Chapter One (1)
I used to have a brother but he drifted when he was two, his name was Andrew. I remember when it happened. We were in the living room, he was playing with a book and I was sitting with my back to him nearby, stacking his big colorful blocks, creating a city with only the raw materials as an architect would do. Our mom was in the kitchen doing something while Vince Guaraldi 'aCharlie Brown Christmas was playing in the yard because that's where the only speakers are and because it makes her happy. Dad was off somewhere. The only thing I could hear was Drew making a noise that sounded like the word 'dumb', pages flipping and the music. I was creating the train station when the word 'dumb' became the sounds of 'du'. I was topping off the skyscraper when he dropped the 'u'. I finished my city as the song ended and all I heard was silence.
Drew stopped making sound before the finale of Vince Guaraldi's song but I didn't notice. I looked over at him when my skyscraper fell and a new song was beginning. His eyes had lost their baby blue color for a more glazed white look. I knew what that meant, we are taught what subliming looks like and the proper thing to do, but I ran over to his side and started shaking him and saying his name over and over. Our mom must have heard me repeating 'Drew' over and over in a concerned voice and came into the living room. I knew she would not be able to take this situation calmly so I went outside before she got into the living room.
I felt hot as soon as I stepped outside. I had so much hope that he would come back to consciousness from what is named subliming, but I call it drifting. Drew was not moving and his eyes looked like they belonged to a blind person. Where was the two year old baby blue eyes I grew up with? I took off his red firetruck shirt because the heat was making even me nauseous and walked to the shade of the one tree in the backyard as smooth piano jazz played. Our mom was in the doorway leading outside, then she turned back. She picked up the phone and dialed three numbers.
We are taught before the basics of math and fundamentals of science about the human condition. As humans, we have developed an amazing capacity for storing intelligence. I suppose other animals did not care about getting smarter. There is a feeling we all are tempted with, to let your mind wander, even unfocusing your vision has led to subliming. There is not much information about what initiated subliming, we know it as is the trade mother nature gave us for our mental capacity. No one has ever drifted and came back. The body doesn't give out when the mind drifts away, it could theoretically start up again if the mind comes back but that only happens if you catch yourself drifting before it's too late. It's not hard to believe that new born children drift most common, they don't have control.
Still I feel bad for those who have lost someone, even if everyone has lost someone. It is socially accepted to dismiss death as a nonchalant part of life. Sometimes I think that there is a God like figure controlling the universe and that he created this natural switch we can only vaguely control because we have forgotten how to maximize our capacity, and I think that he is being unfair. Other times I think people deserve this kill switch, it has been proven that an intelligent mind is far less likely to sublime 'spontaneously', but I'll think of Drew and remember this switch as a punishment.
I used to spend my days with my friends. Going to school, studying, going out late to party or just talk. This one night me and my best friend Thomas and some other friends were at a party at the Trap House, which is basically this abandoned house a little out of town that parties are thrown at but they always get shut down by the cops. Inside and out was packed with people doing all sorts of party things, looking for their friends, groups talking or laughing as smoke clouds traced a line in the dark sky back to the origin. The windows of the house were covered with wood and through the spaces light and sound came flooding out. It was me, Thomas, his girlfriend Mia, our good friend Malik, his girl Courtney and a few of Courtney and Mia's friends who I met earlier.
The house was covered in graphite, reds and dark blues outlined in black and a few other bright colors. As our group was walking up Mia, Courtney and their friends split off to talk with some people outside, Thomas stayed by Mia's side which left me and Malik. As we stepped inside, me and Malik saw Justin. What's up J Wiz. He motioned his head in the direction of the far wall without saying a word and there was Angel, Justin's girlfriend, lifelessly sitting against a wall with no one around her. Her eyes were open and glazed over.
I look back on those bitter memories. Life was easier before I started thinking about what life would be like without a constant awareness of drifting.
I started this awakening quest the night Angel drifted and Justin, an alcoholic tattooed goon, acted more human than anyone I can remember. Justin listens to death metal and rock music and always wears all black with a GG Allin hat. He works at his step dad's tattoo shop where he got several tattoos. He also went to public school and was taught about subliming and the correct procedures when someone drifts, call the police and they will come take the body and inform the family. The day Drew drifted, nobody in my house revealed emotion beyond abstaining from emotion but Justin stayed by her, making sure he could see her at all times. For a good amount of time, he was sitting holding her hand and talking as if she could listen, probably saying some last words and recalling memories. After the party was over was when he dialed nine-one-one.
The way we are taught to treat drifting is similar to dying in your sleep. This is probably why the DPSSA (Department of Public Safety and Science Affairs) calls it subliming, there is a slight positive connotation. Say, for example, someone is hit by a train and dies, they would receive a typical funeral; but if that same person sublimed instead, their body would be taken to the closest DPSSA institute for experimentation aimed at reversing subliming. The general unspoken rule when someone drifts is you don't show emotion, it happens so frequently that to feel remorse every time would be excessive. This usually leaves people feeling distant from reality, and it doesn't help that alcohol and other downers increase your chances of drifting which is probably the story behind Angel.
Now my eyes are open, I'm leaving town tomorrow with a group of friends. We can't wait anymore, trying to not slip into the abyss of nothingness that is always there. Instead of going through school, we decided to see the world. The group is Malik, Thomas, our good friend Shannon, Mia, and me. Courtney drifting really prompted the idea.
We started gathering our resources. My Volkswagen van became the mothership. I put in my resignation for my life guard job and collected my last paycheck. All together we had around eight thousand-five hundred and fifty three dollars and some change, enough camping gear for the five of us, and a few other odds and ends. It helped that Shannon's dad was an outdoorsy type of guy who completely supported our traveling idea. He helped us gather some equipment we didn't have like tents and a hotplate and even a generator. He also helped us plan a loop around the northern coast, through Idaho and Montana and back. I don't think he understood that we wouldn't be coming back.
We originally planned to leave two weeks from the day we got everything together but decided to leave as soon as possible because we couldn't stand living in our little town anymore. Justin also found out about our groups plan to leave this little stagnant beach town to look for life and asked to join.
The first day on the road went well. We had more money because of Justin so we collectively decided to buy LSD, those of us who wanted to take some did. Me, Malik, and Shannon each took a tab and we got all the way to Trinidad, this little beach town on the California coast, before it kicked in. We were only about four hours away from home but the acid made it feel like we had all been living on the road for years. Malik and Shannon took the far back row to themselves and turned it into a safe zone with pillows all around and a small cooler near filled with apples and citrus fruits, Thomas and Justin were in the middle row talking and showing each other music, Mia was driving and I was on the passenger side looking out the windows.
Everything near the ocean seemed to have a slight tint of Cyan, toward the land everything was yellow and red. The cement was swirling like the ocean and the outer edge of it kept drifting to the music. I asked Mia if we could stop at a beach. It didn't take much convincing but Thomas made straying from our path seem like a bad idea. Then everything had a red tinge to it. We kept driving.
Eventually Mia stopped us at a secluded beach that we were the only people on for a break and to switch drivers. Me, Malik, and Shannon all stared at the ocean and I felt the sand reach through my skin. Mia and Thomas went back to the van and Justin walked across the beach alone. When we all regrouped, it was time for lunch and a smoke break. We climbed the cliffs near the beach and ate apples and peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches then smoked three joints collectively.
We were feeling good when we hit the road again and didn't need to make a stop until the sun went down and we had to find a site to camp at some national park. Me and Thomas set up the tents, Thomas, Mia, and Shannon started cooking dinner over the fire Justin was making. Italian sausage and yellow rice with onions and a salad Shannon made. After we all ate, cleaned up and went over the plan the bottle of vodka appeared. I brought out the rolling tray and Party Power speaker. We all stumbled our way to our respective tents at the end of the night as the moon was high above our heads.
The next day we started to head through Oregon. The ride was quiet besides the music for the most part as we were all hungover except for Shannon who didn't drink so she was driving. We stopped at the Banks Lake in for lunch and a smoke break.
We reached Washington before deciding to stop at a hotel for a night for showers because we had been so good with saving money. The man working the hotel register looked solemn, like the faces we'd seen back home. He gave us a discount after hearing our story so in the end we only paid half of the original price. After we moved our valuables into the two rooms, the group split. Me, Shannon, and Malik went to get dinner while Mia and Thomas went to their room. Justin went back to the van and we met him after dinner. Mia and Thomas met us at the Black Bear diner and we had dinner and drinks because the bartender was a nice guy. When we got back to the rooms I'm sure we all fell asleep instantly, or at least I did.
The next morning is when we found Justin had disappeared. We went back to the van and his stuff was still there. We asked the man who checked us in if he had seen our friend but he had nothing helpful to tell us. We couldn't leave him in Washington.
Shannon was the one who found the hiking trail in the back of the parking lot. Me and her started walking up it the night the group decided to stay one more night to find Justin. The trail led around the two closest mountains and to the peak of a third taller one. That's where we found one of our tents and Justin with glazed over eyes.
Chapter Two (2);
Harsh waves lap over a plasma-singed skin-tight spacesuit at dusk. A column of smoke looms in the night sky tracing down to a torn fuselage 2 miles down the coast from the motionless body. The blood-orange sun burns through the 3 condensed, smog layers of atmosphere leaving everything on this side of the Earth’s hemisphere in golden, shimmering brilliance. No sound lingers in the air but those of the ocean’s dazzling waves in a playful dance with the black sand shore. The shores of this Earth, 600 years after humans have evacuated the dying planet, now stretch 20 miles inland making every shore seem a distant desert with snaking sand waves from the battering, frequent wind storms; small sand tornados shifting across far stretching sandy flatland with the occasional dunes are all the life that is seen for what seems to be an eternity.
The motionless body in the sand languidly becomes conscious, cautiously sitting up to gauge their surroundings as the glazed sun rolls credits on yet another day on Earth.
The survivor meets consciousness after several blackouts as the moon is peaked in the night sky. From what the survivors’ eyes could gather they were in a black void with a single orange shimmer a mile off. The only instinct that came to mind was to start moving toward the burn, however slowly.
Sand-swept footprints dissolve in the background. The pilot emerges in the presence of a 50 foot long corroded fuselage; gas leaking, smoke screening, nose-bleeding static air. All possible starship entrances plumed with black smoke blocking any access to the tools within. The pilot begins searching through the sand for anything to use as a container for the gas leaking from the ship’s gas tank, quickly spotting and choosing a spare helmet to fill. The “extraterrestrial” fills the helmet to the brim and tucks it under their arm gazing off into the distant sandstorm at the mouth of a jungle over the dunes plotting his trek. Distant screams, shrieks, and shrill cries from the tropical natives can be heard drifting into the air like cyclical savages waiting for their next kill, and they seemed to be approaching.