Jo Wu is one of the writers we featured in the July issue of Propulsion Magazine. Please click the photo for direct link to her Blog or just enjoy this exert from Cyanide and Resonance by Jo Wu:
She never ventured out from behind the curved walls of her glass bell jar. Temptation to climb out from beneath the glass eluded her. Time also escaped her. Without the aid of daylight, moonlight, or clocks, the little girl could never pinion the number of days or years upon paper with ink. But that was a moot point: she did not own paper nor pens. While other little girls had dolls, stuffed bears, or music boxes, all she possessed was a gold molecular model of the organic compound Cyanamide. Day after day, she would stake three gold balls, one engraved with the letter C and the other two engraved with the letter N, with six gold metal sticks, which represented chemical bonds. She would also stab one, two, or even three gold paddles into the “Carbon” or “Nitrogen” atoms to represent the electron lone pairs. Lone pairs. How could electrons be lonely if they were in pairs? Perhaps it was because they were isolated to one atom, unable to reach out to another atom, like sailors stranded on an island. Years, if they could be quantified, slipped past the smooth shins of her legs like snaking mist. Whenever the girl looked up from her molecular model, her wide eyes betrayed the disgust that molested her esophagus with rising tides of acid. Crowds of pink flesh, with arms and legs like hers, thrashed in the space that surrounded her bell jar. She saw wooden barrels, as obese as pot-bellied men, sloshing waterfalls of scintillating liquid down hundreds of throats, drenching skin and hair with inebriated stickiness. These naked crowds may or may not partake in burning leaves they wrapped in paper, inhaling the vaporized toxins. Sometimes, individuals who chose to partake in these burnings crippled their intelligence with alcohol that thinned bloodstreams. They would ignite a match, only to incinerate their own flesh. Without the protection of her bell jar, the girl would have choked on the acrid fumes, the mergings of saccharine human flesh and coma-inducing smoke. She stuck one bond between the gold “Carbon” atom and a “Nitrogen” atom, and two paddles in the outermost “Nitrogen.” She felt comforted by the control she had over the smooth metal beneath her fingertips. Thud! A woman pinioned beneath a man crashed into the bell jar. The glass was not affected, but the girl thought her ears would shatter due to the unceasing moans, grunts, and screams. Even when the girl curled into a ball to try and sleep, with her arms clamped over her ears, the floor beneath her rumbled due to the thrashing of bare bodies all around her. A man glanced up to leer at the girl through the glass. His sweat-drenched bulbous-breasted partner still writhed beneath him. “Hey!” The man’s grin revealed yellow teeth. “Want to join?” The girl curled her legs tighter to her chest. “You little freak. That’s what you virgins all are. Freaks!” Splish! Splash! The girl opened her eyes to witness semen, like dirt-mixed snow, drip down the glass walls, the way one would see rain running down a window. Male ejaculation was shortly joined by what resembled splatters of scarlet paint. No, it was too viscous to be paint. Blood erupted out of the nether regions of pregnant women, like lava out of volcanoes. Within minutes, bloodshed was followed by the high-pitched wails of babies. The girl pressed herself against the glass, her palms and nose leaving imprints. In the midst of corruption, these cherubic infants, with their round cheeks, wide eyes, and velvet lips that emitted giggles, were like rose buds that peeked out at the world from behind tangles of thorny vines, wondering if they had potential to bloom into great beauties. But the girl’s smile vanished when she saw these babies drown in puddles of alcohol, wither away when exposed to toxic smoke, had their bones broken by large-footed brawny men who took women by force, or neglected by their mothers, who could care less to witness their offspring degenerate into skeletons. She removed one paddle from the outermost “Nitrogen” and added a bond between the two “Nitrogens” to create a triple bond. She then stuck a paddle onto the “Carbon.” The babies that managed to survive and mature kept to themselves in corners, like modest maidens. They cast their eyes to the floor and cocooned themselves in blankets. However, attention was inevitable. The crowds would drag them out from their corners. Once more, the girl broke and reformed bonds. She pulled the paddle out of the “Carbon” and formed a double bond between the “Carbon” and a “Nitrogen.” The outermost Nitrogen now had two paddles, representing two lone pairs. A drop of water fell from somewhere high above. When it smashed to the floor outside the bell jar, all movements from the crowds ceased. The girl abruptly witnessed naked bodies collapsing within gaseous clouds. Cyanide. Outside, flesh melted into others’ flesh, bones snapped like twigs, flammable alcohol combusted, and wails were silenced by sweeping oblivion. When all was still, and the girl’s hair became white from what she witnessed, water droplets fell. One by one at first, and soon like sheets of rain. The bodies disappeared. Before long, the bell jar was bobbing upon an ocean. Years of lack of desire to leave was replaced by the instant push of her hand against a wall. A glass door, once invisible, now yielded to her touch. A massive ship, with a maidenhead in the shape of a smiling mermaid, floated towards her. Its gold and violet flags fluttered like old friends whose hair rustled in the wind when they ran to greet her. She could not see who stood aboard the deck, but a rowboat adorned with fresh flowers was lowered for her. She climbed aboard with a smile.