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1Everything was starting to fall apart. Why? Because we were running out of gas.
It wasn't a matter of just "getting more." Even if there was a gas station for this beast, it would have been long since drained dry. It's one thing to just turn on the tap and watch water pour down the drain, but gasoline, the black gold of the Pacific, was not something they made anymore. Not since everything fell.
It started as just any old cruise ship, filled with the rich and the vacationing, and every member of support staff one could think of for catering to their survival in the belly of a massive ship. While I was neither rich nor vacationing, I hardly fit in with the staff. Not, not a stowaway either; I was a token curiosity for one of the patrons, a voice of light out of their internal shadows.
She called me Melpomene.
...in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey...
I woke with the sun.
The sun was the bringer of light, Helios with his chariot of mercy, bringing warmth to our world of water and wet. Most of the ship still slept, the partying of those overburdened with a shortage of self-preservation coupled with the entertainment paid with food stocks and a roof.
Sometimes, they would grow bored with the casual company of each other singing the same raucous songs and turn to deeper desires. It was that which led me to be awake now, concern over the health and well-being of my own skin, and that of my patron.
...where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes
It was a bad day to sleep in.
I woke her, though I knew it could bring her wrath upon me, but losing her protection was worse.
There was a storming on the stairs and a pounding on the doors. Guests were woken and dragged in their worst condition, the most composed still tangled in their bedsheets and clutching thousand-count fabric like body armour for the spirit, but for my mistress.
Her hair, though still tousled from sleep, was pulled back from her face, and her eyes, though weary from my waking, were sharp and wary. She refused to be dragged, snatching her arms free from their grasping hands, and hands on my shoulders, guided me to lead her from their wrath and impatience.
...where there are twentyfive thousand mad comrades all together...
Only the central courtyard was big enough, though our number was far lower than the last time we stood here together, twenty-and-some years past. Then we were given a magical presentation of the ride and the route, shown the lifeboats and clearly marked exits, and greeted by a grandfatherly Captain and brotherly First Mate, both of whom were enraptured by my humble self, and both of whom were long gone, tossed aside like rotten fish.
This time, they told how it was going to be.
...where you will split the heavens...
Women were segregated from the men, and the young from the old. Mistress whispered prayers into my hair and held me tightly, but did not resist when it was time to go.
I did not cry.
...where you accuse your doctors of insanity...
When tears fell, much later, every drop was with a curse, every sob was a stroke of heartache, and every shudder was a vow.
I was herded with the other men, some rough engineers, some gentle cabin boys, and some self-righteous spoiled patrons like cattle to the lower levels, where we would await judgment of usefulness.
...where fifty more shocks will never return your soul...
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness...
Italicized text comprises select lines from "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg