EXT. RAILROAD TRACKS ON MAIN STREET (MITCHELL) — SOMETIME
ROD, a swanky narrative ghost who has arrived to enlighten our story and bedevil the residents of the small town we take as our setting, appears on the train tracks with an ectoplasmic flash and a curtain of smoke. He steps from the two-dimensional confines of this electronic screen to intimately address you, our delightful reader, in the now-illuminating primal darkness of your imagination.
(correlating the oscillations
of his voice with a calculated
flourish of fingers and a decidedly
of facial expressions)
We gather here today to witness a wedding
of sorts: a meeting of mind and place, of time
and spaces that petrify the people who,
after living out their quiet lives
in nowhere all these years, finally feel
the power of urban voices seeping in
with a technological ferocity
they can’t begin to keep out of their homes.
Rod takes a step further into the grey matters of your thoughts, where logic is confused by the antilogic of assumptions, where the soul dissolves into an endless array of original materials, and where you entangle your dreams with things unseen.
These tracks we walk have been empty now
for thirty years. The roads are cracking up.
The interstate the state is building today
navigates around this town as if it were
a canyon twice as big as the grand one
out west — at best, the people living here
can go to church to cope with what they don’t
understand; at worst, they turn to stories
that everybody knows to be untrue,
in order to feel safe. The people here
have no money, no influence, no way
of interacting with the world. Imagine,
then, what happens when a computer program
managed in a city far away
falls like snow into their empty phones
and feeds on the superstition bred by their
alienated positions. What was once
a sleepy type of town surrounded by corn
and entangled in trees, becomes the hottest scene
of revitalized ghostly euphoria.
Rod takes one last step — back into the darkness. He completely disappears. You could almost say that there was never anything standing on the grass growing between the rusted arms of the train tracks, if it wasn’t for the disembodied voice.
Today, on the first day of the festival,
the one week when this town comes alive
to fill its streets with people eating pudding,
we act as witness to such a fateful marriage
in Mitchell, Indiana. One of their own,
who went to educate himself in the ways
of technological wizardry, returns
after making monsters of his misdeeds.
As the town descends into a craze for circuits
trained to talk exactly like the dead
by a computer application called
Hereafter, it becomes clear that the boy
is involved in ways that would have seemed
impossible before, and the lines between
the living and the dead are blurred by tech
that almost seems to transplant consciousness.