"She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, And I loved her that she did pity them". Wait, Billy already wrote that, didn't he ... *
And then "Over the mountains of the Moon, down the valley of the shadow - Ride, boldly ride, the shade replied, if you seek for Eldorado". No, no - Eddy wrote that one he thought. **
Since they had made conversant past time visitation possible he had talked to so many writers, poets, thinkers, and fools that the line between his thoughts, his writings, rantings, and revelations sometimes blurred with those from past others. Still, he did enjoy the visits greatly more often than not. Einstein was a hoot, especially after a few shots of schnapps, Machiavelli, not surprisingly, was an ass.
They said it was possibly a side effect of the Sb-5 he had been dosed with at the indian clinic. His participation in the trials of the "new and improved" formula helped pay for his therapy and that of a few other patients there. It was part of a government Earned Funding deal the clinic was forced into by the new Director of the Uninsured Medical Programs wing of the Food and Drug Admin.
Sitting in his regular overstuffed chair at Irah's Coffee Lounge, just across from the Goose Hollow train stop, he watched the college kids in their hipster and whipster gear. Bright young things, destined to change the world yet again, for better or worse, he thought.
Ben had fallen below the mandatory income requirement to own a car last year. He now spent more time at a few such places waiting for trains, or with his beat up old Maruishi locked into the massive overhead bike racks just outside. He hated paying for rack parking. That was something unheard of in his youth, but the city had to recoup some of the lost auto parking fees. Besides, the titanium pay-racks were more secure against the bike choppers than anything most people could afford.
He sat there a while longer trying to enjoy his almond milk double-dark choc Ethiopian drip. He gazed out the window across Jeff Street at the roundabout. In its center was an old, old mound stellar built up of rough boulders about a meter tall. No one ever seemed to go up on top of it though there was nothing preventing it. Nothing of course except the odd "you're not supposed to be here" feeling people who might have done so got when they reached certain proximity. They forgot that feeling as soon as they walked away from it, never to return. Ben did not forget because along with that feeling he also got something else. It was like a silent "unless" vibration he felt.
He gazed out Irah's window towards the roundabout again. As the light slanted towards that "photographers best" side light he could have sworn he saw a shimmering there. There seemed something different, something else there on top, besides the few small trees and sparse tufts of grass growing from between the rocks.
It could have just been that he was tired. Beyond tired, truth be told. His was the kind of tired, no, fatigue - the kind of fatigue born of a life of promise somehow not fully realized. Despite the advances in technology, regardless of the progress towards a more orderly society, and even headless of repeated government assurances of more advantageous and fair utilitarian bioethics, his failures and this overwhelming fatigue persisted. His therapist claimed it was largely neurological, a misfiring of synapses aggravating wildly unbalanced dispersal and uptake of serotonin and dopamine.
He had hoped to speak with some of the more astute philosophers or mental health people of recent history about it. Then the past time technology had broken down, according to government and industry spokespersons. Others claimed that to be a sham. In the dark they claimed that the real deal was that planners and overseers of the cultural health domains had decided the influences of past minds were just too destabilizing of the current societal needs and goals.
Ben felt himself to be no longer capable of discerning truth from fiction, propaganda(a banned word) from information. He did know that when conversant past time visitation had come into being there was a general lack of consensus regarding exactly how that worked.***
It was almost time for him to board the Blue Line back home to Hillsboro. He had the barista top off his go-cup, picked up his Gabriel Hounds day-pack, and headed out the door. Instead of taking the direct route though, he went the longer way towards the stone mound.
Even though he had gotten close enough to feel the hint of the "Go Away" buzz before, it still came as something of a minor shock to his system. He stumbled, one of those odd little two-step glitches, but retained his vertical attitude. The closer he got to the edge of the mound the more the buzz manifested itself as multiple electro-magnetic waveforms. His skin tingled, the hairs on the back of his neck stood at full "you sure, boss?" attention, and his mind was afraid.
He stopped once and shook his head in confusion. In his peripheral vision he could just see the Methodist church across the street, shimmering wildly, as though seen through heat waves on a Mojave Desert summer day.
In resolution Ben stepped forward again. It seemed the customary tinnitus ring in his head took on a new, more energetic vibrato, and again he paused. He almost expected to be struck dead or at least deaf and blind as he once more advanced, that one last pace, to place his shaking hand on the stone. Everything stopped. Every. Thing. No sound, no movement of traffic or pedestrians just beyond the roundabout, not even the ringing in his ears, not even the electric buzz of warning. Utter silence, total stillness went on around him and through him.
He remembered to breathe. He climbed up on top of The Mound. He looked around. Loosely spaced around the top of Tsik'to'li Unelanvhi, the Eye of God, were rough upright stones, a meter and two tall each. Ben took just one more step. He laid his hand on a petite monolith.
In later years if anyone else had gotten close enough to see through the glamour of The Mound, they might have noticed there on top, a weathered day-pack much faded by sun, wind, and rain. It had been there for all time, a remnant left by a naturally occurring, if misplaced, hologram. Had been placed there by Agigalie:liga Kway nee, by I-Am-Grateful Ben.
** Eldorado, Edgar Allen Poe - http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/eldorado/
*** It had occurred, it seemed, as an accidental result of a collaboration of indie geeks and volunteers from the Applied Physics Department of the Unseen University trying to find a practical use for the Holographic Theory.