Is there a necessity to keep things going? There is a tension in what can only be the air, if not, our thoughts. It is the reason things cannot be perfect. Everything must be experienced. The fear of jumping, the gears of war. Antithesis to the synthesis. Keirkegard. We cannot be satisfied enough without that other level. I have been there. The idea of greatness. Is possible. Not perfection. Something like it. And even that, its own reward enough. When every ember is alive.
“Everything is entirely suffused in static.”
I understand this now. Completely.
Rachael got home late, coming right in through the front door.
Making a dart for the staircase, she still couldn’t escape the light of the kitchen down the hall, and the voice of her Mother, who’d been sitting there, waiting…
“I’m not sure about this guy, what’s his name…” she said, without preface.
“Kim.” Replied Rachael with a little too loud a tone. She was surprised that her first concern was Kim, not the fact that she was getting in at nearly midnight.
“What’s wrong with Kim? He’s so sweet and innocent.”
“Helen says he’s a little…off.”
“Those were her words?”
“How would Helen know Kim mom?”
“I don’t know but Jenny sure talks up a storm about you two as well…”
“Mom, just between you and me, Jenny is a stupid little half-wit and anyway, has seen and hung out with us, like, once. What else did Helen say about him?”
“Look I’m not a racist sweetheart but he is Eastern Pacific. All I’m saying is that he may be a little…well, different for you.”
“Different? Mom, he’s grown up like, all around the world, speaks English better than I do, with an American accent, no less, and–I know what you don’t like about him—he’s different, like everyone else I like that you don’t. He’s not gonna pick up a golf club and start going to the range like you and John mom, but that doesn’t make him a psycho.”
“I have no idea where you’re getting these ideas from, but all I’m saying is that you two might have some cultural differences to work through, and besides, is he even going to College?”
“Where the hell are you getting this from mom??’ ”
“All right Rachael, so Helen knows his parents.”
“Helen knows a lot of people doesn’t she?”
“She’s on the PTA, goes to Wakefield Chapel Rec., golfs with me and the community and is in touch with nearly every out reach group in Fairview.”
“So, what, what mom? What inextricable evidence do you have against my Boyfriend?”
Pam had known at least part of how sexually active Rachael had been and didn’t care so much about that, but had no idea she would go as far as to have a Boyfriend at this age.
“That’s right, my Boyfriend mom!” she declared with utter confidence, wondering how she’d bring this up to Kim tomorrow.
“So, tell me mom, make an argument for once, what exactly do you not like about Kim?”
“I don’t appreciate having my intelligence insulted young lady.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t appreciate these little nightly interrogations.”
“Oh get off it Rach—so melodramatic, everything has to be this big soap opera with you.”
“Mom, look around you, life is a soap opera, especially when John and you pick a fight by the way.”
“OK, that’s it, up to your room you go Rachael!”
“By the way, you’re grounded.”
“—I didn’t forget you were late.”
“You never forget anything mom,” Rachael said, and quickly climbed the stairs off to bed.
The next morning Rachael waited in the car in the sluttiest outfit she could find: The shortest little miniskirt she had, hoop earrings, plastered red lipstick, overdone mascara, and a sleeveless tacky yellow open belly shirt constricting her tits looking like they might pop out at any moment.
“You’re Jon here, at your service!” said her mom. “You’re not going to school in that.”
“Apparently, mom, I am.”
Pam took in a long breath and let it out steadily.
“Fine, you be mommy’s little Hooker today, how about that?”
“Mom, in case you hadn’t noticed, every girl’s a hooker nowadays.”
“Yeah, well, that doesn’t mean you have to be.”
“How you’re ever going to get a guy to stay with you, let alone marry you dressing like that.”
“People don’t stay out of how you dress, they stay cause they love you, or they should or they’re fucked up.”
“No, Rachael, no matter what anybody tells you, a guy stays with a good girl, and leaves the sluts at the bachelor party.”
“Where’d you get that, you’re weekly issue of Good Housekeeper? Actually, studies will show you most people regardless of what they say, cheat on each other at least 35% of the time, if not half.”
“There you go again with those statistics, but statistics won’t tell you anything. You’ll learn, they don’t have anything to do with the world and certainly aren’t going to win you a man, Rach.”
“Whoever said I wanted a man anyway…?”
To this her mom simply shook her head and clasped the steering wheel tighter.
“Why don’t we drive the Capris mom, this is such a gas machine.”
“Rachael, both our cars take gas.”
“Yes, Mother, but one of them consumes far less energy in gas than the other, plus this big ol boat Cadillac all the time gets old.”
“Rach, a car’s a car, and cars take gas and cost money, and you can’t ever predict gas prices anyway.”
“Actually mom, I think the Cadi takes far more considering its old, and the Capris is built as a partially Bio- Based car anyway. What do you mean you can’t predict them?”
“I mean it just depends, like where we’re going for one thing.”
“Where we’re going, mom, gas isn’t that expensive near The City.”
“One gas station is totally different from the next.”
“What are you talking about mom? How much different, like what are the rates?”
“Like how much?”
“I don’t know Rachael, how much, I mean…”
“If you don’t know, why’d you say they’re totally different?”
“Okay, well this is a bit more of an adult concern, but if you really must know Miss Smartypants, gas is completely a different price depending on what station you’re at.”
“Like, how much? They’re not that much different in price per area.”
“I don’t know Rach—like, Lidel’s is 153A’s to the liter, but if you go to Ruby X it could be like 162 or something, and if you go outside CAMBIAN it could be astronomical.”
“How are those so totally different mom, what’s astronomical?”
“What’s astronomical? Like 168 is one I saw the other day.”
“Mom there’s an average gas price in this area and in all the ‘totally’ different prices you just quoted, there isn’t more than a 15% separation from the first to the third, your most astronomical example. At most your only spending like four thousand which is like 350A’s to fill your tank–not that much. And just so you know, things are totally different when there’s a shift of close to at least like 30% or more. Plus the fact that the Capris gets 45K a liter and this car, prolly close to like 25 or 30 at best.”
“Yeah, then spend two hours in traffic and have half your tank gone by the time you get home.”
“Mom, there’s no way half a tank is spent in two hours idling even through dense traffic. Even this car is like a 20 liter carrier, if you get 25 kilometers to the liter, you’d have to have traveled equivalent to like 250 Kilometers, like almost halfway to New York! Simply in two hours of idling through a traffic jam?? I don’t think so.”
“New York is less than 250 Kilometers, way less.”
“No, it’s not, New York is like 6 or 7 hundred Kilometers from here.”
“Whatever Rachael, I go up to New York once every year, it can’t be that far. When was the last time you went to New York?”
“Mom, that doesn’t matter, believe it or not, a fact is a fact regardless of whether Rachael or Pam has visited New York, now or ever. And I assure you New York is like I think 667 Kilometers away. If we were in the Capris I would just ask Janus, bet you two days off from school, I’m right.”
“Oh God Rachael, you and your father both, always into these endless numbers. Numbers, numbers, numbers, statistics and numbers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the real world isn’t as simple as a bunch of numbers or percents. And I assure you, gas is quite expensive these days.”
“That’s not what I was saying—that’s not even what we were—Forget it, let’s just get on the road…”
Pam had stopped facing her daughter a long time ago and was more than ready even before she stopped speaking.
The heavy traffic started in their neighborhood, taking five times as much as an everyday commute in terms of getting to the highway. Consequently, they passed through a detour to avoid hitting the crest of the Mountaina Village suburb, and even headed through D.C. this time to get to school.
Once they finally got out of the suburbs, office buildings and shopping centers marked their graduation into the urban environment. Rachael always tended to look up at the buildings while her mom curiously enough, never seemed to divert her attention, as scenic a ride it might be, her eyes never deviated from the road.
“Hey look mom, there’s the old Chinese parlor.”
“Oh yeah, we used to get Ice Cream there.”
“Well, ya ma, it’s an Ice Cream—Parlor.”
They passed a few hot dog stands and the CAMBIAN City Library when they suddenly found themselves stuck in traffic.
“Oh great, I’m gonna be late for work and you’re gonna be late for school,” her mom said, nodding her head, half in expectation, half in a feeling of security.
“Hey mom! Fuck! Look, there’s a guy up on the building there!”
“Rachael, enough language okay?!”
“No, seriously, Mom, look, right there!” She pointed to the very top of a tall glass office building where indeed stood a man, alone.
Pam tore her vision from out of her mental blinders long enough to take the briefest of glances. “It’s probably just some prospector.”
“Ah, it’s kinda weird mom, I never see anyone on top of those buildings.”
“I suppose you’ve kept track of exactly that building in particular.”
“Well, yeah, actually, I’ve always done that.”
She looked closer with the vision on her Switch-Light. He had on a wife-beater T and business slacks. He also appeared to be on the very edge of the building from her point of view, looking down.
“He’s gonna jump!”
“Oh come off it Rachael! More melodrama.”
She kept looking, zooming in further. He didn’t jump, just stood there.
“Actually, he’s just standing there.”
When she got to school, Dave and Linda were in their usual place underneath the staircase to the first floor by the exit doors.
“Hey Dave, Linda…”
“So how was the rest of the party? What’d you guys end up doing?”
“Eh, it petered out, everyone ended up going out to a late night diner and eating breakfast. Dave ended up hitting on one of the old bags that worked there, he is such a fiend.”
“Why the long faces guys?”
“We have an Assembly today.” said Linda as if exhaling her last breath.
“Oh Christ, are you serious? Ugh.”
“Yeah, some douche-motivational speaker.” added Dave.
Linda continued. “Wait, it’s an Assembly, I mean, isn’t that good, we’re gettin’ outta class? And I think he’s like someone famous though or something, some dude named Edwin or some shit…He’s with um, ya know something affiliated with what Jenny’s mom does, at least that’s what I heard Jenny say. Plus, apparently he’s like, Totally Hot.”
“Oh yeah? We’ll somethin’ to look at, at least? How long is it supposed to last?”
“I don’t know, like maybe an hour, I’m sure he’s not the only one speaking.”
“You guys wanna pop some Meds before class?”
“Naw, I feel like shit anyway.” said Rachael.
Linda merely waved her hand in dismissal of the drugs he was offering.
“Hey, what the hell, is that him?” Linda inquired with a brief sense of urgency.
There stood a very tall, slender man with stern broad shoulders wearing a jet-black suit and silky blood red tie. He was smiling and chatting a bit with the school Principal, Mrs. Elaine Kimsky. His smile looked inviting, but something about him kept you looking rather than simply wanting to approach him.
“Well, I’m getting wet,” Linda pointed out, adding nicely to what Rachael had been thinking.
“Yeah, Jenny said he used to be married to some model or something, very Haute Couture kinda guy.”
“Hmm. How come he’s the motivational speaker at a school like Fairview?”
“I don’t know, it’s a rich area, maybe he’s making his rounds to future lawyers, Techies and doctors and shit.”
When it came time for the Assembly, Rachael made sure she had her Switch-Light to take a picture. Her second Session teacher, Mrs. Arola, lead her class to the entrance to the theatre.
The kids shuffled into the auditorium in the manner of horses filling an oversized stable. The large Views on either side of the stage faded in and out of Ads for Bitzeri and other sub-companies. Fashion had been the Ad Theme for last month. Now it was food, and Camello’s was actually one of the Ads featured.
Rachael caught a glimpse of Ms. Deanard, her Psych teacher heading to the double doors of the auditorium.
“You guys ready to get pumped?!” Cried Dave who’d snuck up right behind Rachael.
“Fuck off Dave, this is serious,” she retorted in the most ridiculously sarcastic voice she could muster.
No matter how downright crazy we are, Americans are some of the absolute most creative people on the planet. It’s because we accept living on our own terms as absolute. We’ve paid the price, and continue to pay…So does the rest of the world. But ask yourself, why is it, even the people we subject to oppression, want to be us? In so many cases as to be a worldwide brand?
It was when she awoke that her head finally sunk into the jelly NeauMatter they’d put there to sooth her neck.
“Didn’t think we’d need to hold you here for the night,” said a nice old man, chomping a bit as he spoke from ruined teeth and dental sub-jaws. They clacked with the hard consonants, especially.
“Where’s…where is everybody?” she asked, still half awake.
She was safe, she felt, creeping warmly into talking to this man.
Another Playbill. A poster this time. On the wall there, diagonally to her right. In what looked to be the room of a medical facility of some kind…
The GREAT SOMNAMBULIST! It read, in spectacular RED, early 1900’s font on a black misty background with some kind of train operator in an old stained and striped train suit and cap. Behind him was the enormous Train-Flying Machine, it read in a caption next to it.
It was the descending voice of her Mother, what must have been her on the Intercom. There were only windows behind her, and she couldn’t see them. Her mom’s voice was indeed, quite amplified.
“We need to go and get you to your grandfather’s room quickly…”
“Is he dying?”
“Well, no but–just get out of that room you’re in and come with me…”
This was normal. She’d have an incident, and her mom would be the one there. Coincidentally Pam was the least sympathetic mother sometimes.
Must be that German we have…
She left the room after a long while trying to undo Lipids machine tubes and coils. The man had left out of nowhere and she didn’t care to go looking for him. She even turned off the computers that facilitated them, booted em down completely, no problems…
She followed her mom to Grampy’s room.
Helen was there with Andrew and her Nana and of course, Grampy, sleeping alongside her chair backed to a window. He snored as he lay there, unmoving in the small Twin mattress’ bed. “He’s just not up to walking around that’s all, right mom?” added Rachael. No one said anything, but Nana, put a hand out and caressed it with a Mother’s touch.
Andrew, Helen, herself and her daughter now, were meandering aimlessly around the room, savoring a hand that held the wine or beer, hoping to look like they were reflecting, or at least looking for something to do…Rachael reasoned that this was bullshit. Every time. Fractured conversation and polite little drivels of stares darting from object to useless object; a perpetual deer in the headlights every time your eyes met, swiveling about the tiny room. This was often because the room after all, was not a penthouse suite by any means. It was all the Linderen family could afford for Grampy and Nana.
It wasn’t just that though, the Military treated him right, but Government funds weren’t as secure as they used to be twenty or even ten years ago. The budget was forever curtailing Exo-Military services. Many Federal pensions were ‘frozen’ presumably until the date the USC determined that the Economy ‘has most certainly picked up.’ This date of ‘unfreezing’ your funds, as a Senior, could be and very often was long after your date of death. The same was true of Social Security. Sometimes these death certificates were bought and sold ‘Cabal Style,’ a phrase referring to the black market.
A Senior often did ‘Go-Cabal’ as they would say… Or: ‘He’s going fucking Cabal on us!’ many ads ran with to sell Senior driven products or to encourage rebellious youth to do more of the same.
When a Senior ‘went Cabal’ he typically sold everything, sometimes up to and including his wife and grandchildren on the Booty Market. It was as the Views and papers were saying, ‘The Fourth Baby Boom’ had occurred in the last thirty years. It was referring to the historical wave of grandparents, as second parents.
A Senior man having ‘gone Cabal,’ typically starts reading the propaganda literature on Cabal Life as there was so much support for Fetish communities. In fact, there were whole Micro-Gens (non-USC, even) formed, and were, indeed, all the time now, as the press would always point out: ‘waiting for us right outside the changing and encroaching walls of CAMBIAN.’
Everette Linderen, that is, the Colonel’s Pension and funds, were merely ‘thinning’ as the new definition from the new term, from the even newer set of UFED terms–went by.
Rachael roused herself off the floor, still in the room. She had fallen asleep again, wound up nestled at the base of the Colonel’s feet of all things. That is, where his feet were until he had to go the bathroom, sometime long ago. Her last moments before falling asleep were of an incomprehensible series of noises mixed in with what little her mind automatically recorded happening… Her mom moving around with Helen to help perhaps…yes, get him to the toilet I think…
No telling where everybody was now. No one. Not even Gorsky, and the room was dark. Her SwitchLight was glowing, predictably with a message from her mom, no doubt. There was a message and it was from Pam. “Come downstairs when you wake up.” it read. She was utterly disoriented. How could mom or whoever be in the next room, when they’re not?
Her confusion thickened until–
Another scream, coming from the hallway, right outside the room.
And it was choppy. Almost bloodcurdling screams were trying to get out again! Rachael drew herself to the crack of light in the door and pried it open slowly, furtively. Her mom and Nana were there, halfway down the hallway toward a stairwell past four or so rooms on either side.
“Oh my, oh oh MY! What am I gonna do, what am I going to DO!!!” Nana fell into Pam’s arms and sunk to her feet, exasperated. Hesitating, Pam lowered herself there with her, trying desperately to pick up her Mother’s falling limbs. Rachael had never seen her mom being compassionate like this, not with anyone.
She approached them, to some feeble distance. Nana was unnatural, alien and ghostlike, her question wavered as a haunting apparition in the air. Her voice shrieked with other nonsense in guttural spasms, dissipating only slightly, a mechanism, not a person, convulsing within and without Pam’s reach.
“Oh Good God, Good GOD!!!” The tears weren’t over. Rachael’d never heard her turn from a woman to a…Beast. That sounded like a man’s voice a little.
The screams were now more intense. Like overwhelming music, Nana’s voice was a smear of everything unreal in her life slipping off in glops like the sediment of mental flesh onto the floor. Her comforts; the layers of self—all the different sides of her; the mom, the Grandmother, the gregarious social animal from ‘Dantant’ as they would say, or ‘the age of year’s past’…
And then, her religion, the after life…now all on the floor.
“Bullshit. It’s all bullshit! How could He be this harsh! HOW???! Pam HOW!” Screeching now. Gripping Pam and screaming at her, point blank.
The Reality hit Rachael’s eyes and slammed her beliefs shut. Luxuries, the hyper-extreme wishful thinking that is abandoned in an instant of realness, and thereafter—we are living in actual reality.
But the long shriek made itself clear: you are indeed in Reality, you indeed do exist, you are here, but will not always be.
And the time that you will not always be here, will be forever. And this is the only sure thing you have. And at that point everything you see will be gone to you, from now on.
Not even a billion millennia, even if they were each comprised of a thousand light years into the future–could bring you back. Could bring her back, or anyone… But existence will remain alive in the Reality you will have to leave. And you are not, nor will you be, ever– an exception.
These facts rattled around in Rachael’s head until her Grandmother looked no different than the floor of the gray carpet. Her knees slumped into the rug, making a dent where it happened to be a bit loose and got slightly wrinkled.
The knowledge of the Colonel’s death had them solemn on the way to the car. Jenny was bouncing a little less heartily, but one could simply not seem to remove that almost Helen-like smile they both had.
An apartment complex lay as the sprawling context of the Bitzeri Assisted Living and Interment Camp, on the other side of the bay where the shore was and where they’d come around to enter on foot. Her Grandmother, her Nana had already taken up residence there. They’d pushed the data through, to get her to stay there, paid for, seamlessly prefigured from the date of her husband’s death.
There were huge balloons on a hill, like maybe fourteen of them floating in the intermittent wind after they passed by yet another parking lot.
‘The Brooke.’ The somewhat distant placard that held the balloons, read.
It was for some new apartment complex rental sale. Presumably the one it stood against, there in the middle of four Mega-Lots for cars and Transports. A single ML could hold 50,000 cars when levitating on top of each other at a height of one third a kilometer. On average, for years on end, it didn’t hold in reality more than a few hundred at a time, however.
An expanse of gridded concrete lay in every direction other than the sprawl of indecipherable industrial noise of tall lights, flashing View signs, and Pharmacie-Liqueur Stores that looked more like Kiosks.
All signs of moving civilization save the often broken concrete slab, ten kilometers squared–were now beginning to end, up ahead.
Blue, White, Red, and Yellow blotted their part of the sky as the land rose with those balloons standing at its peak. They had reached the top. The old stained brick apartment placard now seemed merely life size. It must have swallowed the brooke it once replaced, because there was no actual brooke to be seen at all. Just more astroturf circling each street light, and the tallest, most creature-like lamp posts one ever saw. If one could even reach their eyes to the top of one, that is.
A swarm of Transport people waiting for the next shuttle to arrive came out of nowhere like standing in the middle of a mirage. Rachael then saw a Hispanic young Mother with her hair up, standing with her daughter.
She stood next to the big placard in a blue faded T-shirt with some scratched up logo and green sweat pants. She had no expression, a shock of her long tousled black hair bristling in the wind. She didn’t seem to be standing close enough with the others to the Transport Post, so it was hard for Rachael to make out why she stood there.
The little girl, with a plaid outfit, danced off her hand, which was holding to hers more tightly than one might consider imagining. At closer range, as Camille walked by, the lady was still like a statue, her expression now appearing merely drained and indifferent. The weather was so calm. Back to blue skies with faint cirrus clouds again.
She stared up at the bleak sun filled sky of criss crossing contrails. Sonic Imprints were also left in the air above, invisible save the distortion of color and shape they made in their path. There were also three or so other smaller complexes in the ocean of parking lot, that seemed to be trailing off from the big concrete dune where The Brooke stood.
They finally arrived at the car, piled in, rose to a passable flying height, and left the greater part of Maryland.