by Brian J. Robinson
The midnight sun hid behind the other side of earth’s rotating axis as Jeff Rabinowitz arose from a tedious slumber. He looked out his window and stared in between waking consciousness at the whistling shadows of trees motioning in an inharmonious cacophony of anticipatory vibrations. He was home in his house for the summer and despised every second of existence in the suburban vacuum outside of New York City. It was not that he disliked his parents; he loved them both in fact. It was just that Jeff would prefer to be able to love them from afar at this point. The usual craving for chaos and novelty was cranking internally with a torqued momentum reminiscent of the quad core Intel chip he was certain the government had installed in his head sometime shortly following his nineteenth birthday. Which government had done this to him, he was not so sure.
Jeff’s instinct to look outside rather than will himself back to the restless sleep he had been entertaining for the past few hours proved rewarding. Through the cracks of the waving trees he could see a distant, yet vibrant light refracting like a diamond amongst the random swaying gaps of the darkened trunks, branches and leaves. As the image neared its form slowly revealed itself. On the side yard directly adjacent to his window was a group walking in two. The fire leading their trajectory emitted a glow luminous enough that Jeff could make out the bow and arrows in each of their hands. Their postures were somewhat low to ground as if ready to engage in battle, though warriors they were not. Jeff’s hyper vision scanned thoroughly as he made out the bald shaved heads, the hooded robes, and the divine light in their eyes. What he saw before the very horizon of his visual field, was a double rowed series of monks making their way through his property like ducklings following their mother; the fiery torch.
Jeff was un-phased. Surely he was dreaming, he thought. Either that or the government was streaming involuntary images again. He thought he would prefer to unsubscribe at this point. He fell asleep almost instantaneously and woke up as abruptly under the blinding white light of the mid afternoon sunshine that tattooed rainbows into his retinas. He carried his tired body into the kitchen and poured himself a massive bowl of frosted flakes which he submerged with a torrent of creamy whole milk. His father walked in with a happy demeanor and a crossword puzzle secured to his left hip; his curled finger tips supported the weight of the bottom as a counter measure to gravity’s ubiquitous suck. “Good morning”, he said cheerfully and somewhat sarcastically. “Morning Pops”, Jeff managed as he chomped wildly upon the increasingly soggy sugared flakes he so delighted in. Conversation had ceased beyond the initial pleasant exchange. The TV was pulsating incremental flashes as the two fellows fell into its routine hypnosis.
Jeff wanted to tell his father about the unique stream of images he had been exposed to for a little over a year now. He wanted to communicate with his father and in many ways he could, but not this time. His father was a physician and Jeff has spent enough time on Wikipedia to know that what he was experiencing was not only abnormal but a clear indication of some sort of variation of schizophrenia or manic depressive psychosis. Whatever the textbook might indicate, Jeff wanted no part of his father’s resultant action. “Why worry the man?” he pronounced with an uneasy declaration inside his mind. He snapped out of his tangential line of motion in time to catch a glimpse of the news. The last ten minutes had been dedicated to live footage of Lindsey Lohan’s recent court appearance followed by a minute and a half segment on recent military action taken on China’s part against the culturally autonomous Tibetan people. “According to reports”, the news anchor stated with a near monotonic voice, “Tibetan settlers are fleeing further into the Himalayas as villages and temples are being torched to the ground. The People’s Republic of China denies any wrong doing.”
That night Jeff decided to take a drive to the beach. It was a short jaunt; only fifteen minutes east of his parent’s grand façade of brick and mortar, yet the stretch of road in Jeff’s mind seemed to represent a passage not measured in time, but in magnitude. It was as if energy embedded within his being had accumulated to the exact point necessary to complete a quantum rather than linear movement. He found himself lying on the beach in the darkness almost instantaneously. The water’s ever morphing character entangled itself amongst the brilliance of the crescent moon as the motion of the tide scrambled its reflective signal at will. Jeff sensed motion as he quickly readjusted his focus. The monks from the night prior slowly emerged from his left flank, seemingly unreceptive to Jeff’s presence. They ceased motion at the foot of the incoming tide and dispersed into a triangle. The torch was secured in an erect position in the sand at the triangle’s point facing the water. They reached back and with a near inhuman capacity for synchronization, strung their arrows to their bows and released. The arrows soared in unison, each with its own blazing point toward the peak of perceptible horizon and then rounded down with the Earth’s curvature. There was a momentary silence before the sky erupted with an immense glow originating at the center of the skyline and moving outward in a fiery loop before disappearing completely.
The sun rose and Jeff found himself imprinted in the sand. The monks had vanished but the torch was still in the ground as well as a faint triangular outline. He heard sirens in the street that paralleled the beach, or maybe it was from some place more distant. He couldn’t be sure. He dusted himself off and rose with an unlikely self-assuredness considering what he had witnessed the night before. He combed his fingers through his brownish-blonde hair and returned to his car. He jammed the keys into the ignition before recklessly backing into traffic and firing off. Fifteen minutes later he was in his parent’s garage and then the kitchen. His father was watching television as they were the previous morning, but everything had changed. His Father’s posture was slumped, his fists tense. Jeff practically shook his father off his stool in an attempt to snap him out of his trance. His father jumped up and gave him a hug. Jeff responded by tugging back, accepting the love of a parent unquestionably. “Pops, what happening, why are you being such a weirdo?”
His father pointed back at the flashing box of television. The headline read: Chinese cruise missile hits West Los Angeles. Millions are dead. President declares event, “an act of war.” Shortly afterward the president was breaking through live, confirming that LA was indeed struck with a missile and that scientists were able to measure the trajectory of the launch and traced it back to the East Coast of China outside of Shanghai. The network correspondent continued following the President’s brief but harrowing announcement.” Until now, no one had ever launched a cruise missile from such a great distance and successfully hit a target. Given the amount of capital allocated to Chinese military in recent years by their government, it is “plausible”, that this type of technology has been concocted and successfully manufactured by the Chinese. Ties with China have become increasingly turbulent in recent years as American economic protectionism initiatives have become more popular as the government has been applying heavy trade tariffs in response to China’s unwillingness to value their currency fairly with regards to the dollar. Furthermore, American support for Tibet’s autonomy as well as a general push for greater human rights advocacy has maddened the PRC in recent years. Chinese officials in Beijing deny that orders were ever relayed to China’s military to attack or forward any display of aggression to the United States.”
The political atmosphere quickly erupted and western society transgressed into an uproar of disparate sects. Conservative media was calling for an immediate military strike upon mainland China while various liberal publications began preaching for a thorough analysis of facts before action was taken. It was well known that China denied any involvement despite preliminary psychical evidence to the contrary. It was reported later that day that a piece of the missile was recovered amongst the ravaged West Los Angeles impact site. The metal casing of the explosive material consisted of metallic alloys unrecognizable to a wide consensus of explosives experts. The molecular structure of the overlay was determined to consist of an enigmatic tetrahedron quality, unseen by modern day psychical chemists. Furthermore, the engraved markings found at the rounded tip of the missile resembled that of an arrow head. Chinese pictographic symbols were not found, nor were any trace of residual explosive materials.
Something deep within Jeff hinted that the bizarre images he witnessed the last few days linked him to a more profound comprehension of the current situation than any of the leading diplomats on either side of the political controversy. His stomach was ill and he knew he needed an escape. Random impulses became actionable imperatives as Jeff waived goodbye to his father and found himself boarding a train to Manhattan. It was due north east of his current location. The automotive slid forward with a constant motion as his thoughts derailed the cognitive tracks he was accustomed to. He fell into an uneasy existential haze. His daydreams became increasingly vivid as the train’s speed reached new heights. Spontaneous images of a mountain’s peak appeared in his mind’s eye. He felt a chill and his breath was icy vapor. The train shifted 60 degree sand was suddenly free falling like a roller coaster having just eclipsed the pinnacle of its apex. Jeff’s temperature normalized with the motion until the cabin began to fog up. The air was thick with violent contractions of liquid heat that seemed to levitate as smoke.
The car Jeff sat in was empty. His exhilaration for the originality of the experience had trumped his underlying burble of anxiety. There was a noise from the train car door and out came a transit worker collecting tickets. With his vocal chords near combustion he managed to speak, “Excuse me sir, what the hell just happened? Is this an alternate route? How else can we reach Manhattan if we aren’t pointing north?” The transit worker looked directly through him, “I am sorry sir, but we have run into trouble with the main line axis. The meteorologists had predicted solar winds within the area and we have transitioned off course but a few degrees.” He disappeared before Jeff could manage a rebuttal. He laid down drenched, along the length of his three seater with his ankles hanging over the arm rail. A beautiful dark haired woman walked down the aisle and stopped in front of Jeff’s sprawled out posture. Her hair was silky black to her mid back and her inexhaustible curves flowed with the sophisticated sexually alluring aesthetic of a bright red Lamborghini Diablo. Jeff raised his head slightly as she began to strip him. She climbed on top as her knees jammed into the leather seat on each side of his torso, supporting her high voltage swinging body. She kept crying out, “The future has been deactivated. It already happened…it already happened” The transcendent ecstasy of the moment’s experience smothered her sound out until the train began to move again, and she was gone.
The train shifted another 60 degrees, and maintained a constant acceleration that felt heavy, stressing the motor. The air gradually cooled off as Jeff’s organ systems began to slow down. Icicles began to sprout from the train car’s ceiling like an erratic display of naturally occurring chandeliers. The walls and windows began to ice over and the motion of the train stopped; at least in accordance with Jeff’s relative perception of it. His brain was lost in a circular dance with his own conscious perception and his sense of the objective reality beyond it. A man with red hood entered slowly. He approached Jeff peacefully and offered him a hooded robe much like the one the man was wearing. Jeff looked into his eyes and thanked him for his generosity. His dirty blond hair was beginning to exude a bluish tint from the shards of ice in his scalp. The man sat down Indian style and began to rub two sticks together. Jeff chuckled, though the man paid no mind.
The fire was ablaze with waving flames projecting elaborate shadow based images. The Images were superimposed onto the wall in front of them and began to stream in motion as Jeff and the man sat side by side huddling in the warmth. The man spoke, “The shadows will rule you, less you rule the shadows. “ Jeff responded with an intense glow in his eyes. “But the shadows are dictated by the motion of the fire and the fire is chaotic. Sure you can create the fire in order for shadows to appear, but you cannot control the fire once it is lit. Its life is its own and its movements are independent and random. Even if you were to supply an external force of wind, it would only temporarily sway the fire, but would do absolutely nothing to alter its innate physicality. So how could you ever hope to rule the shadows if the fire is responsible for them?”…There was silence as the fire burned with grandiose intensity. Jeff continued, “Your only hope, man, is to suck the oxygen out of the fire. But with that, we freeze to death.
Jeff’s focus drifted back to the images. They were developing with increasing complexity. At times they were sublime and other times, horrid; it was a moving collage of beauty and destruction. The fire began to deflate while Jeff struggled for air. The man was gone. He began to hack at the ice opposite the wall of the dimming shadows with the fleshy underside of his hands. The ice began to shatter into shards of glass until the emergency window hatch was exposed. He tried to pull at the lever but it was frozen shut. Jeff took a deep breath, the last he could manage, and punched through the glass with his momentum hurling him out of the train and into a soft blanket of white. He proceeded to move laterally over ice as clear as glass, until there was no ice. The physical nature of his floating reality was indiscernible to his habitual senses. He felt the direction of the shifting plain of existence he was being carried by rotate downwards another 60 degrees. He looked down to see Tibet and felt the the serenity of it poisoned as villages burned and the people cried out. He felt as he was one of them, and began to weep uncontrollably.
His tears became rain as the burning villages became quenched with the life force they were bleeding of. Jeff continued to soar east above scores of Chinese cities. The cloud of white he was floating upon began to harden. He was suddenly picking up speed. His inner being heated up with a pressurized psychic energy flowing throughout his form that transformed his physical existence entirely. The Pacific Ocean was below him now as he blew over it; Jeff’s soul fully encapsulated. His altitude began to drop as the western line of the United States emerged as a painted impressionistic vista. The ground quaked as the missile exploded. The city was incinerated and mostly burned to ash, Jeff’s body included. The Hollywood sign glowed in the distance atop a hill. Each of its letters was outlined in orange fire, casting a shadow upon a dead city, before crumbling to ash.
Jeff floated in a darkened tunnel with zero gravity. His capacity for reason and his own sense of self began to flame out subtly. There were no images in his head, no governmental messages beaming. He laid effortlessly in the primordial ooze of death and life, existing merely as a product of the evolutionary machinery that has operated since creation. Jeff’s force and energy expanded with intensity, yet fragile as it is all encompassing. Darkness began to reveal a pinhole of light. Machinery of existence was once again inflicting its will upon him as a shiny metal object took hold of his skull. The wire that was connecting him to the shadows was cut from his being. He stared wide eyed at a new world; a world of light and substance, and void of flailing images. Jeff was once again fighting for his life, as his mother took him into his arms.