the rolling city

“Mr Ingsvern,” the girl said.

The bristly-moustached man was filling his pitcher with the black aens, which flowed thickly from a stone tap. The viscous black liquid had begun to overflow the pitcher. It dripped in large slow drops to the parched ground. For a moment, the man, perhaps about fifty-five years of age, had frozen, eyes glazed. As he heard his name he shook himself and straightened upwards.

“Sorry. These days I keep losing it more and more.”

“Next time you’ll zone out during a Duskers attack.”

“I’m more than enough for a few Duskers.”

“What if there’re more?”

The man grunted. His arms were strong and muscled, but there was already a tinge of white to his hair. Jen climbed back into the back seat of their reaver. She watched as the man poured the aens down through a pipe into the main fuel tank, coughing as he did so.

She looked at the reaver. It was a beautiful thing, a light armoured vehicle with massive ridged rubber wheels more than a metre in diameter. The engine growled angrily, roughly sputtering, as the man climbed back into the seat. Matthew Ingsvern caught the young girl eyeing the machine and smiled.

“In my time there were many,” he said, as they began to speed along past the lonesome rocks on the plain. “Now there are few. I’m sure you must remember, in your youth.”

The girl nodded silently.

“They made this in the early days when the Settlers first abandoned us. You know the story, I’m sure. For fucking generations we’ve been stuck on this hellhole we call Curr. Now your generation will be, too. Trust me, there’s not much that’ll change,” he said, beginning to laugh. He glanced up at the sky, at the moon; a faint, ringed gas planet that sat faraway in the pale grey sky.

The girl was only half-listening to the old man’s rambles. She knew the story, yes. She followed his gaze.

She looked at the sky but not towards the moon. Instead she looked at the sun, an evil thing that cursed the existence of every single being on the planet Curr. As they rode at terrible, unrelenting speed over the unobstructed plains she could almost see the sun in the sky inching towards them. Now it was at a forty-five degree angle, straight ahead of them. She knew the planet revolved slowly. So slowly that at a good speed they could go at almost double the speed of the planet’s revolution; so they gained distance on the sun, which would move towards them and above them, rather than sinking towards the horizon.

In that way they traveled. They began at afternoon, and they stopped when the sun reached early morning behind them. All the time running west.

“My grandpappy was one of them,” the old man was still saying. “Settlers, I mean. The first few. They knew something about the universe them, some way to speak beyond the stars. But something went wrong. Poof!” He took his fingers off the wheel and exploded them apart. As he did so, he dribbled at the mouth a little. “Some shit fucking happened, some kind of war. Nothing heard from federation planet in decades. Colony falls into chaos. People killing people. The lucky few grabbed what good gear they could find from the Settlers.”

“That’s where he found my reaver,” Matthew said, patting the steering wheel. “Passed it on to me through my pappy. Gonna keep it safe, maybe figure out how it works, yet.”

Jen looked at her grimy face in the side view mirror. She was surprised there even was one; in another place it would have been chopped off and melted down for the valuable glass it carried. She realised she needed somewhere to rest soon. It had been days since she last left her camp to look for this man.

They travelled from afternoon to morning, then rested and slept from morning to afternoon; a cycle that repeated endlessly. Curr’s night was unlivable. Temperatures dropped to near absolute zero. Jen shivered, remembering her mother’s stories. It was why they spent every waking moment running towards the sun.

Jen knew it was now or never.

“Mr Ingsvern,” she said. “Tell me what you know about the rolling city.”

She looked towards the horizon so she could not see his face, but she knew his expression had changed; his knuckles grew white on the wheel.

“What about it?” She heard him say, trying to sound uninterested.

“I’m looking for it.”

“Looking for it? Little girl, you believe in myths that nobody knows to be true.”

“I know it exists,” she said urgently.

He was silent.

“Rolling skyscrapers,” she whispered. “Glass buildings on metal wheels, travelling on steam and aens. Towers that crawl with artificial legs. The myths are true, I know it.”

“Nobody knows it exists.”

“My mother used to tell me about it,” Jen continued, not giving in.

The man was silent once again. But as Jen opened her mouth to speak he interrupted furiously: “Nothing exists in this wilderness, what makes you think that civilisation has a chance? Look around you. Everything has to move. There are no fixed locations, only latitudes. The land is barren, blasted. No real sense of time, nothing. If you think there’s a chance that a city can build itself up out of nowhere like that, all the while moving, you’re either insane or you know something I don’t.”

“Even the damn trees have to move,” he added, angrily. Jen thought of the grey trees, strange indigenous flora that travelled rapidly through crawling with their roots. Somehow their roots had evolved some form of rudimentary muscle; though they moved less quickly than men they did not need to sleep, forever moving towards the horizon and burning the sun’s energy. Even now they still argued whether it was a true plant or a primitive animal.

Jen understood the older people’s apprehension towards such things but did not care much for it. They were closer to Earth, heard more of its stories, grew up dreaming of returning to a place where trees and city skylines stood still, where they did not need to run. To Jen, however, this was her life, her home. It did not matter whether the trees ran or not. She was only glad they were edible, although they tasted less than ideal.

The story went that life on Curr evolved above the freshwater oceans. A strong east wind once blew, so airborne micro-organisms could hitch a ride; some were better at outrunning the night, so they survived; others froze. Those that lived began the entire tree of life – a tree of perpetual motion, since the very beginning.

Jen thought about this as she said: “Even the trees could do it. Why can’t we build a city?”

“I’ve lived fifty long years and ain’t seen no city!” The old man said, loudly. “Try changing my damn mind!”

“Shhh!” Jen hissed.

The reaver slowed to a halt. Both man and girl saw a large white stone outcropping, fifty odd meters away. Both felt it; something was amiss.

“Can’t be Duskers,” the man muttered. “They come from behind.”

Jen grabbed her spear, a retractable version that extended with a satisfying click as she twisted it sideways. Matthew held a smooth ivory knife in one hand and a steel one in the other. Both tread carefully towards the stone outcropping, listening to the quiet crunch of their footsteps on the sand.

Something moved on the white stone. Jen squinted, confused.

In a lurching moment she realised that it was not a stone outcropping at all. At the same moment Matthew’s foot slipped with a deafening crunch into the sand; a shallow pit trap. “Fuck,” he shouted, off kilter. Bandits, Jen thought. A small protrusion on the stone outcropping that Jen took to be merely a part of the outcropping suddenly spat out a net aimed directly at Matthew: it was a net gun. It was an ambush.

The first net enveloped Matt and he fell struggling to the ground. Even as the net came towards them Jen had already hopped backwards several meters, spear held ahead of her; the second net missed her squarely.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw a glint of steel from the man thrashing in the net and she knew he was going to cut himself out. He’ll handle, she thought, backing away even further.

Three bandits, rough, black-haired, wild-haired men came rushing from behind the stone outcropping which was of course just a plastic shelter made to seem like a natural rock. Jen counted them. She saw three short swords; nothing else.

They were about ten meters from Matthew. Jen thought quickly. They were going to kill him, unhesitatingly, painlessly, if she did not do something. She considered throwing her spear. But she might miss, and they would have another weapon against her later.

In one smooth movement she grabbed a pulse grenade from the weapons cache in the reaver, pulled out the pin, and hurled it directly at the three men converging on Matt. “Pulse grenade!” she yelled, just as Matthew stood up from the net. The little steel thing fell at his feet. The bandits scrambled to a stop, eyes wide.

Fucking throw yourself to the ground, please, the girl thought desperately at Matt. The bomb was non-lethal but packed a nasty punch; he might be out for for a couple of cycles. But even as she thought it she could see that he was beginning to freeze, already faraway, zoned out, staring blankly at the grenade.

The bandits threw themselves to the ground. There was muffled “thoomph” sound. Jen was upon them at once. She threw her spear at the tallest bandit; the sharp metal tip pierced right through his neck, splattering a good helping of blood across the sand.

The second bandit, less winded than the rest, was already beginning to get up. Jen, ever wary of his short sword, aimed a front kick right at his solar plexus; the impact made him choke and double up. Immediately she dived for the ivory knife Matt had dropped on the ground. The last bandit came at her with an obvious swing; she ducked, then returned with a upwards stab into his chin. It hit the mark, and the bandit toppled to the ground.

The second bandit got to his feet again, but Jen looked at him and brandished the ivory knife. He ran for his life.

Jen watched him ride away on a hellbike; typical for a bandit. They were little more than scrap metal bicycles, she thought pityingly. She turned to Matt, who had taken the full brunt of the blast. “Fucking idiot,” she said to him. “If you had just turned to look away it wouldn’t have been half as bad. And you could’ve helped with that scrabble.”

He was lying splayed, wide-eyed and catatonic. She bent to drag him the short distance towards the reaver, but a shiny glint caught her eye.

A small steel locket she hadn’t noticed before on his neck had fallen out onto the sand. The clasp had broken in the scuffle. The locket had fallen open, and there was a picture in the locket.

Her eyes widened.

Hours later when the old man came to, she stopped the reaver. It ground to a halt. She flashed the picture in front of his bleary eyes.

“You lied to me.”

“Damn you for throwing our last pulse grenade at me,” the man returned. Then he saw the picture. He narrowed his eyes. “Since when did I give you permission to touch my things?”

“Since I saved your life.” Jen said evenly. “Now tell me where the rolling city is.”

Matt looked at her, his moustache bristling slightly, indignantly. She held his gaze. Matthew saw his ivory knife in her hand and realised uncomfortably that he was unarmed.

Slowly his expression softened.

“I can’t tell you where it is,” he said tiredly. “Nobody can. Okay, it existed. But I didn’t lie to you. I was exiled from it, long ago. I don’t know whether it exists anymore. It could be a pile of dirt, for all I care.”

“But you know how to find it,” she pressed.

“How?” the man said, incredulously. “I have my guesses, but I can’t be sure.”

“A guess is all I need. Promise me, Mr Ingsvern. Promise me you’ll help me find it.”

“Why do you care so much anyway?”

Jen closed her eyes. “My mother is sick. Her only hope is for me to find the rolling city. There may be a cure for her, there.”

Matthew stared at her, as if trying to figure her out, sizing her up. There was a long pause.

“I’ll do it on condition you do three quarters of all the hunting,” he said resignedly. “I’m getting old. And well, I owe to you that I woke up alive. Quite surprised, too.”

Jen smiled. “Deal.”

Suddenly the man groaned loudly. “God, what am I doing? They’ll probably kill me on sight.” The reaver roared to life again.

Jen looked around at the landscape. The flat plains rolled endlessly to the horizon, though there were faraway mountains to the right, and to the left, she knew, was an ocean. The grey sky rarely had clouds, but there was a beautiful wispy one overhead just barely covering the ringed moon. In the distance, now and then, was a whispering of some animal or some other party, dust clouds in the wind.

“May the sun be behind us,” Jen said pleasantly, using the old blessing.

The old man nodded, thin-lipped.


really fucking good articles

ya, so. i really like articles and i’ve basically used facebook to share articles for the past three years nearly non-stop (like really just that, what are friends and family?). anyway over time i’ve come to find a certain type of article i really liked, so i came back and trawled through everything to pick out some of these articles and compile them into a massive list.

most of these articles that i’ve selected are selected because i feel that they are pretty objective and give a very clear-eyed view of what’s happening in a particular situation. another thing i look out for is depth and content; some of these articles really go all the way to make you understand new/basic concepts in order for you to really understand the situation. (quite a few are based on individuals, and are in-depth about the lives of these individuals.)

all of them just in general have great writing and although there are many serious topics there are numerous articles with lighthearted content as well, and some articles which simply showcase good writing or are just plain funny.

disclaimer: i do not claim to have (or actively support) the views espoused in any of these articles. they are just good articles cuz i think they are objective or in depth. an article might be objective but might still be wrong for other reasons.

also i am quite sad that, probably due to the nature of my feed, many of these articles focus on the topics of academia or american politics. there is much more happening in the world and i acknowledge that. if you know any articles about different topics (such as politics of another country) which are written in a similar style as these articles (with focus on objectivity and in depth content) do comment! i’ll look to see if i can add it.

here we go:

chinese students and ivy league
civilian casualties of airstrikes
journalist catfishes ISIS leader
trump vs clinton debate, except genderswapped
defence of clinton
small donald trump
donald trump sexual misconduct
guy pretends to be trump
derek parfit and morality
gun violence
kim jong nam’s assassination
transgender children
genetics of iq
modern witch hunts
intolerance of tolerance
entire fucking story of ISIS
female soldiers
executioners of death penalty
math ceilings
animation, disney to ghibli
sex vs gender
hayao miyazaki
street art and graffiti
anonymous VS ISIS
shakespeare, iago
masculinity in different cultures
newt scamander and toxic masculinity
stopping child marriage
cultural appropriation is toxic
creation of ISIS
pope francis the manager
marvel’s tony stark
pope benedict and church sexual abuse
overexposed works of art
suicide by text
sackler family and opioid crisis
you’ll never be famous
asean is a bloody miracle
fakeass instagram food
newton’s flaming laser sword
the art of monstrous men
virtual reality
cancer and its host
multiple translations of a poem
the law and computer code
the war against pope francis
get rid of bullshit in art academia
supreme court can’t take math
yitang zhang and bounded gaps
undercover father to find sons killers
saving lives remotely through the internet
UN peacekeepers and rape
7 days of heroin epidemic
internet language
loneliness of a generation
the last nazi hunters
language of the cockpit
assisted suicide california
limits of empathy
navigation through the natural world
emotions after 2016 election
chinese missionaries in northern iraq
assisted death
struck by lightning
bayes theorem statistics
paramore hayley williams
dumbass survival story
ancient chinese philosophy
african literature
repetition in songs
uber’s ceo
true art and flow
fearless girl vs charging bull
dangerous academics
russian hackers and botnets
murakami and food
smelling bullshit
war and rape
war photography
the speed of light
macedonian fake news
why you hate slam poetry
reading the skies
abortion roe v wade
not so fine tuning of the universe
man from nowhere
this is not even an article but its about trust

additional recommendations:

if y’all like this kinda stuff i highly recommend the atlantic, the new york times, guardian’s the long read, economist 1843 magazine and just economist in general, waitbutwhy (especially elon musk/future of humanity shit), aeon/nautilus/quanta/cosmos magazines for philosophy/academia/science, mit tech review for more science, washington post and cnn and foreign policy occasionally have this kinda in depth, investigative journalism stuff, al jazeera for middle eastern stuff. a lot of random blogs and sites also randomly have good articles too though. life is just messy like that.




you and i had a secret
do you remember?
a secret.
we held hands in the crowd
lights blasting and music shining
thundering through our veins
you and i
holding hands
a secret whispered
the crowd pressing in
the night sky above whirling
galaxies and stars endless
but we had a secret
here in this darkness
you and i.
what is the secret? you ask
i’m slipping away.
what is our secret?


2. to stop time

it was a dark dusty attic and the boy sneezed when he came in, wanting to play. almost immediately he saw the demon; he stopped, wide-eyed, hand still clutching the toy soldier. “would you like to have a gift?” the demon said, smiling. it sat on the shelf like a small ornament, with blinking, knowing eyes. the boy nodded yes. the demon licked its lips, and slithered next to the boy’s ears and whispered a secret. and then it was gone.

the boy is now fourteen. he is on a boat with his cousins, singing softly into the wind; the wind catches his young clear voice and brings it riding on the sea salt breeze. he climbs to the top of the boat, prince of the world. the sun rises, peeking a tiny sliver of its brilliance above the faraway mountains; the boy’s breath catches. it is a beautiful moment. but then it was gone, and he descended the ship’s ladder to breakfast.

the boy is nineteen. first love, staring into the chestnut brown eyes of the girl who has become the beginning of everything. the amber streetlight catches the sheen of her lower cheek as he places his hand on her face, tilting, her hair falling around her shoulders. they hold each other, swaying to the silent music of their hearts in tandem. when their lips touch the boy remembers. but his heart pulls away.

the boy is twenty five. the bar is loud, doors slam and laughter, raucous, brothers slapping their thighs and joking about the good old times. red flush in his cheeks, the boy, now a man, fiercely living, gripped with a mission and emboldened by success, calls his friends to a toast. they stand, and the boy looks into the eyes of those he would live and die with. something tugs at the back of his mind which fades away as he speaks.

within a split second of the car screech all was still. the boy looks at his raised hand, almost surprised that it worked. he surveys the scene. the looks of horror on the passerby faces, the skidding of the car. the terrible closeness. he walks over to the epicenter of the pain to come. the beginning of the end. he looks at her small happy face a last time, a tear glistening down his cheek. “why?” he said aloud.

the demon stood across from him. “you know why,” it said. it was the same size as him now, a shape, something indifferent. “your gift. to know what you truly love.”



democracies r falling apart and the terrorists r cookin up bioweapons in their backyard beheading coptic christians in the centre of the world where the snipers r shooting up children trafficking through libya germany britain, voting for the continent to split in half like the americans across the ocean and their orange demon or the french’s le pen, from glowing computer screens infected by young slovenian dudes and siberian hackers, continents are shifting and the maldives r drowning as the ice melts and we r running out of food as the venezuelans starve and they start growing meat in the labs while chinas making blind grabs down southeast asia where duterte is slaughtering everyone, just like russia molesting smaller countries pedobear putin wit assad dropping sarin gas on little kids and their mamas oh women r oppressed but so r men and north korea breathing radiation down our neck, spaceships r taking off and mark zuckerberg making AI in his kitchen and scientists testing black holes millions of miles away, pulsars are revolving and the galaxies are dancing, here you are bag of carbon, what are you gonna do? here you are young and on the brink of life, pregnant potential breathing the fresh god sent air, what the fuck r u gna do? what r u gna do.


4. god plays dice

you need to imagine it like that; a brightly lit table in the darkness. go up to the table. the mean-faced dealer sitting opposite, and he is holding a small die, and when you lay down your life he will throw the die in one smooth movement across the table. when the die leaves his hand the angle at which it hits the air is the terrible weight of that late, wide-eyed night you made your best guess on that university, that course, that scholarship; the unassuming, invisible eddies of air nudging the die left or right merely your first few weeks on your first job, like baby steps in the real, chaotic world. look: the arc of the die is how your first job leads to the second, and how you will begin to forget why; wife, children, family, unexpected, marriage pulling gently, the gravitating away from your course. it is how you put away that little book of ideas you told yourself you’d save for a novel; the unthinking script and film every day, whirring on repeat. look: the bounce and tumble of the die is forgetting what it was like to run easy, without the aches and pains in the bones; bits and pieces, sputtering to a stop; the moment that comes with no warning, as you sit cosy in old age, when you look back in wonder and pine for lost dreams. when the die comes to a still you will understand what you have bargained for. like quantum states pulsating, something collapses shut when you make a choice; the paths turn their backs on you, leaving you with the plain straight road ahead. so come back to where you are. only stand before the table, your life in your hands. there is only one die. there is only one bet.

make it.



“Let’s go play!” The kindergarten kids rushed out the building happily screaming and flooded over the small playground. Mrs Lancaster, the old headmistress, looked on smiling. She motioned to little Johnny. “Go have some fun, you rascal. Just don’t break any bones this time!”

He giggled, wondering why her crows feet wrinkled her face so much. Tara, Connor and Sharlene ran over and pushed him towards the swing. “Johnny, you just have to try the swings!” Sharlene cried.

“Why?” Johnny pouted, afraid of heights. “Because you’ll love it!” “Why!” “You always love swinging, dum-dum!” “but why?” “If you ask why one more time i’m going to sock you!” Connor yelled.

They are at the swings. “Consider the infinite regress of justification,” little Johnny argued. “The Kantian rescue of foundationalism has been failed by contemporary philosophy, so we may doubt all propositional knowledge which requires further propositional justification; only knowledge-how may be fully certain or at least pragmatically true, given the defeated incorrigibility of sense data and the triviality of self-referring statements. morality itself is no longer compelling, let alone your arguments to interact with a playground object!”

Sharlene stood opposite him. “You are merely an insecure post-structuralist, seeking arguments to support Saussurean fallacies about the nonexistence of mind-independent reality, especially since you don’t understand him yourself.” She wags a finger. “Hume himself admits the flaw of his skepticism: the lack of certainty in coherentist knowledge structures is irrelevant because armchair philosophy is hardly useful; such philosophy built on ordinary language is bound to distort meaning beyond recognition and become self-defeating.” “That’s not true!” Tara retorted. “What would Foucault say? Obviously that power is pervasive and continues to influence you as you speak, rendering your arguments as shallow as light reflecting within a panopticon.”

“What the fuck, guys,” Connor said. “Oh no!” Mrs Lancaster was suddenly beside them, glaring.

“How dare you!” she seethed. “if i ever catch you discussing linguistic philosophy again, you won’t be getting sweets in third period!” She lifted a black cane and the three children dived into the bushes.

She glared, then turned smiling to Connor. “You’re a good boy, darling.” “Thanks,” he replied. “I always keep to analytic philosophy.”



the riot police were here; she thought violently, running down the alleyway and diving into the nearest corridor; she hoped her message in the graffiti had been seen. otherwise everything is lost. heart beating fast she leaned hard against the wall as they called out her name; shadows moving closer, across the red concrete bricks. it was now or never, she thought

flinging herself out holding the box – the truth – before her. from it came a blinding silver light and the dark faced police with the riot gear and forbidding shields fell away. only Will, the man she once loved, stood against the light. he looked at her, gun raised, eyes pleading. she walked to him, and with one terrible motion smacked him right across his face


7. death throes

i mean the sch is way scarier at night than in the day and it’s not because it is dark but actually it’s because it is well lit. everything is nice and lit and when you walk past the canteen or empty tables it feels like there should be someone there but when u turn around there isn’t. something feels off. anyway the lights at night are yellow. it’s a harsh yellow and it doesn’t look good on green or black or white tbh. it reeks of age, of time. the canteen is empty the tables r empty and the light is yellow, and when u stand at the walkway u can see the whole canteen, wide, you know the view. the lights overhead are bright but there is nobody. what does that tell you? the tables are expectant. it is almost as if they are already ready for you to walk in early next morning and everyone will be there again. in fact it is almost as if you are just early, and you know your friends will be arriving soon