One day Minkin awoke and thought, “Today, I’ll be eaten by a grizzly bear.”
No life coach, oracle or phone sex operator had steered his decision.
He chose a direction and moved towards it.
This is around the time burning Steinways fell from the skies over Brooklyn Heights. When whales beached themselves, singing ancient death songs of the deep, before spontaneously combusting and killing hundreds of onlookers and volunteers.
The country was on edge. Enemies of state lurked everywhere and nowhere. Crackdowns were swift. Orchestras and symphonies disappeared overnight, forced underground. Zoo animals were fitted with radio collars to keep their body’s cells from vibrating to combustion. Radio and TV stations only played music embedded with positive subliminal messages. Secret transmitters were installed on cell phone towers to interfere with the emergence of covert telepathic communications amongst the populace. Gross amounts of money were spent on new government programs aimed at lowering testosterone levels of birds, so they could no longer sing complex songs that might interact with human nervous systems adversely. Bees were genetically-modified to inhibit their humming of dangerous frequencies; but this also caused bees to stop dancing, flying and pollinating.
Everywhere the melody of destruction was either exploding into fiery Chopin piano solos on city sidewalks, being quelled by human ingenuity or dying in a puff of dust.
As Minkin packed a duffel with supplies and books, it could be said his decision to be eaten by a grizzly bear was a sane response to an insane world. It was something he would ask himself as he slowly made his way through the snarled streets of City Center #4. Everyday new free-rangers were rounded up, tagged and herded from the heartland in long buses with blacked-out windows to be processed. City planners continued to add more suburbs to accommodate the influx, but it was never enough. Commute times increased along with frustrations. There were rumblings from longtime citizens of City Center #4 that it was all the free-rangers fault. Though partially true, the free-rangers never asked to leave their open spaces. They were forced to live in City Centers like reservations. Who knew what strange, dangerous thoughts and activities the free-rangers were up to in their open spaces. It was a necessity to bring them into the fold to be monitored like everyone else. It was the only way for Minkin’s country to be free.
As Minkin made his way through numerous checkpoints, manned by armed soldiers, he thought even if his world had been idyllic, he would still choose to be eaten by a grizzly bear. Grizzly bears were mighty, mysterious, dangerous. To face one down would be terrifying. To be eaten by one, to float in its deprivation tank of a stomach, a piece of star dust in a furry universe, that was to approach holiness.
At least that is what Minkin imagined it would be like as he was turned back at the border, yet again, tears streaming, fist clenched, stomach growling with hunger.
Ron Gibson, Jr. has previously appeared in Noble / Gas Quarterly, The Airgonaut, Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House, The Vignette Review, Cease Cows, Spelk Fiction, etc. & forthcoming at Whiskeypaper and Cheap Pop. @sirabsurd
Photo by Angela N