I’m the operator of a cable car that travels between six planets in the deeper realms of outer-space. Out the triangular windows are various celestial sights that would undoubtedly mesmerize my waking-self but don’t phase my dreaming-self in the least. It’s all routine to me.
Today we’re traveling at a ridiculously high speed — way faster than usual. Emily is sitting across from me. I can sense that she is nervous. I glance around the car and realize that everyone is overtaken with a silent fright — and they are all looking to me for some sort of guidance. The car is a bit rundown and could use a paint job — the green pleather seats are torn and a good few of the lights are dim or flickering. As I’m glancing around the car it dawns on me (in a rather causal way, might I add) that we will all die in this car and, in fact, be dead within the next few minutes. The cables have snapped, and we are plummeting through space at an incomprehensible speed — a speed, that alone, will destroy this steel car and our ripe bodies within it.
I knew something was different about today. What am I talking about?! I’ve been working this job too long. There is no “today”. I haven’t lived a solid “day” in years . . . or a night for that matter. Life, for me, exists in perpetual motion. I have no star to call “Sun”, and I’m not even oriented by the billions that surround me. This car is routed on cables. The steering wheel in my hands is just for show. My presence here is a joke.
I decided it’s better to keep a straight face. No one needs to know about our fate. They will only freak out and begin to scream. And Emily? …why worry her? …to what avail? No, I’ll keep quite. Smile around, and send her a wink. We will all be stardust soon enough….
Suddenly, my ears begin to tingle and then sting. And then a single, insistent, and ever-sharpening pain shoots through my skull. The sharpest I have ever felt. I look around . . . everyone is cupping their ears with their hands . . . mouths agape. My eyes widen, mouth drops open. Am I screaming? Are they screaming? We all seem to be screaming. It feels like I’m screaming. The pain between my ears is so acute that, even though it is deathly silent, it is the loudest, most terrible thing I have ever heard. My consciousness, and entire life, have been swallowed by the searing pain — and I vanish into the empty soundless space.
I awaken in my room, it’s 1am, and I have the worst earache I have ever had.
I’m in clearing in the middle of a rolling thick forest. It’s dark. A fairly large community of people started living here ever since a Black Magician put a spell over the land. We live in trailers and eat whatever we can scavenge. There is a political science club that holds classes on political theory — I am in this club — and we are currently studying for a national test that will award a monetary scholarship to those who score in the top 5 percent. I couldn’t care less, but I’m still kept up at night trying to solve annoying practice test questions. The teachers of this preparatory class are my former high school professors — I know they don’t like me very much.
Life in the forest has a very cinematic quality to it. Everything feels predetermined, as if at any moment someone much larger will hit an otherworldly fast-forward or rewind button. Tension is running high through the community. Word is out that the Black Magician will be up to something particularly sinister this evening (and this is the night before the big test on political theory!).
The ground begins to tremble and the surrounding trees are swaying frantically, though the sky is nursing no wind. Over the treetops an enormous glowing purple mountain begins to amass . . . no, not a mountain . . . . It has eyes! And a dreadfully large mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth! A giant beast is approaching! It’s body is a bit translucent through a hazy purple hue, with stout arms and legs protruding from its robust round figure.
As it enters the clearing I can see that it is at least thirty trees tall. Almost immediately it explodes into hundreds of large jelly balls . . . and then those balls explode into thousands of smaller one. This multiplication of itself happens about four more times until the earth is covered in millions of balls the size of a human hand. Deep dimples form in the balls, two of which fill in with mean glaring eyes, and one which hollows out into a sharp hungry hole. I have a gun that shoots lightening. I take aim and fire, but my weapon is useless against the ravished jelly beasts. My childhood friend (Joe) drive up in a cardboard bus. He is going to save the day (or at least that is the sentiment that his arrival elicits). About thirty people dressed in white assemble against side of the bus — they form a wall, three people high, standing on top of each others’ shoulders. Suddenly a massive saw blade begins slicing through the bus, and it passes smoothly through the bodies of the people whose white clothes are now red with blood. They collapse into a withering pile of limbs and heads. The monsters are hypnotized by the spectacle, and quickly begin to gorge themselves on the human offering. After being hypnotized, myself, for a few moments over the feasting monsters, I make my way to a quite trailer at the edge of the village. I have to inquire about a particularly difficult question that I’m nervous is going to be on the test in the morning.
Freakin’ test! Do I really need to take it? I hate these kinds of tests!
I’m in a junkyard filled with smashed up cars. The world is set in a deep blue cast. The crushed cars are arranged as a labyrinth — the walls, six high. I am wondering through this maze and a woman, a college crush of mine, is following me. I’m annoyed by her presence. She never cared for me. Why the hell is she following me around? She flirting with me and I want her to stop.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of one of the cars. Do I have a second nose? What’s going on here!?
No, it’s not a nose, it’s some kind of bump or pimple to the left of my nose. And it’s growing. It isn’t painful, but it is hideous. When I squeeze it nothing happens. Every time I see my reflection I shutter. Will this thing ever go away? Or is it new and here to stay? It has now exceeded the size of my nose, and it’s expansion is showing no sign of stopping. Should I cut it off? . . . or learn to like it?
And why . . . why is this girl following me?
I’m in Texas, but this Texas isn’t landlocked. There is a sea that floods in at high tide and renders travel impossible. I’m traveling, trying to find my way to . . . wait!? To Where? Where am I going?
Through hitchhiking I’ve made it to a strange roadhouse. It’s nestled between two short brown dusty mountains, but high up, and I have view that extends 100s of miles into the desert. I don’t have a lot of time here — the tide is coming in, and when it does I will be stuck here for days, maybe weeks. I decide to make a call to my mother. A familiar voice answers the phone, but it isn’t her. I must have dialed the wrong number, but I can’t just hang up — I know this person. I have to figure out who it is without tipping them off that I unintentionally called them. I ramble uncomfortably about nothing for a few minutes. . . .
Got it! It’s Kirsten. I know her, but haven’t spoken with her in years. Shit! Now is not the time to catch up. I need to get out of here — I have to find a way to make this short. She then tells me it’s her birthday and is upset cause no one (other than me) has called her. The tide is coming. I’m stuck. I’m staying. I’m listening. The flooded mountains do look magnificent — but I left my camera in the trunk of the last ride I caught.
I am standing on the utmost peak of a jagged mountain. It is a moonless, pitch black night. The lightening flashing around me is the only source of light. My naked body is hunched over a pale rock. I am sweating, muttering words in a language I don’t know . . . words that come to me as if whispered by a worm inside my skull. They have a ghastly power, and the world around me changes as I untangle the invidious words from my stern lips. The wind begins to rip through the pulsating darkness like an estranged uninvited guest. And I see, in the frantic flickering light, the mountains grow and topple, the vast cracked desert expand endlessly, the dark seas come rushing in. All on my whim. All on my whim!
I am alone in this world — it is me, and I am it.
But wait! What’s this? Something is happening to my body! I am undergoing a metamorphosis. I twitch against the pale dank rock. My fingers and arms elongate to my knees, my eyes sink into my hallow skull. Ribs sharpened, stomach turned in. My skin, a pasty blue.
And when all this horror has ceased I see that my testicles have dropped and become like flat stone tablets. But they are spongy, dense, and soft, still connected to my groin by a long thick pinkish tube. Though they are heavy, I can lift them with my long crooked arms. On the tablets are more words . . . more terrible words I don’t understand.
I’m standing on a rickety pier, surrounding me throbs and swells a black angry ocean. No land in sight. The sun beating on my neck, the still empty blue sky above. I’m fishing with only a hooked line and a short thick stick. No bait. Despite the pitiful tackle, I am able to throw the 3-pronged hook far off into the rough waters. I use the stick to help me reel it in by twisting the line around it. My bare hands covered in thin red lines.
On one throw the hook lands centered in a pod of playing dolphins. I love dolphins. I immediately start to reel in the line as quickly as I can — nervous because I don’t want to catch one on the hook. SHIT! . . . Got something! . . . please don’t be a dolphin . . . please don’t be a dolphin . . . please don’t be a dolphin . . . .
I’m frantically twisting the line around the stick — it’s dragging something, something big, something heavy. My arms, hands, and fingers strain and ache — my tension builds as the struggling creature is desperately tugged closer . . . please . . . I don’t want this to be true. Sharp pains running from my fingertips to the base of my neck. Closed eyes . . . please don’t be a dolphin .. . please . . . .
Then I see . . . it’s not a dolphin!
My dear friend, Katie! . . . the hook is through her nose!
I collapse to my knees and break out into uncontrollable tears. She reassures me that she is fine while yanking and twisting the gnarled hook from her nose and climbing from the cold black water. But it doesn’t matter. I’m devastated — reminded of every time I have unintentionally hurt someone that I love. A deep hopelessness swallows my mind as dark clouds close in and spiral violent above me. My sobs growing louder, the sky cracks open, and frigid raindrops pierce my heart. My breath becomes the turbulent surface of the untamed sea — and I vanish within everything surrounding me.
I wake gasping for air. And the lyrics of a song immediately possess my mind — they soothe and cradle my sadness as I try to fall back into sleep.
The little puppies in milk, like small dumplings. Some in the teeth of some larger being. I was in a yellow glowing room. The table was wooden. The bowls of milk were warm. Later there was a ceramic artpiece on the wall. I saw that there was a piece that had to be fit onto it. There was writing on it. Old Zach from high school with his zaggy left hand script was there and the dogs now were large and I kept Celeste away from them.
We must use the alien technology. In the real quiet air of the salon you wanted to stay. The people were in place but filling the air with self un-poisoned by some erractic music. They were filled with a self-possession that stills people like jazz mutes the motion and they wore fedoras and stares; the whole thing of it you liked. We sat and had conversations while it rained. Alien food, filets, and pink almost creamed roe. A green cat stared, a tiny neonate on a lap peered over darkened wood. Tea brewed. The woman with silver embellishments and turquoise, darked eyes, went back to sleep in the hotel room for five days of sleep, happy song on her lips to be alone. I held cards in my hand and tried to say we must never say what we saw here. I was corrected. We must share the technology. IN an instant, almost a lump in my throat I saw why. It was a series of wooden rails heading skyward in a factory. There was a whirring and a flapping of tiny wooden flaps. I nailed in nails. It was so simple and yet it had a perfection I cannot name. I watched her leave to go sleep. Her beauty and self-suficiency were inside me like a memory. I stood shaking the blue skirt filled with cranberry paisley, and silver near a mirror above a small wooden table. I went out into the darkness and entered a convenience store somewhere at midnight on a hill where you could feel the earth larger than the buildings;a manna pool around it’s concrete shell. It was one of those places that is respite because it has human build to it in a place of large earth-dark forces, where wisps of heather, and moor grass even appearing as spirits in the halogen lights. Inside past the smoked bullet proof glass, the proprietess behind her small packs of wares, a larder of tiny pills, and impersonal cartons of condoms, or advil(either really). I turned and the tiny shack opened into the dim almost waxy, paraffin of music venue floors. Wooden equipment ramps, signage indicating the temporal atmosphere of an occasion. I saw pin up magnets and then I talked to the woman with red lips and her name was Susanna Lou or some other staged, two-part name. She invited me somewhere to perform.