LP: Gates of the West by the Clash
1979 Epic AE7 1178 ZSS 166141, ZSS 166142, Came as promo with the American version of the self-titled album, 7-inch
Favorite Track: Gates of the West
The velvet morning hung frosted pink in the underground. Whoever was controlling the weather knobs must have gotten laid last night. There was nothing cute about life since we moved off of Earth and into these Colony Domes. Life was work or the death of a thousand strangers you’ve grown to think of as extensions of your own body. Life is more being a cog in the machine now than ever. Anyone who complained life on Earth was boring is an asshole.
I said that to my ex-girlfriend before I boarded the Resurrection as some kind of excuse for my inability to keep still. She saw through me, however, I suspected that she would have ended things sooner than later. There are only so many Mahler performances at Music Hall and Christmas festivals you can sit through with a person before you seek escape. Like people are prisons. Or that being a person is a prison.
That was why I got on board and left Earth: I wanted to escape myself.
Now my sense of self has been eradicated and I am wanting it back. The task assigned to me was to extract water my various of strange sources: blue-green plants that made sounds like a child saying “pepper…pepper”, the neon arcs that extend from crystals the size of skyscrapers back home, and The Well. Just below our dome is a hundred-foot long lake of the darkest water possible. Even shining our strongest flash lights into it, the water absorbs without revealing. One scientist, Talia I think her name was, jumped in the first night of our arrival. She came out in one piece, but I don’t want to describe it anymore than that. Wendell used a lidded coffee mug to transport her to the trash bay.
I had an hour before I had to go to work. I don’t know why I do this to myself: make myself write four whole pages before breakfast. The routine is bothersome. In the seven months I have been in Dome Delaney, I have saved a part of my sanity. This will do no body any good. Life is work I keep writing every morning, but I know I am kidding myself. My pencil is a stub and the eraser has been bitten off.
The ultimate purpose of Delaney is to solve the food issue. We can make water and oxygen and nitrogen. We can conserve energy. Growing Earthbound plants has its difficulties, but the preserving the food is the problem. Despite careful environmental controls, the food will turn into a fine glowing powder, little beads of maroon and lilac sand. The process took about two hours after the vegetable or fruit was grown. So we had to grow our meals and eat them right away. Often we found traces of maroon and lilac in our shit.
Lydia and Rowland, our top scientists, had numerous theories, but everything was coming up spilled wine. Lydia insisted it was the basic materials–tomatoes and potatoes and carrots were just not meant to survive here. We needed to find a way to eat the native plants and make them healthy for us. Insert the essential amino acids or something. Rowland thought otherwise. He had an idea that given enough genetic manipulation and cross-breeding, a frankenstein version of tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots could grow. The secret was unlocking the right combination.
I hated the two of them and wrote my hatred into my journal like a weaponsmith forging a great sword in the white hot flame of his furnace. They had lost everything about a personality as possible. An automaton would look human compared next to them. When they walked, they didn’t bend their knees or swing their arms. They just glided, their mouths pulled down in frowns. They blinked in unison. I slept with Lydia one time and it was like ejaculating into a mummy.
My breakfast disintegrated before I had removed out the special equipment I need from its complex packaging. I wasn’t hungry. One of the tools is a thin laser beam that whips around beating the solid food into an edible paste. It has a range of about a foot so I would have to get real close. Timing was an issue to–the on button started the battery-powered engine which took thirty seconds to warm up the laser pointer. I would have to approach Rowland and Lydia from behind.
I had left my shack and walked all the way to the science compound, my boots stamping harshly against the artificial turf. When I entered the door, I found a scene of chaos already ensuing. Rowland and Lydia were in the middle of it, their arms around each other. I almost did not recognize their smiles behind the strange colorful smears across their cheeks and lips. About two dozen other scientists were surrounding them throwing their work at each other. I almost could hear Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz no. 1 playing from some speaker set in each table. People were screaming, laughing, dancing, throwing objects and being hit in return. I realized they had all gone mad, probably neglecting their journals for the sake of sex and smuggled sake. I thumbed the on switch as I pushed past a hunchbacked man with small bifocals.
Rowland had his back to me. He was tall, muscular in the neck and shoulders with hair pulled back into a ponytail. I wondered how long it would take to make his spinal cord paste and just what that would feel like under my hands. Behind Rowland, Lydia saw me coming. She sidestepped, pulled her arm back, and launched something into my face.
It was warm and creamy. I felt something crusty flake across my nose and forehead. A hot puddle flew into my gasping mouth. My tasted buds identified it as cherries. The laser had fallen from my hands obliterating the last two toes of my right foot although I had not noticed until later. My mouth was full of cherries–hot, juicy, tasty earthbound cherries.
“Food fight!” Rowland turned around and smacked me with the mushy end of a banana. He wore the remnants of a chocolate cake and grapes on his countenance. Lydia was part blue hiding behind her clipboard.
“Tyrone did it! He saved us! He solved the food problem!” Shouts I heard from the mob.
Life was now not just work. We could work then play. We would be assigned a new task, which would be exponentially easier. Dome Delaney would become Earth-2. We wondered if any of the other domes had made it this far. We would have to check our communicator after we were done wasting our salvation in this orgy.
In the foggy notion of morning sometimes, while I write, I still wished that I had killed Rowland. I am still the most sane person in outer space and I can already see that the little bit of humanity he had found being smacked in the face by dessert has already left him. Also, I know that murder is morally wrong.
But I am human and I came out here to the farthest reaches of the void to stop being that.