Originally Published in Anthology 'Cinders', June 2004. I haven't read it in a while but I remember the premise.
The charm of such a time rested in the hands of random order. Imagine, just for a moment that all guns froze. All those with angry urges to kill sat appeased like children consuming their ice cream and a saline sort of love slithered like wind-swept ribbons through the air. Bright gold lights and yellow walls illuminated everything with large cartoon-style lucky charms of optimism. This may represent only half our colourful emotional spectrum but let’s agree it is so for the sake of this tale.
Suddenly, all people paused. Just paused. All clink and ring and bells, all sirens dwindled- unwound right down, until everything fell silent. Car motors choked out in the endless lines of traffic, their headlights first flashing on and off only to die out completely. In every bustling place of business, every morning-swamped restaurant and logo plastered coffee house eyes lifted slowly, expectantly towards the ceiling. At one such location a waitress abruptly sat herself down, folded her black plastic tray into her chest with both arms crossed and muttered ‘-hun’ to no one in particular.
Every person and inanimate object waited for an Omnipresence to make its entrance. The feeling was like you just knew you were going to miss the next bus on the line home. Later politicians would denounce the entire incidence as one of an electrical generator malfunction somewhere outside the New York City limits.
But this is a tale of love. Never mind how the governments attempt to spoon feed Joe Public repackaged pabulum.
This is not the kind of love between an expectant mother decorating the nursery-to-be and a child waiting to see the results. Not the kind between lovers who have wet the sheets with damp salty sweat, mapping out their first days. This is a kind of love that only a faith-healed believer could create. It is the exact same belief that, even today occurs between that Village in the north Ozarks and a Great and Powerful Witch.
Are we in Oz? No, we are where you stand at this moment in time.
I thought it just a trick of the mind. Perhaps the events of which this letter is really about are already happening. I can’t tell- there is no High-tech or machines out here. I bought this place for that reason. Just read this and write back as soon as you can.
I have been alone out here for such a long time that I find it difficult to judge anything objectively. I affectionately call this place- my place, The Low-Tech. Hey Bev maybe you remember; my eightieth birthday is just around the corner. I’ve ignored the years and just kept going.
I’ve committed images of the blank walls surrounding me to my long-term memory banks. It had to be done. They are painted, white cinderblock cement randomly pitted and pockmarked with tiny shadowed holes. The holes often dance for me in the firelight and funnily enough, resemble a teenage fight with acne.
I have the usual gripes accompanying my old age. My vision is failing and if I glance at objects while in motion, they tend to blur. I haven’t seen a mirror bigger than the circumference of a tea saucer since I arrived late in the summer of 1972. The grass blades were sharp and green. Let’s assume I have wrinkled. My hands are losing their function more and more every day and because of it, I suspect that I will have to return to modern life within the year. I will have to go back anyways. The Shadows on the Wall have been repeating the same messages for as long as I’ve been here. Wait- then go back!
Before I arrived here I travelled through quiet mountainous regions in the United States. My modest idea of travelling had been to walk, through dirt roads with High-tech backpack gear and a thermal sleeping bag. For some reason I thought this to be a better than sound idea. It was there I met the strangest woman. Our meeting, by my perceptions then, was quite accidental.
I spotted her, awkwardly approaching my direction from approximately fifty paces. I raised my head from the view of the dirt road moving under my feet and noted myself witness to quite a display of fanciful oddness. Her black rag cloak seemed as hurriedly constructed as it had been thrown onto her back. She possessed matted red and silver hair, piled near a foot high onto the top and sides of her head. It appeared that she had made up her coif, creating a makeshift beehive. This donned her with qualities from some sort of a bizarre Bohemian age. Her manners too, were satirical. She walked in incessant half-circles, a native-like back and forth dance that created small dust clouds about her feet as she progressed down the road. She told me details about a pending and crazy moment in time that I should watch out for and I believed her. I believed what she said with every inch of my person.
I thought I should write and tell you the Whys and Whereabouts. You know, I was completely unable to ignore that bizarre encounter on the mountain. I bought The Low-tech property within two weeks of that journey and have remained here ever since.
I hope you get this letter.
Destruction of spaces… blasted like a sand storm across black urban tar. Veritable riots, looting, rage incited running/ heavy panting. One starting the next upon the next- domino, k-aos deconstructionism, modern. Identities tossed like stained laundry. Nothing could tally as quickly as the damage came.
I hid in the back of my office unable to scream for fear of attracting something worse than what had already come. I was shocked white- the kind when truth has stopped your heart. It was all over as far as I could see, everything, as I’d known it. Dear Stell! I wish you could hear me now. My hope has dissolved. My urine collected in paperclip jars.
My thoughts were these- Magic Genie lanterns, UFO abduction, Jesus saving my soul, Elvis helping me walk again, reincarnation, a greater consciousness opening my psyche thereby evoking ESP, transmutation, transfiguration and eventual ascension. My beliefs had to outlast the Big Burning. They had to be greater than my circumstance or I faced an incomprehensive mental system meltdown. I required the sum of my latent philosophies to achieve critical mass. I know it is too late. These seeds are from fields of the past.
Shhhhh! (This is what is believed. The written word. Ink printed into a variety of shapes on paper. Then, it can also be said that the greater the amount of words produced by machine the greater the word’s assumed validity. All logic authenticated by popularity of opinion. More people believe this—therefore it is certain truth. Democratic truth.)
The headlines read, ‘Boy Makes Get Well Card’ and depict a grinning young fair-haired boy balancing a giant construction paper crafted card. The card read ‘Get Well Soon’ and was an assemblage of multicoloured collaged bits of the same paper representing rubber ducks, fireman hats and geometric patterns. The boy’s mother repeated over and over how the boy had barely survived delivery and how there had been nothing but problems since. She chalked it up to past life crimes committed by the child and stated that she ‘was well on her way to finding a regression specialist.’
The story alongside the photo went like this: enraged by the losses incurred by mass society due to the k-aos causing pause, the precocious boy determined that he ought to make things right again and so, he sat down with his crafting supplies and proceeded to make the card, intended for one and all. He stated to the reporter that he “just wanted everyone to feel better”. And we can suppose from this, in concurrence with the laws of democratic truth, perhaps with the exception of his mother that they did.
(But nothing happened. Nothing changed. And nothing happened. Nothing changed. And nothing happened. Nothing changed. And nothing happened. Nothing changed. And nothing happened. Nothing changed. And nothing happened. Nothing changed.)