Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
~William Butler Yeats, "The Stolen Child"
Six months later, we walk out the other side of the desert, Alain and me, as lean and dusty as a couple of long-armed cacti.
It might have been the peyote or sunstroke, but the lonely desert had been populated with more folks than can reasonably be expected to be in the inhospitable sands of Nevada. We met Elvis one day at high noon, pumping gas at a dusty old filling station near the edge of the desert. He ma'amed me as he went about his business, a dog-eared copy of Naked Lunch sticking out the back pocket of his coveralls. Ok, that one was probably the peyote.
At night, a different world. Spirit guides stalk ahead of us. Sprites and fairies that light up the sky like a thousand misfired neurons. Even now, I can still see the dreamscape when I close my eyes. Pyramids in a different desert, when the world was younger and the moon was bigger. Ahead of me, the handsome jackal-headed Anubis leading the way to the afterlife. Moonlit sand crunches beneath our feet. "Cherie," he says gently, "I don't feel them behind us any more."
And he's right. Anybody who might have followed us telepathically, tracking our thoughts through the distance, would have lost our scent. Scramble the brainwaves enough, and you lose the signal. That was two weeks into the desert, though. The remaining five and a half months of peyote use was purely recreational. We shucked off the layers of reality and drank from the horns of the moon.
On the far side of the desert, we hit an old country road half covered in sand, and we follow it north. I am not sure where exactly we are until we walk past the corroded old highway signs for Albuquerque. Six days further down the road, a mid-sized town looms in the horizon, ghostly with dust and sand. Nothing left.
In the husk of what used to be the town's biggest bank, now broken and abandoned, I crowbar open the panels covering the network access ports. Alain picks up some shredded bits of paper on the ground. When the looting started, the banks were the first to get hit. Fat lot of good it did anyone. The U.S. currency tanked about a week later. The dollar's not worth anything these days.
Alain shows me a scrap of a dollar bill. Perfectly flat and crisp, but torn in half. The pyramid and its all-seeing eye wink at me.
In an office that has not been trashed too badly, I find an old Net diver's headset that still works. Jack the plug into my wrists and my inner eye opens up like a flower in the sun. The creaky old made-in-Tokyo terminal and the uplink to the Net is standard government issue, but it gets the bits where they need to go. I close my eyes and start looking.
Three days into the dive, I finally find my girls again.
Hello. Sorry for the long absence. i accidentally fell in love and that kinda wrecked my ability to string more than two words together. Stupid pheremones :)