by Wil McCarthy
When I met TransHawking for the first time, he was still called Stepan Ferrero. He had his shirt off — it was hot as hell in the waning days of August — and my first thought was that he was one of the hairiest blond guys I'd ever seen. He had that unibrow look that some guys did, but the hair wasn't dark. Wasn't exactly platinum either — more the color of baked apples, so that crouching in front of the TV in his shorts and flip flops he looked a lot like a golden retriever.
"You can't smoke in here," I told him.
"It helps me think," he answered in a clear voice. He didn't turn, didn't look to see who was talking to him, didn't apologize or seek my approval. He was confident, yeah, but not in a sociable way. He just didn't care. That was my second thought: that he was a troublemaker.
"I'm the resident advisor for this floor," I said. Then: "What are you doing?"
"Studying the plants."
He was peering at the TV with the sort of intensity my dad reserved for the HNN stock ticker. He had a notebook in his hands, and he was furiously writing or sketching something, like he was copying it off the screen. But the thing was tuned to a dead channel, nothing but snow. Kids today go their whole lives without ever seeing static, I guess, but in 1987 it was as ubiquitous as dirty laundry, and about as interesting.
"What plants?" I asked stupidly. Stupid because if you were on shrooms or mescaline or even just large doses of pot, the static sometimes turned to pictures. Duh. Not just pinwheels but whole murky cartoons. You could still do drugs in 1987 without being a criminal or having some huge empty void in your soul. At that time it was still considered a personal choice. Still, public intoxication was a no-no in the dorms, and I was nominally the enforcer. "You can't get high in here, either."
Now he did turn to look at me. Taking a long drag on his cigarette, he puffed a cloud and asked me, "What's your name?"
"Pascal Dwyer," I told him. "If you live on this floor, I'm your R.A."
"Oh." He gave me his own name, then gestured at the screen with his cig, spilling the ash on the carpet. He had a pencil in the same hand, and I remember wondering how he managed to smoke without poking himself in the eye. "I'm not taking drugs, don't worry. Just drawing."
"From the static?"
I was intrigued at this point. I should have been telling him to put out that damned cig, but… It sounds strange. It sounds gay, I suppose, like two men can't take one look at each other and decide to be friends. But there was something about him I liked right away, and it must have been mutual, because he cracked a crooked smile and did a thing with his run-together eyebrows. And just like that, we were amigos.
"What do you know about plants?" he asked.
"They're green," I answered, trying to be funny.
"Most of them, uh huh. And they branch. They pass through the ground in a single stalk, but above and below they're all broken apart in repeating patterns. Roots and branches, leaves and bulbs. Repeating patterns at all different sizes."
Fractals, he meant. The concept wasn't widely known at the time, but there he was groping for it. He threw his hands up in a show of frustration.
"Words fail. The characteristics of 'plantiness' aren't semantic at all. And yet, there's no mistaking one when you see it. There's nothing mineral about it, nothing machined or manufactured. From cabbages to redwoods, a billion years of evolution tell us what we're looking for, what we're looking at."
"Are you a botanist?" I asked.
A botany student, I meant. He was obviously a freshman, eighteen years old and still pimply, and I couldn't decide if he was full of shit, or what. Here was a line of banter unlike anything I'd ever heard.
"No," he said, leaving it at that. He dragged on his cigarette again, watching the smoke curl up toward the ceiling in gray-white sheets and ribbons. "But I'm a great admirer of the form."
Making the connection, I said, "You see 'plantiness' in the smoke? In the static? Is that what you’re drawing?"
"That's right," he said, sounding guardedly pleased. Then, as if trusting me with a secret he added, "Some of the details are amazing. Anatomical details, things that fit. At first I thought I was making it up — vivid imagination and all that. But I see these shapes, purposeful shapes whose purpose I don't know. Why would plantiness be something I'd invent? I'm not even sure I could. I know squat about botany, but I know a functional plant when I see one."
I craned my neck, peering at the notebook in his hand. "Can I look?"
"No," he said, shaking his head. "Not now. Not yet. I want to figure out what these structures are for."
"Ah. Well, don't leave ashes on the floor, okay? I'll get in trouble, and shit rolls downhill."
He nodded, but there was an absent quality to it. He was already turning back to the screen again, sticking the cigarette back in his mouth so he could resume his sketching. From where I was standing, the picture looked like a pair of curving chopsticks, rising up out of a head of flattened broccoli. He was good artist, that much was clear even from a distance. But there was something off-kilter about it as well, something wrong with the shading. Three dimensional, yes, but instead of rising up out of the page his picture seemed to sink down into it, like a dent. That was my last thought: that he was drawing negatives rather than actual pictures, and it occurred to me, fleetingly, to wonder whether he saw them that way in the static.
Anyway, I left him to it and went off to do my Poli Sci homework.
The next time I spoke with him was a few weeks later. He didn't live on my floor after all, but one floor up; he came down sometimes to use the bathroom or the TV lounge, but fundamentally he was outside my chain of command. I didn't have to write him up for smoking — which was a constant thing with him, two packs a day! — or for playing his stereo too loud. That boy had a thing for female vocalists, and I've never seen anyone so generous with the treble.
We'd said hi to each other in the halls, nothing much more than that, but one day in early October he came and knocked on my open door, peering in to see if I was busy.
"Oh, hi Stepan," I said. "Come on in. What's up?"
Without preamble he told me, "I don't see animals. There's an intentional quality about animals, I'm sure you'll agree. Not just movement but, for lack of a better word, spirit. Even on the microscopic level there's no mistaking that, there's no confusing it with anything from the plant kingdom. If I were just plucking images out of nothingness, shouldn't there be faces? Fur? Tiger stripes? I don't see buildings either. I don't see cars. Just these plants that don't exist in any of my plant books."
"Hmm." I was unsure how to respond. But because this was college in the 80s, I had an easy out: "You want a beer?"
"Yeah. Love one."
I fished one out of my little cube of a fridge and handed it to him. He popped it and drank.
"So," I said, "you think you're, what, channeling some kind of parallel universe?"
"The thought had crossed my mind," he answered, sounding relieved. Not because I believed him — I didn't — but because I'd correctly intuited where he was coming from. We were amigos, like I said. We got each other.
He continued, "If I'm crazy, I'm lucid. The way I figure it, plantiness is a quality that has an easier time imposing itself on a, how to say this, an inorganic substrate. Plants conquered the land, right? Turning bare rock into jungles and prairies. Maybe they're branching out."
"So to speak."
"Yeah, so to speak."
He drank from his beer again, then came inside and closed the door so he could light up a ciggy.
"Ashtray?" he asked.
I handed him an empty Pringles can and said, "So plants are colonizing the TV? New kinds of plants, adapted for their new environment?"
He rolled his eyes. "Not if you say it like that, no. That's not what I'm talking about."
"Except it is."
"No." He sighed, puffed, drank, and sighed again. "Look, I'm pointing out that substantiality — existence in a solid form — may not be part of the quality of plantiness. They may be completely separate qualities. And if that's true, then there may be plants that…"
"Don't exist?" I tried.
He puffed smoke in my face. "Don't be an asshole."
"Okay. Plants that exist in a purely conceptual form."
"But not imaginary," he finished. "Yes. Plants from an alternate existence, where form follows function but solid matter isn't necessary."
He didn't seem particularly crazy. He wasn't committed to my believing any of this, he was just… interested. He was onto a new line of thought — something maybe no one had ever thought of in the entire history of the world — and he wanted to kick it around.
I steepled my fingers and looked at him. "Let's… okay, let's say that's true. For the sake of argument. What do you intend to do about it, beyond simply noting the fact?"
"Study," he answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "That's why we're here, right? If alternate plants do exist, a guy could create a whole new science to catalog and describe them."
"Yeah. That's good. That's what I'm talking about. Plants have properties, Pascal, even if they don't have substance. The insights could be useful in medicine."
Stepan was a pre-med student. I was a fallen chemist, now majoring in business.
"You need to get laid," I speculated. I didn't know him that well — not yet — but it was a safe bet for anyone in our age bracket.
"Yeah," he said, drawing hard on his cig. "I'm working on that."
He was, too, enough that I eventually started to get jealous. Guys who smoked had an instant in with girls who smoked: the opening line, the first physical contact, the sharing of precious nutrients… it all happened in five quick seconds. "Hey. Can I bum a cig?" That easy, even for a geeky loonball. Me, I had no luck with girls who smoked. I mostly attracted the ones who picked their cuticles, who chewed their lips, who systematically flayed the calluses on the soles of their feet. And not enough of those, not nearly enough of those.
"A flower for the lady," Stepan would say sometimes, over the din of a nightclub or the chatter of a coffeehouse. And he'd grab a pen, grab a napkin or a discarded receipt and sketch out one of his plants for her. One of his demented, negative-image plants. "Grave orchid. Centarimum. Feathered Honeywisp." It was a line of bullshit they'd never heard, either, and for better or worse it made him interesting. But not in a long-term kind of way, not for them. Within a day or two Stepan would turn away, forgetting, losing them in the static, and they'd just sort of wander off, none the worse for wear.
Maybe if I'd been a woman he'd've been less interested in me. Maybe if he'd been a woman, I wouldn't have stuck around either. But he wasn't, and I wasn't, and putting up with him over the long haul was, it turned out somehow, my own cross to bear. We were amigos, eh?
By the start of the next school year he'd decided his name should be TransHawking. "As in, way beyond Hawking." It seemed mostly a joke at the time, although grounded in the reality of a proctored IQ test he'd taken that summer, showing a jaw-dropping score of 191. I didn't expect the nickname to stick — they usually don't, when they're made up by the subject himself — and at first when I used it, it was purely ironic. But he pushed it hard, signing all his papers that way and even getting it changed on his student ID. It cut into his action with the ladies, but he didn't seem to mind much. School was a bitch that year anyway.
Still, we somehow found the time to take up American shuffleboard in a local pub, he and I. Got pretty good at it, too, until we were pretty much running the table. One night we won a hundred-dollar bet from a Frenchman who shouted "Bordel!" and laughed when we sneaked a red stone through his defensive thicket and hung it out over the edge. Other than that, all I can really remember are a few snippets of conversation.
"My physics professor says that observation affects reality," he said one day.
"Only sort of. And only on the subatomic level."
"Ah, but everything is made of subatomics. Don't argue with me, Pascal, I'm smarter than you. Hear me out. If this business of observer-created reality has any truth at all — any at all — then looking at static is a meaningful act. To observe a picture, to draw it out of the randomness, imposes order. Not imaginary, but created. Subatomically biased toward existence."
"Wishing makes it so," I teased.
But he just nodded.
Another time he said, "Roots imply rain, Pascal. And rain implies a sky, and sun-baked oceans spitting moisture up into the clouds. If you think about it, a single plant implies an entire world."
Not that everything we talked about was alternate botany. Far from it; Stepan had a sideways opinion about everything, and enjoyed sharing. But it was transient stuff, brightly important at the time but ultimately fleeting. Like cherry blossoms.
One of his girlfriends was named Cherise Delgado. She didn't smoke, or not much anyway, because she was ROTC and her commanding officer sniffed the breath of all the cadets for "assorted contraband." But when she and Stepan lost interest in each other sexually, she continued hanging around the dorm on a friendship basis.
"Cherrrrrrise!" I'd say when I saw her, trilling the R for effect. I liked her smile.
"Paskhaaaaghl!" she'd call back.
Sometimes we'd shadow box. Sometimes I'd throw Cap'n'Crunch at her face and she'd try to catch it. One time I painted her nose red with a tube of lipstick. Can't remember why we did that. And then there was the time I kissed her, put my hand in her t-shirt, squirmed onto the bed with her all hot and bothered.
"Is this okay?" I asked her, fiddling with clasps.
"Of course it's okay. Why?"
Between kisses I answered, "Because of Stepan."
"Stepan who?" she said, smiling wickedly. And that was that.
Sometimes life is just magic for a while. My grades suffered, but my grades were suffering anyway and it felt good to have a reason. Was it six weeks? Eight? The holidays came along to separate us, and although we phoned a few times, we never quite came back together after break. Incompatible schedules, I guess, along with that youthful arrogance that says, without evidence, that you can find someone just as good, anytime you want. Time has a way of eroding that one, eh?
I thought Stepan — or TransHawking, if you insist — was my best friend. Three years younger than me, yeah, but I thought he was the best friend I'd ever had. And yet, somehow, when I got my MBA and pulled the eject handles, we sort of lost track of each other. College is like that; it seems like forever at the time, but really it's just an interlude. You step out of the house, onto the front porch, and someone is handing you a drink and thumping you on the shoulder, and it's nice. But the whole world is out there waiting, and once you're off the porch and headed somewhere, the voices behind you don't seem to matter as much. The arrogance of youth, heedless of what it leaves behind.
He never answered my letters, or rather, when I got a letter from him it never answered any questions about his life, or asked anything about mine. Short and cryptic, they read like abstracts from some demented technical journal.
That immateriality suggests an absence of verifiable microstructutre is indeed a problem. Each species has some disconcerting anomaly that eludes analysis and seems to defy the laws of chemistry and physics. What can we say when, in spite of their colorless medium, the specimens of this alternate vegetable kingdom reveal a profusion of inexplicable spectra? I need a ciggy, my friend, of an altogether imaginary sort. What reaction can we have to the bitter-sour tang of a matterless leaf whose existence is, if not hypothetical, at least parenthetical? To heal the sick is a laudable if somewhat ironic goal, but how, Pascal, does one respond to a "medicine" that serves only to divide the patient's attention between substance and non?
It seems these plants can only be understood phenomenologically, and perhaps linguistically, for indeed their descriptions may be the most solid thing about them. And yet in certain senses they appear richer and denser than the plants of our pronate (as opposed to alternate) realm.
One finds clear evidence of evolutionary pressure — an ecology richer and more interconnected than the casual glance at first reveals — and from this one may finally begin to suspect that fauna of a sort do indeed graze upon these flora. Perhaps, then, shall we someday see amber waves of the stuff in neatly tended rows? Ghost corn, as it were. And what shall we feel upon such contact, or the promise of contact? How shall we react when the alternate eye stares back? If awe is the intersection of curiosity and wonder, what then is the Venn overlap of curiosity and mindless terror?
I took a job in a tower somewhere, turning numbers into words and then back into numbers again. I was well paid, well cared for. I wasn't empty — or it didn't seem so at the time — but I suppose I was leaking some vital essence.
"I should take my vacations underwater," I told a colleague once.
"Why?" she asked me.
"Because it supports," I answered. "It wraps around the body in a sensuous embrace, much more intimate than air."
She thought I was joking, and laughed.
She thought I was funny, and married me.
Eight years later, she reconsidered on both counts. Can you blame her? We took our vacations in Maine, in a timeshare cabin with Liberty Bell wallpaper.
TransHawking got married as well, or at least managed to father a child. In his only letter of that period he wrote,
The theft or murder of an infant is a capital crime, Pascal, but I dropped mine off at kindergarten this morning. Time has accomplished what no mere human would dare: the baby is gone, swapped out for a changeling that, however similar, fools no one. Oh, I'll love this little girl as my own — how not!? — but she too is here on temporary assignment.
And if a plant can speak an omen, then I fear there are stranger times ahead. As if two worlds could be held apart by a solid membrane? The glass of a TV screen is thin, my friend. When I call your name, do you hear?
It's interesting — isn't it? — how often the loss of a marriage is intertwined with the loss of a job. It didn't happen to me in quite the classic style, though; the tower simply disappeared one day, while I was out. While she wasn't. Did the divorce have a chance to be final? It seems a moot point, an irony of global proportion. We were separated, yes, beyond hope of reconciliation.
I wasn't depressed about it — or so my doctor told me — but I did find myself at looser ends than I could easily splice, and a change of scene was called for to say the least. So, in a fit of frustration-tinged patriotism I signed my name to a set of contracts and was whisked to an OCS training camp in Lackland Texas, and thence to a fire base in the hills of central Asia. Stranger times, indeed.
It was in the middle of that winter on a nearly freezing night — my fifth in country — when for once the thump thump thump of outgoing artillery was answered by the flash and crack of incoming mortar fire. I was standing outside, looking up at the stars and wondering whether anything lived up there, when a bit of shrapnel hummed past my head like a dragonfly.
It seemed unreal, nothing to get excited about, but our standing orders were very definite: I was to "hie my butt to the nearest bunker and await the all-clear, thus depriving the enemy of satisfaction and the press of slingable mud."
The bunkers, like the barracks, were flown-in trailer homes, but they'd been slid into rectangular tubes of reinforced concrete, and piled high with sandbags at the ends. The view from the windows was like being in a stalled subway car.
"Close the door," said a woman's voice as I shuffled inside. "Close it, close the damn door! It's freezing out there, and I don't have my coat."
"Sorry," I said, reflexively. Then I turned to look at her, out of a newly-installed army reflex to check her rank and modify my response accordingly. Does wood paneling still exist anywhere except in American trailer homes? Under the glow of fluorescent lights, softened only slightly by the bronze-colored wood and beige-tiled floor, the bars on her collar twinkled. She was a captain just like me, but a disheveled one, like she'd hopped out of bed and thrown on a uniform and sprinted here in a panic. She stood there with her arms wrapped around her, shivering, although the heat was on full blast. Her boots were unlaced.
"Pascal," she said, sounding surprised.
Almost as an afterthought, I looked at her face. She was pretty in an angular sort of way. More to the point, she was Cherise Delgado from college, instantly recognizable through a decade of normal aging.
"Hi," I said, blinking, groping momentarily for her name. "Cherise."
"What are you doing here?"
"Hiding from enemy fire, apparently." It wasn't a sentence I'd ever expected to say. The fact of it was at least as surprising as the presence of Cherise herself. And then, in a flash of empathy: "So this is today's army, eh? Eleven years and still a captain. I signed up ten weeks ago, and look at me."
Her laugh couldn't decide between sourness at the truth of what I was saying, and pleasant surprise that I was here with her to say it.
A mortar crashed nearby, sending a shockwave rippling through the trailer. Then another one crashed even closer, and it must have severed the power line, because the lights and heat cut out immediately.
Cherise screamed. Not a rich Hollywood scream but the tight emphatic squeak of a cornered mammal. And then another mortar fell right on top of the bunker itself — I won't describe the sound, because you can't imagine it — and after that the explosions were more distant.
"Jesus fuck," she said, "where are those goddamn guard units? They should have these guys zeroed by now and be hosing them down with fifty caliber."
"It'll be all right," I told her, through the ringing in my ears.
"Oh, fuck you," she snapped. Then: "Come over here and keep me warm."
The walls of the bunker were lined with couches — again, reminiscent of a subway car — and she pulled me onto one, pulled me right on top of herself like a blanket. She was cold. I covered her as best I could, not really thinking much of anything. Just a protective instinct rising to the fore, I suppose. Shield the women!
After just a few seconds, though, I felt her freezing hands on the sides of my face, pulling me into a kiss. "Are you just going to lie there, Paskhaaaaghl? Or are you going to take advantage?"
Was I afraid? Of her, of the falling bombs? I can't remember.
"My wife died in the towers," I said, feeling some need to put things into context.
"I'm sorry," she told me, kissing me firmly on the jaw. And then my own hands were working, finding their old places along her body.
"Just my luck I don't get to see you naked," I told her.
"Feel me," she answered. "Your hands are warm."
There were three hundred people on the fire base, which made it difficult — though by no means impossible — to conduct an affair in privacy. We weren't the bunkers' only users, and the army seemed to understand that this sort of thing was going to happen. People looked the other way and didn't ask questions.
Cherise was married, though, and when the first mail call of my tour brought a letter from her husband, and pictures of her two smiling children, the bubble sort of burst on us. "I think we'd better be friends," she said, looking uncomfortable and distant.
"Right-o," I agreed. "I'm still in mourning." Or supposed to be, anyway. But somehow we sealed the deal with an intense half-hour of lovemaking. Innocence is the first casualty of war; fidelity the second.
Afterward we lay together fully clothed, our limbs entwined, staying warm.
"You haven't asked me about TransHawking," I said to her.
"Oh, him. Pascal, you were always going on about your friend Stepan, like I dated him before you or something. I never met the man."
"Really?" I was… surprised. More than surprised. I didn't believe her, because I'd seen the two of them together. "We met in the cafeteria. He drew you a picture."
"I thought you drew that picture," she said. "But anyway, how is Stepan?"
"I don't know," I answered.
Cherise giggled. "You're a fine conversationalist, you know that?"
She kissed me, and one thing led to another, but that really was the last time. We never touched each other again.
On the third mail call of my tour, I got a letter from Stepan. It read:
Where do people go when they die, and how do you know you aren't there already? Imagine a plant with the following property: it exists in two realms. Simultaneously or by turns, it hardly matters. Pin that to your lapel and imagine the possibilities.
The letter included several drawings of the common dandelion at various stages of its life.
"What's that?" asked Cherise, looking over my shoulder in the mess hall.
"A letter from Stepan."
"Ah. And is that one of his imaginary plants?"
"It's a dandelion, stupid."
"Dan what?" Not kidding around; she sounded genuinely puzzled.
"Dan de lion. The lion's tooth. Backyard menace, nemesis to groundskeepers everywhere? You make wine from the flowers, salad from the leaves, grind the roots up for tea? Make a wish and blow the seeds?"
"Never heard of it."
She wasn't joking. Is it possible to grow up in America — to grow up anywhere in the world— and not know about dandelions? We went to the officer's club computer lounge and looked it up, so she could see how silly she was being. And what did we find? Napes. Nothing. No dandelion on any of the search engines.
"This is madness," I said conversationally. "The sites must be blocked or something. Censored for the benefit of our muslim hosts."
"A censored flower?" She sounded skeptical. No, more than that — she sounded concerned. Flipping the letter over, she studied the paper it was printed on, the envelope it came in. "Strange material. It looks like vellum, but it feels almost like some kind of paper. And look at this: the return address says Mobile, Alabama."
"Yeah, he moved there a couple of years ago."
"But the postmark is an APO. See? Our APO."
I leaned in to see. "Meaning what?"
"I don't know," she said. But from the tone of it, she did. And so did I. She thought the letter had been sent from this province, possibly from this very base.
She went outside, and I followed. Spring was in the air, and the flowers had begun to bloom here and there. Dandelions, yes. I pointed one out to her.
"Stop it," she said, sounding not at all amused. "I've got work. So do you. No time for games."
"What games?" I asked. It was my turn to be honestly baffled. But I was talking to her back.
A day or two later, the base chaplain came to see me. "I hear you're into alien plants," he said by way of introduction.
I looked up from my paperwork. An MBA in the army, yes, you think they handed me a shovel? He was younger than I would have expected.
"Not me," I said. "My old friend Stepan."
"Ah. Yes, well. Your old friend Captain Delgado and I did some checking about that. There never was a Stepan Ferrero at your college. Or anyone named TransHawking, anywhere."
Somehow, I had a feeling he was going to say that. I felt no surprise at the words, just irritation. He sat down in my guest chair and offered me an understanding look. "You joined the army because your wife died, yes?"
"After she died," I corrected. "Not because. The decision was based on a lot of different variables."
"I see. Do you regret the decision?"
"Not particularly. I have to be somewhere."
While he was chewing on that I said, mildly, "You think I'm crazy."
"I think you're under a lot of stress," he countered. "And by failing to acknowledge it, by holding yourself in this state of unnatural calm, you're not doing yourself any favors. Those feelings have to come out one way or another."
"It's not like that," I told him, trying for a tone of reassurance. "I think you've misunderstood. We were getting divorced, for one thing."
He held up a smudged inkjet printout, a full-color picture of a plant.
"I'm curious, Captain. Can you name this?"
My pulse quickened. Maybe I wasn't afraid of mortars, but raw confusion wasn't something I dealt with gracefully. But I tried not to let it show, and for the most part I succeeded.
"Huh. Where did you get that?"
"Off the Internet. Do you know what it is?"
"Yes," I said. "It's a feathered honeywisp, one of Stepan's favorite carnivores. This looks like a photograph, though. Did he start a web page or something?"
"No, this came from the Britannica site. But I could have found it in a thousand other places. Heck, if I could roam these hills a free man, I'd probably bring back a live sample. Carefully, of course. I'm sure someone has a pair of whisping gloves around here somewhere."
"You know this plant?"
"Doesn't everyone? I can see you're particularly interested, though, which is fine. A friend of mine — an army botanist — is sending me a plant encyclopedia, with lots of color pictures. I thought maybe you and I could flip through it together. Just for fun."
I nodded slowly, feeling twin beads of sweat trickle down my arms. "Sure. That does sound like fun."
He eyed me, and after the sort of pause people aptly describe as "pregnant" he said, "If you need to talk about anything, any time of the day or night, my job is to listen."
"Thank you. I will. And I appreciate your stopping by."
«section 8 discharge»
«Pascal begins to suspect he's the imaginary one»
«Pascal is pulled through from the "fake" world (ours) to the "real" one of the parallel plants and animals. It's the greatest triumph of the great TransHawking!»