smiled.

 

Read the next chapter.

If you like what you’ve read, you can make a one time donation through PayPal or support me at Patreon. Your patronage gets you additional scenes, sketches, drafts, and notes. Your support will allow me to keep writing. Read the next chapter on Friday, April 29th, 2016.