G.L. Eikenberry

Reality is tenuous on New Year's Eve even in the best of situations.

In the beginning -- every beginning -- there is only awareness. This is pure consciousness that is not differentiated into sensation -- no sight, sound, touch, taste or smell, but direct experience of the flow of energy. For at one level, the only level in the beginning, everything is energy. Energy: the wave form of the most minute particle, the tallest mountain, the most immensely imaginable proto-stellar mass.

That, of course, is in the beginning. With awareness comes identity, and with identity comes alienation from the cosmic whole.

Only the most highly evolved beings experience both identity (the I) and oneness (the I am) in a single self -- a single eternal breath.

Jack Lee, at least at the moment that concerns our tale, is not among the community of most highly evolved beings. Jack Lee is just an accidental savant in a world that has escaped from the rigid predictability of high school Judeo-Christian science, with its addiction to linear causality.

The brown bag shrouded bottle of chateau-whatever-was-cheapest nudges Jack's shoulder. He isn't really paying attention. Nothing new about that. Dark. Cold. Pain like heavy, dense fog, permeating joints, stomach and head. Not really paying attention is a survival skill.

"Hey shitface! You drinking?"

Jack is not wasted. Jack is not schizo. Not that you can tell from the blank look on his face as he slowly turns his head to face Monk.

"Planet Earth calling Cap'n Jack. We got a job to do here, Jackie, and we're gonna get it done. We got us three bottles of this recycled piss. That's two for this milli-whatever, and two for the next. Now according to that clock on the Scotiabank over there, we only got us 11 minutes. I can't do this by myself, so drink up, bucko."

The clock on the Scotiabank has been stopped at 11:44 for weeks.

"Two and two is four. What did you do with the other bottle? And it's sixteen minutes. Sixteen minutes now and sixteen minutes three hours from now. This particular spot appears to be millennium-proof."

"Aw, fuck you! How's about I just take however the fuck many bottles I got and just fuck right off and find somebody else to party with?"

No answer. Jack has turned his head back now.

"I don't wanna do this, Jacko, but don't matter who scored the coin for the booze, you don't leave me much choice."

No answer.

"When I get up to go, I'm gone."

No answer. No Jack.

"Goddammit, man don't go fucking disappearing on me like that! Shit, man, I hate it when you go slipping in and out of reality like that. If I didn't know I was a fucking drunked up, schizoid bum I'd think I was fucking nuts!..." And on and on -- Monk goes lurching and muttering his way along the sidewalk. He almost falls off into the street twice before he turns on to Cumberland and walks into a parking meter.

He rebounds off the meter and sits down hard, clutching the bag to his chest to protect its precious cargo. Damn! Two bottles crack against each other and at least one breaks inside the bag. Cheap wine is leaking through the paper onto his pants. Looks like he's pissed himself.

He'll get back up as soon as he formulates a plan for doing it without losing the rest of his supply through the now soaked worthless bag.

"Gonna miss the goddam fucking milli-nen-i-mum and have to wait another hundred fucking years..."

"Thousand," somebody says and grabs him by the collar and drags him to his feet. Before he can figure out what's happening, Monk is inside sitting on a threadbare sofa. His crotch is still soaked, but he must have dropped the bag.

"Fuck you, Jack! Where the fuck's my party supplies?"

For a second Jack just glares, hoping that will be enough, but as Monk's jaw starts to flap again he knows that even a third-degree stare won't suffice on someone with the attention span of a meson. "Just shut up and listen."

"Listen to what? Goddammit, Jack, I ain't half drunk enough for this shit!"

"Forget the millennium, Monk; it's just another cold night. This is important."

"Nothing's important anymore. Just leave me the fuck--"

"Shut up! Just hear me out for a few minutes and then I'll give you another ten bucks and disappear."

"Where'd you get another ten bucks? You some kind of fucking space alien or something?"

"You ready to listen?" Monk will probably never be ready to listen. There's too much noise inside his head. But at least he can stop talking and sulk. He can probably even maintain a silent sulk for a full five minutes if there's ten bucks in it.

"This millennium thing is just some arbitrary hash mark on some arbitrary timeline. Time doesn't really exist. You don't exist. I don't exist. Nothing exists except energy and consciousness. Okay?

"Listen, the only thing special about this night is that the consensual reality is a little fuzzy around the edges right now. I figure there might be a chance to sort of cut things loose and rearrange them a bit, but I need more minds working at it than just mine. The thing is, once you know that time and space are just images in the cosmic hologram, you aren't constrained by them. I've got as long as I need to collect as many recruits as I need. But I need minds like yours, Monk, minds that are already outside the box. So how about it, Monk, are you with me?"

"What, quiet time's over? I can talk? This better not be a trick."

"Are you with me?"

"Where's the ten bucks?"

"Okay, listen, just close your eyes and repeat after me: I am energy. The universe flows through me -- just say it, dammit!"

"The ten?"

"I am energy. The universe flows through me."

"Whatever. I'm energy. The universe -- whatever.

"I am energy. The universe flows through me."

"Okay, okay! I am energy. The universe flows through me."


"I am energy. The universe flows through me."


"I am energy. The universe flows through me."

"Okay, good. Now just keep saying it. I'll be right back."

At least it's warm. All the churches in town are doing the jubilee thing, with free flops and food.

"Hey, Jacko, what're you doing here? Come on, have a seat. You got turkey? Better go back and get more gravy -- the white meat's drier than -- whatever. She's dry, though."

"Hi, Monk. Do you remember anything from last night?"

"You mean the 'universal flowers in me' shit? What the fuck was you on, man?"

"Watch your language. You're in a church. Anyway, I pretty much gave it up. You know, we could have entirely reshaped reality. But what happens? For you it's a bottle of rum. For others it was a car, a house, a different job, a sweepstakes, a bar exam -- I don't know if it has to do with chaos or entropy or differentiation or what, but apparently it's totally self-sustaining. I'm just dropping in to say so long. You had your chance. I tried."

"Yeah, well, whatever. Better eat your turkey. Can't be travelling on an empty stomach -- God, I hate it when he does that! You'd think he could at least say goodbye before he disappears like that!"

G.L. Eikenberry ( works as a freelance information systems and communications consultant, as well as being the chief instructor for Gloucester HupKwonDo. He's been writing fiction for more than twenty years. His work has been published in a wide (often obscure and mostly Canadian) variety of hard-copy publications as well as in electronic media. He lives, works and writes in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and three sons.

InterText stories written by G.L. Eikenberry: "Eddie's Blues" (v3n5), "Reality Error" (v4n2), "The Loneliness of the Late-Night Donut Shop" (v4n4), "River" (v5n1), "Oak, Ax and Raven" (v6n2), "Schrödinger's Keys" (v7n1), "Shift" (v9n6).

InterText Copyright © 1991-2000 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 9, Number 6 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1999 G.L. Eikenberry.