Like many people, I’ve been worried about global warming, although I don’t know anything about it.

    During a recent warm spell, I was standing on the corner, waiting for the light to change, and I remarked to the gentleman standing next to me, “I wonder if there is global warming.”

    “Woojathinkso!” the man replied, crossing the street hurriedly and leaving me standing there perplexed.

    Woojathinkso….Is that what he said?….Woojathinkso….I forgot all about the errand I was on and turned around to go home.  What did that fellow mean?

    As I put my key in the door, it hit me!  Wooja thinks so!  Somebody named Wooja thinks there is global warming!  Now I get it! 

    But who was this fellow Wooja?  And why did he think there was global warming?  Maybe he was a scientist.  If so, I definitely wanted to talk to him.

    I checked the phone book, but there was no listing for “Wooja.”  Maybe he had an unlisted number.  If he was a top scientist, that wouldn’t surprise me.  Scientists don’t want to be bothered by strangers when they’re in the middle of something important.  But he had to be known somewhere.  Surely at the university.  That was it!  He was probably in the physics department of the university!

    So I called the physics department.  “Do you have a Professor Wooja?” I asked.

    The secretary hesitated.  “Uh…do you mean Professor Woods?”

    Woods!  So he has an alias!  A foreigner who goes by an anglicized name!  “Yes, I think that’s the one.  I’d like to talk to him.  Is he there?”

    “I’m afraid Professor Woods retired last year.”

    Retired?  In the midst of a global warming catastrophe?  There was something fishy about this.  “Can you give me his phone number, or tell me where he lives?”

    “Oh, no.  We don’t give out that kind of personal information,” said the secretary.

    “Has he written any papers on global warming, by any chance?” I asked.

    “I wouldn’t know.  You’d have to check with the library.”

    Wouldn’t know!  Ha!  She was stonewalling me.  “So, then, I could just go to the library and read everything he’s written?” I asked.

    “Yes, of course.  Just go to the physics section on the fifth floor and ask the librarian.”

    I thanked her and hung up.

    The pieces were starting to fall into place.  This Professor Woods, who was really a foreigner named Wooja, had mysteriously retired, and his present whereabouts were being kept secret.  He must have discovered something about global warming — probably something too shocking to be made public, although that fellow on the corner knew about it somehow.  He had walked away quickly, so perhaps he was being followed.  It was still a puzzle, but maybe I’d find a big piece of it at the library.

    I had never used the university library before, so I asked the librarian in the physics section for help.  “I want to read whatever papers have been written by Professor Woods,” I said, somewhat out of breath after climbing the stairs (I should have taken the elevator).

    She eyed me curiously for a moment, then pecked away at her keyboard and looked at her screen.  “Would that be Professor Theodore Woods?”

    “Yes, I think so.  The one who just retired from the university.”

    “Theodore Woods is the only Woods we’ve got listed.  Here are his papers.”  She turned the screen around so I could read it.

    I scanned the titles of his papers….Magnetotelluric Technology Applications For Deep Earth Resistivity….Time-Domain Electromagnetic Systems….Maxwell Three-Dimensional Conductive Plate Modelling….Rotating Gradient Data Collection For Enhancement of High-Resolution Total-Magnetic Intensity Measurement….Borehole Gravity Logging Systems For 3-D Models and Measurement of Bulk-Density of Intersected Formations….Problems of Ground EM Pulse Geophysics….2-Axis Tipper EM Applications….Full-Tensor Airborne Magnetic Gradiometrics and Total Gravity Field Measurement….My eyes glazed over.  There was nothing about global warming.  Those papers had obviously been removed!  I was too late!

    Frustrated and angry, I went to the physics department to confront that secretary I had spoken to.  As I was wandering around the halls, looking for the office, a young man stopped me.  “Are you looking for someone?” he asked politely, but not smiling.

    Foolishly, I blurted out, “I want to know what Professor Woods found out about global warming!  Why is it being kept secret?”

    The young man gave me a long, suspicious look.  Finally he said, “Are you connected with the university?”

    “No….I’m…I’m just a layman.”

    “Professor Woods was not involved with global warming.”

    “And how do you know that?” I demanded.

    “I was his teaching assistant.”

    I stood there dumbly for a moment, not knowing what to do next.  “Suppose I wanted to talk to him,” I ventured weakly.

    “Why don’t you write down your name and phone number, and I’ll pass it along to him.”

    So I did.  Maybe that was a mistake.  Now they know who I am!

    Back at home, I pondered the dark mystery I had unearthed.  It was very clear that this Professor Woods, or Wooja, had stumbled onto something  so terrible it had to be suppressed.  A lid of secrecy had been clamped down on the whole matter — probably emanating from the highest levels of government.  Even worse, the people responsible might think that I knew something I wasn’t supposed to know, even though I didn’t know anything — not even what I was supposed to know!

    For the sake of my personal safety, I’m giving up this whole nasty business!  I’m never going to say or do anything more about global warming!  I never should have gotten involved in the first place!

    If you think you’re the brave one who can break through this wall of censorship, I leave it in your hands.  Go ahead.  At least I’ve given you something to go on.  But I’ve just heard the latest weather forecast, and from the sound of it, it may be too late for all of us!  How much time do we have left before…it…happens?  Wooja knows.  And a few others.  But as for me, I no longer want to know!

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

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    This story starts slowly and gathers momentum until it explodes in a nerve-shattering climax.  Along the way, the reader is treated to numerous colorful characters and subplots involving espionage, global catastrophe, romance, and the supernatural.

    Excuse me….I have just been informed that this story has received scathing reviews in the Toronto Star and Saturday Night.  Therefore, it will be necessary to go back and make changes while there is still time to save my literary reputation.

    Ahem….This story starts with a bang, and then the reader meets the two principal characters — a man and a woman — who are in a troubled relationship.  A lot of back story is given to explain the problems between them.  The plot has been simplified to deal with condo development.   The man wants to redeem himself by building a spectacular condo project, but the woman tells him he has to choose between her and the building….Unfortunately, this will not do, as it appears the story has received even worse reviews in The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s, and certain harsh comments have been made about the author.  So it will be necessary to start over.

    Thank you for your patience….This story begins with a long description of the Hawaiian Islands, where it will now take place, instead of Moncton, New Brunswick, as previously intended.  This should make it more commercially acceptable to American publishers (all the Canadian ones hate me anyway).  The protagonist is a CIA agent, and his female counterpart is the divorced wife of an unscrupulous Wall Street money manager….I’m sorry.  There is a problem.  This story has already been rejected by Esquire and Playboy, although no reason has been given.  The rejection slips merely say that it does not meet their editorial needs.  Frankly, I doubt they even read it.

    All right, never mind.  A few changes, and we’ll be back in business….A beautiful young rock star receives a human head in a box.  There is no note, and she doesn’t recognize the man’s face.  (Now I’m sure I’m on to something!)  She calls her friend, who is a bumbling but humorous private investigator who looks like Walter Matthau.  The scene shifts to somewhere I haven’t decided on yet, and the reader realizes that the box was delivered to the wrong address!  (This is sensational!)  The bumbling investigator, however, stumbles onto a clue (I don’t know what, but I’ll think of something), which leads him to a gang of drug traffickers.  (This is a winner!  I’m sure of it!)….Oh….I’m sorry….My mistake….It seems that a very similar story was published only minutes ago in The Idaho Review, and the movie rights have already been optioned to HBO.  I don’t believe this!  This is either the worst luck a person could have, or there’s something fishy going on!

    Okay, I’m not through with this sucker.  I’ll give it one more try….A prospector in Alaska stumbles onto the richest gold deposit in the world.  Now he has to lock up the mineral rights to the whole surrounding area without anyone suspecting that he has found something big.  But he has been followed by his nemesis, an evil prospector with no talent, who just rips off other people’s discoveries, and the nemesis intends to kill him before he can get back to the nearest town to file his claims.  There will be a big fight, which the hero wins.  After that, he has to kill a bear and a mountain lion.  And then he falls down a ravine, hits his head, and loses his memory, so he can’t remember where he discovered the gold.  There!  I think I’ve nailed it!

    Oh, no….My story has been rejected with prejudice, if you can believe it, by The Paris Review, for “failing to address women’s issues or the environment, and failing to include minorities”!

    Well, that’s the last straw!  This is a stupid, rotten, corrupt business, and those miserable sons of bitches can rot in hell!  Years from now, when they’re almost bankrupt because nobody reads their inferior shit any more, they can crawl to me on their hands and knees and beg me for a story!  “Conquest and Horror” will be waiting for them, and I’ll shove it down their throats!

    Copyright@ 2008 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    Has this ever happened to you?  You go down to the basement for yet another “final confrontation” with the fiend that has taken over your life.  There it is: the brain in the jar — the brain you’ve been keeping alive with liquid nutrients.  Attached to it are lots of wires connected to all this fancy lab stuff.  One wire is even connected to a speaker so the damned thing can talk to you.  Do this! Do that! Obey me!  All it ever does is give you orders.  But you’re going to put an end to it.  You’ve made up your mind.  You’re going to show that brain who’s boss….And what happens?  The same thing that always happens.  You lose your nerve, and the brain wins again.

    Now, if you’re a normal person like me, you might put up with this situation for, oh, let’s say six months.  Or maybe nine.  By that time you’re forced to admit to yourself that your life is no longer your own.  This cerebral monster has taken control of it and made you its slave.  How did this happen?  you ask yourself.  Well, you thought you were being a nice guy, a humanitarian, by keeping the brain alive.  There was an ethical issue.   It needed you.  You owed  it something.  You had to take care of it as a service to science, or society, or whatever.  And it was definitely smarter than you.  Maybe it was a genius, or maybe not.  But it certainly had a talent for winning every argument and manipulating you.  And you’d swear it could read your mind!

    One day leads to the next, and the next.  Things settle into a pattern, and you’re stuck.  If you try to break out of it, the brain lays this big guilt trip on you, and you really have no choice.   You’ve agreed to take care of this brain forever.  But just taking care of it isn’t enough.  It wants more and more and more — little luxuries and treats and favors.

    What can you do, kick it out of the house?  It has no mobility.  Where would you take it?  Who’s going to take it off your hands?  And what would you say if someone demanded to know where you got it in the first place?  And if you simply let it die of neglect, you’re a murderer.

    Now do you understand?

    I have tried to think the problem through rationally, the way a modern person is supposed to do.  We’re supposed to be a tolerant society, an inclusive society, where everyone without exception must be treated with dignity and made to feel welcome.  I considered approaching the brain in a reasonable manner — even as a friend.  Perhaps if we could arrive at a mutual understanding based on goodwill — you know, building on what we have in common, with mutual respect, finding a middle ground where there would be room for compromise and establishing a harmonious co-existence.  After all, I have my needs, too.

    Well, I tried.  I thought my well-rehearsed speech would have the desired effect, but no, just the opposite!  I received a stern rebuke and was made to feel selfish and guilty.  I ended up apologizing profusely and buying the brain a lot of things to try to make it happy again.

    I know you think I’m a spineless coward.  You’re saying, “Why don’t you just take an axe to the damned thing and be rid of it!”

    Yes, I’ve thought about it many times.  And sometimes I have even made what you might call a “plan.”  But my resolve always evaporates.   Why?  Because in the back of my mind lurks a fear of what would happen.  And I know it would happen.

    Let’s say I kill the brain.  I dispose of it.  Everything seems safe.  A few days pass, a few weeks, maybe even a few months.  But then, when I least expect it, there will be a knock at the door.  I will open it.  And there will be two very big, very tough-looking men, holding an identical brain in a jar.  And one of them will say: “We’re looking for his friend.”

    Copyright@2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com