Awake. Light. The sound of birds. Cool morning. A bit of wood smoke. Shattered looked around the yurt; it was larger than he thought last night. Last night. He wasn’t really present to the place or himself. Standing up over double person mattress, which sat on a small platform, he took note of an antique writing desk, pencils, paper, and he stepped outside. A bright, white line in the shape of a hexagon circled the yurt. He was not to step outside of it. On the yurt’s western side, the one facing away from the only other hut he could see, an indoor gravity well shower and flush toilet had been installed in a small wooden and ceramic-tiled room. Shattered turned on the water; it was warm – a luxury in Park. Must be pumped from a central wood-heated tank – he mused; taking off his slim, form-fitting black trousers and same colored shirt, made from breathable but warm Marin fabrics, he stood naked. He touched his balls, his penis, his navel, his nipples. The door, a wooden sliding door, closed with a gentle click. Locked in. Shattered masturbated, showered, dried and put on the robe that was hanging in the corner for him. When he returned to the front door, a small tiffin of biscuits, oatmeal and berries, alongside a thermos of coffee awaited him on the little front porch.
He moved through time as though it was concrete. He felt as if the remaining thirteen-days wouldn’t end. He remembered the meditation techniques Mar and others had taught him as a child, to deal with his anxiety and panic attacks. He sat, cross-legged, on the floor; he focused on his breathing; his mind raced. He focused on his body; his mind raced more. He focused on his emotions; feeling his emotions with his emotions – yes isn’t that what Mar had said? A part of Soto Zen training. Memories of sitting with several monks who had fled the Bay Area, Zen monks who had volunteered to teach Park’s children techniques for calming themselves, returned to Shattered; given that their parents were building an entirely new epoch, in the midst of multiple catastrophes, many of Park’s children, in the early days, suffered from terrible anxiety. Shattered was no exception; in fact, he was an extreme example of the rule. Shattered tried to feel his thoughts with his thoughts, and then the space where thought objects arise and fall.
Too fast – I rushed meditation, and that’s not really meditation, damn! He grabbed the pencil and a piece of thick white paper, and he wrote “Book: Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel; Cigarettes – tailored (put on my account)” – cigarettes were not considered essential and had to be paid for by the isolated person. Shattered had some silver in his account; he’d managed to put a lot away after his sixteenth birthday, all orphans receive a Parkfund that is accessible at sixteen, and then again every other year until they reach retirement age. Park had very few official orphans, so they could afford this measure. Most people had come here with their children, and the few children who were orphaned either came on their own, very unusual, or their parents were killed during the early transition years. He placed his note just under the door, enough to hold it in place and also let it be visible to the passing attendants. Waiting. He would have to wait until tomorrow for anything to come. Park time. Slow. Slower. Slowest.
On the fifth day, he awoke to a massive lightning storm, unusual for this time of year and so near the Pacific coast. A large, mechanical clock displayed the time on a circular dial. Aside from the bed, the desk and the chair, this beautiful example of dedication to a craft was the only other piece of furniture. Several blankets, sheets that he had to place outside every other day and two pillows with white cases – replaced with the sheets – kept him a degree of company. The clock, a small beauty drilled about two meters above the floor into the wall, showed the time to be just after 06:00. Lightning. Shattered looked over at the other yurt. Who is in there? They must come out at different times. He knew it was occupied, for at night the inside glowed with soft, yellow kerosene lamp-light. Sleep.
09:00. Still lightning. Still rain. No food delivered. He drank some water from a large gallon glass jar; he smoked inside. No way am I going out there. No way. He’d never felt so alienated from the outside. Actually, he never thought of inside and outside as something that was artificial versus natural; for most of his life, the insides of buildings opened to the outside, and one spent most of their time “outside.” Shattered would walk, round-trip, a minimum of twenty-and-seven kilometers just to reach the large library he loved. Most shops, even on The Long Road, opened right up to the street. By design, by temperament, by architecture and psychology, the natives of Park, those born and raised here after the calamity, had no real sense of nature versus something other than nature. All was nature. Perhaps there is wisdom in the ban on electronics? Shattered briefly thought as he smoked another cigarette. Why do I feel this way? I have never felt so… Alien? Apart? Disconnected from myself. I am broken to many pieces inside, but I am whole? Do the people of Marin go mad? Is that why thousands of them live in a virtual interface realities? How many of them forget they are in a simulation? Am I in a simulation?
This shock, this reentry shock, he had heard about from others. The ecstatic enjoyment of traveling to Marin; the amazing technology; the endless diversions, tasks and incessant flow of information; the ability to have what one desires immediately, without any complications; all of this followed by fourteen-days in a yurt measuring some five meters in diameter. With another 5 meters of ‘allowed space’ outside, inside that hexagon. Am I going mad?
During the middle of Shattered’s tenth-day, he fell into a suicidal depression. Let me out! Let me the fuck out of here! He screamed inside. No one came. He knew if he crossed the line he would be shot. That’s the deal. Snipers do not miss. He stayed inside. Four more days. Four more days. In the bed, under the blankets and sheets, he shook; his body felt as though electrical shocks were going through it; his tendons tensed from the back of skull down to his toes. I am going to die here. Hideous creatures he’d never seen before floated past his eyes. He closed them. No avail, they ambled around the room, eyes open or shut. Eventually he wore himself out. Sleep.
On the second to last day, he began to feel better, until he received a note under his door.
By order of the administrator, TJ Tallie, your period of quarantine will be extended for another twenty-and-eight days.
That’s all? No explanation. Tallie, he was trying to sabotage the journey. This must be a violation of the motion. This must be a violation of the agreement. He wrote on the back, “I need an envelope addressed to Autumn Spring.” The next day a response came back,
Correspondence with the outside is allowable only with close, immediate family. We cannot process your request at this time for health and safety reasons.
Writhing with anger, he turned the note over and wrote,
I am a member of Park’s parliament. I must be allowed to discuss matters with the leader of the alliance I represent. Autumn Spring, correspondence, now.
The response, came the next day, much earlier than usual, around 06:00 he heard a paper being placed under his door; it slid all the way inside, and then an envelope followed. He opened it. Autumn Spring had written to him.
I have convened the Park Parliament to discuss issues we are having with the administrator’s commitment to fulfilling the duties as enacted in the motion. You are safe. Mar is well. We all miss you. Marin’s government has threatened sanctions if you, and their citizens, are not released from this needless quarantine. It is clear that you are all well, healthy and have been through extensive medical examination far greater than anything we have here. Park’s parliament meets tonight. Stay well. Stay sane. I have been held up at the border before; it is not fun; read.