That day, starting late right on time at noon (shortly before high noon), the feastival started. Vagabonds in irregular mismatched stripes and plaids showed up with food to add to the food that was already ready. Everyone prayed twice. They ate. There was a bit of prayer left for later. But others brought some to share so everyone forgot about it til two days later. Soma appeared. They did silly stuff like eat paper. More vagabonds showed up. Everyone shared various kinds of wine. One darvishi vagabond of Celtic-Persian Moorish extraction thought he saw Khidr walk thru, in the corner of his eye. They conversed, ranted, prayed, jammed, contemplated, meditated, ate, drank, prayed, and were merry. Fezzes were donned. They prayed in many different ways. Everyone stayed up way too late, even the kid, even the grandma. A couple stayed at the MaDhouse that night. A few others came back the next day. They declared a new revolution to supercede the revolution that had been established the previous day. Everyone wanted the spirit to last forever. The embers are flaring.
Only the super rich and the poor had survived. The super rich because they could afford to continue their artificially-sustained healthy lifestyle. But for how much longer? And the poor because they already had suffered through disease and famine without the help of doctors and organic food co-ops; thus, they were immune.
Most everyone else was gone.
My companion and I were journeying along an abandoned railway. Actually, most rails have been abandoned. Although I missed indoor plumbing, the End was quite liberating to me: no more records, no more files, no more probation, no more monitoring. And while I still reminisced about the occasional bag of Doritos, I am more fit and healthy than I have ever been: the Earth provides.
Thankfully for me, my companion--also a former "watched" person--knows a great deal about edible plants. And I have learned to hunt--at least enough to supplement our "accidental" meals with an occasional rabbit or squirrel. My companion reminds me to thank the spirit of the animal when I do take its life to sustain ours. Sometimes I feel silly doing this, but then again, living so much more in the natural environment, I see things a different way.
When the End came, there weren't too many riots or people freaking out like you'd think there'd be. Oh, there were some. But most people were too busy dying. It seemed that if you'd taken too many antibiotics, flu shots, and vaccines, you were just about guaranteed to die within two to three days. A very few people got sick, then recovered. But usually, if you got it, that was it. And most people had it within a month of its first appearance.
Unfortunately, some of us did die from the secondary diseases that sprouted from all the decay. The few of us that are left are the former misfits and untouchables from the days of civilization. And we sit at God's table and feast. Kind of like that parable Jesus told about inviting all the prominent people to a feast, but they were too busy with their businesses. So the king just opens the feast up to whoever is on the streets.
Another so many miles down the railway. I used to keep track, but not anymore. Untime seems so much more important than time. Sometimes the tree needs studying or companionship; sometimes the water needs your reflection. Maybe even the soaring hawk needs you to watch it fly for a few moments to help keep it in the sky. How can you schedule such things?
Perhaps Death is delayed by slowing down and savoring Life.
After we eat, my companion and I will watch the unfolding of the night sky. Sometimes we dance quietly under the heavens, washing our skin with starlight. And sometimes we just watch the stars dance for us. No city lights, no jets to distract from the celestial play.
It's still many days' walk from our destination. But we are already there.
Myra Eddy loved green things-plants in particular. She thought she would enjoy her new job working in a greenhouse, but upon actually spending time with the plants, she could feel their pain and alienation. They weren't plants; they were commodified civilized accessories. They didn't even know they were alive. Indeed, they barely were. They were in pots too small, rootbound, roots girdled, crowded and sprayed, kept alive by toxic petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, chlorinated water, and an artificial greenhouse environment. All summer, the fans roared to cool off the greenhouse. It hurt Myra's ears. The plants were overloaded, stunted and stunned.
All that changed one August evening. Myra was at home asleep. It was the night the Oil Peaked. In Tokyo, the price of oil went through the roof, shutting down their commodities exchange. The same thing happened in Moscow, Cairo, Berlin, Reykavik. By the time everyone in America woke up, the whole world had changed. Gasoline which the day before had cost a mere $4.50 per gallon was now $25 per gallon. It didn't make a bit of difference to Myra, who had no car to fuel, only her body, but it did make a difference to millions of commuting Americans, especially those who neglected to fuel their gas tanks the night before.
With only expensive petroleum to fuel the economy, well, it didn't last long. People simply could not afford to drive 50 miles to work and back for more than a couple of days, long enough to pick up their last paychecks. To make matters worse, a ferocious summer storm swept through central Illinois, dropping softball-sized hail and massive straight-line winds. People had a lot more on their minds than expensive petroleum and missing days in their cubicles.
The plants in the greenhouse were confused. They always received daily attention, but they weren't watered for several days in the beginning of the Time of Crises. Many of the weakest plants withered to nothing in the August heat and humidity. Then the hail came and the winds blew. The hail crashed through the glass roof. Crash! Crash! The plants were shocked as shards of glass came hurtling down, with their slicing pain. But then, the rain came. It was cool and refreshing, drenching. The plants had never felt actual rain before, and they imagined this must be what it is like to be born. The sun shone the next day, and they stretched to the sky, and they realized they were alive.
Many tropical plants did not survive the first open winter, although it was mild. The big conifer stretched its arms wide to shelter as many as it could. Just when the plants thought the end was near, the spring winds started to blow and the warm rain kissed their needles and bare branches once again. They grew. Their roots stretched forth and broke open the plastic pots which thought to contain them. Even chocolate, up on concrete blocks, reached down its roots to the concrete floor, littered with leaves and bird poop. It was manna to chocolate.
When Myra stopped in, years later, to see what had happened of the plants in the greenhouse, she was amazed to see that they were flourishing. The concrete floor was not discernable. Even the walls were barely standing. What with the changing climate, even the tropical plants were doing well. The lime tree was profuse in sweet blossoms. And Myra remembered the dismay she had felt when she worked there as a caretaker, and of the good thoughts Badger had told her-even potted plants have the ability to break free and rewild themselves. She was glad at last it had been realized.
Dad was driving the pod up SuperHiway 5.6 to the Olde Capitol Extravaganza; Mom was eyeing the pretty ads all along the way, daydreaming; and kids were screened out in back. “Look! Look kids!”–Dad calls–“A Springfield tumbleweed!” The kids pause their (in)activities and look around.
Indeed, there was an old, pre-MillenniumTM plastic shopping bag, floating around on the breezes from the pods.
Ah yes, back in the day the corporations–there were more of them back then–made a token effort to encourage use of recyclable tree bags instead of trashy petroleum bags. But consumerism beat out the perfunctory gesture of pseudo-progressive liberal conservatism.
When Ugandans said, “Why can’t we be like Rwanda?” and banned the corporate petroleum trash, and San Francisco followed suit, it wasn’t long before everyone wised up and stopped producing, using, & disposing the bags.
“Live responsibly”–on a beer truck
Dervishy Daoud wonders what the hell happened. On the carpet in the WayHouse, he sits upright like Ganesh Baba taught; his od-shaped patchwork turban on his head and his hookah hose in hand. He remembers sort of how it happened. The Ludd Party started promoting "Bringing the Commons Together, Thru Technology." The Liberal Party joined with the Green Libertarian Party, and the Liberation Theology party joined with the Libertarian Green Party, and then they all joined each other into the United Party, and then
any marginalized minority that wanted input into the system had to deal its way into the big machine. Somehow they figured out how to turn landfills back into something like crude oil, from which they could then extract "recycled energy" and fertilizers and pesticides. And the Bubble ballooned out of nowhere at the dawn of The MillenniumTM when The Great MallTM ("it's really GREAT!!") was re-grand-opened and everyone's screens were already always on and always connected, even when they were turned off.
It wasn't long for the swarming chaos of information to surprisingly cohere into a higher order. But--Daoud's always obsessing about this--they still wouldn't allow prayer in the primordial ultra-traditional soma-sacrament manner. Not only not "pray" in schools, but especially not in schools. Kids who self-initiated upon adolescence were quickly sniffed out by the tendrils and gently escorted to Kamp Kommunity. Many were rapidly reformed through the powerful entertaining mind-sensitive The Infinite Domain. TID interfaces through screens and data grains and the Bubble which is a big screen of screens of screens. But some of those kids are wyrd and have the esoteric power to imagine themselves out of the Matrix. Then you find yourselves out on the Barrens. Be it the urBarrens of abandoned parking lots in EdgeCity, or the Barrens way out there where a rich continent was plowed to desert and filled with trash. Patches of urBarrens litter the whole planet, oases of crumbling pavement among the sandy bedrock badlands deserts, all the way out to the Fringes. When you find yourself out on the Barrens you either run for your life back to the Bubble, or you begin to see reality and notice the cracks in the pavement and edible weeds and strange people half-hidden smiling and prepared to welcome you if you greet them with peace.
Meanwhile, everyone inside is working along, powering the machine, believing what they're doing is somehow potentially hypothetically sustainable and Just and they don't quite think about beauty very much. The screens everywhere always are projecting to each person a slightly appealing reality interlaced through and through with logos, jingles, and other advertising meant to perpetually attract consumers to the same old identical or nearly identical products, which are now all produced, distributed, and sold by subsidiaries of UniCorp, the corporation that finally bought all the other corporations, and then the government outsourced all its functions, so the Chamber of Commerce really is the most powerful group in the world. But where does their power come from if not the Bubble-screen-fnords that surround them at all times, feeding them the information they want to know, or that TID thinks it should feed them based on its perception of what they think they want to know .... and so it all depends on everything else.
For Daoud, like many, the only way out or way to cope is with qahve. The soma substitutes. Ranging from UniCorp.'s CLEERtm in its many high-fructose guises, to independently produced and reciprocally exchanged coffee, chai, chocolate, poppy milk, delicious homebrewed alcohol in many forms, Maricle (as ganja, charas, bhang & more), shrooms, isfand and so forth. A few people have the innate spiritual fortitude to focus themselves into transcendence and liberation through holes in the Screen, but many find that soma-sacraments not only help them along but may also instigate the tiny initial changes in condition that alter one's fate. Wyrd--the ability to alter fate. The forbidden wine-qahve-soma is what brings people together and brings the divine to people. Real religion. Real rebirth, revival, resurrection, insurrection, liberation. Your debts are forgotten. Shirk your duties to the unholy incompetent uninspired bungling burdensome Beast, and find yourself and your god all at once in your community of your friends, in your garden, you find yourself in the Garden. At least for a while, once in a while.
Dervishy Daoud feels he has taken one step in the right direction, and then one step off course, and he's disoriented and his face is still stuck to the screen a lot. He knows it won't make him enlightened. But the information .... so seductive .....
“It’s not underground. See out the windows? It’s not underground.”
One smoky evening at the WayHouse, Tom was complaining once again about all the pavement and parking lots; the heat island effect and waste of good topsoil. As Daoud rolled his eyes while rolling a multi-herbed medicinal cigar, Hakim interjected. "The end of pavement is a foregone conclusion. Have you ever noticed the edible weeds growing in the cracks of the parking lots? In the coming age of Radically Less Maintenance, those weeds will garden themselves a yard of rubble from a barren parking lot before too long. Their tall stalks will catch organic matter from the air, accumulating a layer of silty mulchy topsoil for even more edible plants to grow in."
"But would you really want to eat a plant that grew out of asphalt?" Tom replies.
life in the slow-crash apocalypse.