Q Report; New Q Order 2070
Mandatory Q Report 2070.This message is for all active agents, dateline January 1st, 2070. Goodbye, 2069, and good riddance! Among the anniversaries we celebrate today, let me first mention the Timephone, invented and tested on New Year’s Eve 2035. Happy Bday, Tachyonic Antitelephone. How could we live without you? Except in fear and uncertainty. What a truly weird and terrible ride it’s been. Every year, no matter where I am, if I can, I journey back to Bemidji to celebrate the shifting of gears, and this year it was no different.
Bemidji is still poor, dirty, and cheap. I drove there in the 2050 T&C from parts unknown coming up from 71. Everyone has a specific point on a journey, when they know they are home. For me it is the red on white signs before the A-frame selling goods ranging from knives/swords, to local wild rice, to moccasins in many styles. Once I see the A-frame it is all downhill. The militias have destroyed most of the signs, but the remains of the buildings are still there. The militias too, unfortunately. If you take the time to visit Bemidji, be sure to be armed. To the teeth.
With nowhere to go for a while I went to Paul and Babe to see if they were still up. Indeed they were, however riddled with bullet holes and burned with Moltovs. Those Masons built those Godsawful idols with concrete for a reason. The park was barren of trees, all burned for firewood in the Great Depression 3. The visitors center was still there, and of course the forever cam, broadcasting to an internet that is barely there anymore. I take the time to wear a disguise, in case anyone might recognize me. Despite this I hear a; Hey! Are you Q?
I look and there is a 10 year old kid. Dirty. Patched. Somewhere between Road Warrior and Little Orphan Annie. Before I can get a hand on anything they produce a little pistol. Nothing that’s going to win contests, but enough to ruin your day. The light of the laser sight goes into my eye, and this is one reason I wear bullet proof glasses. I’m old, and cloned, and degenerating, but I’m still the fiercest swashbuckler in known reality. In a flash I have the pistol.
“Why kid?” I ask him, “Why would you shake down an old man with your tiny firearm?”
“I was hoping you would kill me.” they say.
Well, I won’t, I explain and go on and on. I give him the pistol back, but I make them swallow the ammo. I hand over some gold teeth and a worn copy of The Book of Q and send them on their way. There but for the Grace of Gods go we. I think that is how that is said. In our ongoing nomenclature. The kid ran off towards library park and I headed downtown. Cue the Petula Clark.
In my youth the people of Bemidji built a store on the banks of the Mississippi, where the water flows from the lakes of Irvine to Bemidji. At some point construction efforts unearthed the remains and artifacts of the indigenous of the land. Relics were carbon dated back to at least 7,000 BCE. Before a single stone had been cut for the great pyramids. Before a single brick was laid in the Great Wall. Before Jesus took his first step, the indigenous first peoples lived there, in relative harmony with nature.
Somewhere around the 15th century of the common era, everything began to go terribly wrong. Generally. And somewhere around the 19th century downtown got a radical overhaul. What with all of the dirt poor Europeans all over the place. Cutting down trees and killing game and what have you. But, for whatever other evils may exist within the crimes of colonialism and/or the shortcomings within postcolonialism, downtown Bemidji exists. Nothing can take that back, now. So why not do some drugs?
The easiest drug to get in Bemidji is liquor. The entire municipal economy depends on it, in fact. Foremost for the substantial taxes they place on it. Then for the infrastructure they have put in place to provided it. And finally for the law enforcement that punishes people for drinking it. That final step is actually a dragnet for all sorts of drugs, however. Bemidji experimented with selling LSD at their liquor stores in the 50s, but it didn’t go well. Some populations can’t handle their acid. Apparently. Bemidji being one of them.
At least those DARE officers got some good footage of kittens in ovens. I’m just kidding, no one put kittens in ovens. They threw dogs into flaming dumpsters. What a nightmare world we live in. When you abstract all the violence, and tragedy, and utter mayhem it becomes possible to get on with your day. But, try and stare any individual one of those components in the face for a while and everything quickly unravels.
There are still some people alive downtown. I even risk engaging with a few. Everything is largely the same. Not enough jobs. No one has security. Everything is dirty and broken. The same old song and dance. They play the music of dead strangers, even as I remember the ghosts of live music. Those friends and relations with whom we screamed at the Gods, now gone forever, to that blessed timecraft extraction of the future.
Eventually I make it down to The Cross, the place it all began. I remember those nights so long ago, when the heady joy of containable chaos was in the air. Climbing on roofs and leaping from vehicles. Responding to the danger with laughter rather than tears. A tumbling, freewheeling carnival of bad choices. But were they bad choices? If they served to bring us together?
I gave up drinking for 50 years, but then the reasons not to drink were gone, extracted before me. So every now and again I choose to drink. 2070 is as good a reason as any. I order my flavor of bourbon and let it burn everything as it goes down. The burning reminds me, floods my senses and my bloodstream with memories. I hear the howling of wolves, the cries of salvation, a final hazy breath spent into the frozen night.
There is an old timer at the end of the bar and we talk for a while. The liquor makes me say more than I should and I explain who I am. He’s heard of me, of course, but there is no judgement. Between us there is almost two centuries of experience, as travelers through this bizarre reality. This year I will turn 90, but I can still avoid a mugging. Just then I see the kid from earlier. He has a whole gang of dirty, patched, mean looking friends.
But this time I have the advantage of wind. I am gone like it, back on the road again. Drunk. High. Ripped. Twisted. Flying over the electric highway, past Bena, and Bagley, and Brainerd. Into the future, a flaming comet of the incredibly weird, riding the impossibly dreamy. All the way to the bank.