The Line was long today. It was glorious, everyone gathered together, stretched all the way from the front to the back like a straight ocean. We were a part of something, standing up for ourselves, our history marching forward on the x-axis toward infinity. It was our responsibility. The wait was on our shoulders.
Today was the Grand Opening. They said a banner wider than a mountain was cut with scissors 2 miles long, operated by a mechanical arm that crushed ocean liners in its past life. “Welcome To the New You” splashed across the shimmering fabric, the font impressed with the intricacy of a call center menu robot, the color of muzak. I wasn’t here, but I could imagine it was perfect.
There was buzz that helicopters flew over dropping confetti bombs, spraying pamphlets with a thumbs-up logo “Facing the Now (subtext) Re-inventing the Self”. They blasted Tshirts out of cannons, loudspeakers sewn into the chest that broadcasted advertisements for public opinion. Anything could happen here. It was every idyllic, nostalgia-laden childhood fantasy rolled into one.
We were a conduit, a closed circuit, like a live wire finally grounded, the charge passing through me harmlessly. My subdermal GPS tracker said I was in the center of the whole thing, as if a guitar string coiled itself into the unknown and I was perfect Middle C, the exact division of an octave. You might not believe in utopia, but here I was, hands in my pockets, staring into the back of the person’s head in front of me. It was voyeuristic. Could I see into him? My heart raced. Did they even know I was here? Of course they did. The Line wouldn’t be as long without me. They could sense it.
Sure, there were pointless distractions. Holograms blinked in and out of existence to offer a variety of artisanal cookies. Cutters gathered in large blobs to point and gawk at trapeze artists base-jumping from skyscrapers, their broad strips of fabric streamers spiraling like DNA from their arms and legs as they contorted into each other’s bodies in an intricate dance of balance and grace. Their parachutes strobed with three-dimensional Fibonacci fractals, organically morphing through an unknown spectrum of colors.
Men and women ran naked through the street, manifesting live art experiences through body expression. They splashed prismatic paint through the air as they played, their motion extending out into the breathing world, leaving a trail of hand, splatter, and footprints behind them. The aesthetic impression was vivid, but temporal, nuanced. “The exuberance of a joyful laugh left ringing in your mind, a tickle that rises from your groin and into your chest, flowering up into your head as if your face could glow with 100 smiles,” my father might say. He was very Freudian, in his own romantic way.
If I wanted to experience the process of pure child-like awakening, I would go back to my old job mountain climbing the Andes. I used to photograph the rarest animal life on earth as I snowboarded in my wingsuit. I reconstructed the imagery into a graphic novel pastiche meant to reflect the internal struggle of humanity’s adapting eco-consciousness. It was all very meta. I was an adrenaline junky.
But I’m not here to talk about work. I was here for a reason. I was focused. The days of hammock-swinging in my sprawling compartment overlooking the lush jungle of South America were over. I shuffled congruently past a yonic fountain spraying meteorite dust into a maze of interlocked circles, opening and closing. The pools bubbled with an undulating fog of helium. The mist reminded me of the tiered tongues of waterfalls cascading over the Mayan ruins back home, a stressful acid rising in my throat.
A hologram server flashed beside me, offering me an empty wire-frame hand. He must have sensed that I was getting bored. “Would you like to see your self?” it bleeped.
“Definitely.” My voice squeaked, tightened from excitement and 5% noble gasses.
“Uploading credit bill,” he responded, his voice modulating with sine waves. The hologram’s face rapidly shifted into every person that stood in Line today. “Welcome to New You!” His chest ticked off with a rollover counter of charges to my bill. The Line was the only place you could spend money. Every face blended seamlessly into the next until my balance reached the charge limit. The longer I watched, the more it cost. It was absolutely exhilarating.
Days blended into weeks into months. Occasionally it rained, occasionally it didn’t. A group of monks read “Ulysses” in reverse, pressed the open book to their chest until the ink smudged onto their skin. Impromptu carnival games split off, tests of strength, skill, wit, and luck announced by a freakshow ring leader. Masked men and women, skintight with leather, flirted with lace, silk, feathers, silver rings, handcuffs and rope. They carted wheelbarrows full of toys around, offering free orgasms. They were homesick. They needed something normal, a safety net, as if they couldn’t think about the big picture, constantly obsessing the menial day-to-day.
But here it was in front of them: the ultimate meaning, the truth of it. Directly ahead. I stepped one foot forward, the reward center of my brain firing a symphony of serotonin and dopamine cocktails. I could feel when I stepped into the previous space of the man ahead of me, filling the ghostly shell he left behind, the imprint of his aura still warm in the air. We were one person, one long worm stretched through time, each of us different phases of the same.
Everything shuddered. I was ahead, in the lead, the first man.. Directed by the green blink of an elongated traffic sign, I stepped into a small trailer, drawing aside a flat black curtain. Transcendence awaited. I sat in a chair, staring at a radio. This was it, theophany becoming imminent.
It garbled with a fast-forward reading of Clockwork Orange. A Noam Chomsky impersonator deliberated the value Foucault’s linguistics in a trans-human society. Wait. This was it? An arm folded out from the side of the radio. A drillbit whirred on its tip. Highlight reels of history’s greatest revolutionaries fired up on the wall, the familiar click of a reel-to-reel projector rising to a crescendo as mobs silently cheered them on. A lecture from Carl Sagan, Terrence McKenna, and Richard Dawkins simultaneously jumbled at near subliminal levels. The right wall fed in a monologue from Einstein; the left side of the trailer illuminated with Tesla arcing lightning from his hands.
White noise of yogic chants funneled in from the ceiling in a binaural wash tuned to Solfeggio harmonic sequences, balancing my chakras, every cell of my body singing like a cymatic tuning fork. My left eye began to twitch Pythagorean theorems in morse code. I yawned, the The Unified Field Theory unfolded before me like an elementary school textbook.
It was a mishmash of every genius mind and concept of the last 1000 years, every physicist, scientist, mathematician, artist, philosopher, and poet, overloading the unconscious mind, forcing it to download every relevant detail of humanity’s genius in a single, epileptic session. Just like the one I listen to on the car ride from work. What is going on? How disappointing.
This can’t be it. The arm drilled through his skull, sucking the pine cone of his pineal gland from its root. He came online. The “I” was dead now. He flashed up, his wire-frame body filling with liquid green laser. He was suddenly beside her, without knowing, turning to a child in the Line. “Welcome to New You. Would you like to see yourself?”
The ego overflowed with zeros. His face was a dial tone printed with an alien language.