the green edge of the mountain path invites me to reminisce with some emotion (& even sensitivity) about all the nice times i’ve spent with people i loved. with people who loved me.. up the road, past the road, just sitting out on the cliffside, or going into the cavern itself, exploring by day or by night. flirting, admiring, talking, watching the sunset, watching the sunrise. drinking, cuddling, throwing shit off the cliff.
i think about the years i’ve spent here. i run through different hangouts in my mind, racking up a dozen pleasant memories, two dozen.
when i get closer this time i realize there’s some kind of art shit posted up earlier on the road. like a big banner of still life fruit, supposed to be funny and clever. it makes my skin prickle with familiar frustration. super rude of someone do that but whatever. i can’t be so ready to freak out about everything and let it ruin my day. and then i look closer and see that there’s several of them, and that they’re affixed not unprofessionally to the barely-visible exterior windows of the built part of the cave.
this alarms me enough that i feel queasy, but i keep walking, even speed up a little.
at the road’s crest i look out into the valley, i take a moment to see the sky, see the landmarks, see how small they are, see what lies ahead, still feeling some of the warmth from walking fast uphill and from remembering all the nice times we’ve had, me and my people
…and then i turn around and see that the entrance to the cave is actually blocked with large canvas banners screwed with expensive bolts to the top of the access orifice and that some more colorful art shit and even instructions (instructions!) and i get so angry that i can’t even read them and i pull out my fucking boxcutter and i walk over to the canvas wall and i drive the point into the canvas and i slash
the paint is so thick on the canvas that the razor actually snaps off, and that’s when i notice voices echoing from inside the caves, not just a couple voices, the sound of a large crowd,
so i jam my hand into the small hole that did get cut and i rip until the hole is large enough to push myself through, and i run up the staircase
and the quality of the sound where i step abruptly changes, i look down and i see that the floor is paved with marble, brightly polished blue marble, i look up, i look around me and i see a bustling hallway filled with a pop up crafts market
i hear myself screaming something
i turn to the left and i see a security guard wearing a santa hat.
i turn to the right and i see glass windows installed at the front of some booths. before i can make any sense of the far-fetched architectural transformation i’m sprinting down the long curving straight hallway, up the staircase, to the atrium which should be filled with decaying PC cubicles
but instead i find there roughly 40 baby cribs concentrically arranged around the atrium. heat lamps have been installed on the ceiling. the babies’ cries are still quiet compared with the noise of the crowd shopping below.
i hear myself screaming. this place is full of mold anyway…. it’s no place to park your baby!
no one is listening. no one seems to notice me. i make eye contact with one of the babies. i’m panicking. i turn around. a woman in a golden wedding dress comes at me fast. i stumble back, realizing i am empty-handed. i see that she has tears streaming down her face and her makeup is running.
this is all against my class interests! she sobs. i’ve learned the truth!
she turns and runs away from me, into one of the narrower hallways. i run after her. there aren’t even any lights in here yet. my breath scares me. i try to focus myself on the gold sequins of her dress sparkling as she runs. we round a corner and she grabs one of the acrylic christmas trees and throws it down on the ground. plastic baubles roll all over the floor.
security guards approach from several directions at once. my head is spinning. a woman in a skirtsuit grabs me by the arm. i shove her into a wall.
TWO MONTHS! i scream again.
i hear a chaotic noise and realize that the woman in the wedding dress has smashed a window. two men grab me and drag me into an elevator. they throw me in and the door shuts. the elevator goes up.
the doors open and cold water sprays down on me from the ceiling. i stumble out instinctively.
i look around. i see a construction site. i look around. i see half a bus terminal. i see an american flag. i see a sign for a museum. i see a sign for a mall.
i’m on top of the mountain.