Entry 4.0 "Rhythm, of Rain"
Can a campfire itself possess the ability to shed one’s self interest in exchange for a story and song of fellowship? Though the question sounds as if it should be rhetorical, I will boldly answer, “yes.” The open flame is primal - it warms both body and soul while casting its flattering light of trust on those who encircle it. If true on Earth, multiply the sentiment exponentially if your campfire’s distance from home is impossible to quantify and is perhaps the first a world has seen.
The same scientists back on Anadore’s Colony 5 who recommended the tiny planet, Galenia, as a worthy stop on our artful journey also cautioned us vehemently about its dangers. They explained that Galenia, as was the case with all of the Throughworlds, was analytically categorized based on its usefulness to humans. Though they described the planet as breathtakingly beautiful with its binary moons and prismatic skies, they said it was determined that its weather was too hostile for immediate colonization. Our eyes were uncomfortably opened when the colony medic explained in detail the effects that lightning has on the human body. When he finally realized he was killing the mood of the company, he added with a nervous chuckle, “But nothing beats the view.”
He wasn’t wrong. The Wanderment touched down after a turbulent entry and, peering through the glowing viewports, we immediately fell in what could only be described as cautionary love. Like a child, hand-to-glass, inches away from a deadly shark, we immediately knew we were witnessing something wild that commanded respect. It only took the first thunderclap (which physically shifted our innards) to separate our crew into two mindsets: stay onboard, or go exploring. I chose the latter – so did Kiye, Shaye, Leif, Marley and Kanton.
To avoid the allusion of us being overtly brave at this stage, it should be noted that when the six of us left the Wanderment, we had Whirr. Consider Whirr both smart drone and a Swiss Army knife of defense mechanisms, programmed to protect human life at any cost. It’s been long rumored that the line of robots was inspired by the folk song, “The Marvelous Toy” written by Tom Paxton in 1962.
“It went "zip" when it moved and "bop" when it stopped,
And "whirr" when it stood still.
I never knew just what it was
And I guess I never will.”
The song about summed up what we knew about how Whirr operated, but we were elated when such a useful (and obviously exorbitantly expensive) piece of gear was donated to our mission. Actually, as the main backer of our journeyings, big tech conglomerate, Pinnacle Nth, wouldn’t let us leave Earth without it - for insurance purposes.
Artists have a peculiar existence. We are sometimes revered, and other times completely dismissed. What tips the scale in favor of one way or the other is never predictable, or permanent. Though most creatives would agree with the aforementioned sentiment, it doesn’t keep us from trying, with each piece, to secure some kind of lasting foothold that would insure indefinite shelter and sustenance, and/or a footnote in history. How could one look at this view and not believe that this time – that this collection of inspired moments wouldn’t grant that wish to us. Sharing a penchant for artistic juxtaposition and showing some extra love for a planet we deemed a diamond in the rough, we came up with a concept that would both feature the beautiful chaos of an ethereal storm-world and the human capacity to overcome nature and to happily thrive. We were going camping.
The wind and rain outside the Wanderment bent our backs forward on the short hike out from the landing site. Distant prolonged flashes and delayed thunderous crescendos indicated to us that the worst of the electrical storm was distant enough so as not to pose an immediate threat. We set our tent on the edge of a tangerine lake lit twice by dueling moons and dancing with staccato rain. In the distance, twisted spires of alien ore reached tirelessly for electric skies and provided the perfect sense of space between the horizon and an infinite blanket of magenta stars. Would we sleep in the tent? Not a chance, but it was that, along with a cozy fire, that would give our reference images one-part humility and two-parts hubris – the perfect recipe for a lifestyle piece. Each of us would interpret the references differently in our paintings, but I could already see my composition, my embellishments, and how the light, and its absence would tell the story without a word. I knew that I wouldn’t need the reference for Kiye’s silhouette – that, I had memorized.
Happily assailed by wind and rain, Whirr shielded the elements from high above us by transmitting a translucent protective forcefield the shape of an elongated iridescent dome around our camp. After settling in, we were definitely not “roughing it.” We were dry, in good spirits, and when the campfire was warm enough to properly toast a marshmallow and the acoustic guitars came out of their cases, we were briefly home.