Eddy, the guy who calls me Meteor Man, suggested I write my journals with my own pen and paper. He’s right. I’ve been talking to Eddy while we finish filling in what most people call Casiel’s Crater (some call it Reese’s Crater). Interesting guy Eddy. Gives me a new perspective. I’m tired of having my Journals read by strangers. George Orwell call your office. More like a prison journal the warden can read. This one’s for you, too, babe. When you get here, Helen, I’ll show it to you. I wonder if keeping this private journal is like telling a lie? It feels like it. But hell.
We went to a dance the other day, we being a friend of Eddy’s from the pit crew, Mort, and my boss Wayne, and I. We had a blast. Not that I danced. Even in the Resurrection from the Dead, your Reese does not know how to dance. But with the music and laughing I did let go for a while of the loneliness. Oh, I still wanted you to be there with me, but somehow it didn’t hurt. Mort pulled a bowl out of his pocket and Eddy signaled me to follow. I was curious. I’d knew what Mort was holding, but I didn’t know what he intended to smoke in it.
We went out back, and there was a seating ring around a fire pit. Once I got used to the chill of the stone, it wasn’t bad. I could hear the music, but now it was fainter, like a backdrop to all the stars overhead. There are very few lights on at night, and there are so many stars. We didn’t see the Milky Way very often in the world that was. Now I see it every night and it never gets old. Ever.
Mort built a fire in the pit and after it got going he took his bowl out again.
“Okay, Mort, what is that?”
“It’s pot,” Eddy said. “We don’t smoke tobacco.”
“Nobody does anymore,” Mort added. There was a bit of disappointment in his voice.
“So where did you get this stuff? In the woods somewhere?”
“This ain’t ditch weed,” Mort said.
“I got this in the Dispensary, Meteor Man old pal,” Eddy said. “They carry it as just another herb.”
It’s true, Helen, that we Bios don’t die and never get really sick. But we eat and drink herbs to keep everything running smoothly, and that apparently is part of the ‘original plan.’ I’m still fond of Chamomile tea. But I never knew about pot in the Dispensary. Eddy explained that its tincture is used as medicine for us Bios and the herb is recommended as a light tea. I suspect they never planned on us smoking it since they do not sell pipes or papers or anything like that anywhere.
“Isn’t that against the law?” I asked.
“What law?” Eddy said. “You know of any laws?”
I had to admit, there really aren’t any laws on the books, because there aren’t any books so there aren’t any laws — just love God and love all the people. Sounds easy, but I find it isn’t all the time, as you’ve noticed from this journal.
“Okay. So it isn’t illegal. I bet your Zoë doesn’t approve.”
“What Arjun doesn’t know, won’t hurt him. He can’t read minds. If there is a God, I thank him for that. Not like I’m apologizing mind you.”
“If you think about it, Reese,” Wayne said, “people have needed altered states of mind since we first woke up from being monkeys.”
Eddy nodded. Mort was holding in a lung full of smoke.
“You know how they’re always on us to read the Bible?” Wayne asked.
“Yeah?” I said. I wondered where he was going with this.
“Well I went one better,” Wayne said. “I read about the Bible. That incense Aaron made for the Tabernacle in the book of Exodus? It included cannabis. So Morton made us our own pipe. God, I haven’t smoked since the commune.”
Wayne passed me the pipe. It has been ages since we got high together, hasn’t it Helen? The Woodstock generation was calling me back.
“Sure,” I said. Casiel brought out something of the rebel in me. As I waited for the high to hit me, I looked up again. I like looking at the stars and gas smeared across the sky. No wonder the ancients called it the Milky Way.
Eddy saw where I was looking, exhaled a stream of smoke, and said, “Can you spot the Big Dipper?”
I couldn’t. It shouldn’t have been that hard. I was beginning to think it was because we where high.
“The Pleiades then?” Wayne asked.
“Who are the Pleiades?” Mort asked. He had also brought a mason jar of something to drink, and began offering it around.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Something you thought you’d never see again,” said Eddy
Mort rolled his eyes and slipped a small bottle from an inside pocket. I could see a clear fluid inside. He pulled a cork out and handed it to me. “Drink deep,” he said. I got it half way to my face and could smell the alcohol.
“200 Proof,” Mort said.
I took a sip and gasped. I couldn’t stop coughing for a long time while the vodka burned my insides from my throat to my guts.
“Shit, that was strong,” I croaked, eyes watering.
Mort smiled. “I’ve been working part time at the hardware after we finish on the crater. I take small stuff home no questions. For bigger stuff, I wait until we close, come back, and take what I want. Tillie never says anything.”
“She has to know, doesn’t she?”
“Sure she knows,” Eddy said. “You couldn’t take a nail out of there and she wouldn’t know it.”
“Nah,” Mort said. “She never charges people if they don’t have money.”
“You’re supposed to ask, Mort.”
“Don’t lecture us, Meteor Man,” Eddy said. “We took a few parts for a still. You blew a fuckin’ mile-wide crater in the ground. Fuck her anyway. Fuck you, too.”
“The Seven Sisters,” Wayne said.
“What?” I asked.
“We were talking about the Pleiades,” Wayne said.
I passed on a second sip from the bottle.
“So what?” Mort asked. He took a long swig, and some of it flowed down his chin.
“Simple, Mort my boy,” Eddy said, “the night sky is wrong.” Eddy seemed to take this seriously. Like he was mad about it.
“The constellations are shifted,” Wayne said.
“Right,” Eddy said. “I’ll lay it out for ya, Mort. None of us witnessed the so called Apocalypse, right? Who knows how long things went on. Just how long do you think it’s been, Meteor Man?”
“No idea. There’s a Region 2021 down the line, but no one will say if there’s another after that.”
“Or another, and another? We have no idea how long things went on. Wayne says at least 13,000 years. Maybe it’s 26,000? 130,000? Maybe these Zoës are evolved humans. We could be as out of date as a cave man. What would a cave man think if he witnessed the Trinity a-bomb test? Saw a B2 stealth bomber on a low flyby? Hell, five minutes of Maude would have him kissing your feet.”
“And begging for mercy,” Wayne said.
Mort drained the last of the bottle into his mouth then filled the bowl again. I decided I’d had enough.
“Or maybe,” Eddy said, “these Zoës aren’t evolved humans. Maybe they aren’t human at all. Do you see any Zoës here at the dance? Do you ever see any of them at any of the dances? Concerts? Gallery openings? Poetry readings? Hell, game nights even? Socializing in any way? If they’re human, why won’t they mix with us? Ever think about that? Hell, maybe we’ve been kidnapped. Where in the galaxy are we?”