Freedom Challenged

camus

I recently gave a talk on human trafficking and the concept of freedom in the modern age. The following is a truncated version of that talk:

The French philosopher, Albert Camus, once wrote, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

That is an epic statement. How many of us truly know what that statement means?

You cannot truly understand the freedom you have unless you have been tested or are willing to test yourself. And to test yourself is an experiment in picking worthwhile and meaningful fights. To disrupt. To do and build things that disrupt for the greater good. To be unafraid to test the very fabric of being and sometimes taking a stand against the status quo and saying, “No”, no matter the consequences. Sometimes you will stand alone in this, but hopefully others stand with you. And, yes. Sometimes this means looking yourself in the mirror and issuing a direct challenge to yourself. It’s not easy to do. Most shy away.

However, what I just described is, in fact, a luxury. To have the choice to challenge and test oneself is a luxury.

For those who are mired in modern day slavery through human trafficking, to fight for their very right to exist is not a luxury. Everyday, every aspect of their existence is constantly under siege by the ones who seek to exploit and enslave them. They wake every morning knowing that they face incredible suffering as a slave worker or sexual slave to the most despicable of people. They know that at any moment their bodies and minds will be pushed beyond the point of exhaustion. To the point of their spirits, minds, and bodies breaking. If any one of them were to give out on any given day and pass on from this mortal coil, there will be zero fanfare or acknowledgement that they ever existed. That they mattered. They will most likely be dumped into a ditch in some nondescript, lonely place and another will take their place. For those lucky enough to make it through each day and crawl exhausted into bed, they go to sleep knowing that only the same cycle of pain waits for them in the morning.

To give you a better idea of what this looks like. Imagine you are an 8 year old child. You have your entire future ahead of you. You don’t live in lavish luxury, but that doesn’t matter to you. You just want to play, go to school, do the things that kids do, and be loved by your family. One day a stranger shows up in a van and asks to speak with your father and mother. It is a very serious meeting and your parents look frightened. At the end of the meeting, the stranger hands over a stack of cash to your parents. He then approaches you, takes you firmly by the hand, and leads you away. You pass by your parents who say to you this stranger is now your family. They may be in tears or they may be ambivalent. You don’t know what is happening, but you do know one thing. This stranger is not your family.

From the moment the stranger takes you into his car, you are threatened with physical violence if you don’t behave and do what he says. He states that you are now his property and that you will do whatever it is he tells you to do. You may kick and scream or you may sit in frightened silence. Either way, you know your life is about to turn upside down. You are being trafficked into slavery.

You may end up in some strange land mining in dangerous conditions for the silicon minerals that make up our technological gadgets or you may end up slaving away in cocoa fields picking beans for the morning coffee that we drink or you may end up in a sweat shop somewhere sewing the fancy garments that we wear. You will never enjoy the things you help make. You will be told that you must work to pay off your master’s debt. He paid for you, so you must pay him back. You will earn only 10 to 25 cents per day and never see any of it for yourself or even be able to grasp that you will never actually be able to pay off your debt to your master. You will toil away with the hope that you will one day be freed if you work hard enough, that it is possible. It is not.

If you don’t end up a slave laborer somewhere, then you face a life of sexual servitude. You will be forced to have sex with total strangers. Sometimes as much as 30 times a day whether you are a boy or a girl. Your innocence completely lost to the ravages of human decrepitude.

This is your new life and you will most likely die between the ages of 15 – 18.

What I just described is the stark reality of children who are sold into slavery by families living in impoverished regions. Many are sold willingly by their families or outright abducted. Adults are equally at risk. When a person is faced with few economic choices they may find themselves coerced into slavery situations or they may become low level traffickers themselves out of desperation. And don’t think for one second that this is just a foreign issue. It is globally systemic and has reached the soil of every nation. These people fight for their very right to exist. And if they make it out the other side, they are the ones who’s very existence is an act of rebellion. They have been tested and survived.

Here in America, we enjoy many freedoms that we take for granted: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, among others. What we do with these freedoms will continually define us and determine if we truly become a free peoples. Do we overly concern ourselves with obtaining these personal freedoms at the expense of others? Do we end up using these freedoms that we take for granted to oppress others? Or do we insure that those around us are able to enjoy the same freedoms?

My personal conclusion is that the only true freedom is the ability to free others. By doing so, you confront your very own concepts of freedom and fight for the rights of everyone to exist freely. This fight will test your resolve in an unfree world.

There are many among you who consider yourselves peaceful healers and that is a wonderful thing. You facilitate the healing processes of the body and the mind. The concept of fighting is often times antithetical to your thinking. However, I ask, in an ironic way, to stop fighting that notion. Our bodies and minds are constantly under attack, be it by mental, spiritual, and social pressures or pathogens of the body. When we heal, we are fighting back. As healers, you facilitate this process of the body’s and mind’s ability to fight back. And in order to heal the world, you must become a fighter in your own respect. You must become the antibodies that society needs.

Do not just be concerned with healing what you see or feel before you. You must dig deeper into societies woes and demand healing justice for those who are invisible and do not have a voice. You must become healing warriors and fight for the right of all to exist freely. True healing is a journey in struggle. It is a test.

Of course, you are free to believe you don’t owe anyone anything. And that no one owes you anything. However, if we are to talk about creating a better and free world, a more compassionate and progressive world, then you and I owe everyone everything.

I don’t believe this sound unreasonable. Let us not save the world or change the world, but free the world. I ask that you all rise up to face this challenge for we are not yet all free. In this grand experiment in freedom, we must finish what we have begun.

Always fight on. Never settle. Live so that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

“Damned is the man who abandons himself.”
These words show that the worse the situation is,
never should a man consider it lost. – The Conditioned

– Rebel Rabbit

Advertisements

Coastal Craving

Last Light

Outbound Ho!

What? You thought I was talking about prostitution? You have a dirty mind. However, I will say, lately, I’ve felt like a prostitute to the city. Last week I just needed to get away from my abusive pimp called San Francisco and liberate my mind from the trap factory. I took a trip down to Santa Cruz and found some loveliness here and there. There was life, a little death, and even some weird parrot/pug art. All beautiful in its own way. I came back to the city feeling a little more present in myself again. So do the same for yourself when you feel like an exploited slave to the grind.

– Coastal Rabbit

The Bucket Man’s Pursuit of Happyness

 

Happyness

One Man Against A Rising Tide

Larry “Bucket Man” Hunt is a famous fixture of San Francisco and a good friend of mine. He has been a street performer on Market Street for as long as I can remember and usually can be found hanging around the corner of 4th and Market in front of the Old Navy slinging mighty drum beats. He’s been in two films (The Pursuit of Happyness and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House of God), commercials for Intel, done a TEDx talk, and is even sponsored by a German bucket company.

And, yet, he is living life on the streets.

He has made his living as a street performer for going on 20 years, but lately I haven’t seen much of him performing. The city has suffocated his livelihood and source of income. This infernal city, that no longer appreciates the very culture that makes it a meaningful destination, has determined Larry to be a public nuisance and has used its bureaucratic arm to force him into producing unneeded performance permits or risk having his livelihood stripped away from him. It only took a handful of unappreciative businesses to complain and force this situation on him. These businesses that have cropped up all over the city without any allegiances to the local community have begun to dictate the landscape of the city. Money that these businesses bring in has influenced the politicians of this city and given rise to a culture that seeks to disassociate itself from anything that doesn’t resemble ‘refined’ art or as the techno elite calls it, ‘great design’. Shame on you, San Francisco, for allowing a lack of balanced growth and muting of our artistic culture. A great artist, among other great artists, is now struggling even more due to the city’s myopic strong arm tactics, war on the poor, and misunderstanding of what a grassroots art culture really is about.

The city has even tried to confiscate his drums and buckets. The last time they did this, they lost some key pieces of his drum set and, instead of paying him for the loss, they are making him jump through hoops to officially ‘sue’ the city for reimbursement. This process will take weeks and in the meantime he is making due with what remains of his drum set.

I ask the powers that be: Is it not enough that Larry sleeps in an alley behind a garbage bin? Must you pummel him and others like him further until they have nothing left but shattered hopes and dreams?

So much for the city of love.

A few weeks back, I met with Larry to take him to an event centered around homeless outreach. He was to play and speak at the event. I rented a nice car to pick him up and gave him first class treatment. As we neared the event space out in the Sunset district, I mentioned that we were near Ocean Beach. He was ecstatic! In the twenty or so years he had been in the city, he had never seen the ocean due to his struggles and daily need to hustle as a street musician in order to make a living. 20+ years of never seeing an ocean vista that is only 7 miles away!

We parked the car and stood across the street from the ocean side. A sand dune obscured our vision of the wave crested waters, but it would only be mere moments before the wet expanse revealed its majesty to us. I could feel the vibrancy of Larry’s excitement. It was infectious and, though I had seen this view hundreds of times in my life, I couldn’t help but feel like a child in the moment before experiencing a new wonder for the first time. Such was the effect the giddiness of Larry had on me and when the oceanic horizon finally peeked over the crest of the dune, we stood in awed silence together. Larry in stupefied wonder. I in respectful repose for this was his moment in time and it was not for me to interrupt.

We stood there admiring the glistening of the sun bounce off the ocean waves. As I watched the scene unfold and this beautiful tide touch Larry’s soul, I couldn’t help but think of the crushing tide of city bureaucracy that he would have to go back and face. The heart of the concrete jungle that is merciless and become without heart or soul. And I could feel my eyes begin to slightly fill with that sadness that refuses to show itself in the face of such a glorious moment, yet was still there if one was to look hard enough. When Larry finally turned his face to me, it was with the face of one who had seen the unforgettable, those moments that forever sear themselves on our minds. Only two words came forth from him, “Thank you.”

I swallowed any lingering sadness before my eyes betrayed me, placed my hand on his shoulder, and simply smiled. Today the tide and swell of joy and happiness was all that mattered for my friend. We would battle that other rising tide together another day.

– Tidal Rabbit

The Beast And Beauty

Finger Peek

Sometimes San Francisco Is Beautiful To Me

What a strange title? Most people who know me understand that I’m not a diehard fan of San Francisco or any major city for that matter. I find it quite ridiculous that we build towering skyscrapers to block out the sky and then spend our energy working to get to the top of the skyscrapers so that we can see the sky again. It’s absurd. The city has become a beast of a playland for the elite, but there is still beauty to be found in quiet moments here and there.

 

Final Thoughts On New York

Cyclops

New York In Stills

Here’s the last of my New York street life series. Rather melancholic, but that’s how I like things sometimes. The world isn’t all roses and laughter, but sometimes real and dirty. It’s good to see all sides and not become oblivious to one or the other.

– Real Rabbit

www.thewreninitiative.com

www.facebook.com/thewreninitiative

Twitter: @thewrenproject

Sky and Ground

New York Street Scene

Villainous NY

Walking The Streets Of New York

Another short post from me. One thing I love to do in cities is walk the streets and look at the walls, in between the cracks, and hidden nooks and crannies to find gems of street life and art. This is from my recent various hikes in New York. And enjoy the high five sequel video!

– Street Rabbit

www.thewreninitiative.com

www.facebook.com/thewreninitiative

Twitter: @thewrenproject

An Artist’s Playland

Sunrise and Sunset in Brooklyn

Simple post today. Just getting to uploading photos from my recent NY trip. Enjoy the pics below (more to come) and please check out the time lapse vid I made of this gorgeous sunrise.

– Sunny Rabbit

http://www.thewreninitiative.com

http://www.facebook.com/thewreninitiative

Twitter: @thewrenproject

Sunrise Over the Brooklyn Bridge

I had to wake up at 4am to capture this. Totally worth it!

Sunset Over The East River

Since my sister lives in Brooklyn and sees this all the time, she was quite unimpressed. 🙂

 

 

In A High Five State Of Mind

I was recently in the Big Apple for my sister’s graduation from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Woohoo, Sis!

While I was visiting, I vowed that I would involve myself in some serious shenanigans. I was only in town for 10 days, so time was limited to the amount of mischief I could get into. So I thought and I thought and I thought until I exhausted all of my precious few brain cells…then, voila! I did a high five video in San Francisco a few years ago, so why not another one in NY? Coast to coast high fives!

Pretty self explanatory. Watch the vid. Get big smiles. Go high five those around you and spread some happy.

– High Five Rabbit

The Land Untread

MTN_default

I seek a land touched by few

Where from the sky I do not see the trails of man

Only the endless, endless underneath white puffs gliding

And I know in this place I will never place my modern feet upon

For if I do, then I will know a man has tread where no one has before

And left the refined dirt beneath my shoes upon the free and pristine wild

So if I find this land I will tell none

And sit with smile wide because I hold a secret touched only by sight

A secret that whisks over my heart with ache

Displacing my mind in yearning to become that distant spread unknown

Yet, I find myself here

In metallic, sleek flying tube soaring high above the jammed earth

Still searching

Still seeking always

And now I almost land on tilled asphalt, handmade world of my brothers and sisters

This concrete, sky-blocked place

Where I do not belong

– Lost Rabbit

The Ledge of Madness

Finscape

I’m still plugging away at this book of mine, BOX. Thought I’d share a preview of chapter 5. Feedback appreciated.

DREAM 5 – CLIFF

I have walked. A million desperate miles between awakening, dying, coming back to life and now my familiar shoes are tired. I leave them behind, a fading memory. And as I shed the remnants of a worn out life, I miss nothing for I am willing to give up everything.

The eternal highway. An endless road of darkened sunspots littering the valley pass. My gaze rests frantically on a horizon that never seems to come any closer. The clouds, a great mouth agape and chomping at the bit in despair. I wonder if this giant row of red teeth in the sky would bleed sun rays should I reach up with the hand of a god and pry one loose. Better to let them be to continue their world devouring lest I unleash their gnawing vengeance upon myself. I let my mind float to the back of my memory while my body continues its automaton function of this endless drive. Somehow this all seems so familiar. 

The nightmare is the dream. The dream is the nightmare.

*Breaking News* – An explosion has rocked Continental City. Details remain scarce, but a large, red cloud bloom can be seen floating above. We can only speculate what caused the explosion. Stay tuned as we gather more information and report further.

Has it really been 5 days since I set myself upon his plan of escape? 5 days since I had died a little death and succumbed under the weight of guilt? I can’t remember the last time I have eaten. My emaciated body is starving away, serving as punishment for a black deed wrongly committed. My ribs are beginning to dance through the sweat of my shirt and I can feel the metabolic feast on my muscles as they slowly diminish.

Fortunately, I had enough survival foresight to stockpile the car with the water I needed. The leftover bottles are now serving an additional purpose. Over the past 128 hours I have grown into the habit of relieving myself into any receptacle I have lying around the car. Throughout my automotive guilt box are the scattered bottles containing copious amounts of yellow, rotten fluid. These aren’t the actions of a crazed man, but a desperate and disparate one. All I want is to get as far away, as fast as possible. I have made up my mind to only pull over and stop only for the bare minimum time it takes to refuel. Every minute I stop is time for my ruined past to catch up to me. My mind is running away from itself in search of a last resort to continue on with sanity. Forgiveness has to be somewhere out there on that lonely road of the shackled and damned.

Forgiveness. A fantasy bastion of hope. I know I am fooling myself into thinking that there is anyway to atone for what I have set in motion. My despair will be everlasting and a knowing badge forever imprinted on my aching heart. My eyes are beginning to glaze over and my thoughts turn darkly inwards. In my mesmerized and displaced state I can feel the workings of my body complying to what I need, to what I crave. My foot slams towards the floor of the car. My body knows what its master seeks. Speed! I need speed! More of it to get me further away from myself. Perhaps, if I drive fast enough I can dilate time and leave the difference of myself in the past. I can then be free of my own pestilence and separate into an alternate future where I could settle, find the great love of my life, live free and unbound. My children would know only wonders and I would be their proud, loving father instilling within them the wisdom only fathers can pass on. They would grow to become the great speakers and leaders of society that I never had a chance to become. When asked, they would unanimously point to me, their father, as their greatest influence and source of inspiration. I, Denree Lucien, would finally achieve greatness by proxy and future generations would revere my teachings and admire me, this humble man who came from the streets of poverty to produce some of the greatest minds the world would ever see. See. Fantasy. What a silly fantasy.

My eyes slowly come back into focus from my day hallucination. The red teeth above draw closer with their aching maw. This isn’t a trick my unravelling mind is playing on me. I thought I had been imagining it, but the clouds above have slowly formed into a giant clawed mouth descending upon my position in the world. The sun beats behind it, pushing it ever downwards upon a rail of devil hued rays. I have never seen such a sun with the intensity of Promethean fire; the fire of beginnings, endless beginnings telling me that I will forever be trapped in a cycle without the ending that I wish for. I am fixated. The great eye in the sky pokes through where a tooth is missing, bringing its gaze upon me and now we are locked in a battle of wills where the victor is already assumed. I am in a race to avoid being consumed except I am racing backwards towards my sins. If I win, my victory will be my demise.

This isn’t what I expected. I was promised the dream not the nightmare.

*News Update* – We have picked up the broadcasts of emergency responders and from what we can glean, there is severe radioactive fallout within at least a 10 mile radius of Continental City. Roadblocks have been setup and travelers in the area are warned to stay at least 60 miles away. All communications are down within city limits and, as of now, we do not know if there are survivors. All signs point to a nuclear bomb that was set off. More to come.

I’ve dreamt of happiness only three times in my youth. The first was the strength of my father’s hands around my tiny wrists as he spun me round and round into dizzying heights. That day had been a singular day between us of carefree and wanton joy. A father and his son spinning on a needle head point in time. Our laughter came from deep within our bellies when we both collapsed in a disoriented heap upon the soft grass at our favorite park. He rubbed my head and hugged me tight and in that fleeting moment I held in my heart an infinite space filled with pride and joy and all of the things that a boy feels for his father, his guiding light. The next day he was gone without a word. Abandoned. That was the end of that dream.

My second delirium of happiness was the first time I placed my lips upon the softness of another’s in desire. Truth or Dare. A stupid game kids play to test the boundaries of honesty and random exhilaration. This was how I earned my chance at my first adolescent kiss. Truth or Dare. I chose Dare and the salacious group chose Lust’s Kiss. I gulped in embarrassment and froze in place. I had never kissed another in that fashion. The thought of practicing had never crossed my mind for who would ever kiss a quiet, loner kid with few friends. The others randomly chose the girl next to me and turned us to face each other. Alicia was celestial and exuded the soft glow only girls knew how to give off. I was a brute in her presence. The pressure was building and others began chanting, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” louder and louder. I raced to think on how to do this and then I remembered something my father had once told me about the first kiss he had ever had with my mother, “Gently, I took her in my arms and came face to face with her, eye to eye. I looked beyond the surface of her self and probed deeply into her yearning soul. I caressed her face and brought her lips closer to mine, but did not touch them. Not yet. We shared a momentary breath and when she finally closed her eyes, we touched our parted lips ever so softly. And when we finally released, I brought my gaze back to hers and smiled with my eyes upon hers. That is how you kiss a woman, son.”

This is how I proceeded, making sure to follow each careful step as related to me by my father. When the deed was done, I turned sheepishly away in tortured awkwardness and slunk back to my seat to grumble in despair and embarrassment. It was only when I finally looked up that I noticed the hush that had come across the group and the only sound that broke the silence was Alicia’s soft gasp, “Wow.” I walked home that night with puffed chest and the confidence of 100 titanic men. The next day I looked for Alicia to ask her to the movies, but when I ran into her with her mates, they pretended my existence was but a mockery. I should have known the natural order of high school would prevail and that we would go back to occupying our social roles. Forever the lonely kid wearing the skin of an outsider looking in. And thus my second dream was so easily crushed.

Is the third dream even worth repeating? It ends the same in desecrated despondence. It was just a dance. Nothing fancy. Just two people swept away in time and space to an absurdly maudlin song, but it was Her, wasn’t it? She was that Her that people talk about when speaking of soul mates and angels. She was the one who always walked with a spotlight tracking her and the wind blowing through her sex and form and forever locks of hair. Damn, Her! If only I had never asked for that blissful first dance, then we wouldn’t have wasted those many years between us in silent divide that grew too treacherous for both our hearts to bridge over. Damn, me.

That was then and happiness still remains only a dream

*News Update* – The space above the city has been declared a no fly zone until the radioactive cloud disperses. The cloud itself is predicted to pose no further danger due to strong westward winds blowing it across the surrounding desert. FEMA is being called in to manage the crisis and help emergency crews launch a survivor recovery mission. We have had no contact from anyone within city limits and we fear the worst.

Have you come to devour me? Your teeth are still stained with the blood of those scoundrels you have gulleted before me. Don’t think you can hide your intentions. You descend upon fast winds in a zeal reserved only for the most dedicated of fiends. Demon. Brute. Hellion. Rogue. You hunt and feast on the defeated. Does our ruin taste sweet going down? Your suffuse grin is answer enough. Then I suppose I will be a veritable smorgasbord. Piece by piece, you will nibble and gnaw on me, crunch on my bones, suck the marrow, and leave behind a husk of discarded bits you find unpalatable. I suppose even a fiend like you won’t swallow the bile of a magnificently failed man.

My foot is to the floor and, even though it may be inevitable that you will gobble me up, I race you to oblivion. It is the last thing I can try to do. If I must fail, then let me fail in spectacular fashion by outracing my steward sky that is falling on top of me.

There.

On the horizon.

I race for the ledge. See if you can catch me.

*News Update* – FEMA has provided us with hazmat suits and is allowing a small news team to accompany them on a search and rescue mission within the outer vicinity of Continental City. Inner city limits are still too dangerous to probe. Thus far, we have passed hundreds of stranded cars on the freeway. Each of them containing the irradiated and charred husks of those poor unfortunate souls who found themselves too far within the fallout blast radius. We have happened upon zero survivors. If we find even one, it will be a miracle.

I can feel the grin spreading maniacally across my face. I’ve found the finish line that has eluded me these past few tormented days. It is where the world stops and my escape begins. That steep ledge rushing to greet me poses the answer. If I must be ruined, then let me be ruined on my own terms. I won’t submit to your salivating lips. I can see you twisting and turning your tongue across your teeth in anticipation. Not today. You will have to find another meal to satiate your blood lust. We poor souls are not without means and this day one of us will claim his own destiny and respite from the demon head come from the sky.

You roar. I laugh. You chase. I run to that chasm where even you can’t reach. Look down there. That’s an ending you didn’t anticipate, I bet. You thought I would choose your type of oblivion, a desperation that plugs like a cork screw ever turning without pulling. You will have to be more alluring than that. Your ever expanding, lipless mouth is not the type of sexiness that I want to kiss with my guilty lips. These lips will be reserved for my windshield when I crash head first into the stop from the fall and they will kiss with a lasting smile crushed forever into my splintered face.

…no word from any survivors…

One time, I swam to a rock out in the middle of the Aegean sea. I swam with all my might to make the first handhold and when I finally reached the upper limits of my physical exhaustion, I touched hard, jagged land. I crawled up on top of that rock and looked back over the mile I had swam. I was fatigued, depleted, and forlorn not because I looked back upon that lonely mile which I would have to recross, but because I had not failed and drowned. The rock was supposed to be my unreachable goal. I was supposed to flail, out of breath for its salvation and fade from the history of man, but my stubborn body fought for life and kept my watery grave from me. I cursed that day, “Why?!” and received in answer the sound of an empty vacuum.

I ask now, “Please.”

Cliff. Ledge. Friend. Please. Take my sorrows and ram them into  the ground so that they may scatter and disperse back into soft dust. I am a wicked man who does not even deserve a wicked end. Just give me empty non-remembrance and save others from my flaws and faults.

…we can only hope…

You’re almost upon me and I can see into your esophagus. It’s lined with rows upon rows of churning teeth ready to systematically split me piece by piece and take me to your demon plane where you will use my soul to fuel your eternal rage. I can see the others struggling to climb away, but your tongue laps them up and undulates them into those vicious chompers. In the end, only hands attached to disembodied arms hang on and wriggle from nerves ending their death throes.

Give me more speed. Almost there. C’mon!

…in the night we hold each other in huddled prayer…

There is no more time for prayers. I have moved beyond hope for grace or personal salvation and if this is to be, then I will neither be for sacrifice nor damnation. I will dictate the terms of my own end. I will drop over that edge that is canvassed before me with speeding clarity and plummet to freedom. Freedom from the debilitations that course through my heart. When this heart stops, this insufferable, soiled heart, I will have the silence I need. I will close my eyes and give the only true smile I have ever given and fade.

…night fades into day and the search for survivors continues, but as far as the eye can see is the fiery haze of singed blight. There is doubt that anyone is alive out there in that tragic wasteland. The heart of a nation cries and mourns for friends, family, loved ones lost. Each day only brings a despondent silence…

I am ready. The last mile lays before me and I am reaching escape velocity. Here it comes. The launch. The downward tilt. The fall and tumble. I can feel it in my stomach. The trap door expansion in my gut that tells me gravity is an ever present force to contend with. I am determined to face this impact with presence and open eyes.

What is this?

I see in the rearview mirror your lashing tongue elongated and splitting into a multitude of curlicue tendrils fiercely licking at my rear end. Behind your Medusa tongue is a sickly, satisfied smile. The gas pedal is useless for these tires attached to nothing but rushing air. You knew this didn’t you? You knew that you would be able to reach me in this futile, free fall escape. You were only playing with your prey and giving me false hope. Oh, how insidious and methodical you are at this game. You truly are the great demon come from the sky to maraud and pillage the despondent fools who have lied and cheated themselves out of any wellspring of hope. I am such a fool and now you loom over me and show me the futility of running away.

It’s right there rushing up before me. That sweet, sweet dusty ground that waits with open arms for the potential of smashing machine and man together in one broken mass. And you will take it all away from me. This is it. Suspended between my mortal end and the hellfire of an eternal, crimson mouth.

I still accelerate downwards, but if you have the wherewithal to reach me before I twist into a mangled crush…

Have at it then!

…in the dead of night a singular miracle has presented itself. A signal flare has been shot from the center of Continental City. A lone survivor is reaching out for help. Emergency crews are now mobilizing in force and we can only hope there are more who have made it…