Thursday, May 5, 2011

17/365 -- Playlist Story -- inspired by No One Does It Like You by Department of Eagles

"Aaaaaaaaahhh!" then jagged sobbing from the next room. Martina woke up to the sound of her young daughter in pain. She lay looking at the pattern of early morning light ceiling, trying to determine if this was another nightmare or something more serious. Her husband Cliff rolled over and snorted into the pillow. The sobs stayed at a constant pitch, then "Momma! Momma?!"

"I'm comin' Sunny." Martina sat up and rubbed her eyes. Her stomach suddenly felt queasy.


"Quit your hollerin'! I'm coming. Ugh," Martina clutched her abdomen. She felt very light-headed. "Oh, I hope I'm not getting sick," she said to herself.


"You better be bleedin'!" She groggily swung her feet over the side of the bed. She stood up, but stepped on some wayward pieces of Lego. She swore and stumbled forward, falling. She extended her hands out ahead of her, expecting the floor immediately, but it rose up slowly, after a few seconds. She touched her fingers gently to the hardwood, perplexed, and pushed away, and all the way upright again. "Huh."

She walked slowly to the door, and something didn't feel right at all. Her steps were light and required only the merest effort. "Mommaa! I'm scared!"

"Alright, alright." Martina took a normal step out into the hallway, and rose up to the ceiling, then gently back down again, passing her daughter's bedroom door completely.

"Momma?" said her daughter quietly.

"That was so weird," Martina said to herself. "There is definitely something not right." She took tiny shuffling steps back to Sunny's door, keeping her body in contact with the wall. When she appeared in the doorway, her daughter looked at her with big wet eyes.

"I just jumped on my bed and I hit the ceiling and I hurt my head." Sunny burst into another fit of sobs and reached out her arms to her mother.

"I believe you sweetie," said Martina, slowly shuffling over the carpet towards her daughter's bed. She hugged the girl. "Who's my honey, Sunny? Are you my honey, Sunny? Is Sunny my honey?"

"Yes Momma," Sunny giggled.

"That's better. Let's go get Daddy up, okay?" Martina scooped her up and shuffled back to her own bedroom. "Get up honey."

"Grungh," said Cliff. "Isn't it Saturday?"

"Yes. But something's wrong. Like, really wrong."

"Is the house on fire?" said Cliff into the pillow.


"Have aliens landed and started zorching people with their deathrays?"

"Umn, I don't think so," said Martina. Cliff turned his head to look at her. He furrowed his brow.

"That's a bit ambiguous," he said, then chuckled and turned his face back into the pillow. Martina sat gently on the bed. Their daughter was sucking her thumb quietly, watching her parents.

"Hun, I think there's something wrong with the gravity."

"Wha-?" said Cliff, after a moment.

"It's hard to walk."

"What are you talking about?"

"Just get up and see for yourself."

"Fine," said Cliff. He slowly sat up. "Ugn, my stomach."

"I had that too. But I'm fine now. Just stand up." Cliff stood up on his side of the bed and wobbled.

"What the--"

"Take a step," said Martina. Cliff took a stride towards the closet, and instead launched himself into it.



"I see what you mean," he said, navigating his way back out of the clothes. "I think we need to go down stairs and turn on the TV."

"I agree. This can't just be happening here, can it?"

Martina put her daughter down and held her hand as the three of them shuffled out the bedroom door and to the staircase. Cliff slowly started to make his way down the steps clutching the railing tightly, but Martina just stood at the top.

"Come on," said Cliff. "It's not so bad."

"I've always, ALWAYS, wanted to do something," said Martina.


Martina put her hands on the railing, and pushed herself up and over.

"NO!" yelled Cliff. Martina slowly, gracefully, floated down to the first-story floor, and landed like a cat, then bounced up a few feet, then down again.

"Wow. That was satisfying," said Martina.

"I wanna do that too!" Sunny exclaimed.

"No honey," said Cliff.

"I think it's alright, if she jumps into my arms," said Martina. Sunny looked down at her mother in absolute delight.

"Lift me up Daddy!"

"Okay, but just this once. I never want you to do this again, especially if you're alone. You got that?"

"Yes Daddy," said Sunny sheepishly.

"Okay then," he said. He walked back up the steps and picked her up, lifted her over the side, then let her drop. She moved slowly, like a flying superhero coming in for a photofinish landing. Martina reached up and guided her daughter to the floor.

"That was awesome!" said Sunny.

"Okay, make room down there!" said Cliff.

"You're doing it too Daddy?" said Sunny.

"Yeah, why not," he said, as he gracefully swung his feet over the railing. He did a complete somersault in the air before touching down on the floor, jutted out his chest, and flung up his arms.

"Oooh, well done," said Martina. "The Russian judge gives you a ten."

"Thank you, thank you," said Cliff. "I try. You know, I suddenly feel like I could run a marathon."

"Yeah, me too," said Martina. "I felt awful at first, but now I feel absolutely fantastic."

"Yes, but all this probably means something really, really bad has happened."

"We need to find out what," said Martina. They all bounced gracefully into the living room. Cliff turned on the TV, then flopped dramatically into the sofa. Martina and Sunny sat next to him.

They flipped through the channels, and every one of them showed a ticker at the bottom that said "An emergency has been declared. Stand by for further instructions." They switched to a twenty-four hour news station. It featured talking heads hypothesizing about the cause of the sudden diminishment in the strength of gravity.

"I don't think they know what's happened," said Cliff. The sat for another twenty minutes.

"I'm bored," said Sunny.

"I'm hungry," said Cliff. They got up and ate breakfast, then decided to go outside to see if anyone else was about and knew anything. Their neighbor, an widowed man, was mowing his lawn.

"Did you hear the news?" Cliff yelled over the noise of the mower.

"Yeah, course," yelled back the neighbor. "But I'm getting on with my life. I ain't gonna sit around all day waitin' for instructions." He continued with the mowing. Just then the mail lady was approaching them on the sidewalk, doing an awkward hop.

"I bet it's that supercollider thing they turned on the other day," she said, opening their mailbox and depositing unwanted bulk mail. She shut the little door. "Men aren't made to mess with the laws of the Universe." She hopped away.

"That's nice," said Martina, walking onto their dewey front lawn. She put her hands up, then turned forward, and executed a perfect cartwheel. When she stood up again she triumphantly said "Yes! I've never been able to do one of those!"

"Awesome," said Cliff. "Wow, I really want to play basketball right now. I bet I could make a basket from the far end of the court. Or golf! I hate golf, but I bet it would be fun to play now!"

"Let's see how high we can jump!" said Martina. They then set about jumping. They estimated their best jump was about ten feet, and six feet for Sunny.

"I bet I could stand on your shoulders!" said Cliff.

"Okay, let's try that!" Martina, knelt down, and Cliff stepped onto her shoulders. He picked up Sunny and stood her on his shoulders. Martina stood up, and started walking down the sidewalk. They waved to all the neighbors and laughed until they were in stitches. Cliff jumped down, and placed Sunny on the ground.

"We should have a race!" said Sunny.

"Okay!" said her parents in unison.

"To the end of the block," said Martina.

"And then back," said Sunny.

"Get ready...set...GO!" said Cliff. They all started at a sprint, then had to take long leaping strides. On their way back, Cliff and Martina let Sunny gain some distance on them.

"I won, I won!" shouted Sunny, jumping up and down several feet.

"Yes you did, you're the winner!" said Martina. She held up her daughter's arm in the air. Cliff clapped and bowed towards her, smiling.

"Phew," said Cliff. "I think we should go in and check on the news. Maybe there's some new developments. They went in and sat in front of the TV again. This time on the news there was a nerdy-looking guy in glasses being interviewed via satellite.

"...and it's an unusual event. We don't know what caused it," said the man in glasses.

"Now, could you explain, for our viewers, what these waves?" said the handsome anchor.

"I bet he's talking about gravity waves," mumbled Cliff during he satellite delay.

"Yes, of course. These two waves, are waves of gravity."

"Yes! I was right!" said Cliff.

"We are at the confluence of the waves, where they are crossing. As with any type of wave, when they intersect, they can cancel each other out, or amplify each other."

"So what does that mean, exactly?" said the anchor.

"Well," the man held up his arms and tried to represent waves with his hands, but it just looked like he was awkwardly executing a dated hip hop dance move, "when a trough meets a trough, they make a deeper trough. When a crest meets a crest, likewise, it makes a taller crest. And when a trough meets a crest, the net wave goes flat, if they are roughly equivalent. What we are experiencing is a trough meeting a crest, though not exactly, which is why we are still experiencing the effects of Earth's gravity to some degree."

"And you said that this isn't permanent?"

"No, we think it will be over in the next twenty hours or so. From the best we can determine, the wavelength of these waves is about thirty-two light hours long. And we've already experience this for about twelve hours."

"But this only started happening this morning--"

"Well that's just when you started noticing it. We've been recording it for twelve hours or so, and by measuring the change in intensity over that time, that's how we've determined how long this will last."

"So everything will be completely back to normal then?"

"More or less. This might have changed our orbit very slightly."

"That sounds really serious," said the anchor with a tone of alarm.

"Not really. We don't think it will have any significant effect. We may have moved slightly further away from the sun, which could cool the climate by a degree or two. Which could be very beneficial."

"Wow," said Cliff. "What a great day! Let's go to the community center and play some basketball before this thing wears off!"

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