The Boston Rag


by Langdon Hickman

My spirit rises up through the sky. Borne away on psychic winds, I fly free from my body, from the hell that this world has become since the fall, up, up, into the dome of heaven. I wish I could stay here forever, where time passes like honey dripping from the spoon, radiant, golden, transcendent. Each time I leave my body, I stay longer; someday, someday, I won’t have to return at all. They will find my body, eyes open, staring up into the perpetual sunlight, and to them only moments will pass until I have died, but for me it will have been countless eternities, deathless aeons in interlocking cycles. Like a body distended by the ferocious gravity of a black hole, I shall never experience my own death. Instead: infinite peace, infinite serenity, infinite sunlight. Dissolving in the golden honeyed sky, forever.

Boston’s been dead for years and years now. It wasn’t the epicenter; that was New York. But it was close enough so that when the dying psychics let out their frenzied blasts, we got hit hard. We’d expected something like this to happen. These kinds of quiet occult wars tend to bubble over in cycles, quiet and hidden from the view of the world until a hideous scream tears through the sky and splits the earth open and changes everything. Melodramatic, I know, but, well, that’s what happens. Laylines, parallel worlds and timelines intersecting, psychic flux in the fabric of the world, the shining illuminated eye blinking heavily, covering the world in darkness; mass famine, mass disease, mass death; ripples from a psychic epicenter, like stones tossed into a glass-still lake. It rewrites the fabric of things; a psychic meltdown in one place becomes four hijacked 747s careening into buildings and hills, rewriting the history of the world forever, or a bullied and entitled child picking up a gun and marching into their school to settle some imaginary school, or the colonizer’s twisted grin as he (almost always a “he”) decides that his new hosts would make better slaves than peers despite their shared humanity. Quiverings in the sky that birth great evil alien to the world and the hearts of those that live in it.

My spirit isn’t made for such things. I am meant to sink deep into this honeyed sky. I wax too poetic where others set their sights and psychic abilities to quietly and invisibly mend the tears in the world, to join splinters back into the house, to minimize the punishment we suffer from those forces outside of our world that impinge and corrupt and drive the heart to evil. I paint with light, and in this dead grey world, I find my heart cannot bear to stay. My spirit rises up through the sky, and all of a sudden, I see everything.

There is Lonnie. He was our leader, before the great meltdown of conjoined psychic bodies in New York sent shattering force through the laylines and triggered the global chain reaction that damned the world. He’s sitting at his kitchen table across from his wife Lady Bayside. She is one of us, stronger than him, but newer. She senses a tremor and guards herself in time, though it feels like a hurricane filled with frightened people is whipping past, hands grabbing at her body, threatening to tear her apart. She turns to see Lonnie, eyes widening, wider, wider, mouth agape, until his body tugs apart, and a new voice joins the screaming in her mind, only it is her husbands. It’s the shock that keeps her from letting go at first. After the fall, it was her position as the new leader. She is the strongest of us, even now. I see it even though I wasn’t there, even though she does not convey these images to our minds. My heart quivers. I will miss her when I finally depart for good.

His spirit swallowed up everything. We lost almost everyone. I was unlinked at the time. I paint with light, and I was painting in the park, alone on the bench facing the mosque across the street, filling the minds of passersby and worshippers with blooming chrysanthemums of color veiled in diaphanous light. They deserved peace and beauty, and I was happy to give it to them. And then the rippling, the unmaking of stone and steel, psychic atomization, and that wave of screaming.

My car sits facing down 7th Ave. Inside is my body, but my spirit is elsewhere. Adrift in the honeyed sky, where time passes in hours instead of seconds, where I can see the heavens above this universe which beckon to me and to which I long to join. I am sorry, Lonnie. I am sorry, Lady Bayside. I would help you repair this if I could. I would help you understand it. But I am an artist. I paint with light. And this grey, it breaks my heart.

My spirit rises up through the sky. I can feel my body tugging at the tendril of light that connects my spiritform to the world, calling me back. It is thinner now than last time, and it was thinner then than the time before that. Someday, I won’t have to return at all. But today I will. Back into the fallen world. Somewhere in the vast sea of parallel worlds, I choose differently. This is not to mention the worlds where this does not occur at all, either because it was contained or it simply never came to pass. But this is not any of those worlds. In this world, my spirit rises up through the sky, borne on psychic winds of my own creation, and someday it won’t have to return at all.

Up in the sky, I see a face painted with a twisted smile. My heart stops. I try to swim away, but the thread is too thin, and a great gravity overtakes me, and I recognize Lonnies eyes, two swirling whirlpools of black in the golden honeyed sky, a jagged crack for a mouth, as above me, Lonnie comes alive. His mouth opens; his mouth closes. I feel weightless, adrift. I no longer feel my body tugging at me. My spirit rises up toward the beckoning black of Lonnie’s mouth. He is smiling.

I think of Lady Bayside and of my car and of how, to the others, this is but a moment, my eyes staring out at the sky and my body going momentarily limp, but how to me, this is an eternity, interlocking deathless aeons, as my spirit distends, drawn logarithmically closer to Lonnie’s open mouth, like Zeno’s arrow, halving distance, halving again, each taking as long as the last, in perpetual motion that will deny me the experience of my own death within the black hole of his mutated smile. I wonder what he saw before his body shredded apart, and I wonder it for a long time, but to those around my car watching my body, it passes in an instant.

I suddenly think perhaps the grey was not so bad.

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