Read Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End Online

Authors: James Curcio

Tags: #urban fantasy, #sex, #myth, #rock, #mythology, #psychedelic, #polyamory, #goth, #gonzo, #counterculture, #burning man, #rave culture

Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End (7 page)

BOOK: Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End
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Gregor looked slightly
disappointed. “Well, we can still have a little fun.” He pushed
play on a nearby boom-box that dangled from a chord on the wall.
The theme from the A-Team blared from the speakers. “Inspiration
music. Let’s go.”

He handed a pair of welding
goggles to Dionysus.


Are you kidding me?” Loki asked.


Oh, we’re gonna have a shit-ton of fun!” Gregor took a pull
off a bottle of Southern Comfort. “Let’s start with the
armor.”

 

 

Almost a week to the day,
they stood in the room, marveling at what they’d done.


We turned an instrument of the devil into a bohemian’s
paradise,” Dionysus said.


Let’s hope it doesn’t end like Bohemian Rhapsody,” Loki
said.


You’ve been a grump this whole damn time,” Lilith
said.


I just...I have a deep phobia of imprisonment.” Loki
scowled.


I dub thee Behemoth!” Lilith cracked a tequila bottle on the
armored side of the vehicle.

Dionysus sadly watched its
contents drip to the floor.

 

 

They were out of Colorado
in a matter of hours, brazenly taking route 70 straight out of
Grand Junction, into the the red bluffs and dusty plains of Utah.
After several hours of stifling humidity, the water broke and
unleashed a torrential downpour. Loki grumbled something about
Noah's Ark as he cut speed. Uncommon weather had become common. He
was sure that if he turned on the radio, there would be flash flood
warnings on every AM station that wasn't presently preaching fire
and brimstone, damnation and $19.95 salvation.

Dionysus gazed through one
of the windows by his bunk as he spoke into his hand-held recorder.
He spoke quietly but with gravity, like a coke addict after a long
night out.


...that's in the past now,” he was saying. “The myth of the
American dream. The great American novel. The... even the word
American now evokes a shudder. And that is an unbelievable loss. We
all know something our parents didn't in the 60s: we've been
had.


Now, it is like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering
momentum and power. Even gentle footfalls can start an avalanche,
given the proper conditions. Once it gains enough velocity,
anything in its path will be crushed. Crushed by the weight of a
myth. An idea.”


What are you rambling about?” Loki asked over the intercom,
somehow able to make out his spit-fire monologue over the rumble of
the engine. “Reality isn't up for grabs. It's
real
.”

Dionysus got up and sat in
the passenger seat. “That was really creepy, man. How did you hear
me?”


I'm half German Shepard. But seriously, explain
yourself.”


You're one of those people that think religious war comes
from innate biology? Or a conflict over resources?” Dionysus
asked.


I suppose,” Loki said. “I don't know if I'd be so pretentious
about it...”


The hell you wouldn't. What I am saying is that it is a war
of ideas. People can go their own ways, let well enough alone. But
many people aren't content with that. They identify with an idea so
strongly that it's as if the idea possesses them. God's chosen are
victorious. It is war.”

Loki narrowed his idea at
Dionysus. “I've got to think. This idea makes me really
uncomfortable. But I'll pretend for a minute that you're not just,
you know...”


Nuts?” Dionysus asked, smirking.


Yeah, that.”


Memes are how the evolved
wage war. Ontological terrorism, where have you been,
man?”


Keeping your ass out of
prison. Reality doesn't give a shit about our ideas.”


You're talking about
natural law. I'm talking about...personal myth. We are how we
represent ourselves. I'm not trying to plumb the dark recesses of
Plato's cave. I'm trying to unchain Prometheus.” Dionysus turned
off his recorder and tapped it with a smile. “And this is how I'm
going to do it.”


With an MP3 recorder?”
Loki asked.


It actually records in
WMV,” Dionysus said with a frown.


Ugh,” Loki said, lighting
a smoke and waving him away. “Stop talking to me.”

 

 

Through the “movie screen”
of the porthole windows that lined the sides of the Behemoth, day
and night blended together, much as the transformations of
landscape and climate outside showed a never ending menagerie of a
nation struggling to maintain an illusory status quo.

They were, for the time
being, like kids with a bunch of new toys. New toys, and Lilith's
conspicuously flexible cash flow.

Writing and rehearsing the
material for a first album was a blast under such
circumstances.

Of course, life on the road
wasn’t without its snags. It had been raining hard, maybe a week or
two since they had left Grand Junction. As was often the case, Loki
was driving. Lilith was riding shotgun, tapping away on her
netbook. There was a crackle in the air, like walking into the room
right after an argument.

Lilith snorted. “Why is
this still a question?”

Loki dragged on his
cigarette. “It’s posture. Strategy. You can’t be fugitives and rock
stars. You can’t book the Hollywood-fucking-Bowl–”


But you can drive a giant, armored bumblebee,” Lilith
said.


Fair point. Though that was against my strong, and might I
say correct, urging to the contrary. Ahem. But any venue big enough
to be worth the risk is–” Loki drummed his fingers on the steering
wheel.


It’s what? If this was about getting clear, you know damn
well none of it–”


Shut up,” Loki said.

“–
would be... What did you just say to me?”


I’m thinking. You like it when I think.” He continued
drumming his fingers.

Lilith swallowed a retort
and continued typing.


All right. Yes, in theory you can be both fugitives and rock
gods. But in practice it’s impossible.”

Lilith shrugged. “Try
me.”


Resources first. Who’s footing the bill?”


I am. Give me your vision here, maestro.”


Swarm, concentrate, disperse. Flash mobs, but fucking huge.
Decentralization...” Loki thought for a minute.


Mother Hive Brain!” Dionysus piped in, from his bunk. “The
hive acts without any discernible decision making–”

“–
at any level. Yeah, yeah. But that was a
joke
,” Loki said. “Hold on. Let me
finish a thought for Christ’s sake.”

Lilith finished typing, and
turned her netbook to face Loki. He was being recorded. “Go
on.”


You’re a part of it. Find your six best friends, determine
your level of commitment. Stay in touch. Take turns listening. Word
goes out from group to group, you pass it around. Call, tweet,
write, lipstick on a mirror, I don’t give a fuck. As long as
someone else is listening and tells their six friends. You six may
get the word that you will help people park, you six deal with
renting latrines, you six to–”


Latrines?” Lilith asked.


Six per cell, each cell notifies two others. How many people
in six iterations?”

Lilith laughed. “You know,
I like how you think I can do that.”


Don’t, you. I’m on to your shit,” Loki said.


Tens of thousands or millions, depending on how you figure
it. And you’re also assuming...how would you put it? No signal
degradation.”


Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics,” Loki
said, cryptically.


Have you served yet?” Lilith asked impatiently.

Loki’s hands tightened on
the steering wheel. The ‘big idea’ levity had drained from his
face.


No.” He took a breath. “Six tell six where and when, six
times, and you’ve got your Hollywood Bowl.”


You missed your calling, you know that?” Lilith
asked.

Loki finally smiled. “You’d
miss our little talks.”

 

 

About a week later, the
Behemoth wound its way through a tiny dirt road running through a
densely knit patch-work of forest and open field. The GPS voice
spoke in its usual monotone. (John Cleese had gotten old after the
first thousand miles.) “Make a left 300 yards ahead.”


There
is
no
left 300 yards ahead,” Loki said.


Trust to your machine overlords,” Dionysus said.


I think it means we’re supposed to go off-roading,” Jesus
said. “Look.” There was an even smaller dirt road, barely larger
than a path, that cut off up ahead.


You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”


No,” Lilith said. “This looks right to me.”

 

They bumped their way down
the smaller dirt path, and it opened up into a field. They were
surrounded by other cars, vans and tents. Teens ran around mostly
naked, their bodies a mess of glow-paint occult glyphs and LED
lights.

They rolled through another
patch of trees, and then into another field, with a barn and
farmhouse at its furthest corner. The barn was surrounded by an
enormous crowd of people.


Lilith...” Loki said.


Your plan, pal. I just ran with it.”

 

There were six sweaty kids
waiting to help them set up gear on stage. As the speaker walls and
drum kit were being assembled, the crowd began changing “BAB-A-LON!
BAB-A-LON! BAB-A-LON!”


You could’ve made seven figures a year on Madison avenue, you
know that?” Loki asked Lilith.


I suppose. That wouldn’t be nearly as fun.”

 

 

In near darkness, the band
waited. Cody silently tuned his guitar. The lights of the tuner and
the rest of his gear blinked ominously in the background. Dionysus
fidgeted with his sticks. Jesus, her bass hanging low between her
legs, was inspecting her makeup in a small hand mirror.

Lilith waited before her
cue, her slender hands resting on her hips, her weight on the balls
of her feet, her lips twisted into a victorious smirk, drinking
down the howl of the audience like it was Bordeaux. The lights hit,
and then the adrenaline.

The speakers struggled to
keep pace with the wild ululation of the crowd. Collectively,
terrifying vibrations rocked the barn to its foundations. Strobe
and laser-flashes rippled through the darkness. Bodies and light
seemed to twine around, between, and through each other.

By the second song, a patch
of baseball-cap wearing fans standing near the front were bowled
over by a group of women who crawled on-stage, clustering around
Lilith. It seemed a staged part of the performance. She was overrun
by the throng; esurient mouths licking, gnawing, biting at her
curves and soft skin. She crawled out of the tangle, catching the
pick-up for the next song.

 

 

Eventually, the performance
came to a crashing end, but the party continued raging as if it had
never stopped. Dionysus sat, staring at the drumsticks in his
hand.

The roof of the venue
drifted away, painted increasingly dark shades of slate-blue by
strata of smog whirling past. The snakelike peninsula of Baja and
the curve of California were both swallowed by clouds and silken
shadow. The Earth herself was a bobbing speck of dirt caught in a
tide of darkness. Blazing suns, each the size of a thimble in the
ocean, hurtled away into blackness. There was a fluttering in the
void, like stitches in a sweater.

No, it was a cell. An army
of cells. A hand.

My
hand
.

 

 

Lilith watched Dionysus
stare at his hands. He was clearly deep in the grips of some
revelation. It was possible that the incredibly potent mescaline
she’d slipped into his canteen was also having some
effect.


Could I dive back into them and find the Universe?” Dionysus
asked her.


Someday I’ll show you. But not now. Now, we play.”


The audience is a thousand eyed beast. It is mad and starving
for more, and we are just the empty puppet who dances at its
pleasure. We
feed
one another, one and yet two, a baby suckling at its mother’s
ripe breast. All pain, all need, all separation is absolved in this
symbiosis.”

BOOK: Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End
3.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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