The Trolley (continued)

The brakes on the train lock up, they sound like a giant dragging his fingernails across a city wide blackboard. The man sitting on the bridge leans forward, as if he is trying to get a better look. You decide you’ll save the children, one life sacrificed to save five others, that in itself is sufficient justification. You rush forward, and the man looks over at you.

“Oh, hello Sarah.” he says.

It’s your cousin, someone you haven’t seen in years, but your kin all the same. You should have recognized him, but you didn’t. You falter, tripping over your steps, but your momentum is determined. Your cousin puts up his hands, tries to swing his legs back over the bridge, but it’s too late. You connect with him, and he topples over the side. When the train comes to stop it is with your cousin’s body edging up against the first child. The children are saved, you saved them. You also murdered your cousin.

A flash of light blinds you, seems to take up the entire world, and then fades away. You are standing on top of the bridge again, your cousin sits on the edge of the bridge. The brakes have just begun to squeal.

(to be continued)

The Trolley

In your town a bridge crosses an expanse of railway tracks that lead to a terminating depot. Often people stand on the bridge, watching the trains roll into their final destination, or take off again. It is not the majestic scenery of the nearby mountains or lakes, but in the context of a city, for those appreciative of the massive capacity of humankind for producing infrastructure, it is nice to look at.

One day, early in the morning, you are walking across that bridge. It is nearly empty, a rare event, with the lone observer sitting upon the railing of the bridge, his feet dangling over the tracks. Not an entirely safe position, but the man is clearly an adult, an impressively sized adult at that. A giant almost. You edge over to the railing yourself, so as to see the tracks, and you stop. Your heart seems to skip a beat. Down there, as if in a Dudley Doright cartoon, are children tied to the train tracks. Five of them. Screaming for help.

“Holy shit!” you scream.

“I know.” says the other man.

A train is approaching, it’s horn blaring. At this stage it does not move quickly, but neither can it apply the brakes quickly enough to stop before hitting the children, and regardless of its speed the impact is going to end the lives of each child. In a blur of thoughts one seems to ring out a little more clearly. The man is sitting directly above the track, and the combination of the frantically screeching brakes of the train and the weight of the man might be sufficient to save them. Why is he sitting there anyway? Why didn’t he call for help right away? Did he tie them to the tracks? There isn’t time to ask, you either push the man, surely killing him but saving the lives of the children, or you don’t, and the children will die.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.


(to be continued)

And Then There Was Cucumber

In the beginning there was nothing but nothing shivered and there became something. That something was about the size of a tennis ball. This tennis ball contained within it all that would ever be, the sum of all matter in the universe, the material of which we are made, and the time it would take to make us. Every sun, every planet, every idea, wrapped up in a little ball.

And the pressure was incredible. It seethed and frothed and exploded. No, this was not an act of destruction, it expanded. 

And it created distance as it spread, begetting tens of millions of miles of space, billions, hundreds of billions. Action itself emerged from this expansion, and, as a consequence, time.

And the energy expressed in this massive and sudden expansion manipulated material into being through heat and pressure. Hydrogen emerged, alone until begetting helium, then nitrogen, and the oxygen, and then carbon.

And from the gaseous dust a more massive amalgamation of this new existence coalesced and sunk a little deeper in the emerging fabric of the expansion, and by doing so did attract more material, and so sank a little deeper, and so attracted more material, and so grew.

And great swirling masses of gas and dust grew, and in these great swirling masses the gases ignited and they became great flaming balls of light and heat while simultaneously inventing them both. These beacons weighed heavily upon the fabric of the expansion and so the dust of the material created by the expansion and by the stars fell into the depressions the stars created, and they this dust spun around the stars in nearly perpetual orbit. As the dust connect they made their own depressions, and more dust fell in, until these balls of dust became the size of planets.

And on at least one planet, dancing its circle around a sun surrounded by billions of other suns, the dust upon this planet performed a trick. It replicated itself. And the progeny of the progeny divided and divided. The single celled organism became plural and so the beasts and plants did grow upon the Earth. The light from the sun did strike the developing bodies, and changed them in ways large and small. And those random mutations that did result in superior abilities to survive and procreate did drive the life upon the planet, the grass, and the buffalo, and the grape, and the algae, and the spiders, and the escherichia coli, and the rabbits, and the iguana, and the cucumber, to a state of abundant diversity.