The Morning After
He woke to the sound of the alarm clock clanging like a bell at a four-alarm fire. His head throbbed as he tried in vain to reach the wretched thing. He moaned and cursed aloud at the dreaded clock that wouldn’t shut its mouth. His hands fumbled for the square bottle of Gin, which had slept with him and grasped it by its neck. With one deft blow he ended the life of the sinister clock once and for all. It died with an abrupt clank as its bell and clapper fell uselessly to the bedroom floor. Throwing his legs over the side of the bed then slowly opening his eyes he was pleased to see he hadn’t broken the bottle. He unscrewed the cap, kissed its mouth and accepted the fluid inside with great relief. But the Gin had turned against him too! He could feel the juices rising to his esophagus. He quickly stood up . . . then realized it was not a good idea at this point.
The room started to spin.
Slowly at first, then it picked up speed. It felt like being on a Tilt-A-Whirl at an amusement park. Dropping to his hands and knees he hoped the direction he was now crawling in was toward the bathroom and not the bedroom closet . . . again!
He crossed the vast empty plains of his bedroom floor. From a distance his hand grabbed the handle of the door and twisted the knob. The smell of disinfectant and body wash hit his nostrils and made the stuff boiling in his stomach rush even faster to his throat. Now, unless he started storing the cleaning products in his bedroom closet, he was in the sanctuary of his bathroom. He gently raised his head to get his bearings. The toilet was five hundred miles away! He didn’t think he’d make it there in time . . . again! He belched and the items in his stomach were now ready to make their grand entrance. Mercifully he reached the toilet and raised the lid just in the nick of time. For the next three minutes he spoke drunkenese to the bowl.
This was how Mr. Larry Michaels woke up in the ‘brave new world’.
Larry spent last evening riding the Sloe Gin Fizz. Then enjoyed the company of Mr. Jack Daniels. Chasing both events with Mr. Miller and his good German friend Beck.
He pulled a towel from the rack above the toilet and ended his conversation. The flush brought the throb back to his head with a vengeance. He closed his eyes and reached for the sink to his left. Slowly, very slowly, he pulled himself to a half standing half slouching position. His brown hair fell in greasy strings in front of his face. Larry blinked to focus his eyes while he produced a jaw cracking yawn before taking stock of himself in the mirror. Staring back at him was a forty-six-year-old C.P.A. His eyes, surrounded by deep crows feet, were chestnut brown but last nights drinking binges had left them red, painful and puffy. Wiping his mouth, he allowed his fingers to gently pull at the bags to reveal the thousands of red veins now occupying the whites. His skin was the color of unbleached flour.
With the strength of two men he reached for another hand towel then began to wipe his face. It took equal strength to open the medicine cabinet. It was a regular drug store in there! He had every pain reliever, sleep inducer, and weight controller he could purchase from the medical professionals at the county hospital. Belching loudly, Larry began his search. He found his preferred pain relievers and whispered a sigh of relief because he was able to find them on the first try. His hands trembled slightly causing him to drop several of the little blue pills into the sink. Frustrated, he tossed them to the floor and gingerly picked up three of them from the sink. He turned on the faucet and turning his head sideways, drank deeply. The cold water tasted oily in his mouth but still he drank deeply. He stood up forgetting he hadn’t closed the cabinet door and banged his head into the mirror! The clash with the cabinet door made him plop down hard in front of the sink. Fresh, intense pain registered in his brain and raised a small bump just above his forehead. Now he had two pains which the little blue pills would have to relieve.
Thankfully the room was no longer spinning. He was able to stand, wobbly at first, but the more he stood the straighter he walked. He slammed the medicine cabinet shut and grasped the sink to steady himself. He looked again at his face. The bump, just in his hairline was starting to turn a deep blue.
When he arrived home last night, he neglected to remove his clothes and had gone to bed in them. Of course they were now terribly wrinkled and smelled of sweat and liquor. This would be a good time for a sick day and his mind agreed with him wholeheartedly.
Leaning against the door of the bathroom he surveyed the bedroom for damage. Except for the dead clock and the bottle of gin, which was gurgling its contents on the floor, everything seemed intact. Clutching the door jamb he steadied himself then headed for the bed again. Half way there his body betrayed him and began to sway. He fell face first on the bed and tried to crawl to its center as the room started to spin again. That giant Tilt-A-Whirl started up and the barker was shouting for everyone to have their tickets ready. He figured he’d just ride the ride and wait for someone to take his ticket.
Then he passed out.
The celebration that placed Larry Micheals in the state which he now found himself had been going on for two days. It was, literally, a world wide party. The entire planet was celebrating the death of the two professed ‘Prophets’.
They first appeared about three years after the others disappeared. Everywhere they went, they spoke the forbidden words with no fear. Then there would be some kind of natural disaster. When they spoke in Italy, for example, hundreds of acres of vineyards dried up leaving the ground as parched as the Sahara. They stood on the White Cliffs of Dover shouting for the nation to repent and the waters turn into a thick goo that was blood red! Everywhere these two went, they brought heartache. For sometime they had been on the Most Wanted list of Interpol and the World Council’s Security Force. The Chancellor assured the nations that the capture of these two criminals was indeed imminent. When they finally exposed themselves at the Chancellor’s renovation of some temple in the Middle East, it was logical that the next turn of events would secure their demise.
They struck first killing the Security Officers with impunity. They gave the Chancellor little choice. He massacred the old fools!
As their bodies lay in the street decaying, the Chancellor declared a celebration to commemorate the day the earth was set free. Larry and a few of his friends from work had joined the rest of the city in its jubilation. There were free foods, drinks and tons of sexual pleasures, taking place everywhere. He indulged in each with zeal. As did the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the bodies of the two men lay, in the hot sun and television camera lights, on the street while gigantic monitors covered the broadcast night and day. Around the monitors parties raged on.
It was ten hours later when Larry was awakened by his phone ringing. It was the twelfth time since he had passed out his fellow co-workers had tried to call him. He was so deep in unconsciousness the light bleeping of his phone never registered. But now his ear picked up the tone and gradually began to send the information to his brain. His brain fired certain receptors which caused his eyes to flutter and he realized it was some sound which was vaguely familiar. He slowly sat up and looked around the darkened room. The sound stopped. It took him a few seconds to get accustomed to the darkness as he gingerly slid to the edge of the bed and was relieved that he was nearly sober.
Later in the evening, he was sitting in his recliner, clothed in nothing but a terry cloth robe, in front of his big screen T.V. sipping a glass of orange juice.
The huge Plasma screen lit up with High definition at the press of a button. He surfed through several commercials and some night time soap operas before landing on his favorite news station. “Good Evening.” The fifty-something Anchor began. He liked this guy. His deep baritone voice oozed with authority. His graying temples conveyed a sense of wisdom while his horn-rimmed glasses gave him an air of intelligence. Larry liked the blue print tie he was wearing tonight. He made a mental note to find a similar one at the Clothing Barn across town. He sipped deeply from his juice. Snuggled back into the chair and pulled the lever on the side. His legs popped up and he finished off the O. J.
“On tonight’s ‘HotSpot’,” the Anchor continued. “ Marilyn Toward will be talking to Dr. Jerome Davis of Colombia Universities’ Paranormal Phenomena Department and to the Right Reverend Dr. Elias Cortez from the Theological Department of Higher Calling Seminary. Tonight’s subject:” he paused for dramatic effect here. Larry leaned forward in anticipation. The anchor narrowed his eyebrows and looked deep into the camera while saying , “ ‘Where have the people really gone?’”
A good topic, Larry thought. He had wondered when the Network would throw its hat into the ‘theory’ ring. The events of the past few days had put the disappearances out of his mind and probably many others too. Seemed like every month or so someone was televising a special to explain why so many just vanished.
He came back from his slight journey to hear the Anchor say, “Estimates have been sketchy at best. Within the tristate area alone, it is estimated one hundred and twenty thousand have disappeared! These - - these numbers are said to have a plus or minus of 15% and have been compiled by the Social Security Department.” Something about this Anchor always made him smile. He seemed human, more human than the plastic automatons who read their news from the Teleprompter. This guy had a twitch. His left eye lid would shudder ever so lightly when he was excited about what he was reporting on and he’d stutter from time to time. He read the news from sheets of canary yellow and his rich authoritative baritone was soothing especially now with Larry nursing his hangover. The Anchor raised his hand to his ear and nodded his head, “We’re - - we’re going to send it over to Marilyn Toward now. Marilyn? Are you there?”
Marilyn Toward, like Howard but with a “T,” was a local girl who started at the college radio station reporting human interest stories. She gained national notoriety when she exposed the corruption taking place in the dairy industry, then won an award for investigative journalism and was soon fast tracked to Network News division. A year later she was reporting for the network affiliate and a year after that co-anchoring and doing exclusive interviews for the network itself. She was known for her hard-edged questions and her tenacious desire to get at the truth. If anyone can get to the bottom of this mess, he surmised, its Marilyn!
Then her face filled the screen.
There she sat, in all her womanly beauty, with her legs demurely crossed at the ankles and looking well manicured and conservatively tailored. Her blonde hair draped tastefully over both shoulders and her make-up was just sparse enough to show off her natural beauty.
She smiled at the camera!
In a tight feminine voice she responded, “This is HotSpot and I’m Marilyn Toward . . . with me this evening is Dr. Jerome Davis of the Paranormal Phenomena Department at Colombia and from our studio in Las Vegas, Reverend Cortez of the Higher Calling Seminary.” A small box appeared over her left shoulder in which the Reverend sat fidgeting and fingering his lapel microphone. “Good evening to you both.” She said. They both replied at the same time while she adjusted some papers in her lap and began the interview. “Let’s get right to it; What happened to those that disappeared? Dr. Davis.”
Jerome Davis, the head of Para Psych. was a very gaunt, elderly man and wore thick rimmed glasses on the end of his rather large nose. He had thin tight lips and deep laugh lines at the corners of his mouth. The lights of the studio reflected dully off the top of his balding head. In a deep voice he answered, “Well Marilyn we at Colombia can only theorize what caused so many to vanish. We erected a model of the - - the current conditions. Taking into account the position of our planet and the rate of dissemination of certain vapors which have accumulated from years of nuclear testing and triangulating this information with a similar disappearance occurring in the Southern Hemisphere back in the 12th century, along with the raise in crop circles and the abduction of livestock in the past eight years, we have concluded this event was extraterrestrial in nature.” Without missing a beat and profoundly serious, she asked, “So aliens are responsible?” “Well . . . this is what we theorize, yes.” He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and added, “But your viewers must understand that this is only theory and not a definitive solution.” She nodded professionally.
“Reverend Cortez, any comment?” Reverend Elias Cortez, was also tall but much heavier than the Dr. He had jet-black hair and could easily pass for someone in their late twenties but he was actually closer to fifty. His eyes were dark brown and close set in his face, his lips thick and moist from licking them constantly. He wore a deep purple frock with a thick chain and a jade infinity symbol hung around his neck. As he talked, he gestured with his hands and the lights from the studio would sparkle off of a thick gold nugget ring and the diamond Rolex watch he wore. Surprisingly, his voice was nearly as feminine as Marilyn’s. “As you know . . . Marilyn . . . we have had our Disciples in continuous communion with the Astral Realm since the day of the event. They have spoken to their Spirit Guides and we can confirm that the ones that have been taken have indeed joined the populous in the Astral Realm. But,” he paused. “I would hesitate to call them ‘aliens’. Instead think of them as ‘spiritual’ Guardians who patrol the ether protecting those of us with greater gifts of insight. Several channeling sessions have confirmed this already.”
“I see,” she replied. Unfazed by their outrageous claims she continued, “My next question would naturally be . . . Why?” this time the Reverend answered first. “The ones that were taken were considered . . . well . . . not desiring to offend anyone you understand . . . they were inferior, in the respect that they were less enlightened than those of us that stayed behind.” Marilyn was now bobbing her head gently to signify she totally understood the Reverend’s rhetoric. “The Elders of the Astral Realm desired to teach or train them in the ways of At-One-Ment. They saw that we were destroying our planet and so they removed, for the time being, those which needed to be educated in stewardship and ecological sympathies. We as a species are on the cusp of a great awakening. An evolution of spiritual and metaphysical entitlement that will bring us into a new area of being that could only be attained through the teachings of our Elders!” Marilyn pursed her lips then narrowed her eyes at the monitor, “So are you saying the ones who vanished will return?” she asked. “Oh my yes!” he grinned. “ The Elders move quickly and the times spent in training will be, I would say, . . . less than a year!” Not wanting to be upstaged, the Doctor chimed in, “I can concur with some of what the Reverend says. We have yet to acknowledge the existence of these Elders but we agree that there is an intelligent life form that governs this planet. You see, Marilyn,” he said while tenting his long fingers in front of his mouth, “ most of the subjects that have been abducted in the past have returned and upon their return have gone on to become productive members of society utilizing what they were taught to better their surroundings. I think it will be extremely important to talk to them upon their return maybe obtain several of them to - to - to volunteer for extensive testing in our labs at Colombia.” “Yes. I can agree with that,” the Reverend said adding, “also we have to remember that they will be totally enlightened to all emotional bio waves and attuned to the environment. It will be the beginning of an evolutionary rebirth. Soon all of us will follow in our fellow man’s footsteps. We will literally become gods!”
There was silence as she consulted her notes.
“One last question gentleman,” now it was her turn to be dramatic. Leaning slightly forward in her chair she stated, “I recently found a document which stated this event was predicted in the Bible and in many Christian circles it was called ‘The Rapture’. Supposedly, the document contends, the Holy Spirit of God has been removed from this world and those who are followers of the Hebrew carpenter, being filled with this Spirit, have been ‘caught up’ it says to live with this man before a great calamity comes upon the world. Any comments? Reverend?” He cleared his throat, “Well . . . you see . . . ah, Marilyn . . . we at . . . ah, Higher Calling have long since put this antiquated tome to rest. There was never any real truth in its pages and it only served to confuse the - - the works of the Elders within the Astral Realm with the one that the book called Messiah. We learned many years ago, and this has been brought out by many theologians, that this Nazarene was merely a man and not deity. So, I would not put too much stock in the Bible.”
She was nodding her head in total agreement, “Dr. Davis?” she queried, “Comments?” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and slowly pushed his glasses up on his nose then snickered, “I am a man of Science, Marilyn. I can only believe that which transcends faith and steps into reality. Facts. Pure and simple facts. This is what we should be dealing with. Extraterrestrial activity as been going on for some time now and has been faithfully documented. The so-called ‘miracles’ that took place in the Bible can neither be duplicated nor modeled to any degree of certainty and so I dismiss any claim that this vanishing is related to a book of myths and legends.”
As she began to close out the interview Larry murmured, “right!” there had been too much religious nonsense, and he was glad that the Chancellor was finally cracking down on these criminals. He actually looked forward to the weekly ‘Hunts’ and would try to be out in the street when one was taking place. He was hoping to see a capture or even a kill!
But so far no luck.
Imagine . . . the ‘Holy Spirit?’ Larry scoffed to himself. What in the world was that? He clicked off the T.V. and pondered the idea for a moment. “Gods on earth. Nice.” he whispered.
His legs were stronger now and he walked to the window. The evening sky was blood red. Below the streets were sparsely populated. In the distance the moon was raising. He put his forehead on the glass and relished it’s coolness. A new day had come and gone.
His stomach growled.
He wondered what was in the fridge.
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