I wrote this on an old group creative writing blog back in May 2004. I was living in DC, near the cathedral, and the 17-year cicadas had come to town.
I’ve heard of those frogs that get tossed with water in the sky, but I’m living through a plague that boils out of the ground, the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was 9.
Listen to them.
Listen to one of them.
Their collective drone always sounds like they’re far away, even if they’re in the tree next to you. They’re all groggy, not knowing how to move in the open air and bright light. They’re all drunk off of 17 years of rootsuck. They fly into me, land on me, get caught between my window and the screen. They party at the streetlights. They will yell out when I pick them up to throw them out of my house. They buzz through the air in slow motion, not like they’re flying but like they’ve been tossed on the moon: direct, clumsy and slow.
They have no shame. We even saw them performing the sex act on the sidewalk with dead cicadas nearby. Imagine!
These creatures don’t know how to survive. All they do is mate. It sounds lovely, but they’re so alien that I can’t help but suspect they’re capable of something more sinister, like the plague they are.
For instance, I was riding my bike and I felt something fly into an air vent in my helmet. It buzzed around in there and went away, but I thought: “what if it was a cicada? and what if it bit my head, the crown of it? and what if, being the first cicada to ever bite a human, it sent a message to the rest of the brood and they all swarmed to try the new cicada trick? and what if I ended up skeletonized on the road, my bones straddling the bike lying on the road?”
I know I’m not the only one to think about such things.
Listening to Marketplace’s piece on the massacre of platinum miners in South Africa made me wonder: how will people organize to thwart asteroid mining? And who’s going to make a movie about it?
If asteroid mining becomes a reality, terrestrial mining interests – management, labor, logistics people, hardware suppliers, etc – will have very strong incentives to protect their industry. The idea that one payload from space could destroy many livelihoods makes me think that many people would try to stop said payload’s arrival.
The idea of people organizing to pull us back down to Earth reminds me of the story of the crab bucket, which teaches us that a group of crabs trapped in a bucket will keep itself trapped. If any crab tries to climb out, the others will pull it back down.
There’s a great movie here too – I guess it’d be hard science fiction. What’s so great is that there’s no need for any fantasy in a story like this anymore. There are plenty of people working to make asteroid mining a reality right now. The movie could be something like Syriana but with spaceships. Someone go make it! Just don’t call it Planet Crab Bucket. Call it Battlefield: Planet Crab Bucket.
Your voice is not a static thing. It can (and probably should) change over time. We often say that an organizational voice should be like a river: steady but adaptable.
In which I take a metaphor maybe a wee bit too far.