Today I learned that one of my online friends Mike McKay passed away over the weekend. I never met Mike in the twelve months we chatted online, but I can certainly attribute a lot my current enthusiasm for writing to his incessant nagging emails asking for more chapters. Michael just wanted me, and the entire Defence Writing community for that matter, to just keep writing. He was a wonderfully positive and optimistic sci-fi and fantasy geek, and I will miss him greatly.
This year he traded in his smoke breaks for writing breaks, and would often entertain us with 150 word bursts of raw unedited stories, and then berate us for not doing the same. Here is an example of one of his “Afternoon 150’s”:
The Captain hadn’t agreed that it was a life form. The doctor was angry.
“It’s Carbon Chauvinism.”
“Huh?” Cam looked at the Doc.
“Nicolas Chauvin.” The lights in Cam’s eyes went out. The Doc frowned. “Nicolas Chauvin?”
“He fought alongside Napoleon. He was a French patriot”. Doc sighed. “He dismissed all things that weren’t French; said they were wasteful nonsense. He couldn’t see the big picture. His name is synonymous with a loathing of foreign things. Come on.”
“I mean…why does it have to be carbon-based?”
He pointed. “There’s no reason! This is just Carbon Chauvinism.”
They were standing over a thing. An ugly thing. A dormant thing. It wasn’t composed of carbon. It was a thing of silicon. It was made of a tetravalent metalloid, not unlike carbon…but unlike any life on Earth.
“Well what?”, the Doc responded.
“How do we tell? Is it alive? Is it dead?”
To honour my friend, I decided to write my own “Afternoon 150”. This is for you Mike, for pushing me to keep on writing and writing and writing when I should have been working. RIP buddy, may you have plenty of Stargate episodes to watch in sci-fi heaven.
I cheered with the utmost delight as I flew through the air, my hands grasping at the invisible reins while my feet pushed against invisible stirrups. I rode the wind with an easy confidence, soaring over mountain tops at exhilarating speeds before plunging down the other side like a bird of prey. I flew just inches from the ground, bending blades of grass and stripping seeds from dandelions as I displaced the air around me. It was incredible.
I closed my eyes, stood in the stirrups, and pulled back on the reins, my knees gripping against the buffeting air as I climbed and climbed. I opened my eyes and beheld the most beautiful of sights, the curvature of the Earth spread out before me as if I belonged in one of those sci-fi stories. With a smile on my face and joy in my heart, I let go.