#2121

I’ve been thinking about inevitability. About how chance and circumstance could lead Igor Dyatlov’s hiking group to set up their tent in the exact center of an extremely rare and unknown wind vortex, the resulting infrasound of which sent them running into the subzero Siberian winter. Those students did everything right, everything, given what science knew at the time, and yet nine people froze to death in darkness. In 1958 no amount of investigation could answer the why of the disaster. Now we know. They couldn’t have.

I’ve been thinking about preparedness. About how chance and circumstance could lead the RMS Titanic to sail through an unknown thermal inversion, an ocular mirage that hid the iceberg, so confused the nearby Californian that it never went to assist, and ruined any chance those floating in freezing cold water had to survive the night. Both ships’ crews did everything right, everything, given what science knew at the time, and yet fifteen hundred people froze to death in darkness. In 1912 no amount of investigation could answer the why of the disaster. Now we know. They couldn’t have.

How can things go so extremely wrong when those involved are as educated, trained, and prepared as it is possible to be? When they do everything exactly right and still meet with helplessness and death? What does that mean for the rest of us who know so little? We can only prepare for what we know is coming. We can only imagine scenarios within the reality we conceptualize. Beyond that we are babes.

I do not fear the unknown. I do not fear aliens or curses or conspiracies, Sasquatch or Mothman or Bloody Mary. I fear what we already know. I fear the sleeping calderas and the pressurized fault lines; I fear the solar flares and the sixth great extinction. And I fear the as-yet-unknown. The to-be-known. The dangers already existing all around us, hidden only by the limits of human knowledge. What awaits us that we will never see coming?

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#2105

Where are you?

A small, pale light moving in the darkness, a plane flying at night in dense fog or heavy cloud. A search plane, perhaps, or an aircraft far from its intended course. Far from civilization.

Where are you?

Long line of the dark tops of evergreen trees, framed against a darker night sky.

Where are you?

A satellite, or some similar distant light, moving forward in its unchanging orbit.

Where are you?

A flickering light, brighter than the candles, to the left and beyond the darkness. Flames? Fire? No, a distraction. A trick. Not real. Focus.

Where. Are. You?

A woman’s face, chin dark as if tattooed. Snow? Sedna?

Where are you?

Alaska?

Where are you?

Dyatlov Pass?

Where are you?
Are you lost?
Are you trapped?
Are you hiding?

A ring of evergreen trees, a clearing or the edge of a forest, seen from below as if by someone laying on the ground. Dark on dark, waiting forest, heavy sky, untouched wilderness.

I will find you regardless. I. Will. Find. You.

Darkness. Silence. Nothing.

Where are you?
Where. Are. You?
WHERE ARE YOU?

Exhaustion.

#1678

Don’t tell me what happened to Amelia Earhart, D. B. Cooper, or the crew of the Mary Celeste. I don’t want to know.
Don’t explain why there are stairs in the middle of nowhere or plane-hungry triangles out at sea, rows of lights in the sky or holy faces appearing in rock, plaster, linoleum, clouds. I don’t want to know.
Don’t try to convince me The Wreck of the Titan was just some crazy coincidence or that famous black and white picture just a grainy snapshot of a floating log. Let some of the mysteries remain.
Let people disappear without a trace; let the wilderness swallow up whole ships, planes, settler communities, and leave behind only a word carved into a tree to prove they ever existed.
Let Tutankhamen’s curse sleep in infamy. Let the Chupacabra skulk through Mexican jungles. Let the Flying Dutchman live to haunt another day.
Is it so bad, not to know the truth?