There were four of us. Mean motherfuckers to a man, ripped on the inside and poisoned on the out, waiting for something to happen. Something, anything. If you’d looked up the definition of under achiever the four of us would have stared back at you, dicks in our hands, dancing to the beat of a different drummer. We were the remnants of a gene pool contaminated by crass commercialism and the me generation. The last drop that trickled down the leg of multinational trade-offs. Each of us was a loser, proud of the fact that society had left us to play the game with an incomplete rule book. There wasn’t anybody to tuck us in at night and read us a bedtime story, the thread of chemical escapism was our nurse maid, chasing away monsters and exorcising evil spirits, putting her arms around us, drawing us closer to her bosom as the outside world surrounded us. Left to our own devices the kitchen sink had become a melting pot for physical science. Reconstituting hallucinogenic’s and tobacco as a psychedelic exit from reality that lit up like a Christmas tree every time its plastic coffin was touched. For weeks we’d caressed the containing vessel dreaming of the alternative realities that waited beyond the veil. The ceremony was about to begin. War paint was applied and head dresses fixed in place, each of us stared deeply into the flames, drawing our own conclusions as we pondered the implications of our impending journey. Standing as one with the night, held by the velvet curtain of darkness, illuminated only by the sparks that drifted from the fire riding currents of disparity.
The pipe, delicately carved by the warped hands of a twisted imagination, was passed around. Cold to the touch, its warmth soon became apparent to even the most distant animals, a thing of beauty in a world of misery. Its existence proved that man walked the path of destiny alone, diseased and condemned to obscurity. I held it, gently running my fingers up and down its stem, and thought about Duke sitting alone in Woodstock watching home movies, reliving his memories, time and time again. Through the smoke I watched my demons play hide and seek, holding hands as they carved their initials on the bark of long dead trees. I lifted the tube to my mouth and lit the bowl, inhaling slowly, I felt the burning fumes scar my lungs as the toxins entered my bloodstream and took my brain apart, piece by piece. My senses packed their bags and left for the coast, leaving friends, family and familiarity behind as they searched for a place in the country far from the hustle of city life. I sat in the bleachers with a hot dog and a beer, Plato to my left, Aristotle to my right and watched the world as its history flashed by in three innings.
The dinosaurs followed all of Mother Nature’s guidelines and looked like they were doing pretty well. Swing batter, swing. Strike one, they got themselves a healthy dose of religion and started fighting, each side claiming that God had made them in his image and as such was superior to the others. Strike two came with the free love movement, as Tyrannosaur humped Brontosaurus and vice versa. The air became filled with the stench of cheap swamp after shave as safe sex was cast aside due to increasing rubber and pharmaceutical costs, and badly controlled pesticides made even the most virile Stegosaur sterile. Strike three. With the discovery of nicotine and virtual reality the terrible lizards disappeared almost without trace. Only the mammals remained, contented and happy in their work as salesmen and insurance brokers they had never understood the need to let their hair down.
Rain stopped play as the apes evolved, arguing over the smallest issues. What started as a dispute over a bedroom extension soon developed into full blown tribal warfare, the boundaries being drawn over every monkey’s right to fit mirrored ceilings in his bathroom. If you didn’t like your neighbour you moved in order to let your inner child grow, finding the room to nurture those nagging design concepts like the wheel and the arrow head. The economy collapsed as new age fanaticism shook the earth to its molten crust.
Final inning and everything rested on team communication. Scientific theory put forward its case as did theology, philosophy, sociology and a million other such plays. With no decided game plan, the entire team was soon struck out, tripping over their own laces on the way to the home plate. The field was abandoned as ten thousand fans grudgingly made their way home, muttering and cursing the fact that stupidity had cost the visiting team an almost certain victory. Lights dimmed as the staff set about preparing the ball park for the next evening, crossing their fingers and praying that the home sides winning streak would hold. A mountain of food wrappers and empty paper cups were the only testament to the evening’s game.
I woke to find my hair matted by pieces of the previous evening’s meal, my war paint smudged and tattered jeans stained by urine. Spitting in a vain attempt to rid myself of the smell and taste of rancid vomit, I sat in the damp grass desperately trying to warm my hands over the smouldering remains of the fire. If any of us are masters of our own fate, then belly up to the bar and have another drink, because closing time is getting ever closer. While you’re there, have one for me. After all its happy hour and the juke box is rocking. The umpire’s decision is final.
Tim Mass Movement
‘Mysterious Island’ originally appeared in ‘What Would Gary Gygax Do?’ which is available for purchase from iTunes , Kobo and Amazon here