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Neo-Tribalism in the Trackless Fen

October 30th, 2005

Lost in the Roxbury/Jamaica Plain area of Boston (terraced rows of streets along diminishing ridges, brown multi-family houses , busy streets and little corner stores), I somehow stumbled across the Orange Line rails and into a trackless fen where dwelt a neo-tribal society bent on bringing down traditional civilization. They lived at the abandoned concrete biological research facilities of a long-destroyed UMass Boston, experimenting with biological weapons–on their own ignorant people if they had to, but preferably on fools who stumbled into their clutches from the outside world.

Fools such as I.

They captured me aimlessly wandering one of the upper-story corridors, peeking in doors at ramshackle drifts of equipment, trying to understand. They brought me down to the water, to an industrial dock where they’d gathered everyone to watch–perhaps two dozen all told, raggedly dressed, lounging, dangling their toes inches above the water, none older than thirty or younger than nineteen, laughing and talking among themselves as though I were no more than another member of their crew. They strapped me to a kind of neuvo-medieval witch-ducking device–a long pole on a pivot they could use to submerge me deep in the fen.

The first time, I plunged down perhaps eight feet. The water was murky, certainly unclean; the deeper one went the thicker it became, to the point that at the nadir of my plunge I felt as though I were swimming in sludge. Then they pulled me back up, spluttering, protesting. “If I go any deeper than that I’m likely to get stuck.”

“That’s the point,” said a red-haired girl, whose job it appeared to be to placate me with her perky cuteness, keep me from getting unruly. Played by Kylee from Firefly.

They adjusted the pole, moving me further from the pivot, and dunked me again. This time I went down twenty feet, plunging into sucking muck that was most reluctant to release me. I was on the point of drowning by the time they decided to hoist me free, covered head to toe in green-brown gack.

Two burly guys escorted me up to one of the labs, where under blue light a skinny guy, without even bothering to clean me off, pronounced me infected with some fine contagion or other. Then they took me up and put me on an Orange Line train and told me I was free to go.

And I went, and likely brought doom to us all.

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