Oblivious in Sosua: Part 7

Waterfall jumping was on the menu for the day. My crippling fear of water was covered a few days before; why not handle the heights as well. The water itself was not as deep; and the waterfalls not as dastardly high as I had expected. The elevation was alarming; but after reaching the summit – we descended as if sliding down a watery staircase.

On the hike through the jungle I got to know the shorter, hotter, more confident, and most socially powerful member of the group of women that were staying at my resort. All my age. All attractive; from the plump sisters to the toothpick socialite I was lagging behind the group with.

‘Never fuck on the road’ is a mantra I adopted while travelling across the United States.  Surely my foremost rule about entering strange women shouldn’t be ignored. I had nearly crossed that particular line earlier in the week.

We walked and talked on the swinging foot bridge; a hundred meters or so behind the group. She was less on-guard than when her friends were present. I tend to have that effect on people. Disarming their defenses and momentarily caressing their souls.

She cared too much about what they thought of her; she had to be dominant in every situation in which they were present.

Alone she was an insecure sweetheart; more than simply interesting to talk to; fully worthy of the attention she so carelessly grasped for in their presence.

 

 

Oblivious in Sosua: Part 6

Canadians!

Those four wonderful souls from Thunder Bay that distributed the presidential malt beverages on the bus from the airport. Thank you; kind travelers. A brother and a sister; with their best friends and spouses. The brother and I shared the same name. These are good people; people like us; people like me; peaceful wanderers.

That was days ago. Here we are; halfway through the voyage and your tribe has located a patch of grass on which to sit. Why not? I’d thought. An unexpected perch of turf on which to rest ones appendages should be welcomed; not ignored.

Ride the wave.

If you prefer to hear this sentiment proven by an expert; as opposed to this drunken rambling quixotic wander; listen to the immortal words of of the Great Doctor himself, “Buy the ticket; take the ride.”

Such lack of discretion for ones personal safety is the deepest act of faith in God. Perhaps it was the medallion of Saint Christopher I carried; perhaps it was my ancestors; perhaps it was the natural serendipitous way in which this beautiful reality of ours is constructed – but I rarely felt unsafe. The invisible hand of the Universe has a poetic way of guiding its passengers.

The drugs and alcohol help with the weaving of oneself into the fabric of time.

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PART 7

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ANTS! – Part 2

Agriculture is a cultural development that transformed the way that humanity evolved. These creatures, these ants, they farm too. We thought nothing of it decades ago when it was aphids balled up in the leaves of our apple trees; but now it’s us.

The ant overlords have discovered how to make use of us; industrially. Our usefulness is only as valuable as our compliance. These ants have no soul that is fathomable to human beings. The ant-soul is dark and mechanical – powering black-iron suits of capitalism that tower over those with the knowledge and aptitude to complete the tasks that stockpile resources for the ant colony.

This is what an alien invasion looked like to many science fiction writers of centuries past. Insect-like overlords that used coordinated power and influence over land and resources to ensure their own prosperity while securing the bondage of their servants through acts of treachery.

Bastards!

One day we’ll figure out a weakness; a way to stop them.

But that day isn’t today.

Many humans live in the wild; outside the farms; many live like us. They breed us like cattle. The scariest part about the whole situation is that it took not a spoken word. Billions of our human screams reacted to with silence from the beasts. At first, they herded us around the plains; eating us as they got hungry; encircling us in a ringed prison of insect legs and jaws.

Quickly we learned to please the ant overlords and avoid death. We hit fields of sugar cane and corn; and they stopped. They were drawn to the sweet glucose in the juices of these plants. We could also subsist off of such crops.

Our symbiotic relationship developed to the point that the ants showed up regularly to collect a tax – in the form of agricultural goods, from all of us.

Sometimes they eat us; or crush us; or kill us unknowingly; but these beasts leave us alone if we live only with-on our hills – laboring only for what they need from our environment in order to keep them from eating us.

The ancestors told stories of a world in which the ants were small and we were big.

Such a life, I cannot fathom. 

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Oblivious in America: Part 8

Portal, North Dakota

Sitting in the drivers seat of my car; three vehicles deep; waiting to speak to the border agent at the drive-through window. Stuffed beneath the center console were a few extra packs of cigarettes; in addition to the second full carton hidden in my suitcase that I had no plans to declare.

Passport, please.

Three and a half days of stubble on my face; tanned from the springtime sun; I hand the melanin-positive-female-passport-gestapo my passport… the one with all of the squiggly stamps on it. She asks if I have anything to declare. I declare the first carton of cigarettes; and 40 ounces of my 66 ounce bottle of brandy.

Pull into the garage, sir.

Was it the squiggly airport stamps or the visa from Afghanistan, I’d wondered.

I sit on one of my suitcases; my sand-colored flight bag to be precise. At present; it was the only bag to have been completely searched by both border agents plus the dog. My car doors are open; the hood is up; the trunk is cleared; and the spare tire is out.

The dog is running coordinated paths around, under, and inside of my car. He’s standing on the engine, sniffing under the hood. I just smile. This is fun. How much trouble can a bloke get into for a carton of Pall Malls?

You didn’t declare this, sir.

He found the second carton of cigarettes; my Pall Malls. I declared my Marlboro’s. Neither the male; the female; nor the pooch mentioned diddly-dick about the extra 26 ounces of brandy.

I smile.

You missed some smokes, eh.

The pretty lady guard smiles.

I pop the center console and produce 6 extra individual packages of Marlboro’s that I’d picked up along the way.

What now?

The guy tells me that I have two choices. My first choice is to go pay the tax on the additional carton of cigarettes and leave with a good story to tell at some un-determined time and place in the future. My second choice was that they confiscate my contraband and I get put on a special list of people that border guards have; but I wouldn’t have to pay the tax.

I choose the former; and here we are.

Onward to Estevan.

Oblivious in Dubai: Part 17

It’s time.

We land in Canada; Montreal to be specific; and part ways.

No more war. What was I thinking? Fuck.

My friends pick me up at the airport on my final trip home; three heavy bags in tow. I give them pashminas from the bazaar. It’s two in the morning when we arrive at their house. We smoke. I sleep soundly on the couch.

I wake to an empty house; they’re both at work. After showering, I sit on the stoop smoking a cigarette.

The significance of the feeling of the grass between my toes was something unfathomable moments ago.

He notices each cold and individual blade of grass touching the soles of his feet.

Every car seemed to be speeding past the house. Conditioned to hover at a constant 15 kilometers per hour in his bongo or his right-hand-drive, navy blue, SUV; he’s caught off guard by the constant flow of traffic running perpendicular to the walkway leading to the house connected to the stoop on which he’s sitting.

Sheeeeeit.

I need a Tim Horton’s coffee and a shower.

My first shower back in the world was awkward. Since my last trip home; this is the first shower I can recall taking in a tub-sized shower stall. My body; mannerisms, actions, instincts; my sense of self and situational awareness; were completely bombarded with new sensory input that I found frightening. I found it frightening that I found it frightening. This shower belonged to 20-something female friends of mine. Every ledge, every corner was full of bottles. Every color of the spectrum was squeezed into the limited ledge-space available in their tub.

I kept knocking things over. Every turn was stressful. My elbows hit things I should have known were there. My mind was screaming, “Oh shit. Oops. Crap. Oops. OUCH. Damn it,” for the duration of the activity.

The level of anxiety I felt while completing the most basic of daily tasks foreshadowed the inevitable fall from grace that was to come.

Fall I did.

As we all must.

Until the birth of my child; the destruction of my ego was greatest gift I had ever received from the universe.

The most troubled among us are often not prepared to completely change our ways; sometimes we have to be pushed.

 

 

‘ANTS!’ by Oblivious

At the peak of the 24th century; man has been extinct for about two-hundred years.  We reached this state of extinction by allowing our differences to define us; thus allowing the technology of the day to solidify those distinctions – permanently.

What has become of this world is the result of mistakes made and bridges crossed and burned.  We used the brightest of our species to build weapons to offend and defend these superficial differences between the members of our species.

One button; one push; that’s all it took.

This wave of residual irradiated mist that swept across our planet removed us from it.  It also changed those species that remained. Millions of species died. Some rather quickly; chronologically speaking; and some very slowly. Our species lasted about forty years from N-Day. Our extinction came in waves.

The first wave was short; it lasted a few weeks. It started in the major city-centers where most of the ordinance was aimed. The effects rolled out of the cities and eventually swept across the plains to burn, deform, and sicken those unlucky enough not to have a previously unknown genetic predisposition that allowed them to last a little longer.

Those killed by the first incarnation of Un-Natural Selection were the lucky ones.  Their deaths only lasted a few days or weeks; they didn’t have to watch the Armageddon of the aftermath.  The fanatically religious embraced it; they anticipated their entrance to paradise. As a result; they did nothing to protect themselves – not that they could have done much anyway.

This first wave resulted in the reduction of our species from fifty billion to about five-hundred million – scattered around the globe.

Many of the survivors of this first wave of death were spared by genetic luck.  Something in their DNA made them slightly more resistant to the effects of the nuclear pestilence.  Still, many more were spared due to a properly executed response after N-Day.  Those without the genetic predisposition to resistance would fall in the second wave.

The second wave was the long-game; the slow, unstoppable and invisible force that caused deformities and strange ailments.  It entered our corporeal containers through our food, our water and our air. What could we do? We had to eat. Everyone has to eat. Our choice was to starve now; or to eat and risk suffering later.

The effects on animals were quite intriguing.  Millions of species wiped out; just like us. Some immediately; some slowly.  Some with obvious deformities; and some that simply didn’t reproduce after N-Day.  I’m sure they had no comprehension of the magnitude; as they are but simple animals – eating, sleeping and reproducing.  Their cognitive capacities simply weren’t there to fathom what was really going on.  Lucky them, perhaps.

Some species seemed unaffected – the ants in particular… at least at first.  After several of their generations – about twenty of our years – they started to get bigger.  Not much bigger at first; but soon they became the size of small dogs.  They still behaved as ants; just on a much larger scale.

Their hills became the size of football stadiums; and their preferences in food extended to a carnivorous desire for human flesh.  The few of us that remained were hunted.

Ants are known for having an incredible strength-to-size ratio.  This didn’t change when they did.  A small group of modern ants; in their advanced evolutionary state; could move cars and chew through front-doors.

The few of us who remained had to be vigilant and intuitive in the defense of ourselves and our homes.  The simple and routine acts of hunting or foraging for food were inherently dangerous, yet necessary, ventures.

Granted; we could see a swarm of ants coming on quickly in the distance; like a pipeline of Alberta crude bursting and flooding a city street.  These creatures would emerge from one of their tunnels like biblical locust swarms being sent to rid the world of whatever it is their jaws were tough enough to chew.  Human flesh and bone didn’t come close to that limit; akin to our species munching on a stick of celery.

After some time; it wasn’t the physical evolution of the ants that was the most troubling aspect of their change.  The most troubling aspects were their cognitive enhancements.  Ants have always behaved as a hive-mind.  Group-thinking and making decisions without words – almost as if being controlled remotely – was the standard method of work for these creatures.

They never did learn to talk; and we never figured out exactly how they communicated – though it appears to be telepathic.  Whether they use words or images; and how deeply and clearly their minds connect is beyond our understanding.

What we know for sure is that they’ve gotten smarter and more efficient over time.  You can almost see them thinking and problem-solving; silently; when they encounter a challenge.

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PART 2

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Oblivious in Dubai: Part 8

We spend several hours at the ‘tourist village’.

We eat atop cushions in the sand, sitting around a circular stage. I drink cans of Budweiser – as per protocol.

A female belly dancer and a man dancing in the Sufi whirling fashion take turns on the stage entertaining us tourists.

Obd8001

obd8002

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We finish our meal; take photos with the entertainers; then load up in our vehicles to head back into civilization. I, relatively full of Budweiser; take my spot in the front – beside the driver. Because, why not?

The night is dark and humid; the stars are bright. I am drunken and near-sleeping as we rip and roar through the streets of Dubai. Flashes of neon signs and the night life of the city are burned in the back of my brain. My eyes half-cocked; taking in a small percentage of the visual stimuli present around the vehicle. I’d really like to spend more time with that man’s wife. Nice lady, I thought.

The couple and their friend get out of the SUV at some uncertain location; the driver tells me we should be back to my hotel within 20 minutes.

We get there; and I disembark to the warm embrace and welcome of the friendly security guard who arranged my impromptu adventure. He was delighted to hear I had such a good time. I thanked him warmly and repeatedly for suggesting the tour.

A quick chat with Salazar; and then up to my suite to shower and pack my things for my flight. Drunken and ridiculous, I make my way to the lobby. Beautiful and dark walls of stained wood fill the elevator and reception area.

They give me back my passport; and they hail me a cab. This was no ordinary taxi, there wasn’t a meter or a rooftop sign. This was some guy’s car who said he’d take me to the airport. Most of the rest of the past 24 hours had transpired in a similar fashion; so why not?

I make sure to take a business card from the hotel. This is the best way to ensure you make your way back to a place you have once been.

He takes me to the airport; I thank him and make my way through airport security. I check my bags; get my boarding pass; and make my way through the endlessly commercial international circus that is the Dubai International Airport.

Diamond stores, electronic stores, fashion stores, drug stores and liquor stores; a shopping plaza primed for international travellers. Inflated prices (though the booze was moderately priced) and exclusive designer clothing filled the miles of commerce.

I locate the general direction of my gate; and stop at one of the many pubs along the way to have a stiff beverage – the undying friend of a weary solo traveller.

Part Nine

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