The Tension Pt.4 [Short Story]

The tension was disturbing. Initially Joseph had thought he might be having a heart attack or maybe he was getting winded so quickly because of the joint he had tried last weekend with his girlfriend but when it didn’t get worse and he didn’t, as he feared, collapse and fall off his bike, he kept pedaling along the street. Weaving in and out of the stationary traffic, his headphones blaring some Bon Jovi-esque rock ballad from the 90s, it wasn’t until he passed through the second set of traffic lights that he realised the traffic was at a stand-still in all directions and most pedestrians were standing around on the sidewalk simply staring around in bewilderment. He slowed to a stop and dismounted his bike beside a father and son who were holding hands and staring into space. The bike toppled over as he removed his headphones to try to talk to them.

Prudence watched the bike clatter to the ground beside the bike messenger from the lone window in her corner of the office. She had gotten up to head to the bathroom but the vacant stares and the lack of response from the other office staff had disturbed her enough that she banished herself back to her cubicle. She was awkward enough in normal social situations but when people around her started acting strangely she simply bolted. Her curiosity had been piqued though and after a minute or two of hiding she slowly made her way to the window to look upon the world at large. Her social anxiety and awkwardness meant she viewed the world as a hotspot of lunacy anyway but what she saw outside made her far more anxious and scared than she had ever known.


The Tension Pt.3 [Short Story]

Marcus shivered and rolled his shoulders as he felt the tension in the air crawling along his spine. He had just walked out of the bathroom, the noise of the plumbing and the flushing water mingling with the chatter and background noise in the basement his gang called their home and all of a sudden he had felt anxiety rise inside his chest and the shivers and tingles started crawling up his back.

Joey and Lupe, the bathroom resting in their line of sight, glanced up as Marcus entered the room again and they shivered and shifted in their chairs as they watched Marcus’ reaction. Joey bolted out of his chair, the chair clattering to the ground behind him, attracting the attention of everyone else in the basement space, and, his hand jumping reflexively to his sidearm in its holster, he turned slowly to inspect the basement to find the source of the deep anxiety he felt washing over him.

Perspiration beaded Winston’s face as he moved up the stairs at Marcus’ direction. He fidgeted nervously with bulge of his handgun beneath the leather of his jacket. He wanted to rip it out of its holster and feel the reassuring weight of it in his hand, but the door led out onto the street and he couldn’t simply run outside waving a gun. He undid the different locks and latches on the door and wiped away some of the sweat on his forehead with the cuff of his jacket before pulling the door open slowly and peeking outside.

The Tension Pt.2 [Short Story]

The tension was palpable at street level. Luis stood behind the counter of his mid-town delicatessen half listening to the customer whose latte he was preparing and half staring out the large plate glass window of his store front. He kept looking for something, anything that might explain the anxious feeling that had the hairs on the back of his neck bristling with anticipation.

Noelle and her daughter Lucy sat across the street under a parasol that shaded them from the bright midday sun. A pleasant heat permeated the air but it was the tension that stalled their conversation and had them fidgeting idly with their cutlery and the straws in their lunchtime cocktails. The planned conversation, one that had been brewing between them for many days in the wake of other events in their personal lives, was abandoned as their combined anxiety weighed heavily upon them.

John stood at the crosswalk and stared somewhat open-mouthed and dumbfounded as he watched the traffic lights follow their normal pattern of green to amber to red and back to green while the assembled driver on both junctions merely sat idling in their vehicles. He spotted movement on the other side of the street and his gaze followed the movement as it resolved into a shaggy looking mutt who calmly trotted along the street, weaving through the few people who were likewise staring about in confusion. The dog continued up to the corner and promptly disappeared from John’s view as he continued on his way.

The Tension Pt.1 [Short Story]

There was tension in the air. Everyone in the office could feel it, but no one could put their finger on what it was. Joel kept peeking his head above the wall of his cubicle looking for danger like a Prairie Dog keeping watch. Margaret kept clearing her throat nervously and Lucile kept tapping her pen against the desk. Periodically she would realise she was doing it and stop, only to start up again moments later.

Prudence on the other hand had her headphones in as she typed, the latest record from her favourite punk rock band playing for the sixth time that morning. She might eventually get sick of hearing it but she was basking in the joy of that feeling of new found love for a piece of music. It was this focus on the music and her work as a website designer, combined with the tucked-away nature of her cubicle, that meant she was completely oblivious both to the atmosphere of the office and the events slowly unfolding around her.

In the corner office on the far-side of the main work floor, raised voices could be heard. Mark rose nervously and shuffled his way towards the water cooler, an obvious excuse to get closer to the source of the sound and potentially divine some of the conversation. He pulled a cup and filled it from the refrigerated tap and simply stood there, plastic cup in hand, while very obviously trying to appear as if he was not straining to hear what was going on in the corner office.

Joel’s head popped up above his cubicle once again and upon seeing Mark standing around he too rose and went to the water cooler. He whispered conspiratorially to Mark who jumped halfway out of his skin in fright, so intent was he upon the muffled sounds making their way through the layers of sheet rock and timber, spilling some water on his shirt in the process. Mark’s face immediately went from lightly flushed pink to something a few shades off Fire Engine Red as he was flooded with anger and embarrassment.

Abortion on Demand

Life is precious.

This is an important phrase. Anti-abortion campaigners use this phrase to try and force us to see a foetus not only as an example of “life” but also as something “precious”. I’m not going to rebut these implications, many others have done so and probably in much better fashion than I could. I find, however, that this phrase is one of the most compelling arguments in favour of abortion. Life is indeed precious. Precious things require a lot of dedication, a lot of resources, a lot of time and often a lot of love to protect them and nurture them. Love, time, dedication and resources are not simply things that can be plucked from the air on a whim, however. These things come from other people, and at a higher level of abstraction, they come from society. Life is precious, yes, but life is also a burden, one most often borne by other people.

So why, then, do we insist upon forcing more and more burdens upon not only other people, whose lives we should have very little say over, but society as a whole? This oh so wonderful country we live in likes to utter the phrase “Abortion on Demand” with such bile and vitriol that one would be forgiven for assuming this act they were speaking of was akin to raping a child while forcing it to watch it’s parents bleed and die. I’m not being reactionary or sensationalistic, one need only listen to the many debates that have been had over the years in the Irish media to hear the implied horror and disgust infused into the phrase.

It’s interesting to deconstruct the thinking behind these utterances. The common criticism of widespread provision of abortion as a family planning option is that if there were Abortion on Demand, Irish women would be having abortions every other week and it would promote promiscuous and unhealthy behaviour. The reality, however, is that Irish education standards where sex and sexuality is concerned are shockingly lacking and it all boils down to the pervasive attitude in Irish society that sex is dirty and wrong and anything to do with sex that is not a beautiful bouncing baby (or a half dozen) is immoral. The reality is that an estimated 10 Irish women (and their partners, in some circumstances) every day travel to England for the express purpose of having an abortion. I was on a plane to Manchester with some of these women in 2011. They were quiet, they looked anxious and they seemed deeply saddened by their situation. The reality is some of those potential babies were deeply wanted.

The reality is pregnancy and delivery and nursing and diaper changing and teething and potty training and childcare and medical bills and all the hundreds of other complications that bringing a child into the world thrusts upon a parent, these are not things that everyone can survive and more importantly these are not things that everyone wants to go through. The reality is many women end up unwillingly sacrificing their dreams, their careers, their education, their financial stability and their happiness in order to go through a pregnancy they do not want or cannot handle. Because other people give them no other choice. Because any other choice would make them cast out and ostracized. Because they can’t afford to travel outside the country. Because society tells them what they want is not the important. Because society tells women “once you get pregnant, there is no way out.”

The reality is Abortion on Demand does not end lives, it saves lives. It saves the lives of women from situations they do not want or cannot cope with. The reality is if Abortion on Demand is what the women of Ireland deserve after so many decades of religious and patriarchal domination at the hands of men who think they can tell women what to do with their own bodies. The reality is, Abortion on Demand is the future of Ireland.


For What It’s Worth…

…here’s my 2c on the current PZ vs. Rationalia mud-flinging debacle that has even dragged in Michael Nugent, who really only just wants us all to get along while we further the true causes of the atheist/skeptic movement.

Rape is not a joke. I personally don’t find jokes with rape as the subject matter funny, nor do a lot of other people. Intellectually I understand the irony of the Nirvana song “Rape Me” but the subject matter leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. This is ok. Some people find those kind of jokes funny, and that’s ok too.

For anyone who’s out of touch with these slightly-on-the-fringe events, a guy called Pappa on forums created a thread asking “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?” Then PZ Myers picked up on the thread, and posted a crude condemnation of not just Pappa but the forum as a whole on the back of this thread.
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The Trouble With Porn…

…is that even smart people like to misrepresent and attack it. Taslima Nasreen says “Pornography is exclusively for men’s pleasure” and that she is against pornography in that she is against abuse and degradation. She is, however, for erotica and provides the contrasting definitions of pornography and erotica, attributed to Diana Russell.

Pornography: Material that combines sex and/or the exposure of genitals with abuse or degradation in a manner that appears to endorse, condone, or encourage such behavior.

Erotica: Sexually suggestive or arousing material that is free of sexism, racism, and homophobia, and respectful of all human beings and animals portrayed.

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