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17 minus 1

When I was 17 years old, I pulled out onto the freeway near my house. My car was not fast, and in my haste I hadn't left a whole lot of room between myself and the car now behind me.

Now, I didn't cut them off or anything. I did not cause a dangerous situation. I did, very likely, make them have to slow down and wait for me to putter up to full speed.

The car took this inconvenience personally, they pulled right up to my bumper, and I could see both passengers gesturing and flailing violently.

I got up to speed and then some, and it didn't help, they stayed on me. After a few miles of this I decided I'd just pull off, let them pass me. They followed me.

Imagine yourself in this situation. You are now apparently being pursued by two angry individuals, what do you do?

What my 17 year old self does is stop the car, reach in the backseat, pull out a thin plastic whiffle bat and jump out of my car to confront them.

So let's take stock of these actions:

  1. Stopping. Nothing actually terribly wrong with this. Staring at a car is less fun than chasing it.
  2. Grabbing a weapon. I don't know anything about the situation, and I've decided to start it out by brandishing a "weapon". This unhelpfully escalates everything about the encounters without actually providing me with any sort of meaningful defense.
  3. I decide to step out of the car? This is thrice stupid:
    1. I'm voluntarily confronting two (or more) unfriendly humans. Action movie sequences aside, trained MMA fighters can't do this.
    2. I'm leaving my box of reinforced glass and steel that also gives me the option of fleeing orders of magnitude faster than I can run.
    3. I've now made myself an easier target for the one weapon I know they have, a gigantic steel box capable of violently confering staggering amounts of kinetic force.

So yeah, a whole lot of stupid there.

It all ends well, I stand there, they shout insults at me. I feel a little silly. Eventually I get back in my car, I forget who drives off first.



One of the demons of my childhood was a huge, clawed thing with the full dealer premium horror package of horned skull, exposed bone rib cage and bat wings.

It would only come out at night when everyone was asleep, and it was bound to a certain step on our central stairway. In order to get upstairs to get a snack or go to the bathroom, it meant facing this thing.

I never balked, always closing my eyes and charging right through it. Once I recall being curious enough to do it with my eyes opened, and at the moment I charged through and saw... nothing.

I never really believed this demon was real, I assumed it was a creation of my own, a fear of the dark or some such thing. The fact that I continually challenged it by charging through the air it occupied with no ill effects reinforced this. I once stayed downstairs at my familial house when I was older, twenty-something, and upon going up stairs my mind summoned up the largely forgotten bogeyman in the same spot. I still walked through it, with no less trepidation.

Recently I was thinking about this demon, because I often reexamine beliefs from my childhood. My mind was clearer back then so it makes me wonder what the demon represented, what truth it occupied on that step.

I never encounter a single supernatural event with the demon, this made me flip the idea and wonder, what if the demon was "real" but unable to affect our reality. A near hidden observer than can never communicate back? Is that any different than being imaginary?

Science bows out at this point, since I have created a hypothesis that is untestable. Scientists themselves employ one-way mirrors when they don't want the "science" to leak out of a room. An entity that cannot affect an earthly apparatus does not exist by default.

Recent studies in cosmology though seem to have discovered plenty of dimensional *caves* where weird crap could reside.

We recently discovered 60 billion worlds around distant stars in habitatable orbits. The spoken implication there is that something resides on those.

Yet cosmologists will calmly discuss the possible existence of 7 additional dimensions, or that our existence is merely a holographic projection of a larger reality, and are met with yawns rather than speculations.

Last I checked, infinity was bigger than 60 billion, let alone 9 orders of infinities, and yet we assume that these places are empty nothingness of unarranged boring.

I am not saying I believe in ghosts, demons or slightly out-of-phase werewolves. I am just saying that these things are no longer more impossible than topics that people with doctorates in Physics routinely discuss.

As a child with an incorrect belief in a deterministic Newtonian Lego-block world, I used to wonder aloud "where would the magic reside?", cosmologists seem to have provided an answer to this, unfortunately their answer requires an entire universe dedicated to filled in Scantron tests to contain it.

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