Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm probably the last person you'd ever want to have a history lesson from. I think it was James Joyce who said something along the lines that history is the nightmare from which I must awake. History, or the past, scares the juice right out of me. Not only did I suffer through what was required in school, but my own past is something that is less than stellar. While my standard mantra "live for today" seemed to cover my lackings okay, with a "hey dude" here and there thrown in for aesthetic purposes, I really don't think that party hat fit me too well. For all my non-effort, something lurked inside me: something begging for more than beer bongs at Jimmy's. I thought about where I'd wanted to go--a destination. I realized that what ever the past could tell me would most likely be misinterpreted by me as a gentle breeze blowing through my head, but this wasn't going to stop me now. Still, I didn't know if there is anything in the past that would be of use to me, personally. Of course that's wrong, so I've found out lately.

My first trip into the big relative was nothing more than a quick spin in the parking lot, so to speak. Dr. V, apparently, had designed some kind of interface to operate this device. It was smart, borrowing from my own intelligence--knowing that I was a virgin to all of this--started me off gently. I liked the fact that "It", the voice, had a familiarity that only I could recognize, whatever that familiarity may be. Fear of the unknown, mitigated by a hungry blob that talks to me while sucking my hands, such a strange thing. It is a beautiful thing, too. Almost too good to be true: although it takes me places, I still wasn't able to travel for long, and trying to find the limits of this experience just might kill me. I didn't know of a better way to prolong travel then, and I'm still trying to figure out a solution now. I digress.

My second trip confirmed to me that V had tapped into powers unknown and unexplainable. The routine was easier than ever. I found that with my first trip, the dialogue between the device and me was rudimentary, robotic. The second time around I found that things were evolving: the device knew more about me, or maybe I knew more about myself. It's like splitting your head open, taking out your brain, and setting it out on the table, holding conversations with it as an autonomous being--time on the couch. With time to reflect on my travels since, each is like a hero's journey--sent off to die and yet returning, despite all odds. I feel guilty, though. What good have I done? I'll have to put that one on the itinerary sometime: do good deeds while out.

I reached a significant milestone on this second trip. What was different this time? Destination: I finally went somewhere other than "?". Where did I go? To be honest, I had some ideas going into the sphere, but as soon as I got talking to "It" I really drew a blank (like I ever knew what time travel was, anyways). This thing sent me somewhere before I even knew what was going on.

"Why are you taking me away? I haven't given you a command yet." I said this with a slight blemish of panic coloring my tone.

"You initiated start up. Will, you must go to the Gallery first." Warm and inviting, no more "HAL" the robot.

"What is the Gallery?" Maybe a trip to the Louvre, perhaps?

"Gallery will be self explanatory, be patient."

Now this is something that I had been dying to ask, but was a little afraid to do so, "What...who are you?"

A slight hesitation, this thing was thinking of a reply. "I am a catalyst and a coupler--a mechanism for transport--servant to Will. No name assigned. What would you like to call me, Will?

I thought of a dog's name, but it fit this thing to a tee, "Rover...I'll call you Rover."


"Yes, what do you think?"

"Think...think that I am...Rover...Rover is."

Whatever...This is getting a litte too Kubrick for me right now.

Out of my body, straight up the conduit through the big relative. It took only a moment to arrive to Gallery. Gallery is a fascinating place. Here's the thing: gallery is exactly what it sounds like. It's an endless display of art and artifacts. Each scene and object is a living, breathing depiction of a moment in time. Moving through Gallery is fast and effortless. I'm sure that if I had the patience to study these treasures, I could learn something useful.

The ornately trimmed halls and fine drapery, a fabrication of the mind, I'm sure, but all seemingly tangible and real, left me feeling like I'd entered the house of some dignitary. How can one describe a dream? As soon as I felt that I had a grasp of the appearance of this place, I was distracted by yet another more marvelous scene.

Bewildered and awestruck, this all needed an explanation."What do I do here, Rover?"

"Choose a painting, Will." Rover was settling into his new identity, "Come now, I haven't got all day."

"Well, what else is here? Is this it?" Pretty ignorant, I know. All "this" was more than I could've ever of imagined. But, there's something about this place that fuels your greed to the point like that of a starved dog.

"Ballroom...there's a Ballroom, but you aren't ready for this yet, Will."

"I'd kind of like to see this Ballroom, if you don't mind."

"Follow the rabbit."

"Rover, you've got to be joking buddy."

"Alice in Wonderland." Rover said this with a tone of satisfaction, "I thought that you'd like that. Isn't it your favorite book?"

"Ah, no....The cartoon, but that was when I was little." I thought about it and began to understand that Rover was part of me, so why fight. "Nice touch, Rover."

"Thanks, Will"

I had just really noticed the checkered floor at that point, marble and black granite. Again, this place tends to be just beyond my grasp of perception, let alone try to put it into words. The checkered floor was nice, but my attention was elsewhere: Where's the rabbit, Rover? Out of one white marble tile popped out a white, fluffy rabbit. It was one of the most innocent creatures I've seen. The rabbit's turquoise eyes were lit with intelligence, and it's pink nose wiggled with an expression of charm and wit. Transmission of thought past the barrier of different species, a strange cosmic exchange; of course, this is a magic bunny I'm talking about. I felt instant trust in this guide that Rover provided me. Wherever this rabbit flopped down the tile--I followed.

Through magnificent halls with ornate chandeliers, gold leaf framed art and mirrors with statues posing nobly, breaking the space between the portals, I managed to keep up with the white rabbit. The further inward we went, the more I noticed music, and something else: chatting. Is there a party going on somewhere? I thought, I would approach this "Ballroom" with some care. I didn't really prepare myself for an active experience going into this thing...never really knew how to be ready for it anyway.

The rabbit slid to a stop, turned around and looked at me twitching its nose in a communicative manner as if to say, "This place here...this is it", then hopped into a white tile, vanishing. I stood on a balcony peering over a sea of swelling festivity. So, this is where time goes when it dies? It was the best party I've ever witnessed. Amongst the music (they play from all periods--this time '20s Jazz) and dancing, a wild mix of eras made for an interesting display. Eras were represented by shape-shifting Icons of their time as well as objects scattered here and there. You had Howard Hughes dance the Cha-Cha with Joan of Arc. Louie Armstrong and his Dixie band blowing Beethoven's Fifth with a Louisiana stagger, and Beethoven digging it right in the front row. The weirdest thing that I saw was Einstein and a panda bear laying on a pillow together, being fed grapes by Caligula. I thought, when is Fellini going to start filming all of this? What was most fascinating about this place was how nothing seemed out of time or place, except me, the only humdrum thing in there. I was the sole anachronism there. Hiding from this was ridiculous.


"Yes, Will."

"What am I supposed to do here?" I must confess: I'm not much of a socializer.

"Your supposed to go down and introduce yourself to someone, but be careful."

"I...I...really? I just go down and...."

"Don't be afraid Will, but don't let them use you. They'd want nothing more than you to indulge in their excesses. This is Ballroom. It was made for pleasure. You might want to wait, Will."

Too late.

"I've never seen you here before. What's your name?"


"I'm 1959."

"You're...I don't know? But, you look like her."



"Oooh, I just love Satchmo. Wanna dance?"

Friday, December 02, 2005

I can remember staring into the mirror in the master bathroom naked, trying to examine my body for changes...deformities. That first trip sucked about twenty pounds right out of me. There was this flap of skin around my waist that buckled and folded when I compressed my abdomen. It was no longer thick with fat, just thin and loose. My cheeks were hollow and my eyes were sunken in, but all the important bits on the front were still there and working fine (I checked). After seeing what can happen to things that get in the device's way, I was a little paranoid that would suffer some kind of horrid fate, where toes get fused together, or I'd have a smooth Ken doll pelvis. No need to worry, everything that should be there was there. I learned something too, I can't linger in the "big relative" for very long. I slipped into a pocket for an hour, although it felt only like minutes. Anything more would have drained me thoroughly and left me dead. So much for some kind of "Back to the Future" romp: this was superbly surreal, enormously terrifying, and dangerously addictive.

That day started out with manic binge eating, or what I recognize now as necessary fueling for this lifestyle. It sort of comes automatic: your body will not shut off the desire to eat and it knows not to pay attention to anything that is typically considered good for you. I don't know how that is different from the universal dietary struggle, but it was all rather extreme to say the least. My biological motivations have been restructured because of the unnatural stresses inflicted on my body by this seemingly living object that is the device. It demands so much from you, but it gives you so much back. I can only imagine that I'll be reducing my lifespan considerably through enduring these trips. For all that it's worth, I know that whatever time I got left in mortality, I will experience so much more than any other person that I know of. It only takes one trip to know.

My belly was full of food, yet no need to go bathroom, no gas, or anything. I could feel it absorb without protest from my system. After a few last checks on appliances, doors, and windows, I grabbed the magic bean and made sure that it was safely sealed in it's sheath. I then felt secure enough to make the trek down the Spruce Skeleton, into the well, and into the sphere. After doing the necessary combination of turns on the well's crank, I wondered if my clothes would be a hindrance. I left them cast aside by the edge of the well. Slipping into the rising water, I had an acute sense of claustrophobia again, something that I figured would take sometime to get used to. After the process of entry was over, I stood at the sphere's doorway contemplating what I was doing and what might happen to me. Resigning myself to an all or nothing frame of mind helped. This was like a moon shot times a million. I didn't know what exactly the device would do, or what really would become of me...I wasn't really aware of the true capabilities or functions of this thing. I had a strange feeling overcome me, like a fur coat wrapping around my heart. I started to cry. It wasn't because I feared the unknown, because I did. It was that I had a certain knowledge that I would make it through alright. I don't know where that feeling came from, but it was surely helpful.

Once at the bottom of the sphere I set aside the device, then flipped open the trap door to the small compartment. I needed to get the jumpsuit on. Dr. V must've anticipated there being more than just him experiencing the sphere. It turns out that there was a few more of these jumpsuits. These suits are made of a white nylon with a small amount of insulation. The waist and length are adjustable to a degree. There also were some adult-sized diapers in the compartment. This one baffled me for sure. While Dr. V was old, I knew that he didn't have any bladder problems. I thought that It'd be better if I put one on than to find out I needed it when it was too late. The diaper felt remarkably comfortable, once it was on. The suit slipped on rather well, also. I felt like an incontinent flyboy getting ready for a bombing mission.

After securing the trap door to the compartment, I stood at the very center of the bottom of the sphere wondering what to do next. The opening at the top of the sphere cast down its light onto me, but I didn't cast any shadow. This strange light had a calming effect on made it easier to get on with it. Now, I did have the sense to take the sheath off and stuff it down in a pocket, so I would never lose it. My hands caressed the naked device in a manner which I can only relate to that of cradling a baby. I wasn't so sure that it wasn't a living thing. It hummed and purred this time without any of the sudden surprises that I had that first time. It didn't devour my hands either. Something about this sphere tames it, I suppose; it was on standby, awaiting my orders.

"What do I do first?" I called out. There obviously was no one around to answer me, but lately, it seems, something has been helping me out: it has been doing it quietly, but effectively. So, there I was, thinking. This thing reads my mind, huh? No, my thoughts are sent to it as commands. It's passive until I activate it, and then it's still just an extension of my mind, perhaps? Here we go, "ON!" The device obeyed.

Gently this time, the bean sucked my fingers into its body, then consumed my hands and up, over my wrists. No fuzzy overload this time, just smooth, glowing warmth pulsing throughout my body. The bean then took on its chameleon/cuttlefish light show dance. This light infected my body. I was all lit up and pulsing. My feet began to lose their grip on the surface. I thought that I might be falling over, then I realized that I was actually rising up into the air. I noticed that the shaft of light, beaming onto me from the opening at the top of the sphere, was becoming increasingly intense. But, I thought, where was this light coming from? I couldn't see any source--no bulb--no nothing. As my thoughts almost became victim to my fears and curiosities, I looked down and noticed that I had stopped at the center of the sphere.

"Host, what purpose?" An audible prompting came to me clear as a bell, ringing inside my ears. It seemed that this voice was merely a simulation of my own inner voice, but amplified.

I really wasn't sure what to do or why I was really there. Again, my basic knowledge was that this thing had the ability to manipulate time and matter, but I really wasn't aware of what time travel really was. We have a Hollywood definition and a scientific one. I have no idea what Dr. V discovered. Trying to be careful, I came up with a purpose, a reason for using the device, "Travel."

"Host is not ready for travel. Purpose?"

I didn't know what to say. I figured that I might get some information first, "This is my first time. I need help."

"Must complete trial run. Host, state purpose."

"I'm here for a test run...trial run, I mean."

"Purpose: trial run. Confirm?"


"Command accepted. Execute: trial run."

Weightless and full of strange energy, I began to notice that the intense light bounced and swirled around me, but the sphere contained and directed it. The swirling light became so thick around me that I could no longer see the black lining of the sphere. This vortex of light was funneling, forming into a conduit; I was trapped in the eye. A slightly dizzy sensation came over me. I noticed that my body was staying put, but somehow I was beginning to separate from it. Between my body, and what I know now for sure to be my spirit, there was some static tension resisting whatever force was pulling us apart. The separation made a funny noise, an oscillating fuzzy squeal followed by the staticy sensation that I was becoming to associate with the device. A slow ascent out of my body, a rush of cold, then all of my tactile senses suddenly vanished away. I could see my body in stasis, below my feet, but I was still tethered to my body with a stringy web of fine light. I was slowly rising, and loosing sight of my body, but still tethered. This reassured me that I wasn't dead; although, I'm sure that I was pretty much close to the edge.

Why can't my body come with me? I thought. I didn't expect an answer.

"The Spirit has less mass, is more mobile, is safer."

"Huh? Okay." Sounded good, but what did I know? Not much, for sure, I reckon.

Just about then, this realization, that while I felt like I was merely floating along, I could be traveling faster than light. "Where am I going? Just as I asked this question, I received another answer.

"Trial run destination: none."

"How long is the trial run?" I really had no perception of time now.


I didn't want to spend too much time flying around in this tube. I figured that I should err on the side of caution and return. "End trial run." I couldn't take any more of the numbness.

"Terminate trial run. Confirm?"

"Yes, I want to go back now."

Wherever I must've gone, it didn't take but a second to descend back into the sphere. I was able to discern, albeit briefly, a connection with my surroundings, while out of my body, that was beyond that of what I've ever perceived in the flesh. I saw the sphere from the outside, as if none other structure were present. It appeared as a living orb of light, harnessing the energy, completing the organism, of which I was part. This remarkable event struck me as blasphemous and unnatural, yet so heavenly and right. Are we meant to do this--man? Exploring my new found crush of intellect, I could not get over Dr. V's genius. I can't understand how even he figured this out?

After settling back into my body, I felt the grip of mortality squeeze me relentlessly. I'm so hungry, too.