Shame on you, Burning Man. You fooled me…and tried to fool many of us. What are you really, Burning Man, if you now whore for attention in the worst possible of ways. You’ve grown too damned slick for your own good and gorged yourself on the tyranny of mainstream…becoming the very thing you now *pretend* to rail against. It’s called being a fraud. Shame on you.
and Always. Everywhere.
I’m writing in a way that I’ve never written before. Upending my “usual” process of editing and reediting before going forward.
This time, it’s something like a Jackson Pollock painting. Everything coming out everywhere. Getting the guts out in any order, any kind of way. Letting them spill out as they want.
How I will eventually thread all of this together will be a fascination to me as well. But I hear it can be done…that most writing processes tend to follow this kind of “write like a lunatic” method.
And so. It’s far easier for me to say these days that The Lunatic is indeed in the Blog.
Unlike the Old Man, she seems much younger than how she behaves. Much younger than me. Especially with how I’m feeling right now. I settle on 25. Okay, maybe 30. But no more than that.
She’s crouched low, scanning the corridor of the warehouse we’re in, a warehouse that I’m fairly certain is deserted. Still, we cling to the walls like rats in careful observance before giving in to each impulse to move forward. We flick our ears in listening. We twitch our noses in scenting. Soon, I know she’ll shake a hand at me, signalling an “all clear.” Soon, she’ll wave me toward her. I pause and concentrate only on breathing. Until her signal arrives, I decide to place the “hyper-alertness” burden squarely on her shoulders.
Because damn I really need a moment.
But who’s counting? Not me. By now, I’ve completely lost track of the hours, much less the days or the years. Okay…maybe she’s 20.
My thoughts are a tangled mess. It seems an eternity since the grey-white haze nearly sucked all light out of existence. Is that how the dinosaurs felt just at the precipice of extinction? And it seems just as long since I began to wonder how I even got there … wherever that even was. Was it a meteor? Did it hit the earth? I have no clear idea how I arrived and no clear idea how I left. And no clear idea even about right now, this very moment with this young girl and me and this big warehouse that we’re trying to get through. Except somehow — fairly recently possibly, in an eternity kind of way — somehow the Old Man and my body seemed to have traded places. Or this young girl and the Old Man did, I can’t say for sure. All that I know is that now he’s nowhere to be found, his long slender even elegant hand no longer holds mine – at least not that I can see. And somehow my long since AWOL body decided to show up.
I slide my hands along my abdomen for good measure. I feel the wall against my shoulder and back as I crouch at an angle behind her. My knees ache just a tad. My feet are cold and slightly wet in my sneakers. Yep, I note to myself. Reassured. I am here.
Her small hand flicks in a fast circle at me. Maybe 35?
And so is she. Clear as can be, even in the long, dank shadows edging the walls of this very large warehouse and its series of closed doors that march out in staccato. I scoot quietly forward, shuffling my feet one over the other, fingertips lightly tracing the cold, wet cement floor. Suddenly, she stops and more abruptly than I can anticipate. I nearly crash into right into her.
“Sorry,” I whisper.
“Shh,” she admonishes, as if emphasizing the need for stealth. As in: be quiet! Stay quiet! HIDE! Hyper alertness bullying her shoulders. I shake my head slightly, but given in anyway even though I’m pretty darn positive this building is deserted. It’s old and parts of it have given up a long time ago. Parts of it haven’t seen a living being in ages, ages, ages. Except for now this is true, because now for some reason we are here. This young girl and I. A young girl, young lady — maybe 28? — who I seem to know. Problem is, I couldn’t tell you how or why I know her.
What a fucked up day, or moment, or year, or eternity, or whatever the hell it is.
“Listen. Hear him?” Her few words barge quietly, yet rather impolitely, into my thoughts.
“POSIT…” a booming voice begins before muffling itself down the long corridor.
“He’s looking for us still. He’s not giving up.”
I nod and crouch even more deeply into the wall. Ears twitching. Ears filling up with white noise. Completely shocked to hear that booming voice again. No haze. No grey-white wash.
White noise. Now, only white noise.
I crouch even further down behind her.
Betrayal has substance. It breathes. It approaches as an entity not a thing. A living, calculating, hardhearted energy concealed within a tightly woven fabric of the macabre.
Had I not be imprisoned on this cot, laying here in a panic — in full free-fall mode, in fact — and if I were pressed to define what I sense swiftly approaching, I’d say that betrayal is really both. An entity and a thing.
I breathe hard in my mind. Things are going terribly wrong. I still can’t find my damned body. I flail about mentally in search and then give up the chase because the truth is…I am beyond scared. Beyond scared.
Who cares what it is! I hiss in my mind then somehow force myself to face myself. Disturbingly out of body or not. Laying here in a full on panic that riptides through me and pulls me under, drowning out my cries for help. My ability to think decimated. Pushed down. Twisted. Contorted. Wrapped into fierce submission by the thick limbs of a heavy overwhelming fog coiling me up and into a choke hold, fully blanketing my entire still-nowhere-to-be-found body.
Hyperventilating comes naturally now. Somehow I manage to quiet myself just long enough to listen, to finally listen to whatever hides in the grey-white weightiness that now threatens to smother completely.
When betrayal arrives — when I finally go beyond merely listening to fully embracing the awfulness of it — it still manages to overtake me. Hard and fast and completely by surprise. It takes no prisoners. It has force. It sprays itself out, delivered on the wings of silence. Yet so very aware in that silence, oozing in a sick cold intense pleasure, its breath. One that I suddenly realize travels only a frighteningly small distance now — mere nano seconds in time, mere micro inches in space — before its presence hits me as if it had burst out from a firehose, filling my senses and flooding my very core.
My mind coughs up a puny gasp. Scared shitless…
Context evaporates into the thickening haze, erasing comfort. If I could find myself, I would hide away in the grey-white haze too. But clever body mine…it disappeared and forgot to take me with it. With me here. Alone. Drowning in fear. Searching without sight, unable to penetrate the opaqueness to find anything, unable to see where the danger hides, unable to discover an escape. Unable to know what might come next.
And then I see him. A tall man standing over me. Otherworldly, ghost like. He hovers above me, to the side. His face frozen in time and expression. A stern expression. An unchanging one. His only movement casts his gaze like a military spotlight squarely on the spot where I think I’m floating quite out of my head.
Run, run run but you just can’t hide. Eli’s coming…hide your heart girl.
The song riots my focus before going on a rampage somewhere into this damned space where I can’t seem to find a damned thing. Except now this old man. My mind traces the outline of his image, staying a bit too long in wonder at his three-piece suit, the thick coke bottle glasses, the glint of a chain attached to what I decide must be a timepiece in his vest pocket, a timepiece that he idlely toys at, I decide, with his unusually long fingers on his unusually long and slender hands.
He stares at me as if he knows exactly what I’m thinking and where I am. As if he knows exactly what will come next. I hold my breath hoping that whatever he knows disappears.
Then suddenly a voice from somewhere else booms, “Positive. You are positive.”
My spirit whirls onto the old man, examining his face. Exactly the same. He hadn’t uttered a word. Yet he heard that voice too. I just know it. He slowly lifts his long fingers out of his vest pocket, away from his timepiece and slowly places a long slender even elegant hand near to me. Very close to me in fact, I whisper to myself and gaze up from my body-less spirit to stare at him again. His firm mouth set, his ages-old focus unyielding.
“Positive,” that loud voice from somewhere else and from someone else repeats. And just at that precise moment, the old ghostly man towering over me squeezes my invisible hand in his.
My heart shudders. I know at last.
Betrayal is alive.
A soggy tomato sulking on a fat-dripped proper English Breakfast plate….