Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The Early Vultures
"This is your custom wake-up alarm. Wake up now, or you'll be late late late! Please refer to page 14 of the manual to learn how you can input your own custom wake-up message. This is you custom wake-up alarm. Wake up now, or you'll be late late late..."
I yanked at my early gift, pulling the power cord from the outlet. After rising slowly, I carried the alarm clock to the toilet, dropped it in, and urinated all over it. Not as good a wake-me-up as a scalding cup of black coffee, but I felt marginally better watching my urine deflect from the plastic, a prism of urine spraying all over the toilet area. Since it was too large to flush, I knew I'd get to pee on it again tomorrow. I might even get to shit on it. That would make my day.
I had to be in Lemont before 5am. It was currently 3, and even if the birds hadn't gone south for the winter, it would still be too early for chirping. I pried eye boogers and encrusted mucus from my eyes and nose, trying to imagine that each yellow flake represented an hour of extra pay. I gave up and cranked the shower up to full heat.
An hour later I got off the highway near Lemont and cruised down a predawn street, mentally reviewing my memorized directions. I was trying to remember whether I had to make a right or a left when I nearly struck an odd man waving lightsticks.
He wasn't wearing earmuffs like an airplane runway controller would, but the illuminated spears he waved to the sky were the same variety I'd seen glowing on runways nationwide. I pulled over and exited my car.
"Hey man, what are you doing?"
"Directing the copters. You almost hit me, dude. Didn't you see my wands?"
"Uh... no. I'm not usually awake this early. I'm feeling a bit groggy, and I got distracted. Sorry about that."
"Yeah, well... try to be more careful."
"So why are you directing helicopters? Did more inmates escape from Joliet? Is there a big manhunt goin' on?"
"Naw, they're just spraying. They're like crop dusters, but copters instead of little airplanes."
"I shouldn't be telling you this, but..."
"You can trust me. Not a peep. I'll keep it under the lid."
"I'm quitting anyways. Fuck it. Here goes nothing. You won't believe me anyways. They're spraying downers. Drugs. They mist the atmosphere whenever the factories can't keep the chemical level in the air high enough. Sometimes the weather spreads it too thin, sometimes they have a couple mist machines break down at the same time. Lotsa reasons. In these cases, they dispatch emergency fleets of copters to manually disperse The Yawn."
"Yeah, The Yawn."
"I'm definitely missing something here. Care to back up and try this from the beginning?"
"We contract for a lobbying group. Big connections in Washington. They let us do what we please. The lobby represents coffee importers, doughnut companies, pharmeceutical companies, all sorts of people. Anybody who benefits from tired groggy unhappy people in the morning, that's who's in the lobby. The CIA endorses it, too, because we're pioneering new methods of distributing mind-altering substances and delivering them to unknowing, unwitting, unwilling hosts. They already tried the water supply but the EPA filters caught it. Almost had a huge scandal, from what I heard. Anyways, they hire stiffs like me to do the grunt work, like this. I'm part of a grid. I stand here for while to mark this location, and I test the air to make sure there's enough Yawn to keep all you worker bees consuming your morning happy bullshit."
"Wow, man, you're a fucking crackpot. That's a wild story. I think I'll use it. I don't believe a word of it, though. The government and their buddies want us all tired in the morning? They're in bed with a devious caffeine lobby? That's a new one. I've heard plenty, believe me, but that's definitely a new one."
"I got another question. It might help you realize you're a hopeless flake, your life is a sham, you're hallucinating, and very probably doomed to die alone. No helicopters could see your little light sticks. There's tall trees on either side of you and streetlights above. You're not even a blip to them."
"The lights are so I don't get run over by numbnuts like you. The helicopters use the radio signal I'm broadcasting to ping my location. Idiot."
"I can't blame you, though. I had an immunity shot. This shit don't affect me. You, on the other hand? You're lucky you didn't pass out behind the wheel and eat that pine tree. That stuff is strong. When The Yawn is thick in the air, people sometimes pass right out standing up and collapse face down. It's scary. It'll be safer when in thins to the prescribed level. "
"I'll be done here in fifteen minutes or so. Just got wait for one more fly-by. I'll leave five minutes after my helicopter's route is finished. Go get some coffee, civilian. I ain't got any more to tell you."
A helicopter flew by above.
"That's a traffic copter getting an early start."
"Believe what you will, my friend. I spoke the truth. One day you'll realize it." 10:28 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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