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A Short Story

  • A Matter of Certain Gravity
  • Dalipalooza
  • Internal Uprising
  • Slow Suicide
  •   Man was that a good day. We (about thirty thousand of us) had driven into the Eastern Washington sagebrush to see a festival taking place in an amphitheater that had been dynamited out of the side of a cliff overlooking the Columbia River. The sun burned down on us, with water selling better than anything besides suntan lotion. A writhing sea of people crowded the stage, and the mass of humanity extended all the way up the semicircle of deep, verdant grass.

    A mix of incense, clove cigarettes, and pot wafted around us, and the only things to look at were the sky, the surrounding cliffs, people, and the stage. Girls and boys clad in the legal minimum looked at each other in non-threatening nonchalance, and from our viewpoint we looked, straining, in hopes of a glimpse of our heroes on the stage. (Their actions would make interesting conversations at future parties.)

    Everything was running smoothly, all of us having our little adventure of bohemianism and cultural overload, forgetting about the real world and humanity's curse of the tendency of cruelty. It was like Christmas in the middle of the summer! Besides the fact that a burrito cost seven dollars, it was heaven. I swear.

    Next to me, Nate would occasionally remark about some girl with large breasts or some freak with white or purple hair, and I would just grin and say "Yeah", or something equally as stupid. We even saw some guy in drag. About half way through the concert, some guy came out on the stage and told us how stupid we were, and how we were all lemmings, and how the concert promoters were taking our money straight to the bank. I guess that's the price you have to pay if you aren’t creative enough to entertain yourself. Nate yelled "Fuck you, asshole!" at the guy, but I don't think the guy heard him.

    About halfway through some all-girl band's set something strange really happened. We were just kicking back, marveling the novelty of a bunch of girls playing rock and roll, Nate telling me how he would like to "Get some of that", and me just grinning like an idiot as usual, when something impossibly unexpected happened. A weird cloud appeared way off on the horizon, and for a moment no one was really sure what it was.

    Then we figured it out.

    It was a familiar shape, but only from old black and white photos and films that we had seen in high school, or on PBS. It was an orange-tinted mushroom cloud, barely discernable from our distance. Then another bloomed, and another. And another.

    Everyone contemplated the ramifications of these events for a second or two, and wondered about their family and friends over in the deadly vacuum.

    Nate looked at me, wide-eyed, and said: "Oh, shit."

    I just kept on grinning.

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