Damn. How did so much time get away from us?
It’s like one minute you are standing in the middle of a warehouse in the early nineties, high on cheap beer, brown weed, teenage freedom and rock and roll; next thing you know it’s a different century and a different world, and everyone is compartmentalized and plastic and isolated.
Yes, we are getting older. Some of us, not all of us survived.
And one has to wonder sometimes, who is the winner in this game? The ones who checked out early? The ones who missed so many years? Those of us left behind? To carry on, to trudge forth even as we see everyone and everything around us crumbling.
These days I’m not so sure.
I crawled out of a cave. I fell asleep sometime in the last century and woke up here. In a museum, in a cheap science fiction movie. Here, we are both the spectators and the spectacle.
This hallway is black. Not dark. Black. Light doesn’t dare traverse it’s expanse. There are glimpses of neon here and there, but it’s impossible to tell if they are real or hallucination. The absence of light makes the hallway feel immense, long, possibly unending. That’s another scary notion. Eternity. The thought that there may be no end to this.
And then we must ask ourselves again, which is worse? The eternal shuffling toward nothing, or the exit too early; the ones we have lost, who have fallen along the way. Are we sad they have gone? Or is it only us growing ever lonelier as they one by one depart?
I looked for you. I looked forward to reconnecting.
You wouldn’t recognize the place. Everything has changed since you left.
We’ve torn down nature and put up a plastic nature replica. It will last forever, and it doesn’t get messy like the real thing. We still aren’t sure if the birth defects are a direct result of the synthetic natural plastic alloy or merely a coincidence, but we aren’t letting it slow us down either way.
The streets are emptier too. You would get along a little better with less traffic, fewer distractions to fight for your attention. You see that’s where there was a bookshop. That used to be a record store. This was a Wags before it was a Perkins before it was a Bakers Square before it was the Sunshine Breakfast Club before it was finally abandoned and left to rot away.
This used to be the beach. Our beach. I wish I could say they left this one alone.
It almost feels the same, the yellow moon peeking down through slivers of cloud. That breeze that always hints of winter, even in August, always reminds you of how cold it could be.
As if it had any idea.
Nothing that lives or breaths or moves really knows anything of the true cold. The freezing. The motionless waiting, staring. Stuck in your tracks. So cold you can’t even feel it anymore.
It doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t recognize this anyway. It is not ours. This is no longer the world we knew.
This. You see this? This passes for sand. I know. It is cleaner. It doesn’t get in your shoes and stuck in every crevice. This is static. This is electronic noise, pixels, bits of information formed to resemble the granules we knew growing up but without all the mess.
Maybe that’s how they’ve done it. Maybe that’s how the rug was pulled out from under us. Maybe they filled up all the hourglasses with this synthetic sand. It bought them all the time in the world.
There was a point I was trying to make. There was something I wanted to say to you, but I seem to be only rambling. I’m sorry to waste your time. You would have laughed at that one. The idea of wasting time. Maybe you had it right all along, you and the Mad Hatter.
Maybe yours was the right move. Maybe I’m worse off for witnessing this. Maybe it is you who escaped and I who am trapped. Imprisoned in black iron, indeed the empire never ended.
Still, I thought there would be more time. I thought we would meet again. Even if it was out here in the fringes of reality. This crumbling pier hanging precariously over the edge, over nothing, a bottomless pit of black frozen emptiness.
©Robert Emmett McWhorter