Tomorrow We Dance To Freedom

The Complacent Acceptors - XV

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Where was he? It looked like it had once been a forest of trees Jim vaguely remembered seeing a picture of a forest when he was in school. A real forest image that had been displayed on the table screen with the caption "The Rulers conserve our environment so that it may be pillaged in the future." The problem was that this was a long dead forest with leafless rotting branches reaching hopelessly towards a cruel cloudless sky. This dead forest fitted nicely on the ecologically dead planet that was populated by morally dead people who struggled to survive within a totally dead society. Dead, dying, and cruelty formed a triumvirate that only brought decay and destruction.

Lying on his back with his head propped up on a hard rock Jim moved his legs very gingerly over the dry dirt that covered this lifeless expanse for miles. His head felt like someone had cut through his skull, had grabbed his brain with both hands, and was not squeezing it with all their strength - the pain was unbearable.

Jumbled thoughts coursed through his mind from a past, present, or dream state that he just couldn't comprehend. They were just disconnected images that Jim assumed were his past and present experiences with a sprinkling of delirium mixed in from his crippled consciousness.

This 'waking up' not knowing how he'd ended up here or there left him with a feeling of helplessness, like he had no control - he was powerless in a system that he barely understood. These moments when he was awakened from his "lost time" usually meant that Jim would find abrasions, cuts, tears, and bruises on his body; painful reminders of his stay in this Netherworld. Fortunately, this time he'd returned without any abuse to his already weak, frail body that was a mere sack of bones with loose hanging skin.

With his head relentlessly pounding from the base of his skull all the way to his forehead he decided to continue lying where he was at least for the moment. Jim felt that even if his head stopped its throbbing he barely had the strength to continue breathing yet alone get up and start hiking. When his strength returned where would he hike? Why even consider hiking in any direction that looked like desolation all the way to the horizon? There just wasn't any reason to move or was there - he would just be pulled back into that blank unknown region anyway.

To Jim the last few minutes of clear unobstructed, untangled thoughts residing in a perfect lucidity were cherished fleeting moments. Usually his mind just refused to cooperate after a few minutes. It would putter out like an old engine asked to pull more than what it was capable of handling. Dropping off out of consciousness Jim shook and babbled in a convulsive state all night until dusk shined on this broken man's stiff body.

Blood had crusted in long lines from his ears to rest in dried up puddles under his head. His soiled and torn clothes; mere rags covering a used up piece of flesh would blow on in a hot wind after his bones became detached. Insects the only living creatures other than human beings still crawling on the surface of this third rate planet in this distant solar system out in nowhere would finish off what humankind started.