Chapter 19: End days

“My cousin used to hate me thinking like this” Michelle was telling Harry.  She felt unusually anxious as she sipped her tea.  “Like when I get philosophical about things.  If I truly believe in what I’m trying to say to someone, I can usually sway people’s opinions. I’m pretty sure that will be an advantage for us today.” They were at Erin’s coffee shop eating breakfast that Friday morning, and continuing the conversation they were having last night.  There weren’t too many people there, but they noticed every patron seemed particularly wigged out; more than normal on a Friday morning.

“I’d ask” Michelle said to Harry as she looked around the room.  “But sometimes, that’s why I shut this thing off” she added as she pointed to her Gyrotaur smart phone.  “Otherwise, I’m not here in the present where I should be.”

“I know what you mean” said Harry, but he looked at her doubtfully. “It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t find myself getting lost in my head from that thing all the time.”

“Yeah, self-control.  Achieving it plans to be one of my life goals” Michelle agreed  “I’ve got too much to think about right now anyways.”  She was going to invite Jamie and Samantha for breakfast as well, but she didn’t think they would understand what she was going through that morning.  As they shared a bagel, she finally confessed to Harry that last night before she had gone to bed she had had another one of these lunar tide sensations. It had been very powerful; she couldn’t sleep, which made this the third time in as many days.  Michelle dismissed it as claiming it must be jitters because of the meeting that afternoon.  It seemed reasonable to Harry she felt this way: there was so lot riding on this meeting today: they both really didn’t want to have to move out.  The whole absurd fate of the Boatyard was depending on them and their friends being able to compromise with the New Wavers through rational debate.  “It’s just jitters” Michelle repeated. “I can sleep tomorrow.”

“Maybe, but do you have these sensations all the time.  Why is that?” Harry asked her right back. Michelle did not reply.   For a minute they just sat there in silence; Michelle playing with the sugar packets and Harry stirring his coffee uneasily. “You really think we can get them to see our point of view?” he asked her after a while.  “Have you ever had a real debate with any one of them?”

Michelle hesitated.  “Well, I think I can at least force them to wallow heavily in conviction from the seeds I plant when I debate.  I come from a family of lawyers, remember?”   She made a loud slurping sound as she sipped her green tea. “Of course, that would imply, though, that we are completely right, and we’re not.”  Harry gargled his coffee and looked out the window.  Even though neither of them had any work gigs that day, Harry was almost as restless and stressed out as Michelle.

“Do you feel that Valentino and the others are completely full of shit with everything they believe?” he asked her.

Michelle kept sipping her tea thoughtfully. It seemed good to get her mind off the sensations she was having.  “I think it’s easy to become misguided around here” she replied thoughtfully.  “If I could decree something to change the world, I would decree a law in society that really enforces the idea of giving everybody a chance to feel a life of significance. I don’t think that just happens through material achievement, or titles or credentials.  I’m talking about the simple conscious process of valuing every single human every moment in time — recognizing, that out of trillions of stars in the universe, we are it:  we are the only forms of life that exist in this section of this whole matrix.  Every single one of us have to account for something.  We just get so focused in focusing on the wrong concerns in life.”

Harry stopped playing with his coffee and looked at her with wonder.  “Where do you come up with these ideas?” Michelle shrugged indifferently.  “I’m sorry; I’m not trying to sound impressive.  These things just come to me.  When the world feels against me, it’s so hard to find joy in the littlest actions.  Everything feels uncertain.   People say I’m an odd duck because I think like this.”

“Sometimes” Harry added teasingly.

“And yet what would they prefer?  That people like me were more normal?  Most of our friends deep down  don’t even like their lifestyles,  that’s why they always let themselves get high off their rocker– or drunk all the time – or they just want ‘deep’ Michelle because it’s cool to talk to someone like that – until I challenge them with something to think about.”

Harry smiled.  He did enjoy it when she’d get deep. “You think that’s that what the problem is?  The problem with civilization?” He thought he could read her like a book sometimes. “But come on; what do you care what other people think?”

“No, I guess I’m not just talking about myself.  I’m talking about the human condition.  I don’t usually, but I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes.   I just want to feel recognized…If I’m honest, I realize I just want to feel significant in this world.  But otherwise, I don’t care what other people think. Especially other people that don’t think like me.”

“I think you’re on to something there.”

Michelle sipped her tea again and stared out the window.  Despite her reservations, it was a clear morning and the Marina was looking very beautiful from this angle.   There were plenty of boats parked in the dockyard.  Some big yachts were pulling out to the bay, and a large tanker could be seen in the distance coming out of Providence.

“You do know this shit is cyclical, don’t you?” she continued.  “Skewed forms of social justice movements happen every twenty to fifty years or so.  Most of the time it’s just people rebelling from conventional norms just for the sake of it:  boredom; a spiritual   wallowing in comfortability that brings about a lack of purpose.

“Peter seems to think that if there’s any real existential threats going on, it’s with some sort of weird globalist powermongers who run everything behind the scenes: these so called ‘Demodads’ as he puts it have backed down for a generation after fear mongering became so intense that nobody trusted the news anymore — or anything that even closely resembled a globalist threat of a power grab.  But now in recent years they have come back with a vengeance.     A tanker’s horn blared in the distance and she looked out to the water towards the sound.

“But I don’t think these kinds of problems are going to last forever.  Nature would not allow it.  Every time it happens, nature gets destroyed more one way or another. Something would break down in the scheme of everything.”

Harry flipped over the table mat underneath his plate.  It had one of zodiac horoscopes.  He grinned at whatever the horoscope was telling him.  “Lunar menstrual cycles” he smirked.  “That’s what brought this whole mess.”  Then he looked at Michelle and considered her words. “Yeah, I could see that” he agreed thoughtfully.

“Ironically” Michelle continued, “I feel that the science behind a horoscope may not sound so insane right now: I feel that something going on here is running…it’s neither mechanical and it’s not based on biased emotions.. it’s spiritual… I mean spiritual in the sense that my life force feels some sort of energy at interplay here.  If I had to call Peter and the New Wavers out about something, I’d say to them: ‘You guys bring in a lot of bad energy when you speak… I know it’s not scientific though, or rational, so I don’t have an argument for you on this’ ”  she admitted.  “but I don’t think my people-nature theory is crazy though, please consider that.”

“How do you know?”

“I can’t prove it – my studies of biology.  But I can’t articulate how.  I’m not an expert.  I’ve thought about this concept a lot. I’ve considered it.  I mean, something deep about life really feels on the verge of coming out.  I feel like that’s why there’s all this existential unrest.  It feels like it could go either way; like some sort of  fate about humanity hanging on a thread.   I don’t know if something else is at interplay here.”

“You’re losing me again” said Harry.  “I don’t know what that means.”  Michelle had a way of going off tangent as she would try to articulate these ideas coming to her.  Sometimes her harangue made her sound like a soothsayer.  He smiled at her with sympathy as she bowed her head nervously and continued playing with the sugar packets.   He wished he could say something to console her.  She seemed to have been born in the wrong time.

“Something drives people to want to really feel this: I think that is the key to understanding how to fight these social problems” she continued.

“What, at the Boatyard?”

“No, I mean, in society in general.  People wanting to feel a life of significance.  The New Wavers technically, and most of our liberal friends for that matter, are aware this matters in some form. At least the real ones who truly want social justice, not the posers that just follow a crowd.  The true seekers of social justice: I feel their hearts are in the right place.  Too bad as a human you need both sides of the brain though to understand the universe. The principle of duality would say that to me;  it’s something Peter taught me: it’s a theme that can be extracted from a principle in physics:  wave particle duality in subatomic particles like photons —  something as existing with two completely different properties in nature at the same time.”

“Wait a minute, so you think the New Wavers are the ones that are right this whole time?”

“No, not at all;  not these ultra radicals.  I think the problem is, some of their basic complaints about conservative thinking are spot on.  If anything, a lot of my conservative friends are insensitive assholes.  They may be successful in many ways, and ‘responsible’, and they may follow the rat race without question,  but so many are certainly not deeper than my liberal friends.”  She continued to sip her tea.  She was almost done with her drink and needed a refill, but it felt therapeutic trying to clear her mind like this.

“On both sides, the real problem are fanatics: the ones who practically become fascist and uncompromising. I know, I know!  It’s all so cliche’.

“You sound like Peter right now.”

Michelle sighed.  “You know I’m on his side, but Peter is uncompromising and unsympathetic in some of his views.  If we’re agreeing with all of Peter’s point of view, I could really get behind it if I knew in my heart  that we are completely right, and they’re not.”  For the next  several minutes, she remained grim and silent.

Harry had to ask her what else was wrong.  Usually, after venting whatever was troubling her, Michelle would cheer up a bit.  It was always noticeable; like a weight that  had been lifted off her shoulders – as if she could relax around that friend she was pouring out to. It was quite the compliment when she would react like that.  Despite her confessing all this, he sensed something more restless in her today.

“Come on, it’s not just the debate today” he said to her.  “What else happened?”  Michelle finally confessed to him that that morning, she had had another dream  even more intense than the ones in previous nights.  It was wigging her out.  She was dying to ask Peter what he thought about this, but she knew he was at work right now.  She did tell Harry that she appreciated him for being a good listener.  However, seeing how she couldn’t make sense of any of it, Michelle ended up changing the subject by venting out about her family.

“So like I was saying, one of my cousins used to hate me being so philosophical.  She said it was pointless to always be so deep and question everything.   But then my cousin would endlessly complain about her mom  —  my aunt Flauta that is.  My cousin hated how nobody wants to visit her anymore. She hated how inhospitable my aunt was, but my cousin Lenolla is just as bad. Neither of them ever were self aware enough how obsessed they were that their house had to be perfectly clean.  And despite the fact this drove a wedge in family relations that they wished weren’t there, neither of them would ever do anything about it.”

“Wait, how does that work?”

“You seen, my aunt would make life miserable at family gatherings there:  instead of enjoying the fact we were there to visit them and enjoy their company, my aunt and my cousin seemed more obsessed with keeping the place in order and clean.  But then they hated the fact that no one wants to go visit them anymore.”

“I’m not sure I’m following” Harry confessed.

“What I’m trying to say is that, see, this is why I think most people are screwed. Like my relatives, people want to exist in only an element of truth but not the full spectrum.  I keep thinking people don’t want to consider there’s a higher level of reality going on.  It is painful to discuss these things. But there’s the irony: they don’t see the irony in their own actions that could make life so much easier.” Just then Cheryl walked into the coffee shop, and Tim was with her.   Her face was pale. “Did you hear what happened?”  Just the way Cheryl said the words gave both Michelle and Harry an unnerving feeling.

“What? What happened?” “Rio De Janeiro” Cheryl continued.  “Holes in the sky!”

“What?  What the hell are you talking about?” asked Michelle.

“Yesterday; they call them red sores in the sky” said Tim. “Red swirling things. Haze and lightening coming out of them at the same time.  They just appeared, they said.”

“You mean like that internet hoax of those UFO’s found in the sky?” Harry asked with disbelief. “Out in the Thermopaleeville regions and Xiana?  I thought those were just recent urban legends.”

“I don’t know anything about that” said Tim.  “But this week keeps getting weirder.”   They sat themselves down with Michelle and Harry.  After everyone checked their smartphones for more news, they just got the same repeated weather warning down there over and over.

“When exactly did this happen?” Harry asked.

“Yesterday afternoon” said Tim.  “I had no idea about it until this morning.  It is all over the news.”

“I guess it was on the news yesterday too” said Cheryl with fear in her voice.  “Wait; you also didn’t know about this?”

“No.”

Cheryl was flabbergasted. “How in the world did all of us miss this? Are we that…sheltered?”

“That—that’s just messed up” said Michelle with disbelief.  She was certainly scared, but immediately she felt calmer at the same time.  Maybe she wasn’t crazy;  she couldn’t make sense of the ‘lunar’ sensations she had been feeling all morning, but now this.  Just like they were doing to each other, she actually wanted to confess to her friends how scared she actually was, but this was no time to wig out her friends.  It really was so tragic.  It had always been this way since she had moved to the Providence area: everyone regarded her with respect for being so strong that it got to the point where she could never really express anxiety or grief because other people would break if they saw her crack – one of life’s sweet ironies of being considered powerful against her own choice.

“Three major media sources describe it as a rare optical illusion.  Something about an anomaly in the weather makes from time to time due to the nano-pollution down there.”

“What does Peter think?” Harry asked desperately. “His lab must be able to explain it.”

“I can’t reach him” Cheryl said with a shake of her head.  “I guess we can ask later.”  For the next several minutes, Cheryl tried to describe what she had seen on the news to Harry.   Michelle just stared out the window…wondering what to make of her feelings on top of everything else.

“Maybe it’s weather anomalies”  Michelle tried to reason out, but her confidence choked inside of her.  Something had triggered within she didn’t want to have to reason out. She was already fatigued.  “You know….Bermuda triangle; the Borealis belt in Antarctica, Anakaland region…”

“It’s got to be nano-pollution” Tim insisted. “Everybody relax.”

Finally, Cheryl tried to change the subject. “Anyways, I knew I’d find you here” she said to Michelle and Harry.  “Just another six hours to go.  I kind of want to get this over with.  Other than…that…am I interrupting anything?”

“Aside from world changing news?  Not really… just observations that can’t solve anything for the time being” Michelle replied wearily.  “In terms of the big debate, I guess whoever’s right about anything, they are only going to win their argument the way a lawyer would.  Through real evidence, facts and logic.   And ideally, with some unbiased dignity, if anyone really wants to decide the better options for our little community.”

“So eloquently spoken” said Tim.  “Sounds like you’re having doubts about the cause here.”

“I’m going to have to agree with Tim” said Cheryl. “Weather aside, what the hell happened now? Sweetheart, you think too much” she said to Michelle before giving a cheerful look to her and then a frazzled look to Harry. “I know this girl well enough.  She was having one of those ‘epiphanies’, right?  She was probably talking about some redeemable qualities the New Wavers have about how wanting equality is not a bad thing in and of itself, right?”

“Well, yeah…” said Harry.

“And then something about how our stance may be pictured as more conservative, even though, technically, we’re not?” Cheryl continued.

“Sort of, I guess” Harry replied.

“And probing too deep in that way of thinking, she finally convinced herself Peter is a misogynist pig because he’s a white male even though he isn’t…”

“Oh shut up!” Michelle replied half amused and half upset.  “I’m not that impressionable.  It’s not like I don’t keep my wits about me when I get like this.”

“So what’s our little battle plan?”

“Absolutely nothing” Michelle said.  “I for one though, won’t embrace any ideology that makes people so sensitive and is built on a delusion.  Peter is not white.  He was bullied and that’s simply not cool.  That should be our whole point.  Let’s just hope Peter doesn’t add to all the chaos that I hate about everything right now.”

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