February 2nd, 2013

Erstwhile Concept Art


We're at the mall to see a friend of mine in one of those Star Wars Stormtrooper cosplayer groups. The marching is sloppy, but they look like they're having fun, pretending to blow up storefronts with their flasher-tipped "laser rifles".

There's five different Darth Vaders, too, but one of them seems to be the leader of the group. As they reach the central atrium, they do a little demonstration: the main Darth holds two fingers to his temple, and the other four raise their guns and "fire" in unison. Well, three of them fire; the fourth one doesn't hit his trigger, and the light doesn't go on the end of his gun. Huh. Darth tries again: same result. He goes up and pulls off the disobedient guy's head. Woah, this guy is old. That's commitment to realism for ya. "You still have problems losing yourself to mental commands, Luke." (Wait, Luke? The old guy is supposed to be some kind of alternate-universe Imperial Skywalker?) "What is it you want?"

The old guy is mumbling, we can barely hear him. "I- I want everyone... to be happy."

And then suddenly he's shouting: "I WANT EVERYONE TO BE HAPPY!"

And it starts to dawn on us: we are happy.

We start to walk, and then jog, and run, to the middle of the atrium. Well, some of us do. I'm a little slow off the mark so I'm still around the outskirts of the group, climbing up onto a bench, watching as the coursing throng comes together. It's like a big college sports celebration, all incomprehensible shouts and cheering, except then it starts getting rough, people shoving and cramming in harder and harder, the ones right in the middle must be getting crushed or trampled. But I still feel like I'd be really thrilled to get into the middle of that. I want to yell "PARTY!" but I know I wouldn't be heard over the noise everyone else is making. I look up: there's people pounding on the glass from the stairwell overlooking the hall. There's hundreds of them, it must be everyone who was on the second floor. Looking ahead, I can see there's more room between me and the exit. I'm pushing my way around an elderly couple (one of them looks like my grandmother) when I hear the shattering glass. I turn around: the people on the stairs cascade out off the balcony, a living tidal wave, smashing down into the crowd below. The sound of thousands of bones and bodies being broken all at once is like the crackle of a huge bonfire. Splashes of gore and blood bounce out of the carnage. A young police officer drops just in front of me, and I see her legs twist and crumple under her torso, smiling all the way down.

I finally force my legs to run out to the parking lot. More jumpers are hitting the asphalt all around me. A helicopter is wandering around the sky in wide, lazy loops. I can hear the roars of screaming humanity, so whatever is happening, it's going on all over the city, and maybe even around the world. I huddle for shelter in between two concrete barricades. Even amidst all the noise, all the suffering, through my own unstoppable flow of tears, I can't stop saying it. "I'm so happy. I'm so happy."

I'm lying on my side as I wake up. There's a long, silvery spider thread running from the ceiling down to my stereo -- oh, that's just the antenna. The ocelot leans over my shoulder, whispers in my ear. "See, people can't take that much happiness, not all at once." Pretty graphic demonstration, I tell her.