The device blares light, heat and sound in an almost empty space, feeding yet another one their dosage of the necessity of knowing. Knowing that things have forever changed, forever gone down a different path. I am able to watch from the inside of the bus as the landscape blurs by, tears of condensation run from the air conditioning vent at the top of the window, crawling to the sill at my elbow. The unit flashes phosphorescent white, electric sex indigo blue and then replaces everything with a single suspenseful moment of inky black that we all came from, that we all will return to someday. We watch from the inside of the bus.
Some of us want to be there.
Some of us do not know what we want.
I suppose I would count myself among that latter number.
The nature of duty and the call for vengeance has changed radically over the last few weeks. There are things now that we are very scared of that a few months ago of which we had no concept. Save the few who had been trained or have lived with the specter of biological warfare. Little teeny germs creeping around your house with the sole purpose of destroying the life you have created. Marching like ants, breeding like fleas. Flowing, gushing, moving, pushing their way into our consciousness and infecting us with the fear spreading faster and surely more deadly than any actual disease. In class last week we discussed nerve agents. Sarin, CX and CNN.
Someone said that the liberal fucks in the media deserved what they got.
There are those that would say it was and was not a horrible thing to happen to anyone.
I can't see through my own reinforced apathy at the moment.
It is becoming more and more difficult not to care. The carefully constructed shell is beginning to crack around the edges and I can no longer see through the haze in the mornings. A hesitant arc of blue steel ribbon swirls into the gray mist in the post dawn gray, the Dodge accelerates under a quick toe and grinding jaw. Muscles tense as we run through the turn together, wondering about the day when there will be a reckoning. There are times when I wonder what everything would look like after some sort of event like that. If there really would be vines hanging from bridges and that sort of thing. I have seen science fiction books penned on the subject with covers depicting as much, the only thing that I can think of is that this is a little excessive. Cataclysm and ejaculation seem to be one and the same from a certain point of view. If you fail to be careful once you finish all you have left to show for it is a mess.
Why would vines hang from a southern California freeway overpass? Is this the end of Kudzu?
I suppose I could survive there as well.
Duty before all things. Honor, loyalty and filial duty are all that matter now.
There is no hope on this new course.
I know redemption lies. She dances with salvation to tell us little white fictions about truth and honor, about justifications and the moral high road.
It's kind of hard to know who your enemy is when you cannot even define what you are.
The adult and the child wandering through the museum quietly considering the pictures they see. Both quietly fingering the knives in their pockets and waiting to slash at the works hanging in silent testament to our determined maintenence of a now perverted status quo. They walk with a quick purpose backing their actions, we try to look the other way in order to ignore this new order spawned by an elder ignorance.
There are times when the phone rings and I catch myself not breathing for a moment, lost in thought and trying to hunt down what could have happened. Could they be securing the base, sending all of us to sea with no instructions and no chance to look back? Could they know something that no one else does and this is the reason for the calling out? Is this the end that we have been collectively waiting for, the beginnings of another dark age where intolerance and ignorance win out over the advancement of society? Could their way be the right way? Is this better for our society to revert to a 'primitive' standard of living oriented toward the following of a single figurehead? Could the vacuum created by the disintegration of organized religion's choke hold on national opinion be so strong as to drag us back to something akin to pre-Renaissance society? Is that really what we need?
I simply watched their actions on television.
I told someone in an e-mail last week that if they were wondering who the enemy was, who it was that we are supposed to hate that I had an answer:
Welcome to my world.
Welcome to my war.
The fog is rolling in again over the flightline, coating us all in ever increasing layers of condensation. Water rolls down the blades to pool at the tipcaps and finally fall in soft patters to the concrete surface below. Out there somewhere another pair of our birds burn through the night as the pilots continue the last minute training necessary for them to make the deployment scheduled for this coming week. Waiting for the last birds to return, there are five of us standing on the line in a loose knot. Jackets, gloves and cranials, darkness and fog wrapped all around like a velvet blanket. The fabric is perpetually cool to the touch. Not unpleasantly so, just enough to remind us all of what has come to pass and what will be the future.
The detachments are leaving and again I am being left behind at the squadron. Shortly I will transfer and the people that I spent the last four years with will begin to fade into the dust. There are times when I feel as though I am betraying some form of trust by leaving, then again there are others where I am not sure exactly what I would do if I did stay. These questions fade into the darkness in a never ending stream of haze gray faces shuffling forth under some power beyond comprehension. The ghosts always seem the most real late at night.
How quickly you were forgotten.
I have been inoculated against Smallpox and Anthrax. I wondered why at the time when there seemed to be no point, when people were refusing the shots and demanding explanations from the powers that be as to the necessity of such things. Now I wonder if it was fortuitous or prescient that I kept my mouth shut and just cooperated this one time.
This does nothing to address the real concerns here. Worried about tomorrow, worried about next week. Every time the phone rings in the middle of the night with yet another wrong number or someone from the squadron simply calling to ask questions about this or that part I sit stock still for minutes that drag into an occasional hour. Measuring the stress in the voice on the other end just provides me with an initial indication if this is going to be the last moments I spend at home, if the future is not what I have engineered it to become. Things change, however I still regard the call to remove the packed bag from the closet, kiss Rumi good-bye and drive to work with some trepidation.
"They've called." Silence and the crushing end of everything. Glass shattering at two in the morning, rousing the sleeper from their bed to find themselves holding the old weapon. I can offer no apology for this nightmare other than to repeat what has already been said. "I love you. I've got to go."
"I'll be safe."
"Michael?" The sensation of childhood, of staring at the broken window and struck by the enormity of this new reality.
"Yes?" Wasn't the glass just there? Couldn't I just get some glue? I'll fix it and make it better, just you watch.
"Nothing." In the end I am the monster I fear most.
Still, others disagree.