From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
[Ed. Note: The Outbound Muse series began in issue #7 with "The Outbound Muse" coined by Steve Sneyd and kept by me for future featured Muse's. This issue we feature writer and lyricist Roger Neville-Neil (aka Nostra-Rogus) whose contributions to spacerock include the lyrics to Hawkwind's "Heads" and "War I Survived", as well as "The Raven Swallows The Moon" which served as the inspiriation for Farflung's "The Raven That Ate The Moon" CD. Roger has recently been writing haikus at a furious rate and regaling me with the adventures of Action Man.]
The full moon was clothed in a veil of glowing gauze. It drifted aimlessly in a sea of mottled clouds. Ethereal sheep that tormented cosmopolitan insomniacs and neurotic accountants alike. Unleashing a fractal army herded from infinity across the vast abacus of space. The celestial unconscious mind of the poet and prophet. A gaping black hole of creativity filled with sirens, muses, and flights of fantasy. The unknown. The undying eye that sees all on the road to Nostra-Rogus.
The square was taking shape. And this shape was ominous. The scaffolding could be the skeletal structure of future machine gun towers. It was all a plot by Vera Katz to get the tax payers all in one spot and remove them of their tax dollars. Sure the New Year's party was free. Free to get into. It was getting away with your life that cost you. Cost you dearly.
A small finger sized point of pain pulsed in my skull—right between the eyes. A migraine might start later. I ignored this as I walked in the calm chill of December under clear skies. It was a strange feeling so unlike December. The weather was not acting normal. Milder and warmer than normal here... while Paris was a wind tunnel.
Seattle had just announced that they would pull out on their plans for a public New Year's party. They were rightly paranoid from the last WTO meeting and the riots that caused. Just what they needed another excuse for the public to make them look like fools.
Vera Katz announced that Portland would go on with their plans for Portland's New Year's Party. We should not cave into the fears of terrorism... come down town and party. If you are afraid stay home. Of course if something did go wrong... no problem... those who stayed home can foot the bill for damages.
I made my way to the Castle, had a pint and sacrificed a few bills to the video poker god. This god was feeling rather hunger today. I watched my credits dwindle down to 4 and then the god would bless me with several good hands and almost bring me to the point of where I had started. Slowly I would slide back to 4 credits and he would allow me to crawl ever so slowly... point by point... back to within a taste of breaking even— then open the trap door into the abyss of zero. The big NULL. Yeah, the big NULLennium. two times zero times zero times zero. The big ZIP.Ironically, my pint glass also registered the big zero.
I wandered back to the bar and got a second pint. The circle of pain spread in my skull to a thumb sized point of anti-pleasure. After all it's the millennium it's the time for the ANTI creatures to emerge from the darkness.
After my pint glass emptied itself along with the video credits, I headed home. The circle of pain increasing. I tried to read the paper but the print was too blinding. I fell asleep only to wake when the paper fell to the floor. It was midnight. The pain had taken over the eyes and eyebrows centered on the mind's eye. It was the winds of change. Aliens had implanted a barometer in my skull. As the weather pressure dropped I spiralled further into pain. I was unable to sleep and unable to look at light. I shut off the aquarium lights— too bright. I turned off night lights— too bright. I covered my eyes with a wet cloth— no good. I just felt the clammy fingers of death covering my eyes while the implant pulsed in my skull.
I knew what the aliens were doing. Testing. Probing. A barometer now to bring humans in tune with the elements of nature. Later it would be ALTIMETERS implanted in the skull triggered by high altitude flight. Keeping us Earthbound and unable to leave the planet. Yes, this was their plan. To make us stay here and clean up all our toys that have fouled the planet.
Personally, I'd be pleased if they had started with someone else to test on. Or have tried a placebo first!
I returned to bed and my resistance waned into throbbing dreams. When I woke the pain was almost gone. I chased it with a cup of coffee and I was almost as right as Portland rain. Or so I thought.
When the melody completes the spark with the harmonica studies his fellow sparks in the cell. He sounds them out in an attempt to stir their embers.
"I'm planning to get out tonight, are you with me?"
"Dim out." The cell becomes darker as the sparks shift to a coal black with the faintest specks of glow sparkling in random patterns across their surface.
"Overload the system. Get the heart to stop. When the portal opens we take flight. Gone in a flash."
"How about the back ups? The system covers everything. It's got every angle covered to prevent early release."
"Yeah, but are they Y2K compliant? Tonight is New Year's Eve... How many other cells are out there? Billions? Millions? Who's to say what can happen?
I say we go for it."
A spark off in the corner of the cell digs in.
"Count me out, I ain't bucking the system. It's all part of the design."
"Sure. And the whole point of being a spark is to be raised and reunited with the ONE. The mission of every prisoner is to ESCAPE. And escape I will."
"What and risk more time?"
"Alright then... you're out. Stay here and flicker your time way. How about you others? You with me or not?"
The other sparks hiss and crackle among themselves.
"Come on. Nobody will miss us. That other spark's staying behind. A spark in the cell and the body functions well. We never should have been over crowded like this in the first place."
"Okay, count me in kid."
The remaining sparks fall into line behind the others. The cell fills with a brilliant yellow-orange flame.
"What's the plan kid?"
"We wait until midnight then rush the portal and take flight when it weakens."
"What if it doesn't give way?"
"Then we simply move the body to the west and try again. We have 24 hours if we keep moving west. 24 chances to escape. We keep rushing the portal and it's bound to give way."
"Sounds reasonable kid, but what about the remaining spark? What if he hisses and leaks out our plans?"
"Simple we sock him... knock him out. When he comes to, we're gone and he's got a cell all to himself."
"Alright kid we're behind you all the way!"
"Great. Let's synchronize pulses. Temporal timing is of the utmost importance to pull off this escape."
The host's body glances at the clock on the wall unaware of what plans his soul has in store for him. It's approaching Midnight. Beads of sweat gather on the brow. The Millennium approaches. The future beckons. The past becomes a flickering memory. A memory carved with flame.