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2017

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2011-03-01

Going home

In the back of a moving van.  Two people converse.

"Where are we going?"
"I don't know.  But we've got everything we need."
"Are you sure?  How do you know what we're going to find?"
"If you're referring to all this stuff, this vehicle, I guess we'll probably lose even what we already have.  Then things will get interesting."
"What do you mean?  What will we eat?  Where will we sleep?"
"Everything will be there when we arrive.  Our friends are waiting for us, they are preparing a place for us, all that stuff will be provided.  That's the easy part."
"What's the hard part then?  I've spent my whole life so far first being educated and then working just to provide myself and my family the basics we need to survive."
"Is that really why you've worked?  Were you not told, during your education, that we live in the most materially abundant civilisation in history, despite the human population expanding so rapidly?"
"I've never gone without."
"I've never starved to death either."
"I've made the allusion though, that I'm starving to death, when some people really do starve to death."
"Because you work so hard, they starve, so you can have your 'basics to survive'."

Laughter.

"I'm not even hungry at the moment."

More laughter.

"Or horny or lonely or sad.  I don't need anything."
"You're in luck then, because you're not going to go without anymore, like you have been.  You can have the sex, love and satisfaction now, and leave all the stuff for someone else."
"What about all this stuff?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Why are there no windows?"
"You'll see."

In the back of a moving van.  Two people make love and occasionally look to see where they're going.

A small group of people move without any idea of where they are going.  They know their destination will be their home and that they will be warm and safe and fulfilled when they arrive.  They know they can light a fire, they know they can fast if they need to and they know they will have each other and so with enough water to get them deep into the following day they are content, satisfied.  Tomorrow they will have the strength and the love to gather what they need, and hunt if need-be.

But this world coughs up the strangest realities and our friends find themselves in a home they weren't expecting, a home they don't understand.  Food, water and even love are not relevant in this home because they are inherently alone, barely physical beings.  There are no social spaces, there are not even any spaces to rest, only the constant movement of tunnels and hallways and corridors.  There are ups and downs in these tunnels, who knows how many storeys to this home.  There are seemingly endless twists and turns, each unfamiliar but strikingly similar to the others. 

Every corridor is a different primary colour, some with a small round hazy window set into it.  When our friends look out they see nothing but bright light, surely too bright for the human body to handle.  They see rows of large metallic creatures moving fast and speculate that these dangerous-looking creatures make the angry droning sound that is the main soundtrack in their new home.  The images out these tiny windows are unsettling, disturbing, and they don't look for long.  Rather, they keep crawling through the tunnels of their lives, sometimes seeing each other moving past through the corridor ahead.  When visual contact is made briefly they merely mark the moment with a playful-aggressive roar that is quickly forgotten as they return to the normality of individuality.

There is a bubble built out from one of the tunnels.  It is a cockpit and our friends have crawled past it many times, stopping no longer than to glance briefly.  The cockpit is always empty; an empty seat, two unused steering wheels and the largest and clearest window into that outside world that our friends consider may or may not exist.  There is, of course, no time to tentatively test whether that abandoned seat would comfortably hold a human body, or whether the steering wheel or controls by that terrifying window would have any effect over anybody's life.  They had to keep moving, keep crawling through those tunnels and hope that by chance they wouldn't come past this way again and have to see that abandoned cockpit.

But our hero, Donald, thought about that abandoned cockpit and wondered, because he had used the word "abandoned" to describe it, whether someone had sat there in the past and what they possibly could have hoped to achieve by not crawling incessantly.  These thoughts preoccupy him for many years while he crawls until he comes upon the cockpit again.  He has crawled down that same scary tunnel and there it is.  This time he crawls into the cockpit and sits at the seat and places his hands on the steering wheel and tentatively looks up out the window.

He is surprised that he does not see the angry metallic creatures that provide the soundtrack to his life and inspired him to name their world Hell.  He sees another window, a large flat one, and inside that window is another world altogether.  Inside that strange and confusing world are creatures that could almost be human.  These humanoid creatures sit in small groups around raised surfaces and put things in their mouths.  Every group of these creatures is doing the same thing, stuffing soft objects in their mouths, chewing and swallowing and Donald is transfixed for longer than he anticipates.  He suddenly realises that if he can see them so well perhaps they can see him just as easily, if the eyes on their humanoid faces work as well as his do.  It is true that their bodies are covered up in all sorts of strange ways and so they don't seem to be able to see him.  He can't help, however, fearing that they will drag him out into their world with their language, or leave him to suffocate in the wasteland of Hell with those faceless metallic beasts.

Donald turns the steering wheel and sees the more familiar sight of the metallic creatures moving so fast in such straight lines.  Donald turns the steering wheel again, amazed at his own power of perception in a world he thought he had no control over.  He stops when he sees an immense vision that can only be described as a tree.  Donald knows about trees, but only from stories, and everyone knows that stories don't really exist.  But this vision is precisely how he had imagined the mythical trees he had dreamed about so many times.  He stares at this powerful calm vision for the longest time, not growing tired through lack of movement as usual but seemingly empowered in a way he never experienced before.  The vision of the tree inspires him and he decides to press the button next to the steering wheel.

He knows he can never go back to a life of incessantly crawling knowing that the tree really exists.  He knows that if there is a tree and it looks so close although obviously it is in another world and therefore in accessible there must be someway of getting to it and he is willing to try anything.  The button doesn't seem to do anything.  It is clogged with dust as if it hasn't been pressed in a long time.  He presses the button again and decides to go to sleep because it has been a long day, the longest day of his life.

Our friends all woke up from their sleep as if they had been sleeping for 100 years.  They didn't wake up at the same time, but each one opened their eyes and took much longer than usual to take in their surroundings and remember where they are.  To wake up here is so surprising, as if they have never been here before, but of course the memories soon come flooding back and they know that they have always been here.  Of did they just arrive late the night before?  They look around at each other for reassurance.  Each pair of eyes they look at is as searching and confused as they feel; each pair of eyes is as familiar and beautiful as anything they could possibly hope to see.

They are home, they all silently know and smile.  "Welcome home," someone announces noncommittally and it sounds stupid when spoken out loud but they all repeat it anyway.

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