Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Amphibious Smart Car

At dusk, I descend into the lake and begin the swim across as part of my day’s workout at the forest retreat. A seemingly feasible task at first, the waves become larger and more ocean-like at the half-way point, where to my despair the other bank looks as far away as it did when I began. Turning around, I am much more overwhelmed by the current and worry I won’t have enough energy to make it back. (How did those guys in Gattaca do it?) Yet, at dawn, I finally reach calmer waters and see the sign welcoming people to the area. It is the only visible manmade object in the grove of Joshua trees, which point towards an inlet where I can beach.

Once I arrive at this beach, a white smart car, driven by a yuppie-ish twenty-something white male in a blue polo, is driven right into the water and enters an amphibious mode to navigate the Bay of Tamaulipas. As he makes way out to sea, he says something to the effect that he is on a journey to discover himself. Exhausted, I make my way inland and surmount a steep embankment consisting of very fine bleach-white sand. I see my friends off yonder gathered near a circular arrangement of marble benches.

The President is holding a community gathering here in order to hear the public opinion about the crises in the Middle East. He shakes the hands of the two friends on my right, and as he seems to acknowledge that I’m here with an expression of disappointment, he does not shake mine, and enters a reclined position as the first testimony is given. This one comes in the form of song, recorded in Arabic by the friend to my left and played from a Walkman. The embellished crooning takes a life of its own and fills all of our ears with the despotic injustice being experienced by his family. The President is not impressed and ask for the next statement.

The second testimony comes from the Hispanic friend on my right,  also in the form of a song, this time recorded in Spanish. It is played from a device that has a switch that can transition the music into the English language. This performance is not as well-produced, and my friend’s embarrassed face seems to acknowledge this. This does not help our leader’s continued disinterest in the public inquiry, forced upon him by his PR committee…

---

I drive the dark blue BMW above eighty miles an hour on the far right lane on the 91, paying no mind to the concrete barrier that could potentially cause major damage to the fa├žade at the slightest misstep in steering.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Peace Offering

The protesters appear before the holy wall wearing shirts bearing the visage of Barack Obama with the slogan "America and Israel United Forever". I see one of my Ethiopian friends wearing a yarmulke; he asks for my sympathy in the demonstration, since apparently out of view there is another protest from the opposition of massive scale. On my right I see an acquaintance running down the temple steps in colorful Nike gear, and she meets me at a white fold-out table. 

She makes a peace offering in the form of food. Although she says the name of this specific dish, it looks like a cross between a torta and a calzone, and it is filled with hummus and fajitas. She asks that I enjoy it and to please be sympathetic to their cause.

---

Late at night in San Francisco, I am with my graduate friends at a bicycle repair shop, where a secret meeting is taking place. I assume this group intends to stage an uprising of some sort, but I am too distracted by the colorful fixies hanging in the room to pay attention. I want to leave but there is no lee way around the transfixed audience. Therefore, I crouch and start crawling on the floor underneath the table. 

After a struggle, I find the shop's bathroom. Like Pinnacle Peak, these guys cut off people's ties on their birthday (why they would be at a bike shop on their birthday I have no idea why). However, they must despise ties since the bathroom is the only location where the severed garments are hung, and the worst offenders have theirs right next to the john. I see one green felt tie to the left with a yellow anthropomorphic sunflower with a sad face. 

Once relieved, I head out to get my bike. At this point, I begin to develop a lot of anxiety. Did I remove my expensive light? Did I lock the front wheel? Did I lock the thing in the first place? I'm startled when I  arrive at the customer bike rack and do not see my bike on the lower section with my U-lock. However, the shop guys knew I had a relatively expensive rig, so they put it in the top rack, having effortlessly compromised the lock. 

It's daylight already, so I get ready to ride to the east bay (somehow).

---

At a scenic overlook near Portola Valley, I espy my car and decide to dismount and run towards it, hoping in the time in between nobody steals my bike. I drive a weed-lined course back to my starting point, park, and begin disassembling the front tire to fit the machine in my trunk. For some reason, Z. is here and she gets into my passenger seat. We drive off to my apartment. 

We drive through my old neighborhood, spotting hoodlums playing with a Fedco shopping cart on the sidewalk. Tenement housing has sprouted from the earth like funguses. It is the dead of night. 

Once we arrive at my home, I immediately get in the shower. Through the flowing steam, I see Z. peek her head through the bathroom door, smiling at me. This wasn't my intention, and I think she understood the message. Once I am finished and dry off, I see her in my roommate's bed, sleeping not with my roommate but with a older female member of my family. She's passed out from our adventure. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Closet Full of Cakes

S. points out our location on the OLED-embedded fold-out map, which has tracer circles emanating from the main city in this part of Arkansas. Her boy band idol is apparently nearby, and she plans on meeting him in some errant tryst after dark. Once we arrive at our bed and breakfast, she leaves and I stay up late as usual. My father scolds me for keeping some lights on, interrupting the intense blue of the moonlight. At that point, I begin worrying about the location of my automobile. I realize that I had given the keys to my grandmother for her to borrow.

Transported back home, to my aunt's house, in some room, L. tells me that in order to get my keys back, I have to go with her to the liquor store and a series of other stores. My keys have become collateral for a number of petty purchases; she assumes I make a lot of money nowadays and such items would be no financial burden. She heads out the door expecting me to follow but I stay behind.

In this room there is a closet full of cakes. Raspberry, chocolate, strawberry. All very large, eight inches high, 11 inches in diameter, sitting on the unrefrigerated shelf. Some are careening in their plastic containers, buttressed by random shirts and sweaters. My father, who is also here, eagerly calls me outside. I don't leave the room until I hear an unnamed relative also summon her husband, who I can only see from behind as I walk across the dry yellow leaves in the front yard. My dad is standing next to our old Honda Accord, in shorts and a t-shirt. I don't see my automobile in the street, just the elm tree in the light of the disposable camera flash.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gamete

I spend a large amount of time searching the convenience store for fruit punch but only see obnoxiously large bottles or else other drinks.  I see a young mom with her daughter in the household wares aisle, speaking Spanish. I’m in their way, and when I try to move around, they laugh. The mom takes this as an opportunity to teach her daughter a new word. Ugh, I feel like I’ve spent ages in this store, to the point where I know my dad must be frustrated, waiting in his truck.

---

A priestess stands in the middle of Lobby 7 next to a large blue orb that looks like a human female gamete, with a porous and textured surface. On the other side appears a spherical concavity out of which extends a creature with different internalized segments, much like a Russian doll but contiguous. It reveals these innards slowly, each one more demonic and un-earthly than the last. It then suddenly disappears, and I am ordered to enter the void by the priestess to fulfill my familial mission. She tells me that in the other dimension there are resources of greatness transcending the normal world, but I cannot bring them back with me when I return.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fetal Tigers

The furniture in my room has transformed to that of my grandmother’s room in my days at Pennsylvania. A little old woman is sitting on the unmade bed wearing a babushka covering her whole face. The old 1970s color TV  is on, showing a strange cult ritual from a renegade convent. The ritual involves a similarly-dressed woman, who is cradling a infantile figure wearing a green skull mask made of translucent glass. The mask has large round eyes that are moveable and lock onto mine through the television screen. I look back at the bed and the old woman is gone, save for a small apple core, which I promptly throw into the trash.

Looking into my living room I see an intense beam of light from a police helicopter. These man-hunts are always entertaining, and even better at the top story of this apartment complex. The beam vanishes and I go to the window to see the path of the pursuit. However, in a few minutes, the beam returns to illuminate the floor on this cloudy Berkeley night. I become concerned that the object of this manhunt is in close vicinity, which does not bode well for me concerning the isolation of my unit and limited exit pathways. Soon enough, the compact helicopter flies right in front of my windows facing the Berkeley Hills, somehow achieving stability at this low altitude. It’s now apparent that the objects prized by these police are right on my roof.

No sooner was this idea conceived that three people burst into my apartment. They all look vaguely like characters from the HBO program Game of Thrones, and they are covered in shiny wounds dripping with clear, plasma-like fluid. I am held at knifepoint. They tell me the authorities are chasing them because they need to be quarantined, as they all carry a very contagious flesh-eating bacterium. One of the infected, an full-figured blonde haired woman, lies on the floor, apparently succumbing to her wounds. She points to lesions on her thighs as she cries and moans in pain.

The woman who is holding me at knifepoint starts tearing. She tells me that they do not want to be quarantined, and pulls out a pistol. She kills her two partners before finally turning the pistol on herself. I am left to deal with the helicopter, still shining its beam on the roof.


I show my date my new automobile, starting from the exterior and moving on to the interior. I am proud of my new vehicle, but also chivalrous enough to let her take a coffee drink inside as she sits in the passenger’s seat and takes a look. An unidentified little girl appears on the driver’s side and starts putting her hands on the controls. She has a bag of McDonald’s and grabs (very perfectly cut) french fries by the handful, stuffing them into her mouth. I know very well I will have to use my ArmorAll wipes to clean the grease. Not to mention the coffee rings and having to vacuum the little grains of salt and whatever debris from this toddler.

I show this lady my childhood home. Although she immediately disappears as we step through the garage door into the laundry room, I begin preparing some coffee for us both. It is morning, and my dad is there making breakfast in the kitchen as usual, smiling at me.

I walk over to the bathroom, and see two fetal tigers on a dissection tray. One of them is extensively deformed, with the posterior legs still trapped by membrane and two front right paws, one of which is laterally budding. I pickup one of the scalpels and try to fix the poor genetic mess. The budding paw looks a lot like a fleshy leaf from my Calandrinia plant. I begin the removal process when suddenly the fetus bites my right hand and gives a cat-like roar. It is a strong bite, but fortunately, its teeth have not fully developed.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Air Raid

I hear the faint sound of an air raid siren in the distance. Perched on the top of my bed, I a make my way to my particle-board desk and crawl underneath it, just as I was taught. The stragglers, my plethora of roommates in this hostel, follow suit one-by-one, finding similar hiding spaces in the nooks and crannies of the crowded bedroom. I peer up at our giant skylight, and see a frightening Tu-95 bomber, painted in bright red and blue with white vignettes, flying low in the bright moonlight accompanied by two MiG-29 fighter jets. I fear this is a nuclear attack.

I head downstairs to the laboratory. I see the head PI dressed in business casual. With a lascivious certainty cemented in her bosom, she tells me that fallout species are present in our air. Her behavior is reminiscent of the young lovers in the Mexican village during the fall of the April 1910 meteorites. Suddenly, all of the detectors go off.

Kudos to the engineer who built them with such demoralizing alarms. There is no scurrying or panic. We are all aware of our slow and prolonged fate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blitz Tunnel

The underground river is buttressed by concrete and light marble. Some of us have escaped here to avoid the impending doom of the outside world. Here are several intellectuals and former classmates, all refugees in this sewer.

There is an alcove in this tunnel system that has been converted into a movie theater. We are watching a film very similar to Alone in the Wilderness. A young child next to me points towards the lower right of the screen, where a demonic shape in the snowy bushes makes various gestures. I leave the theater.

I enter a small home converted into a convenience store in this blitz tunnel. Oh wow, they have some cool Black&Decker electric cooking gadgets. I see a blonde girl wearing a blue pullover sweatshirt, her hair hastily tied in a ponytail. She has finally finished a double cheeseburger after an uncanny amount of preparation, holding it bare-handedly as the plastic cheese begins to drip. She hands it off to the customer and goes back to her previous chore. The customer takes one bike and immediately comes to the manager, presumably the girl's father, demanding a new sandwich. The old man agrees with the horrendous quality of the sandwich and begins one anew, although no one in this shop seems to have their priorities straight. I mean, this is probably what you get when you buy hot food from such a place.

I explore more of the tunnel and come to a point where I have to swim underneath a concrete barrier to get to the other side. With the light of one light bulb, I see a ladder leading up to a platform with a door. After I dry, and wearing only my towel, I open the door and walk into a thriving casino, where the patrons are dressed as if it were the Roaring 20s. Aware of my exposure, I walk past the cash-out station and try to find the men's room.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Aluminum Ladder Silos

Space Age hallways of paneled glass and aluminum trim comprise the waiting area for these Huxleyan consumption-based amusement rides. They are relatively clean and machined with unnecessary precision, with some areas walled and slated for future shows. I’m on a espionage mission to capture a hard drive and replace it with a decoy somewhere in the command center, which is hidden somewhere near these attractions. I’m well-dressed, wearing a fitted jacket.

I pass by an attraction based on a Taylor Swift musical performance.  An energetic guitar jockey with a colorful personality is installed as her character foil that can easily be moved to the forefront, that is, in case she is unable to perform on certain days. Espying from the periphery, the amphitheater seems to be filled with entranced fans. They interact with the storyline using their smartphones as if immersed in a large role-playing game.

I imagine the park is about to close because there are no lines to the other shows. Perfect. I begin walking down the dark corridor (which looks a lot like a costlier version of the AirBART stops at SFO) towards the unfinished amusements. Darkness increases by the yard, like I’m walking into the gullet of a biblical monster. I walk faster; I run. The sequential motion sensors detect me and take flash photos; I have to hurry.

I reach one of the many LED-lit stairwells in the labyrinth and head towards the central nervous system of the complex. It looks like a cross between my old hospital and the laboratory in Stanley Hall where we did transmission electron microscopy, and altogether more expansive and maze-like. I find the computer and do the job. I then immediately run away, retracing my steps from photographic memory through the worm-like, aluminum-plated ladder silos, all my light from the square LED panels.

They are after me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Land Barnacles

I watch the satellite feed of my bicycle ride through the suburban roads of Beaumont, CA. The pictures show my progression across winding hills, once in a while showing  erratic loops and very careful descents down steep blind corners but altogether implying some sense of being lost and really far from my car. Very much like the East Bay, there are also steep uphill climbs, and the satellite has captured me resorting to carrying my bike and walking a steep grade as Boston policemen walk ahead of me. The satellite has impressive resolution and is almost real-time. I appear to be wearing an obnoxious yellow and silver cycling jersey/shorts combo and my bike has a number of unnecessary performance-monitoring attachments.


My apartment is the site of a final get-together with my old friends, which falls on the same day as Hanukah. I hear the sounds of a group prayer in Hebrew and try to identify the source. Perhaps one of our neighbors? I look at my composite Jewish friend, who is wearing a plain black and white suit and a blue head ribbon with the Star of David, and confirms one set of unknown neighbors is reciting a certain prayer. I have never seen these neighbors come into or out of the complex, but they sound like they’re in a trance.

My bearded friend is chilling on the floor like Diogenes of Sinope in Raphael’s The School of Athens. His wife is much too tired to enjoy the party after her long cross-country ride and taking care of the (unseen) kids. She takes a nap on one of the couches but with the coming noise of the festivities she eventually moves to my room to occupy my bed in a great expression of white privilege. Anyways, in my kitchen area I managed to fit a full fast food preparation station like the one we used to man at the Rose Bowl in high school. One of my friends hands a hot dog to a food worker barehanded and it is likewise received. She meets his obnoxiousness with a saucy expression. All of this occurring inside my humble apartment.

At the end of festivities, I clean up and head to the supermarket, walking instead of driving. For some reason, I chose to go about this wearing only socks and no shoes, like the forest explorers of the Tuanan research site in Borneo. All is well until I reach a colony of land barnacles in the dark suburban dirt paths. I regret my decision but decide to move forward since I am so close to the final destination.

This is no supermarket. This is the main building complex at MIT. I reach the student services center and go to the second floor. The whole room is flooded with comic-book blue light like a 90’s gothic superhero movie. I hear Tech callers doing rounds and rounds of phone calls to unsuspecting alumni with robotic consistency. One poor fellow, an Institute employee, mans a telephone from 9 to 5 to assist visitors requesting wheelchair escorts. That is his only job, depressingly infrequent and made worse in the awful lighting.


Daylight comes and I see G. and B. in the field of grass near a Newport Beach bus stop. G. tosses me a baseball ahead of me and I run after it, dodging bystanders in the process. I make a solid throw back to him and he makes a one-handed catch. B. is really happy to see me and takes part in the game of catch as well, after showing us nonchalantly the disgusting results of a recent infection.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Game Over

Oh no, I've been added to another MIT list and there is a flame war. I see the email previews in my desktop client and try to delete all of the messages before creating a filter. However, I accidentally click one of the messages open. Suddenly, the screen on my computer turns black and an 8-bit Nintendo "game-over" tune begins playing as a sequence of prompts appears. They explain in a crushingly mocking tone how my system is compromised and how I will never retrieve my data unless I negotiate with the hacker. This virus is very sophisticated, replacing the entire OS with some profligate version of Ubuntu. Navigating this monstrosity, I see the equivalent of the shut-down menu. It only gives me the option to sleep or "submit unconditionally."