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Precambrian Sleuth, or, Murder by Atmosphere

Dreamed 2013/6/2 by Chris Wayan


My housemate's furious and hurt. The board of the nonprofit he works for as treasurer and accountant just censured him! He's been nearly volunteering; they pay just $10,000 a year. To replace him, they'd have to triple that. I urge him "Quit! Why endure both stress and low pay? Even a half-time job at the local minimum wage would pay better--with fewer insults." But he clings to the familiar, no matter how poisonous the atmosphere gets.

Then my sister Miriel calls from Santa Cruz. Her NVC [Non-Violent Communication] group begged her to return. She did, and they promptly ganged up on her again, blamed her for all the group's problems. She's endured escalating bullshit for months now. But today, she walked out for good! High time, too.

I just wish the other lobster in the pot would admit they're slow-cooking him, and crawl out of gossip stew.


At last the timepod glides to a halt. All out: Precambrian Station.
Stark rubble out sealed ports, lunar gray--land and air unborn.
Earth's predawn. Anoxic algae age! I've come for the investigation
Of a fatal accident--if chance it was. The staff's been here so long

They take for granted their bizarre eon--testify for hours before
Anyone mentions the air's deadly! Stifling I knew: planktonic seas
Still wick up free oxygen, then sweep it under the rugg'd abyss
As rustbeds (to later miners, 'twill seam ironic). But Precambrian air

Isn't just dead--deadly! For these early stromes dabble in photosyntheses!
Chlorophyll has rivals. Oh, it'll outlast gold, red or blue, for green's
Rivals fart suicide and just plateau; while ox feeds beasties who exhale
to refeed chlorophyll--a loop that fuels the future. But we're long before

Chlorophyll's big Dar win; this year's champs spew sulfides, cyanides, more.
Yet only the 14th witness thinks to warn "You seem unaware our local air
Isn't just anoxic but searing, toxic. Dome blowout? A mere pinhole here
Can kill." Only now, initiate, dare I wonder: murder by atmosphere?

sketch of a dream by Wayan: the dome of Precambrian Station by a murky ancient sea under a gray sky.


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