They finally came. After months of broadcasts on all known media (radio, television, Internet, newspaper, shortwave, telegraph, TTY, dolphins, psychics) saying it was coming, that they were coming, it had finally happened.
Nobody knew who was sending the broadcasts, or where they were from. Agencies and detectives and amateur sleuths all over the world tried to answer those questions, to no avail. Séances were held. Runes were consulted. Wires were tapped. Still the messages came, and still no one knew the source or the author. Television anchors were told to say nothing that might frighten the public more than they already were. Talk show hosts were, as usual, under no authority or ethical standard, so they said whatever they felt, regardless of truth or concern for how their prattlings would harm.
The beings, or spirits, or aliens, or whatever they were had tried to communicate with our earth for far longer than people realized. They had subtly influenced moods and desires since before 2000, like a silent alarm, like an odorless poison. They were the reason for the Y2K panic. They were the reason preppers stocked up on ammunition and canned ham. They were the reason people began to mis-trust the authorities and began to take matters into their own hands. Urban farms, homeschooling, anti-vaccine? These were their doing. Layer by layer they had painted a picture of paranoia in our brains to divide us, keep us off balance.
Everyone was affected to some degree. It was only those who didn’t consume mass media that maintained some semblance of control over their actions. All those who watched TV or movies or listened to the radio got multiple doses of the message, and it was cumulative, just like any other poison. A single bee sting is annoying, but not fatal. A thousand stings is another matter.
When they finally came it was almost a relief.
It was a cool day in August, one of those days that was not too hot or humid with a few clouds in the azure sky. The morning had gone peacefully for everyone for a change. The disturbing dreams have finally stopped. Even the news reports were calm for a change, with the latest plastic surgery of one celebrity being the lead instead of the usual threats of war from petty tyrants trying to get the world to notice them. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, until the skies scissored open with the dimension-melting sight/sound/smell of their ships at 11:11 AM.
People started to see sounds and hear colors.
Time ran backwards and sideways and stopped.
Everything suddenly made sense
but there were no words
anymore to explain it.
And then there was nothing.
The silence was thicker than the darkest night, a crushing subterranean weight, more alienating than being trapped in the Marianas Trench in a powerless submarine.
Then, just as suddenly, there was only now. The past wasn’t even a memory. It was just a word. All mistakes, all forgotten grocery lists, all insults, all arguments, gone in a blink of the eye. Gone too were first kisses. baby’s first laugh, that perfect day in October when the sky is the blue of watery dreams and crisp like a Gala apple.
All of it.
Somehow they knew, whoever they were. They knew that what was holding us back was our near-pathological need to catalog the past into neat (and not so neat) piles, holding onto memories and snapshots and train tickets and receipts for ice skates and ice cream. Somehow they knew that our need to separate those piles into “good” and “bad” was our secret un-doing, our un-humaning, our un-being. Somehow they knew that our “bad” pile held us down, became a pattern for our future, made us think we would always be cheated, be robbed, be abandoned. Somehow too, they knew that our “good” pile equally enslaved us, making us feel that we could never feel that exhilarated or proud or delighted ever again.
Our collective and individual past being erased was as great a blessing to us as a tornado or a house fire. It forced us to stop holding onto the dried husks of what it means to be truly alive. For too long we thought that the artificial joy of our memories was what made us human.
Overnight, the scrapbooking industry was rendered irrelevant. No one could even imagine why they had spent so much of their lives (and money) gluing memorabilia into organized books, accented with metallic rickrack and die-cut stickers. No one took photographs either, choosing to see their lives through their own eyes rather than through a viewfinder.
Why save the past anymore?
It was meaningless.
Only the present moment,
a moment eternally composed
In that moment