DREAM: Wolves in the Attic

The most brutal dream I’ve had in a while. This is more violent than my dreams have ever gotten, because even though I’ve fought zombies, skeletal humanoids, and even became a panther made of red liquid that swallows people whole–I’ve never experienced anything like this.

Two scenes.

The first, I’m in the woods. I’m sitting around a pile of luggage, I think. There’s a Casio keyboard next to me on a pile of bags. I see a wolf run by. It’s a beautiful Gray Wolf, and I don’t find it threatening. It stops to look at me really quick and then continues through the woods. Cool. When I turn back to look at all my luggage, there’s another wolf behind me.

This one is no normal wolf. This one is a beast–glowing eyes, a snout twice as long as the last wolf I saw, mouth full of sharp, gnarled teeth. This one is growling at me. It approaches. I don’t have time to find a suitable defense, and the thing is just too damn big for me to take on hand to hand. If it gets me in those jaws, I’m done for.

I submit. I put my head down and lean over. It sniffs me. It nudges me. I’m scared as fuck. If it decides it doesn’t like me RIGHT NOW, I’m a goner. I drop to the ground. It nuzzles me two more times, growls, and goes away. Thank god.

Now I’m in a house. Never seen it before. It’s made up of three
floors. The first is a well decorated house, the top two are unfinished, all frame and plywood floors. Basically, the top two floors look like a big attic. A few people are here. Don’t know who. I’m on the first floor, and I hear something click-clacking above me on the next floor. I run up the stairs to see what it is.

When I get upstairs, I see it’s a Gray Wolf. Unthreatening. Submissive. He runs away. We obviously don’t want a wolf running about in the house, so I chase after it. I go to the other side of the house and find another staircase. The layout is bigger than I thought–there are two sets of stairs to each floor, which is going to make it hard to get this wolf down to the first floor. He’s on the third now, and I hear his paws clicking on the floor above me once again.

I climb to the third floor. I chase him around a bit until he goes back to the second floor. When he does, I call someone up to stand at the top of the other stair to make sure he doesn’t go back up to the third floor. He does. I chase the wolf through a passage and then carefully around an unfinished part of the floorboards.

He runs down the stairs. He’s on the first floor now. “Got him!” I yell back downstairs. I sigh. Then I hear a growl–a LOUD growl, behind me.

Not one, but TWO of the super-wolves behind me. Both snarling and showing their teeth. They aren’t curious this time–they make that clear by the way they approach. I jump the gap in the floorboards, and they go around it, following closely behind me.

I know I need something to fight these things, or I’m a dead man. With two of them on my back, blunt objects aren’t going to work. I need something sharp. Something fatal. Striking blows won’t help because I doubt if I can knock one of these beasts out.

I scramble around the 2nd floor, looking for something–anything to fight these things with. My salvation comes in a splintered 2×2, which I know will snap if I don’t drive it right. It’ll have to work for now. It’s only going to be good enough for one of the two, since I’ll have to leave the first disabled to even start on the second.

Just one wolf now. I seem to have lost the other while I was running. I make my stand, thinking I might not get another one-on-one chance. If I keep running, I might get flanked by the other wolf.

EVIL growl. It’s working on me, too. I’m not bold or sure of my victory here. I’m less sure of my weapon. He inches forward, lets out a bark and shows his teeth. Where do I strike? Mouth? Throat? Chest? I have a feeling that he could blast my weapon apart with his jaw, so the mouth is a no-go. If he parries when I try for the throat, I’m sunk. I have to wait for him and have faith in my aim.

He pounces. I feel his breath right before he lets out a painful yelp. Motherfucker jumped right into my makeshift spear. I drive it deeper–deeper. It’s nearly all the way in. His eyes shudder and he whines. His weight bears down on me, but he slinks back, topples over. He’s a goner. The length of the splinter is driven almost all the way into him, enough to reach through his chest and all the way into the criss-crossing of vital organs beneath. I can’t get my spear back, because there’s not enough to pull out.

Breathing slowly now. I’m calm again.

That is, until the other superwolf turns the corner and charges me. It fucks up though, because it puts its paws on some of the unfinished spots in the floor. It goes through part way. I scramble and find another peice of wood. This one’s thicker, but it has no pointed end. I have to use blunt force.

The wolf tries to back himself out of the holes he’s stepped into, and I have time for a few blows on the head. One. Two. Three. Four-Five-Six-Seven. Whining now, but he pulls himself out. He’s standing, but he’s no longer 100%. He’s growling, but his head is down. I dive onto the floor, searching for something–ANYTHING with a pointed end. I find another peice of 2×2, but it’s much shorter than the last. If I try to go through the chest, it won’t be fatal this time. I grab it anyway, and I go on the offensive. The wolf is prepared, though. He rears his massive head as I’m about to strike. I’m knocked off balance. The wolf dives on top of me. I’m grabbing the side of its upper snout and trying to twist it away. He is STRONG, and he manages to close his jaw once, going down on my fingers. It hurts bad, but I can’t let go now. He won’t be at all forgiving if I do.

I bellow a scream. It’s like a war cry–it’s like something I’ve never felt before. It’s like some force has come over me and taken my body’s will into itself. I forcefully turn the wolf’s massive head with my bloodied, mangled hand still clamped around it’s upper jaw, and with my other hand, I stab the side of the throat. I pull the stick out. I stab again. Over and over again, until the wolf is spouting blood.

I’m screaming now, stabbing as I let out the full power of whatever force it is that’s helped me turn from scared boy into raging man. The wolf releases my fingers, and when my injured hand is free, I go under its throat and start swinging at it while my other hand still grasps the wooden spear sticking out of the side of its neck. The wolf is coughing blood now, and I keep striking at the windpipe under the jaw. It tries to back down, but I’m not satisfied. I pick up the blunt stick again and begin beating the wolf against it’s snout. He’s unsuccessfully trying to hide his head now, but I keep swinging. When he tries to bury it between his front legs, I go for those instead. I hear a sickening CRACK and one of his legs gives out. He gives a final, muffled bloody yelp due to his devastated throat. He’s done.

He’s laying down now, with his jaw to the ground. Cough-whimpers coming from him. His eyes aren’t glowing anymore, and he looks up at me as he would an Alpha that just put him in his place. Such different eyes than the beast that attacked me. He’s remorseful.

“It was you or me, old boy,” I say to him, stroking his head with my mangled left hand. Now I wish I hadn’t gone so far. I wish I had thought of a way to save myself without hurting him so badly. “I’m sorry, but you started this game, and I wasn’t going to play dead again. Go to sleep now.”

His eyes flutter and close. I start crying as I wander downstairs.

Memory of the Proto-Rodent

It was a bowl of peanuts. I was waiting for my bread in the toaster-oven while I stared at it.

Something came over me. Something almost uncontrollable. I grabbed a peanut, then another, then another. Greedily. Quickly. I was almost hunched over the dish now, cracking one shell after another, sheathing them and popping them into my mouth. My hands, like little claws, working faster and faster to get more into my mouth as fast as I could chew them.

I worked out hard yesterday. My thighs and core of my abs both sore, no doubt from the 200 crunches and 100 full situps I did. The body was screaming for the complete proteins that could repair the microscopic tears I created with yesterday’s workout, the same proteins that are found in foods like the legumes that were in the bowl in front of me.

Were. I finished the bowl. Granted, it wasn’t a huge bowl, but most of the way through it I realized how I would look to an outsider. Like a little chipmunk on crack, I thought. Hovering over the dish, looking over my shoulder every now and then for predators that haven’t existed since my ancestors scurried across the cenozoic badlands scavenging for food, chomping it up, and secreting the remaining portions away in tiny caches that their hi-powered olfactory senses would lead them to later.

A little proto-rodent, I said to myself. A fifty-million-year-old memory crawling up the helix of my DNA and locking my little squirrel eyes onto that bowl of peanuts.

Fucking awesome.

No good is a mouth without a mind, nor a mind without hands…

If people would worry about their Town Boards, their County Supervisors, their State Senators and State Assemblies, their US Representatives and their US Senators as much as they worry about the nearly pointless seat at the top of the Federal Executive Branch, this country would be running a whole lot smoother.

But we don’t worry about all those other positions. We cast one vote for the entire country, we follow the news about it like we’re electing a Prom Queen, and we forget about politics for another four years.

You know where one vote makes a big difference? In any of the positions I just stated above.

Also, it might be nice if we held politicians accountable while IN OFFICE instead of casting one vote and ignoring them until it’s time for re-election.

Aristotle said that democracy wouldn’t work because the masses just weren’t educated enough. Lately we’ve been proving that old boy right. De Toqueville’s warnings about our arrogance and the coming complacency that would later arise from that arrogance are coming true as well.

We ought to go back to letting the nobility rule us, because under the gigantic “power of the people” mask, that’s what we’re doing anyway. We’re fine with having our civil liberties violated, we hand over the scepter to Dynastic Families, and we sit idly by like serfs and allow ourselves to be ruled from the top. We pretend we have things like private property even as the banks foreclose on the houses we can’t afford. We believe we hold the moral high ground on civil rights even as we jail non-violent offenders for years, hold people without trials and torture our accused enemies in secret installations far from our sovereign soil.

If we’re really a democracy, I’m actually in the wrong for complaining about all of these things, because the true majority of the country wants people like me to shut the hell up and leave them alone.

In a democracy, who am I to argue with the majority? You’ve all got the right to blind yourselves. Far be it from me to try to blow the air horn and open the shades. If you truly want to sleep through the fleecing of your own rights, then I’m not so much a Paul Revere as I am the obnoxious teenager who wanders loudly through the neighborhood at 4AM.

Oh, aren’t I just such a victimized crusader? ; )
I don’t mean to be so melodramatic, but I really do find it puzzling.

We let the Patriot Act slide right by us. We didn’t give a damn about H.R. 1955 (indeed, most us still have no idea what that even means). We’re cool as cucumbers about torture. We’re fine with playing imperialist on one side while singing songs about our beneficent position as “the liberators” on the other.

We claim to want to spread freedom to the rest of the world while we chip away at the freedom of our own citizens.

It makes me want to rip my teeth out at times, but there are other times when I think to myself: “Damn it, if no one cares about being enslaved, would it be SO wrong of me to join the side of the exploiters?”

It’s frustrating. It’s just absolutely frustrating. If people want so badly to be fooled by charlatans, would it be wrong of me to change sides and fulfill that role?

You have to wonder how many politicians ask that same question in their minds. You have to wonder how many young idealists turn sour to the people they’re trying to help after they realize that the people don’t give a damn.

I worry too much about these things, I’ve been told. It’s true. I need to relax, embrace the spirit of capital and find a way to make money off of the apathy and misinformation in this country. I certainly wouldn’t be the first person to come to that conclusion.

It’s aggravating. I don’t do all this rabble-rousing because I want people to think like me. Stop pigeon-holing me as an know-it-all elitist and understand that point. All I’m asking is for people to ask more questions. If I’m wrong, bring me the material and show me that I’m wrong. Ask, search, research, and ask again. Check your answers. Know your sources. Read into the context. When a politician makes a promise, look back on their record and see if their credibility is transparent enough to KEEP that promise.

Stop voting for the person who seems the “nicest” or “most likable” or “most like the common citizen”. Look at any George W. Bush interview from 1999. He’s a very likable “regular guy”– Someone you could have a beer and a good chat with.

I feel the same way
about Mike Huckabee. I would be honored to meet the man and sit down to a meal with him. I think he’d be warm and pleasant and fun to hang around with. Damn it, it doesn’t make him any better a candidate for President.

I’m hearing stories about people voting for Hillary because they see part of themselves in her. That would be great if they could see THEMSELVES as president, otherwise what they’re really saying is that Hillary would make a good friend. It doesn’t mean for one second that she would make a good President.

(By the way, Hillary carefully planned her bid staring in 1997. I remember getting a flyer from the Republican Party in the mail, warning me about “MRS. CLINTON PLANNING A RUN FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN 2008.” I regarded it as a joke, as a silly paranoid newsletter from a bunch of crazy conservatives. Damn. The conservatives have that one on me. They were absolutely right on target there.)

We’ve got most of the entire Republican Party being okay with tapping domestic phones to search for phantom terrorists on our own soil. Think about that for a second: the party that complained ten years ago about invasion of privacy, the degradation of the constitution and the decay of 2nd Amendment rights is now fine with setting up the near-equivalent of an Orwellian Telescreen to listen in on all of its citizens. What kind of actions are we allowing our leaders to take?

Why do the candidates we have WANT to be president?

When Washington was elected to be president in 1789, he had originally declined the position, preferring instead to retire to Mount Vernon after leading the long, hard war against the British.

Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year—a large sum in 1789. Washington, already wealthy, declined the salary. At the urging of Congress, however, he ultimately accepted the payment. A dangerous precedent could have been set otherwise, as the founding fathers wanted future presidents to come from a large pool of potential candidatesnot just those citizens that could afford to do the work for free.

Washington reluctantly served a second term as president. He refused to run for a third.

I admit that it’s absurd for me to romanticize about Washington. I know that the man was not a Saint and I also realize that we are not the same nation that we were conceived as nearly 250 years ago. Still, don’t there appear to be some characteristics above that we could ATTEMPT to look for when choosing our leaders?

In order for us to have power, me must first believe that as citizens, each of us HAS power. Next, we must choose to EXERCISE that power.

I’m not blameless here. Like many of you, I have a large mouth and tiny, brittle hands. Like many of you, I give very little myself while expecting so much from others. As always, my words are meant to burn into my mind as much as I hope they burn into yours. As always, I see the sins of ignorance in myself and po
int the blame at the mirror as readily as I do the masses.

I’m asking all of us to ask questions, seek knowledge, be wary of misinfomation, and be prepared to question your conclusions where the evidence does not match up.

I’m not asking all of us to think and act as I do.
I’m asking–instead–for all of us to THINK and ACT.

Damn it, people, whoever we choose for our leader this time around–if we don’t keep them on their toes and hold them responsible for their action, I’m totally going to jump the fence and become the next Karl Rove. You know I’ll do it, too. With the saccharine speech writing abilities I just demonstrated above, it won’t be hard. Fair warning.

Let’s not fuck it up this time. Like I said, WHOEVER we pick, it’s not a four-year ticket for them to tear-ass around the Nation and the rest of the World. Whatever actions our leaders take, it’s OUR responsibility to police them, whether we choose Hillary, Huckabee, Obama, McCain, Edwards, Romney or my hero, Dr. Paul.

On the Ocean at 7AM

This is it. Wednesday I start a job that will conclude each shift at 7AM.

What an amazing gift. I’ll bring my running shoes to work. At the end of my shift, I’ll smell the salty sea air and jog down the beach as the sun rises over the East Coast.

Oh, mother Atlantic…I’ve always wanted to line near the ocean, but I’ve never had the oppotunity until now. Lady Fate’s mass of creation, the place where all life began–right in my backyard.

When we tread on the sand, it’s not just peices of old rocks. It’s fragments of shells, the homes of our ancestors mixed and refined into a great sea of silicon oxide, calcium carbonate, potassium and sodium salts. We tread on the legacy of a billion years of life and death.

It’s not just the size of the ocean that makes it so awe-inspiring a body. It’s the energy: enough to dwarf a living being no matter the wealth of its culture or the gift of its brain-body ratio, yet so powerful and warm that some part of us–some millions-year-old string of DNA inside us–remembers that it was once our home and longs to be near it.

For every time I wanted to give up and move away, for all of my frustration at not finding a job and running out of money and giving up a cozy position in a familiar place to move here–the sea had a feeling to match.

At my worst, Lady Fate asked me to have faith. To laugh. To breathe in the vibe of the sea; to flow and ebb knowing that I would end up where I needed to be.

It’s here. I don’t know for how long, and I don’t know what event will mark the calendar when I feel it’s time to shift again, but I know for sure that this place is where I need to be right now.

My mind is on fire. I rewrote a screenplay in two weeks–the same screenplay that I could not change a page of as I sat in Milford, jumping from issue to issue of the Magazine and never seeming to get caught up. When I completed my edit of The Third Person, I outlined a new screenplay in the next three days. I’ve already started writing it, up to 25 pages.

I have no idea what’s going to happen from here on out, but every time I see the deep violet of evening settling over the Atlantic as the sun burns west, I know I’m in the right place.

“Have faith,” she said. “Just relax and embrace this moment. Have faith.”

As always, she was right.

Argument from an aggressive stance…

Mill warns us against it, actually. He says that it’s the last thing that one should do when you’re trying to convince someone that they’re wrong.

And he’s right. Like my derivative analogy says: “You don’t get an angry bull to see it your way by cracking it over the head with a wooden mallet.”

But what about when it’s not a bull you’re dealing with? What if it’s simply an impassioned person trying to do the right thing? In that case, certainly an agreesive stance is wrong as well. When I argue against someone, whether I realize it in the moment I argue with them, I often present my facts with such a tone to be degrading to their character. Even if the words in my argument are 100% accurate, making a person feel silly or stupid about their beliefs is not the way to encourage them to learn.

I am guilty of this. I am guilty of this aggressive stance more often than not. I’m terrible to get along with as a result, and unless my opponent has a strong sense of confidence and personal worth, what I’m really doing is tearing into them like a hawk into a mouse.

I’ve never been very aggressive in the world of sport, and it seems that my natural tendency to savagely compete has fallen wholly on the arena of argument. As an arguer, then, I am mostly a failure, since the point of argument is not to gut your opponent in front of your audience, but instead to make your opponent understand your stance and your logical arrival at that stance.

My hypocrisy, then, with the exception of the rare argument from a Socratic stance (one of asking questions to the point where your opponent traps themselves, something I hold in reserve for opponents I suspect are more knowledgeable than I am), falls upon my claim that the purpose of argument in to understand. Clearly my purpose, evidenced by the Pterodactyl Terror lyric “his wits are his claws,” is to make sure my opponent knows that I’m smarter and louder than they are–that their points are meaningless
and that mine are paramount to truth.

For this reason, I’m very good at giving people a distaste for my presence. The infinite critic–degrading people for their likes and dislikes as well as their religious, moral, and philosophical beliefs unless they fall in line with mine–I am adept at silencing my opponents without ever allowing them to explain their positions.

This is a disservice to all. When I raise my voice, when I use insulting language–we are no closer to understanding each other than then we first started speaking–my opponents thinking only of my brutal tone instead of the accuracy of my words, and me having learned nothing from my opponent–a result of quieting them before I have a chance to learn why they came to their conclusions.

Once the tone has shifted to aggression, the damage is done; it’s unlikely that an opponent will be willing to open their opinions to me again for fear of being treated like a subordinate.

Something I need to work on; indeed, the thing I need the most work on. I also owe someone an apology, if you couldn’t tell from my reconciliatory tone.

DREAM: Joe Callan, Human Meteorite

I’m at the edge of the atmosphere in a capsule. Yeah, think Apollo mission capsule. Don’t know how I got up there. Don’t remember the launch or anything. I’m looking out the window, getting farther from earth.

“Fuck,” I think to myself, “I don’t know how to control this thing, and if I keep going, I’ll never be able to make it back.”

My plan? Exit the capsule and do a free-fall drop all the way back to earth, of course. Shouldn’t be hard–I’ve got a space suit on…right?

Wrong. T-shirt and khakis are more like it. Still, I’m unphased by my lack of preparedness and ready to exit this capsule. I’m ready to make a journey that is pretty much guaranteed death. There’s a metal tub in one side of the capsule that looks something like a trough you’d find on a farm. I slide the trough against some kind of jettison chute, line myself up, and push along the wall to slide it out of the capsule.

Deep breath now. I know it’s going to be the last one I take for about three minutes or so. I keep thinking to myself that once I’ve broken enough atmosphere, I’ll have all the oxygen I need and all I’ll have to do is make sure I land in a nice big deep body of water.

I’m really happy that my dream ignored the fact that there are hot and cold spots in the area I dropped through…the boundary-layers between the thermosphere and the mesosphere can get awful fluxy. (We’re talking 250 degrees Fahrenheit to -150 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to fry exposed skin nice and crispy and then deliver it to the ground as a big hunk of ice) Anyway, my dream ignored this.

I’m holding my
breath in my open trough. I have an empty milk jug with me, which I brought in case I needed one more breath before I broke atmo. I would eventually find myself needing way more than that.

As I fly out into space, I see earth, and damn, it’s cool. I would imagine that next to this dream, the only think cooler would be ACTUALLY BEING in space. No picture or satellite video compares to what I saw out there (which is interesting, because my mind only knows what it’s like from those same pictures and videos. Just like creating an elaborate dream-building, the mind didn’t fail me here.) It was absolutely breathtaking. Under me was the Indian Subcontinent, the Himalayas, the Great Desert north of the Tibetan Plateau…anyway, I missed the Earth (badly) and I was flung in the other direction.

I was surprised that gravity wasn’t affecting me more, but then I quickly realized that it was…though I was locally at 0G for all intents and purposes, I was slowly wrapping myself around the edge of the earth, but I was too far away. At my trajectory, I would have slowly spiraled around the globe in low-earth orbit, which was completely unacceptable given that I only had the one milk jug. I’d be out of air long before I was inside the stratosphere, and DAMN the pressure inside my body. My eyes were starting to hurt. My lungs hurt bad. I breathed out half of my full breath to compensate.

I knew I had to correct my path and do a straight drop onto the earth, but I also knew that I needed a landing site to aim for. The Pacific Ocean, (which I was passing over the western shore of now, and there’s the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and all the tiny little islands that make up Micronesia) didn’t seem too friendly. I wanted to land on the edge of a Great Lake–at least I’d know the territory and hopefully it wouldn’t be too cold.

Still winding around the planet (there’s Hawaii, and in the distance, the green-brown edge of California…) I figured that the mass of the trough would be enough that if I propelled off of it, I would send the trough flying and, with the right kind of push, kill my orbital momentum and slowly drift toward the planet. But I had to wait until the right time. Too soon or too late and I could end up VERY FAR from my target, which I determined to be the southern curve of Lake Michigan. I’ll I’d have to do is swim to Chicago once I hit the water. Easy.

Now I’m over the continental U.S., (The Pacific Shore, the Badlands, the Rockies) and my body calls for air while my lungs prepare to burst from the stale air still inside me. I let the lungs have it their way because the pressure behind my eyes hurts more than the lack of air. Also, I’m feeling something painful in my bowels that I’m pretty sure must be a burst organ. It doesn’t hurt THAT bad, but then again, my body is under a lot of stress right now. “Adrenaline is probably coursing through me,” I think to myself.

At this point, I’ve admitted to myself that this trip is probably going to kill me, but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I’m having so much damn fun up here that I’m going to do my best to get home. Even if I die hitting the surface, I’ll be the first guy ever to clear the whole atmosphere without so much as an oxygen tank. I’m smiling at the thought.

I do as my angry lungs tell me and purge the rest of the air from my chest. This helps the pressure in my chest and the feeling in my bowels again, but the bad side of that trade is that my body is panicking from lack of air. My eyes hurt too. I’ve been squinting as hard as I can from the time I left the capsule for fear that they’d be ripped out of my skull from the negative pressure. I’m losing it now, starting to dim out. Now I’m over the Great Plains. It’s time.

It’s as hard to function in 0G as everyone says it is. This is far different than a “flying dream,” where you can propel yourself where you want to go. In this dream, my mind has set up the zero-grav environment pretty accurately, as far as I can tell. Each motion produces an irritating frictionless anti-motion, making it hard for me to position myself on the edge of the trough so that I can kick off of it. What’s worse is that my fidgeting has caused it to tumble into a spin, so now I not only have to kick at the right time, but also at the right angle.

I NEED AIR, and I don’t care about the pressure anymore. I grab the milk-jug and stupidly unscrew it. The air FLINGS ITSELF OUT into space, making the spin on my trajectory even worse. (Duh…I didn’t even think about the fact that the air exiting the milk jug’s top would function as a tiny little rocket. Apparently my mind did though, because now I was super-fucked.) I sucked at what little air remained (not really anything), and watched the earth and space spin under me. Where was I? Above Iowa? Illinois? It didn’t matter. I had no air and no bearings. The spin was awful. I shook my head, kicked off, and prayed that I would die on Earth instead of being flung further into space. Leap of faith.

Now I’m in slow free-fall as a head toward the planet. I see the great lakes shining like jewels and grin a grin of victory until I realize that my trajectory reversed a little. Now I was moving slightly west.

It didn’t matter–the most I could do was try and use my shirt as a sail to direct myself, once the air got thick enough to do so, that is. I passed a sort of layer of mist and tried to breathe. Ouch. It burns my lungs badly (ozone?) and I push whatever I sucked in back out. There’s no air for me yet.

Now the Earth is coming at me faster. I see the Great Lakes disappear over the horizon to my right, putting me somewhere over the Great Plains. I’m looking for a big body of water, but of course, there aren’t any out here. I’m moving quicker now. Quicker. I see a cirrus on a collision course with me.

I pass through narrow damp white puffs, and once I’m clear I can make out patches of forest and field. I can see major highways like little hairs stretching across my field of view. I can see big cities like bacteria colonies spreading outward from their positions on tiny blue/green ribbons of water. Faster now. I breathe in.

There is no better feeling than the cool air I’ve just sucked into my lungs. I made it. I must be in the stratosphere again. Now I’ve got another problem though–where am I going to land?

I don’t really get a choice. I’m being flung to the surface full-force now, and the last thing I remember is seeing a tree-line and thinking, “Boy, it would be nice if I didn’t hit those.”

“You okay?” A kid in a cowboy hat asks me. “Mister, you okay? Where’d you come from, mister?” I look up. I’m in a cornfield, freshly plowed under. Broken yellow stalks and warm black dirt surround me. I look at the kid, probably in his late teens. I’m breathing. I can sit up. That pain in my bowels is there a little bit, but I’m alive and I can walk. Miraculous.

I’m trying to think about the shape of the land I saw before I hit the ground.  I had been flung west of the Great Lakes, but by how far? Did I land in Wisconsin? Minnesota? I look up and ask the kid: “Am I in South Dakota?” He nods.

“But where’d you come from? Almost looked like you dropped from the sky.” I tell him my story as we walk toward the edge of the field. It’s late afternoon, and I look at the position of the sun and walk the other direction. “Where you going?”

“I’m going East,” I tell him. “I gonna walk home.”

I have a cell phone in my pocket (how convenient) and I call my Dad and tell him I’m in South Dakota. He asks me how and I let him know that just 15 or so minutes ago I was sailing around the top layer of Earth’s Atmosphere. He doesn’t believe me, but I don’t care. I tell him I’m walking home and I’ll talk to him in a few days.

I’m walking down a state road, recalling my adventure. I see some girls at a farm stand selling vegetables, I wave to them and keep walking. It’s really beautiful out, and as I walk with the sun to my back in the river region of South Dakota (somewhere around Sioux Falls, judging from the landscape), I smile, knowing that the Guinness Book of World Records is going to have a place for me.

Other than a little discomfort in my stomach, I feel like a superhero…I’ve just touched the black of space and came back to Mother Earth like a bug hitting a windshield.

It doesn’t get much cooler than that, people.