For the Horde 04: Last Days
I kept the random notes from my desk. And the page from a copy of Medusa and the Snail that Elevator A had caught between its teeth. “This book is about life and death. This is a book of treasures.” Our carts remain as we do, isolated islands of unfinished chaos, hibernating dragons waiting for a spring. It was spring when I was here last. I didn’t know it would be my last day. I have no regrets. By the time you get to a last day, it is already too late. Events are in motion, they will stay in motion.
The fourth floor of our lair is heartbreaking. Hearts are funny that way. Once broken they can continue to break. The fracturing of a single piece is usually a catastrophic event but heartbreak is exponential. The heart is not a prime number. It is infinite and infinitely divisible. For dragons, we guard the pieces of other hearts along with our own. They come to us hidden between pages and smudged on covers. We collect the pieces. They are the true treasures of the hoard. Unlike puzzles, the edges of broken hearts do not have to match to fit together. It’s aesthetically unpleasant unless your eyes have become accustomed to acceptance.
It’s fall now and all my eyes see is loss. Fractured pieces pulled apart, broken down to dust. Dragons can put them back together, but there are no dragons here. The space for dragons has been repurposed. I wonder if we have seen our last day as a species. Dragons have always been endangered, our habitats repurposed, our space reduced to make way for more valued industry. All the pieces of my heart fracture as I look around. They feel like the dust in my eyes. Dry, irritating, and painful. I no longer have tears to sooth them. No melancholy flood to wash the irritations away. This floor was once home to so many irritations. Ridiculous arguments over condition standards. Battles waged over decimal points. Passive-aggressive rebellions on brown paper tags. Even their absence is painful. I miss the bull-shit.
At my desk, time had stopped. Though I’m not sure an outsider would have noticed. A completed review, six months overdue in the spring, remains ungiven in the fall. Now a full year late. The page-a-day calendar is still in February. The desk top calendar for March shames me with its unfinished business. A business that is now nunya, nunya business. J would have courtesy laughed at that. Team meetings un-met. Performances unrecognized. Contributions unacknowledged. Conversations silenced. Perhaps I do have some regrets. It wasn’t time that stopped.
I came here with a purpose. There are things I need. I can’t remember them now. I should leave all this as it is. The dragon’s tomb. I wonder what a future archeologist would make of this desk, this place. What will this seemingly random collection of objects say about our lives? Our time? Our civilization? Will explorers from another time understand sarcasm? What will they deduce about me from the MSDS sheet on Iocane Powder, the note that says, “Stuck in a bucket.”, the Assassin’s Handbook that someone tagged with a post-it “Business Copy?” On the window sill I have tiny bits of religious iconography found on shelves throughout the years. A rosary of rainbow beads and a baseball card of Mary, a winking plastic Jesus giving a thumbs up, a metal Cthulhu, several buddhas, and a brass Shiva. What will the future make of this strange therapy group for abandoned gods? I didn’t come here for them. Does that mean I’ve abandoned them too?
In the fall, I fill two crates. I had been reduced to numbers. Forty Two, $1200, thirteen weeks, seven years and two crates. What kind of solution am I? I feel like a fraction of myself. I don’t like it. I relocate two crates of remains. My last day has already passed. My time is my own now. I have free time. This is a strange concept, free time. Time is our most valuable resource. That’s why we worry so often if we are spending it wisely. If you do not put your time towards a contribution to the financial success of others, you are wasting it. Previously, I wasted it on things like reading, writing, and fucking around with friends. I had so little free time that I only read on public transportation between work and home. Now I can’t read. My official count ended at 32 books, in April. I’ll be lucky to break 40 this year. When I hear from my erstwhile horde, they have a similar lament. Like the thousands of books in our homes are somehow not enough. We’ve rationed them for fear they maybe our last. Dragons have odd premonitions about things.
My schedule was bound to 7.5 hours per day, five days per week by the contract. Not my contract, I was non-bargaining. Solid lower-middle retail management. Pandemic made it all moot anyway. Viruses don’t care about your organizational structure. That time is my own now. I’ve come un-bound.
I came from a right-to-work state. The phrase “right-to-work” is an example of Orwellian doublespeak. It’s about who owns your time. (Spoiler: That is not you.) You have a right to work somewhere else and you have to. By design. It allows the business to reduce humans to numbers which fit neatly onto spreadsheets. They are a resource, they are numbers. Numbers are aesthetically pleasing and don’t need things like breaks. This is good for business but a drain on humanity. I had no power by the nature of being a single digit on the wrong side of the line. A single digit, 1, now less than. I am only a portion of a single digit now. Easy to round down. A remainder after the dividing. Remainders are non-essential to the economy. At this point, humanity has dropped off the cost-benefit analysis agenda.
Our not-a-good-businessman president reduced us all to numbers and then divided us. He did this before the election. The same people who believe a business can (and should) reduce people to numbers voted to allow the administration, lead by president not-a-good-businessman, to do the same to Americans. As in horseshoes and hand-grenades, ‘close’ is good enough in politics. He didn’t get the most votes but he got enough from the right voters and that’s close enough to end democracy. The pandemic was the opportunity they were waiting for so they didn’t face human rights violations when they did it. 2020 was a fun year. I am comforted by the fact that I am no longer an American.
I got home just before the first bombs land on Sea/Tac. We are told it was a freak accident, something to do with malfunctioning technology. Then the screens went dark. There would be no more trips across the river. Good thing I got those old sweaters from my file cabinet and the note from Drew. I am comforted knowing he still does not have interest in my pog collection. Due to disruptions (bombs) we did not learn about the technological malfunctions that occurred over the next 24 hours. They occurred at every military base from Sea/Tac to Miramar. Bases that were strangely evacuated.
It took three years to build three 50foot sections of sample walls at the Mexican boarder. It took 72 hours for them to install 1500 miles of barriers on the eastern boarders of Washington, Oregon, and California. Poor Nevada was bisected. (Not a hard thread to follow that this was not a failed attack from a foreign government) I imagine they drew a line from Canada to Mexico and just carved us off the map. The week I brought home the contents of my desk, America was reduced for the first time since 1861. By the time you realize it’s your last day it is too late. Events in motion tend to stay that way. And they did.