The Avocado and The Polar Bear

When I imagine the future, I imagine myself as an old woman, one who has survived the apocalypse, sitting around the campfire with her grandchildren. They’ll be like

“Tell us about the old days, O wise grandma?”

I’ll tell them a story about how in the old days we practiced inter-generational warfare. And how back then if only we had stopped buying avocados we could have bought a house. And saved the planet. And they’ll be like, “What are avocados?” And I’ll describe to them this mythical forbidden fruit, its luscious green inner and its propensity for bruising, and how it went the way of the polar bear.

“Look.” I’ll say pointing at a random patch of sky “Look. There they are”

And, lo, a constellation will be born.

It is a comforting thought, in an otherwise bleak scenario, that somehow it would be me, and my children, who would survive the apocalypse. I’m sure all those skills I have will come in handy in this new world. Skills like cooking from scratch. So as long as the supermarkets also survive I’d be fine.

Who am I kidding, I’d be fucked.

Frankly, we’d all be fucked.

* * *

My son loves Dinosaurs. He is obsessed. I found an old, but still reasonably accurate, book in a second hand shop, The Story of Life on Earth. Thanks in part to his book, scientific concepts once foreign to me have taken up space in his brain. The different eras and their classifications. Earth’s first – the Hadean, then the Devonian, the Silurian. Each page of the books lists life as it develops. The first trees in the Carboniferous. The first dinosaurs in the Triassic.
“Did you know” He enthuses “the first primates evolved in the Cretaceous?”

No, I did not know. I did not know my son would absorb these facts. Holding ludicrously scientific conversations with strangers. Using long multi-syllable words and then declaring himself an “expert” in a charmingly childish way.

He can list time periods and dinosaurs. He can remember the right words. It all means something to him, but millions and billions are hard concepts to grasp. Millions are almost as unfathomable as my thirty-odd years. He might be impressed by how big these numbers sound, but the scale of geological time is beyond his understanding. It is hard for any of us to comprehend.

He has another book, just about dinosaurs. It has a scale across the top of the page, showing the 248 million years from the start of the Mesozoic to the present. Black lines mark the time each species walked the earth. He flips through the pages.
“When were the first humans?”
I hold a fingernail at the edge of time. The most advanced species on earth, this is all of time we have seen. A hair’s breadth of civilisation.

What do we have to show for ourselves? Ancient temples and pyramids. Our people scattered across the globe showing our explorer spirit. The songs and stories of our ancestors, shared around a campfire. Produce, grown on the other side of the world, then left to gather dust in our fruit bowls, or blitzed into smoothies for the ultimate, nutritious snack.

We are the decipherers of the universe. The only species we know who have unlocked its secrets. We pride ourselves on our mathematical formulae, our poetry, our telescopes that peer into the deep recesses of space, our analysis of the very beginnings of life on this planet we live on. Do we think we are like the wizards in Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series, who gain their power by knowing the “true name” of things. As though by naming photosynthesis we somehow control it. That a system of cataloguing makes us experts?

My son’s book has a page of alternative theories for why the dinosaurs died out. Bizarre explanations: eye disease, too lazy. A victim-blaming exercise in which the dinosaurs are complicit in their own destruction. He knows that scientists believe an asteroid strike wiped them out, almost as certainly as it is possible to be 65 million years after the fact. An unpredictable disaster that frightens my son. We offer the gentle white lies parents tell anxious children, that scientists know so much now, they’d find a way to stop a strike.

He has invented a solution for himself. Enormous space ships will rocket off into space to keep us safe. We will live off-planet. It’s a Star Trek like future, in which humans are wise and peaceful. Explorers who will sail off the edge of the earth without the complications of colonialism.  I imagine it more like WALL-E. Leaving a desolate, rubbish strewn, water-world,  destroyed by our own insatiable appetites. Bloated consumers in search of somewhere else. The next best deal.

What will the AI overlord species of the future make of their creators. Will they mythologise us? Tell stories about our demise in the great floods? Noah, Zuisudra, Utnapishtim safe in the ark of their hard-drives, then sent forth to build a world anew, free from our sins. I can’t help but think it would be less fucking embarrassing for it to have been some particularly nasty eye disease that wiped us out, rather than our own relentless greed and stupidity.

One day we will have to answer to the children of this world. I will have to look my son in the eye and tell him what we did when we knew this asteroid was coming. We are all so busy, So Busy, pointing the fingers at everybody else for our problems. Or quibbling about individual actions that are not meaningless, but are not, and never will be enough. Did we do enough internet campaigns? Did we do Plastic Free July or Meat Free Monday? If only I had done them would New York and Jakarta still exist? While we are busy nitpicking at each other the time for systemic structural change is melting away.

Then I reassure myself. Nothing so terrible will happen. Nothing fundamental about the universe will change. Not the law of gravity, the earth will still float around the sun. Not photosynthesis, or nuclear fusion.

So sit back. Relax. Enjoy that avocado on toast. Maybe we’ll all be fucked in the future. But it’s not like there is anything we can do to change that, is there?

The stars in the sky will burn, whether we are here to name them or not.

Don’t despair – do something. The overwhelming evidence is that it is not too late if we act now. I recommend the Planetary Boundaries project for further reading, or listen to one of its key researcher’s interview with Kim Hill. Vote for parties and politicians who will prioritise our environment, and commit to a carbon neutral earth by 2050.

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Sally Jesse and the Baying Masses

I used to watch TV instead of going to school when I was in my teens. Now, now, don’t leap down my throat. You think just because you’ve read one sentence, that gives you the basic idea so now you can spew bile on the comments section. No, no. I was sick okay? Also, that’s a bad way to behave.

I learned a lot about good and bad ways to behave, stuck at home with the TV remote. Daytime TV is super educational, in a brain rotting sort of way. First infomercials (home gym equipment, Suzanne Clip), then between Oprah (book club, touchy-feely, car giveaways) and MASH (honestly it was a welcome relief), was Sally Jesse Raphael. The queen of trash talk TV.

Families would drag their teenage daughters on to the show. Tearfully, angrily, they would divulge their disgust in how they dressed and who they spent their time with, because there is no better parenting than slut-shaming your child on internationally broadcast television. Concerns would be brushed aside, brazenly, brashly, by these abrasive girls.

Sally Jesse, in her power suits and oversize red glasses would look suitably disgusted and appalled at all this carry on. Revolted by the choices these girls were making. How they chose to dress. Dragging it all out for the drama, and then offering platitudes in the guise of helping these families. We were all with her, weren’t we? It was a learning experience. A chance to clear the air, between loving family members and a declining audience share.

Looking back I do not for a second think that these girls (and they were girls) were exemplars of feminine empowerment. I think many of them were making very unhealthy choices. How easy it is to blame them. To blame their families. Perhaps even to blame the television executives who used their poverty of choices as fodder for entertainment. Millions bounced around by corporations, creating growth, profit, jobs for the hardworking, and here was the bread for the masses. Keep the crowds happy with the cut and thrust of a domestic spectacle. A drama where the only people hurt were those already on the bottom of the heap.

Years later I lived in the UK with my husband. Cambridge, a town full of elites and drowning in its own beauty. My husband was completing his PhD, while I worked a low wage job. Looking for a flat for our last year was stressful, we looked at many shitty flats in many dodgy locations before finding a reasonably good option. A one-bedroom terrace flat in a block of council flats. The type of flat with pre-pay electric meters, and neighbours who stocked up on extra large cans of lager at the corner store in the morning. The type of flat whose previous tenant had decided to disappear after the mounting debts got too much. The houses across the street had nice gardens, but the occupants never said hello, unlike the guy who thought I should be grateful for the aggressively friendly attention of him and his two large pitbulls as they wandered the neighbourhood.

We shared an entrance with a boy in his late teens (and he was a boy), who moved in not long after us. Let’s call him Mark. I don’t know why Mark ended up in a council flat on his own at such a young age, though I can make a few guesses. It’s clear Mark had been badly let down, first by the family who should have looked after him, and then by the social structures that should have been supporting him when his family failed. But, he wasn’t a bad guy. He didn’t set off the alarm bells that some of our other neighbours did, or that some of his friends did.

The flat had been noticeably quiet for some days before we were woken, early, by banging on the doors, “Mark!” The police had turned up. We opened the lower door, let them up, said we hadn’t seen him for a few days, and then minded our own business like good neighbours should. A few days later he came home, but he stopped going out at night.

Mark was under a curfew.

I don’t know what Mark had done. I only know that by the time we left Cambridge, Mark was in prison and his girlfriend was pregnant. I only know that social services worked in such a way that, though money was thrown at housing him, we never once saw someone checking if Mark, this barely literate teen, was okay. The only officials we saw in our time next door were police and debt collectors. He was dumped in a flat without the emotional skills to cope on his own, the maturity to keep him out of trouble, and without a clue how to manage basic tasks like putting out rubbish and recycling until we took the time to show him how.

All these years later, I still feel angry for Mark, for all the Marks. For the waste that was once a child with promise. I liked what I saw of his girlfriend. I’ve always thought she’s probably doing a good job of raising that child in a society full of hurdles. One where we set up single teen mums to fail and then wonder why it happens, if they do. But Mark? I’ve never thought a stint in prison would see him come out a better man. I wonder, how safe I would feel now, opening my door onto a quiet corridor and seeing him there.

And that curfew? It didn’t solve anyone’s problems. It didn’t stop Mark from having his mates over. It didn’t stop the noise, the drinking. It didn’t stop his mates from hooning off in a hurry in their cars late at night and probably drunk. It didn’t stop him from collecting a sawn-off length of pipe and running a lap of the block the night that bricks got thrown through our second floor windows. It didn’t stop Mark from trashing his apartment in a rage one night. I don’t know, but I think I’d feel like punching holes in walls if my life felt that hopeless too.

All it meant was his problem was contained. Away from the rest of Cambridge. The nice Cambridge.

Away from the successful middle class who tut-tut at these messy people with their messy lives as though somehow our societies are completely separate. As though the choices we make about how we share, and with who, are fair. As though it is these kids’ damn fault for the mess they find themselves in. As though we solve their problems by forcing them to be home, even if home is where they don’t feel safe.

Do you think Mark ended up where he was without the people who work on those front lines supporting kids thinking, ‘we are failing this kid’? Without someone wishing they had the resources to offer him something more. We listen to the mainstream media asking their tough questions. But when people tell us what they need, we peer into our bank vaults, count our change, and shake our heads sadly. Tell them to find ways to manage. Pour scorn on these wayward youths in a Sally Jesse style trial by media, and yet we refuse, refuse, to listen to the evidence for how to prevent Marks from becoming Marks in the first place.

We pretend we live in better, fairer societies than the Victorians, or the Romans before us. These days I get to sit in my nice flat, in my nice neighbourhood, and listen, as our politicians punch down. We all nod our heads, as though we too know what these kids need. Fool ourselves that we are not complicit.

Then we take our ring side seats, switch on our TV sets.

Grab your popcorn folks. Real life. It’s the best damn show in town.

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Teenage girls have a reputation for being hysterical. Think Salem, The Beatles, Justin Bieber.

It can be hard, as a teenage girl, to get adults to take you seriously, even when the context is incredibly serious.

It was hard for me as a teenage girl to get doctors to take me seriously. I had fallen on my knee playing sports. I was brushed off at an A&E, despite serious swelling because nothing was showing on the Xray. In fact, I had ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament, tissue too soft to show up on X-ray. It was operated on, and a graft put in to replace it. I began to recover, and then my recovery stalled. I was in constant pain. Some of this was caused by nerve damage from the operation. The other pain, an explosive feeling of pressure in my joint, could not be explained. It was, in some doctors opinion, unbelievable. They had done their job. Now it was up to me to do mine, to rehabilitate myself. Two and a half years after the initial operation a surgeon finally agreed to open up my knee again. They found a soft tissue growth in my knee, caused by an incorrect graft placement. It was, by this stage, quite large.

That explosive pain was the feeling of my knee joint literally being pushed apart from the inside.

As I said, I was a teenager, trying to complete my high school years. Teenagers are meant to be discovering who they are, and where they belong in the world. I was discovering that, in the eyes of authority – doctors, teachers, ACC – my words were not to be believed. I had to account for myself again and again.

I remember an ACC assessment, an “independent” doctor, weighing my words. Trying to figure out where I fitted in their book. What I would be entitled to. Pain, in and of itself, was not enough. At this stage I did not know a recovery would be in my future. I would be 18 soon. How would I navigate my life through this world, as I navigated my growing disability? It felt very uncertain. It was clear I couldn’t expect much help.

I was extremely fortunate. My parents were emotionally and financially able to support me through this time. It was, I have no doubt, a strain on them. They were able to pay for crutches while ACC dithered about whether I really needed them. I was treated in the private medical system, through work-related health insurance. I wonder how much longer I would have waited for that last operation in the public system, and at what emotional, and physical cost?

To this day when I visit a doctor, and they frown, or question what I am trying to explain, I feel the slow burning fear of not being believed. The visible scars have all but faded, but underneath my skin it is all still there. Burnt right into me. Is my perception accurate? Am I being hysterical? Am I imagining it? Do I just want attention?

If you have never experienced it, it is hard to explain the devastation of not being believed. Of being measured, and found wanting. Of feeling that the slightest misstep as you explain yourself can be used against you. It is hard to explain the exhaustion of having to constantly account for yourself. To the adults who want your seat on the train. To the teacher who thought I should go get my own library books for research, while I was dependent on crutches to walk. To the doctors and case workers whose job it is to slide the abacus, watching them flick the beads as they say “Not that. Not that. Not that.”

When people constantly doubt your word, you begin to doubt yourself. When I read the stories of the inhumane treatment people are receiving it breaks my heart. I know how easily those actions can slide under your skin and become part of you.

Sometimes it feels like a different life. One where my experiences were less valid than they are now.

My life was every bit as valid then as it is now.

Being a teenager, being dependent, being disabled, did not make me less a person. It did not make me less deserving.

I haven’t had to deal with authorities in New Zealand for some time. I am a married mother of two. I don’t know what it is like to be on the DPB. I have, nerve damage aside, made a full recovery. I can’t tell you what it feels like to walk into a WINZ office now to fight for what I need to survive, to thrive.

I can tell you that when people say it is time to change, I believe them. I can say that when people say the emotional cost is too high, I believe them. The stress of constantly having to prove yourself is immense. I don’t know how I could do that now, and simultaneously parent successfully.

No one can thrive when they cannot support their most basic needs. No one can thrive when they are constantly questioned, doubted, refused.

Listen to what people are trying to say. They are not being hysterical. They are being honest. They are telling you something important.

It is time for change.

Living with Birth Trauma

Trigger warnings: birth, hospital procedures

My daughter’s birthday should be about joy. It should be about a homemade cake with two candles burning on top. It should be “Happy Birthday” sung with questionable tunefulness. It should be smiles, and presents, and balloons. It was. It had all those things.

For me though, it also brings a lot of unwelcome memories. The aftermath of her birth. The mental toll. The physical toll. Those memories in turn bring something good: confirmation of my healing process. I’m still here, still living each day and generally enjoying life.

This birthday was better than last years. This year came with extra hurdles.

My son had a pediatrician appointment the day after her birthday. In the same hospital she was born in. Just down the hall.

Walking into that hospital is like walking along the edge of a cliff. I’m always aware of that drop.

As I walk part of my brain feels the nightmare again. My brain tells me: this is where terrible things happen. As I walk down the brick corridors I also see the walls, the ceiling, sliding past me as we run. My mind is capable of being in two times at once. My head spins and the blood roars. All I can do is look firmly in the other direction. Hold tight to the present.

There’s a word for that – trigger.

Say it out loud and feel my cheeks flush with shame. Such a snowflake.

One day, maybe, hospitals won’t bother me, at least not anymore than your usual person. But I’m not okay with visiting a hospital -the hospital – yet. I’m not even okay in the lead up to the appointment. I’m on a knife edge, and lack the tolerance to deal with the usual getting the kids out of the house antics. These appointments are significant enough both my husband and I go, but it is also inconceivable that I could manage to take my son there on my own.

Yet, I get through.

I walk the halls. I don’t fall.
I wait with my kids. I don’t fall.
I sit and talk with doctors. I don’t fall.
I make our next appointment. I don’t fall.

Living with trauma doesn’t mean we’re weak. It means we are strong.

Trauma is by its very nature deeply personal. It is hidden and secret and it is hard to share it with the world – for me to write and publish these words. I know though, that buried trauma helps no one, it will only suffocate you in silence. We need air, and light, and space to heal. to belittle someone’s trauma is to throw a shovelful of sand in. To bury the trauma deeper. To make the cliff top higher.

I get fed up with articles bemoaning trigger warnings as some sort of mollycoddling. How nice it must be to live your life blinkered to other people’s personal cliff top balancing acts. How many people who met me that day would have guessed I spent the whole day not falling? I went to that appointment with the benefit of warning, though. How would I cope with an emergency visit? Would I fall?

This is what I want people to understand: trigger warnings do not exist to massage the feelings of the easily outraged. That is not what they are supposed to do. A trigger warning is a small accommodation in the face of adversity. A tiny signal that says ‘I will try to make this easier for you’. An outstretched hand that says ‘I don’t want you to fall’.

Humans of New York once ran a series, Invisible Wounds, that featured a doctor working with sufferers of PTSD. I can’t do better than his description of PTSD, and how and why it forms:

“Trauma causes the brain to malfunction. During a traumatic experience, memories cannot be processed correctly. So a person with PTSD is still carrying those traumatic experiences around in their body. Because those experiences were never filed away into the ‘past tense,’ the brain continues to operate as if the trauma is happening in the ‘present tense.’

Trauma is not like other strong negative memories. We all know anger, grief, or shame. I know what it feels like to be momentarily overwhelmed by grief for my mother. I know how it can well up at inappropriate and unexpected times, and I have for the most part learnt to deal with that, to cope with my grief. But these are normal feelings, and normal reactions. Trauma is something abnormal. Trauma is something that overwhelms the rational part of brain. Trauma is not in the past tense.

These days I live a normal life. I am not plagued by nightmares the way I used to be. My anxiety levels are higher than they were before, and I am still hyper aware of the fragility of our biology. How we are all only one chance moment away from disaster. Mostly it just feels as though I walk around in skin that is too thin. But then, something reminds me, and I am flayed again; naked and bleeding. Many of these things are so intangible it would be impossible to create warnings for those feelings. Sometimes I wake in my bed, on my back, my right arm flung out next to me. When I open my eyes I don’t just see that arm. I see the other arm; the one that is strapped down to an operating table, so brightly lit by the light above me I can’t see beyond it, multiple IV lines, a needle going into my shoulder as I watch. It only lasts a split second. But in that moment it is as real to me as the other arm.

I suspect hospital lights will always trigger some response in me. I went to the movies and watched Dr Strange, knowing there would be scenes in an operating theatre. There turned out to be a lot of them. In particular, at least once the film suddenly cut to a point of view shot from a patient lying on an operating table looking up into these bright, bright lights.  I had to shut my eyes. I can’t, don’t, expect TV and movies to have warnings for hospital scenes. I just have to cope with them, with those unexpected wobbles. Given that fact, when something clearly has potential to remind someone of a traumatic event, is a little warning too much to ask for?

People want to discuss these type of responses as irrational. While the reaction might be irrational, out of proportion to any present threat, on another level there is nothing irrational about it. Humans are designed to learn from experience. Hospitals are a reminder to me that what happened was real.

I’ve learnt to live with the precipice in my mind. I teeter occasionally, but I haven’t had a bad fall for a long time. I’m not going to turn my back on the cliff. I don’t want it to loom unacknowledged behind me, waiting for me to stumble. I will see it, and I will follow its edges, hoping to get further inland. The story of my daughter’s birth is part of my life now. Part. It does not define me, but it has shaped me.  It will be part of my story for the rest of my life, and I am not alone in that.

For those of you reading this who are living through this now, who are stuck in both the past and the present, have faith. Reach out for the hand that will balance you as you walk. Find that air, and light, and space you need to heal.

I walk along that cliff edge. I do it. One day you will do it too.

And you won’t fall.

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A Dinosaur Train Hypothesis

The kids favourite TV show at the moment is Dinosaur Train. I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot. In fact one might even say I’ve been overthinking it a lot. On the surface it seems like positive, inclusive preschooler fare, but once you’ve watched as much Dinosaur Train as I have, you begin to question what is really going on. There are some things that just don’t quite add up. But its okay guys, I have a hypothesis. Hypotheses?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show let me explain it’s premise:

The Pteranodon Family, whose members are Mr and Mrs Pteranodon, their three biological children and one adopted Tyrannosaurus Rex, Buddy, have good old fashioned family adventures, which revolve around getting to ride on the Dinosaur Train. The Dinosaur Train, guided by their good friend Mr Conductor, not only travels across the world, but also through time. Mr Conductor is a troodon, that’s the dinosaur with the largest brain relative to body mass doncha know and also, presumably, the smartest. He is able to offer the Pteranodon Family a lot of educational information about the Mesozoic Era which makes for an absolutely riveting show.

Now, having read the premise I’m sure you’ll be able to see there are some astonishing inaccuracies, and anachronisms in this show. In fact, I have rather a lot of questions for the makers. PBS, if you are reading this, can you help me out?

Lets deal with the most troubling question. It is well established scientific fact that Tyrannosaurs lived at the very end of Cretaceous, whereas Pteranodons lived in the mid-Cretaceous. There is a whopping 20 million years between them. Did you think we wouldn’t notice? C’mon. Even my four year old knows that. This is a genuine puzzle to him, and I honestly don’t know how to answer him. I don’t like to pry into private family matters, but I really think we need some answers as to the circumstances of Buddy’s adoption. Given that the Pteranodon family have exposed themselves by participating in this show, then I think it is fair to ask. Was Mrs Pteranodon really surprised when one egg hatched and revealed a T-Rex, or is this some kind of long game played on her unsuspecting children?

And who exactly brought the egg back to the mid-Cretaceous? Brought, or should I say smuggled? The only one with unfettered access to a time-travelling device is Mr Conductor himself. What exactly is his part in this? Is he an unsuspecting dupe? Or is he (an intelligent troodon after all) the great Mastermind behind this “adoption”.

I have noticed a quite lackadaisical approach to biosecurity across the program as a whole, not just in this egregious example of a fertilised egg being transmitted through time. Maybe my opinions are skewed having grown-up in New Zealand with our tight airport screenings for unwashed shoes, and bananas neglected in children’s backpacks. The biosecurity risks NZ faces, however, seem tiny compared to criss-crossing the entire Mesozoic! That’s the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous just in case you didn’t know. Some 186 million years. Have PBS considered the pathogens being transferred around willy-nilly by these sight-seeing hordes? They don’t just stay on the train you know. The get off and wander around, they eat, and as we all know from watching your excellent ‘Dinosaur Poop’ episode, everybody poops, and OMG what kind of microbes are these dinosaurs spreading throughout time?!

I guess it’s possible that having invented an amazing time-travelling train they’ve also created some sort of containment. We never see it but perhaps they’ve edited out the decomination showers for when they get on or off the train? Still doesn’t explain the poop though. Unless.

Unless they all have to poop on the Train?

Is that how it works PBS?

Speaking of how it works – how does this whole thing work? The only person who ever seems to work in the show is Mr Conductor. He is constantly walking up and down the train checking the tickets that everybody bought. What did they buy them with? Carrion? Money? Mr and Mrs Pteranodon don’t have jobs. Are they recipients of tax welfare? Are you trying to tell me that dinosaurs had money and a welfare state? THAT’S JUST CRAZY!!!!

I know I’ve expressed some concerns about this whole Dinosaur Train organisation but, I’m going to give Mr Conductor the benefit of the doubt, he seems a nice guy. A really nice, cheerful guy.

A really nice, cheerful, intelligent guy.

Too cheerful?

Is Mr Conductor’s cheerfulness a cover for a broken heart?

I just have to wonder, in episode 322 Back In Time they travel all the way back to the Permian (the time period before the Mesozoic), but they don’t ever travel further forward than the Mesozoic. Why?

Because even though they must know their life is but a fleeting blip in the march of time, to travel into the Cenozoic would be to face a truth too cold for their reptilian hearts. It is easy to fool a pteranodon Mr Conductor, but you can’t fool me.

I have two hypotheses as to what is the cause of Mr Conductor’s heart break:

1) No matter how hard he tries he cannot travel any further forward in time. The technology won’t work. The Cenozoic with its mammalian dominant life-forms is off limits to the Dinosaur Train. This torments Mr Conductor. At night, alone, after fretfully picking at his carrion, he lies in bed, staring up at the distant stars and wondering what it is that happens in the Year 186 Million of the Mesozoic. What horror lies ahead? Can it possibly be worse than his imagination?


2) He knows. He knows. Oh, he wishes he didn’t but he does. He can’t forget. He can try, he can put on his whole ‘howdy-doody’ act, he can smile and sing and dance, but every time he yells ‘time tunnel approaching’ he dies a little more inside. Knowing that everything he loves so dear won’t die the gentle death of natural selection but will come to a catastrophic, cataclysmic end. He can’t bear to travel any further forward. It might as well be the end of the world for all he cares. All he can picture is that time he stood close, but not too close, at a convenient-for-sightseeing-but-safe-distance, and watched the intense red and yellow flames streaking through the sky. The enormous BOOM of the impact. The distant blast that knocked him off his feet as he watched the plumes of dust and rock and smoke shoot up into the atmosphere, obliterating the light and suddenly it was cold. So cold.

He couldn’t stay there for long though. He had to get back on the train to poop.

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