Last night. Around four in the morning, by laptop clock. Tucked into my little outpost in the hills. Tarp; sleeping bag with pad; the usual, but I was awake. I heard a burst of flute muzak. Coming from the road, it sounded like, but I was never all that good at tracing the origin of sound. Then a helicopter flew over—bulked up by some kind of attachment, looked like. Green lights on the underside. For some reason I thought of the woman, "Shana," and what she'd say. Probably, "Shut up, I'm trying to sleep."

In my twenties I had a dream, about a village. The village was surrounded by wilderness. Every year, the village sacrificed a child. Wasn't a blood sacrifice, per se, but more on the level of energy: the energy of youth. They did this to ward off entropy. If it weren't for this drawn-out transfusion, the village would be reclaimed by Nature. Dissolved by Chaos, Pan, whatever you want to call It.

I have a much earlier memory. Something I wrote off as probably a dream, but now I'm less certain. I was a toddler. We lived near the levee in East Alton, with Olin Corporation on the other side of the river. My dad and I were on the levee. Some big, serious vehicles—construction and forestry equipment—came suddenly, and half-circled us. They menaced us and chased us back down the levee. My dad picked me up and ran. I filed the incident away. Cold storage—the shadow ledger. Just a bad dream. Had to be, right?

Later in childhood (after moving to Missouri), I had a few of what are commonly called "paranormal" encounters. I saw something on TV that shouldn't have been on TV, and on every channel, no less. Another instance: one morning, the sun was a lot bigger and redder than it should've been. A red giant sun before I even knew what that was. Ten-year-old me was baffled—to say the least. (Fortunately the swapped-in sun wasn't permanent.)

Final instance: one afternoon, in the summer of 2001, I was mowing the field (a chore I hated, like any other). I felt something, a kiss of air. I paused mowing and looked up. There was a black, boxy craft hovering above me at treetop level. Larger than a modern drone, but perhaps not big enough for passengers. Orange lights on the bottom. It stayed there for several seconds, then accelerated roughly east. It closely followed the contours of the hills.

Again, I simply filed it away, all of it. Tagged it as more funny than scary. "Remember that time—?" You don't, because you weren't there. That's why I'm telling you now. Take it or leave it. Look: most of us don't want to overdose on reality. I sure as hell don't recommend it. Spent a long time trying not to understand. Not wanting to know. Who does, in their heart of hearts? Just have a chuckle, and move on. Get a life, if you still can.

Thirty-three years old, now, and I'm still the slow kid. What else is new? My family ragged me for being bad with fractions, or some stupid thing. Dragged me for scoring only 29 on the ACT. Now I'm here. Three decades of pain and searching, for everything and nothing. It's funny. You circle around the truth, and find out it was circling you all along. The ol' Nietzschean paradox. What then? Bargain, beg, bow down. Either that, or you haven't a fuck left to give.

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