Tag Archives: faith

Motley Microfiction: The Toymaker’s Dilemma

In the North lives a man, a giver of gifts, a Saint. He spends his days making toys and brooding over the airwaves, which bring in affirmations from around the world. Out there, they believe in him. So the songs say.

But as he broods and makes toys, he has his doubts. Who knows if they exist at all, out beyond the endless snowstorms? Their faith has never been a problem, but he’s not sure he believes in them.

Once a year, he rises, dons his red coat, and goes to find out.

He brings the toys– just in case.

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English: Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, &q...
He goes into the world with arms full of toys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, friends! Sorry for the long absence – I’ve had my hands full with a lot of stuff for the last several weeks, and as a result, the poor blog got neglected. But I’m back, and for the next several days, I will be posting reams of Christmas-themed flash fiction to gear up for the holidays!

Today’s piece was recently published on the Drabblecast Episode# 305, and now I’m happy to present it to you on my blog as well. I would highly recommend listening to the episode, because the production took the story to another level.

One theme I love to explore in my writing is radical acts of faith in the face of the unknown, and this story is an example. Santa is famously connected to the idea of belief. I’m reminded of The Polar Express, where those who believe in Santa can hear the bells of his sleigh, while those who have lost their faith can’t. In this story, the choice to believe in Santa shapes your external reality.

Well, what if belief were a two-way street? What if Santa, in the isolation of the North, isn’t sure whether he is just making all of us up, because we’re equally wonderful and magical to him?

I like to imagine that if we were to pick up where the end of this story leaves off, everyone involved would be pleasantly surprised. Santa would find the children waiting for him, after all. The children’s faith would be rewarded. A long hoped-for relationship, a source of deep longing, would finally come to pass. That’s the essence of faith, and the essence of Advent.

Of course, it could all go the other way. Santa might find nothing but endless snowstorms. But I think there’s still something to grabbing that bag of toys, going outside, and taking a look.

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Medical Microfiction: Soma

Telegraphs and Endings

Some go on great adventures. Some stay home. And others, like me, live in a tower until the story’s over.

I wait for no rescue.

Instead, I watch through the window, where the wire runs from sky to machine, and I record the bleeps and blips that I must pass on.

Who waits at the end of the wire? Does anyone wait at all? And do they care for us abandoned to the margins?

I tap out the syllables on the telegraph:

Di-dah-dah di-di-di-dit di-dah dah. Di-di-di-dit di-dah dah di-di-di-dit. Dah-dah-dit dah-dah-dah dah-di-dit. Di-dah-dah di-dah-dit dah-dah-dah di-di-dah dah-dah-dit di-di-di-dit dah.

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Morse Code Straight Key J-38
Morse Code Straight Key J-38 (Photo credit: Whiskeygonebad)

soma is the body of a nerve cell. It’s the portion of the cell that receives signals, and also the portion where the action potential is generated. The action potential, an electrical signal, travels down the axon, which is a long tail leading away from the soma. At the end of the axon, the signal reaches the synaptic terminal where chemical signals get released to the next neuron in line.

Think of the soma as the speaker in today’s story: alone in its tower, awaiting incoming messages. Think of the axon as the wire of the telegraph leading away from that tower. And the synaptic terminal is the point at which the line of communication leaves the domain of the first telegraph operator and enters the domain of the next.

English: Drawing illustrating the process of s...
Neurons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find it inherently tragic that the signal travels in only one direction down the axon. A neuron can never “hear back” from the place the message went. How lonely it must be to send out your message and wonder who received it, and whether it was received at all.

It’s much like the human condition. We send our messages out into the universe and hope that there’s an operator on the other end to catch the signal.  And who’s to say for sure who receives the messages, and what’s done with them?

People of faith hope that something supernatural’s listening. And then there’s these guys. Really, is it such a great idea to let any old Joe send a personalized message to hypothetical aliens? What if the aliens are a bunch of punks, like in this epic Escape Pod episode?

You want to know meaning of the Morse Code message? If you want to translate it yourself, stop reading now and use the key found here on Wikipedia to solve it. Dah=long, di/dit=short. Go! Encryption’s a blast!

For those short on time, the code translates to: “What Hath God Wrought?” This was the first message ever sent over the telegraph using Morse Code. How’s that for literally “telegraphing the ending”?