Sunday, 31 December 2017
The Island Of Stability - Flash Fiction
As dead as the dinosaurs. Though not of course coeval with them. In laboratories chemists create super-heavy elements which exist for mere milliseconds before transforming back into more stabile arrangement of protons, neutrons and electrons. Such elements, if they ever existed in Nature, have such rapid decay rates that they have long ago become iron, lead, radon and the like. Their half lives played out into immutability. Why do the scientists bother when these elements have such a short lifespan, they offer no practical use at all? Because they quest after an ‘island of stability’ at some point on this spectrum, where elements exist with increasing half-lives that mean they have a much more stable existence, only no one has figured out how to create them, nor found them existing naturally.
Such decay would have taken place by the time man appeared on the earth, but hey who’s present to say what time is at this pre-temporal stage? We use carbon dating and other radioactive decay metrics to back-define chronology, so this cavil still holds in real time. Not that there is such a thing of course. Experienced time is not stable. Only in mathematical terms is it regularly sequenced and segmented.
Ug had mined some lead by cracking open a rock. Unsurprisingly he was unaware that it was a radioactive isotope of lead (210), as he used it for a pillow to cradle his head at night. His body absorbed its decay and would have sparked off carcinogenic mutations within his body, only the era’s low natural life expectancy meant he would not outlive the lead’s twenty two year half-life that would have ravaged him unto death.
Ug pointed to the animal skins on his feet with the very spear that had smote the beast. Unk just assumed he was boasting and flouting his fortune from the recent hunt. Ug danced from one foot to the other, waggling the raised one in Unk’s direction. Unk’s blood was rising at the perceived continued sleight. Ug emitted some sounds, but Unk just shrugged his shoulders, or scratched his head, or held his hands out wide while crinkling the lower features of his face, the precise gestures not having been set in mutual comprehension as such. Ug threw himself at Unk’s feet, then struggled to lift one of them off the ground, sending Unk into a frenzy of hopping trying to keep his balance. Ug pointed at the scars and scabs and blisters on his confrere's foot, then pointed to the skins wrapped around his own and emitted some more sounds to convey the comparative weals of skin. Look Unk, we went through all this yesterday, remember, the petroglyphs? Unk smashed him over the head with his club as his final indecipherable and yet inviolable thought on the matter.
Wait, hold on a minute Sonny Jim, I can smell it on you. Spliff. Skunk. Yes you do. Marijuana. Sinsimilla, Mary Jane. Grass. Cannabis. Bud. Weed. Collieweed. Reefer. Chronic. Blunt. Draw. Ganja. Herb. Whacky tobaccy. Oh this is hopeless. Let me open my Urban Dictionary translation app… What? Give me a moment here. Is that ‘dope’ as in isotope 13 or 15? Come on, throw me a bone here please. Open your mouth wide and enunciate clearly. As if any imaginary doobie between your lips would fall out… Do you mean ‘bad’ in the sense of isotopes 6, 8 or 10…? Damn youth and their rapidly mutating argot. Or is it ‘ergot’? Either way I’m getting a migraine… Not least think about how much money you waste on that stuff. No not waste, ‘spunk’. What? Money, you know, money? Oh sorry, English as a second language. Bank (isotope 72). Swag. Scratch (isotope 52). Dosh. Readies. Moolah. Lucre. Lolly. Loot. Booty (isotope 107). P’s. Spondoolicks. Skrill. Ah we have lift off! Docking with the mothership. Docking your pocket money might be an idea… Hold it, I’m an ‘askhole’? What the hell is ‘askhole’ when it’s at home...? Oh here we are. Hmmmm. You’re lucky I heard that right first time mistah, see you can enunciate when you choose to… I may be your mum, but even I can see that’s a fauxpology. See not quite as beyond redemption as you might think… How do you spell that…? No, nothing, guess Urban Dic hasn’t even caught up to that one yet goddamnit… Would you care to enlighten me as to its meaning…? Pretty please…? Oh, so it’s just the silent treatment now is it? Words fail me….