One of the best things about living outside of town is the amount of high-quality nature time that I get. Whether I am driving home or in my yard, there are constant reminders for me to feel “at home” with the natural world.
I’ll get to the point: animals and fungi glow because they like to rave throughout the night.
The truth is, organisms glow for many reasons (raving being one of them).
Some animals glow as a form of counter-illumination. The firefly squid is one example of this. If a predator is swimming below the animal and looking up at it, it actually makes a dark background against the surface. When lighting up, the squid can blend itself into its surrounds a little bit better.
The light is produced is in photophores, basically an organ whose job is just to produce photons. The badass thing with this is that animals, instead of producing the photons themselves, will sometimes house a bacteria (Allivibrio fischeri) in the organ in a symbiotic relationship (=BFFs). In this case, it’s the bacteria that is actually bioluminescent.
Take this anglerfish, for example…yes, it’s also the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. I bet rotting livers on dead people are more attractive. But the anglerfish DGAFs whether or not its body is attractive or ugly…because it’s that danging light blob that does the actually attracting. (Ever more precise: it’s the bioluminescent bacteria living inside the bulby organ.)
Lil’ fishes get curious when they see a light floating around in the ocean…and they go explore…and then they get eaten up by the ugly-but-efficient anglerfish. Work smart, not hard, says the wisdom of the anglerfish totem.
Love. Ahhhh. The reason for being alive and the culprit for all of our friggin problems. We try to hard putting ourselves out there and also trying to play it cool.
Wouldn’t it be badass just to have your eyeballs light up whenever you found someone attractive? No need to be so vulnerable.
Another reason why bioluminescence occurs is to attract a mate. This is one of the more commons reasons why animals (and fungi) barf out photons from various parts of their bodies.
Okay, so NOT literally. I actually have no idea what’s happening to that fish. Maybe it thought a glowstick was some Pop Rocks.
What I was referring to was insects like fireflies. Different species of fireflies light up in different patterns, just like morse code. This helps communicate to the ladies: “Hey babe, look how hawt I am, come on over!”
There are many more animals that are bioluminescent for the same basic reasons: to attract mates or defend against predators.
Investigative journalist Emilee Weathers is hungry for the perfect story and not too particular about how she has to get it. Asked to help find new evidence for a convicted serial killer’s appeal, she heads for the mountain town of Pigeon Forge.
When she discovers the body of a recent victim, the questions come thick and fast. Has she happened upon the work of a copycat? Is the real killer still out there? And is there anybody in this neck of the woods she can trust?
The inspiration behind my book
Where did I find my own idea? I randomly thought it up after watching every single Dateline episode ever released. Then some that weren’t released. Ha-ha, no, not really. Well, kinda…
I got the idea, oddly enough, when I was thinking about the icky, ooey-gooey emotion that is love. I know, right? How does thinking about love result in a 230-page book about an investigative journalist hunting a killer? Good question. Before I start coming off as a sadistic psychopath, let me explain…
Relationships are a major part of everyone’s life. They’re a big part of my life, even if I can’t keep one. I enjoy the good sides of relationships and unconditional love. And who doesn’t? I’ve been in some very passionate relationships, but I’ve also been in some very toxic and destructive ones. While single, I’d hang out at public places, like the mall, and just people watch. I watched a lot of couples and tried to get an image of what true love looks like.
I soon came to understand that love isn’t something you can see; it’s only something you can feel.
It’s interesting—though a beautiful thing, love can cause people to do some of the ugliest and most fucked up stuff imaginable. It can push us, make us violate our own conscience, and make us forget who we are entirely. That… that is the madness of love. Ultimately, I began wondering what it would look like for an innocent person to completely lose themselves in this madness. I wondered how much of their own conscience they’d violate and how many rules they’d break if this love was put on the wire.
The Killed Conscience.
Beneath a starry night’s sky, Emilee and everyone at the cabin all stood around the flickering flames of a fire just in front of the trees. All were wrapped in sweaters, gloves, and scarves. Sebastian stood with his arm around Morgan; she was snuggled up under his arm with her head resting against his chest. Skylar sat in a plastic lawn chair with her legs crossed and her thumbs tapping away on her phone. Emilee and Sebastian were across from each other, on opposite sides of the fire. A bit too far to comfortably carry on a conversation, but not too far to keep them from catching each other’s eyes. James sat in the only other lawn chair, and by his feet, Emilee sat in the dirt and rocks.
After taking a gulp from his beer, Casey grabbed a flashlight, put the beam beneath his chin, and said, “So who wants to have the shit scared out of them with a scary story?” The shadows distorted his face into something wicked as he grinned wide.
“Ooh, I do. Which one?” Skylar asked.
“Good question, Sky. I’m thinking,” he took another sip, “since Emilee is about to interview the psychopath, why don’t we hear about VDK?”
“Okay, maybe now isn’t the best time to be telling this story,” Sebastian said.
“What? We’ve got the location, the night, the cold, a fire… and the potential for the killer to be set free soon. What more could you ask for?”
Sebastian let his head fall back as he groaned.
Casey began before anyone else could interject: “Five years ago, there was a girl by the name of Kayla Lawrence. Twenty years old, bubbly personality, all around beautiful girl. Two nights before Christmas, she went to sleep in her home. The next morning, when her parents stopped by, Kayla was nowhere to be seen. Her family quickly reported her missing, and after investigation, police found no sign of forced entry, no sign of a struggle, no sign of foul play whatsoever. It was like aliens had just come down and—boop—plucked her straight from the face of the Earth.”
Sebastian tried waving the story away. “Okay, that’s enou—”
“A couple months later, it was Valentine’s Day. The girl’s name was Luna McBeth. That night, she’d gone to a club downtown with some of her friends. It was almost midnightwhen she told her friends goodbye and left by herself. Security cameras showed her leaving the club and walking across the street to the parking lot… but she never reached her car. The next day, it was still sitting in that parking lot, locked. Just like Kayla, Luna had vanished without a single trace.”
“Dun dun dunnn,” Sebastian interrupted loudly, making a few people jump.
“It wasn’t long before police connected the two, based solely on identity,” Casey continued. “Both girls were young, petite, black hair, Caucasian.” Casey looked up at Emilee. “Kind of like Emilee… Anyway, almost two years later, some foreigners were hiking through these mountains when one stepped onto a ‘very soft patch of dirt’ that turned out to be the decaying corpse of Luna McBeth. Not far from her, another body was found that wasn’t ever identified. And just like that, the Valentine’s Day Killer was born.”
“Oh wow,” Morgan said.
Following the story was a quiet that arrived and threatened to stay. No one could seem to find the words to make it leave.
Then, there was a sound. So soft, yet so deafening in that silence. Everyone went stiff—stiff like a group of cadavers. They each exchanged looks with slightly widened eyes.
“What was that?” Morgan’s voice was brittle.
The noise had come from the dark flooding the trees of those woods. Sounded like the subtle snapping of a dry twig. Seemed like everyone was hoping to let the gripping moment pass… until it came back to grab them once more.
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All I wanted to do was to fly across the canyon that was in front of me me. I knew I could make it; the gorge was only about as long as a yellow school bus. The small river flowing along the bottom of the valley didn’t hinder my confidence one bit.
It didn’t take long before I gave it my first try. I took a running start and thrust myself off the side of the canyon. I spread my arms wide to enlist the help of my turquoise fabric wings. I barely glided that far out before I floated right into water below me. It wasn’t a bad experience, though. Not cold or traumatic in any way, especially considering how many people were now gathered around up above to witness me fall.
Before I realized what happened, I was back up on top of the canyon again, ready to give it another shot.
“Attention! Everyone, attention! Down here!” announced a girl’s voice down the canyon’s path to my right. She was about to try flying across the canyon also! Before I knew it she was soaring so smoothly across my field of sight. Coming from the far right, she gracefully flew past me with a hang-glider, towards the left, eventually past what I could see. If she had gone straight across the canyon, she would have easily made it…multiple times. But, show-off as she was, the finale of her act led to a Splash!
“Awwwwwwwwwwww!” The sequence of events happened outside of my viewpoint, but I still knew that she didn’t make it across. Silly girl.
I got ready to give it another attempt. But the damn people! It was starting to get crowded at Flight Canyon, and I was having a hard time trying to find an opening on this cliff side to depart from that correlated with an opening on that side to land on.
I saw my mother. Strange, I don’t see her that often and I rarely see her supporting me these days. Luckily there was an opening near her…and one close-by to me too. I quickly lined myself up, took a running start, and leaped into the air once again!
It was only until I was about a quarter of the way across that I realized I forgot to open up my wings. Without panicking, I spread out my turquoise cloth once again, and focused on my destination: the cliff closest to my mom.
As difficult as soaring across a canyon could be, I didn’t feel any pressure whatsoever. I was only focused on my goal.
Closer and closer I approached; I only focused on the opening at the other cliff. Although I had “wings,” they weren’t the ones that could flap. They only gave me that extra pause in the air that I needed. Patience was key here, not endurance.
Within feet of the opposite cliff side, I realized that I wasn’t going to land on top of my target. New plan: grab on to the side of the cliff! Surprised by my lightness, I grasped onto the rock formation a lot easier than expected. I wasn’t slammed into the corner of the wall; it was like my own intentions delicately placed me there. Holding on to the cliff just feet away from my mother’s feet, I easily pulled myself up and stood next to her.
It was my turn to go. Why? Well, first of all, I already had the experience. This definitely would not have been the first time that I made a trip like this. Not only that, but I was ready to embrace the next events to happen. They seemed innate, even destined. My fishbowl-shaped hat was placed over my head completely; it feels so natural that I always forget I’m wearing an astronaut’s helmet. And…off I go! Instantly, I was surrounded on all sides by dark emptiness. I could see some sparkles off in the distance, but I wasn’t able to tell if they were stars, planets, galaxies, city lights, or something else.
I didn’t realize it at first, but everyone was so sex-crazed here. Inmates were constantly skinny-dipping or trying to find alone time. It wasn’t that easy though. Just because someone wanted to go fuck someone else on the backside of the patio, doesn’t mean that three more people won’t follow, in an attempt to join in. It’s difficult to recall clear recollections of this place.
Now, the unusual part begins to happen. Not only am I a character, but I am also the narrator. How could I be both? Either I should be the character with the knowledge of what is about to happen, or I should stick to objectively noting observations, without riding the emotional roller coaster.
The sex-demented part of this journey is a near a finish, next comes the great escape. I am planning to flee this strange resort-like prison. However, right before I initiate my getaway, I distinctly remember an encounter. I held a bunch of small stones and was looking through them carefully. I noticed a small shiva lingam stone, about the size that my roommate back in the other world has…who also was a character in this crazy realm. I passed her the stone back and found another shiva lingam a little bit larger than the first, and kept that one on me.
My awareness shifted almost instantly. ESCAPE ESCAPE!! I became primal, like a gazelle that just realized the sound it heard in the nearby bushes was from a cheetah about to sprint towards its dinner.
I had to move deliberately and even perfectly; I knew that I couldn’t make any mistakes in this transition.
I saw a male and female running in front of me towards a fence on the far side of the prison grounds. Although the fence was mostly made out of tall wooden pieces, a small chain-linked segment materialized in their path.
As I approached the fence, I could sense there were people chasing me down…and slowly catching up. I knew that I still had enough distance between us that I could make the climb over the escape route.
It was now or never. If I didn’t make this obstacle in the next two seconds, I was never going to escape out of this hellhole. It was more than a judicial prison; it was the physical exhibition of my darkest self, the aspects that I aggressively wanted to avoid.
I leaped off the ground from a few feet away to give myself the highest start on the fence. Luckily I did, because I had a harder time pulling myself up than I thought I would. As I flipped over onto the other side—
I saw the female successfully make the initial escape and her male companion get pulled away by the enemy. She got up and bolted through the backyard to the neighborhood awaiting her journey on the other side of the house.
I feel a strange deja vu, like I was once an astronaut taking off from here. It was as if I was experiencing two separate moments at the same time, instead of them happening linearly. I time-travelled and I was standing in the portal, half of me on one side, half on the other. Time is a fascinating phenomenon, or maybe it’s just an imaginary paradox…
The next streets all feel like a dream to me. I am running…running…running… away from the negative, self-destructive recognizable past, but towards an unfamiliar, but definite opportunity.
There is a girl running on the streets below me. She is alone in the neighborhood. The prison guards teamed up to make sure they had the male back at the chain-link fence checkmark. But they wouldn’t give up on the female. If anything, they wanted the female so desperately. They had to have her, but couldn’t yet.
The details to my past are foggy, but I know it’s worth leaving behind. Down one street, across the next, though another backyard and over the fence. I was running to freedom, whatever that looked like. This neighborhood was gloomy. The colors were barely perceptible, and it seemed like there was no life anywhere.
She was running dead smack in the middle of the road, past a fire station. I told her how Hawaiians are…
Are those my thoughts or someone else’s? Didn’t matter for long, because I saw what I didn’t realize what I was looking for: an opening. The street I was running down curved left in several houses, but there was also an empty lot straight ahead. It was the entrance to my exit…Only a park, a large grassy field with happy, playful people. I was too focused on escaping to actually see the smiles and watch the games, but I could just feel it. This was where I was supposed to be going towards.
I crossed the final turn of the street and ran across the grass. This park turned into an oasis, a giant meadow. I could see infinite grass to the left, a forest straight ahead, and rolling hills rippling to the sunshine to the right. I took off towards the grassy hills and ran…and ran…and ran…filled with warmth, sunlight, happiness, and freedom, I kept on going. I finally made it to my unknown opportunity. This is my escape.