Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Within the Ether

by Brian Kutanovski

“You are not special.” Beetle says.

A crack splits diagonally across my dormer windowpane. It's fogged over. I don't know when the rain will stop. I heard the flooding is an anomaly, that they will declare it a state of emergency tomorrow. But I'll never know if they declared anything because my electricity was cut today. Beetle is on the windowpane crawling back and forth over the crack. She flutters her wings to grab my attention.

“I said you're not special! Just deal with it.” Beetle yells to me.

“Of course I'm special, I'm a human.” I said.

“You make yourselves special.” Beetle replies. “Humans have been plagued for thousands of years with the illusion that because you can wear baseball caps that you're separate from nature. You're the same as me you buffoon.”

“We can make meaning Beetle. We have mastered symbols and language, something you petty insects know nothing about.”

“You really think we can't communicate? That we don't have a language? You just haven't figured it out yet. And somehow, I've figured yours out. Most of us 'animals' have figured it out… you just don't know it yet.”

The candle flame dances in the reflection of the pier glass mirror, illuminating my attic. In times of massive floods, or even the great flood, your attic is your only refuge.

My backyard once overlooked acres of meadows. Now it's a giant body of water. I can't see land anywhere except the cascades miles into the horizon. After several consecutive days of overcast, the atmosphere resembles more of a puke green than a gray. I think it's my eyes accustoming to the bleakness. My hairs rise with every rumble from above, almost nauseating. In the belly of the grey clouds, lighting strikes fasten together, flashing, to make one colossal electric spider. I never want to see it again, but I'm afraid it's permanently etched into my eyes.

My basement should be completely flooded by now. By design, once the basement overflows, my house should convert itself into a boat, purposely built with a specialized designed wood platform on the first floor similar to a deck. Once the sensors go off, the house will latch off the cement foundation and release it into the flooding lakes. It's better than sinking. It's better than drowning.


I think we are in for it--the doom and the end of days, at least in North America. The crackling of my house down below makes my heart quiver in pain. I feel it shift. It's finally letting loose. My house gains speed merging with the rapids below.

“You can't love!” I exclaimed. “You have no capability to love or to even experience the grandeur of love. Your brains are too small!” I shouted.

“Love?” Beetle asks.

“Exactly!” My righteousness is overpowering. I slam my hand against the veneer wall panels. Beetle flutters. “All you insects can do is eat and mate. And then repeat. You have no memoirs or desires or biographies or passion. You know nothing of love.”

“As far as beetles are concerned, all living species are born into love. Love is not a state of mind; it's not an idea, it's not some hybrid emotion--love is existence itself. We are love, we are sanctified in life. Don't think about it!”

The house jolts, I fall to the floor. Beetle continues, “The saddest part of you humans is you've created this grand illusion thousands of years ago, not yesterday. All it took was one misperception and the rest is an uphill battle. The illusion is that you are beyond nature, beyond existence with your big ugly brains. As generations passed, that delusion was carried forth, merely to accumulate into one big lie, almost impossible to break-up, living it out every day in ignorance. New generations grow up believing this lie and the cycle continues. Ignorant humans, deceiving yourselves... truly believing that you are separate from the rest of us.”

I say nothing. Beetle is smart. I wish she wasn't a beetle.

My house is the boat I've always imagined, soaring through the flooded landscape. Although steering my house never occurred to me it would be essential. Supposedly I never predicted I would ever use my house as a boat, but floating suffices. The rest is up to chance. The mountains would crush my house. The valley would topple it over. A cliff would plunge me to my death. Maybe I would drift into a dry meadow or a muddy field halting me into safety.

The speed of the rapids grows faster. We are soaring down what would seem to be a river. My dormer window smashes into pieces; I think a crane hit it. The vacuum of the air sucks Beetle outward. I catch her in my hands faintly crushing her. She seems injured.

“Are you okay? I didn't mean to.” I say.

“Do you want to sing with me?” Beetle asks in a whimpered voice.

“What are we singing?”

“I wrote a song for you…


My beloved one,

your treasure trove has all dried up

but in our innocence

Together, our rain is our only luck.”


I know that song. I know it's her. She told me to dream.

This is supposed to be a lucid dream, but I have absolutely no control this time, and the more I'm stuck in this realm the more I convince myself I'm not dreaming. I want out.

“I think we're losing control.” I whisper to Beetle.

The trembling of the house is too strong for us to be traveling safely. We must be crashing against sunken houses or stop-light poles or other buildings. It feels my house will topple over any second or simply disintegrate against the carnage below.

Outside, darkness begins to encumber my dream state. My candle flame is extinguished. I can barely see Beetle in my hand and there is no flutter of her wings this time.

“Beetle?”

No answer.

“Beetle?” I repeat.

Nothing.

“Elyse!” I shout. I know she's in there. I know it's her underneath those bugged eyes.

Most humans under extremely stressful situations find elaborate ways to get rid of tense energies. Naturally, we have evolved a response technique known as crying. I'm normally not apt to such a mechanism, but today it happens. Unprecedented, a tear falls into my hand and I feel Beetle flutter against my palm.

Beetle's voice is weak and cracked.

“Existence is always young. It's always here. It never leaves.”


The quavering of my house comes to a still. We must be floating in open waters. Maybe we entered the Pacific. Maybe we hit a lake. Wherever we float nothing scrapes the underneath of my house. It's almost relieving but yet tinged with the horrible idea that I am in a clueless drift.

It's completely black outside and the rain pellets crashing against my roof never sounded so menacing in my life. I look for the moon at least for a vague source of light, but only pitch black engulfs me. They say if you want to wake up from a lucid dream to flicker a light switch. But I don't believe it's a dream anymore.

This should be the signifier of waking up. When you can't see anything for so long, you trick yourself into being dead.

“Am I asleep?”

“Each day you are asleep. Right now you are finally awake.”

A sort of fuzzy noise creeps in, like white static on a television. My house comes to a halt. I know because I feel the wobbling. No movement just a still float. An array of bird chirps blend with the static noise. Have I stumbled upon a jungle paradise?

“Crawl out through the window?” Beetle says.

“Are we safe?”

Beetle flies out through the broken window. I crawl out after her. I think I'm bleeding from the shards of glass. I don't know for sure, it could be sweat. I crouch through the window and onto the roof and the fuzzy static noise is clearly a waterfall. However, the blackness outside denies me as a witness and I'm unaware if I'm at the bottom of the cataract or lingering near its edge. I lay on my stomach, straddling the ridge of the roof, scraping raw against the shingles. The wobble of my house becomes fierce.

“We're free!” Beetle exclaims. “Let's go. She flies off into the darkness.

I yell for Beetle for a long time. I yell for God to turn on the lights. The crashing waters are deafening and my house teeters so violently I begin to lose grip of the shingles. I'm hurled off into the gloom and vertigo consumes me. I'm in freefall and time seems to disappear.

I wake up. It's over.

However I notice I'm not in my bed. I am in my bedroom but everything seems larger than before, and it's all rounded and distorted--the bed, the dresser, the mirror, the nightstand and the television displays the white static-- it all looks hazy and blobby. I'm looking through a circular glass, submersed in water and I can breathe. Air rushes through my neck. I look straight up floating at the surface of the water. I see a face. It's Elyse. I try to embrace her, but all I can do is flap.

Elyse tells me existence is eternal