A guy who used to be a bald eagle is now a bald guy and doesn’t know why or how this has all happened.
The first mistake is almost following my hunger off the bed this morning. I don’t bother to open my eyes, because I never do. The great thrill of diving, face first, out of my lofty aerie each morning, wind rushing past my face and over my wings, the rustle of my feathers, nearly deafening in the morning chill. The spring of the twigs of my nest launching my taloned feet. Gravity, its irresistible pull, dragging me down toward the yawning crags of the canyon below, hungry for my flesh, hoping to digest my free spirit, but never! I soar, eyes closed and gleefully untethered by gravity or the world, just me and the rising fire ball of the sun, unstoppable, joyous freedom in abundance! Yes!! Again, I am starting my day, already in victory! I prepare the final note of my daybreak ritual, my signature cry, a shrill scream of ecstatic release, my welcoming announcement of my command over all I survey from on high. Here it comes…! And then!…
“Aaaggghhhhhh!!!!!” Instead a soprano wail of pain and shock escapes my throat, frozen in place by wordless surprise as my head, suddenly unfeathered, bangs hard against something sharp, metal and unyielding. My body bolts upright and feet with no talons; fleshy, doughy globs of meat with five toes each touch down on some surface as hard and unforgiving as old wood. My arms, naked of even a single feather, reach up reflexively to shield my already battered head and fingers, long, awkward and just as doughy as my feet rub a blank scalp of smooth, bald skin. The knobby digits rub the space where a rogue night table lamp has crown me as I rose with my eyes shut. I can feel the wooden floor, polished and smooth, beneath my toes. Mystified, my mind reels as I attempt tp grasp just how I can even begin to identify such ideas as “Fingers”, “toes”, “night table”, “lamp” or “hard wood floor”. How can a bald eagle know so readily these commonplace artifacts of the word of man, which to me, a denizen of the stony peaks thrust above the desert wilds, are alien and unnatural. My fingers trace the shined globe of my bald head, utterly human. A vague reflection stares back at me from the panes of a window beside my bed. I have no name. I have no recollection of this place. I have no concept of where this place even rests, within the landscape, so foreign, which surely must stretch out somewhere beyond that window. No memory of any existence, save as a bird of prey, feather-maned and proud, cutting the sky beyond the limitless trees, wherever that now might be. With no recollection of how I could even know such a thing, I consider the story of the monk whose dream was so real, he woke to question if he was a monk who had dreamed he was a frog, or was indeed a frog who was now dreaming he was a monk.
My reflection gazed back dumbly at me from the cold pane of the window. A mouth, not mine, opened in the reflection, a voice not mine echoing tragically and full of anguish and crazed confusion ripping out of the reflection’s horrified face: “WHAAAAAT THEEEE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK?!?!?!?”
A mouse and a chicken in an OJ factory. The question is who farted?
Our story opens in a small town in central Florida. Named for its export, Navel is the type of town where the sun rises promptly at 5:45 AM and the roosters crow considerately announcing its arrival. Warm breezes, sweet with citrus, roll over the many orange groves littering this organic haven. The lovely scent gently coaxes the inhabitants of Navel out of their slumber in a way that coffee envies.
Yet, on this tumultuous Thursday, the citizens of Navel were jettisoned out of their comfortable trances by a septic stench so rancid that it induced dry heaves upon consciousness. Imagine, if you will, as their dreams dissipated and conscious thought tickled the edges of their psyche, a putrid perfume plays with their newly awakened sinuses. Their noses twitched in alarm, their eyes popped with concern and their stomachs rose in protest. Imagine that all twelve hundred Navel occupants shared that experience simultaneously.
Naturally, we'd want to know why and how such a thing occurred. Who is responsible? Explaining the why and how will take a while and the who will blow your mind. I'll reveal all when I have more time…
Dusk on NYE in 2199….
The air hung heavy on the town below. Up here the atmosphere is breathable. Yes, I could finally breathe again unaided. Or as much as I could before, everything went south. I read about this place in a book once. The hill with the only surviving tree. It’s so big but kinda yellowish green. The book said there many of them and they use to be the bright green of a neutron star burning out. Don’t worry tree, they don’t know what is coming for them. No one does. Not even Jerry.
He didn’t get it. He would never understand the sacrifices that were being made. So much of the beauty that once was has been replaced by the whine and whirl of machines. The LED and laser lights blind us. Making the night seem like dusk. But it’s not dusk, is it? No, it’s close to midnight. Almost time.
There always seems to be a constant borage of images; some good, others bad but all of them desensitizing us. To what end, I don’t know. Jerry seems to think they are training us for something new and exciting. Travel to space, make your fortune, see the stars.
Stars, yeah right. I can’t remember the last time I had seen stars. Not from the valley, at least. Even from up here, I have to squint and tilt my head to the left. Maybe then I could tell the difference between a star and a satellite. Maybe. But if it’s moving, it probably isn’t a star.
That’s okay. Pretty soon we will all be able to better see all the stars. 30 minutes to go. Those damn lights are twinkling away blinding us to the truth. Everyone is partying into the new year. Even Jerry. Go ahead, get glammed up. Paint on your happy faces and drink away your problems. It won’t be long now.
10 seconds now. Oh, there, in the distance, the first lights went out. Ha ha! I knew it would work. 7 seconds, I wish I could see the look on Jerry’s face now. More darkness, it’s spreading. 5 seconds, the machines are winding down, I can hear it. 4 seconds, it is getting quieter. 3, uh oh, I hope people can run, that’s not a star falling from the sky. 2, I can see them now. They’re so beautiful! The stars! 1, Happy new year, tree!